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Liveblogging the Mets' 2007 Amateur Draft

8:50 PM-With the 183rd pick in today's draft, the Mets snagged another third baseman, Zach Lutz, out of Division III Alvernia College in Pennsylvania. In all fairness. Lutz was the Division III Position Player of the Year this year, but I'm not sure exactly what the Mets are doing in selecting someone out of Alvernia College.

Lutz was by far the best player on the club, batting .454 with 12 HR and 58 RBI in 40 games. He stole ten bases, hit 15 doubles, struck out only nine times, and had a .541 OBP. Unfortunately, he was a disappointing 4-2 with a 5.18 ERA in five starts. As meaningless as D3 statistics might be, I'm not prepared to argue with a player with such all-around capability.

Perhaps a latter-day Moonlight Graham? I'm not sure. I'm looking forward to the legend of Zach "Triple" Lutz.

EDIT: I very much hope you've enjoyed my draft coverage today, although I could understand if you don't. It might be awful. I won't be covering day two, but I can assure you that the Mets will try an intriguing pick. They haven't netted themselves all that much in the way of potentially extraordinary prospects, and the pitcher who I mentioned earlier as a good fit for the Mets, Roxbury Latin HS's Jack McGeary is still available and perhaps the Mets could throw enough money at him to lure him away from Stanford.

8:13 PM-With pick #153, the Mets grabbed their first position player of the day, selecting 3B Richard Lucas out of Wolfson Senior High School in Florida, the alma mater of Kansas City OF prospect Billy Butler, who was a third baseman at Wolfson as well. He is a barrel-chested, muscular 6' 205 lb. kid with the ability to add onto that frame and develop more power, according to scouts.

Lucas is an aggressive hitter at the plate with good command of the strike zone and scouts indicate that he can hit to all fields, with good power when he pulls.

Wrote Florida State associate head coach Jamey Shouppe,

"He is the best third baseman in the country in my opinion. For a big guy he has the best, softest hands you will ever see in a big kid. He has Major League hands. If it hits his glove, you are out. He won't bobble or miss many. He played shortstop in high school and could probably play there at this level if you wanted a 6'3", 215 pound shortstop. If he isn't that big, he sure looks it. He projects as an outstanding Division I third baseman."

Defensively, he is solid as well, with soft hands and a developing arm at the hot corner. While he will need to perform awfully well to displace the man currently there for the Mets, he has a lot of potential to develop into a solid hitter and a strong fielder as his body matures. He is reportedly of strong character and is a team leader with solid fundamentals. He had a 3.25 GPA during his senior year.

Scouts have compared him offensively to Matt Diaz of the Atlanta Braves, as a hitter who projects best as a doubles hitter and not a home run hitter.

7:36 PM-With the 123rd overall pick, the New York Mets drafted RHP Stephen Clyne out of Clemson. He's 6'1" 205 lbs. and makess yet another college reliever selected by the club.

He's a redshirt senior, which makes him possibly one of the oldest kids in the draft class, and he is regarded as a hard worker and good clubhouse guy, working as a middle reliever on the strong club. He ranked second on the team in saves, with 3 (yes, you read that right), so he's not exactly the relief ace of the Tigers, who have been ranked as high as #5 in the nation this season.

The problem with Clyne: injuries. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2004, and his stuff didn't really rejoin him until this season, which meant that he wouldn't be on the fast track to the big leagues. He's a two-pitch pitcher in the big leagues, with a 91-94 MPH fastball with good sink and a slider that has been filthy at times. He's not all that confident in his secondary pitches, though, so he relies on the fastball.

His reliance on the sinking heater allows for the rather high batting average against of .253, though he was playing in the SEC, probably the nation's toughest conference He did, however, have a 2.28 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings, so I'd say he projects rather favorably as a big-league setup man or middle reliever if his stuff holds out and the injuries don't return. A solid pick, right about where he should be in late Round 3.

7:07 PM-With the 99th overall pick in the draft, the Mets chose LHP Eric Niesen out of Wake Forest. He's 6' 185 lbs and a reliever on the Deamon Deacons club.

