Will 2013 Be The Summer of Lucas Duda ?

 
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Lucas Duda is one very large enigma to Mets fans. We see a strapping young man who stands 6’4” 250+ lbs and wonder, when will it all come together for Duda, when will we see 30+ HR’s and 90+ RBI. Well at 27 years old if it doesn’t come this year it mostly likely will never happen for Duda.

27 years of age is a great age to be unless you are an unproven big league baseball player. It’s an age where you are hitting your playing prime, where if you are a quality baseball player, everything comes together, it all starts to click, you have a good read on the opposing pitching staffs, you have a good idea of your hitting zone, you know when to be aggressive and when to lay off the breaking balls you chased as a greenhorn. It’s when the game starts to slow down just a bit for you to manage it effectively.  This is the season for all of this to come to Lucas Duda at the plate, if it doesn’t the Mets are in for a long season and Duda could be one in a long line of young Mets outfielders to be discarded on the side of the road.

I’ve looked a few of the projections for Duda for the coming season and while there seems to be a bit of an uptick in his power numbers by some, is it enough t to keep him as a big league starter?:

PECOTA .251/.333/.430  15 HR 54 RBI

ZiPS  .248/.330/.418  18HR  74 RBI

Bill James  .268/.356/.454   18HR  69 RBI

 

James projects Duda with a better on base and slugging percentage and I kind of agree with that. Duda has improved his eye at the plate, swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone (30.1, 29.8 and 35.3 last season) and his base on balls rate has gone up each season as well. But it’s the power numbers that give me pause on Duda as his Isolated Power Average dropped from .189 in 2011 to a pedestrian .150 last season. Being that the Mets lineup is still in flux-I don’t think Terry Collins knows who will be his 1-2 in the lineup yet-where Duda bats will determine how many RBI opportunities he gets, I figure Duda to bat 6th so the opportunity to drive in runs will be there for him.

Hitting just 15-18 home runs will not be acceptable this season from Duda, the Mets have to see an increase to at least mid-twenty’s if the team is going to make any noise this season and again at 27 years old, it’s time for Lucas to bust out.

The dilemma is for Duda to stay in the lineup he has got to hit and be a run producer as his defense is, and there is no way to sugar coat it,dreadful. The Mets do not need Duda to be Barry Bonds-like in left field but he needs to be able to get a good initial jump on balls and just make the routine play. In Duda’s defense (no pun intended) he is a first baseman by trade who is still learning a new position, so I have to cut him some slack.

The intangible in the whole Lucas Duda equation is his mind set. When Duda first came up to the Mets, it took a while for him to become comfortable in the major league/NYC setting. Terry Collins has mentioned that Duda has to get a grasp of being a big leaguer and now as one of the young vets on this Mets team, he has to be a leader. That doesn’t mean he has to be vocal or a rah-rah type, which is not his nature but Duda has to step up this season and be a difference maker so the club and Mets fans don’t have to suffer through another disappointing season.

Let’s all hope that 2013 becomes The Summer of Duda.      

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JOHN NIESE AND HIS YELLOW HAMMER

Another solid start by Jon Niese  and his ever improving curve ball led the Mets to a series win over the Brewski’s . The same Brewski’s who have the best home record in baseball were a late inning Mets collapse away from being swept at home.

These Mets are perplexing to say the least. As much as the rash of late inning collapses infuriate us, this is not the same old Mets. Lose a four run lead and lose a game you should have won? No problem, come back the next day, forget yesterday and win the next game.  A post season berth this season is pie in the sky I know but the renovation of the mind set of this organization is progressing very nicely. The culture of the “woe is me attitude” had been eradicated, replaced with “keep plugging along”. It’s very refreshing.

Jason Bay seems to be a very nice guy who is working his ass off to get his bat back to where it should be. He knows what’s at stake and he has been a team guy when Terry Collins has approached him to either drop him in the order or to put him on the bench. His team first attitude is great. But this is big league baseball where winning and losing are paramount to what is to be accomplished and if Bay has to sit or be platooned or relegated to rehab in St Lonesome with a “wink-wink” DL stint, then so be it. Sandy Alderson said during the off season that salary will not determine who plays and we’ve seen that with the moves he’s made so far this season. Now comes word that Lucas Duda will be called up from Buffalo and Nick Evans will be DFA. Duda is not here to ride the pine; he will play some LF and 1B. Not sure if TC will go strict platoon with Bay/Duda or give Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada some days off and move Murph to 3rd with Duda playing 1st but what bringing up Duda does is give TC more flexibility and some much needed production from a corner position.

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WINNING!!!!!!!!

Com’on you didn’t think the Mets would lose every game this season did you?  And what a game it was, give credit to Terry Collins for going radical by using Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey on their throw days in relief. Why waste those pitches in the pen.  Collins checked the data available to him that revealed Larry Jones going 1-7 against Capuano which I guess was foreign to Freddi Gonzalez who batter Larry for Freddie Freeman (whenever I hear the name Freddie Freeman I think of Freddy Cannon and the song Palisades Park) then having R.A. Dickey come in for quick inning in the 7th followed by Izzy and K-Rod.  I’m sure Tony LaRussa is distraught over not coming up with this strategy when he invented baseball.

