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The Case for Mike Nickeas, Give Others the Nova Opportunity, Collins Burnt Out, NYY ’06 Draft



By Mike Silva ~ September 13th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Over the weekend I gave my analysis on the 12 Mets players who are either eligible for free agency or arbitration after the season. One of them is Ronny Paulino, who has cooled down with the bat after a hot start. Maybe it’s time to consider Mike Nickeas for the backup catcher job in 2012. He is good defensively and cost effective.

Nickeas was a topic of conversation during the game. Chris Carlin said that Terry Collins called him a “student of the game,” as he is always preparing and watching video. He has done a nice job defensively throwing out 31% of base runners, calls a decent game, and had a catcher’s ERA of 3.20 going into last night’s game. That is a full run less than either Josh Thole or Ronny Paulino. Carlin also said that all the pitchers love throwing to him. I was impressed with Nickeas when I talked to him about Jenrry Mejia after a start in Binghamton late in 2010.

We all know that Thole and Paulino have their limits defensively. I know for a fact that pitchers have issues with each of those guys behind the plate. I believe the Mets need a defensive minded catcher that could help develop some of the young pitchers that will be coming up the next couple of years. If Nickeas could hit anywhere near league average, or slightly below, he might be worth keeping on the roster as a backup for the league minimum.

Ronny Paulino hasn’t exactly continued hitting as he did earlier in the season. He is making over a million dollars for a team on a tight budget. Is it crazy to go with a Thole/Nickeas platoon in 2012? Nickeas could be a huge asset to a staff that is going to need as much help as possible. That in of itself will be worth keeping his suspect bat around.

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Chris Carpenter signed a 2-year extension with the St. Louis Cardinals. Why do you care? Because it’s one less pitcher on the free agent market the Yankees could use to bolster their staff after the season. You have to figure they won’t feel comfortable going with both Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia again in 2012.

Two big names that many speculate the Yanks will ponder are C.J. Wilson or Japanese import Yu Darvish. Why not just re-sign Sabathia (if he opts out) and go with some of the kids in 2012? Sabathia, Hughes, Nova, Burnett, and one of Adam WarrenDellin BetancesHector NoesiDavid Phelps, and Manny Banuelos. One of those arms has to be ready to provide fifth starter quality. Unlike a typical fifth starter, there is actually some upside.

I criticized the Yankees earlier in the summer for their inability to trust their young pitchers. Ivan Nova could be a #1 pitching prospect for some teams.

The Yankees no longer will be able to trade for high-caliber players unless they overpay. There seems to be a conscience effort by GM’s around the league to ask for more from the Yankees than other teams. That’s why the development of the young pitchers is critical to their future success. They no longer have the option of buying a pennant in any given year. That is why they must give the same type of opportunity to the kids next year that Ivan Nova received.

What’s the worst that could happen? There is always going to be veteran arms available mid-season.

It probably will be forced on them due to circumstances, but maybe we will finally see a pitching youth movement in the Bronx.

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Terry Collins looked frustrated and angry during the postgame. He believes his team “lacked focus” last night due to the questions involving the first responder caps.

The other side of Collins is beginning to creep into the public. He has been overly positive this year; sometimes too positive for my liking. He gave them a kick in the butt earlier in the year after a bad loss against Pittsburgh. It seems he did it again last night questioning their preparation. I do think the media scrutiny is starting to bother Terry, which is not something that will be good in the long term.

The whole cap controversy was driven by the media. I am not condemning it, I am as guilty as anyone, but Collins has to understand these distractions will not go away. He will be answering silly questions and deflecting for however long his tenure here lasts.

He is going to need to figure out how to manage this craziness going forward. He looked like a man that is worn out from this season. The positive energy we saw from Collins for most of the year looked to be gone last night.

Not a reason for concern, but something I am keeping an eye on.

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Kontos makes it 7 pitchers from Yanks 2006 draft to pitch in majors. IPK, joba, Robertson, melancon, McCallister, McCutchen and now Kontos.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

NYBD contributor Joe Delgrippo reminded everyone on Twitter how well the Yankees did with the 2006 draft.

That draft might be what wins the World Series for the Yankees this year. They used Ian Kennedy to acquire Curtis Granderson, an MVP candidate, and David Robertson has teamed with Mariano Rivera to shutdown the game after the 7th inning. I think George Kontos might turn out to be a quality bullpen arm as time goes on. Of course, don’t forget about the injured Joba Chamberlain.

Delgrippo went on to point out that Dellin Betances will make it 8 pitchers when he makes his debut.

I don’t know if there is another draft that produced that many arms in one shot, do you?

