Around Citi Radio: April 21st, 2014 with OOTP Developments’ Brad Cook

Around Citi Radio returns on Monday, April 21st, 2014 at 9:00 PM ET with OOTP Developments’ Brad Cook.

The program will discuss the release of OOTP 15 for Mac, Linux, Windows, and iOS, as well as the myriad of new additions to the premier baseball simulator in the world. Those unfamiliar with OOTP should tune in to hear Cook discuss the game’s release and what one can expect from the newest edition of the wildly addicting game.

Click here to purchase or read more about OOTP 15.

In addition, we’ll be discussing the Ike Davis trade (and if the Mets maximized their return), Ruben Tejada’s performance, Bobby Abreu’s promotion, the club’s difficult upcoming schedule, and more from around the organization.

You can tune in by clicking here. We look forward to you joining us tonight.

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Has Ruben Tejada Been Unlucky in 2014?

New York Mets SS Ruben Tejada has been the subject of abject criticism in recent months for his underwhelming performance. The 24-year-old Panamanian is off to a slow start both offensively and defensively, but there may be reason to believe his offensive production has been the result of bad luck.

Tejada entered Sunday’s finale against the Atlanta Braves hitting a meager .184/.286/.204 -Numbers that have people calling for Stephen Drew, Wilmer Flores, or recently-released veteran Alex Gonzalez to step into the starting role for the Amazin’s- but an opposite field pinch-hit on Sunday afternoon brought a keen reminder about Tejada’s potential with the stick.

When one examines Tejada’s results this year, it’s easy to dismiss that the shortstop has much to offer the club. His peripherals tell a much better story, one that will perhaps begin to translate to big league results as he sees more playing time.

Tejada’s struggles this season are different than those he faced in 2013. Many attributed his failures last season to his inability to drive the ball at a high percentage like he did during his successful 2012 campaign in which he hit .289/.333/.351. Tejada was hitting line drives 10.8% less in 2013 compared to 2012, getting away from the spray hitter that many projected he would be most successful as.

Tejada has shifted the peripherals back into his favor in 2014. The enigmatic shortstop is hitting line drives at a career-high 36.1%, and has been successful in cutting back on fly balls (His 34.1% rate has been cut to 25.0% in 2014). So why hasn’t Tejada been successful in 2014? There may be a certain element of bad luck on the shortstop’s side.

Tejada’s BABIP is a mere .250, or 50 points below his career .300 BABIP. He simply isn’t having luck finding open ground in the outfield. Hitters that drive the ball as often as Tejada don’t typically suffer awful results for long, and his offensive production should conceivably improve as he receives more plate appearances moving forward.

It’s easy to get ahead of oneself when judging performance in April, but Tejada’s performance is presenting an interesting case that he may be the victim of bad luck on the offensive side of the diamond.

Photo Credit: Michael Baron

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Derek Jeter Blasts a Home Run in Game Four of the Subway Series

New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter today announced via his Facebook page his intention to retire following the 2014 season. The 39-year-old shortstop currently ranks 9th all-time in hits, 13th in runs scored, 15th in at-bats, and 29th in total bases.

Jeter was the face of New York baseball in the 2000s. There wasn’t a billboard his face didn’t grace, a video game cover he didn’t appear on, or a Ford commercial he declined. His conditioning and intensive style of play earned him respect from Yankee and baseball fans alike.

Jeter continues the trend of Hall of Fame-bound players announcing their retirement during spring training. Atlanta’s Chipper Jones bid adieu to Major League Baseball in 2012, and Mariano Rivera followed suit in 2013. The Bronx Bombers’ offseason additions of Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury give Jeter a solid chance to contend for a championship in his final showcase.

Jeter has slashed .368/.421/.528  in 84 games against the New York Mets in his career. His leadoff home run in Game Four of the 2000 World Series stands out as amongst the most dramatic.

 

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An Analysis of New Mets Reliever Jose Valverde

The New York Mets today agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with RHP Jose Valverde, according to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. The 35-year-old reliever can earn up to $1.5M in incentives in 2014.

