Astromets Mind: March 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Is the 2015 Mets Roster More Sandy’s ‘Mess’ or Omar’s?

Which GM is giving the Mets the bigger punch in 2015?

Comparing the expected impact of Omar-era players with those brought in during the Sandy-era.

            A common meme on #MetsTwitter is to describe either a positive or negative Mets development and add either #SandysMess or #OmarsMess to the end of the tweet, as if everything that happens to this club is the fault of one of those two GM’s. It seems like the joke should have died down by now, as this will be Sandy Alderson’s 5th season as the Mets GM, but the roster still has a big imprint of former GM Omar Minaya, which is kind of surprising. Although Sandy makes the final decision about who stays on the 40-man roster, only 18 of those players were brought in (or back) by Sandy Alderson – Wright was resigned by Sandy, so he’s grouped into #SandysMess – with the rest tracing their roots to the Omar regime. To get a better idea of which GM’s ‘mess’ will have the bigger impact on the 2015 Mets, I’ve split the 40-man roster into two groups below, and included Steamer and ZiPS projections.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Muno Makes Sense on the Mets Bench

It appears likely that Danny Muno will head North with the Mets out of camp if Daniel Murphy is not ready, which has caused some controversy among Mets fans who think Matt Reynolds should get the nod. But does Muno have a case for the bench regardless of whether Murph can go?

            Daniel Muno might not have been on the radar of many Mets fans or beat reporters coming into Spring Training, and he didn’t make many prospect lists over the winter, but he’s been one of the hottest topics of discussion as the Mets finalize their roster. I had him at #30 on my top 83 prospects series, under the category of “Future ‘impact’ utility infielders,” and said “I’d be surprised if we don’t see him in Queens at some point this year” – I just didn’t expect it so early in the year. Since Daniel Murphy is still not running with a week left in camp, it's likely the Mets will need another middle infielder for at least the first 6 days of the season, and sources suggest the Mets prefer Muno to Reynolds. Many fans would prefer the Mets choose Matt Reynolds, who is a younger and better prospect, but who management wants to see him playing everyday somewhere. Regardless of whether Murphy is ready, or Reynolds is given a week at 2B to start the season, Muno has made a strong argument that he can be an impactful bat on the Mets bench. Of course spring stats are always to be taken with a grain of salt, and his .400+ BABIP isn’t going to stay this high during the regular season, but other than the high BABIP, this spring has basically just been Muno doing his thing – strong K: BB and an average-ish ISO. This isn’t even the hottest I've seen Muno, as he maintained a ~.250 ISO for ~150 PA in the middle of 2014 with Las Vegas, and finished the season with a .207 ISO over his last 268 PA there.

Is the Mets Great Spring a Sign of Good Things to Come in 2015?

Photo from EMCPhotography

The Mets are at the top of the Grapefruit League Standings with 6 games to go, and they have the best Spring Training run differential in the majors through Sunday, but does such team success mean anything for the regular season?

            The general rule of thumb with respect to Spring Training stats is to throw them out before trying to learn anything from them, but sometimes ignoring the rules can pay off, even if only marginally. The Mets have had an amazin’ Spring thus far, as their offense has been clicking, and the starting pitching looks sharp, even without Zack Wheeler. The bullpen has looked a little shakier, but the return of Vic Black and Bobby Parnell (in late April/early May) should help, as should the presence of Rafael Montero, who looked great against the Yankees last Wednesday. The Mets success has them atop the Grapefruit League standings at 16-11 (.593 winning percentage), with an impressive +46 run differential (the best in the majors) through Sunday, which got me wondering whether teams with such success have historically carried it over into the regular season.
            First, let’s take a closer look at how the Mets rank among Major League teams in a few key stats this Spring Training.

Table 1 – Mets 2015 Spring Training Hitting Statistics and Rank

ST 15

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dillon Gee, A Year of Fortunate Events?

Gee rehabbed back at his first pro stop in 2014
Photo credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Dillon Gee was an exceptional pitcher from the 2nd half of 2013 through the start of the 2014 season, producing an ERA- that would have ranked top 10 in the majors among qualified pitchers in 2013-14, but has been below average by ERA- outside of that stretch, so which Gee should we expect now that he appears likely to take Zack Wheeler’s spot in the rotation?