As with many young pitchers, he relies on his fastball as his key out pitch, and it is strong, reaching the mid-90s occasionally. Unfortunately, Niesen has marginal secondary pitches, which is unusual for a left-handed reliever. Without much improvement on his slider, it would be hard to see how Niesen could find his way into a major league bullpen, especially since he struggles too with his command.

He's not a sidearmer, though he does come from a 3/4 angle, which makes it slightly more difficult for lefty hitters but exposes him to righties. His ERA this season was 3.00, his record 6-5, and he held opponents to a solid .218 batting average. He struck out approximately one batter each inning, though he walked nearly one every two innings (38 BB in 83 innings of work).

I'm not sure I love this pick, though if the Jacket could teach him a better slider or a change, he could be a decent long reliever.

7:00 PM-With the 93rd overall pick, the Mets selected RHP Brant Rustich out of UCLA. Rustich is a 6'6" 225 lb. closer who has nasty stuff and control problems. Rustich's fastball is usually in the 93-95 MPH range, though he has been dogged by whispers that he isn't fully recovered from finger surgery last year.

He projects as a closer type in the big leagues, as his stuff is somewhat better than Kunz's if he can stay healthy. He is a redshirt junior, so he's older (22) than most in his draft class.

Perhaps the Mets would prefer that we ignore his statistics this year: opposing hitters batted .265 against him and his ERA was 6.67. He had six saves. He also had 11 wild pitches and 7 hit batters in only 29.2 innings, certainly indicative of the aforementioned control problems.

6:40 PM-The Mets, with the #77 overall pick, gained from the Cleveland Indians because Roberto Hernandez is so essential, selected RHP Scott Moviel out of St. Edward High School in California. Moviel is 6' 11", 245 pounds, so apparently the Mets are deciding to draft the tallest pitchers around.

He is certainly not the model of consistency, as is the usual with pitchers his size, and finding consistency in his windup and with his secondary pitches is going to be essential for him. Given that he has been described as a poor man's Andrew Brackman (Moviel too has a basketball background), it is rather funny that he signed to play at NC State next year if the Mets don't sign him.

His body is very projectable, and his fastball is likely to be his key pitch with the ability to throw mid-90s heat (it's consistently 88-92 now) a possibilty for him as he fills out. His curveball is not where it should be, and that is perhaps his greatest weakness.

Two of his older brothers are in professional ball: brother Greg is a lefty in the Mariners' system, and Paul Moviel is a righty in the Devil Rays organization. Both of the brothers are 6'6".

5:43 PM-With pick #47 overall, the Mets selected LHP Nathan Vineyard out of Woodland HS in Georgia. He's 6'2", 200 lbs, and is ranked as just below the first tier of prospects in a class heavy with high school lefties.

He was ranked as the 26th best prospect in high school midseason by Baseball America and boasts a nasty slider as his key pitch. His fastball is 88-91 MPH on most days, though scouts believe that he will add to his velocity and his command with more reliance on it and less on his slider. He probably projects best as a fourth or fifth starter if he reaches the big leagues.

5:36 PM-Courtesy of stinky old reliever Roberto Hernandez (who came to us last season along with Oliver Perez) and his signing with the Indians, the Mets have selected with pick #42 overall RHP Eddie Kunz out of Oregon State University. He is the closer for that team, and is a big kid at 6'5", 250 lbs.

He was ranked in the preseason as the top draft prospect from the Pac-10, and he projects well as a closer/setup man. His delivery is from a 3/4 angle, so he's going to fare much better against righties, but he's definitely well suited to the back of the bullpen. He's a sinker/slider pitcher who doesn't get a ton of strikeouts (37 in 44.1 innings this year).

He doesn't have a third pitch, though, so he might remind Mets fans of a certain incompetent reliever who takes up space on the mound and blows crucial games against the Phillies. I pray Kunz can get on a plane soon and take said reliever's place in the pen.

His stats on the year:
3-1, 3.05 ERA in 28 games (0 starts). Hitters batted .190 against him and he allowed 0 home runs.

