New York Mets: Billy Eppler

Morning Briefing: Back to work!

July, 18, 2014
7/18/14
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?

Series preview: Mets at Padres

July, 16, 2014
7/16/14
11:45
AM ET

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets open the second half facing Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Odrisamer Despaigne in San Diego.
METS (45-50, third place/NL East) vs. SAN DIEGO PADRES (41-54, third place/NL West)

Friday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47), 10:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-1, 2.56) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (7-10, 2.85), 8:40 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.90) vs. RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.35), 4:10 p.m. ET

Padres short hops

• The Padres fired GM Josh Byrnes on June 22 and are currently being led by Omar Minaya, A.J. Hinch and Fred Uhlman Jr. in an interim capacity. The reported list of interviewees who remain under consideration to succeed Byrnes include former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, Diamondbacks director of scouting Ray Montgomery, MLB senior VP Kim Ng, Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller and Padres assistant GM Josh Stein.

• Padres legend Tony Gwynn died June 16. The team’s uniforms now include a patch featuring a No. 19 inside the logo of a home plate, which is being worn over the players’ hearts. The team already had a patch recognizing Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who died Jan. 5 at age 89.

• Although neither pitched, right-hander Tyson Ross and closer Huston Street represented the Padres at Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Street actually was selected late to replace Ross, who started San Diego’s first-half finale and was ineligible.

Ross, 27, became the first Padres starting pitcher selected to the team since Jake Peavy in 2007. In his final five starts of the first half, Ross posted a 1.75 ERA and opponents had only a .229 OBP against him. He nonetheless went 1-4 during that stretch. Since June 6, the Padres have scored a total of eight runs in his eight starts.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Ross has induced an MLB-high 164 swings and misses with his slider this season. He throws the pitch 39.4 percent of the time, also the most in the majors among qualified pitchers.


Lenny Ignelzi/Associated PressSeth Smith signed a two-year, $13 million contract extension.


• 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. San Diego’s pitching has been stellar, though. In 24 games since June 18, the staff has produced a 2.08 ERA.

• San Diego signed outfielder Seth Smith to a two-year, $13 million extension that includes a $7 million team option for 2017. He otherwise would have been eligible for free agency this offseason and would have been traded this month. Smith, 31, was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in December for reliever Luke Gregerson. He is hitting .283 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs and has a .387 OBP this season.

• Third baseman Chase Headley, who is eligible for free agency this winter, should be on the move by the end of the month. The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly are among the teams interested. Headley is earning $10.5 million in 2014. Although he is hitting only .226 for the season, the 30-year-old Headley does have a .327 average with one homer and six RBIs in 12 starts in July. Headley told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the production uptick coincides with a grip adjustment with his bat in which the fingers overlap. Headley used that grip for most of his career before abandoning it. “It’s just an overlap,” he told the newspaper. “Not a golf grip, but similar.”

• Left fielder Carlos Quentin is hitting .145 (8-for-55) with one homer since June 17.

Ian Kennedy has 133 strikeouts, trailing only Washington’s Stephen Strasburg (149) and Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (141) in the National League. Kennedy’s strikeout total was the second-most in franchise history before the All-Star break. Andy Benes had 138 strikeouts in the first half in 1994. The Los Angeles Angels reportedly are interested in acquiring Kennedy, who is under San Diego’s control for another season.

• Second baseman Jedd Gyorko (plantar fasciitis) and shortstop Everth Cabrera (hamstring) closed the first half on the disabled list.

• Cuban defector Odrisamer Despaigne, 27, has a 1.35 ERA in four starts since making his major league debut on June 23. His fastball averages 90.7 mph and cutter averages 87.1 mph. He defected in June 2013 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris while the Cuban team was en route to a tournament in the Netherlands. He received a $1 million bonus to sign with the Padres on May 2.

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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