Results tagged ‘ Kirk Nieuwenhuis ’

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.


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.

Mets 7, Phillies 2: Three Up, Three Down

Matt Harvey was excellent. Roy Halladay not so much. In case you didn’t already know.

Three Up:
1. RHP Matt Harvey: For the second time this season, Harvey was not just good; he was dominant. Nine strikeouts in seven innings highlighted his outing, but Harvey also held the Phillies to three hits. He has allowed four hits and one run all season.

2. C John Buck: The man is an offensive machine. Not many right-handed hitters in baseball have the power to park a ball as far up the right-field stands as Buck did in the second inning. Buck has also caught both of Harvey’s gems this season.

3. 2B Daniel Murphy: He is driving the all with authority to all fields these days, something the Mets did not necessarily expect considering he missed most of the spring with an intercostal strain. Murphy finished 2-for-4, reaching base three times.

Three Down:
1. OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis: Batting leadoff, Nieuwenhuis went 0-for-3 before giving way to a pinch-hitter in the sixth. He also broke back on Humberto Quintero’s hit in the third inning; had he read the ball correctly, Nieuwenhuis easily would have recorded the out.

2. LHP Josh Edgin: There is an argument to be made that Edgin, who appeared in four of the Mets’ first six games, had no business entering a six-run game in the eighth. Alas, usage patters are not his fault. The double and run against him is.

3. 1B Ike Davis: A botched defensive play led to a run in the fourth inning, then Davis committed a fielding error in the sixth. Combined with his 1-for-5 at the plate, it was not a spectacular day at the office.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
C John Buck

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

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets 7, Marlins 3: Three Up, Three Down

That was a wild one. Here’s your daily trios:

Three Up:
1. LHP Jon Niese: Ho hum, yet another strong starting pitching performance for the Mets. Niese gave up eight hits, but most of them were soft ground balls or bloopers. On most days, Niese would have pitched deeper into the game and recorded the win.

2. C John Buck: Four RBI for Buck brought his season total to nine, second in Major League Baseball. (You read that right.) Buck also called another strong game behind the plate against his former team; Mets pitchers really seem to love him.

3. OF Mike Baxter: With respect to David Wright, who rapped out three hits, and Daniel Murphy, who recorded the game-winner, it was Baxter who kept the offense chugging along all day. Two walks and a hit were nice, but Baxter’s stolen base in the seventh was what really made Murphy’s game-winner possible.

Three Down:
1. SS Ruben Tejada: Four errors now in five games for Tejada, in what is becoming a legitimate issue. With no other bona fide shortstop on the roster, the Mets cannot even give Tejada a day or two to clear his mind. (By the way, he was also 0-for-4 at the plate).

2. LHP Josh Edgin: According to Saturday’s official scorer, Edgin did not earn a victory because his outing was “brief and ineffective.” That’s enough to earn a thumbs down here.

OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis: I almost feel bad for Kirk…he’s been pretty unlucky in this space. His 0-for-4 Saturday did not affect the Mets to any great extent, but no one else really struggled. Sorry Kirk — once again, you lose by default.

Three Up, Three Down Season Standings:
LHP Jon Niese, C John Buck
OF Collin Cowgill
, RHP Matt Harvey, RHP Dillon Gee, INF Justin Turner, RHP Jeremy Hefner, 2B Daniel Murphy, OF Mike Baxter
RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Jeurys Familia, 3B David Wright, 1B Ike Davis, LHP Josh Edgin
RHP Greg Burke, SS Ruben Tejada, 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.

Projecting the Opening Day roster, 3/12

With the first round of cuts and almost exactly half the Grapefruit League schedule in the books, some changes this week to the projected roster. Most notably, I’ve penciled in the white-hot Jordany Valdespin for the bench, displacing Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

Unlike some people, I still believe Brandon Hicks is at least on par with Omar Quintanilla for a backup infield spot. But that battle is close. I’ve also tentatively placed Pedro Feliciano back on the roster, displacing Robert Carson, who has yet to pitch a clean inning this spring.

C : John Buck
1B: Ike Davis
2B: Daniel Murphy
SS: Ruben Tejada
3B: David Wright
OF: Lucas Duda
OF: Collin Cowgill
OF: Marlon Byrd
Bench: Mike Baxter
Bench: Jordany Valdespin
Bench: Justin Turner
Bench: Brandon Hicks
Bench: Anthony Recker

SP: Jon Niese
SP: Shaun Marcum
SP: Matt Harvey
SP: Dillon Gee
SP: Jeremy Hefner
RHP: Bobby Parnell (CL)
RHP: Brandon Lyon
RHP: Scott Atchison
RHP: LaTroy Hawkins
RHP: Greg Burke
LHP: Josh Edgin
LHP: Pedro Feliciano

DL: Frank Francisco, Johan Santana

In the running: C Landon Powell, 1B Josh Satin, INF Zach Lutz, INF Brian Bixler, OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF Andrew Brown, OF Matt den Dekker, RHP Jenrry Mejia, RHP Jeurys Familia, RHP Carlos Torres, LHP Aaron Laffey, LHP Robert Carson.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Report from Port St. Lucie, 3/24

