Michael Conforto has learned a harsh lesson about life in majors: There’s a limit to patience.
The New York Mets have demoted the 23-year-old outfielder to the team’s Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas to bring up another promising player in Brandon Nimmo. Conforto’s left-field spot will be filled by his promoted replacement.
Both players were former first-rounders by the Mets with Nimmo being drafted out of high school in 2011 and Conforto getting selected in 2014 out of Oregon State University.
The move comes as a surprise considering how strongly Conforto started with the Mets this season and how he finished the 2015 regular season. In April, he appeared to be headed towards a breakout season, hitting .365 with four homers and 18 RBIs and at one point was hitting No. 3 in the batting order. Yet, his hitting took a dramatic dip since that month, hitting just .107 over his last 25 games. The N.Y. Daily News reported that the team was concerned that the player was too focused on the long ball.
“I see an uphill swing,” one Mets official told the N.Y. Daily News when asked about what Conforto has been doing wrong. “He’s trying to hit home runs all the time. He needs to use the whole field.”
The paper also reported that the Mets were concerned about Conforto confidence because of the demotion but with the team still in the race for both the NL East and the NL Wild Card, it couldn’t afford to wait any longer to determine if he could rebound.
Nimmo was Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson’s first draft pick as manager of the team and while he initially struggled in the minors, he’s had a strong start to this year in Triple-A, batting .328 with a .409 OBP, five homers and 37 RBIs in 63 games.
Angels outfielder Mike Trout‘s marketability has been a topic of conversation in recent days as the best players in baseball converged upon Washington, D.C. for the All-Star Game. We learned that, according to one firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, Trout is as recognizable to the average American as Brooklyn Nets reserve forward Kenneth Faried, despite being far and away the best player in baseball and one of the greatest players ever to play the game.
Commissioner Rob Manfred also addressed Trout’s marketability, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reported. Manfred said, “Mike has made decisions on what he wants to do, doesn’t want to do, how he wants to spend his free time or not spend his free time. I think we could help him make his brand very bug. But he has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort.”
The Angels fired back on Wednesday, releasing a statement that said:
On behalf of the Angels Organization and baseball fans everywhere, congratulations to Mike Trout on another outstanding All-Star Game performance.
Mike Trout is an exceptional ambassador for the game. Combined with his talent, his solid character creates a perfect role model for young people everywhere. Each year, Mike devotes a tremendous amount of his time and effort contributing to our Organization, and marketing Major League Baseball. He continually chooses to participate in the community, visiting hospitals, schools, and countless other charities. One of Mike’s traits that people admire most is his humility. His brand is built upon generously spending his time engaging with fans, both at home and on the road, while remaining a remarkable baseball player and teammate.
In addition, Mike spends quality time as a husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend. We applaud him for prioritizing his personal values over commercial self-promotion. That is rare in today’s society and stands out as much as his extraordinary talent.
It’s not on Trout to build a brand that appeals to MLB’s marketing department, so the Angels are right to back Trout’s decision to stay out of the limelight. The Angels’ motivation likely isn’t entirely selfless, however, as supporting him in this situation may make it more enticing for him to sign a contract extension before his current contract expires after the 2020 season.