2015 ranking of all 30 farm systems

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
9:00
AM ET

To kick off my look this week at the best prospects in the minor leagues, I've ranked all 30 MLB farm systems from top to bottom, considering only the players who are currently in the systems and have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. (I use the same criterion for the individual player rankings that will be posted over the next few days.)

Similar to last year, there are only a handful of systems that combine both a few high-impact or high-ceiling prospects and the depth down to and past the end of their top-10 list. (My top 10 rankings by team will be released Friday.) Many systems ranked in the teens boast a couple very good prospects -- say, one or two guys who project as above-average regulars and another two or three who might be everyday guys -- and then it's bench parts and relievers. Those players are good to have, as you'd much rather fill those spots with minimum-salary players than have to reach out to free agency, but their asset value is much lower than the values of prospects who project as average or better.

One major change: You'll notice this year I have more large-market teams in the top 10, as ownership groups in those cities recognize the value in building better stables of prospects, which has included hiring better scouts and coaches away from other organizations. The draft has always offered a competitive advantage to lower-revenue teams willing to put their money into amateur scouting, in part because the clubs with higher payrolls chose to put their cash into the big league roster. If that's no longer true, it will reduce the opportunity for the Pittsburghs and Kansas Citys of MLB to continue to contend.

1. Chicago Cubs

Take a moment to recover from your surprise ...

Wilmer tunes out detractors, preps for 2015

January, 25, 2015
Jan 25
8:23
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Even as Sandy Alderson cracks jokes about the lack of an upgrade at shortstop, projected starter Wilmer Flores said he tries to tune out outside criticism of his abilities.

"You hear people talking all the time: 'Is this guy going to be a shortstop? Can he play shortstop? Can he not?'" Flores told Newsday. "You know what? I can't listen to that. I want to play the way I've been playing. ... I'm not going to say I don't hear things. But I try not to because I know what I can do, man. Honestly, I know what I can do."

New commish defends Fred's finance chair

January, 25, 2015
Jan 25
8:18
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Incoming commissioner Rob Manfred defended the decision to appoint Mets owner Fred Wilpon as the chairman of MLB's finance committee.

“I understand the whole Madoff thing,” Manfred told The New York Times, “but before and since, Fred Wilpon was an extraordinarily successful businessman. The committee -- the finance and compensation committee -- really deals with two issues, principally: executive compensation, which he’s more than capable of dealing with, and a central office budget. Obviously, to be a successful businessman, you have to know how to budget. ...

“If you really understand which committees do what, I don’t see it as an issue. He understands how the budget process in baseball has worked, and he’s more than qualified to fill that role.”

Manfred told the newspaper there are two separate committees unaffiliated with Wilpon that oversee audits to safeguard against fraud.

Alderson pokes fun at lack of SS addition

January, 24, 2015
Jan 24
9:41
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Sandy Alderson, who appears poised to go with Wilmer Flores as the Mets' Opening Day shortstop, was able to make light of his lack of an offseason acquisition to play the position on Saturday night.

On hand at the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America New York Chapter dinner at the New York Hilton, Alderson was presenting an award to Cal Ripken Jr. when he reportedly quipped: "Mets fans have been waiting all winter for me to introduce a shortstop."

Alderson has used that same dinner to poke fun at the Mets before. When the Mets brought in Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Yankees added Masahiro Tanaka a year ago, Alderson joked: “We each signed Japanese pitchers this week. They’re paying $155 million and we’re paying our guy month to month.”

deGrom collects NL Rookie of Year award

January, 24, 2015
Jan 24
9:23
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom received his NL Rookie of the Year hardware during the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America New York chapter dinner on Saturday night in Manhattan.

DeGrom became the fifth Rookie of the Year in franchise history back in November. He appeared first on 26 ballots and second on the other four.

Video: Michael Cuddyer discusses Mets

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
2:34
PM ET


NEW YORK -- Michael Cuddyer entertained schoolchildren from P.S. 92 in Queens on Thursday at Citi Field. He also answered questions from reporters about the upcoming season.

Cuddyer plans to arrive in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Feb. 18 -- six days before the official report date for position players. He actually will spend the upcoming week there, too, working out at Mike Barwis' strength and conditioning camp.

"We'll see how that goes for a week," Cuddyer said. "One reason is to work out, but also to get familiar with the facilities, get familiar with the guys that are down there."