Though Terry Collins admitted Saturday that Opening Day does not look good for Andres Torres, the center field situation actually grew somewhat clearer thanks to comments from Sandy Alderson. Basically, it comes down to this:

  • If Torres and backup Scott Hairston are both healthy in time for Opening Day, the Mets will fill their final bench spot with either Mike Baxter or Adam Loewen.
  • If one of Torres or Hairston is healthy, the Mets will still proceed with Baxter or Loewen on their bench, plus likely either Jordany Valdespin or Vinny Rottino.
  • If neither Torres or Hairston is healthy, the Mets will take a natural center fielder north: Kirk Nieuwenhuis if healthy, otherwise Matt den Dekker.

One other note from Saturday’s game: Mike Pelfrey tweaked his mechanics and came away pleased with the results in a 6-6 tie. Do with that information what you will.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets injury report (as of 3/13)

Below are the 15 players who have missed time to due injuries suffered during Mets camp:

1B Ike Davis
Injury: Valley Fever diagnosis
Status: Monitoring situation but proceeding as if healthy

2B Reese Havens
Injury: Lower back soreness
Status: No timetable for return

3B David Wright
Injury: Left ribcage tightness
Status: Hopes to begin baseball activities this weekend

3B Zach Lutz
Injury: Left elbow soreness
Status: Returned to lineup 3/9

SS Ruben Tejada
Injury: Left groin strain
Status: Day-to-day

SS Ronny Cedeno
Injury: Tendinitis in both knees
Status: Day-to-day

OF Lucas Duda
Injury: Lower back stiffness
Status: Returned to lineup 3/12

OF Andres Torres
Injury: Right glute tightness
Status: Returned to lineup 3/11

OF Scott Hairston
Injury: Left oblique strain
Status: Has not begun baseball activities; no timetable

OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Injury: Right oblique strain
Status: Day-to-day

RHP Pedro Beato
Injury: Right rotator cuff inflammation
Status: Scheduled to throw off flat ground Wednesday

RHP D.J. Carrasco
Injury: Twisted right ankle
Status: Day-to-day

LHP Tim Byrdak
Injury: Left knee meniscus tear
Status: Underwent surgery Tuesday, six-week recovery

LHP Daniel Herrera
Injury: Lower back tightness
Status: Day-to-day

LHP Robert Carson
Injury: Right oblique strain
Status: Returned to bullpen 3/11

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Report from Port St. Lucie, 3/2

Team Orange beat Team Blue, 3-2, in today’s intrasquad game on the strength of Kirk Nieuwenhuis’s two-run home run. But most eyes were watching Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia, two top prospects who each threw in the game.

Here’s Harvey warming alongside Dillon Gee, who started for Team Blue.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets prospects wrap up AFL season

Dropping a 3-1 game to Peo Saguaros yesterday afternoon, the Mesa Solar Sox — and the eight Mets on the roster — wrapped up their Arizona Fall League schedule. Here’s a look at how the bunch performed:

valdespinAFL.jpgJordany Valdespin, SS: Finishing seventh in the league with a .355 average, Valdespin (right) missed the final week of the season with a forearm strain. Still, he impressed with the bat, knocking in 19 runs and stealing seven bases in 19 games.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF: After a Minor League season that saw him perhaps supplant Fernando Martinez’s as the organization’s top overall outfield prospect, Nieuwenhuis struggled a bit in the Fall League, batting .256 with one homer and 12 RBI in 26 games. Compare that to Niewenhuis’s 94 games this year with Double-A Binghamton, which saw him hit .289 with 16 homers and 60 RBI.

Joshua Satin, 2B: More of a contributor after Valdespin’s injury, the 25-year-old Satin hit .390 with one home run in 12 games with the Solar Sox. Had he accumulated enough at-bats to be eligible, Satin would have ranked third in the AFL in hitting. And perhaps that’s no surprise. Though not a top prospect, Satin is a career .300 hitter over three years in the Minors.

Kai Gronaeuer, C: The native of Germany hit .222 without a home run in 13 games behind the plate. The Mets signed him as an international free agent prior to the 2008 season.

Brad Holt, RHP: Injury interrupted what had been a strong AFL season for Holt, who managed a 2-1 record and 2.92 ERA in five games, after posting some miserable numbers for both Binghamton and Class A St.Lucie this year. A sandwich-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Holt will look to build upon his AFL successes next season.

Robert Carson, LHP:
Not exactly the autumn that Carson had envisioned. After a relatively successful stint at St. Lucie this summer, Carson stumbled with a 7.71 ERA in six Fall League starts, allowing 27 hits in 18 2/3 innings.

Nick Carr, RHP:
Carr didn’t exactly light it up, either, going 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 10 relief outings, and walking more batters (12) than he struck out (10).

Eric Niesen, LHP: In 11 relief appearances, Niesen posted a 5.40 ERA with eight strikeouts and four walks in 11 2/3 innings.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.