Sunday, February 25, 2007

Courtesy Adam Rubin's Blog: Pitchers for next week :)

For Monday's intrasquad game at Tradition Field: Jorge Sosa, Jason Vargas, Willie Collazo, Pedro Feliciano, Ambiorix Burgos, Steve Schmoll, Jorge Vasquez, Lino Urdaneta, Joe Smith, Eddie Camacho.

Tuesday's intrasquad game: John Maine, Philip Humber, Scott Schoeneweis, Adam Bostick, Clint Nageotte, Kevin Mulvey

Wednesday's Grapefruit League opener vs. Detroit (SNY, 1:10 p.m.): Oliver Perez, Alay Soler, Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, Jon Adkins, Joe Smith.

Thursday's Grapefruit :eague game vs. St. Louis (SNY, 1:10 p.m.): Tom Glavine, Jorge Sosa, Pedro Feliciano, Ambiorix Burgos, Steve Schmoll.

Friday at St. Louis (1:05 p.m.): Chan Ho Park, Aaron Sele, Scott Schoeneweis.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Comparing the 2000 Offseason to the 2006 Offseason

Comparing the 2000 Offseason to the 2006 Offseason

You know, alot of people have done that, complaining that Freddy "Coupon" is back, etc, hyperbole...these fans need to stop thinking so short term. Gain a little perspective, please.
The 2000 team, for all it accomplished, overachieved tremendously. And it was an old core.

The 2000 infield was comprised of: 26 year old Edgardo Alfonzo (2b), 34 year old Todd Zeile (1b), 31 year old Mike Piazza (c), 33 year old Robin Ventura (3b), and basically a 4 or 5 man platoon at shortstop after Rey Ordonez got hurt.

The 2000 outfield was 31 year old Derek Bell, 27 year old Jay Payton, 28 year old Benny Agbayani, 35 year old Darryl Hamilton and 41 year old Rickey Henderson.

There is NO FUTURE there to build on. None. Fonzie hit .324/.425/.542, and he was the youngest regular at 26. In fact, the youngest players to get ABs that year were 23 year old outfielders Timo Perez and Jason Tyner. Combined, they got 90 at bats that year. 49 for Timo, 41 for Jason.

The pitching staff was anchored by a pair of very good, ace lefties in Al Leiter and Mike Hampton. Hampton was 27, Leiter, however, was 34. Glendon Rusch, Rick Reed and Bobby Jones round out the starting 5. Ages: 25, 35, 30.

The bullpen was anchored by a pair of solid setup men in Crazy Turk Wendell (who thinks we need to teach Ollie how to do the rosen bag thing. And for that matter, get Ollie a shark tooth necklace, STAT!), and John Franco. And we all know who the closer was, I'm not going to lower myself to name him (coughs BLOWNITEZ!).

So there is your 2000 team. Youngest players to make a big contribution? 25 year old Glendon Rusch, and 26 year old Edgardo Alfonzo. 94 wins, WS berth, 4-1 loss to the Yankees, but each game was close, and winnable. Team status: remarkably flawed for a team which won 102 games. Needs? Ace to replace departing Mike Hampton, shortstop to replace Mike Bordick.

On the market: One Alex Rodriguez, arguably, the best player in baseball, coming off a .316/.420/.606 season with 34 2b, 41 HR and 132 RBI. The Mets? Need a shortstop. The Mets? DON'T TALK TO ALEX RODRIGUEZ AT ALL, even after he indicated (I remember because I was incensed we didn't sign him) he would take 10/180 to come play for his favorite team, leaving $72 mil on the table. The Mets? Signed Kevin Appier and Steve Trachsel, two back of the rotation starters, and no shortstop named Alex. On the market for pitching? Mike Mussina, coming off a very good 11-15, 3.79 era season in the horror show that is Camden Yards for pitching. Yeah, Mike was 31, but we could've given him a deal similiar to the one the Yankees did, 6 years and $88.5 mil. Instead, we gave Trachsel and Appier a combined 8 years and 49 mil.

OK, that's done. The past. Conclusion: the 2000 team was heavily flawed. It overachieved tremendously getting to the 2000 World Series, and was losing it's ace to free agency. Hampton made it clear he wasn't resigning with us. Rather then replacing an ace with an ace (Mussina), we replaced him with, at best, two 3 starters. Instead of heading into 2001 with the best player in baseball on our team, we entered 01 with Rey Ordonez. Wonderful. Good job, Wilpon. Way to put the team over the top. Oh, and the coup de gras, the 2000 payroll? $80 mil. The 2006 payroll? $101 mil.

