Kevin Long breaks down Mets hitters
New Mets hitting coach Kevin Long spoke at length this morning, offering his take on several Mets hitters. Read the story on Mets.com, but also check out these bonus takes:
On Curtis Granderson: “When I’ve seen Curtis — and I’ve seen him at a very high level — he’s able to get on base. He’s able to drive the ball. And certainly the top of the order, those guys are going to get more at-bats throughout the year. Let’s say he hits sixth. He’d probably lose 70, 80 at-bats to the guy who hits leadoff. So do you want your best hitters and the guys who get on base the most? Certainly you do. There’s some other options, so that’s not etched in stone, but we’ll say how this plays out. Terry’s ultimately is going to have the final say-so on that. But Curtis has done it before. He’s capable of doing it. So we’ll just see how it plays out.
“Obviously we’ve worked on a few things, and we’re going back to the blueprint of when he was with the Yankees. There are a couple minor things that we’re working on. One is getting his hands into a consistent position, and just getting him to feel the consistency he had, the shortness to the ball, obviously the compact swing that he had, the explosiveness — it’s all in there. It’s just a matter of going back, kind of going through the video, getting together, trying some things in the cages and seeing if we can gain on it. And I think we have. I think he feels good about his work that he’s done in the offseason, and now coming into Spring Training — it’s not that we’re gaining momentum anymore, it’s more about staying where he’s at now.
On Juan Lagares: “Juan’s talented. I’ve noticed that and I’m excited about this player. He’s got a nice demeanor about him. He’s confident. Obviously he’s going to have to hone in on the strike zone and kind of take these chases and these swings out of the zone, and be able to lay off some pitches, and determine what’s a pitch that he can do damage to. And if he can’t, certainly laying off is going to do what? It’s going to increase his on-base percentage. I think with Juan, it’s more about, ‘Can we maximize his ability to get on base?’ So he’s got some work to do.
“There’s drills you can do. There’s a lot of vision stuff. And I’ll use Robinson Cano as an example because he’s the guy who sticks out, but we really paid attention to what he was swinging at, talking about his ‘A’ swing, talking about doing damage to the ball, talking to him about, ‘Today, you swung at seven pitches out of the zone. Let’s see if we can get that number down to four a day.’ And then all of the sudden, the four turns into two.’ Instead of trying to get there all at once, you gradually get there. So we’ll do strike zone stuff where we’ll say, ‘Okay, let’s just swing at pitches middle-away. Anything in, take it, instead of trying to cover the whole strike zone and expand it.’ You can do that early and you can do that in plus counts, and a lot of times that we’ll help as well.
“He’s got a good swing and he’s always had the ability to get hits. He finds a way. I think he hit .285, which the Major League average is .250, so he’s 35 points up there. What we’re looking at is, ‘What is his on-base?’ It’s probably .315, .320. If we can get that number up to .350, .360, you’ve gain on it quite a bit.”
On David Wright: “He’s a tough one for me to kind of give you an honest evaluation of. I wasn’t here. I didn’t live it. I didn’t see it. I couldn’t see his face. I didn’t know what kind of workload he was able to do or not able to do. So in David’s case, certainly I can tell you that if I’ve got a shoulder issue and I need to get extension, at some point it’s going to pinch. And it’s going to hurt. So if you saw him cutting off his swing and not getting through baseballs or not driving the ball, you can put two and two together and say they probably had something to do with it.”
On Travis d’Arnaud: “It’s funny because when I looked at Travis and I looked at him early on, it was almost like the competitiveness was out of him. The athlete, he was thinking too much. He wasn’t trusting his ability, and probably what had gotten him to the big leagues. Maybe he didn’t know if he could compete at this level. I think when he went back to Triple-A, he said, “You know what, I’m going to go back to the way I hit.’ And one of those things was getting on the plate. Getting on the plate certainly helped him a great deal. I could see his confidence level rise, I could see his swing start to come together, and really I’ve done very little with Travis — almost nothing, other than keep his confidence level up and his spirits up, and let him know that what you did last year when you came back was enough, and it was terrific.”
On Lucas Duda: “He’s well aware that he needs to work. And all lefty-on-lefty stuff is, or righty-on-righty stuff, it’s angles. So we’ll get different angles and we’ll get the ball coming from this angle a lot more than this angle. Obviously he’s had some success [against right-handed pitchers]. He’s had some success [against lefties] in the Minor Leagues. So it’s here. He can do it. When he’s able to swing, we’ll get back to doing some lefty-on-lefty stuff, and see if we can’t get him a little bit more consistent there. Obviously we’re talking about a 30-home run guy. There’s not many of those in the Major Leagues. So the more that we can get Lucas in the lineup, the better off we’ll be.
“Using the whole field certainly will get that average where it needs to be. But Lucas, if I’m not mistaken, I think he has power to all fields. Certainly we’ve seen more to the pull side, and most hitters are going to have more power to the pull side, but this something that Lucas has done in the past. He’s been able to drive the ball to all fields. So I’m sure some of our attention will go to that, and we’ll see if maybe we can get that average to elevate just a little bit.”
On Bartolo Colon: “Bartolo’s got some work to do [laughing]. He’s not too vested in putting that much time into getting his swing where it needs to be. He said he had two hits last year, and I said, ‘How about four hits this year?’ And he said, ‘How about three?’ That’s where we’re at with Bartolo.”