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Jason Bay was scratched from today's game against the Washington Nationals with what's being deemed a strained rib cage muscle sustained during batting practice. He is on his way to see the team's doctors.
It's likely that Bay will wind up on the disabled list, just as the health of his corner outfield partner, Beltran, was rounding into form. Beltran started in right field today, batting cleanup. Should Bay head to the DL, the Mets can backdate that time to March 24, according to Steve Popper of The Record.
As discussed last night, Nick Evans is currently on waivers and his fate is expected to come down today, but he could be someone the team uses in Bay's absence.
GM Sandy Alderson admitted there may be roster moves on the horizon, but it may be postponed until the deadline on Thursday at 11 a.m.
"We will have a move or two that we don't make until the very end," Alderson said.
Willie Harris and Scott Hairston are two outfield depth players with the ability to play left field, however, ESPN NY's Adam Rubin speculates that Lucas Duda could make the Opening Day roster with Bay down. If Bay is indeed placed on the DL -- and Duda is summoned from Triple-A, Duda would receive the lion's share of starts in left field.
With the positive news that Carlos Beltran will partake in his second Grapefruit League game tomorrow, the New York Mets have made some roster decisions that further cement the likelihood that the five-time All Star will in fact be with the big league club on Opening Day.
Hernandez is basically a glove-only middle infielder and with Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada and Reese Havens in the minors, his loss wouldn't bee too significant if he's claimed. Misch, 29, is more of an organizational depth guy, a left-handed soft tosser who is decent as a fill-in starter or long reliever, but with a major league strikeout rate of just about five per nine, doesn't offer too much upside.
Evans is the player who would've made the Opening Day roster had Beltran not been ready. He is also the player the Mets could theoretically regret losing despite never really being given a long look and failing to impress in any of his stints (50 games in 2008, 30 in 2009 and 20 in 2010). He has batted .333/.378/.420 in 69 at-bats this spring and after a down year in 2009, enjoyed a solid season in Double-A and Triple-A last year, amassing 23 HR, 80 RBI and a .300/.371/.536 slash line. The 25-year-old can play the corner outfield spots and first base (and has played third before) and really should be able to get a chance with another organization; a change of scenery may just be what he needs. His ceiling may only be a fourth outfielder, platoon-type player, but Evans has to perform when he's called upon if he's to get extended time in the big leagues.
As the New York Mets prepare to get ready for Opening Day, it looks as if their star -- and hopefully fully healed -- right fielder, Carlos Beltran, will be making the trip to Miami when the Metropolitans take on the Florida Marlins on Friday night.
New York's spring training game today was rained out but the team did announce that Beltran plans to take the field tomorrow against the Washington Nationals -- in a major league game. Pointed out by the various Mets beat writers, this basically assures that the 33-year-old will be on the Opening Day 25-man roster because the Mets cannot backdate his disabled list stint, something GM Sandy Alderson had discussed previously.
Just yesterday, I revealed my doubts that Beltran would make the team, but his hastened recovery over the past few weeks has changed everything, culminated with this announcement. Beltran will obviously require more "maintenance" days this season, but his determination (and hard work) to play from day one of the regular season has Alderson believing.
"Carlos said he's feeling good and he's ready to go," Alderson said as quoted by the New York Daily News' Andy Martino. "At some point you've got to move forward. I do think it's valuable for him to play in major league [spring-training] games. That would be an advantage over the last couple of days. It does present a risk. Look, at some point you've got to roll the dice."
Beltran has played in just one Grapfruit League game (three at-bats) and has battled some recurring knee woes throughout the spring in his recovery from knee surgery. He played five innings in right field Saturday and Sunday in minor league games.
Either way, Collins is excited to finally write Beltran's name into the lineup:
"I just want to get him in the lineup right now," Collins said. "It will be a work-in-progress, probably, a little bit."
The New York Mets open up the regular season in Florida against the Marlins on Friday, April 1. While Mike Pelfrey has been tabbed the Opening Day starter for quite some time now, Sunday morning the rest of the 25-man roster became much clearer.
