Archive for the ‘ Michael Baron ’ Category

Thank you, Mets fans

League Championship Series - New York Mets v Chicago Cubs - Game Four


BaronWhat a year it’s been, not just for the Mets but for Just Mets as well.

The site was conceptualized a year ago between myself, Rich MacLeod and MLB Advanced Media, and at the time I really had no idea what I wanted this to be. Everyone in this community has a valid voice and opinion, but how I could make this voice standout was–and still remains–a challenge.

But after dealing with some growing pains and adjustments to the voice and style of the site, Just Mets was able to complete a surprisingly successful first year.

Sure, it helps that the Mets are both good and relevant again, and the chance to be great again in 2016 and beyond has only furthered the unification of our community.

And the one thing I’ve learned after covering this team for seven seasons is that every day provides a story, whether it’s a good one or bad one.

But what has helped steer and guide the site to the success it’s enjoyed is the inspiration of the audience. I’ve taken my unique opportunity as both a fan of the Mets and a member of the media to listen and understand you, and attempt to relate what I learn on a daily basis in various forms of writing, whether it’s an analytical story about a player’s performance, a player the club may or may not be interested in trade or free agency, or something I see or hear at the ballpark or during a game you may not have known or realized.

And I think that’s been the common goal of the Just Mets brand, to provide you that unique perspective on the club.

I hope we are off to a good start.

In conclusion, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for tagging along, thank you for teaching me and guiding me through the first year of Just Mets. Without this audience, Just Mets doesn’t exist and doesn’t function, but you gave me the inspiration to launch this brand, and continue to build what I hope is becoming a daily landing spot for you and your Mets reading. It’s not easy and a lot of sacrifices have been made to make this site possible, but your support makes it all worth our while.

Happy New Year, and here is to the Mets bringing it all home in 2016!


Rich MacLeodAs 2014 came to a close and 2015 was upon us, co-writer Michael Baron and I prepared the launch of–what is now known as–Just Mets.

When this venture began, I didn’t know what to expect.

The Mets hadn’t been to the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons, and went six straight years without a .500 season. Not to mention that this team was already armed with a terrific group of beat writers and popular blogs such as MetsBlog and Amazin’ Avenue–among others–I knew this adventure wouldn’t be easy. In order to gain traction and the respect of Mets fans, we had to work hard from Day One.

And I think we’ve done that.

The reception that we’ve gotten over our first season has been far greater than I ever could have imagined and I have you all, our readers and fans of this franchise, to thank for that (with a big hat tip to the Mets for their performance on the field).

2015 was an incredible roller coaster ride from the onset as the Metropolitans went through an 11-game winning streak in April, a two-month long scoring drought, a myriad of trade deadline acquisitions, a prolific march towards the team’s first National League East title since 2006 and all the way to an unbelievable run into the World Series.

From the debuts of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, to Wilmer Flores’ near-trade, crying episode and subsequent walk-off home run, to Yoenis Cespedes putting this team on his back, Daniel Murphy making postseason history by hitting home runs in six consecutive games and so many more moments throughout the year, the 2015 season was an unforgettable ride that produces chills down my spine–the good kind–every time I reflect upon them.

The first year of Just Mets has gone better than I ever expected and I can promise you all that we will put forth the same tireless effort to bring you daily content, photographs, videos, quotes, breaking news, opinions and insight about the New York Mets in 2016 and beyond.

Thank you all once again for following along this season. At the end of the day, like all of you, I am a Mets fan–plain and simple. So, enjoy this picture of me appropriately losing my mind as the Mets clinched their NLDS series victory this past October.

The best is yet to come.

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The Mets have been active this winter, but have they improved their quality with quantity?

de aza parra span


BaronThe Mets agreed to sign free agent OF Alejandro De Aza to a one-year, $4.5 million contract on Tuesday morning, according to multiple reports, pending De Aza passing a physical.

The Mets had shown interest free agents Denard Span and Gerardo Parra throughout the off-season, but like many teams with Span, they have been concerned with his health after coming off major hip surgery in August.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, that along with Span’s, “sign-ability” led them to sign De Aza, who Jerry Crasnick of ESPN said the Mets were eying on Monday. (more…)

Despite defensive shortcomings, Asdrubal Cabrera is ready to be a versatile option for the Mets

Asdrubal Cabrera


BaronThe Mets haven’t sought to simply plug holes ahead of what they hope is a championship season in 2016.