4:47 PM-Picks of interest are taking place:

-With the pick that would have been the Mets', the Giants snagged Wendell Fairley, an elusive left-handed speed demon from high school in Mississippi. People consider him an incredible athlete, drawing comparisons to Carl Crawford, and a totally capable player in all facets of the game. ESPN's Keith Law, who had scouted Fairley, remarked that he was a "top ten/top 15" talent. However, the outfielder is not on the fast track to the big leagues, and it wouldn't surprise me if it took him five or six years to get regular playing time in the major leagues. On the bright side, the Mets don't really need any more toolsy outfielders.

-With the #30 pick, (after all this is supposed to be a Mets and Yankees blog) the Bronx Bombers selected RHP Andrew Brackman, who I mentioned earlier in this liveblog. He was a power forward on the NC State Basketball team, and therefore has huge size and huge upside: he's touched 99 and 100 MPH with his fastball. I mentioned him previously in conjunction with the Mets, and the concerns regarding him are his elbow and his secondary pitches. This is somewhat of a comparable selection to the Yankees selecting Joba Chamberlain last year, and I have a feeling that the Yankees might get him somewhat cheaply in these negotiations, despite Scott Boras' representation. I hate to say it, but nice pick by the crosstown rivals.

4:38 PM-The Tigers just pounced on Rick Porcello, rated by most as the second best pitcher in the draft after Price. It is nice to see that he didn't go to the Yankees, but the new draft rules allot far less time to sign players than previous rules did.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Porcello heading off to Junior College or independent league ball next year, but if the Tigers are prepared to pony up, they might have the best young pitching crop in the majors, such as Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Andrew Miller, and Porcello among others.

So far, the most illustrious players are off the board, and what ensues now is a mixture of teams trying to pry high-ceiling high schoolers away from college or average-type collegiate players. One might wonder, though, what exactly the Mets are planning at this point. Will they abide by the Commish's suggestions for slot money, or will they be held under the sway of Scott Boras?

The San Francisco Giants are on the clock with Pick #29, which would have been the Mets' if not for signing the aged, decrepit Alou. Starting left fielder my rear end.

4:03 PM-Steve Phillips made a lovable jab at the incredibly competent Jeff Wilpon when Karl Ravech asked how many people were involved in a MLB draft in the war room:

"You got a whole slew of scouts in there: national crosscheckers, area scouts, regional crosscheckers, owners, owners' sons, you name it; they're in the draft room," said the stoogely ex-GM, his comment met with chuckles from Gammons and Ravech.

Let's look at this from a Napoleonic perspective: if you could exile one to Elba and one to St. Hélène, who would go where? I think Wilpon would go to Elba and Phillips to St. Hélène. If you aren't laughing right now, you probably never took an AP European History Course. What a shame.

I would also advise you to notice that the Boras-advised high school aces like Matt Harvey and Rick Porcello haven't been tapped as of yet. I wouldn't be surprised if one is a Yankee and one is a Red Sox at the end of the day, but if either one of those pitchers slips to the Mets, you've gotta believe the Mets will pounce.

3:24 PM-Keith Law is incredibly vexing... perhaps it's regrettable that I am just finding this out now.

The intriguing selections of late have been RHP Phillippe Aumont (From Quebec to the Mariners) and 1B Beau Mills (From Lewis & Clark State to the Indians). Mills is the son of the Red Sox's bench coach, which apparently allows one to play baseball better. The Mets' son of a big leaguer picks last year went in rather disappointing directions: as OF Jeremy Barfield was arrested for pushing his big league father, Jesse, (ironically) down the stairs, while C Stephen Puhl is MIA in the minors.

One can also look at a bizarre storyline: of the first twelve picks, two are from Vanderbilt (a university without an athletic department) and two are from Chatsworth High School in California. How strange.

3:00 PM-Perhaps the doldrums of this draft vaguely do resemble that of those of the NFL. Here are the first nine picks:

1. LHP David Price (Devil Rays)
2. SS Michael Moustakas (Royals)
3. 3B Josh Vitters (Cubs)
4. LHP Daniel Moskos (Pirates)
5. C Matt Wieters (Orioles)
6. LHP Ross Detwiler (Nationals)
7. 1B/LF Matt LaPorta (Brewers)
8. RHP Casey Weathers (Rockies)
9. RHP Jarrod Parker (Diamondbacks).

