Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Luis Hernandez’

Taking Shape

Posted by JD on March 23, 2011

The 2011 Mets’ roster is rounding into shape.  The first round of cuts, comprised mostly of prospects who had little chance of making the roster, took place on March 11.  The second round (which took place on March 19th) can be categorized as a group of AAAA players who had an outside shot (at best) at winning jobs, Dillon Gee, and Luis Castillo. Monday, Oliver Perez finally (mercifully) got the ax and today Justin Turner was optioned to Buffalo.

This is the exciting part of Spring Training for me: the final week or so, where the last few spots on the roster are sorted out. I tend to like the longshots and underdogs: that’s why I’m rooting for Nick Evans to find a spot on the bench. I guess Willie Harris is technically also an underdog, but I can’t help but feel that Evans’ upside outweighs Harris’ by a long shot (and Carlos Beltran’s knee may give both players an extended tryout). The second base competition is a slam dunk for me: I’m rooting for Brad Emaus to win. It’s not that I don’t like Luis Hernandez: the broken-foot home run that ended his season was awesome, but he’s a total non-factor offensively. I mean, Baseball Reference shows that his nickname (or middle name, I can’t figure it out) is “Mendoza”. If any team actually offers an asset for Hernandez, Sandy Alderson & Co. should jump on it immediately. So, two of the competitions are easy for me to diagnose.

The open bullpen spots are a different story. With the exception of Mike O’Conner, all of the remaining candidates have something to offer: Manny Acosta was solid last season after being picked up on waivers from the Braves; Pat Misch has performed above his limited stuff and has gotten results despite being less than overpowering: Pedro Beato is young, throws hard, and probably has the most upside of the bunch (and, as a Rule 5 pick, has to be offered back to the Orioles if he doesn’t make the major league roster); Jason Isringhausen has been a revelation as a reclamation project this spring, and Blaine Boyer has impressed members of the front office with his performance this spring. I’m all for carrying Beato. Beyond that, I can’t make up my mind, and I couldn’t be happier. Each of the candidates are viable major leaguers who probably won’t get through waivers. It’s a breath of fresh air: the Mets have a surplus of viable candidates for the last pitcher in their bullpen.

Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I’m happy with the way they’ve managed their roster this season. I’m content to sit back and watch the players battle it out over the next week or so, reasonably content that Alderson & Co. will make a good decision. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt that way, and that’s the best part of spring training so far.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, Mets, Oliver Perez, Spring Training | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Moving On

Posted by JD on November 22, 2010

It’s over, it’s done, let’s turn the page (please). Now that the Mets have named Terry Collins as their next manager (and announced that Chip Hale and Dan Warthen will remain on as the third base and pitching coaches, respectively), we can move on to a (much, much) more important matter: building a roster for 2011. There are a couple of key dates coming up:

  • November 23: Last date to offer salary arbitration. In the Mets’ case, this applies to Pedro Feliciano. Despite the fact that Feliciano can expect to be awarded a contract of about $4 million in the arbitration process, the Mets should offer it to him. Yes, rumors have swirled that the Mets’ offseason budget may be limited to $5 million, and at 35, Feliciano’s an increasing injury risk. But he is a premium left-handed reliever who would likely command a multi-year deal from another team (the Yankees are already rumored to be interested), so the odds of him accepting would seem to be slim. And if he does? Those same teams might be willing to trade for him. Either way, the Mets should be able to turn Feliciano into some sort of longer-term asset.
  • December 5: Last date to outright a player before the Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 draft is designed to prevent clubs from stockpiling talent in the minor leagues by allowing other clubs to select players who are not on the 40-man roster. The Mets have already made some moves in this area, outrighting Jesus Feliciano, Raul Valdes, Mike Hessman, Omir Santos, and Eddie Kunz, waiving Joaquin Arias, and adding Manny Alvarez, Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin, Josh Stinson, and Armando Rodriguez. There will be other moves made, as John Maine, Luis Hernandez, Oliver Perez, and Luis Castillo still have roster spots.
  • December 6: The Rule 5 draft. This will be interesting. Considering their budget limitations, the Mets will probably make a few picks. I expect them to take a pitcher or two to compete for the open spots in the rotation or bullpen. It’s my goal to go through the other 29 rosters and identify a few targets before the draft but, given my recent track record, there’s a great chance it won’t happen. But I’ll give it a shot. Keep in mind that any players picked must stay on the major league roster the entire year or they get offered back to their former organization (for $25,000).

