New York Mets: A.J. Reed

Morning Briefing: Back to work!

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:04
AM ET
SAN DIEGO

FIRST PITCH: Play ball!

After a four-day All-Star break, the Mets get back to business, trying to build on their 8-2 homestand that closed the first half.

The Amazin’s resume play against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park at 10:10 p.m. ET Friday. Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99 ERA) opposes right-hander Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47).


USA TODAY SportsThe Mets open the second half facing Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Odrisamer Despaigne in San Diego.


That kicks off a 10-game trip that also includes stops in Seattle and Milwaukee.

The Padres rank last in the majors in runs (279), average (.214), OBP (.273) and slugging percentage (.334). They lost consecutive 1-0 games to the Los Angeles Dodgers to close the first half. However, San Diego’s staff has a 2.08 ERA in 24 games since June 18.

Read the Mets-Padres series preview here.

Friday’s news reports:

Daniel Murphy tells Marc Carig in Newsday that his agents have not had any extension talks with the Mets. Murphy, making $5.7 million this season, is eligible for arbitration a final time this winter. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.

"I think that anybody would be willing to listen to an extension," Murphy told the newspaper. "They're not just passing out at-bats in this league. I don't know what the years or anything would look like. But at the point you come and say, 'Hey, we trust you with 600 at-bats [in each] of the next three to five years,' you're like, 'Yeah, I would like that.'”

• Former Mets GM Omar Minaya tells Mike Puma in the Post that the contribution of holdovers from his regime -- including Juan Lagares, Jacob deGrom, Murphy, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia -- does not feel like vindication.

“I don’t think that way,” said Minaya, who is currently helping oversee the Padres in an interim capacity after the firing of Josh Byrnes as general manager. “You do your job. And when teams don’t win in [New York], people’s opinions are a product of it. We felt very comfortable and believed we had a plan in place to get athletes, to get good players to the major leagues. And it’s an organization, not just one person. Part of it has been Paul DePodesta and Sandy Alderson. They are part of bringing these guys along. It’s not an individual thing.”

• In a lengthy ESPNNewYork.com article by Andrew Marchand on Mets fandom, Jonathon Niese said: “We are not filling the stadium. Where are the Mets fans when we are down-and-out? They were here in '06 and '07 when we were really good, but we have struggled and they are not coming to the stadium."

• Puma in the Post chats with Terry Collins on the eve of the second half.

On the Mets’ postseason potential, Collins said: “We’ve got 67 games to go and we’ve got 39 in our division. If we end up having a good record against our division, I think we’re going to be in the mix at the end.”

On whether key bullpen pieces are overworked, the manager said: “Hell, I won’t know that until the end of August. That last month of the season is when those guys who are in the big leagues for that first full season, some of that stuff starts to show up. The fatigue, the pressure of 145 games at that time, and you can start to see it … because their minor-league seasons would have been over and they’re still playing. So how they handle that situation will determine how that last month will go.”

Carlos Torres leads all major league relievers with 59 1/3 innings. Familia’s 45 relief appearances trail MLB co-leaders Brad Ziegler (Arizona) and Will Smith (Milwaukee) by four.

• Back from the Futures Game, Noah Syndergaard allowed seven runs in five innings as Las Vegas lost to Salt Lake, 7-6. Dustin Lawley had a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs as Binghamton beat Trenton, 8-4. Michael Fulmer tossed six scoreless innings in the nightcap as St. Lucie split a doubleheader with Brevard County. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Ron Darling is “extremely optimistic” about the Mets, he tells Bob Raissman in the Daily News.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal asks three questions: Can the Mets continue to produce at the plate? Will the Mets wheel and deal before July 31? And will Syndergaard debut this season?

• Diamond in the Journal also revisits signing Chris Young over Nelson Cruz.

• Justin Terranova in the Post writes that the Mets can become deadline buyers.

• Matt Ehalt in the Record lists five people under scrutiny in the second half: Collins, Alderson, Travis d'Arnaud, Ruben Tejada and deGrom.

• Tim Healey at MLB.com revisits last August’s trade of Marlon Byrd, which yielded Vic Black and Dilson Herrera.

Jeremy Hefner tossed two innings in the Gulf Coast League on Thursday, in his second game since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Zack Wheeler is one of nine candidates in MLB who could demonstrate significant second-half improvement, Baseball Prospectus suggests. The site writes:

Wheeler has walked more than two batters just twice in past 11 starts (after cracking that threshold five times in his first eight games), and he entered the All-Star break with a string of three consecutive starts in which he pitched six or more innings and surrendered just a single run. He has also honed his stuff since last season, adding 0.5 mph to his fastball (which is now averaging 95.9 mph) and diversifying his pitch mix. He has doubled the frequency of his changeup, and though it is still the weakest offering in a repertoire that features a pair of plus breaking pitches, Wheeler has the potential to be dominant if he can refine el cambio. He has also kept the ball on the ground this season, upping his ground-ball rate by 10 percentage points while surrendering just seven bombs across 108.3 innings (only two homers have come since he turned 24 on May 30th), while his component stats have all trended in positive directions.