Valverde is most famous for his 2011 campaign in which he didn’t suffer a blown save 49 opportunities. He has thrice led the league in saves (2007, 2008, and 2011), but has experienced a significant drop off in production since. His 2.24 ERA in 2011 jumped to 3.78 in 2012 before completely exploding in 2013 by posting a 5.59 ERA in 20 games for Detroit.

His success in 2011 can be attributed to a certain element of luck. Valverde’s 4.29 BB/9 doesn’t typically translate to elite performance in the major leagues. He stranded 82.9% of base runners -or 5% more than his career average- a number that contributed to his success. Furthermore, he struck out less batters (8.59 K/9) in 2011 than any full season sample size he had ever provided. Coupled with the a .247 BABIP -or .15 points less than his career average- with comparable peripherals, the only conclusion that can be drawn from his success was that luck played a factor in his performance.

Valverde, much like most aging relievers not named Billy Wagner, has seen a significant drop off in velocity. According to FanGraphs, Valverde’s fastball velocity has dipped from 95.2 MPH in 2010 to 92.8 in 2013. In Valverde’s case, decreased velocity has led to diminished results. Opposing batters licked their chops facing the reliever in 2013 by smashing 24% of fly balls for home runs. The one positive that could be drawn from his 2013 performance was his walks-per-nine dropped by nearly one full batter. Unfortunately, that batter likely teed off and put the ball into the lap of a lucky fan.

Valverde’s signing comes with recent news that incumbent Mets closer Bobby Parnell may not be ready to start the season with the big league club. Parnell, who underwent neck surgery in September, is reportedly “feeling great” despite being behind schedule.

Valverde’s veteran status makes him a logical candidate to break camp with the club come March 31st, especially if Parnell is unavailable. The team has already signed veteran right-hander Kyle Farnsworth to a minor league pact, and the two will likely be used to fill the voids left by LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison on 2013. Should the veterans prove to be inefficient, the club has significant depth. Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Gonzalez Germen, Jeurys Familia, Jeff Walters, Carlos Torres, Jack Leathersich, Ryan Reid, and Scott Rice will all be competing to make the Opening Day roster.

Valverde’s signing is a low-risk, high-reward signing that the club should be making heading into Port St. Lucie. If his control and velocity aren’t up to par, the club can cut him early focus on in-house options.

Photo Credit: Tom Hagerty

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The New York Mets Don’t Need Stephen Drew

The New York Mets have been connected with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew as early as November when MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes predicted he would end up signing with the club. The lack of demand for the free agent shortstop combined with his desire for a multi-year commitment have slowed the 30-year-old’s market.

Drew is in one of the more bizarre free agent predicaments in quite some time. While one could look back to 2013 and draw comparisons to Michael Bourn’s lingering free agency, the two are simply in different places. Drew is fresh off a rebound season in which he posted excellent defensive metrics (10.9 Def) to compliment above-average offense for a shortstop (.253/.333/.443). Bourn was fresh off a great season, but simply didn’t have many teams with the need for a light-hitting center fielder.

Metsblog’s Matt Cerrone earlier today examined the reasons why Drew is perhaps having such difficulty finding a match this winter:

At the same time, Drew would also cost a third-round draft pick, plus limit draft spending, while possibly throwing off Ruben Tejada‘s development. Tejada was worth roughly one to two extra wins during each 2011 and 2012. So, for significantly less money and commitment, and with more upside, he could be better than Drew, assuming Tejada is in shape, focused and ready to step up in camp.

Cerrone hits the hammer on the nail in his analysis of draft pick compensation when referring to Drew, but it doesn’t entirely explain why big market teams have shied away.

The free agent shortstop hasn’t found a multi-year commitment simply because his past results haven’t indicated future guaranteed success. Drew has averaged 96 games annually since 2011 and hasn’t come close to matching the level of production he achieved from 2006-2010 (His sophomore 2007 campaign being the outlier). When coupled with multi-year demands from a shortstop on the wrong side of his prime, anything more than a two-year commitment coming off of only an above-average year seems like a risk not worth taking.

