Results tagged ‘ Collin Cowgill ’

Do the Mets really have the best outfield in baseball?

Back in November, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson turned heads by glibly answering, “What outfield?” when asked about the makeup of that unit heading into the season. It became a rallying cry for frustrated fans later in the winter when the Mets did nothing to address the situation, heading into April with a starting trio of Marlon Byrd, Lucas Duda and a Kirk Nieuwenuis/Collin Cowgill platoon.

Predictably, that unit scuffled over the first half of the season, to the extent that the Mets promoted and demoted various outfielders, even signing Rick Ankiel for a stretch. So it was interesting Wednesday to hear Alderson offer this choice quote:

“Interestingly, we spent the first half of the season adding players,” the GM said on a post-trade deadline conference call. “We’ve added to the starting rotation, we’ve added in the bullpen, we’ve taken what seemed to be a fairly barren outfield in the beginning of the season, and turned it into maybe the most productive outfield in baseball.”

Can that be? A quick look at the numbers reveals that, amazingly, Alderson is not far off in his assessment. Mets outfielders compiled 3.4 Wins Above Replacement in July, according to Fangraphs, second behind only the Rays (see the top 10 in the Fangraphs chart below). Compare that to June, when their 0.6 mark ranked 25th in MLB, or May and April, when their 0.0 and -0.3 marks indicated that the Mets, in theory, would have been better off with a random group of minor leaguers.

metsOFwarchart

The biggest difference has been Juan Lagares, who (along with Duda’s absence) has transformed this bunch from a poor defensive outfield into a significantly above-average one. Lagares has also hit with aplomb since taking over the everyday center field job, just as Byrd has transformed into a reasonable cleanup option for the Mets. In left field, the Mets have also received unexpected production from Eric Young, Jr.

Can they keep it up? Probably not. WAR is a flawed stat, the offensive figure above is partially BABIP-fueled, and nothing in Lagares’ profile suggests he will continue to hit like this (a .369 average in July). A slump also seems inevitable for Byrd, who has been white-hot since May, while Duda’s return from the DL will damage the unit’s defensive production.

But at the least, it appears Alderson’s “What outfield” quip no longer applies. And that, for the Mets, is an unexpected accomplishment.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Marlins 4, Mets 3: Three Up, Three Down

Free baseball! Lots of it.

Three Up:
1. C John Buck: What more can one say about this guy? He may not be as white-hot as he was over the first two weeks of the season, but his power production has barely slowed. And his handling of the pitching staff may be even more valuable.

2. 3B Justin Turner: Subbing for the injured David Wright, Turner’s 3-for-5 effort ensured their would be no loss of offensive production. He even made a nifty (harrowing?) play on defense to cut down the lead runner in the seventh.

3. SS Ruben Tejada: Another real nice play on defense, and the last of Tejada’s three hits could have (should have?) been the game-winner. This man is playing quite well in all aspects of the game.

Three Down:
1. 2B Daniel Murphy: This is turning into a troublesome slump (1-for-19) for Murphy, who is no longer spraying line drives all over the field. He’s too good a hitter to stay down for long, but it’s been a rough ride over the past few games.

2. RHP Bobby Parnell: You can argue that Parnell’s second blown save, like his first one, was not entirely his fault. But the fact is, Parnell put the leadoff men on base on a rocket double in the ninth and a hit batsman in the 10th. That’s not acceptable.

3. OF Collin Cowgill: In the game for defensive purposes, Cowgill’s misplay of Rob Brantly’s pop fly in the ninth directly led to the game-tying run. Offensively, he remains mired in a season-long slump.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+8
C John Buck
+3
RHP Matt Harvey, INF Justin Turner, SS Ruben Tejada

+2
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Marlon Byrd, LHP Scott Rice, 3B David Wright, LHP Jon Niese
-1
RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Brandon Lyon, OF Lucas Duda, C Anthony Recker, OF Mike Baxter, RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Bobby Parnell
-2
RHP Greg Burke, LHP Aaron Laffey, OF Jordany Valdespin
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

-4
LHP Josh Edgin
-6
1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Nationals 7, Mets 6: Three Up, Three Down

The Mets are now 7-1 when Jon Niese and Matt Harvey pitch, and 1-7 with everyone else.

Three Up:
1. C John Buck: He may have stopped hitting home runs every single game, but Buck’s base hits have still been big. His RBI double in the seventh inning Saturday temporarily tied the game for the Mets.

2. SS Justin Turner: Turner has started five games this season. He is 10-for-22 with two doubles and three RBI in those games.

3. OF Collin Cowgill: It’s been a tough couple of week for Cowgill, who has not done much since his Opening Day grand slam. That two-run single to put the Mets on the board against Gio Gonzalez must have felt good.

Three Down:
1. RHP Jeremy Hefner: You can live with hits against Hefner, but he is not the type of pitcher who can get away with three walks in four innings. That’s the one thing that needs to change.

2. LHP Aaron Laffey: When Laffey entered the game in the fifth inning, it seemed conceivable that the Mets might try to get two or three innings out of the lefty. Instead, they received two outs (and three runs).

3. 1B Ike Davis: Another 0-for-4, including three strikeouts, has some wondering whether Lucas Duda might be the better fit higher in the lineup.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+7
C John Buck
+4
RHP Matt Harvey

+3
OF Marlon Byrd, 2B Daniel Murphy
+2
INF Justin Turner
+1
LHP Jon Niese, LHP Scott Rice, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, 3B David Wright, OF Collin Cowgill
-1
RHP Jeurys Familia, RHP Dillon Gee, OF Mike Baxter, OF Lucas Duda, RHP Jeremy Hefner
-2
RHP Greg Burke, SS Ruben Tejada, OF Jordany Valdespin, LHP Aaron Laffey
-3
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
-4
LHP Josh Edgin, 1B Ike Davis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets 4, Marlins 3: Three Up, Three Down

When Marlon Byrd stepped to the plate in the ninth inning Sunday, do you think he knew he was at risk of losing a point in this space for the first time this season? I do too.

