Mets Card of the Week: 1998 Mike Piazza


Sometimes I’m sure it was a hallucination.

The idea that Mike Piazza‘s road from Los Angeles to New York included a week in Miami playing for the Florida Marlins just seems surreal.

But fortunately a number of card companies were on hand to capture this mid-1998 madness.

Among the sets to document Piazza’s time in teal was a product that was having a weird 1998 of its own.

Leaf Rookies & Stars was due to be issued originally as Leaf Rookies & Chase, until parent company Pinnacle went bankrupt that summer. Playoff Brands stepped in and arranged to release the set, distributing much of it through retail channels such as Wal-Mart in pre-priced 12-pack $29.99 boxes.

The cards were relatively hard to find, and became very popular in the ensuing years, with the short-printed rookie of Troy Glaus booking for upward of $125 by the time Y2K came knocking.

The set included both a tight action shot of Piazza in his Mets gear and a short-printed card picturing him in the midst of one of his 19 plate appearances for the Marlins.

Piazza MetsPiazza Marlins

Is Dilson Herrera ready for the New York spotlight?

Dilson HerreraAs another Hot Stove season dawns upon us, Mets fans go back to a familiar niche: talking about the future and complaining about management. In this specific installment, the topic of the immediate future is at hand. The near certain departure of Daniel Murphy will get mixed reactions from fans, some ranging from hate comments about his errors in the World Series to others discussing the departure of the teams “best hitter.” At the end of the day, the truth will lie somewhere in the middle, but it’s becoming more and more clear that the Mets must move on. After the dust settles, a former Pittsburgh farmhand will arrive. Dilson Herrera is his name and, boy, he has been a major tease through 49 career games. So is he up for the task of replacing possibly the second-best second baseman in team history? All signs point to “yes.”

An alarming knock on the young Colombian has been his lack of consistent at-bats in all four Major League stints. When first called up in September of 2014, Herrera showed flashes of brilliance with a trio of home runs and multiple hit games, but he also showed an uncharacteristic strikeout rate with a dearth of hits.

In his final game of 2014, he cranked a monster homerun in Atlanta and injured his hamstring while beating out an infield single. It was a shame to watch Herrera walk off the field after appearing to finally figure out Major League pitching. Nevertheless, he was able to post a .220/.303/.407 in a mere 66 plate appearances- which is not bad for a 20-year old.

2015 proved to be different narrative for the 21-year old as his assignment began on May 1st. Herrera didn’t do much to change the “unproven” tag on his forehead in 2015 as he posted a .677 OPS. However, there were a few moments in which Herrera demonstrated his ability to shine.

Unfortunately there’s no way around it, Herrera hasn’t shown the ability to thrive on the Major League level for more than a few days. That being said, his minor league numbers suggest that Herrera is ready to burst out of his shell. His low strikeout rate in the minors shows his ability to thrive at the top or bottom of a lineup, in addition to his gap-to-gap power that could help him become a premier table-setter in the majors. Furthermore, his numbers actually replace the ever-so-coveted Murphy in the two-hole.

Baseball-Reference expects him to produce a .734 OPS in 2015, while FanGraphs is a bit rough with a .710 OPS. If Herrera simply puts his talents together, don’t be surprised to see him producing Murphyesque numbers from the two-hole.

A la:

13 home runs
65 R.B.I.
35 doubles
15 stolen bases
40:60 BB:K ratio

Beyond his similar production at the plate, it seems logical to believe that Herrera will be a major upgrade over Murphy in the field.

Murphy once again managed to put up embarrassing defensive totals, with a -6 Rdrs and -.4 dWAR in 2015, not to mention a -42 career Rdrs at second base.

Meanwhile, rated Herrera’s fielding a 55 on a 20-80 scale back in 2014 in addition to a 50 arm. In his brief stint in 2014, Herrera was able to post a 1 Rdrs in limited playing time while posting a -2 Rdrs in 2015. Neither of those two statistics can prove much about his defense in the Majors, but it could show that he is capable of league average defense which is something that Murphy was not capable of doing.

Herrera does not have to earn a Gold Glove in 2016, or any year, to be a major defensive upgrade over the former holder of the position. If Herrera can simply provide an adequate glove, supplementing Wilmer Flores up the middle shouldn’t be a problem. It will also be the added bonus of not making us hold our breath when the ball is hit to right side.

The easiest way to justify that Herrera will be a better presence for this team is simply his age. Herrera will be 22 on Opening Day. Murphy will be 31 (maybe 30, depending on where he starts his season). This will simply give the youngster an advantage in the field, on the base paths, and in the eyes of the fans.

Murphy might be able to contribute deep into his 30’s, but his legs were starting to give out the past two seasons. If his legs suffer a major injury, that might be the end of his consistent production. If Herrera’s legs suffer a major injury, he will have the rest of his 20’s to figure it out. Plus, the team needs a younger and more athletic presence on the bases. For a team that was dead last in stolen bases, having a quick guy on the bases could benefit the hitters behind him. Simply put, the team needs to get a bit younger.