            Whenever I think about Dillon Gee’s career, I always think back to those SNY commercials from when he was tearing it up in 2007 during his professional debut with the Brooklyn Cyclones – “Fans! Come out to get a glimpse of the future Mets, watch Dillon and Dylan pitch for your Brooklyn Cyclones!” The other Dylan was Dylan Owen, a righty born about 6 weeks after Gee and drafted one round before him. And Dylan Owen would have the better season with Brooklyn that year, posting a better ERA, FIP, K%, HR/9, and a similar BB%. But Dylan Owen would flame out at the highest level of the minors in 2013, while Dillon Gee has compiled a 40-34 record with a 3.91 ERA over 106 games (103 starts) and 639.2 IP for the Mets since his first call-up in September 2010. As a side note, there was another current Mets player on that 2007 Cyclones team – Lucas Duda would have a strong pro debut at age 21 too.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Starter Rotation Slots as Defined by ERA-, FIP-, and xFIP-

Is Noah Syndergaard a future #1?

Defining rotation slots based on ERA-, FIP-, and xFIP-.

            When talking about baseball, it’s common for the discussion to turn to starters and rotations. Even though the distinction is often being made arbitrarily, people like to refer to pitchers as ‘a number 2 starter’ or ‘an Ace’ or even ‘a great 5th starter’ to help define roles within a rotation, and help compare strengths of rotations. It doesn’t have to be completely arbitrary though, as we can use metrics to define rotation slots. But which metrics are best to use? I am not the biggest fan of pitcher WAR, and this has been done before with pitching bWAR anyway – although they took a different approach than I will here. Also, I wanted to use inning independent statistics, and since ERA-, FIP-, and xFIP- are league and park adjusted, I think they were the best choices.
            Considering there are 5 starters per team and 30 teams, I wanted to consider about 150 pitchers for this group – such that the top-30 would be #1 starters and so on. This meant that I had to lower the inning minimum to 80 IP as a starter for the season, which is about half of a season’s worth of starts, just to get the group to include 150 starters. When I lowered the inning minimum to 70 IP, the group increased from 153 to 161, and the ERA- max in 2014 decreased from 173 to 135 (with FIP- and xFIP- following a similar pattern), which seemed more realistic. Almost all teams will need more than 5 starters during the season, and only about 88 have qualified for the ERA title per year in the 2000’s, but it was a little surprising that I had to lower the limit to 80 innings as a starter to reach 150 starters. Also, lowering the inning limit to 80 IP as a starter led to an average of 147.5 starters/season over the last 20 seasons, or 149 over the last 13 seasons. This speaks to how valuable it is just to have a healthy pitcher who can consistently keeps the team close for 5-6 innings/game throughout the season. I added an extra group to the normal 1-5 starter slots in Table 1, listed under ‘Rank – 1-5,’ which is for the ‘True Aces’ of the majors.

Table 1 – 2014 slots, minimum 70 IP as a starter.
1-5 (Ace)
6-30 (#1)
31-60 (#2)
61-90 (#3)
91-120 (#4)
121-150 (#5)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reviewing Terry Collins Tendencies as the Mets Manager

If he's on the hot seat, things probably aren't go as we hoped
Checking in on how the Mets manager stacks up against the rest of the National League skippers.

            Terry Collins elicits some pretty strong feelings from Mets fans, which is the kind of relationship all baseball managers tend to have with their fans, even some of those who have championship success. Over 162 games, there are a lot of decisions that a manager has to make, and almost all seem to enrage some portion of fanbases, especially on social media – as if we armchair managers have any significant fraction of the information available to MLB managers. But when it comes to ranking baseball managers, there is little statistical information available (and almost none used) to compare the men who will inevitably become scapegoats for their team. That’s where the 2015 Bill James Handbook comes in handy, as it had some interesting statistics on current major league managers. You can see how Terry Collins ranked in a few of the statistical categories measured in the Handbook below, and check out the book for even more statistics on major league managers, and a lot more on major league players.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reviewing and Adding to Mets Prospect Sleepers

Image from Metsmerized
Annual guesses as to which prospects you haven’t heard of will be in a lot of prospect lists next year.

            With Spring Training in full swing, it is time for people to start making their baseball predictions for 2015. Sleeper prospects are my favorite offseason predictions, so below I compiled several Mets sleeper prospect lists I found online.