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Want to win Baseball’s Greatest Games: Game 6, 1986 World Series? Then like the LoHud Mets Blog on Facebook. You then must post an essay of 50 words or less on the following topic: What Does Nick Evans Mean to Me?

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Over at Sports Media Watchdog, I wonder if last night was a precursor to Kevin Burkhardt switching role with Chris Carlin on SNY. In case you missed it, Burkhardt took Carlin’s customary studio role next to Bobby Ojeda, while Carlin did the sideline reporting.

Burkhardt recently took a job doing radio for the Dallas Cowboys, which may be one of the reasons we see him take a more prominent role with the network in-studio.

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Moneyball the movie opens up on September 23rd. This is probably the best trailer of the film I have watched to date.

The Boston Herald Points out the Red Sox will be well represented in the movie:

In fact, one scene between Beane (Pitt) and Red Sox principal owner John Henry(played by Arliss Howard and spotted at the 1:44 mark of the trailer above) is set in the Fenway press box. And at the end of the film, we’re reminded the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, while the A’s under Beane didn’t win a playoff series until 2006 and never have advanced beyond the ALCS.

None of that stops Howard’s nattily-dressed and bespectacled Henry from praising Beane for his defiance of the old-school thinking of chaw-spitting, crude-talking scouts.

“In their minds, it’s threatening the game,” he says. “It’s threatening the way they do things.”

There are other Red Sox connections, too. As the movie opens, Johnny Damon leaves the A’s for a four-year, $31 million contract from the Red Sox. One undervalued player sought by Beane is former Sox catcher Scott Hatteberg (played by Chris Pratt). Royce Clayton, who finished his career with the Sox (and won a World Series ring) in 2007, plays Miguel Tejada. Don’t blink, or you may miss a 2002 clip of Rickey Henderson in a Red Sox uniform.

And what would a “Moneyball” movie be without Kevin Youkilis, famously dubbed the “Greek God of Walks?”

At one point, Pitt and Jonah Hill’s number-crunching Yale graduate Peter Brand (a pseudonym for former Beane assistant Paul DePodesta) drool over actual footage of Youkilis from his 2001 season at Class A Lowell. Brand even describes Youk as his “hero” because of his knack for reaching base.

I will try to get out to the theater on the 23rd and review it for everyone on Sports Media Watchdog.

***
Do you know that C.J. Nitkowski made the movie as well? He told me on my show there is a free agent list that pops up and apparently he is one of the names that come up.

Former Braves pitcher Steve Karsay, who gave up Mike Piazza’s dramatic home run, and National Anthem singer John Amirante joined me as well.

You can download the replay of that show here.

Nitkowski talked about the stem cell therapy he is going through ala Bartolo Colon in order to make a comeback next spring. I have more on this later this morning.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to The Case for Mike Nickeas, Give Others the Nova Opportunity, Collins Burnt Out, NYY ’06 Draft

  1. Stu B

    Funny how Youkilis got his nickname. He’s actually a Jewish kid from Cincinnati. The following is from Wikipedia:

    “The Youkilis family name has an unusual history. His Jewish great-great-great-grandfather, a native of 19th-century Romania, moved to Greece at 16 to avoid conscription at the hands of the notoriously anti-Semitic Cossacks. He became homesick, however, and returned to Romania after a couple of years, although he changed his surname from “Weiner” to the Greek name, “Youkilis”, to avoid army and jail.

    “People have come up to me and starting speaking Greek to me and I don’t speak it,” Youkilis said. “I feel bad. Ever since I was in Lowell (Class A), people have thought I was Greek. People shout at me, ‘I’m Greek, you’re Greek.’ But I’m not.”

    Youkilis is the son of a Romanian Jewish jewelry wholesaler, who Youkilis has described as a “well known third baseman in the Jewish Community Center fast-pitch softball league.” He attended Sycamore High School in the northeastern suburbs of Cincinnati, where he played third base, shortstop, first base, and the outfield for the school team which won the AAU National Championship in 1994, and he was the only player to homer off of current Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook in high school.”

  2. Chuck Johnson

    I like Nickeas, I saw him a lot when he was with the Rangers and while he may not be in the discussion as an everyday player, he’s valuable as reserve.

    He’s a better player than Francisco Cervelli.

    Look at the catching situation in Tampa, you don’t think he’d be a contributor down there?

    The Mets’ catching, throughout the system, sucks.

    Neither Paulino or Thole is markedly better all-round than Nickeas, you can’t do any worse picking one after 40 days of spring training as you could drawing their names out of a hat.

    I’d like to see the Mets make a play for a guy like Ramon Hernandez in the off-season.

    A three year, $15 million dollar contract would be a solid investment.

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