The Bruce is Loose

By Ethan Marshall

 

The Mets’ trade of Jay Bruce to the Indians speaks a lot about the state of the organization right now.  Ownership appears to be focused more on saving money than getting valuable prospects in return.  While the trades of Lucas Duda to the Rays and Addison Reed to the Red Sox allowed for the Mets to save money too, the prospects received in return may prove valuable pieces of the Mets bullpen in the near future.  All of the young arms the Mets acquired in these trades are described as throwing in the mid-to-upper-90s by scouts.  All three of the pitchers acquired for Reed are hard-throwing 22-year-olds.  However, some of the pitchers are further along in their development than others.

The pitcher the Mets received for Jay Bruce, Ryder Ryan, wasn’t even a ranked prospect in the Indians’ system.  A 30th round pick, Ryan has posted a 4.50 ERA in two minor league seasons.  Considering how solid Bruce has been this season, this trade is mind-boggling.  According to Ken Rosenthal, the Mets were focused more on getting a team to pick up the $5 million remaining on Bruce’s contract than to receive decent prospects in return.  This is further shown by the fact that the Yankees were willing to give the Mets multiple prospects who were much better than Ryan in exchange for Bruce if the Mets were willing to take on 4/5 of his salary.

For several years, Mets fans have complained about the Wilpons preferring to pad their own wallets rather than improving the team they own.  This trade has only added more fuel to this notion.  As far as MLB contracts are concerned, $5 million isn’t that much money.  If the goal is to save money for free agent signings in the upcoming offseason, the Mets could’ve (and should’ve) taken the Yankees offer, which allowed them to save some money while also gain valuable prospects in return.  By trading Bruce for what likely amounts to a player who will never see the MLB, the Mets wasted one of their most valuable trade chips.  They likely would’ve received a better return by keeping Bruce and giving him a qualifying offer at the end of the season.

 

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Drew Smith pitching for the Rays’ Advanced A Charlotte Stone Crabs.  Photo Credit: Dilip Sridhar.

Drew Smith was Tampa Bay’s 30th ranked prospect when he was traded, with a fastball that could reach 98 m.p.h.  He has pitched well at each level in the minors, posting a career 1.74 ERA with 141 strikeouts in 129 innings.  While he was assigned by the Mets to AA Binghamton, Smith could play a valuable role for the team in 2018.

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Stephen Nogosek pitching for the Oregon Ducks college baseball team.  Photo credit: Mark Humphrey.

Stephen Nogosek may be the furthest from being major-league ready among the young arms the Mets received from Boston.  However, he was also the highest-rated among the three pitchers acquired for Reed, at number 18.  He was assigned to High-A St. Lucie upon his acquisition.  He’s posted a 3.27 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 85.1 innings pitched in the minors.  The main point of concern for Nogosek right now is that he has control problems, with a career 3.5 walks per nine innings.  While he clocks in as reaching 96 miles per hour, his fastball has no movement whatsoever.

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Jamie Callahan pitching for the Red Sox low-A affiliate Lowell Spinners.  Photo credit: Jonathan Raymond.

Jamie Callahan may debut for the Mets as early as September.  He’s currently pitching for AAA Las Vegas.  In 376 career minor league innings, Callahan has posted a 4.79 ERA with 365 strikeouts.  His velocity typically sits in the mid-90s.  He was ranked as the 23rd-best prospect in the Red Sox system.  Since being moved from a starter to a reliever, his velocity has increased from the low-90s to the mid-to-upper-90s.  He has a great splitter that has become his out-pitch.  However, like Nogosek, Callahan has very little movement on his four-seamer and has control issues, with 4 walks per nine innings in 28 innings pitched this season.

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Gerson Bautista pitching for the Red Sox organization.  Photo credit: Kelly O’Connor.

