The thing about players that have an edge and play like they have something to prove is that they are somewhat immune to criticism to a certain extent. Guys like Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds play for themselves and that is not always a bad thing. I'm not saying they have no sense of team or do not care about the fans, but they are more thick skinned. Now with Gary and Barry comes more baggage. Gary shouts racism all to often and has some other issues while Barry just needs a bit more advice when it comes to public relations, but I see Lastings in a different light.
Of course he is not a maniac like Gary and he does not seem to have more subtlety than Barry, but he is the type of guy that does not care what everyone says. Lastings concentrates on Lastings and what he can control, which is his play on the field. Boo him? I think he will use that as fuel whereas some people shrink. Trade rumors? Out of his hands and just goes out and plays. The media being all over him? Well they have been since day one and he has not shriveled, cried, wilted, or hid. New York teams always talk about finding guys that are good fits for New York.
We all know not everyone can survive here and thin skinned players that are shy is not exactly the profile of that New York GMs seek out. Lastings possess a lot of qualities that will allow him to succeed as a Met and he relishes the spotlight. He is a guy that has the ability to make a big splash and stand up to pitfalls of playing in New York. He may not be as affable as David Wright, but that certainly is not such a bad thing.
One thing we have learned from this past lull the Mets went through is that complacency could be a killer. A guy with a bit of an edge could be a nice addition to any clubhouse as long as it does not come with a lot of baggage, which Lastings does not. He is not a bad guy. He is just a kid who maybe does not think everything through and he could be a big spark for this team over the next few years. I am officially pumped he is back up and hopefully he gets some meaningful at-bats and a chance to contribute on this team.
Players the Mets have signed:
Round Player Position Bonus
1s - Nathan Vineyard - lhp - $657,000
2 -- Scott Moviel - rhp - $414,000
2 -- Brant Rustich - rhp - $373,500
3 -- Eric Niesen - lhp - $351,000
3 -- Stephen Clyne - rhp - $100,000
4 -- Richard Lucas - 3b - $150,000
5 -- Zach Lutz - 3b - $120,000
6 -- Guillaume Leduc - rhp - $120,000
7 -- Lucas Duda - 1b - $85,000
8 -- Dan McDonald - rhp - $75,000
10 - Brandon Richey - ss - $40,000
11 - Matt Bouchard - ss
12 - Will Morgan - rhp
13 - Jordan Abruzzo - c
14 - Robert Carson - lhp
15 - Jefferies Tatford - c
16 - Chris Fournier - of
18 - Michael Antonini - lhp
19 - Ernesto Gonzalez - ss
20 - Dylan Owen rhp
21 - Dillon Gee rhp
22 - Tyler Vaughn - 3b
23 - Norberto Navarro - c
24 - Michael Parker - 2b
25 - Cole Abbott - rhp
26 - Brad Burns - rhp
27 - Kyle Catto - rhp
29 - Roydrick Merritt - lhp
32 - Juan Centeno - c
35 - Jason Lavorgna - rhp
37 - Jose Alvarez - 3b
38 - Brandon Kawal - of
The total for the above listed bonuses is $2,485,500. Not many big ticket guys after that to sign so they will not necessarily increase the total much higher.
Players who have not signed:
1s - Eddie Kunz - rhp
9 - -Michael Olmstead - rhp
17 - Brandon Efferson - rhp
28 - Kyle Maxie - c
30 - Rylan Sandoval - 2b
31 - Tony Peraza - lhp
33 - Nicholas Abshire - ss
34 - Terry Johnson - ss
36 - Glen Johnson - ss/3b
39 - Alonzo Harris - ss
They did a pretty good job in signing the majority of their draft picks and Eddie Kunz will sign. Aside from Kunz, the only two interesting names left are Brandon Efferson and Glen Johnson. Glen of course is HoJo's son and will probably choose to go to college due to his fringy tools. He does not exactly project to be a big leaguer so he should get a degree and see where he is at that point. He if still wants to make a go of it, he could at that point.
