First Impressions of Citi Field

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I made the trek up the East Coast this weekend to see the Mets’ road
spring training lineup take on Josh Johnson and the Marlins. With the
exception of Fernando Martinez’s first hit, double and RBI, there
wasn’t much to crow about as the Marlins won the game handily 7-3.
However, Saturday marked my first chance to catch a game at Citi Field.
So besides telling you that braving the line at Shake Shack is worth
it, here are a couple initial impressions which may or may not be
original thoughts.

1) The Fanwalk is cool: In
2007, fans had an opportunity to purchase engraved bricks with a
customized message that would sit on the plaza outside the entrance to
the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. I had no idea how cool this would be until
I saw it and now I regret not getting one. For a stadium that is
largely a building at this point and not a “Mets” building, the brick
walkway puts a real personal touch on the history of the franchise and
their fans.

2) The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is underwhelming:
I’m all for Jackie Robinson. Aside from Michael Jordan, he was my
favorite person to write a biography about in elementary school. I
completely understand the impact he has had on our game, but the
grandiosity of the rotunda was lost on me. Do you really want the first
thing people see when they walk in a Mets’ ballpark to be a person in a
Dodgers’ uniform? Where’s the Mark Carreon Rotunda? Give me some
history! The whole thing left me feeling cold.

3) Lack of foul territory:
Sure there are the obvious quirks of the fences, cut-outs and all, and
The Pepsi Porch that hangs over the playing field, which is where I
sat, but there is considerably less foul territory here as opposed to
Shea Stadium. It’s one thing to see it on television, but it’s hard to
feel the gravity of it until seeing it in person. For all the talk
about this being a pitchers’ park, opposing batters will certainly get
a few extra swings here. I suppose it counter-balances in some weird
way. As for down the lines, I can’t wait to see a “Bartman moment” in
this place. It’s bound to happen. You know, probably on October 4th
against the Astros with the Phillies and Mets deadlocked in first
place.

Orioles acquire Jeremy Hellickson from Phillies

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In their second trade on Friday, the Phillies dealt right-hander Jeremy Hellickson to the Orioles for outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, minor league lefty Garrett Cleavinger and international signing bonus slots. The Orioles will also receive cash considerations from the Phillies.

Hellickson will bolster a pitching staff that, while not well-positioned to contend for a division title, still stands a slim chance of reaching the postseason this year. The Orioles have not yet revealed where he’ll land in the rotation, though MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli speculates that the right-hander could supplant either Chris Tillman or Ubaldo Jimenez.

The 30-year-old righty went 6-5 in 20 starts with the Phillies, racking up a 4.75 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 5.2 SO/9 through 112 1/3 innings in 2017. It’s a bit of a comedown from his performance in 2016, during which he maintained a sub-4.00 ERA for the first time since 2012. While Hellickson’s numbers haven’t been outstanding, he’s been relatively healthy and hasn’t sustained anything more serious than a mild knee sprain and back tightness over the last year. His presence should bring some consistency to an ailing Orioles rotation that currently ranks third-worst in the league with a cumulative 5.90 ERA and 2.2 fWAR.

The Phillies will receive some outfield depth in 29-year-old left fielder Hyun Soo Kim, who carries an underwhelming .232/.305/.288 batting line with five extra bases and 10 RBI through his first 142 PA in 2017. He made just 33 starts in left field this season and could step into a similarly limited role in Philadelphia’s outfield after the club traded Howie Kendrick to the Nationals on Friday.

Cleavinger, 23, has seen mixed results in his first Double-A stint this season. The left-hander dragged a 6.28 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through 38 2/3 innings with Double-A Bowie and has struggled to improve both his control and velocity during three seasons in the Orioles’ farm system.

Although the deal netted Baltimore some much-needed pitching depth, they still have a long way to go before they can give the AL’s top teams a run for their money. Per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, it doesn’t look like they’re done adding at the deadline just yet:

Mets acquire AJ Ramos from Marlins

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The Mets acquired closer AJ Ramos from the Marlins, the team reported Friday. The Marlins will receive two prospects in the deal, right-hander Merandy Gonzalez and outfielder Ricardo Cespedes.

The trade comes as some surprise given the Mets’ current status as non-contenders in the NL East, though MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo points out that they could position themselves for the division title again in 2018. They also have a proven closer in right-hander Addison Reed and will presumably continue to field offers for him before he hits free agency following the 2017 season.

Ramos, 30, is coming off of his first All-Star campaign with the Marlins in 2016. He racked up 20 saves in 40 appearances and compiled a 3.63 ERA, 5.0 BB/9 and 10.7 SO/9 over 39 2/3 innings in 2017. He’s due $6.55 million this season and will remain under team control through 2019.

The Marlins, meanwhile, will receive the Mets’ No. 9 and No. 22 prospects. Gonzalez, 21, began the season in rookie ball and advanced to High-A St. Lucie in June, pitching to a cumulative 1.78 ERA, 1.7 BB/9 and 8.4 SO/9 through 106 innings. He was ranked No. 5 among the Mets’ pitching prospects and No. 9 in their system, and has found some success in the lowest rungs of New York’s farm system despite some command issues and trouble defining his breaking balls.

Cespedes, 19, progressed to Short-Season A Brooklyn in 2017 after several stints in rookie ball. In 81 PA with Brooklyn, the center fielder slashed .240/.278/.280 with a double and 12 RBI before getting sidelined with an undisclosed injury.