Three Up:
1. OF Marlon Byrd: Can’t lie to you: Byrd was on the Three Down list before coming up with a game-winning two-run single in the ninth. Was his soft ground ball more a product of opportunity than anything else? Sure. But here at Three Up, Three Down, we reward walk-off hits 100 percent of the time.

2. RHP Greg Burke: The only reason the Mets stayed close all afternoon is because Burke wriggled out of Laffey’s jam in the fifth inning, giving the Mets 1 2/3 key innings of relief. For the first time this season, he aimed for strikeouts instead of ground balls, finding some success in the process.

3. SS Ruben Tejada: Not only did Tejada’s error streak end, but he also reached base twice and stole a critical base with one out in the seventh. Most importantly, he made an aggressive (and fortuitous) dash on the base paths, going first to third on Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ one-out single in the ninth. That was huge.

Three Down:
1. LHP Aaron Laffey: Ten hits in 4 1/3 innings ain’t going to cut it. Laffey’s rope in the rotation can’t be very long, which is bad news for the Mets; with Shaun Marcum out indefinitely, they don’t really have a good in-house alternative.

2. OF Lucas Duda: Two strikeouts and an 0-for-4 were bad enough, but Duda also took an, um, questionable route to Rob Brantly’s double in the seventh. That one did not come back to bite the Mets, but it reminded them that Duda is hardly a natural out there.

3. OF Collin Cowgill: Known primarily for his work against lefty pitching, Cowgill drew a tough assignment leading off against hard-throwing Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez, an electric right-hander. But, again, life ain’t fair.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+2
LHP Jon Niese, C John Buck
+1
RHP Matt Harvey, RHP Dillon Gee, INF Justin Turner, RHP Jeremy Hefner, 2B Daniel Murphy, OF Mike Baxter, OF Marlon Byrd
-1
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Jeurys Familia, 3B David Wright, 1B Ike Davis, LHP Josh Edgin, RHP Greg Burke, SS Ruben Tejada, OF Lucas Duda, LHP Aaron Laffey
-2
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets 11, Padres 2: Three Up, Three Down

Going to try a new segment here for the 2013 season: Three up, Three down. We’ll take a look each day at three players who shined, and three who did not.

So without further ado, here are Three Up, Three down for the Mets’ Opening Day win over the Padres:

Three Up:
1. OF Collin Cowgill: Given plenty of rope as the center field starter, Cowgill doubled and scored in the fourth inning and hit his first career grand slam in the seventh. He said the day would have been better if he had not also struck out twice; we at Mets Cetera will not be nearly so critical.

2. LHP Jon Niese: 6 2/3 innings, two earned runs, four strikeouts, two walks. It was a solid-if-not-spectacular outing for Niese, who made it shine by going 2-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI at the plate.

3. SS Ruben Tejada: Tejada finished 2-for-4, doubling home a run in the second inning in what manager Terry Collins called the  most important at-bat of the game. That was even more critical considering it was Tejada, who hit .096 this spring.

Three Down:
1. 1B Ike Davis: Here we go again? Davis finished 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, the only person in the starting lineup (pitcher included) not to reach base at least twice.

2. PH Jordany Valdespin: The Mets put Valdespin in a dream situation, allowing him to bat with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning of a five-run game. He responded by beating the first pitch he saw into the ground for a rally-killing fielder’s choice.

3. OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis: To be fair, Nieuwenhuis does not really deserve to be on this list. But he struck out looking in his only at-bat, and no other Met did much of anything wrong in the blowout. So apologies to Kirk, but life’s not fair.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
+1 OF Collin Cowgill
+1 LHP Jon Niese
+1 SS Ruben Tejada
-1 1B Ike Davis
-1 OF Jordany Valdespin
-1 OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Who is the best platoon partner for Collin Cowgill in center?

At the start of Spring Training, a center field platoon of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill seemed inevitable. But Nieuwenhuis’ left knee injury has the Mets looking at other options in center.

There is Jordany Valdespin, a natural second baseman whose strong spring statistics come with defensive inexperience and questions of maturity.

Then there is defensive-minded prospect Matt den Dekker, a human highlight reel who still looks raw at the plate.

Assuming Nieuwenhuis is healthy and Cowgill starts regularly against left-handed pitchers, which of the above center fielders is the best option to platoon with him?

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Roster battles begin to take shape at Mets camp

Some new minutiae from manager Terry Collins’ State of the Mets press conference this afternoon:

IMG_2065

  • Lucas Duda is the starting left fielder. He won’t have to compete for the job.
  • Collins would like to carry multiple left-handers in his bullpen. Josh Edgin is close to a lock, with Pedro Feliciano, Robert Carson and Aaron Laffey all possibilities behind him.
  • Mike Baxter could lead off against right-handed pitchers. Collin Cowgill could lead off against lefties. Or Ruben Tejada could lead off against everyone. It’s all still up in the air, though it doesn’t appear that Daniel Murphy is a leadoff consideration at this point.
  • Matt Harvey will not be on any sort of innings limit. Collins expects him to approach or exceed 200 innings this season.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets front office discusses the farm

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and top aides John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta met with season-ticketholders last night at Citi Field, answering questions and offering optimism about the state of the team (and, in Alderson’s case, giving a shoutout to MLB.com).

In the clip below, you can watch those four discussing the young players in the system that most excite them. Some of the answers might surprise you.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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