As for Efferson, he is a legit prospect. According to BA, he flashes three plus pitches. He has an 89-94 mph fastball, a curveball, and a changeup that dives. The red flag, and the thing that doomed Kazmir in this organization, is that he is 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds. Throw on top of that he is reportedly looking for a seven-figure price tag and you have a lot of hesitancy on behalf of the Mets. The positive thing as BA points out is that he has a clean delivery and generates his quality stuff with arm speed rather than maximum effort. With only one big ticket guy left in Eddie Kunz for the Mets to sign, they really have not spent much on the draft this year. Seeing as he would be an above slot guy, he would not get signed until the deadline in August. However, this is someone the Mets should definitely take a chance on. He looks like he could be a devastating reliever with a chance to be a good starter as well.
1) I know it REALLY does not matter, but people do care or else it should not be played. I am an NL fan and I would like to see the NL win and if the Mets do reach the World Series, it would have been nice to start at home.
2) One inning per pitcher is a gamble for LaRussa. If a starter looks off, pull him after one, but why already have a preconceived idea that everyone goes one no matter what? I would rather take my bets with six pitchers being on their game for two two inning stints and four one innings stints rather than nine pitchers for one inning stints. If you go with nine, there is more of a chance of getting a guy who is off and if someone needs rescuing, you are not leaving much depth. The goal should be one starter not being used at the very end in case someone needs to go a few innings.
3) Why was Miguel Cabrera even there if he could only pinch hit? In a game that you burn through players like it is going out of style, it would help if you could keep all of your flexibility.
4) I'm ok with the game as currently set up, but please ditch the homefield advantage thing. There are just too many things wrong about it with so many mitigating factors. I do not want a manager's gaffe to possibly affect my team when they have nothing to do with my team. I'm not asking for an overhaul of the game, just let it be what it is. An exhibition game. Placing unneeded importance on the game will not make more people watch. The game is immensely popular right now and thriving. Let marketing do it's thing and let the players do theirs. I would be ok if you wanted to say whichever league takes interleague gets homefield, but the way it is currently set up is silly.
You watch managers handle the All-Star Game -- the roster decisions, the lineup decisions, while trying to find the proper balance between honoring players in an exhibition and trying to win the game -- and I don't think anybody has done a better job than Jim Leyland. He had half an excuse to start Justin Verlander, and he made what was probably the correct call on Haren. He could have had Gary Sheffield on the team, but he chose Martinez of the Indians, which was the fair decision again, given Sheffield's poor start. He placed his own three starters at the bottom of the batting order. He played a lot of players, and at the end, he made pitching changes to win.
How many years did we have to watch Torre load up his own team leaving deserving guys at home?
Oliver Perez and Jorge Sosa are both on the DL. Perez should be back by the fourth game after the All-Star break, but Sosa will be out longer than that. Overall, that’s the 12th trip to the DL a Mets player has made this year. On the bench, Ruben Gotay is turning into something of a savior, batting .333 AVG/.377 OBP/.514 SLG in limited action this season.
The scouting consensus on Gotay seems to be an average defender that is a decent line drive hitter. Of course he is not going to be a savior with the bat, but he could provide adequate production for a Met team that is not looking to get 20 homers out of second base.
6. Can the Mets hang on?
The Mets have been waylaid by injuries this season, but they still cling to a two-game lead over the Braves in the NL East. In the second half, the Mets figure to get Pedro Martinez, Oliver Perez, Jorge Sosa and Moises Alou back from the DL. That's quite a shot in the arm. However, if the Mets and/or Phillies are able to land a starting pitcher at the deadline, then things could get even tighter. New York has the edge, but there's not much breathing room at the moment.
Julio Franco: F
At 48, a great story. Too bad his bat speed is merely a memory. Time to give the popular Met a coaching job so the club can get another bench player.