According to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman, Pedro Beato will make the Mets, while Brad Emaus will get the nod at second base. Willie Harris, Scott Hairston, Chin-lung Hu and Daniel Murphy have also made the team. So how does that leave the roster and which positions are still up for grabs? Let's take a look:
Starters: Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey, Chris Young, Chris Capuano
Bullpen: Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, Tim Byrdak, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato.
Still In The Running: Right now there are three options for the final spot in the bullpen: Jason Isringhausen, Blaine Boyer and Manny Acosta. Isringhausen hasn't pitched in the past week with inflammation in his elbow -- but did throw in a minor league game -- and reports indicate he will not accept a minor league assignment. He has thrown six innings, allowed one run, two hits and struckout three -- and is supposed to pitch today. Boyer has also had an impressive spring, allowing one run on four hits in nine innings, while fanning seven. Accosta has been solid as well: 10.2 IP, six hits, two earned runs and nine strikeouts.
Last Word: If Isringhausen is fully healthy, I get the feeling that management wants to send him north with the big league team. That being said, it's a plus to have serviceable arms in the minors -- and with Izzy's injury track record, they'll most likely be needed in his place this year.
Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas
Last Word: The Mets signed Ronny Paulino, who was expected to miss the season's first eight games due to a PED suspension, to platoon with Thole and provide a solid right-handed bat against tough lefties, but yesterday the team announced that they had shutdown Paulino due to irregularities in his blood. Thole should be a decent on-base/average guy and with Paulino, when healthy and back in the lineup, could be an above average tandem behind the plate.
First Base -- Ike Davis
Second Base -- Brad Emaus
Shortstop -- Jose Reyes
Third Base -- David Wright
Utility -- Chin-lung Hu and Daniel Murphy.
Last Word: Besides Davis, the Mets' infield may not be the slickest with the glove, but it has the potential to be well-above average with the bat. Murphy should wield a solid stick off the bench or in a utility role and Hu provides some defensive wizardry. Both are clear upgrades over the likes of Alex Cora.
Jason Bay, Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, Willie Harris, Scott Hairston
Headed To The DL? -- Beltran is slated to play in another minor league game -- five innings today -- and though the probability of him making the Opening Day roster seems slim because everything needs to go perfectly from now until then, he has been progressing nicely over the past few days.
Still In The Running -- Nick Evans has had an excellent spring: .348/.394/.439 in a team-high 66 at-bats, yet the chances of him making the club hinge on Beltran's health. If Beltran makes the team out of the gate, Evans will most likely not be a Met because he has no options left. If Beltran is placed on the DL, then Evans remains in New York for the time being. He's never really been given enough of a shot in the big leagues, but could be a good fourth outfielder for many teams.
The Mets' new right fielder met with manager Terry Collins yesterday morning to discuss the road he needs to take in order to be fully ready to go when the game's actually matter. Beltran has just three at-bats this spring.
"We're down to eight days," Alderson said yesterday as quoted by ESPN NY's Adam Rubin. "It's important now to say, ‘OK, here are the eight days. How are we going to use them in order to be ready to go on Opening Day?' So that was laid out. And obviously we have to be flexible. It will depend day-to-day on whether that schedule gets moved back. But I do think it's fair to say at this point there's not a lot of wiggle room in that schedule between now and Opening Day if he's going to be on the active roster."
Despite saying "As of this point he's still on track for Opening Day," Alderson did acknowledge that backdating a DL stint at the start of the season could be in the cards for Beltran if his return-to-action plan doesn't manifest as quickly as hoped.
So a day after the grand plan was revealed, what was the 33-year-old's day like on Thursday?
Beltran participated in a simulated game with J.P Riccardi's son acting as a cutoff man, Collins pitching and Mets VP of Media Relations Jay Horwitz as the pinch runner, according to various reports. The most important aspect of Thursday's workouts was Beltran running and testing his knee with many of the
"I just wanted to come here today and test it -- kind of like simulating a game," Beltran said as quoted by Adam Rubin. "Actually, this is more than what we do in a game. I just wanted to test the knee. Hopefully tomorrow I recuperate, feeling good."