Prior to 2000, what had the Mets done? 1998, 99: Al Leiter, Bobby Bonilla (yippee for that one, idiots), Dennis Cook, the closer who's name doesn't deserve mention (BLOWNITEZ), Roger Cedeno, Robin Ventura, Rickey Henderson, Orel Hershiser, the other pitcher who deserves to not be named (THROW A FUCKING STRIKE, ASSHOLE!). After the 99 season, we lost John Olerud (replaced with Todd Zeile), Orel Hershiser (replaced with Mike Hampton), Roger Cedeno (traded for Hampton), Octavio Dotel (traded for Hampton). But still had a really low payroll, for NY standards.

Now, fast forward to 2006. The Mets make it to Game 7 of the NLCS down 2 pitchers, and are in a position, with OLIVER PEREZ starting, to win the game. The offense goes AWOL. Pitching was not a problem. Ages? Reyes and Wright 23 years old, Lastings Milledge 21, John Maine, Oliver Perez, 25. Much much more youthful then the 2000 team, that's for sure. Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, 27 and 26.

Past two seasons, what have the Mets done? 2004, 2005: Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, Paul Lo Duca, Duaner Sanchez (lost Jae Seo), Orlando Hernandez + John Maine (lost Kris Benson), Oliver Perez + 2 draft picks (lost Xavier Nady).

Point being? The 2000 team was flawed and needed significant upgrades, especially with what we'd lost (Hampton + Olerud). The 2006 team was not flawed, but really unlucky. Unless you want to deplete the farm system (2002, 2003 anyone?) for aces (Yeah, Milledge, Pelfrey and Gomez might land you CZam, and Humber, Heilman, FMart, Guerra might land you Dontrelle, but then where are you?), there wasn't much to do this offseason. Zito at 126 mil? No thanks. Soriano for 138 mil? No thanks.

Farm system: What top prospects did we have coming into 2001?

18. Alex Escobar
63. Pat Strange
64. Brian Cole

Farm system: What top prospects do we have coming into 2007?

Mike Pelfrey
Phillip Humber
Carlos Gomez
Lastings Milledge
Fernando Martinez
Deolis Guerra

6 legit top 100 prospects (Milledge misses out by 16 ABs from offically qualifying).

Bottom line: The 2006 Mets didn't need the total facelift the 2000 team did. So this offseason doesn't compare at all to the 2000 offseason. End of story.

Thanks for hanging with me on this one. It's much longer then my norm, I know.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

From the NY Daily News Blog section:

Here's what GM Omar Minaya said today about each:

On Gomez:

What strikes you about him?

"You’re talking about a player that has great physical ability. He’s got speed. He’s got an arm. He’s got youth. He’s aggressive. He plays the game in a style that I like to think the Mets are about – we’re about stealing bases and aggressive baseball."

Do you see him as a leadoff hitter?

"I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you he’s going to be that. Just because he has speed, that doesn’t mean he’s a leadoff hitter. He has power potential, too. He can be so many different things because of his ability. As long as he’s in the lineup, I don’t care where he hits."

On Martinez:

Is the fact he's doing it at 18 more impressive?

"You’re talking about a kid that would be a senior in high school right now. Maybe even a junior. To be able to do what he’s doing – his hitting ability, just how he handles himself as a person, maturity, he’s a special player."

Will he start in Double-A?

"We’ll see how he goes. He’ll try to make the Double-A team. We weren’t afraid to challenge him last year. We won’t be afraid to challenge him this year."

Will he and Gomez mostly play center field in the minors this year, or would you move them to the corners in preparation for their likely role in the majors?

"It doesn’t matter. They might rotate. They might play center field. We did that with Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa. They played center field and then we switched them around."

Monday, February 19, 2007

First 7 Met draft picks

As of right now, the Mets are slotted to pick: 42nd, 47th, 79th, 95th, 101st, 125th and 154th, through the first 4 rounds. Picks 42 and 47 are supplemental first rounders, picks 79 and 95 are second rounders, and picks 101 and 125 are 3rd rounders.

Excellent Burgos article "A New Met Defies Age and Pressure in the Bullpen"

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., Feb. 18 — Ambiorix Burgos’s transition to the Mets began with a change in hairstyle. Gone is the clean-cut look he fashioned last season in Kansas City, ditched in favor of straggly curls that resemble fireworks exploding from his head.

Reliever Ambiorix Burgos has "a huge, huge amount of untapped potential," the Mets’ pitching coach, Rick Peterson, said.

“It’s a new look for a new team,” Burgos said, with his teammate Juan Padilla serving as interpreter.

