NEWS & VIEWS: Exhaustion, Cecchini, L.J. Mazzilli, and Mike’s Five-Year Plan


Yawn. Oh, sorry, Mike. I’m just so tired these days. Typing, typing, typing. Work, work, work. I’m exhausted. This blog is such a grind.


You should play for the Mets, you would fit right in. On Monday, when Dice-K was getting his weekly beating, I heard on the radio over and over how tired the team was.

I have heard this tired thing for years now and I am sick of it. Sick and tired. It’s a weak excuse, and total nonsense. Talented teams win, untalented teams lose.

At one time in my life I was a miler. I was more tired during the last lap then the first lap. So what? So were the other guys. I wasn’t competing against my first lap, I was competing against other people who had ran just as far as me. According to my major league schedule the Mets play the same amount of games as all the other teams.

If anyone should be tired it’s the fans. Many who get up and work twelve-hour days, and commute two hours a day. Plenty with second jobs. Who do it because that is what you do, you work for your paycheck. That is what this is for a ballplayer, a job. Showing up for work and giving a full days effort is pretty basic job stuff. It doesn’t qualify you for a medal. Too taxing a workload is not the issue.

We need more players, not Vitamin B-12 shots.


ValleycatsSo I got to see the Brooklyn Cyclones on Tuesday night. Brutal game, very low quality. Errors, passed balls, walks, bad base running. The starting pitcher was John Grant. He looked like a long lost Weaver brother, but, alas, did not throw like one. Tall, lean, shaggy hair. Good stats, low ERA, 6-3 record entering the game. But Brooklyn is like Vegas in reverse — every pitcher does great there! I doubt he broke 90 on the radar (the one at the park topped out at 88 MPH) and he short-arms the ball. The ValleyCats knocked him out of the box in the 3rd inning after giving up 6 runs. Not that he was helped any by the defense. BTW, John Grant: I don’t think it’s a name you’ll need to memorize. But you never know!


I’ve been to Brooklyn twice now, and it’s fun to watch these players, and a good value too. But I can’t get excited about anyone in Brooklyn. It’s like when I’m on an interview and people ask me about my five-year plan. Five year plan? I have no idea if I will be alive in five years. It’s hard enough planning a dinner party for the weekend.

I know the minor league scene is a big deal to a lot of people. There is more focus and analysis about prospects then I have ever seen. I’m not knocking any of it. But figuring out short-season players is not for me.


You know, I got to see Mark Appel this year — the #1 pick overall. He threw here a couple of times in July. Maybe I was influenced by the hype, but I could see the difference in him. The size, the ball coming out of his hand, the way he carried himself. He seemed markedly different from the other players. It’s always exciting to witness that, a real player, at any level.


That I understand. Quick story. The game I attended in Binghamton they were playing the Pirates affiliate. We got there about fifteen minutes before the game and had seats in the first row behind the Pirates dugout. The players are all walking around signing autographs, they aren’t doing anything athletic yet, just standing around. I notice one kid who looks completely different from everyone else. Like a man.

I check my program and it’s Gregory Polanco, who was the highest-rated Pirates prospect in the 2013 edition of Baseball Prospectus (44 overall.) So, I don’t know, Billy Beane is famous for saying, “We’re not selling jeans, here,” but maybe we are.

I don’t see Jeremy Brown anywhere these days, do you?


Gavin CecchiniCecchini is an interesting prospect. He looks okay, carries himself well. Reminded me of Kevin Elster (boy, Elster had a crazy outlier season in ’96 with the Rangers). During warm-ups between innings, Cecchini soft tossed the ball to first. Air mail. In the game, I never saw the arm tested, though I hear it’s not strong. At the plate, he took a lot of pitches. Patient as hell. He lined a single to left, grounded out to 2B, hit a soft liner to RF. In the 8th, I think, he came up with the Cyclones trailing 6-3. The basesĀ  loaded. Two outs. I sat up and said to my pal, Howard, “This is it, let’s see what he does in this situation.”

I was thinking double. Turns out Cecchini was thinking walk. He “worked” the count to 3-1. Again, we’re down by 3 runs, it’s the second-to-last game of the season, and we need a hit. The pitcher winds up, delivers a 3-1 fastball . . . and the kid takes it for a strike. Sigh. Full count. Next pitch is on the outside corner, he protects and flies weakly to RF. And something inside me died right there.


He probably got fined for swinging at the 3-2 pitch.


L.J. Mazzilli smiles for "2Guys"

L.J. Mazzilli smiles for “2Guys”

My suspicion is that’s the skill they are drafting for these days. Actively seeking guys who “manage the strike zone.” Maz didn’t do anything with the bat, btw, and DH’d. His numbers are good, though he’s 22 and on the Plawecki slow track. He’s mashing and he should. Nobody else seemed to be doing much of anything. We left uninspired by the Cyclones.


It’s a funny level. Young kids, and 24 year-old organizational filler.


That’s Binghamton. They won the division at AA with a 29-year-old 3B and a 26-year-old 1B, neither of whom project to make an impact in the majors. We’re supposed to be happy the team is winning. Sandy says it’s important. Shrug, whatever. It depends how you win, and with whom. Give me a few real players and I’ll be happy. On a positive note, I’m getting a lot of chores done on the house. You know, while Dice-K shakes off pitches, wanders off the mound, looks skyward beseechingly, searches for the rosin bag, inhales deeply, cogitates upon the next pitch — to gyro, or not to gyro? — and so on. With him in the rotation, I find I have more free time, but I miss the baseball.


Time is a precious commodity. Life is too short to watch Matsuzaka.


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  1. Alan K. says:

    I never liked the Cecchini pick. But to be fair, the player I wanted (Courtney Hawkins) is hitting .178 with a .249 OBP and 160 K’s in 425 plate appearances in A ball.

  2. James Preller says:

    Wow, I did not realize he’s been that bad. That’s a 40% K rate at least. As Mom might say, Sweet Jesus on a cross!

  3. RAFF says:

    Cecchini & Hawkins are both 19 yrs. old. I think we should reserve judgment. They ACTUALLY deserve to be regarded as part of a 5 YEAR PLAN for their respective organizations. Lets wait and see what the next 2 years brings, in terms of their development.

    • James Preller says:

      Well, of course. Doesn’t mean we can’t talk about them. Cecchini has actually played well. In the end, nothing that anyone says about a prospect amounts to a hill of beans.

      But this is our hill, and these are our beans.

  4. Brian Joura says:

    There’s nothing wrong with a college guy playing the season he’s drafted in the New York-Penn League. The problem comes when they send that kid to Lo-A the next year.

    Rookie ball to get used to playing every day with college kids in the NYP and high school kids in the APPY. Kids from the Dominican go to the GULF. But our current plan is to push everything back a level.

    First-round pick Dominic Smith is sent to the GULF with a late call-up to the APPY. It’s a path that has him starting next year in the NYP and missing out on 200+ PA he could be getting in a full-season league. And if the guy gets hurt, like Cecchini did this year, it sets the development back even further.

  5. Eraff says:

    My suspicion is that the Brooklyn NYP League team is as much SHOWCASE as it is development….they almost always have their “Prettiest Prospects” there.

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