As an added bonus, there will likely be a free agent signing or three sprinkled in (though maybe not until January). We’re not going to see big signings, but we might see the next R.A. Dickey sign in the coming weeks. This is the fun part of the offseason, watching the moves that shape the roster for next year. Anything is better than watching beat reporters and fans try to read the tea leaves of a managerial search, then endlessly venting over the results (accurately depicted here). We can’t turn the page fast enough, in my opinion.

Posted in Mets, Offseason Moves, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Another Season Ended

Posted by JD on September 19, 2010

Luis Hernandez fouled a pitch off his foot yesterday, then proceeded to hit a home run on the very next pitch. Think about that for a second. This is a guy who, prior to September 3rd, had hit just one home run in 233 major league at bats. A guy who managed just 17 home runs in 3,026 at-bats over nine minor league seasons (0.56 home runs per at-bat). The fact that he hit one off of Tim Hudson is amazing in and of itself, but when you throw in a broken foot it becomes absolutely unbelievable. I’m sure adrenaline played a large part in it (adrenaline that, judging from the pictures I linked to above, looks like it wore off immediately after his first step out of the batter’s box) but, at least in this fan’s mind, that home run will go down as one of the most amazing moments in an otherwise lost season (think Dae Sung Koo’s double off of Randy Johnson).

That being said, this season-ending injury is for the best. I hate seeing players injured, even those I don’t care for. Bench them, cut them, waive them: by all means, please remove ineffective players immediately. But the Mets’ failure to make any of those moves with Hernandez, combined with Jerry Manuel’s insistence on playing him, means that this was pretty much the only way that Ruben Tejada was going to earn the lion’s share of playing time at second base. I’m sorry that it came down to that, but at least Tejada will get a better chance to show us all that he can contribute at this level.

The Mets have been out of the race for weeks now: there was no reason to play Hernandez over Tejada*. The fact that a slam dunk roster move was decided by a season-ending injury is ridiculous and insulting. There’s eight games left at Citi Field and I have plans to attend seven of them, but I’m doing so hoping that next season we have a manager that can fill out a line-up call rationally.

*Actually, there’s NEVER a reason to play Hernandez over Tejada.

Posted in Jeff Francoeur, Jerry Manuel, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Look at Some Non-Roster Invitees

Posted by JD on February 9, 2010

Adam Rubin’s blog, Surfing the Mets, ran the Mets’ announcement of non-roster invitees the other day. As usual, it’s a mix of prospects who are being rewarded for their performance in the previous season and re-treads looking for a chance to make a pay-day. Jenrry Mejia, Ike Davis, Eric Niesen, Francisco Pena, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Ruben Tejada will all get to attend the camp in recognition of the progress they made last year. I’m a bit surprised that Roy Merritt, Dillon Gee and Reese Havens didn’t get the call, but it’s not a bad group.

Carlos Muniz, Jolbert Cabrera, Travis Blackley, Bobby Livingston,and Luis Hernandez comprise the other groups, re-treads who have lost a little luster but are still looking to crack a major league roster. Let’s look at them more closely:

Carlos Muniz: Muniz was drafted by the Mets in the 13th round of the 2003 Amateur Draft. He debuted with Brooklyn in 2003 and spent the next three seasons at the Rookie, short-season A, and advanced A levels until a meteoric rise in 2007. Muniz started the season in AA Binghamton and appeared in three games for the AAA New Orleans Zephyrs before getting the call to the big club in September, making his major league debut on September 25th (he got another shot on September 29th).

Muniz began 2008 in New York and made three appearances before being sent down. He split the rest of the season between New Orleans and New York, appearing in 15 major league and 33 AAA games. His star dimmed as he registered a 78 ERA+ and 1.329 WHIP in New York, and his 2009 was a washout. He appeared in only 12 games before being sidelined with a season-ending injury. 2010 is probably Muniz’ last shot with the Mets. I don’t see any scenario where he starts the season with the Mets, but a good showing at Port St. Lucie could earn him the closer job at AAA Buffalo and make him one of the first call-ups. It’s definitely a make or break year for Mr. Muniz.