Best news for Mets fans: "That's 100 percent right there. I mean, I'm not going to get faster than that," Beltran said.
Even more comforting news is that Beltran is expected to play in a minor league game on Saturday -- if his knee holds up from know until then.
The one-time fuzzy New York Mets second base picture has become very clear with Wednesday's move to demote Justin Turner to Triple-A. The roster move leaves Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy and Luis Hernandez as the only competitors left in camp.
According to various Mets beat writers, however, the writing is on the wall: this move makes Emaus the clear-cut No. 1 option at second base. For one, despite Hernandez's slick glove, he is near invisible with the bat and will soon be cut from the major league squad as well. Murphy profiles as a plus bat off the bench and a utility player, but not someone the team really wants to rely on for the full slate of starts at the defensively demanding second base spot.
Turner had this to say about the move, as quoted by ESPN NY's Adam Rubin:
"I'm sure Brad is feeling pretty good about himself right now," Turner said.
What made this move very likely all along was two-fold: Emaus, a J.P. Ricciardi 11th-round draft pick back when he was a front office executive with Tortonto, must be offered back to the Blue Jays if he isn't on the Mets' 25-man roster since he was claimed in the Rule V Draft. And Turner had options, so he will not be lost because he didn't make the cut.
Even though Emaus looks like the winner in the second base derby, he has not really been overly impressive with the bat this spring. In his 34 at bats, he is batting .235 with a .294 slugging percentage and a .366 on-base percentage. Emaus has very good on-base skills -- as shown even in a small sample size -- and across two levels last season he had a .290/.397/.476 batting line with 15 HR, 75 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He doesn't strike out often, 69 times all last season, and he takes his fair share of walks; he had 81 last year.
It's reassuring to see the new front office, a statistically savvy one at that, not use such a small sample size to make its decision and give Emaus a shot at the big league job before cutting ties with him after a month of on-and-off spring training playing time.
MLB.com had this Emaus quote in story yesterday about what he thinks he provides to the Mets:
"I think I can get on base," Emaus said. "Like I said before, I'm not a toolsy guy, but throughout day after day, I've been able to put together good at-bats and get on base, score some runs and hopefully play a solid second base."
While Spring Training statistics really don't mean much in the grand scheme of things, it's still nice to see players on your favorite team producing -- even if the games don't matter. Scan the New York Mets Spring stats for Carlos Beltran, though, and one notices that he's played in just one game thus far, and has received only three at bats.
The recovery process for Beltran after his knee surgery could be described as "day to day." One day reports suggest Beltran is feeling great, the next there's doubt as to when he will even be able to participate in baseball-related activities. Everyone wants to see Beltran get acclimated to his new right field spot, thus past few weeks have been a bit frustrating for the Mets and their fans as he hasn't exactly taken the field too much.
After receiving a cortisone shot in his knee on Friday to relieve pain in his knee, Beltran took another positive -- albeit small -- step on Sunday: he jogged 100 feet several times and took batting practice from the left side. Previously he had only been hitting from the right side; taking swings from the left side is a positive sign for the 33-year-old outfielder.
Suffice to say, Beltran's recuperation process has been slow, and it's hard to see Beltran making the opening day roster.
Don't tell that to Terry Collins, though:
"I kind of go back to what Bobby Cox told me one time, that [Pete] Rose only needed about 10 days to get ready," Collins said as quoted by ESPN NY's Adam Rubin. "So you look at Carlos Beltran and what he's done, if his legs are fine, he's going to get enough hitting in. We can get him at-bats. We're going to get him out in the outfield a few games and get him comfortable out there. As I've said, I still think he'll be out there Opening Day."
Collins said tomorrow will be another crucial day for the Mets' right fielder because if his "[knee] feels good, we're going to move forward with some stuff."
Oliver Perez is another Met who has been filling the airwaves with discussion this Spring. After his disastrous outing on Saturday against the Nationals in which he allowed two home runs, plus another hit and a walk, Collins and Sandy Alderson plan to discuss his future on Monday. It's extremely likely that today could be his last as a Met.