The front office has sought to plug their holes by creating quality depth and versatility throughout their roster, and having 13-14 players who can start for them without any doubt for 162 games.

That task led them to signing Asdrubal Cabrera during the winter meetings. He comes without flash and flare by most hot stove standards, but the Mets believe that not only is he an upgrade to Wilmer Flores at shortstop, but he can also create such depth and versatility by shifting Flores into that super-utility infielder role, which should garner him plenty of at-bats against left-handed pitching while also having him fill-in for David Wright when he is given days off.

But in a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Cabrera said he can also be that versatile player the Mets seek, if they want him in that role, even though he has only played in one game at third base during his career.

“Whatever the team needs,” the new Met said. “I think if you can play shortstop, you can play second or third base, I’m going to wait to spring training to see where they want me to play. I’m going to do my best.”

While Cabrera doesn’t walk very much and strikes out more than is desired, the primary concern with Cabrera is indeed his defense. He has shown a slowdown in foot speed and reduced range over the last several seasons, reducing his effectiveness at a premium position on the diamond.

As such, Cabrera will need to do his part to prevent runs behind his groundball-producing staff. That includes showing improved range but also pairing with Neil Walker to do a better job of turning double plays than the club did in 2015.

Fortunately for Cabrera and the Mets, Walker has been one of the better second basemen in the league at turning such double plays in recent years.

Still, the Mets still clearly viewed Cabrera as an upgrade in stability in a market that lacked quality and value at the position. The club is expecting Cabrera produces close to his .740 OPS, and 105 OPS+ over nine big league seasons, with hopes he begins to resemble the player he was defensively several seasons ago.

“They’re a really good team,” Cabrera said about these Mets. “Great city to play baseball, and they are winning. They won the National League last year and they were in the World Series, too.”

One of the draws for Cabrera was the Mets starting pitching staff, and he believes that alone gives the Mets a great chance to achieve their goal of a championship in 2016.

“They’re great,” Cabrera said about the Mets rotation. “We got one of the best starting pitching in the league. We can win this year, too.”

Certainly, if Cabrera holds up his end of the bargain.

 

Wilmer Flores, the super-utility infielder?


BaronThe acquisitions of both Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera have provided the Mets with an infield that has no shortage of options at several positions.

Certainly, the club has taken an indirect route to creating such depth, as it’s moved their primary middle infielders in both Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada lower on the depth chart into roles more suitable for them, and could lead the Mets to consider moving Tejada in some manner before the start of the regular season.

But Flores has may have a more meaningful place on the roster thanks to his ability to play multiple positions on the infield.

Including first base.

And Terry Collins envisions Flores serving in that super-utility role on the infield. (more…)

Curtis Granderson’s hand is healthy, pleased with the Mets acquisitions so far


BaronCurtis Granderson injured his left thumb on a slide during the National League Championship Series against the Cubs, and learned he had a torn a ligament which required off-season surgery.

But he recently began his off-season workouts with two months before the start of Spring Training, as he posted a picture of his brace-free hand on Instagram on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re good to go,” Granderson told Brian Heyman of Newsday. “Offseason workouts have already begun.”

Despite the injury, Granderson managed to hit three home runs following the incident, but said it didn’t affect his ability to swing a bat.

Said Granderson, “Since it was my top hand, it actually didn’t bother me. If it was my bottom hand, I might not have been able to play.”

Granderson is excited about his club’s off-season acquisitions so far this winter, citing the versatility both Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker bring to the roster.

“He always beat us, especially in Pittsburgh,” Granderson said about Walker. “I’m excited to have another versatile player that he brings to us, both offensively and defensively. And then with Cabrera, another guy I’ve gotten a chance to play against a lot that’s been very good on so many different aspects, from hitting and defense.”

The Mets have said they’re not looking to displace Granderson’s presence in the leadoff spot. And to an extent, that’s sensible since he posted a .360 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot in 2015. But he also hit 26 home runs in that spot, the most in baseball. Certainly, he did a fantastic job of embracing a multi-dimensional role, and that alone could’ve easily made him the club’s most valuable player in 2015.

But that power could be made even more valuable if he were able to move to the middle of the order, especially if they are unable to land a power bat in free agency or trade this winter.

Of course, Terry Collins can’t do that if the Mets don’t get a leadoff-type hitter to replace Granderson’s .360 on-base percentage, but doing so could kill two birds with one stone, as they would be able to fill the gap left by Yoenis Cespedes with Granderson’s power, and maintain their presence at the top of the order with one move.

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