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Mets Trade Rumors: Why New York Should Target Starlin Castro

Let me begin by assuring you all I am not totally crazy. Partially crazy, perhaps, but not totally. But what I am about to suggest may actually be a reasonable and logical step for the New York Mets to take in order to hep get them to (and keep them in) relevancy once again in the National League.

Cutting right to the chase, general manager Sandy Alderson should have his eyes set on Chicago Cubs‘ All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro. To get him, the Mets should not be afraid to trade away a young starter (just one of either Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero).

Just looking at the Mets’ 2014 first half, the team has actually been getting very good starting pitching. Their 3.50 collective ERA is better than the league average, and they are allowing fewer than four runs per game. All of this has been without their ace Matt Harvey, who was lost for the season following Tommy John Surgery. 

The rotation has been spearheaded by Jon Niese, who is currently on the disabled list. Niese, though he struggled through most of spring training with injuries, currently sports a 2.96 ERA—which is good for 12th in the league—and 74 strikeouts through 103 innings pitched in 2014. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since September 7 of last season.

The Mets have also benefited from a very impressive Major League debut of Jacob deGrom. The 26-year-old right-hander made his brilliant debut on May 15 against the Yankees when he spun seven innings of one-run ball, striking out six. Although his record sits at a lackluster 3-5, that is by no means a reflection of how he has pitched—his 3.18 ERA is. And he has seemingly gotten better as the season has rolled along, striking out 27 batters over his last three starts, including 11 Braves during a seven-inning shutout on July 8. 

And while Dillon Gee has missed a major chunk of the season, the Mets have gotten solid work from veterans Bartolo Colon and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Colon, who was signed as a free agent to a two-year, $20 million contract over the winter, has been somewhat inconsistent but still features a decent 3.66 ERA to go along with 89 strikeouts over 121 innings. Colon himself has been subject of a few trade rumors recently. 

Matsuzaka, meanwhile, has been a nice fill-in for Gee. After starting the season in the bullpen for the Mets, Dice-K has made nine starts, including eight of his last nine appearances. For the year, the veteran has a 3.55 ERA and has looked better over his last five starts than his numbers would suggest.

Gee himself has been a solid contributor when healthy, flashing a 2.56 ERA through nine starts. After missing much of May and all of June, Gee was activated off of the disabled list and started on July 9, going seven strong innings against the Braves. In fact, Gee has pitched fewer than six innings just once this season—5.2 innings on April 5—and has allowed one or fewer earned runs four times.

Then there is Wheeler, who has been the poster boy for inconsistency so far in 2014. The 24-year-old owns a 5-8 record with a 3.90 ERA. He’s shown signs of brilliance, as evidenced by his three-hit shutout of the Marlins on June 19. He closed out the first half in dominant form, allowing one earned run in each of his last three starts.

But he’s also looked ugly at times, giving up five earned runs each in two consecutive starts in mid-May, while permitting four earned runs in four starts this season. He also had a forgettable start against the A’s (right after his shutout of the Marlins) in which he gave up six earned in just two innings.

At just 24 years of age, Wheeler has the talent and the ability to blossom into a legitimate stud pitcher. The same can be said for Syndergaard and Montero. But with the quality pitching the Mets have in place, including Harvey, could they expend one of these young hurlers to address a much-maligned hole in their lineup, such as shortstop?

After all, Montero made his debut earlier this season and was unimpressive at best (0-2, 5.40 ERA in four starts). And the latest reports indicate Syndergaard may not make his debut until next season, as he as struggled this season in Triple-A (5.74 ERA and 11.3 H/9 allowed in 84 innings pitched). 

Meanwhile, the Mets have received virtually nothing out of the shortstop position this year, with Ruben Tejada hitting a meager .237 in 2014. And while some light-hitting shortstops are known to be wizards with the glove (see Everth Cabrera), Tejada is a decent defender, at best. 

That brings us to Castro, who believe it or not only turned 24 in March. After a disappointing 2013 season, Castro is enjoying a resurgent 2014 campaign, hitting .276 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI for the last-place Cubs. He was selected to his third career All-Star game and is under team control and owed $43 million through 2019 (plus a $16 million team option for 2020). 

The Mets have a couple of shortstop prospects down on the farm in Amed Rosario and Gavin Cecchini. But neither of them are close to the cusp of reaching the big leagues, and even when they do, they still might not be the impact player Castro has been for the Cubs. Even still, it may not be too late to move one of them to the outfield, which is another weak area for the Mets. 