"We want to sit down and continue the discussion," Collins said to Mets.com's Anthony DiComo. "We're probably going to include Oliver in some of it."
At the start of spring training, the two major areas of concern for the New York Mets -- read: expected to be answered through spring training play -- were the back-end of the rotation and the second base job.
It's mid-March now and the final two sports of the rotation seem to be just about locked up -- and the two frontrunners at the start of camp appear to have the edge now: Chris Young and Chris Capuano. The second base job was up for grabs as well because of Luis Castillo's declining offensive production, injury woes and limited range -- and it was expected to be a four-man race in camp between Castillo, Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus and Justin Turner.
However, after a several weeks of action, the reviews of the aforementioned second base candidates have really been anything but positive.
Luis Castillo is 7-for-22 this spring: .318/.400/.318 with two runs and two RBI.
Justin Turner is 5-for-25 this spring: .200/.231/.240 with four runs and two RBI.
Daniel Murphy is 10-for 33 this spring: .303/.324/.455 with four runs and six RBI.
Brad Emaus is 4-for-20: .200/.304/.200 with two runs and zero RBI.
According to a report by Mike Puma in the New York Post, the man who has to insert one of these guys in his lineup, Terry Collins, is not thrilled with any of Jose Reyes' potential double-play partners and it has opened the door for Collins to name someone whom nobody even considered months ago: Luis Hernandez.
A source tells Puma that while Castillo is hitting the ball well, the team isn't a fan of his waning range; the team doesn't really see Murphy as an everyday 2B (because of his defensive shortcomings); and they are not "convinced" that Emaus and Turner are "major-league players." Collins will name Hernandez the second basemen however, "the move will be contingent upon Collins convincing the front office to find a roster spot for Hernandez."
The Mets would have to offer Emaus back to the Blue Jays if he is not on their 25-man roster, while Murphy is viewed as a solid lefty bat off the bench/utility player. It would also mean Castillo would be released. Thus, if it is truly Hernandez that Collins will name, the organization would have to decide between keeping Emaus or Murphy.
ESPN NY's Adam Rubin also had a report out last night that said Collins is not a fan of Castillo and he's "trying to limit the drama around the 2011 Mets. And not having Castillo around potentially helps that cause."
Hernandez, 26, as the 2B is somewhat shocking because while he has a very good glove, it appeared that the team was looking for more offense from their second baseman this year, and Hernandez has the weakest bat of the bunch. In 3026 minor-league at bats, he has batted just .255/.302/.331-- and has just 265 AB's in the majors between Baltimore, Kansas City and New York: .245/.286/.298. He played in 17 games last season with the Mets, 44 AB's and batted .250/.298/.409. This spring, Hernandez has only 12 AB's and he's gotten five hits: .417/.462/.583.
|2010 - Luis Hernandez||.250||.298||.409|
New York Mets manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson made the long trip to Kissimmee instead of staying in Port St. Lucie so they could get a close look at what was likely going to be Oliver Perez's final start as a Met. What they got was pretty much typical of Perez over the last couple of years.
After being handed a 1-0 lead, Perez allowed the first four batters he faced to reach base, including a Michael Bourn single on his first pitch of the day. That was followed by a walk, single to score a run and a Carlos Lee double that gave the Houston Astros three quick runs.
Just as quick as he gave up the lead, Perez retired the next three batters on as many pitches. He carried that over to his second inning of work, only needing two pitches to get the first two outs and then striking out Bourn on three pitches to end the inning.
In his third, and final, inning of work, the lefty didn't give up a run, but did surrender a double to Hunter Pence and a four-pitch walk to Lee. He received plenty of help from his defense with Lucas Duda tracking down a long fly to the wall in left and Zach Lutz making a diving stop at third.
Collins visited the mound after the second out, but the manager chose to let Perez try and get out of the inning.