So far, there haven't been too many surprises. LaPorta was viewed as an odd selection for the Brewers, in part because of the inherent signability issues that accompany him, and because the Brewers already have a budding All-Star first baseman in Prince Fielder. Weathers and Moskos were both viewed as slight reaches, though as collegiate pitchers they tend to be on the safer side.

Be back to recap the rest of the first round.

2:01 PM-ESPN is incredibly courteous. They have lent unto us Karl Ravech and Peter Gammons for this fine draft extravaganza (on the Deuce), as well as emotional baseball video with sunrises and the like. Romanticism is the keystone of the draft, apparently.

It apears as though the most important draftees are here, which is great. So are old players, making the symbolic selections for their franchise. Unfortunately, someone made the mistake of letting Steve Phillips into the building, so we must suffer with him.

ESPN2 has the graphics like those from the NFL draft as well as many of their baseball writers on remote feeds. The best part: no John Kruk! Since the Mets don't select until midway through the sandwich round, I might just cover the coverage until then. Each team has five minutes to make selections in the first round, so be prepared for some pain.

I'll keep you posted.

12:56 PM- We're only about an hour away from the draft, and I wanted to unveil my prognostication. Vanderbilt LHP David Price is the consensus #1 pick, so there's no fun there, but I do have a guess of who the Mets will take at #42. I see Rudy Terrasas, who runs the draft for the Mets, selecting RHP Andrew Brackman out of NC State.

He's somewhat of an injury risk, as evidenced by his lackluster performance this year, described by some as dead arm. But he's got immense upside and incredible size (6-10) and he will likely slip to the late first round or sandwich picks, right where the Mets would be looking to make a splash.

If Brackman is not available, you could look for the Mets to go for a high school pitcher who dropped courtesy of signability issues, like Seton Hall Prep's RHP Rick Porcello, Fitch HS's (CT) Matt Harvey, or LHP Jack McGeary out of Roxbury Latin HS (MA).

During Minaya's tenure, the Mets have shown preference towards college pitchers, but with Mike Pelfrey (#9, 2005) and Phil Humber (#3, 2004), the team was picking incredibly early in the draft, and had more choices talentwise. With last year's selection of Kevin Mulvey, the Mets did take a pitcher with upside, as Mulvey is less of a sure thing than other college products due to his participation in a somewhat weak program at Villanova.

The Mets, as far as I can tell, will probably go opposite ways with the #42 and #47 picks, probably opting for pitching with both, but using one on a more established college pitcher and one on a high school pitcher with a good deal of upside. Due to the Mets' lack of splurging this offseason, it is probable that the club has some money to spend on their picks, especially after last year's fiasco with draft-and-follow Pedro Beato.

10:16 AM-Good morning all, and welcome to what will certainly be an epic occurrence here at Crosstown Rivals. I will be covering, on a pick-by-pick basis, the Mets' performance in the MLB Amateur Draft today.

The Mets shall have their first pick 42nd overall (courtesy of the Indians inking Roberto Hernandez, the key cog of last year's bullpen, obvs) and they will pick again at 47th (courtesy of Chad Bradford to the Orioles) and then an additional 2nd rounder for Hernandez and an additional third rounder for Bradford. They were stripped of their first-round pick because of the signing of Moises Alou.

Because they were the best regular-season team in the National League, the Mets rank 29th out of 30 in the draft order. Last year, the Mets didn't pick until 62nd overall. Last year, I recapped all of the 62nd overall selections and most every draft in MLB history.

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Cap Day: Drug-Addled Maturation in the Third Base Loge

Perhaps this entry should be accompanied with a disclaimer: this story is entirely true, and I am so intensely scarred by its content that I have no reason to exaggerate..

Shea Stadium, facing a rapidly approaching demise, contains many memories of Metropolitan triumph and futility over the years. Yet my most vivid and most acrid memories of Shea were formed this past weekend, at Saturday's Mets-Diamondbacks matinee, aptly named Cap Day.