It is less outrageous than the reverse Mohawk — bare up the middle, bushy along the sides — he wore for a day in 2005. Even if he tightens up the ’do to conform to Manager Willie Randolph’s dress code, he will still maintain a conspicuous presence in the clubhouse, and that is not a bad thing.

Not much is conventional about Burgos: not his coiffure, not his first name (which is pronounced Am-bee-orix) and certainly not his crackling fastball. When the Royals came calling at the winter meetings for a starting pitcher, General Manager Omar Minaya singled out Burgos as the player he wanted in return and gladly surrendered Brian Bannister. Finding a 22-year-old with experience closing at the major league level happens as often as, well, finding someone named Ambiorix.

“If you put him in the draft, with his natural talent, he’d be a No. 1 pick,” said Rick Peterson, the Mets’ pitching coach. “He has a huge, huge amount of untapped potential, and it’s our responsibility to turn that into performance.”

Aside from Billy Wagner, the Mets do not have many pitchers who can regularly get hitters to swing and miss. Guillermo Mota can with his fastball, and when his changeup is on, so can Aaron Heilman. But Burgos is capable of blowing the ball past batters with staggering frequency, and at 6 feet 3 inches and 235 pounds, he possesses the husky build and overwhelming array of pitches reminiscent of another wildly talented but unpredictable Dominican closer, Armando Benítez. The trick now is to harness that ability.

“You find a lot of relievers who don’t figure it out until they’re 25,” Minaya said. “Burgos saved 18 games last season. That’s all that I needed to see.”

The Royals were so aware of Burgos’s live arm that they rushed him through their system. After spending 2004 in Class A, Burgos was converted to a reliever the following spring training. His ability was better suited for one or two innings than six or seven. He lasted 12 games at Class AA, skipped Class AAA and made his major league debut in April 2005, a few days after his 21st birthday.

“It felt like I spent seven days in Double-A,” Burgos said. “It was kind of surprising.”

That season, he went 3-5 with a 3.98 earned run average in 59 relief appearances and said he adjusted easily to the pressure of pitching in the major leagues. After all, he had pitched in front of more people for Toros del Este, his Dominican winter ball team, than at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

No team destined for October could afford to turn over the ninth inning to a 21-year-old, but last year an awful Kansas City team had nothing to lose once Mike MacDougal was injured in spring training. As the youngest closer in baseball, Burgos converted 18 of 30 save opportunities, enduring his share of hideous meltdowns and ignominious moments, like the game-winning three-run homer he gave up to Derek Jeter in the Yankees home opener. But he also pitched well at times, converting six consecutive save chances in June and having a 1.42 E.R.A. in July. And, again, have you seen that arm?

According to Minaya, team scouts have clocked Burgos’s fastball at 103 miles an hour, and last season he threw five pitches at 100 or faster, which was fifth among American League pitchers. And yet, the fastball may not even be his best pitch. It certainly is not his favorite one.

That distinction belongs to a diving splitter that, when right, could be as good as John Smoltz’s. The difference is, Smoltz can pretty much throw it wherever he wants at any point in the count. Burgos? Not yet. He loves it so much, though, that he tends to favor throwing it more than his fastball, and that led to trouble last season.

Only two days into camp, Burgos and the Mets know what to expect from each other. Burgos wants to improve his control and tinker with his slider. The Mets want him to gain consistency with his secondary pitches, develop his splitter into a strikeout pitch and work on pitching with the same motion each time.

“Everything else will come after that,” Peterson said. “You’re not trying to win stuffed animals, you’re trying to make quality pitches.”

All in due time, Peterson said. In the meantime, Burgos is finding his way around a new league and a new team. He is friendly with the nonroster pitcher Jorge Vázquez, who is from the same town, Nagua, in the Dominican Republic, and knows Jose Reyes, too. They know Burgos, however, by a different name — a different name for a different sort of pitcher.

“Everyone calls me Ambi,” Burgos said. “My 2-month-old son is Ambiorix. I’m Ambiorix the first.”

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Marcos Carvajal scouting report

Carvajal throws a fastball between 93-95 mph, and can dial it up to the 98-100 range. His secondary offerings include a plus change around 84-86, and a slurve in the 78-82 range.

I think he'll open in the AAA bullpen, along with Ambiorix Burgos.

On an aside, I really really would've liked to get Andy Sisco, also formerly of the Royals. And Bazardo ;) I'm all about younger high upside players. Especially ones which other organizations have ruined and are selling at deep discounts.

As per Rotoworld, the Mets claim Marcos Carvajal off waivers...