Overall, the final line will not be as kind to Perez as it should be considering his final two innings of work:
3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO
If Collins and Alderson needed a dominant performance to justify keeping Perez on the roster, they certainly didn't get it. However, they also didn't get something they can use as the final straw in justifying a decision to cut bait with the enigmatic lefty.
In other words... "The Ollie Watch" continues.
Rumors have already swirled that Oliver Perez is out of the running for a spot in the New York Mets starting rotation, but manager Terry Collins made it clear that he is keeping his promise to the lefty, that he will have every chance to make the team.
"If I back down from that, I wouldn’t be sleeping too good. So we’re going to give him that next opportunity."
How serious is Collins about keeping his word?
He is traveling with the split-squad Mets as they take the long bus ride to Kissimmee so he can watch Perez make what will likely be his final start -- Spring Training or otherwise -- against the Houston Astros While the manager heads on the road, the rest of the coaching staff will stay in Port St. Lucie for the Mets-Nationals game.
"Credibility is at stake here," Collins said. "I don't think it's fair to him not having me there. If I was trying to make a team and make a rotation and the manager wasn't there, I would question that."
Collins will be looking for increased velocity from Perez, the source of his issues along with a lack of control. After sitting in the 80s during his first appearance, it's unlikely that the Astros gun will be favorable enough to put Perez in the 91-93 range, but the Mets manager will be there to see it either way.
For his part, Perez seems undaunted in the face of his long shot odds to made the team.
"I don't worry if people don't think I can do it. The Mets have given me a chance to start games. All I can do is pitch my best. When I'm on the mound, I don't think about it being maybe my last start or anything else."
Sunday was a huge hurdle for New York Mets OF Carlos Beltran as he made his spring training debut and he seemingly got over it with no trouble.
Starting as the team's designated hitter and batting clean up, Beltran went 1-for-3. Though it was his performance on the base paths that had the team buzzing. In the second inning, with Beltran standing on second base, Daniel Murphy ripped a single.
As if nothing was wrong, Beltran came strongly around third base towards home, sliding in safely without a play.
Manager Terry Collins was excited to see his new RF run freely for the first time.
"I thought it was a big step for us as a team, especially ... That was a brighter spot than what he did at the plate, for me."
Collins said that Beltran won't be roaming the outfield at least for another week, even after a successful debut. The veteran, for his part, feels is ready now.
"Right now, I feel like I can get to the balls," said Beltran. "I need to spend more time in the outfield. If my knee holds well, I have no doubt what I can do defensively."
In news that comes as no surprise -- but at the same time relief -- to New York Mets fans, the organization has decided internally that Oliver Perez will not pitch in the starting rotation this season, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
Perez was given a promise by Terry Collins that he would have a legitimate shot at claiming a starting pitchers' spot this spring training and even after throwing two scoreless, two-hit innings today, he will no longer be considered anymore. Perez had an abomination of a first spring training start in which he allowed four runs, four hits, three walks and fanned three in two innings and it was thought then that his opportunity to be one of the top-five starters was gone.
Collins decided to swap Perez (expected to relieve initially) with Chris Capuano in today's start against the Cardinals and despite throwing strikes, reports say that Perez only topped out in the mid-80s with his fastball and all his start did today was prevent an immediate release.
Martino's source, who is familiar with the team's thinking, says, "There's no way he's starting for this team," but he reports that Perez will be kept on the roster -- for now. The team remains very likely to eat the $12 million remaining on his salary and cut him before the regular season begins.
Collins was his typical upbeat self after Perez' performance today, but really there's probably only weeks -- if not days -- before Perez is released.
The New York Mets dropped their third consecutive game, 3-2, to the St. Louis Cardinals this afternoon. R.A. Dickey threw three solid innings, giving up three hits and allowing one run while fanning four (Albert Pujols twice). Even though it's only spring training, the Mets top candidates to start (Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and Chris Young) have all pitched very well early on: 14 innings (counting Capuano's against the University of Michigan) and just three earned runs allowed.
However, two faces have been missing from the position-player side during the early portions of spring training action.