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger looks at the value of catchers framing pitches.

• Mets first-round pick Michael Conforto was in L.A. on Thursday as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s top collegiate player. The honor went to the University of Kentucky product A.J. Reed. Conforto is due to rejoin Brooklyn on Friday and make his professional debut shortly thereafter.

• Keith Law placed four Mets prospects in his top 50 in MLB: Syndergaard at No. 16, Conforto at No. 32, Brandon Nimmo at No. 34 and Dominic Smith at No. 49. ESPN Insiders can read the commentary here.

• Friday is the MLB deadline to sign players from June’s draft. The Mets do not plan to sign any more of their remaining picks, DePodesta told ESPNNewYork.com. Eleven college-bound prep players went unsigned: Luke Bonfield (21st round), Richard Moesker (23rd), Tommy Pincin (26th), Keaton McKinney (28th), Chris Glover (32nd), Brady Puckett (33rd), Jordan Hand (34th), Jonathan Teaney (35th), Garett King (36th), Tristan Gray (37th) and Kyle Dunster (38th). Bonfield and McKinney are headed to the University of Arkansas.

• The Padres have narrowed their GM search to four finalists, Scott Miller tweets: Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, MLB senior VP Kim Ng and Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller.

BIRTHDAYS: Hall of Famer Joe Torre, who finished his playing career with the Mets, turns 74. ... Minor-league pitcher Robert Gsellman is 21.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Which Mets player will take the biggest leap forward in the second half?

Farm report: Mazzoni finally Vegas-bound

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
9:26
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Cory Mazzoni was slated to be part of a standout Triple-A rotation to open the season with Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom.

Instead, the honor of starting the Grapefruit League finale on getaway day for the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., became a major setback for the 2011 second-round pick out of NC State.

With the Mets wanting to avoid using Bartolo Colon against the Nationals since he also was due to face them in his first regular-season outing, Mazzoni took the March 27 start at Tradition Field. He was forced to leave the game against Washington in the second inning because of what eventually was diagnosed as a right lat-muscle strain.


Courtesy of New York MetsCory Mazzoni


Only now is the 24-year-old Mazzoni due to head to Las Vegas.

In what was expected to be his final tune-up before joining the 51s, Mazzoni tossed seven innings for Binghamton at Erie on Saturday. That was his fourth minor-league appearance as he gets back into pitching shape.

“I thought it was going to be a couple-of-week thing,” Mazzoni said. “It was tough being out that long, seeing all of your friends pitching well and stuff in Double-A and Triple-A. It’s definitely tough to watch.

“You see what deGrom did in Triple-A and now he’s in the big leagues, pitching really well. Obviously everything gets pushed back a little bit now. But you still have to keep the same mindset and you can’t dwell on that.”

Mazzoni went 5-3 with a 4.36 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) with Binghamton in 2013 before requiring season-ending surgery on Aug. 2 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Mazzoni’s fastball sits at 92-94 mph. He also throws a slider and changeup. He is projected to pitch in relief in the majors.

“He’s come with some high recommendations from the people in the organization that this kid can be an absolute late-in-the-game kind of bullpen guy, because he’s got three quality pitches,” Terry Collins has said.

Said Mazzoni: “I can always work on fastball command. I’m still developing my splitter. It needs to be a little bit more consistent. But my arm feels good, and I feel like my stuff is pretty good. It’s just refining and tweaking it a little more.”

Organization leaders

Average: Matt Reynolds, Vegas, .350; John Mora, GCL Mets, .338; T.J. Rivera, Binghamton, .336; Enmanuel Zabala, GCL Mets, .329; Oswald Caraballo, Kingsport, .323; Matt den Dekker, Vegas, .312; Dilson Herrera, Binghamton, .312; Jeff McNeil, St. Lucie, .312; Kevin Plawecki, Vegas, .308.

Homers: Dustin Lawley, Binghamton, 16; Andrew Brown, Vegas, 15; Brian Burgamy, Binghamton, 15; Allan Dykstra, Vegas, 12; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 12.

RBIs: Allan Dykstra, Vegas, 59; L.J. Mazzilli, St. Lucie, 58; Brian Burgamy, Binghamton, 53; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 53; Kevin Plawecki, Vegas, 53.