I attended the game with my father, a self-described hipster, who has a passion for the Mets that is somewhat flickering: he considers himself a Yankee fan as well, ignoring my descriptions of the inherent treachery. As season-ticket holders, we had passes to the Diamond Club, though the world's slowest elevator failed to fit us in, to our chagrin, before ten minutes of waiting.

Fair enough. It's not as though anyone could have a problem waiting in line for overpriced grill room food or being surrounded by a select few who wished to consume shots of Cuervo prior to a 1 p.m. game.

We eventually made our way to our seats, though surprisingly our box was devoid of an usher to wipe our seats, something which was rather rare for us. A family of four who sat directly in front of us soon had their seats wiped. Discrimination, ah yes, the scourge of Shea.

Getting a glimpse of the usher, we noticed his somewhat weathered face. Maybe it was the Mets hat atop his head, but I noticed a resemblance to character actor John Capodice (right), who I remembered as the proprietor of the laundromat in the second season Seinfeld episode "The Revenge." There was a little Gregg Popovich in there too.

The usher is not to be ignored in this story: his, well, incompetence shall play a pivotal role in this fateful occurrence.

Midway through the second inning, what was apparently a group of eight ragamuffin twelve-year olds celebrating a birthday decides to pounce on the prime seating lower in the loge box. I don't much enjoy twelve-year old boys, as I have lived through that age, and perhaps I had improved my seating during that era.

I expressed to my father mock disgust, calling their conduct morally reprehensible. To be fair, the member of the group who I affectionately referred to as "the ringleader" hoisted both of his arms and beckoned the rest of the group to join him in this act of unprecedented indulgence.

"Look! Look at all of these seats," he cried, standing up. Using a mock deep voice, I screamed back at him. "Siddown," I said. He did, but this nightmare was to perpetuate itself throughout the afternoon. I debated whether or not to get the usher: I would have loved nothing more than to see that smug bastard and his cronies ejected from the unoccupied seats, but after surveying the surrounding selections, our geriatric usher appeared to have misplaced himself.

Feigning intense disgust, I decided to assuage my state with a pretzel and a chilled Diet Pepsi (sans bottlecap, to be sure) from the nearest concession stand. As per the corollary laid out by Metsblog, I noticed a somewhat upbeat cashier uniting people with their food and stripping them of their savings. That's great: this will take forever.

And it did; as I waited an entire inning in line. The worst part: an associate of the cashier, best described by my father as "one pill away from the nuthouse," attempted to convert me. To be sure, I had had experiences with Jehovah's Witnesses and ecoterrorists trolling my block in Connecticut looking for my faith or my cash, so I was not totally averse to such conduct in public.

This woman, however, propagated a strange religion.

"Become an electrical engineer," she said. "You should ask your teacher about electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering, or civil engineering."

I smiled, waiting for my Pepsi and pretzel, trying to ignore this outreach.

"Hey you," she said. "Go ask your teacher to take you to the Central Library and check out all of the books on engineering. You need to learn your math, too, study your numbers. And read your Bible, and you're set for life."

I wish I could have blamed it on the usher, but it might tie into a general dereliction of the Shea staff. This is not the first time I have been served by someone appearing to be loony, but this was the first time I had to experience exceptionally weak service AND an attempt to sway my career choice.

For the record, I have completed too much education in my life to become an electrical engineer, and in what was a bad omen, presumably, a bad power cord in my house delivered a whopping blow of electricity to my arm the night before the game. My arm was shaking for about five minutes. My lawsuit is still pending.

My father and I returned to our seats, after a little bit more time in the concourse, for he had forgotten his sunscreen and was intensely afraid of the skin cancer that we not-so-cleverly dubbed "hematoma." He's a doctor; he enjoys occasionally making medical malapropisms for my benefit.

The kids were still there. How lovely. When those annoying Shea photographers trying to swindle came around, all eight of them stood up, obscuring the view of everyone within the box. My dad muttered to the photographer if he would make them pose with their tickets, too, but the photographer seemed not to understand.

Since my father and I were sitting a seat apart in the box, the Mets fotog asked us when he came around if "either one of us" wanted a picture. I guess we looked like we were not together: this will perhaps be pivotal later in this story.