 

Gerson Bautista has a 2.73 ERA with 167 strikeouts in 198 innings in his minor league career thus far.  He was ranked as the 28th-best prospect in the Red Sox farm system upon being traded.  Along with Nogosek, Bautista was assigned to High-A St. Lucie.  He’s shown the ability to reach 100 miles per hour at times, but also has control problems, with 4.1 walks per nine innings in his career.  While he does have a slider that sits in the high 80s, he hasn’t mastered the pitch yet.  The slider can prove to be very effective if he can get better control and movement from it.  Another issue is that he was suspended in 2013 for testing positive for PED use.

The trade of Bruce may also signify the Mets may not be that interested in attempting to re-sign him in the offseason.  While the Mets recently said they believe Michael Conforto could play centerfield in the long term, this trade may mean they will be pursuing a centerfielder in the offseason and move Conforto to rightfield.  As a result, the Mets may be more focused on pursuing Lorenzo Cain than Jay Bruce this winter.

The Mets basically traded Bruce for money.  Players who are usually traded for cash are usually minor leaguers who may have had cups of coffee in the majors, not star players. The one positive thing to come out of this trade is that, unlike the Rangers with Ernesto Frieri, the Mets didn’t trade Bruce for $1.

Mets’ Offensive and Pitching Comparisons to National League Average Since 2011

By Ethan Marshall

The Mets’ 2017 season has been nothing short of a disaster thus far.  Until recently, the team was getting solid pitching every day, but little to no run-support.  Now, while the team has been scoring runs, the pitching has faltered.

It’s commonly believed for a baseball team to be successful, they  need a combination of good hitting and solid pitching.  Before the Mets were a playoff team each of the last two seasons, they were a bottom-of-the-barrel team in the National League for quite awhile.  The charts below examine the Mets’ team batting averages (BA) and earned-run averages (ERA) since 2011 to those of the league averages in that same time frame.

The data below suggests a team built like the Mets can be successful with slightly below-average hitting as long as the pitching is superb.  The data shown confirms the saying: “Good pitching beats good hitting.”

 

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Data Source: Baseballreference.com

 

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Data Source: Baseballreference.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What it Would Take to Build Trump’s Border Wall” Video Critique

By Ethan Marshall

 

This non-broadcast video on CNN’s website examines how a border wall between the US and Mexico can be built, using special effects and animations to help the viewer better understand the information being provided to them by correspondent Jason Carroll.

The sequencing, edits, shot composition, and sound are combined throughout this video in order to maintain the viewers’ interest and make it easy for them to understand what’s being told to them.

The video usually uses wide and extreme wide shots of the Carroll talking to the viewer so that the body of water separating the US and Mexico can be seen by the viewers.  Using a shot of that includes the body of water as a border rather than a fence makes the viewer realize that Trump’s wall wouldn’t just be running along the middle of nowhere.  There are natural obstacles that need to be taken into account in building the wall too.

The editing of the video includes animations showing where the wall would go through, how a strong and stable wall can be made, and the cost of the wall.  By providing a visual aid, the viewer is able to better understand what is being discussed than if the shots consisted only of Carroll standing in front of the body of water.

The composition of the shot of Carroll standing in front of the border helps to make the viewers realize just how much distance there is separating the US from Mexico in that area.  While Carroll states that the body of water only separates the US from Mexico by 100 miles, the extreme wide shot makes Carroll look dwarfed by the natural border behind him.

The loud volume in which Carroll speaks to the viewer throughout the video keeps the viewer drawn into his voice.  Carroll’s voice isn’t annoying enough to push potential viewers away, nor is it monotone enough to bore viewers.  He is able to sound as though he is intrigued by the details he is providing to the viewers.