Steals: Patrick Biondi, Savannah, 19; Dilson Herrera, Binghamton, 17; Jeff McNeil, St. Lucie, 15.

ERA: Marcos Molina, Brooklyn, 0.94; Rob Whalen, GCL Mets, 1.67; Octavio Acosta, Brooklyn, 1.86; Kevin McGowan, St. Lucie, 2.14; Steven Matz, Binghamton, 2.41; Robert Gsellman, Savannah, 2.89; John Gant, Savannah, 2.97; Corey Oswalt, Brooklyn, 3.16; Matt Bowman, Vegas, 3.43; Darin Gorski, Vegas, 3.51.

Wins: Gabriel Ynoa, Binghamton, 10; John Gant, Savannah, 9.

Saves: Chasen Bradford, Vegas, 12; Robert Coles, St. Lucie, 12; Randy Fontanez, Binghamton, 10; Akeel Morris, Savannah, 8.

Strikeouts: Darin Gorski, Vegas, 96; Dario Alvarez, Savannah, 89; Steven Matz, Binghamton, 87; Matt Bowman, Vegas, 85; Noah Syndergaard, Vegas, 82.

Short hops

• First-round pick Michael Conforto is due to head to Los Angeles for Thursday’s Golden Spikes Award. Conforto, who officially signed on Friday after a standout career as an outfielder at Oregon State, is one of three finalists for the award, which goes to the nation’s top amateur player. The winner will be revealed on “SportsCenter.” The other finalists are LSU right-hander Aaron Nola (selected seventh overall by Philadelphia) and Kentucky left-hander/infielder A.J. Reed (a second-round pick by Houston). Conforto is due to rejoin the Brooklyn Cyclones on Friday and should make his professional debut shortly thereafter.

Matt Reynolds has continued his offensive surge since a promotion to Triple-A. In 24 Pacific Coast League games, the former second-round pick out of Arkansas is hitting .337/.389/.453. Not known for being accomplished defensively, Mets personnel nonetheless say he is showing better range at shortstop than Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla possess. That’s not a terribly high bar, but suggests he may be viable at the position in the majors.

Allan Dykstra, who won Monday’s Triple-A Home Run Derby in Durham, N.C., topped a familiar face in the finals. Former Mets minor-league teammate Francisco Pena finished as the runner-up.

Pena, a catcher like his All-Star father Tony Pena, left the Mets last offseason as a minor-league free agent and signed with Kansas City. The 24-year-old Pena made his major league debut on May 20, catching the final inning, but was returned to Triple-A Omaha without a plate appearance. He did throw out the first would-be base stealer against him. His father formerly managed the Royals and his brother Tony Jr. played there. He is hitting .254 with a career-high 18 homers and 40 RBIs in 205 PCL at-bats this season.

Dykstra will serve as the PCL’s DH for Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game.

• The Eastern League All-Star Game also will be played Wednesday night. Representing Binghamton at Altoona, Pa.: infielder Brian Burgamy, outfielder Kyle Johnson and right-handers Cody Satterwhite and Jon Velasquez.

• Left-hander Blake Taylor, the player-to-be-named acquired from Pittsburgh with Zack Thornton in the April 18 trade for Ike Davis, has been promoted from the Gulf Coast League to Kingsport. Taylor, who turns 19 on Aug. 17, made three GCL appearances. In 10 2/3 innings, he allowed two unearned runs and one hit while walking seven and hitting a batter. In his K-Mets debut Monday, Taylor was pulled one out into the third inning. He was charged with four earned runs on six hits and two walks.

• Binghamton right fielder Travis Taijeron has been named Eastern League Player of the Week. For the week ending Sunday, the 25-year-old Taijeron hit .400 (8-for-20) with three homers and 10 RBIs and had a league-leading .900 slugging percentage. The former 18th-round pick out of Cal Poly Pomona is hitting .251 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs in 227 at-bats this season with the B-Mets.

• Binghamton reliever Hamilton Bennett, 26, was released by the organization last week. The former 29th-round pick in 2010 out of Tennessee Wesleyan College had produced a 3.38 ERA in 10 appearances with Double-A Binghamton this season. A Mets official said the release came at Bennett’s request.

• Montero is nearing a return to Vegas. He tossed four scoreless innings for Class A St. Lucie on Monday. Five days earlier he had logged two innings in the Gulf Coast League. Montero had been sidelined since leaving a Triple-A start on June 14 after only five pitches with a strained left oblique.

• Catcher Ali Sanchez, right-hander Adonis Uceta and infielder/catcher Victor Moscote represent the Mets on the Dominican Summer League All-Star team.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
8 4.12 95 126
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .288
HRL. Duda 14
RBID. Wright 50
RD. Murphy 57
OPSL. Duda .829
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 112