Carvajal is a bigger loss for the Rays than either of the two prospects the team actually traded for Jae-Kuk Ryu. The 22-year-old had a 3.86 ERA and a 69/39 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 IP for Double-A Montgomery last season and a 2.19 ERA in 37 innings in Venezuela over the winter. While he hasn't made as much progress as hoped since spending 2005 in the majors with the Rockies as a Rule 5 pick, he still could be a fine short reliever in time. The Mets will have him begin the year in Double- or Triple-A.


Now if only Omar had also gotten us Yorman Bazardo, we'd be extremely happy. As it stands, Carvajal is a younger more viable replacement for Matt Lindstrom, just as Ambiorix Burgos was for Henry Owens.

This is another terrific under the radar move which may come back to pay huge dividends for the Mets.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NY Daily News Q&A with Mike Pelfrey

Q&A: Mike Pelfrey

Mike Pelfrey spent the winter on a cruise to the Bahamas, buying a new house in Wichita, Kansas, and gambling in Las Vegas. Now he’s ready to compete with Philip Humber, Chan Ho Park, Aaron Sele and Jason Vargas among others for a spot in the rotation.

Here’s a Q&A with Pelfrey from earlier today at the team’s Port St. Lucie complex:

Q: What’s your mindset coming into spring training?
A: I thought realistically last year I didn’t have a chance to make the team. There’s a spot open, so there’s opportunity now. I’m just going out to get better, do my best, compete and hopefully win a job.

Q: How did you progress as the year went on? You had trouble at times throwing the breaking ball, a curveball for strikes.
A: I thought I did get better. I went to the Fall League and developed a slider. I don’t think it’s anywhere close to where I want it to be, but I definitely made progress and definitely got more comfortable with it. I also worked on a changeup a lot out there. I thought that got better, too.

Q: So no more curveball?
A: Right. I started throwing the slider.

Q: You left the Arizona Fall League with back trouble. How’s that now?
A: I’m feeling good. I’m ready to go out and compete and do my best and see what happens. It was nothing serious. And my arm was tired. They just said, Hey, anything bothers you this late in the year, there’s no need to be playing. So they told me to go home and rest and get ready for spring training.

Q: And now you’re here a few days early.
A: I’m just trying to get back into it and get myself ready so I can compete and get ready to hopefully win the job.

Q: What do you think of your chances to make the rotation?
A: I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’m just one of the seven guys who are going to compete. I’m just going to go out and do my best and whatever happens, happens.

Q: How did you do in Vegas?
A: I got tired of losing money. I think the second day all I did was shop.

Ruben Gotay DFAd

Ruben Gotay was DFAd today, to make room for Chan Ho Park on the 40 man. Acquired in 2006 for second baseman Jeff Keppinger, Gotay hit .266 in 42 games for AAA Norfolk, and followed that up with a very good winterball season, hitting .295 in 32 games.

This move leaves Anderson Hernandez as the lone prospect at second base in the upper levels of the Mets farm system.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Fernando Martinez article

Mets prospect climbing to big leagues
Fernando Martinez a future star for the Mets?
By Michael Saflino / Baseball Analyst
Fernando Martinez could be the next great hitter to come up through the Mets Minor League system. (AP)

The most untouchable player in the Mets organization, and among the most untouchable in all of baseball, celebrated his 18th birthday last month. While most young men his age were completing high school, outfielder Fernando Martinez honed his skills as a professional in the low Minors, progressing ultimately to high A-ball and then spending the early part of the offseason as the youngest player in the Arizona Fall League (AFL).

At a minimum, he's a top 25 prospect right now. But many Minor League analysts have him higher. John Sickels, Minor League maven for and author of the well-respected Baseball Prospect Book, has him at No. 17. Keith Law of Scouts Inc. and formerly of Baseball Prospectus and the Toronto Blue Jays, has him slotted at No. 6 overall. He's the youngest player on all these lists, making his consensus ranking more remarkable because younger players are much tougher to project.

"Martinez doesn't look or carry himself like a teenager and had no trouble against Double-A and Triple-A pitchers in the AFL," Law wrote recently on "Plus glove in center as well."

Sickels says Martinez projects right now as a regular, and possibly a star. "There is still enough uncertainty about Martinez to keep him out of that very elite category. I rank Martinez at number 17, so you can see that I do like him a lot. He was very impressive to watch in the AFL." The numbers for Martinez in the AFL as well as in the Minors last year don't pop out at you. But there's more there than meets the eye; far more when you adjust for Martinez's age.