On how the Mets stack up with the Washington Nationals, who recently added Max Scherzer to an already solid team, Cuddyer said: "Obviously they're going to have a great staff. There's no question about it. They've got All-Stars on the staff. They've got ERA champions on the staff, strikeout champions on the staff.

"But, at the same time, we've got a lot of guys that can compete with that as well. I think the Baseball Almanac would be written a lot different if you donned a champion in February every year. So I'm excited to go out there and compete against those guys. It's going to be a challenge, but it's going to be a lot of fun."

As for the Mets adding no players other than John Mayberry Jr. on major league contracts after Cuddyer signed in early November, the ex-Rockie added: "So that's the beautiful thing about the hot stove league: A lot of people get caught up in the signings, and you tend to forget who is actually on the team. I think you look at this roster and you look at the additions in David Wright and the additions of a full season now of [Curtis] Granderson going through the National League, I think the addition of Matt Harvey back to your lineup, you forget that those three guys are going to come back to form. I think those are three great additions that we've been able to make as well."

Second lefty competition remains thin

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
8:16
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Veteran lefty reliever Dana Eveland reportedly has signed with the Boston Red Sox, leaving the competition for a second left-hander to complement Josh Edgin in the Mets bullpen relatively thin.

The competitors for that role should include Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, re-signed Scott Rice, plus farmhands Darin Gorski, Dario Alvarez and Jack Leathersich. Alternatively, Sandy Alderson has indicated the Mets may just go with six righties plus Edgin in the bullpen.

In the latter scenario, Edgin would be in line for extreme usage. And that doesn't bode well for his health, given that predecessors in that role Pedro Feliciano, Tim Byrdak and Rice all required shoulder surgery after being heavily used because of a lack of a capable complement.

Of course, the Mets conceivably could acquire a left-handed reliever in a deal involving Dillon Gee, who figures to be traded this month.

Eveland, 31, had a 2.63 ERA in 27 1/3 relief innings for the Mets in 2014 after spending the previous season in South Korea. However, he did not appear after Sept. 6 and eventually was dispatched home before the end of the season because of inflammation in his pitching elbow.

The Mets had indicated this offseason that they were unsure how capable health-wise Eveland would be to contribute in 2015.

Gilmartin, 24, is a former first-round pick who went 9-7 with a 3.71 ERA in 26 starts between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester last season. He must be offered back to the Minnesota Twins if he does not spend the entire 2015 season at the major league level with the Mets.

Rice underwent elbow surgery to address a nerve issue and remove a bone spur last July 23.
[+] EnlargeDarryl Strawberry
USA TODAY SportsMets money owed to Darryl Strawberry that was seized by the IRS as payment for back taxes was won at auction Tuesday.

The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday auctioned off the money owed to Darryl Strawberry from the New York Mets contract he signed in 1985.

A man, who did not want to be identified, agreed to pay $1.3 million to receive a check from the Mets of $8,891.82 a month for the next 18½ years. Assuming a realistic timeline for the court to approve the sale, the value of the deferred payments will equal close to $2 million.

Strawberry was forced to give a portion of the deferred money from the contract to his ex-wife, Charisse, as part of their divorce settlement in 2006, but the payments were never made. In 2010, Charisse filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and, as part of the proceedings, asked for what was owed. But in September, a judge in the Northern District of Florida ruled that the annuity was the property of the IRS, not Charisse, because Darryl still had not settled his tax debt owed for 1989, 1990, 2003 and 2004.

A person in the room at Tuesday's auction in Fairview Heights, Illinois, said that the IRS momentarily held up the auction as Charisse tried to file an injunction to halt the sale, which required a minimum bid of $550,000.


(Read full post)


Yankees heading back to WPIX

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
2:32
PM ET
The Yankees are returning to WPIX Ch. 11 as their over-the-air TV outlet starting this year, a source confirmed.

The news was first reported by Sports Business Daily.

The Mets, whose games are already on PIX, will not be affected in the short term. A source said there is a pretty good chance that PIX will try to keep the Mets long term as well.

The majority of Yankees games will still be on YES. According to SBD, WPIX would broadcast 21 games for $11-$13 million per year, which averages out to about $500,000-$600,000 per game.

A YES spokesman declined comment.

