It is about that time that players have played a substantial chunk of the year and have proved something to their teams. They may have proved they need more time at their current level, need to be demoted, or need to be promoted. The Mets have quite a few guys that seem to be playing way above their level and some other guys who should just be promoted.
1) Brian Bannister: I figured we would start off with the feel good story of the year. Son of ex-Major League pitcher Floyd Bannister, Brian owns an advanced feel for the game and five pitches in his arsenal, including two possible out pitches. He pitches in a slight hitter’s park and a division that features many good hitter's parks and has flat out dominated. He already spent eight games in AA last season and did pretty good and has fifteen starts this year already. Coming off his best performance of the year going nine innings for a shutout, he deserves to get a look. He is 24 and is not getting any younger and looks to be ready to make the jump.
2) Yusmeiro Petit: What else do I need to say? The kid probably could have pitched in AAA last season and I loved what I saw of him in spring training this season against Major League hitters. The Mets have been notorious for treating their pitchers with kid gloves after Generation K, but Petit is special. They thought highly enough of him to move him up from low A ball Cap City to high A ball St. Lucie after fifteen games and then move him from St. Lucie to Binghamton for the playoffs after only nine games. Yusmeiro has never spent more than fifteen games at any level in his professional career and has no trouble moving up. So far, he has pitched in thirteen games for AA Binghamton and looks to be ready for a shot at the next level. Besides, if the Mets need to trade him for some young talent come this trading deadline, being closer to Major League ready sure does not hurt.
3) Mike Jacobs: Been there, done that. In 2003, Mike Jacobs had a stellar year at AA Binghamton putting up a .329/.376/.548 line with 17 homers and 81 RBIs. The man without a position already proved he could hit there and is reinforcing the idea that it was no fluke season. This year he is flashing even more power and it is time to sit down the retreads catching at the AAA level and let Mike have a taste of AAA ball again. Last season his injury stifled his progress, and like Brian Bannister, he is 24 and not getting any younger. If they are to be proven true prospects, they need to start playing at a level more appropriate for their ages and their skill.
4) Brett Harper: Why are we even having this conversation? He hit .350/.440/.564 last season with St. Lucie and at 24, he needs to be at a higher level. He did not exactly fall on his face after being promoted to AA last season and hit .247/.309/.437 and deserves a shot with Binghamton. He could move quickly and with the breakout power numbers he is putting up so far this year, it is time to get him moving up the ladder. He is first baseman and that is not exactly a position of strength for the Mets at higher levels in the system.
5) Lastings Milledge: Why rush him? Because he is that good. His numbers may look just decent, but if you subtract a slow first month, he has been on a tear and has been getting a hit just about every game. Yes, his power numbers are down, but he had a sprained wrist which could be zapping some of his power and his league is particularly tough on hitters. I think it is time again to push Lastings to see what the kid can do. He is much more improved at the high A ball level this year than last year and his newfound plate discipline shows that he has made a lot of progress this past off season on his biggest offensive deficiency.
6) Philip Humber: I know this will not be a popular one, but John Sickels does a great job of pointing out why Phil Humber has been better than his numbers would suggest. If you take out the two starts that were sandwiched around his injury and could be attributed to his injury, Humber has a 1-3 record, 3.28 ERA, 7.14 K/9, 3.08 K/BB, and a 8.68 H/9. Also, during his last start that was rained out, he went 4.2 innings and was throwing no-hit ball. St. Lucie was supposed to be a warm up for him and he was to be moved when the weather got warmer. Well, the weather is warmer and it is safe to say Phil Humber is pretty much on track. Give him two more starts and if does well in those starts, tell him to pack his bags. Though it may not look like it, he should be tabbed for a promotion that should be done in tandem with the promotions of Petit and Bannister.