The final linchpin to Herrera’s readiness for the spotlight is Herrera himself. He’s goofy and has a New York smile. On June 14th during a rally against the Braves, he put Gatorade cups on his ears. The video is quite silly and shows a certain New York charm that we all crave.

Now this franchise has had polar reactions to characters. The 1986 Mets will go down as the craziest team to roam New York, but if Matt Harvey dares to say something against the status quo, it’s shut down immediately. This team glorifies Lucas Duda because of his lack of words yet has a surly man running the announcer booth (Keith Hernandez). One reason that Mets fans loved Daniel Murphy was because of his charm and unique personality. No matter how many countless errors he committed, he supplemented it with side ward hats and seemingly being the only one trying on the field.

If those cups on Herrera’s ears are any indication of the character he can be, we fans are in for a treat.

Losing a staple of the already impotent lineup might be a tough pill for some to swallow, but sometimes saying goodbye is the only way to look forward. The Mets let go of Jose Reyes, and that was a wise decision. The Giants let go of Pablo Sandoval, that was a wise decision. Hell, even the Cardinals let go of Albert Pujols, and that seems to be a wise decision. You know why those were wise decisions? It’s because a younger player was ready to take his place, it’s the nature of the sport. So as the Hot Stove season gets up and running don’t put too much thought into the right side of the middle-infield, it’ll be fine.

[VIDEO] Trey Amburgey Homerun – Sept. 6, 2015


Trey Amburgey was drafted in round the 13th round.  He played for St. Petersburg College and is a centerfielder … [visit site to read more]

Mets360 2015 projection review: Michael Cuddyer

Michael CuddyerThe Mets went all-in on Michael Cuddyer, signing him to a multi-year deal and surrendering a first-round pick.  It was a bad decision at the time and one that only looks worse after watching him up close for a year.  With that in mind, check in on our original piece to see what we thought coming into the year.  Here was our group forecast:

PA – 430
AVG – .274
OBP – .340
SLG – .460
HR – 12
RBI – 59
UZR/150 – (-8.5)

Here’s how Cuddyer actually did, with the best and worst individual projections among our group.

PA – 408
Best – Hangley (412)
Worst – Koehler (585)

AVG – .259
Best – Parker (.255)
Worst – Walendin (.301)

OBP – .309
Best – Joura (.324)
Worst – Hangley (.362)

SLG – .391
Best – Joura (.397)
Worst – Rogan (.490)

HR – 10
Best – McCarthy (11), Parker (9)
Worst – Rogan, Vasile (16)

RBIs – 41
Best – Joura (43)
Worst – Koehler (75)

UZR/150 – (-11.8)
Best – Rogan (-12)
Worst – Ferguson (-5)

We came pretty close on playing time with our group projection but we bought into the “proven hitter” tripe too much.   We did nail some individual forecasts, though.  The problem was that four people thought he would match in Citi Field what he had done in 2011 in his last non-Coors year.  Compared to the big boys, while we had the most accurate playing time forecast, we predicted the highest OPS, which was not good.  Bottom line is that this was not one of our better predictions.

Coming into 2016, no one expects much from Cuddyer.  At the end of 2015, he was relegated to platoon player and he might not even see that much playing time in the final year of his contract.  Perhaps Collins will always play him when a lefty is on the mound, rotating him among LF, RF and 1B.  But that seems to be the most optimistic scenario out there for him.  He’s certainly not going to be in a straight platoon with Michael Conforto anymore.

This has never been about Cuddyer, the individual, who has always been praised for being a great teammate.  But ideally, these intangibles are what you get from the 25th man on your roster, someone you’re paying something close to minimum wage.  Sandy Alderson deserves a lot of praise for getting the 2015 Mets into the World Series.  But his decision to sign Cuddyer is one that he should be raked over the coals for, one that was easy to see being a bad deal at the time.

Four More Yankees Prospects to Watch in 2016

Hoy Jun Park at the 2015 Instructional League (Bryan Green)

Roughly two months ago, I wrote an article with four Yankees prospects to watch in 2016. The four players on that list were visit site to read more]

[VIDEO] Yankees Prospect Kyle Holder


With their second first-round pick of 2015 draft, 30th overall, the New York Yankees selected shortstop visit site to read more]

Mets360 2016 top 50 prospects: Players 50-47

This is the first entry in our Top 50 prospect list. Four writers contributed to these rankings and what follows is a consensus derived from a fair amount of back and forth among the group. It’s not the list any of us would have come up with individually. At the end of the project we’ll discuss who we thought was overrated on the final list, who was not given enough respect and those who did not make the final cut who might should have. But first we’ll discuss those who did make the list, going four at a time until the top 10, when we’ll discuss two in each entry.

Tyler Badamo50. Tyler Badamo – He’s not a guy with great stuff, topping out around 92 MPH on his fastball but his success in the minors has been solid. In 2014 he showed well against the Gulf Coast League and he repeated his success in Brooklyn last season. The most eye-popping stat on Badamo’s line is the opponent batting average. Badamo kept opponents to a .207 average in 2015, though he did have significantly more difficulty with left-handed hitters. Expect him to be starting Long-Season A-Ball in 2016.