In my opinion, this video is able to be successful for, among other reasons, the smart and creative ways the sequencing, edits, shot composition, and sound is used.  One of the main points Carroll is trying to make to the viewer is that while it is possible in theory for the wall to be built, it would be a long and arduous process for it to be done.  Carroll finishes the video with a humorous stat about how much the wall would cost: nothing, because Mexico is going to pay for it.  It’s a way of him saying how ridiculous this idea is in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ulises “Uli” Chavez Photo Story

Born in San Salvador, El Salvador in 1997, Ulises Chavez was separated from his parents at a very young age.  His parents moved to New York when he was just an infant, with the goal of raising enough money to one day have Uli brought to America to be with them.  After spending the first nine years of his life being raised by his aunt and two uncles in El Salvador, Uli’s parents were finally able to raise enough money to arrange for Uli to be reunited with his parents in America in 2007.  Uli and his then-16-year-old cousin were driven across the U.S.-Mexico border, and brought to Long Island, New York.

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Today, Uli spends most of his time working at Holiday Farms, a supermarket in Glen Head, New York.  He is trying to make and save enough money to afford to go to college.
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Uli says he enjoys living in America much more than El Salvador.  “You get more rights [in America].”   
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One of Uli’s many responsibilities at Holiday Farms is stacking the shelves.
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In order to get to the items, Uli needs to use a cutting tool to quickly and neatly open the bags of goods.
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Stacking the shelves requires Uli to carry many different goods from the back room to the aisle they are supposed to be in.  When the shelves are completely filled, the leftover products are brought to the back room until the shelves need to be restocked again.  In this picture, Uli is using a U-shaped wagon (referred to as a U-boat) to push the leftover goods to the back room. 
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Occasionally, Uli is called upon to change the machines used to recycle plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans.  He has to drop off the recyclables at a loading station in the back of the store, where a truck picks it up and takes it to a recycling plant.

 

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When the cardboard compactor in the back room begins to overflow, it is Uli’s job to empty it out and move the giant cardboard stack to the loading station, where it will be sent to the recycling plant.
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The process of moving the cardboard stack includes multiple steps.  First, Uli needs to get a big wooden pallet, and place it next to the compactor.
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Next, he needs to insert thin metal wire through the back of the compactor, before tying the wires together in the front.  This allows for the compacted cardboard to stay together when it is moved.  
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Then, the metal plate holding the cardboard in place is lifted with the push of a button, allowing for the cardboard to fall on the pallet.  After this, a forklift is used to move the cardboard on the pallet to the loading area.
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While Uli hopes to one day attend and graduate from college after he saves enough money to be able to do so, he says his ultimate goal is to become an electrician, as well as to get married and have a family in Long Island.

 

 

 

 

Trump-Obama Photo Critique

By Ethan Marshall

The New York Times article examines President Trump’s recent claims that Former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump’s phones in Trump Tower last year.  The pacing of the story varies in that it starts with providing background information on the issue discussed in the article.  The article then provides quotes and reactions from Trump and his associates, as well as, Obama’s associates.  The article then goes over the process it would take for the president to even be allowed to wiretap someone, as well as, the restrictions the president faces in doing this.  Next,  the article goes over Trump and his cabinet’s connections with Russia over the past two years.  In addition, the article mentions where Trump may have gotten this idea, citing a recent Breitbart article, which made these claims without any evidence, and a conservative radio host expressing this conspiracy theory.

The first photo is a wide shot of Obama and Trump sitting across the aisle from each other during Trump’s inauguration.  The photo displays the rift between the president and his predecessor.  The photo reflects the distrust the two have with each other.  The positions in which Obama and Trump are located and facing also reflects the political state of the country, with Obama on and looking to the left, and Trump on and looking to the right.  The caption works with the image to tell the story in that the two had a rocky relationship before Trump took office.  While the two seemed to get along after Trump took over as president, Trump’s bitterness towards Obama has seemed to return with his allegation of Obama spying on him last year.

The other image is a creative shot of Trump Tower in New York City.  The image is taken from a distance from the floor, in order to display the sign of the tower, as well as, the armed security guarding it.  The photo supports the caption in that it provides the location in which President Trump claims his predecessor wiretapped him (without any evidence).  The fact that the image is taken from the floor makes the security and the building look intimidating to whoever looks at the image.