Mets Affiliate Savannah Sand Gnats Might Be on the Move in 2016

This looks like it will be the last season of Mets minor league baseball in Savannah, but if so, they’ll be going back to their roots.

            The Mets have had a lot of minor league teams, playing in a lot of cities at the A-ball level over the years. Since 2007, the Mets A-ball team has been playing in the party city of Savannah, Georgia, and the team has a player development contract with the Sand Gnats franchise that runs through the 2016 2018 season. But the Mets do not own the Sand Gnats franchise, that distinction belongs to the Atlanta-based group Hardball Capital, which also owns some other minor league teams. Hardball Capital had been working with the city of Savannah on getting a new stadium for the Gnats, but the City Council rejected the new stadium proposal last fall. The group was previously successful working with the city of Columbia, South Carolina on a new $37 million baseball stadium – Spirit Communications Park – that had its groundbreaking ceremony earlier this year, but doesn’t have a team for 2016 yet. Although nothing official has been announced yet, it would appear that the days of minor league baseball in Savannah are numbered.
The Gnats play at Historic Grayson Stadium, which was built in 1926, and has hosted minor league baseball in more than 2/3 of pro seasons since. The Hardball Capital group, led by Jason Freier, bought the team in 2008 and had made some upgrades by the start of the 2009 season that were aimed at improving the fan experience. Unfortunately, Freier was already indicating frustration with the stadium, saying,

“We’re dealing with logistical challenges you don’t see anywhere else. There are larger issues we absolutely can’t deal with in this round.”

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Collection of Mets Relief Prospects gifs from 2014

Will any of these guys be warming up in the Mets pen soon?

This final collection from 2014 is the biggest, 95 total gifs of some of the top relief arms in the system: 2 of Chase Bradford, 6 of Erik Goeddel, 30 of Darin Gorski, 4 of Zack Thornton, 8 of Randy Fontanez, 8 of Chase Huchingson, 3 of Jack Leathersich, 5 of Hansel Robles, 6 of Cody Satterwhite, 2 of Jon Velasquez, 16 of Dario Alvarez, and 5 of Akeel Morris.

Chase Bradford

            Bradford started 2014 with Binghamton, but finished as one of the most reliable arms in the Las Vegas pen. He did not allow a walk in his final 22 IP during the regular season, and struck out 29.8% of batters faced during that time. He did allow 4 homeruns during that span, and 6 total with Las Vegas, after allowing only 1 homerun over his 52 innings with Binghamton across 2013-14.

A Collection of Darrell Ceciliani, Travis Taijeron, Kyle Johnson, Jayce Boyd, and Dustin Lawley gifs from 2014

Taijeron and Boyd dig in for Binghamton last season

This group consists of prospects that spent 2014 with Binghamton and have a ‘most likely outcome’ as bench/depth players. There are 71 total gifs: 8 of Darrell Ceciliani, 19 of Travis Taijeron, 15 of Kyle Johnson, 16 of Jayce Boyd, and 13 of Dustin Lawley.

Darrell Ceciliani

            Ceciliani spent his 2nd straight season with Binghamton and finished the season strong, hitting to a .806 OPS over his last 231 PA. He’s fast and plays a strong center field, but he can’t always get away with how shallow he plays out there, and doesn’t take advantage of his speed on the basepaths enough yet (only 16/23 on stolen bases last year).

A Collection of Daniel Muno, Kevin Plawecki and Cory Vaughn gifs from 2014

Plaw and Muno wait for a new pitcher on the mound with Wilmer, Reynolds, Backman, and (former 51s 1B) Dykstra

This collection of 29 total gifs features 3 guys who finished the 2014 season with Las Vegas: 12 of Daniel Muno, 10 of Kevin Plawecki and 7 of Cory Vaughn.

Daniel Muno

            Muno is a switch-hitting utility infield prospect who we’ll probably see manning a bench spot for the Mets in the not too distant future. He’s fast, although he hasn’t turned his speed into high stolen base totals or efficiency in the minors yet, and he can play anywhere in the infield – he’s more than just an emergency shortstop. He hits more and for more power from the left side throughout his minor league career, but he managed a more contact oriented approach from the right side with Las Vegas, which kept his OPS as a righty average.