In A-ball last year, Martinez sparkled with a .333 average and .505 slugging percentage (.388 average on balls in play). Once promoted to St. Lucie, Martinez hit just .193, but he had five homers and 11 extra-base hits in his 119 at bats. His isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) was a sparkling .194. Also note that Martinez's average on balls in play (not including homers) was just .198, about 110 points below average. So, he seems to have hit in tough luck after his promotion.

Then, in the AFL, he started out 1-for-18 but then finished 21-for-69 (.304) against some of the better pitching prospects in baseball, most considerably older and with experience at higher levels of the Minor Leagues. Martinez's prospects as a future center fielder appear uncertain. Law thinks he can handle the position, but Sickels has his doubts.

"(He's a) corner outfield in the long run," says Sickels, who also maintains a blog on "A lot of scouts think he will lose speed as he gets older, hurting his range. He has enough arm strength and accuracy to play right field."

It might seem silly to worry about center field with Carlos Beltran still more than capable and not yet 30. But when Beltran's current contract expires in November 2011, Martinez will still be only 22.

Baseball America says that Martinez right now is the best hitter for average and for power in the organization. So, where might he hit in the lineup?

"Given his age I think he projects minimum 20-homer power, and possibly 30-35," Sickels says. "We need to get more data to be sure. He needs to improve his plate discipline, but given his age and his performance so far I am optimistic about his chances to fully develop his talent."

Including the AFL season, Martinez had 26 walks against 77 strikeouts last year in 398 at bats.

Martinez will likely be in the Majors before his 20th birthday, which is where things get really exciting when assessing a prospect's future.

Only a handful of players get promoted at such a young age. Even Jose Reyes beat this deadline by just one day. Dwight Gooden was 19 his entire fabulous rookie season. Ed Kranepool actually made his Mets debut at age 17 in their inaugural season. Kranepool's early struggles, famously characterized by the newspaper headline, "Is Ed Kranepool Washed Up?" which appeared when he was 19, is a cautionary tale for many observers.

Sickels says, "If the decision was up to me I would stick him in advanced Class A (St. Lucie) and leave him there all year. But what will the Mets actually do? They tend to be aggressive about promoting prospects, and they've shown a willingness to push Martinez very fast. My guess is that he'll start off in advanced A-ball but end up in Double-A fairly quickly if he does well."

Double-A is the likely acid test for Martinez this year, which would put him on track to make his big league debut sometime in 2009. But how do we measure success in Double-A for Martinez?

"Given his age, if he posts an OPS of even league average in Double-A, (Mets fans) should be very, very happy." If Martinez does arrive at Citi Field in 2009, he'll join a rather short list of phenoms.

There are a bunch of Hall of Famers on the list of boy wonders who began their careers as teenagers: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby, Harry Heilmann, Herb Pennock, Freddie Lindstrom, Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx, Bob Feller, Hal Newhouser, Early Wynn, Al Kaline, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and Robin Yount.

As was the case with Kranepool, however, an early promotion doesn't guarantee greatness and may even hinder it. Outfielders Willie Crawford, Tony Conigliaro, Rusty Staub and Bob Kennedy, first basemen Phil Cavarretta and catchers Del Crandall and Ed Kirkpatrick fell varying degrees short of projections (though Staub was an All-Star and Conigliaro suffered a terrible beaning that basically amounted to a career-ending injury). More recently, Ken Griffey, Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez, Andrew Jones and Adrian Beltre all were regulars at age 19 (though A-Rod's first season was cut short by the 1994 strike). Clearly, players who advanced early in recent years have fared very well.

Perhaps pushing the most precocious young players into competition against older players not only in the Majors but throughout their professional careers teaches them the most important lesson: how to overcome failure.

"It think it depends on the player," Sickels says. "Some guys need to be pushed, some guys need to be coddled a bit. The Mets think that Martinez is a guy who can be pushed. And they are probably right about that. But just in terms of baseball skill, a guy like Martinez who has some problems with strike-zone judgment sometimes suffers as a hitter if he's pushed too fast before he learns to control the zone."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

As promised, updated to date stats for Hernandez, Gotay and Feliciano

The Dominican Republic lost the finale of the Caribbean World Series, ending the tourney with a 5-1 record, and the title. Former Met Jose Lima took the loss despite pitching well. His final line: 8.1 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BBs, 5 Ks, 2.02 era, L (0-1).