After Carlos Beltran's meeting with Terry Collins a few days ago to announce his move to right field, recent reports suggest that he will make his Grapefruit League debut as a designated hitter this Sunday. Collins believes that Beltran will be able to play right field within seven to 10 days after that -- and as Adam Rubin of ESPN NY notes, that should mean about two weeks to get acclimated to a brand new position.
Regardless, just seeing Beltran on the field is great news for the Mets. In a recent MetsBlog video, Ted Berg noted that during a session of batting practice yesterday, Beltran hit four of the five pitches he saw from the right side out of the park and looked "great" hitting-wise. Obviously, seeing game action is a totally different animal but it's still nice to hear the slugger is putting on a display in practices.
The other member of the team who hasn't even made it to spring training is catcher Ronny Paulino, who is expected to share catching duties with Josh Thole once his eight-game PED suspension expires. He has had trouble getting his visa and the U.S. government wants proof that he is clean before admitting him into the country. Alderson hopes to see him in camp by this weekend but still cannot say for sure that it will happen.
"We still are not sure when he will be here," Alderson said to ESPN NY. "Because of his positive drug test, there's an additional set of procedures he has to go through to get his visa, which include a panel interview as well as a drug test. Those are administered by the United States government in order to issue the visa. It's not something MLB does. It's not anything that we're directly involved in. Those are done by outside consultants. In the case of the drug test, it's sent to the United States for analysis. It has to come back. In the case of the panel interview, there's a report that has to be written. What I'm told is it generally takes 10 days to two weeks in order for that to be returned. All of that was done on the 18th of February. So we're in the range now where he ought to be back.
In a meeting with manager Terry Collins Monday morning, Carlos Beltran said that he is ready to move from his natural position of center field to right field. Angel Pagan, who filled in full-time for Beltran last season, will now man center field and be flanked by Beltran in right and Jason Bay in left.
Beltran says that making a decision now is better for the team, even though he still believes in his abilities to stay in center.
"I still believe I can play centerfield, but I need time, I need more time. This will make it easier for Angel. It will take it off his mind and let him make the transition."
"Any time you get a guy that's accomplished what Carlos has accomplished, and done the kind of things that Carlos has done in this game, to be that guy that really sees the big picture and sees what's best for this team and does something like that, it makes you want to go out there and really play united and play as a team."
In what is the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract -- and almost certainly his last as a Met -- Beltran is still working his knee into shape and has yet to hit the field for an exhibition game.
Once Beltran does return, he will have to learn a new position, one that he will need to re-learn all over again when the team heads north to Queens. Right field at Citi Field is one of the more difficult to play in the league, making Beltran's transition that much dicier.
Even with that on the horizon, the former center fielder knows it was the right decision.
"I don't want to have everyone worrying about it," Beltran said. "It is easier for everyone."
New York Mets' overpaid lefty Oliver Perez made his long-awaited spring training debut today against the Atlanta Braves in hopes of making a dent in his chances of capturing a spot in the back end of the rotation, but instead dug himself a deeper hole.
In his two innings of work after Chris Young started and threw two hitless, two-strikeout innings himself, Perez gave up four earned runs, four hits and three walks while striking out three. Of his 45 pitches, just 19 were in the strikezone, according to our friends at Amazin' Avenue. He walked three straight with two out in the second inning to force in a run. Even his velocity was far from average, as various reports indicate that he was only hitting the mid-80s with his fastball, though he was clocked at 88 to 92 miles per hour in the Mexican League this summer. The Mets ended up winning the game, 5-4, but a soft-tosser who walks the field -- and hasn't shown an ability to get hitters out in years -- just isn't going to get the job done.
In yesterday's first spring training game, Sandy Alderson spoke of how he was a "results guy" and that while someone may look good in drills, or throwing/hitting in batting practice, he and his coaching staff want to see the players get it done on the field. Perez' debut after throwing just 46.1 innings last season, as well as back-to-back 6.80 ERA years, will certainly not help his cause this spring. Even though he retired the two lefties he faced, Freddie Freeman and Jordan Schafer, you're not going to be earning a bullpen spot if you can't find the strikezone. Thus far, Terry Collins also seems like a coach who wants to see the fundamentals of the game executed -- not throwing strikes is definitely a way to get in the new coach's doghouse.