Dillon Gee showed up at the Ted like a homeless man with no glove, no spikes but was ready for service. Gee’s bags were lost between Providence R.I. and Philadelphia and to make things worse Gee did not arrive in the ATL until 1AM. So with Bobby Parnell’s glove and Josh Thole’s spikes and a spare suit of Mike Nickeas (who will need that suit for the next profession he has because he ain’t cut out for big league baseball)  in his locker, but forth one of the better starts by a Mets starter this season. Gee will get at least one more start as a fill in for Chris Young and Collins has said that Gee will most likely go back to Buffalo so he can continue to pitch on a regular basis but if he has another strong outing like yesterday, with the shape this pitching staff is in, how do you send him back to Triple A ?

Matt Harvey had another strong outing for St Lonesome yesterday going 5 innings in the Baby Mets 4-1 win over Ft. Myers. In 16 innings pitched so far this season Harvey has not given up an earned run while striking out 20 and walking just 6. It will quite interesting to see how the front office handles the 24 year old first round pick in the 2009 entry draft.  A couple of more of these solid starts and Harvey could see himself fast tracked to Binghamton by late May.

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NEW BOOK: BOTTOM OF THE NINTH BY MICHAEL SHAPIRO

 

 

 

After Walter O’Malley got Horace Stoneham good and drunk and persuaded Stoneham to move the New York Giants along with his Dodgers to the Left Coast a movement went through baseball to start a third Major League to be called the Continental League. This league would help NYC replace the Dodgers and Giants and allow cities like Houston, Toronto, Denver and Minneapolis-St Paul to join and have big league baseball.  The league would be headed by Branch Rickey. The creation of this league put pressure on MLB to expand and from this league sprang the Houston Colt 45′s (now the Astros) The LA Angels, Washington Senators and our beloved NY Mets.

In the Bottom Of The Ninth, (published by Henry Holt and Co) Michael Shapiro lays out in detail the behind the scenes negotiations that led to the threat of a new league helping bring back National League baseball to NYC plus the drama between Bill Shea, Casey Stengel and the Mahatma himself.

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THE MORE LASTING MILLEDGE SPEAKS, THE MORE THE METS LOOK SMART FOR DUMPING HIM

You know what? All you LMillz haters out there you may be on to something. Check out this post from the Chico Harlan’ Washington Journal.

 

A part of me loves the rebellious attitude that Milledge has but a another part of me the baseball fanatic in me, takes away from this interview that Milledge really has no passion to excel at playing big league baseball.  You read how Milledge didn’t take to being told to come out to the ball park three to four hours before a game to do game preparation. In fact the way Milledge prepares for a game is down right disturbing:

 

 LM: Because nobody else can play the game for you. Nobody else is going to give you the money. Nobody is going to give his spot up for you. If I was to walk away from this game today or I wasn’t able to compete at this level anymore, then I have no regrets. I did it my way. Nobody else told me what I need to do. I didn’t try nobody else’s way. I tried my way. And if I just couldn’t play this game, I can live with that. But I couldn’t live with failing by trying somebody else’s way.

 

Q: OK, you keep talking about ‘your way,’ but what does that mean?

 

LM: You know, there’s always a thing where, oh, rookies have to be here 2-1/2 or three hours before stretch. No. I’m not gonna be here three hours before stretch. If you’re here and you get your work in, it shouldn’t matter how early you’re at the field. You know what you need to do. That’s fine. You don’t have to be at the park three, four hours before the park if you don’t want. You don’t see nobody clocking in three or four hours before they have to show up to work. So, I mean, some people feel like they have to get here to read the newspaper or do crossword puzzles or get their mind ready. I feel like I come to the park, I have 45 minutes of stuff I have to do to get prepared for practice and get ready for the game. Five minutes might be watching videos. Fifteen minutes might be going in the cage. And then getting whatever other work I need.

 

I have always been on record here as a Milledge fan but I have to say the way Milledge portrays his pre game habits tell me he will be out of baseball in about a year or two. 5 minutes of video? 15 minutes in the cage? Are you fucking kidding me? Where is your passion to play baseball? Milledge has none. This kid (and that could be an insult to children) has more talent but is lacking the work ethic and determination to take that talent to the next level. The biggest crime here is there are guys toiling in the minors would do just about anything to have the talent that Milledge is wasting.

 

It’s shocking really when you look at Dan Murphy who would sleep at the ball park if he were allowed to and D-Wright who was Cliff Floyd’s personal man servant in his rookie year and has gained the admiration of the vets and formed a life long bond with Floyd. I feel sad for Milledge because unless he has an Epiphany and changes his thinking, all he’ll turn out to be is some overweight ex-player who when Wright goes into the Hall of Fame will go around telling people that he once played on the same team as Wright and no one will believe him.

 

Tip of the Mets cap to Mack’s Mets and Baseball Musing for the links.  

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