Anderson Hernandez went 1 for 3, with a walk and K, and ended his season as follows:
CWS: .310/.355/.345 (9 for 29, 6 runs, 2b, 2 RBI, 2 BBs, 5 Ks)
Overall winter stats: .348/.402/.429 (81 for 233, 45 runs, 12 2b, 2 3b, HR, 24 RBI, 21 BBs, 28 Ks)
Overall US stats (AAA, MLB): .233/.266/.284 (114 for 489, 48 runs, 12 2b, 5 3b, HR, 26 RBI, 15/20 SBs, 22 BBs, 83 Ks)
Overall Stats: .270/.311/.331 (195 for 722, 93 runs, 24 2b, 7 3b, 2 HR, 50 RBI, 43 BBs, 111 Ks)

Ruben Gotay went 0 for 3, and ended his season as follows:
CWS: .143/.182/.238 (3 for 21, 3 runs, 2 2b, 2 RBI, BB, 3 Ks)
Overall winter stats: .284/.401/.426 (42 for 148, 26 runs, 10 2b, 3b, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 29 BBs, 24 Ks)
Overall US stats (AAA - KC & NYM) .265/.315/.407 (130 for 491, 64 runs, 28 2b, 3 3b, 12 HR, 64 RBI, 11/17 SBs, 36 BBs, 96 Ks)
Overall Stats: .269/.337/.412 (172 for 639, 90 runs, 38 2b, 4 3b, 15 HR, 80 RBI, 12/19 SBs, 65 BBs, 120 Ks)

Pedro Feliciano got the win, his second in two days, going 1 IP, H, BB, K. His season ended this way...
CWS: 2-0, 0.00 era, 3 G, 5 IP, 4 H, 2 BBs, 4 Ks
Overall winter stats: 2-1, 1.76 era, 13 G, 15.1 IP, 10 H, 6 BBs, 14 Ks
Overall US stats (AAA, MLB): 7-2, 2.37 era, 67 G, 64.2 IP, 60 H, 21 BBs, 59 Ks
Overall stats: 9-3, 2.25 era, 80 G, 80 IP, 70 H, 27 BBs, 73 Ks

Willie Collazo's (who was also on Team Puerto Rico) season ended up like this...
CWS: 0-1, 1.35 era, 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 4 Ks, 1.20 WHIP
Overall winter stats: 4-3, 1.90 era, 11 G, 8 GS, 57 IP, 45 H, 11 BBs, 29 Ks
Overall US stats (AA, AAA): 10-9, 3.54 era, 25 G, 23 GS, 160 IP, 149 H, 29 BBs, 105 Ks
Overall stats: 14-12, 3.11 era, 36 G, 31 GS, 217 IP, 194 H, 40 BBs, 134 Ks

Fernando vs Tabata Prospect smackdown by John Sickels

Prospect Smackdown: Fernando Martinez vs. Jose Tabata

Background and Intangibles
Martinez: Martinez was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Mets in 2005, for $1.4 million. An excellent athlete, he was considered the equivalent of an additional first round pick. He is considered emotionally mature for his age, and the Mets have had no qualms about pushing him quickly due to this maturity.
Tabata: Tabata was signed out of Venezuela by the Yankees in 2005, for $550,000. He didn't receive quite as much pre-signing attention as Martinez, but like Martinez hasn't looked out of place in pro ball despite his age. Some scouts say that Tabata can get lazy, while others dispute this and say he thrives in pressure situations and just needs to grow up a bit more. The Yanks have handled him more cautiously that the Mets have handled Martinez, but this seems more of an organizational philosophy thing than any problem with Tabata.
Advantage: Both players seem to have done well with their cultural adjustments. Martinez had a bit more buzz when he signed, but Tabata has caught up with him. Martinez may have a slightly better work ethic, but that's hard to quantify, and given their respective ages they are both remarkably mature. Overall Martinez may have a slight edge here but it's not a huge one.

Physicality, Health, and Tools
Martinez: Martinez was born October 10, 1988. A lefty hitter and a righty thrower, he is listed at 6-0, 185. He has plus bat speed and raw power, but his strike zone judgment is relatively mediocre at this point, and he'll struggle against breaking balls on occasion. All of his tools rate as average or better. His speed is a tick above average, but he'll probably lose that as he fills out his body. His arm is strong enough for right field, and he should be a fine defender with more experience.
Martinez missed much of last year with a bruised hand and a sprained knee.
Tabata: Tabata was born August 12, 1988. A righty hitter and thrower, he is still listed at 5-11, 160, although his lower body is starting to fill out and that weight data is probably obsolete. He has outstanding bat speed, and shows ability against both fastballs and breaking balls. His strike zone judgment is very good. All of his tools rate as average or better. Although he runs well now, some people expect him to lose speed as he gets older, although he may keep it longer than Martinez. He has the arm for right field, and with more experience his defense will play there without problem. His season ended early because of an injured thumb.
Advantage: Both players have a ton of bat speed and enormous offensive potential. Martinez has more present power, but Tabata has superior strike zone judgment. Tabata has a bit more running speed at this point, though neither will be a burner in the long run. Both have right field arms. Both of them had problems with nagging injuries last year. Overall this looks even to me, Martinez's edge in current power being balanced by Tabata's better plate discipline and better current speed.