Besides turning to Ch. 11 instead of Ch. 9, there won't be much difference for fans because the games will be produced by YES and feature the same announcers of Michael Kay & Co.

The Mets declined to comment. Their contract with WPIX runs through 2017.

View from Queens: Enlarged video board

January, 19, 2015
Jan 19
6:04
PM ET
Courtesy of New York MetsThe Mets are enlarging the video surface of their primary scoreboard for the upcoming season by 62 percent. The new dimensions are 54 feet wide by 105 feet high. The video surface contains more than 1.5 million pixels.

Prospect apologizes for positive tests

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
10:43
AM ET
Right-hander Brandon Welch, the Mets farmhand who was suspended 50 games on Friday by Major League Baseball for a second positive test for a drug of abuse, took responsibility for his actions in a series of tweets from his account, @B_Welch21.

"I would like to take this time to sincerely apologize to Mr. Fred and Jeff Wilpon, Mr. Sandy Alderson and the New York Mets organization," Welch wrote. "I am ashamed of myself for my actions that I very much regret. There is nothing I can say that is politically correct that will make this any easier. I let down and disappointed my family, friends, and fans who have supported me throughout my career. Most importantly the New York Mets organization who have given me the opportunity to chase my dream and play the game I love that I put my blood, sweat and tears in.

"This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with. Although you can't go back and change the poor decisions you make in life, you can learn from them and move forward in a positive way in both my life and in my career which I plan to do. I apologize to the Commissioner's Office and Major League Baseball and take full responsibility for my actions and accept the repercussions from the MLB. These were not my intentions and will make me work even harder at my craft and become a better representative in both my self and as a New York Met. I will not accept anything less. My expectations for my self and hopefully from everyone else to become a successful Major League Baseball player will not change cause of this issue.

"I will stay strong through these hardships in life and will not let it get me down. I hope everyone can move past this as I'm willing to do and keep supporting me along the way throughout my career. Thank you!"

Fred Wilpon becomes MLB finance chair

January, 18, 2015
Jan 18
10:35
AM ET

Allison Joyce/Getty ImagesFred Wilpon (right) reportedly is MLB's new finance committee chairman.


With the impending switch from Bud Selig to his hand-picked successor, Rob Manfred, as MLB's commissioner, Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon has not lost his standing within baseball.

In fact, Wilpon will be the new chairman of MLB's Finance Committee, the Daily News reported.

Selig, a steadfast supporter of Wilpon, is retiring at the end of this week.

Mets, Murph avoid arbitration

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
8:03
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Mets and Daniel Murphy have settled on a one-year deal worth $8.0 million, avoiding arbitration.

Murphy will be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.

Lucas Duda and Jenrry Mejia are the lone cases yet to be resolved.

Brandon Welch tests positive

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
5:57
PM ET

NEW YORK -- A minor league pitcher for the New York Mets has been suspended 50 games after a second positive drug test.

The commissioner's office penalized 23-year-old Brandon Welch on Friday for taking a drug of abuse.

Welch was 2-2 with a 5.18 ERA last season for Class A Brooklyn. The right-hander was a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft.

There have been four players suspended this year under the minor league drug program.

Last month, Mets minor league infielder L.J. Mazzilli drew a 50-game drug ban. He is the son of former Mets star Lee Mazzilli.


(Read full post)


Murph, Duda, Mejia trade figures with Mets

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
5:52
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Agents for Lucas Duda, Jenrry Mejia and Daniel Murphy exchanged salary request figures with the Mets on Friday afternoon after failing to reach agreements on 2015 contracts, sources told ESPNNewYork.com.

Duda requested $4.7 million, with the team countering at $3.75 million.

Mejia requested $3.0 million, with the team countering at $2.1 million.

Murphy requested $8.6 million, with the team countering at $7.4 million.

If the sides fail to reach an agreement in the next several weeks, the sides will go before an arbitrator next month. The arbitrator would choose one of the submitted figures -- not a number in the middle.

In Murphy's case, the Mets in the past have steadfastly said they are uninterested in pursuing a multi-year deal. That stance was reiterated Friday by a source to ESPNNewYork.com. Murphy will be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.

The Mets originally had six arbitration eligible players, but Dillon Gee ($5.3 million), Bobby Parnell ($3.7 million) and Ruben Tejada ($1.88 million) all settled.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.289 9 57 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187