Cerrone further explains the market for Drew in his passage and questions his demands:

In the end, the market is telling me Drew just isn’t that good. It’s not like every team has a good shortstop. There are a plenty of teams for whom Drew would be an upgrade. Demand at his position is high. And yet, it seems no one is willing to give him what he wants. And, if no one else is going to do it, why should the Mets?

Cerrone is once again spot-on about demand at the position. To put into perspective how weak the position was in 2013, Omar Quintanilla’s .306 OBP was league average for a shortstop with greater than 300 plate appearances.

Yet there’s no guarantee about Drew moving forward. Ruben Tejada is no guarantee coming off of his worst statistical year, but the club is making a wise move in choosing Tejada over Drew in 2014. The 24-year-old Tejada is under club control through 2018, comes without draft pick compensation, and boasts a higher offensive ceiling in every category other than slugging percentage. If the two were closer in age, a more competent argument could be made in favor of Drew’s defense, but shortstops rarely see defensive improvements after the age of 30.

Even if Drew would represent a marginal upgrade in 2014, the monetary and draft resources could better be allocated elsewhere. It’s not to say Drew is a bad player -In fact, this is more of an issue with the collective bargaining agreement- but under these stipulations, Tejada remains the clear choice to start with the club on Opening Day come March 31st.

Photo Credit: Michael Baron

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The 2014 New York Mets’ Ideal Walk-Up Music

It’s a warm summer night in Flushing, Queens, as O.A.R’s “This Town” echoes throughout Citi Field.

“Now batting, the second baseman, number 28, Daniel Murphy!”

Professional baseball players have used walk-up or warm-up music since the 1970s in one of the true aesthetic modernizations the game has made. Mercury News last June examined the difficulty in pinpointing the origins of music in baseball:

The origins of walk-up music are difficult to pinpoint. There is no “aha moment.” Or even an “A-ha” moment.

Loosely defined, the concept has been around for decades. St. Louis Cardinals leadoff hitter Lou Brock, to name one example, used to ask Busch Stadium organist Ernie Hays to play the “Theme From Shaft” for his trips to the plate in the early 1970s.

The 2014 New York Mets consist of a diverse cast of characters. Captain David Wright leads the offensive charge, but is joined by outfielder Curtis Granderson as a veteran presence on an inexperienced team. As pitchers and catchers ready to report to Port St. Lucie, the light of the offseason tunnel is finally in full view.

What songs should accompany this year’s team? I’ve taken the liberty to make four selections below. Feel free to chime in with your comments below.

1.) Ruben Tejada: “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton

The song gained notoriety in White Chicks nearly a decade ago, but the song represents a surprising fit for the projected starting shortstop.

Carlton sings: “Cause you know I’d walk a thousand miles if I could just see you…tonight”

The lyrics are a clear metaphor for Tejada’s need to better utilize his patience at the plate and return to drawing more walks. In case you were wondering, yes, “you…tonight” is first base.

2.) Lucas Duda: “Brave” by Sara Bareilles


Bareilles’ hit song “Brave” has appeared on award shows, commercials, and movies since being released in mid-2013. The selection of the song would be ideal for the hulking Duda in 2014. He has been subjected to mindless criticism from fans questioning his ability and confidence, and this song could be the ultimate shout back to his detractors.

Besides making the most of his playing time, that is.

3.) Ike Davis: “Sometimes You’re The Hammer, Sometimes You’re The Nail” by A Day To Remember

A Day To Remember have long gained notoriety for being a heavier band. While the song won’t be for everyone, the song title draws immediate comparisons to the Mets enigmatic first baseman. When Davis is healthy and productive, his upside is tremendous. Unfortunately, he has been the nail for two consecutive first-halfs.

4.) Bobby Parnell: Mortal Kombat Theme

As a product of the 1990s, perhaps my affection for this classic video game theme is biased. The motivating tempo accompanied by the “Mortal Kombat” scream make for an intimidating theme for a closer that allowed 0.18 HR/9 in 2013. The demonic voice listing names of characters reads like a list of victims. It’s a perfect fit for a dominant closing pitcher, a distinction Parnell began to earn last year. News of Parnell being behind schedule this season is worrisome for a team that didn’t need to worry about who to bridge the gap to in 2013.