Now, of course, the Cubs have made no indications they will be trading Castro. And in fact, Jon Morosi of FoxSports tweets the Cubs have no intentions of moving him before the July 31 trade deadline, despite the presence of top prospect Javier Baez and the recent acquisition of Addison Russell from the A’s for Jeff Samardzija. They also have Arismendy Alcantara up with the big club right now, and he has impressed early on his career. 

Regardless of the Cubs’ willingness to field offers for Castro, the time for the Mets to make a bold move is now. They need to show their fans they are listening and are willing to make the hard choices to field a winning club. And the window to trade one or some of their young arms for an impact bat is closing the longer the club waits. And just to prove I’m not totally insane, John Harper of the New York Daily News seems to concur with this suggestion. 

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5 Early-Season Questions the New York Mets Will Have to Answer

Yes, it’s early on in the 2014 regular season. And, yes, there’s still lots of baseball to play—a whole summer, in fact.

But in a big market like New York, team officials are always being looked at through a microscope and every step, every movement, is watched with great intensity. It’s just the nature of the beast that is the Big Apple.

For general manager Sandy Alderson and his New York Mets, there are already a number of questions being thrown around in regards to the Mets’ potential in the National League and what will become of some of their players.

Here are five tough questions for Alderson and Co. that may or may not be answered any time soon. Nevertheless, they are worth pondering as the season rolls along.

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Three Predictions for Mets Phenom Zack Wheeler in 2014

In case you haven’t been properly introduced, allow me to acquaint you with the future of the New York Mets: right-hander Zack Wheeler. The 6’4″ Wheeler, a native of Georgia, was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants as a first-rounder (sixth overall) in 2009.

In the middle of the 2011 season, the Mets traded All-Star Carlos Beltran to the Giants in exchange for the top prospect in a clear move for the future. Well, the future is upon us now as we enter the 2014 season. After ranking as the 11th-best prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2013 campaign, Wheeler made his Major League debut in June.

Once he reached the big leagues, Wheeler made 17 starts for the Mets, finishing with a 7-5 record and a 3.42 ERA. He had an impressive 7.6 K/9 ratio as well. 

Now that he has the first-year jitters out of his system, Wheeler is expected to be a key component to the Mets’ rotation in 2014 and beyond. But just what can we expect from the 23-year-old this year? Is he ready to step up and be the ace with Matt Harvey on the shelf? 

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New York Mets’ 5 Most Tradeable Assets for the 2013-14 Offseason

With the 2013 World Series underway, it will soon be time to look towards the offseason. The winter shopping season will soon be under way. There will be free agents signing with new teams; there will be trades made as clubs look to better themselves for the upcoming season.

The New York Mets will reportedly have some money to spend in free agency this winter, with some hefty contracts coming off the books. But general manager Sandy Alderson has gone on record by saying he will spend wisely and not just for the sake of signing a big-name, big-money player.

However, the Mets may be bigger players in the trade market this offseason. They have some clear needs (outfielder, catcher, shortstop and pitching are likely to be the priorities), and they have some moveable players that could be used to fill the voids on the team’s roster. It’s rarely easy to suggest a player be traded. But, nevertheless, here are the Mets’ top five tradeable assets as we head into the winter shopping season.

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Current Playoff Hitters You’d Most Want at the Plate with the Game on the Line

Round one of the 2013 MLB Playoffs is in the books. Next up, the League Championship Series. The Boston Red Sox will take on the Detroit Tigers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will square off against the St. Louis Cardinals in the best-of-seven series.

So far this postseason, we have seen walk-off home runs, come-from-behind wins and big-time hits. So, with the playoff crop narrowed down to four teams, who are the clutch hitters that are left? Who will these teams be leaning on to come up with the big hit when the game is on the line?

Here’s a look at who could be “the guy” from each of the final four teams.

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5 MLB Teams Who Look Like They Could Choke Down the Stretch

As we flip our calendars to September we have officially entered into the stretch run of the 2013 regular season. And just as in many Septembers of the past, there are a handful of clubs that are sure-ins for postseason play.

But there are also a number of hopeful teams that are fighting for their October lives. Of course, only five teams from each league can make it into the playoffs, so there will be some disappointed teams who missed the cut.

The following is a list of teams who could be those left out of October baseball, due to a lack of offense, pitching or just bad luck. Better luck next year!