A Collection of John Gant, Robert Gsellman, Logan Taylor, and Robert Whalen gifs from 2014

The final 4 posts in the gif collection series will be group collections, as there aren’t as many gifs for each individual. This group of Savannah righties with big curves has 49 total gifs: 8 of John Gant, 11 of Robert Gsellman, 18 of Logan Taylor, and 12 of Robert Whalen.

John Gant

            Gant continued to impress as a starter in his first complete year in full season ball, and he finished the season strong with his best month coming in August. Although his L/R OPS splits weren’t very different, Gant had much better strikeout rates against lefties – 29.6 K%: 7.5 BB% vs. L, 16.5 K%: 8.1 BB% vs. R. He went at least 5 IP in 19 of his 21 starts, and at least 7 IP nine times. He also had 10 strikeouts over 6.2 IP in his lone playoff start, a game Savannah would lose 2-1.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Collection of Dominic Smith, Champ Stuart and Victor Cruzado gifs

Champ Stuart (left) and Dominic Smith (right)

            The Sand Gnats don’t get a lot of coverage, so I combined the gif collections of three of their more interesting position prospects from 2014 into one here: 8 gifs of Champ Stuart, 7 gifs of Victor Cruzado, and 7 gifs of Dominic Smith. I started making the gifs too late in the season to get some of the interesting prospects that spent their first half with Savannah.

Champ Stuart

Stuart started making some prospect lists this past offseason thanks to his 80-grade speed from the right side. He’s still raw offensively, but his speed and great arm in center field give him a good chance to at least make it as 4th outfielder at the highest level, though he’ll have to improve his strikeout rates, which were acceptable early in 2014 (25.2 K% over his first 139 PA), but out of control over the last 6 weeks (32.5 K% over his last 166 PA).

A Collection of Cory Mazzoni gifs from 2014

Image from MacksMets

Cory Mazzoni has had health problems and the label as a future relief pitcher for a few years now, but he’s also been a strong starting pitcher when able to get out to the mound. Check out the following 26 gifs of Mazzoni pitching (plus one of him at the plate) to get an idea of his stuff. Mazzoni features a consistently above average 93-95 MPH fastball and mid-80’s slider, and an inconsistent splitter that is filthy when Mazzoni has the touch for it. It was arguably his strongest pitch down the stretch with Las Vegas, when he managed 7+ strikeouts in 4 of his last 5 starts, improving his K: BB rates to 27.1 K%: 1.5 BB%.
Although the Mets may still move him to the pen to use his talented arm in the majors, there were multiple Fangraphs authors who wrote they didn’t think it was necessary this winter. I think he can start so long as he has that splitter working like he did down the stretch, because the other pitches play up when it’s on. If the splitter is working early, he’s the pitching prospect with the best chance to have a deGrom-like, out-of-nowhere run of starting success in the majors – although, he’ll have to steal his chance like deGrom did, and I’m not trying to suggest he’ll make a run for ROY. If he doesn’t get a starting opportunity, don’t be surprised to see the Mets using him in their pen by the end of 2015, as that 3-pitch mix should be very good out there too.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Collection of Noah Syndergaard gifs from 2014


            Noah Syndergaard is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, offering true top of the rotation stuff from a big, durable-looking frame. I’ll shut up now so you can enjoy the 48 gifs of him pitching below, plus one of him picking a runner off of 1B.

A Collection of Tyler Pill gifs from 2014

Pill and his stats with the BMets

            Tyler Pill hasn’t received much press in Mets prospect circles behind all the big names in the system, but this 24-year old righty has a solid 4-pitch mix that you can check out in the following 23 gifs. Pill missed almost all of 2013 with a Bennett’s lesion on his pitching shoulder – minimal google researching suggests it is a somewhat common injury for pitchers that doesn’t usually require surgery, but did in Pill’s case.
He was healthy in time to start the season with Binghamton, but struggled over his first 3 starts – 15 ER allowed over 14 IP with 8 SO: 4 BB and 3 HR allowed. Fortunately for Pill, he’d regain his form the rest of the season, finishing 5 IP in all 18 of his remaining AA starts, and allowing more than 3 ER only once – including his one AAA spot start, Pill finished with a 3.28 ERA/3.04 FIP over his final 115.1 IP in the regular season, with a 25.0 K%: 5.8 BB%, 8 homeruns allowed, and a .634 OPS against. As a side note, Pill was a strong hitting outfielder for Cal State-Fullerton in college, and his bat played in his first chance to hit in the minors last year – he went 8-18 with 2 doubles, a homerun, and no strikeouts against AA pitching.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Collection of Gabriel Ynoa gifs from 2014