Disclaimer: This piece is intended to be a fun look at songs and their comparisons to baseball. In no way, shape, or form should this be taken as serious baseball rhetoric.

Photo Credit: Michael Baron

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Around Citi Live: February 9th, 2014 with Metstradamus

Around Citi Live returns for our one-year anniversary show with recurring special guest Metstradamus. The phophetical Mets blogger’s views are unique, zany, and sure to leave you with plenty to think about heading into spring training this year.

  • Analyzing and discussing PECOTA’s 74-win projection for the New York Mets. Is there hope for more?
  • Which spring training invites will crack the Opening Day roster?
  • Who are prime breakout candidates in 2014?
  • Will Stephen Drew ultimately end up with the Mets?
  • Metstradamus’ “Burger of the Month”
  • The return of the anticiapted “Lucas Duda Tolerance Meter”
  • Confidence (or lack thereof) in the 2014 bullpen.
  • How many rookies will crack the roster?

Be sure to join us for the discussion live at 10:00 PM ET.

The prophetic Mets blogger offers creative and enthusiastic views on the Mets and writes a magnificently entertaining blog.

Around Citi Live will air tonight at 10:00 PM ET. You can listen live by clicking here.

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The New York Mets’ Checklist at the 2014 Winter Meetings

The 2013 MLB Winter Meetings will commence tomorrow from Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The meetings are a benchmark in the offseason ripe with roster transactions that typically make for the most exciting week of the offseason. This year’s meetings should be unique due to the unusual amount of free agent activity that has occurred within the past week.

The top remaining free agents on the market include OF/DH Nelson Cruz, SS Stephen Drew, SP Matt Garza, SP Ubaldo Jimenez, 2B Omar Infante, 1B Kendrys Morales, and CL Grant Balfour.

The New York Mets have a plethora of needs to address both this week and during the remainder of the offseason. The club maintains holes at first base, shortstop, bullpen, and starting rotation, all while needing to move one of Ike Davis or Lucas Duda.

  1. Trade Lucas Duda: Jeff Wilpon’s self-professed “logjam” at first base must be, and likely will be, addressed this week according to MetsBlog. The club must not make the mistake of selling low on Davis, who is only one year removed from blasting 33 home runs. The club has added significant power by adding Chris Young and Curtis Granderson, but a healthy and productive Ike Davis could be a major offensive force. Davis told MLB.com earlier this winter he has no desire to be traded and only wishes to to have a chance to play. The slugger hit .267/.429/.433 after his minor league stint, suggesting he has a lot left in the tank. While Davis will cost more, his upside is far greater and shouldn’t be ignored.
  2. Acquire Depth at the Corners: The club needs to add depth at both corner infield and outfield positions. If one of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, or Chris Young were to fail, versatile options like Corey Hart or Michael Morse would make solid back-up options. Both can play corner outfield positions (although their defense is horrid), and can serve as adequate first basemen. Neither player is likely to accept a part-time role, but the Mets should seek their demands. Jeff Baker is a low-profile option as he can play both second and first base with a surprising amount of pop. In 175 plate appearances for the Texas Rangers, Baker hit .279/.360/.545 with 11 home runs.
  3. Acquire a Starting Pitcher: The club needs to find a capable starting pitcher to bide time until Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard are ready to make the jump to Flushing, assuming neither are traded. The Mets were connected to 37-year-old Bronson Arroyo early on, but reports suggest their interest has wavered. A reunion with an innings eater like Chris Capuano remains on the table if Alderson wishes to choose a cheaper option, but there are plenty of free agents available that shouldn’t be cost-prohibitve. 
  4. Late-Inning Relief Help: The Mets lost Bobby Parnell amidst a breakout campaign for the closer. The flamethrower had surgery on a herniated disk in his neck in September and has yet to begin baseball activities, but reports indicate he will be ready for spring training. The club acquired a significant piece in Vic Black last season, but lost LaTroy Hawkins to free agency. With the lack of quality relief pitching available not the free agent market, the Mets will likely explore potential trades or internal options.