Performance and Polish
Martinez: Martinez is a career .279/.336/.457 hitter in 315 at-bats, including a .333/.389/.505 mark last year in 45 games in the Sally League. His numbers would look better where it not for a 30-game, .193/.254/.387 stint in the Florida State League. But he really had no business in the Florida State League at age 17, so it is hard to hold this against him. Although rather raw in some phases of the game, the fact is that he already has enough polish to hold his own against players several years older than he is: the lack of polish is relative, and relative to his age group, he is very polished indeed. The fact that he didn't look out of place in the Arizona Fall League is quite intriguing.
Tabata: Tabata is a career .300/.379/.419 hitter in 475 at-bats, including .298/.377/.420 last year in the Sally League. Like Martinez, Tabata is raw compared to many minor league players, but is very polished for his age. It would have been very interesting to see what he could have done late in the year in the Florida State League or the Arizona Fall League, but health concerns prevented it.
Advantage: Both players are unusually advanced for their age but still have some work to do. Tabata has shown better strike zone judgment, but Martinez has beaten him handily in the SLG department. Tabata also had a strong home/road split in the Sally League (.921 OPS at home, .713 on the road) while Martinez was more even (.849/.937). I think we have to give Martinez a slight edge here.

Martinez: Martinez projects as a 20-homer hitter at a minimum; he should be a 30+ homer guy if he develops along anything approaching a normal curve. His strike zone judgment and batting average may be erratic, especially if the Mets push him too quickly. He projects as an All-Star right fielder at the major league level in my opinion.
Tabata: Tabata doesn't project as much home run power as Martinez, being more of a 20-25 homer guy at his peak according to many scouts. However, his batting average and OBP could be more consistent than Martinez's, and Tabata should keep his running speed longer. He projects as an All-Star right fielder.
Advantage: Both project as stars, although the exact "flavor" of this stardom could vary. Take your pick depending on what you like: I think Martinez could have more impact power, but Tabata could be a more balanced contributor. No clear advantage.

I think Martinez has a slight edge in background/intangibles and in current performance, while they rate even in projection and tools. So overall I think Martinez comes out just a little bit ahead. But it's close, very close, so close that I ranked Martinez at #17 and Tabata at #18 on my Top 50 hitting prospects list.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dominican Republic 0, Puerto Rico 1

The Dominican Republic lost the finale of the Caribbean World Series, ending the tourney with a 5-1 record, and the title.

Former Met Jose Lima took the loss despite pitching well. His final line: 8.1 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BBs, 5 Ks, 2.02 era, L (0-1). Pedro Feliciano got the win, his second in two days, going 1 IP, H, BB, K.

Anderson Hernandez went 1 for 3, with a walk and K, and Ruben Gotay went 0 for 3. Hernandez ended his CWS with a .310 average, while Gotay ended with a .143 average.

Stay tuned for complete minor league stats, including winter ball, for Hernandez, Gotay and Feliciano.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Puerto Rico loses, 3-1, falls to 3-2 in the CWS

Ruben Gotay went 0 for 4 with a K, dropping his CWS average to .167 (3 for 18)

Willie Collazo took the loss, despite going 6.2 innings, allowing 7 hits and 2 runs (1 earned), with a walk and 4 Ks. He threw 80 pitches, 58 for strikes.

Dominican Republic improves to 5-0, defeats Mexico 5-3

Anderson Hernandez, however, goes 0 for 3 with a run scored, RBI, walk, dropping his CWS average to .308 (8 for 26)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dominican Republic eliminates Venezuela

The Dominican Republic beat Venezuela 7-1 today, eliminating Venezuela from the Caribbean World Series. Anderson Hernandez went 0 for 5 with 2 Ks, dropping his CWS average to .348 (8 for 23).

Mets Spring Training Non-Roster invitees!