7) Dante Brinkley: The numbers he has put up this year so far have been absolutely astounding as he leads the league in batting average and on base percentage and is second in slugging percentage. Brinkley was drafted in 2003 out of college and played his first full season of pro ball last year. He did pretty good last year, but has gotten really, really comfortable this year in Hagerstown. He was a very good college hitter and exhibited some pop with some good plate discipline and is clearly ready to make the jump to St. Lucie. He already posted a career high in homeruns in his pro or college career in less games than in his previous high and needs a bit more of a challenge. He has 53 strikeouts to 36 walks, which is just a tremendous ratio, and he is slugging .643 with an OPS of 1.133. He could have been a 23rd round steal when we look back in five years and the Mets should put him at St. Lucie so they can really see what they have in this kid.
8) Gaby Hernandez: When Yusmeiro Petit was 19, he started the year at Cap City, moved up to St. Lucie, and finally saw some time at Binghamton. Petit was 9-2 with a 2.39 ERA in with his first exposure to low A ball with Cap City with 5.10 h/9, 2.39 w/9, 13.23 k/9, and 0.83 WHIP in 83 innings. So far at Hagerstown, which is Gaby's first exposure to low A ball, he has a 5.45 h/9, 3.13 w/9, 9.37 k/9, and a 0.95 WHIP. There is precedence for the Mets to move a kid so young quickly through their ranks and it happened last year. Throw on top of that he has better pure stuff than Petit with a sinker that is faster than Petit's fastball. The force is with this kid and he is very good. When Phil Humber gets promoted to take Bannister's place or Petit's place, Gaby should pack his bags too. While some people may be hesitant to rush players, I'm not. If he proves he can pitch at a level, it is time to give him a shot at the next level.
On the bubble:
Anderson Hernandez: Anderson Hernandez is a guy that could be considered on the bubble. With the recent injury to Jeff Keppinger and the Mets future need for a second baseman, it may be worth a shot to get a look at Anderson Hernandez outside the friendly confines of the Eastern League. The only thing that puts me on the fence about him is the fact that he has had a relatively light stick in the past. On the other hand, 2004 represented his best offensive season, so he is possibly an improved player. He got in 101 games at AA with when he was with the Tigers last year and has now played 68 games with the B-Mets this year. With the Mets middle infield set when Keppinger returns in Norfolk, Anderson Hernandez will have a tough time cracking AAA this year, but with Keppinger not due back for a bit, it could sure help the Mets find out if his offensive improvement is Eastern League aided or the real deal.
Anderson Garcia: That Armando Benitez trade may turn out good for the Mets yet. Anderson Garcia was picked up by the Mets when they unloaded Armando Benitiez to the Yankees for Jason Anderson, Ryan Bicondoa, and Anderson Garcia on July 16, 2003. Anderson is a hard throwing right hander who is having his best year to date for the B-Mets in '05. His 1.98 ERA is impressive, but his body of work is small enough to keep some doubt until he proves himself over an entire season. His career ERA was 3.62 heading into this season and he is compiling his best season to date.
Jae Seo: Perhaps no Met was as disappointing as Jae Seo in 2004. After a strong 2003 campaign in which he surprised most Met fans, he was being counted on for some stability in the rotation in 2004. However, due to a lack of zip on his fastball and some problems with Rick Peterson, he was largely ineffective. In 2005, he has regained the few extra MPHs that he lost and has made his off speed pitch the dangerous weapon that is was in 2003. When he is on, his off speed pitch looks like a breaking pitch and makes him a very effective pitcher. He was stellar in his short stint with the Major League club and has been nothing short of spectacular after returning back to the minors from his stint with the Mets. He really has nothing left to prove but has no place to fit with the team unless he gets a shot at the bullpen at some point this season or a few trades open up a spot.
Grant Psomas: Grant Psomas is another candidate who was a good college hitter who has discipline, power, and the ability to hit for average like Dante Brinkley. However, there simply is not room enough for both to be promoted and Dante Brinkley is having the better season so far. Besides, Dante had a more consistent college career and looks like the better prospect at this point and therefore is a bit ahead of him on the food chain.