Earlier in the day, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News said that pitching coach Dan Warthen wanted to give Perez to March 10 "to prove case as starter." That leaves the lefty with one more start this spring -- and he's already behind the eight ball.
Against the University of Michigan, a 7-1 Mets victory, Chris Capuano threw three innings and gave up one run on three hits with four strikeouts. Dillon Gee tossed 2.1 scoreless/hitless innings while striking out four and walking one. Even though Capuano and Gee threw against a collegiate squad, they're certainly above Perez in the pecking order for the rotation spot.
With Johan Santana on the shelf until at least late June, the Mets' rotation, as currently constructed, is headed by opening day starter Mike Pelfrey, knuckleball renaissance man R.A. Dickey and second-year pro, Jonathan Niese.
While everyone will certainly get a shot this spring, let's narrow down the potential field. Collins has already stated that he wants Jenrry Mejia to work in Triple-A to refine on his secondary pitches (Meija started today and threw two innings, struckout three and walked one), so even though he will get his fair share this spring, he most likely not make the five-man group, unless he really dominates. D.J. Carasco has been in the majors for six seasons and has started just 23 games; he'll be given a shot, but the bullpen needs a whole re-modeling and he'll most likely end up as part of that. And then there's Oliver Perez. Since becoming a Met his ERA has escalated from 3.56 ERA in 2007 to 4.22 ERA in 2008 to nearly 7 the past two season, in which he's tossed just 112.1 innings with a WHIP of about 2.00. He also had a 5.22 ERA and 32 walks in 39 winter-ball innings. Unless he was holding something back, the likelihood for a spot is minimal.
Dillon Gee: Gee received five starts at the end of last season and had a 2.18 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in 33 innings. It all looks good on the surface, but much of that was buoyed by good luck, as he gave up 25 hits, walked 15 and struckout a meager 17 batters (4.64 K/9). His strand rate was also an unsustainable 81 percent. More telling was his 4.20 FIP -- and 5.19 xFIP (which normalizes a pitcher's homeruns per his flyballs to league average). Let's just get this straight with Gee: He never was a top prospect and his minor league numbers were never truly great. He's not a power guy; he'll touch about 90 on his fastball, with a slider, a decent changeup and curveball. Despite fanning 165 batters in 161 innings in Triple-A, Gee doesn't really have a plus go-to swing-and-miss offering. He had a 4.96 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in Buffalo last season and has a 3.76 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in the minors for his career. He has great pitchability and guts, but he's definitely more of a fifth starter and probably third on the depth chart in this battle.
Chris Capuano: The first starter signed this offseason by the new regime was Capuano, the former five-year Milwaukee Brewer and 2008 recipient of Tommy John surgery. The 32-year-old lefty threw 66 solid innings with Milwaukee last year to the tune of a 3.95 ERA and 1.30 WHIP and a 7.4 K/9 rate, which matches his career. Typically pitchers come back stronger in their second year off of Tommy John surgery and if Capuano is fully back, he has the potential to be a decent innings eater -- he threw around 220 innings in 2005 and 2006 (when he was an All Star). Capuano isn't a top-of-the-rotatino type; he'll give up about a hit per inning, walk around 3 per nine and strikeout a handful. His fastball is below average at 87 mph, and he also has a pretty good changeup and a slider he'll go to as well. He neutralizes lefties extremely well, with a career .231/.294/.331 slash line and only 12 HR allowed -- but righties certainly have a field day against him in comparison: .274/.340/.474 and 98 HR allowed. As a fourth/fifth-type, he will be adequate enough.