The Mets did manage to tack on three runs in the fourth inning, evoking a good deal of cheering from ourselves and others. After that fleeting jubilation, though, we did notice some increasingly conspicuous folks behind us, courtesy of several spilled beers and loud, boisterous cheering.

Mine and my father's aforementioned adolescent experience give us a minimal ability to discern the intoxicated from the crazies, and this pair was somewhat intermediate. They were too loud and too raucous to be merely drunk, but they appeared to be at least somewhat sane. Yet my perceptive father managed to notice that the group made excessively frequent bathroom breaks: could it be cocaine?

Cocaine use was our somewhat reasonable conclusion. You might appreciate that a pair of the alleged cokeheads were dancing in the aisle during Sweet Caroline, and one had her dress fall off. How charming... entrancing, in fact. This is another reason to ban that venerable Red Sox tradition from Shea, and it might also be added that I despise Neil Diamond. Where was the usher during this chaos? Hiding under the overhang, of course, nowhere to be found.

The promotion of Cap Day once again enters into the fray, in this part of the narrative, as my father and I combined amassed, as you might expect, a pair of hats. Yet my father, in an attempt to pay homage to Dontrelle Willis, only will wear this one Mets hat with an unbent brim tilted slightly to the side. So I had two hats.

A woman who wasn't with the cokeheads prior approaches the group, beer in hand, and mutters something indiscriminate, though I hear them mention "Wagner" in between loud whistling and cries of "SMITTY!" to honor the Mets rookie reliever on the hill. Wagner wasn't going to come into the game, as far as I could tell, and I was wearing my WAGNER 13 shirt and sitting right in front of the rowdy bunch. It might also be said that I was unsure if this crew had ever seen a Mets game before; they didn't seem to care much about the action on the field.

Were they talking about me?

I answered my own question when the beer-porting woman approached me. I don't usually have strangers come up to me at Mets games.

"I'll buy your hat from you," she said. I employed my technique of politely smiling and saying nothing. It almost sorta worked when I was with the crazy concession lady.

"I'll either pay you for it or you can [look at my female anatomy]." I crap you not. Perhaps this woman was unaware that I was with my father, although he might insist that his presence spurred the bizarre offer on. I looked toward him for advice, but he hadn't heard the flashing comment and urged me just to hand over the hat. I did, and the woman threw a dollar at me.

It could have ended there, but I seemed to forget that the inebriated often find friends among the anonymous. The loud, tattooed woman behind me asked me if I was satisfied with the transaction's outcome. I smiled, chuckled, and although I should have learned my lesson, I ignored her for the most part.

I heard her behind me. "She's a chicken[expletive]. She got the hat but she didn't show him her [anatomy]. Let's go over there." She soon called to me, "We'll get you at least a lapdance, Wagner!" I shook my head slightly, hoping to avert any sort of controversy and trying to remain as sensible as possible.

She and a crony went over to speak with the girl and her boyfriend, with all parties visibly agitated by eachothers' behavior. I couldn't discern exactly what was being said during the shouting match... after all, this is a baseball game, and no one can speak over the deafening PA... but I listened to the woman behind me after she returned, defeated.

Behind our seats, I vaguely heard some chattering.

"He told me I was crazy; I told him your girlfriend's a slut," mutterred the cokeheadess. "I told him that we'd see him outside."

For the first time in my life, I felt a bizarre emotion. That emotion was not at all sexual, not any sort of embarrassment, but rather that I wanted to leave a Mets game early. I had somehow become a lynchpin for conflict, despite not consuming a drop of alcohol or an ounce of blow.

The Mets dispatched the Diamondbacks rather quickly in the top of the ninth, and my father and I bolted Shea with speed rivaling Jose Reyes with brand-new hamstrings.

Such is life with elderly ushers, in the hot sun, on a day when Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Beltran are sitting. What a day. Cap Day.


Tomorrow, I will be your host for the second annual Crosstown Rivals Draft Liveblog Extravaganza, covering the Mets' draft. Pore over, if you will, the coverage from yesteryear. Hope to see you there.

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