49. Gabriel Llanes – A 15th-round pick in 2014 that the Mets gave a $200,000 overslot bonus to, Llanes is a raw prospect who’s more potential than production at this point. He started his second season with the Mets back in the Gulf Coast League and while he gave up a few more hits than you’d like to see (22 in 17.1 IP) he cut his walks in half from his debut. That earned Llanes a promotion to the APPY, where he had a nice 1.048 WHIP but got hurt by the long ball. It will be interesting to see if the Mets slow play him and send him to Brooklyn in 2016. If that’s the case, we’ll know the “raw” tag still fits.

48. Brandon Brosher – He jumped into the forefront after an eye-opening seven games in Kingsport in 2014. During those 31 ABs the catcher managed an OPS of 1.198 and clubbed 4 HR. Brosher’s season was cut short by a broken fibula, along with tendon issues that required surgery. The good news in 2015 was that he played the whole year without suffering any more injuries and was able to stay behind the plate. The bad news is he didn’t hit. Catchers with power always get the benefit of the doubt. If Brosher played any other position, he wouldn’t be on this list this year.

47. Mickey Jannis – He was pitching for the Long Island Ducks at one point last year and his future in the big leagues depends upon the most erratic of pitches, the knuckleball.  The Mets rescued him from the Independent Leagues, and he pitched well in the Florida State League before earning a late-season promotion to Double-A. The real exciting news is how well he pitched in the Arizona Fall League, where he finished 10th in the league in ERA. Of course, everyone will make the comparison to R.A. Dickey but the odds of Jannis winning the Cy Young Award one day are about nil. Still, given his performance among the game’s top prospects out in Arizona, he’s definitely someone to watch in 2016.

Brian Joura contributed to this report.

The Mets should bring back Jenrry Mejia

MejiaWe all know the story, and we all remember the headlines. We probably remember the frustration we felt, like the wind was knocked from our guts when we heard that Jenrry Mejia would be suspended a second time, resulting in a 162 game suspension. Although he will not be back until August next season, there is a case for the Mets to pay him arbitration and return to the team next season.

This past season, we saw the rise and dominance of Jeurys Familia. There is no doubt Familia will be the closer moving forward, and Tyler Clippard or Addison Reed might come back to be the setup man. The bullpen should be getting Josh Edgin back from Tommy John surgery, and Jerry Blevins could return. There are multiple question marks as of now, but moving forward in the offseason, there will be a couple of signings and possible trades that strengthen the bullpen.

If all the names mentioned return to the bullpen, it would form a solid bullpen, and the need for Mejia may not be needed, but there are some benefits to bringing him back. First off, he is only 26 years old, which is young compared to the other veterans. Second, it never hurts to have former closers as relief pitchers. Yes Clippard and Reed have experience, but it never hurts to have options towards the backend of games. Also, there is a tremendous advantage to having the last three innings planned out when your team is winning. The problem is that the combination could be overused and fatigued, which is where Mejia comes in. His ability to pitch multiple innings could be utilized in these situations to give the more used relievers a break. Lastly, he would come cheap. Mejia’s contract (should it stay $2.5 million) would only be paid for the time he comes back. It would not hurt the payroll too much, enabling the organization to let a reliever go to save money and put it elsewhere.

Due to the suspensions, there may be backlash that the Mets face for resigning Mejia. If he performs well out of the bullpen, the backlash will be over quickly. We have seen that from our crosstown rivals this past season. Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees were scrutinized throughout the past two years, and the circus would have run rampant if A-Rod did not perform. Turns out that he was a solid contributor for the Yankees, and put together a nice season, which quieted the media.

The Mets also had a PED user on the team this past season, and he turned out to be one of baseball’s most beloved players. That may not be the case with Mejia, but who knows what could happen.

Bullpens are one of the most unpredictable components of baseball. Some years it seems that a reliever comes out of nowhere and is lights out, while a successful closer struggles big time, and is relegated to a minor role. We cannot be sure if these proven veteran names will come through next season for the Mets, nor can we be sure if the young arms (like Erik Goeddel, Jack Leathersich or Hansel Robles) will rise up to become setup relievers. It never hurts to have solid options waiting in the wings, and if the Mets need a midseason acquisition to help the bullpen, Mejia would be a tremendous boost, and that is why they should bring him back.

Yankees Position Prospects Shine in Arizona Fall League

Gary Sanchez ( Ryan "Moose" Morris - Freelance Photographer)

The Arizona Fall League came to a close on Saturday evening after the Scottsdale Scorpions defeated the Surprise Saguaros in the league championship game, 6-4.

Despite falling a few runs short of hoisting the AFL title, the Yankees collection of … [visit site to read more]

[VIDEO] Yankees Prospect James Kaprielian Pitching


The New York Yankees selected James Kaprielian in the first round of the … [visit site to read more]