Non-Roster Invitees
Pitchers B/T Ht Wt DOB
73 Eddie Camacho L/L 6-1 190 09/17/82
71 Willie Collazo L/L 5-9 175 11/07/79
67 Derek Lee L/L 6-3 215 08/20/74
78 Kevin Mulvey R/R 6-1 175 05/26/85
66 Clint Nageotte R/R 6-3 225 10/25/80
35 Aaron Sele R/R 6-3 220 06/25/70
70 Joe Smith R/R 6-2 205 03/22/84
68 Lino Urdaneta R/R 6-1 170 11/20/79
27 Jorge Vasquez R/R 6-1 175 07/16/78
Catchers B/T Ht Wt DOB
75 Drew Butera R/R 6-1 190 08/09/83
30 Mike DiFelice R/R 6-2 200 05/28/69
9 Joe Hietpas R/R 6-3 220 05/01/79
74 Mike Nickeas R/R 6-0 205 02/13/83
76 Francisco Pena R/R 6-2 197 10/12/89
77 Jose A Reyes S/R 5-11 180 02/26/83
Infielders B/T Ht Wt DOB
65 Michel Abreu R/R 6-3 230 01/02/79
64 Mike Carp L/R 6-2 195 06/30/86
Outfielders B/T Ht Wt DOB
89 Chip Ambres R/R 6-1 200 12/19/79
62 Fernando Martinez L/R 6-0 185 10/10/88
63 Victor Mendez S/R 5-11 180 06/28/80
19 Ruben Sierra S/R 6-1 220 10/06/65

when did we sign Jose Reyes??
This should be a fun Spring training, Nando, Pena, Carp, Mulvey, Smith, etc
Pitchers and Catchers report in 11 days!

Dominican Republic 12, Puerto Rico 0

Anderson Hernandez continued to rake in the winter leagues, going 4 for 5 with 3 runs scored and an RBI as the Dominican Republic trashed Puerto Rico, 12-0.

Hernandez is now batting .444 (8 for 18) in the CWS, and his overall numbers this winter are .360/.411/.446 (80 for 222), with 44 runs scored and 23 knocked in. He's got 12 2b, 2 3b and a HR in 222 ABs, and has drawn 19 BBs vs 25 Ks.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

USA Today Top 5 Mets Prospects

Mike Pelfrey, right-handed pitcher: The first-round pick (ninth overall) in 2005 could be the next big thing in New York. At 6-7 and 210 pounds and with an enormous amount of upside, he has already been called a right-handed Randy Johnson.

After signing for a team-record $3.55 million bonus, Pelfrey, 23, pitched on four levels last year, going 2-1 in four starts for the parent club. In the minors he was 7-3 with a 2.43 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 96⅓ innings.

His fastball consistently resides in the 93- to 96-mph neighborhood, and he has enough confidence in his offspeed pitches to throw them at anytime in the count.

He's a serious contender for a spot in the 2007 rotation.

Philip Humber, right-handed pitcher: The third overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Rice University blew out his right elbow 15 starts into his professional career and had Tommy John surgery in 2005. Cautiously, he returned in 2006 and threw 78⅓ innings, including two in his major league debut.

Although the 24-year-old was pulled out of the Arizona Fall League because of tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, Humber and the Mets think he will be healthy when spring training begins. His two best pitches are a fastball in the 90- to 95-mph range and a 12-to-6 curveball.

With a solid spring training and no further problems with his elbow, the 6-4, 210-pounder could make the big-league club. More likely, Humber will begin the season in Triple-A.

Carlos Gomez, outfielder: The 21-year-old, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic, has quickly moved up the farm system's ladder.

Last year he was the organization's Sterling Award winner (the MVP of each level) for Double-A after hitting .281 with 24 doubles, eight triples and 41 stolen bases for Binghamton.

One of the fastest players in the organization, the 6-4, 195-pounder also is projected by the Mets to supply more power (he hit seven home runs last year). His defense is also improving.

Gomez, a close friend of shortstop Jose Reyes since childhood, probably will start the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

Fernando Martinez, outfielder: Another signee out of the Dominican Republic (the Mets signed him for $1.4 million in 2005), the 6-0, 185-pound 18-year-old is a pure hitter from the left side.

In his first pro season, he hit a combined .279 on three levels, including .333 in 45 games at low-A Hagerstown, for whom he played in the South Atlantic League's All-Star Game. Martinez then played in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .253 in 25 games for Mesa and made the AFL's All-Prospects Team.

Martinez has played center field but might move to right.

He'll probably start the season at high-A St. Lucie.

Mike Carp, first baseman: The 6-2, 205-pounder drafted out of high school in 2004 posted fine numbers at St. Lucie in 2006 (.287, 17 home runs, 88 RBI) and then hit .299 in 30 games for North Shore of the Hawaii Winter Baseball league.

The 20-year-old left-handed hitter used more of the field and got a better grasp of the strike zone in 2006. He also cut down his strikeout-per-at-bat ratio from 2005.

He's a good defensive player, too, and should start the 2007 season at Binghamton.