For me, when it comes to college guys playing in the lower levels who are coming off of good college careers that are flat out hitting well or pitching well deep into the season continuously, they need to be moved along. Unless you play with a some of the top programs, it is hard to get a pulse on how good their numbers truly are since they are playing against lesser opponents. Tyler Davidson has had some great college seasons, but has not quite responded and moved up as quickly as the Mets might have liked, but guys like Dante Brinkley and Grant Psomas look like much better prospects than Davidison and are much more seasoned. For high school guys or international signings that sign young, I do prefer they prove themselves for a few years before they start getting promoted quickly unless they are like Lastings Milledge or Gaby Hernandez and clearly are special players. The Mets have a few guys that fit into this category and I am all for challenging the right players and see how good they really are.
Jay Payton, a $3.5 million insurance policy as the Red Sox's fourth outfielder, wants to play elsewhere, the Boston Herald reports.
"There's probably a half a dozen other teams, a dozen other teams, I could be playing for," Payton told the newspaper. "Actually, as far as playing time, this is one of the worst situations I can be in because if I'm hitting .800 I still wouldn't be playing any more than I am right now because they've got their boys."
Umm, but you are not hitting .800.
- Buffalo beat Norfolk 5-4 and Billy Traber got the win for Buffalo. Prentice Redman, Benji Gil, and Chase Lambin each picked up three hits in the game and Jason Scobie took the loss and went six innings giving up four earned runs.
- New Britain beat Binghamton 10-2. Anderson Hernandez continues to pound the ball and went 2 for 5 with one run scored and two doubles. Matt Lindstrom continues to be an enigma and went 1.1 innings giving up three hits, two runs, two walks, and one homer.
- St. Lucie beat Daytona 3-1 and Brett Harper provided all the offense needed. Harper went 2 for 4 with one run scored, one homer, and two RBIs. Lastings Milledge went 1 for 4 with one double and a stolen base while Shawn Bowman went 3 for 4 with one run scored, one double, one homer, and one RBI. Harper's homerun was his 19th and Bowman's homer was his 11th.
- Lakewood beat Hagerstown 6-3 and Aaron Hathaway continues his hot hitting. He went 4 for 4 with a run scored to bring his average up to .263.
- Brooklyn beat Staten Island 6-4. Joshua Peterson went 2 for 4 with one run scored, one homer, and two RBIs.
- Kingsport beat Johnson City 11-7 and scored double digit runs for the second game out of three games this season. Nick Evans continues to punish the ball and went 2 for 6 with two runs scored, two homers, and four RBIs. Sean Henry went 0 for 2 but walked three times. He now has six walks on the season to his three hits.
"They'll probably start again with that stupid 'Who's Your Daddy' thing,' " Randolph said. "They'll call him a bunch of names and be cutesy. But I don't think he cares. I'm sure he'll hear it, but it may motivate him and fire him up."
Hernandez hasn't allowed a run in 10 straight outings, dropping his ERA to 2.03. He is 2-2 and has one save.
"It's been a pleasant surprise," Randolph said. "Going into the season, I can't say that I knew he'd do this for us. He's been super for us because without him we'd be in bad shape."
Closer Braden Looper has pitched more than one inning only twice this season, thanks to Hernandez's reliability in the eighth inning.
"The ball got over the bag and I was thinking double, double," Wright said. "I saw the replay. Nice play."
Tom Glavine, the reigning judge on the Mets' kangaroo court, said, "Might be a punishable offense." He also said he was going to buy Wright the Tom Emanski base running video.
I'm all for trading Cammy and others if it makes sense, but Cammy is possibly worth more than Cano or Wang, plus Duncan or Cabrera. The Mets are not looking to cut bait just to save money, but they are looking to improve their team in the near future.
Because the Yankees are just so bored by the whole thing.
And the Mets like it?