Image from MiLB

            Gabriel Ynoa is making the road trip with the team Thursday (3/5), but the game won’t be broadcast on TV, so I put together a collection of the 16 gifs of Ynoa pitching posted on Astromets Mind during the 2014 season. To make the page load quicker, the gifs are included as links (hover zoom helps), and I’ve included links to the game coverage if interested.
            Ynoa is similar to Rafael Montero, in that he has excellent control of his pitches but no clear out pitch. He throws a low-90’s fastball, a solid-average changeup, and a fringy slider that flashes average potential – hopefully he’s working with Dan Warthen on improving that this spring. After a strong 1st half with St. Lucie in 2014, Ynoa was a little less consistent in his first taste of AA, but he’ll still just be 21 when the season begins for him back with Binghamton, so he’s still very advanced for his age. Plus, there’s no rush to get him to the already loaded rotation in Las Vegas.

A Collection of Matt Bowman's gifs from 2014

Image from MiLB

            Matthew Chou Bowman’s run with Las Vegas catapulted him into most offseason top-25 Mets prospect lists, but there isn’t much video/gif coverage of him out there, so I have continued my gif compilation series with the 22 gifs of Bowman pitching posted at Astromets Mind during the 2014 season. The last link posted here has a record of velocities from his start on August 20th, with the velocities coming from the Las Vegas scoreboard. Bowman has a fastball that ranges from 88-93 MPH, a low 80’s slider and changeup, and a low 70’s curveball – his fastball averaged 90 MPH throughout that start.
Bowman tweaked his hamstring at the end of spring training, and while the results were still good for Binghamton early in the season, he didn’t have strong K: BB numbers over the first two months (8 starts) – he had a 20.2 K%: 8.1 BB% over that span, but only had more than 4 strikeouts in two starts. Those rates improved to 22.8 K%: 5.6 BB% over his final 15 starts, including 9 starts with at least 6 strikeouts. One consistent aspect of his game throughout both stretches was his impressive groundball rate, which stayed above 60% for the season. Enjoy the gifs! Hoverzoom might help for these posts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Collection of Steven Matz gifs from 2014

Image from Mets360

By now almost every Mets fan has heard of Long Island native Steven Matz, but not nearly as many have seen him pitch. While I’ve yet to seen him pitch live, I did catch four starts on (and listened to a bunch more on the radio). Here I have compiled all 28 Matz pitching gifs posted at Astromets Mind during the 2014 season (plus one of him bunting and one great Nimmo catch). Matz features a plus fastball that ranges from 93-95 MPH (though has been clocked as high as 97 MPH), and a changeup and curveball that are rated average-to-above-average (depending on the source). He definitely spent more time working on the curveball in 2014, as he’d establish his fastball/curveball combo early, and while it’s not on the level of a Noah Syndergaard curveball, it’s a very strong pitch. Kiley McDaniels of Fangraphs has his changeup currently ahead of the curveball, but I’d say there pretty even.
I have previously done this for Cesar Puello here, Brandon Nimmo at the bottom here and Matt Reynolds here.

A Collection of Matt Reynolds gifs from 2014

Image from Mets360

            Matt Reynolds has been standing out at Mets Spring Training this year, so I thought I’d collect all the Reynolds gifs I created in 2014 and put them into one page – there are 15 hits and two double plays started. I am linking to these so the page won't slow your computer down for a minute, and attaching a link to the game they came from if interested. If you want more on Reynolds, I gave my thoughts on his 2014 season and the role BABIP played in his stats here last October. I got a late start to gifing last year, but hopefully will have enough time to create more gifs this year.

6/27 - Single, Double (Source)

6/29 - Single (Source)

7/4-7/6 - Single, Double (Source)

7/7-7/10 - Single (Source)

7/22 - Single (Source)

8/12 - Single (Source)

8/17 - Single, Single (Source)

9/1 – Single (Source)

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