The Mets may not address all of their needs in Orlando, but Alderson will be active this week in shaping his roster for 2014. Which players do you want to see the Mets chase? How active do you believe the club will be?

Photo Credit: Michael Baron

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New York City Baseball The Golden Age 1947-1957 Review

New York City was a fertile ground for baseball following World War II. Jackie Robinson’s debut in Brooklyn, Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, Mickey Mantle’s emergence, and the twilight of Joltin’ Joe’s career in the Bronx highlighted an unprecedented era of success for baseball teams in the city. The United States was thriving in the post-war world, and New York’s baseball culture turned players into icons.

New York City Baseball The Golden Age 1947-1957 by Harvey Frommer paints a picture of a time that seems other-worldly. Originally published in 1980, the book has been reissued by Taylor Trade Publishing to give new life to a work that shares an invaluable account of both a baseball and cultural perspective of the era. A time when baseball was as universal of an American tradition as gathering on Sunday afternoon for football. The classic New York neighborhoods are described, and Frommer is superb capturing the essence of the environment:

“Followers of the New York City teams could go to a butcher shop, a candy store, a laundromat, moving from one to another virtually without missing a pitch. What the Yankees, the Giants, the Dodgers were doing, had done, would do was broadcast into bars and beauty parlors. On the job and in school rooms, there was always the sound of baseball.” Frommer writes, exemplifying the cultural significance the game held in New York.

Frommer details classic tales of the connection players had to their communities: The Dodgers routinely walking into the stadium and greeting the neighborhood, players spending the winter months working and waiting for spring, and the patience the public had for players who were struggling. One of the more intriguing examples Frommer presents is that of Pee Wee Reese, who despite his struggles, was adored by the Brooklyn faithful who followed his entire career. The atmosphere seems foreign to today’s game, where a player can be a perennial contributor and be placed under scrutiny for one mishap.

New York City Baseball The Golden Age is the quintessential collection of baseball information for fans of the era and new fans alike. The work contains in-depth retrospectives of all the characters surrounding the game: From Walter O’Malley’s quest to keep the Brooklyn Dodgers embedded in Brooklyn culture to Mel Allen’s timeless play-by-play. The book makes for a perfect holiday gift for the baseball fan in your life and is available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

 

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New York Yankees Sign Carlos Beltran: Mets Fans Need to Move On

The New York Yankees today announced they have agreed to terms with OF Carlos Beltran on a three-year, $45M commitment. The signing comes on the heels of the Yankees losing 2B Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners as the club looks to move forward without the second baseman.

Beltran, 36, hit .296/.339/.496 in 600 plate appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013. Beltran’s offense hasn’t regressed despite age, but his defense took a significant step back last season. The eight-time All-Star posted a -18.7 UZR/150 in addition to -6 DRS. Transitioning to the American League is natural next step for the former New York Met.

Beltran’s return to New York may be bittersweet for Mets fans who were holding out hope for a possible reunion. Although Curtis Granderson’s contract negated any chances of the two agreeing to terms, watching Beltran don pinstripes will leave a portion of the fan base bitter.

It’s time to get over it.

Beltran is among the greatest center fielders in baseball history. His postseason performance in 2006 is what drove the Mets to seven games; his effort the reason the club didn’t collapse under a poor offensive output and an injured starting rotation. He was caught looking, just as hundreds of players are everyday during the regular season. It’s an exhausting subject to discuss, but there are still legions of fans who believe the at-bat would have ended differently if he swung.

Beltran, entering what is likely going to be his final contract, is chasing a championship. Understandably so. He’s a notoriously phenomenal postseason performer and has come within an arm’s-length of a championship in 2005, 2006, and 2013. As the Yankees upgrade their club with premier free agents in their attempt to return to the postseason, it’s hardly a surprise that Beltran would find their offer attractive. The Bombers missed the postseason in 2008, spent in a similar manner during the offseason, and captured a championship in 2009.

Beltran will return to Citi Field on May 14th and 15th, 2014.

Photo Credit: Michael Baron

 

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