I thought his Willie grade was a little high and Omar grade was a little low. Given the second base options, Valentin was hardly a horrible sign and he did create and out for '08. Blame Willie for trying his hardest to get him that 400th at-bat. In regards to Schoeneweiss, he was looking to possibly trade Heilman with a dearth of guys who can get left handers out, he took a gamble that did fail. Alou got injured, but I don't think anyone thought he wouldn't. If he can stay on the field for the second half he will have given you as many games as you would have expect. Also, with Milledge, Gomez, and Chavez you figured the depth was there to cover it which probably factored into things. Who would have thought all four would have been down at one time?
Great Leap Forward: Right-hander Bobby Parnell has started to fulfill some of his projection, gaining 2-3 ticks on his fastball while moving up to Double-A and nearly striking out a batter per inning. Only 20, shortstop Jose Castro is the polar opposite of a three true outcomes type of player, generating two home runs, six walks, and 19 strikeouts in 250 at-bats; a boatload of singles has him at .348/.388/.420 for High-A St. Lucie.
Not What We Expected: The much-ballyhooed righty duo of Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey has done little. Humber has rarely dominated at Triple-A New Orleans in posting a 4.48 ERA in 17 starts, allowing 101 hits in 96.1 innings. Pelfrey spent much of the first half in the big leagues, and has accumulated more walks (22) than strikeouts (21) in 41.1 innings as he continues to try to find a breaking ball.
Open Questions: Is outfielder Fernando Martinez’ year at Double-A Binghamton (.271/.336/.377) a step in the wrong direction, or an impressive performance for a 19-year-old? We can ask the same question about 18-year-old Deilos Guerra at High-A St. Lucie after he's put up a 4.58 ERA.
Who Will Be No. 1?: With no top draft pick, it will be up to the teenage sensations to step it up in the second half of the season.
Parnell broke into pro ball with Brooklyn and opened some eyes with his otherworldly ability to keep the ball in the park. He allowed one homer in 73 innings of work. In Hagerstown in '06 he got off to a bad start and settled in with a 4.04 ERA, a solid, 8.07 K/9, and a 0.67 hr/9. He did not fair well in St. Lucie, but it was a small sample size. He is having a fine season so far and handled St. Lucie just fine and did not allow one homer in fifty+ innings. The Mets did focus heavily on arms the last three drafts, but you cannot say they do not have much show for it. A few ace potential guys with quite a few quality starting prospects.
Jose Castro seems like a non-prospect to me. Wasn't all that good in '05 and '06, makes tons of errors, has no pop, he's 5'8", and doesn't walk. I'm not sure what we are supposed to like here.
I think we can all agree Humber and Pelfrey had been let downs. We had such high hopes that they could have played a lot better and still be a let down, but the jury is still out on the both them. Humber needs a whole year back and Pelfrey just needs to accumulate minor league innings.
I'm not going to touch the two teenagers...wait...that didn't come out right. Let me try this again...I think we have spoken about them too much already, but they are young. They need more time. Sure we would love to see big numbers from them, but not many people are competing at their level at their respective ages.
What, exactly, is the suspense in watching the game's most powerful sluggers hit 40-mph fastballs over the wall? It's like watching LeBron James dunking on a nine-foot basket. There's no suspense, no mystery. Hitting batting practice home runs signify nothing.
Well, plenty of mindless Americans do. I think it was higher rated than the World Series. Do not quote me on that, I'm just going off of something I think I heard. If not that, it was bigger than something...or most things on TV baseball related. I do not watch it to particularly see who wins. I hope underdogs like Rios and Holliday win, but I'm not biting my nails. I watch it to see majestic shots. I want to see if a righty can knock one into the water or if someone can knock it out of the deepest part of the park. I'm not as concerned with big names in there either as I'd rather see some relative unknowns mixed in with some bigger stars that will always invariably come. It serves as a great platform for some guys who are not on the national stage to perhaps make a name for themselves.
I do think his idea of upping the stakes works if the money goes to charity, but I'm not too disappointed in the way the current Home Run Derby is set up.
Brahiam Maldonado is putting together a solid year.
Sean Henry is finally putting all of his tools to use.