Jolbert Cabrera: Cabrera debuted with Cleveland on April 12, 1998. He’s 37 now, the veteran of 1,274 minor and 609 major league games. During that time he’s done everything but pitch and catch and he has a career ERA+ of 76. In a perfect world, he’d land a bench job in Buffalo and never be heard from again. I have a feeling that he’ll earn a starting role in Buffalo and be one of the Mets’ first call-ups in the event of injury. He’s a vast improvement over Angel Berroa and in that respect I’m glad he’s here, but the Mets are screwed if he winds up getting a lot of playing time.

Travis Blackley: Blackley hails from Australia and got his start in the Mariners organization, where he was once considered a top prospect. Baseball America ranked him third among Mariners prospects in 2004 and sixth going into 2005, but he wound up missing the entire season after undergoing shoulder surgery. He returned in 2006 but by 2007 the Mariners were ready to move on and he was traded to San Francisco for Jason Ellison. The Giants gave him another shot to start in the majors but he didn’t really capitalize on it. He’s bounced around a bit since then, getting claimed by Philadelphia in the 2008 Rule 5 draft (where John Sickels still had him ranked as the eighth-best prospect) and signing with Arizona in 2009.

I googled around a bit and came up with two scouting reports: Delaware Online (2007) and the Sporting News (2004). Not too much to go on, but it would appear that the shoulder injury sapped Blackley of some velocity. Where he used to top out in the low 90′s, the Delaware Online report had him topping out the high 80′s. Sounds to me like he’s approaching “crafty lefty” territory. That being said, I think this is exactly the type of player the Mets should target in the days leading up to Spring Training. Still just 27, Blackley still has some potential. Even if he fails to win a spot in the major league bullpen, he could become a valuable asset to the Bisons. He’s well worth taking a chance on.

Oh yeah, his wife is a former Playboy Cyber Girl*. So he’s got that going for him.

*I went back-and-forth debating whether to include a link to the pictures before ultimately deciding that it’s not the direction I want to take here. But they are out there.

Bobby Livingston: Like Blackley, Livingston is a lefty that got his start in the Mariners organization. He’s bounced around since with stints in the Cincinnati, Baltimore and Cleveland organizations. He started 10 games for Cincinnati in 2007 (four of which were quality starts) and, according to Wikipedia, set the record for most hits in a game by a pitcher with four*. His ERA+ was below average that season, but his SO/BB and BB/9 ratios were above average (for that season) and his career BB/9 rate in the minors is a respectable 1.9 and he’s only 27, so there’s still some upside here. Like the Blackley invitation, it’s another quality gamble on a former prospect.

*Which, you know, is totally NOT true. Mel Stottlemyre had five hits for the Yankees in a game in 1964. Livingston doesn’t even have sole possession of the Reds’ record: he shares it with Don Newcombe (1959) and Danny Jackson (1988).

But my opinion of Livingston totally changed when I read this scouting report: Bobby just “wins”. In fact, “he’s a big-time winner” who’s “won everywhere he’s been.” He’s also “as tough as nails with the savvy of a 10-year veteran”. Why didn’t the Mets trade for him four years ago? Well, his 83-86 mph fastball is probably a big reason. Still, all that being said, Livingston isn’t a bad gamble for New York or Buffalo.

Luis Hernandez: I figured I’d start off with the positive: Luis is still only 25. Annnd…that’s about it. Hernandez appeared in 103 games for Baltimore and Kansas City over the past three years and his OPS+ has steadily declined each year, dropping from 73 to 47 to an astounding 28 in 2009 (seriously, what were the Royals thinking?). His minor league stats are equally dismal: a career .617 OPS, 55% career base-stealing percentage, and not one season with more walks than strikeouts. Hernandez could be Ozzie Smith with the glove and be a waste of a roster spot. I feel this speaks to the organization’s lack of depth at the middle-infield positions. I guess it can’t hurt to bring the guy in for a tryout (especially because he’s only 25), but the moment he sees the field in Flushing in 2010 is the moment when we can officially begin planning for 2011.

The odds are long that any one of this group of five makes the roster out of Spring Training, but hopefully this background information can give you a little perspective over the next six weeks.

Posted in Mets, Offseason Moves | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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