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Ranking the Best Home Run Landing Spots in Baseball

The home run has been an integral part of baseball games at any level for a very long time. Whether it’s little league, college, minor leagues or Major League Baseball, fans love to see a baseball leave the park.

And, specifically in the Major League level, there are certain ballparks that make the home runs even more special. Even if you are not inside the stadium for a game, there are opportunities to retrieve home run balls at certain parks. 

Here’s a look at some of the best home run landing spots in Major League Baseball today. 

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Dustin Pedroia and Baseball’s Most ‘Old-School’ Players in Today’s Game

Old school baseball. It means no batting gloves, choking up on the bat and not being afraid to get your uniform dirty. Over the years, the game of baseball has lost some of that “tough-as-nails” mentality, as players hide behind body armor and pitch counts.

But even in today’s game, there are some players that embody the old-school approach, players such as Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox second baseman is just one example of a player that is a throwback to yesteryear. Here’s a closer look at Pedroia and some other old-school ballplayers.

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2013 MLB Draft: Latest Expert Predictions on Who the New York Mets Will Select

The next crop of potential MLB talent is about to emerge. The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is scheduled to begin on June 6.

Scouts are reporting to their MLB clubs with information on who they feel the team should target on draft day. Likewise, MLB experts and analysts are weighing in on who they feel will be drafted by which teams. 

In less than two weeks, the New York Mets will make the 11th selection of the draft, one selection earlier than they had a year ago.

In 2012, with the 12th overall pick, the Mets selected shortstop Gavin Cecchini, a high schooler out of Lake Charles, La. 

Bleacher Report’s Mike Rosenbaum and Adam Wells, in their recent mock draft, had differing opinions over who the Mets will target in the first round this year.

Rosenbaum suggests the Mets should take first baseman Dominic Smith, a high-school senior out of Southern California. He is ranked No. 16 on’s draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo’s 2013 Prospect Watch

Mayo suggests that Smith’s hitting and run-producing prowess is what will get him off the draft board quickly, and not so much his power. He also notes that “…some see him as the best pure high school hitter in the class…”

Meanwhile, Wells argues that general manager Sandy Alderson and his staff should aim for outfielder Hunter RenfroeRenfroe, a junior at Mississippi State, is ranked No. 38 on Mayo’s list but is on a more accelerated path to the big leagues. He projects to be a Major League right fielder, according to Mayo.

ESPN’s Keith Law ranks Smith and Renfroe at Nos. 10 and 11 respectively in his latest Top 100 Draft Prospects list.

Law agrees that the Mets could target Smith in his team-by-team draft targets, but he does not list Renfroe as a potential fit, mentioning Austin Wilson instead.

Wilson is an outfielder from Stanford, who ranks 15th on his Top 100 list. Jonathan Mayo ranks Wilson No. 27 in his list, seemingly knocking him for an elbow stress fracture, and being from Stanford.

Personally, I tend to agree with Mr. Wells on this debate. While Smith may be the better-ranked of the two, the Mets currently have a left-handed first baseman in 26-year-old Ike Davis, who was a first-round pick in 2008.

Granted, Davis is seriously struggling at the plate right now. But I find it hard to believe that the Mets will be that quick to give up on him entirely.

Their outfield, however, is currently in need of a major face-lift. Seeing as Renfroe is a college junior, it likely won’t take him as long to get to the majors as it would take Smith.

If Renfroe is still on the board at the 11th pick, the Mets should highly consider drafting this youngster.

If the Mets do wind up taking a chance on Renfroe, he would be a nice complement to the team’s 2011 first-round selection, Brandon Nimmo.

Nimmo is currently patrolling center field for the Mets’ A team, and he boasts a .322 average with three triples in 90 at-bats.

Having Nimmo and Renfroe manning the same outfield at Citi Field should give Mets fans plenty of hope for the future.

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5 Early Surprise Teams That Have the Best Chance of Making Playoffs

Before the beginning of each regular season, supposed experts and gurus from around the sport make predictions, guessing on who they think will make the postseason in the coming year. Many of these predictions are made based on expectations of teams, primarily looking at the talent that resides on the roster.

Of course, baseball is mostly an unpredictable sport, so any predictions can be considered “bold”. And every year there is at least one team that surpasses expectations, making these experts look uninformed sometimes.

In 2012, the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles both unexpectedly made the playoffs. Neither club was supposed to be relevant in the standings, but nevertheless played baseball in October.

With about a quarter of the 2013 season in the books, let’s take a look at some of the big surprise teams that have the chance to be this year’s version of the A’s and O’s.

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