Chris Young: Sandy Alderson's other rotation booster, Young, has dealt with a handful of injuries over the past few seasons. He's been on the 60-day DL three times, with shoulder surgery in 2009 and a shoulder strain suffered in April 2010. He's been on the 15-day DL twice, once with an oblique strain and a forearm strain. The hope -- despite not pitching over 102 innings since 2008 -- is that Alderson took advantage of a market inefficiency wit his one-year, $1.1 million incentive-laiden deal for an arm with decent upside. Even though Young was signed for pennies on the dollar in what seemed like a signing off the scrap heap, the 6-foot-10, 280-pound righty has the potential to be a huge sleeper this year for the Mets. In his seven seasons, 135 games started, Young has a 3.80 ERA, 1.21 WHIP -- and he's given up 7.4 H/9, walked 3.5 BB/9, and struckout 7.8/9. Young is an imposing presence on the mound, but he won't light up radar guns, as his fastball, which he throws about 75 percent of the time, only tops out in the mid 80s. He does have a deceptive motion, which batters often have a tough time picking up -- and he makes his living giving up fly-ball contact, but with the friendly confines of Citi Field and the Mets' decent outfield defense, this looks like a very nice fit. Even more so than Capuano, if Young stays healthy, at least until Santana comes back, he could very well be the Mets' best pitcher.
From top to bottom, the New York Mets really don't really have an abundance of jaw-dropping, can't miss young talent. A few decent prospects, some young minor league talent that's still more about projection than anything else and a few major leaguers with most likely league-average (or slightly better) potential.
What they do have, however, is a player they hope becomes a cornerstone first baseman in Ike Davis. In his first season in the Majors, the 23-year-old hit .264 with 19 HR and 71 RBI -- with a .351 OBP and .440 SLG. Even though he was a first-round pick, nobody really jumped on the bandwagon until his second taste (first full season) of professional action when he hit .298 with 20 HR with 71 RBI, a .381 OBP and .524 SLG between High-A and Double-A, because upon being drafted, he failed to muster a single homerun in 58 games in Low-A, batted .256 with a .652 OPS.
Part of what makes Davis so intriguing to me outside of pure baseball ability is his growth, his improvements from year to year and his general baseball smarts. Not even a full year in Double-A and he was already in the big leagues (albeit due to Daniel Murphy's injury).
Terry Collins was asked what type of player Davis could become, and he sure didn't muffle his feelings at all:
"I think he's going to become one of the premier first basemen in all of baseball," Collins said about Davis as reported by ESPN NY. "He's already as good defensively as there is in either league. He has absolutely enormous power. And I think he's going to learn as he continues to play to be a better hitter, and therefore a little bit more selective hitter. And I think he's going to get better pitches to hit. And I think he's going to do a lot of damage.
Now, let's remember, this is New York and the Mets we're talking about -- any ray of hope often becomes billboard material and any struggles immediately are a cause of ridding the player from the team (see: Gaborik, Marian). But, seriously, when was the last time the Mets groomed a legitimate homegrown positional player? David Wright, nearly seven years ago, in 2004.
Collins certainly has high expectations for the 23-year-old, seeing him as a fixture in the middle of the order:
"I can see Ike Davis in the future certainly being that legitimate No. 4-hole hitter. ... Ike Davis is a power hitter, and I'm not going to ever ask him to be a singles hitter."
The new Mets coach has been active and vocal this spring training with hopes of changing the culture -- and part of this seems to be very encouraging of his players. He knows Davis has the potential to be a stalwart in this lineup, so why not shoot for the stars right off the bat?
I, too, am very excited to see what Davis can bring to this lineup in his second season. While he has a lot of work to do to be discussed among the game's best first basemen, the potential is there to become an excellent big-league regular. In his second season, I could see him improving his batting average along with tacking on a few extra homeruns and a handful of RBI. The Mets' youngster did have difficulties against lefties in the minors, yet he batted .295 /.362/.443 against them last season. It remains to be seen if this is totally for real -- he'll definitely be a focus of left-handed specialists this season -- if it is, this is just another promising sign in his development.
The Mets have a potentially very good lineup, and with Davis batting in the sixth spot behind Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay, he'll have plenty of run-producing chances and won't feel the pressures of batting cleanup in his second year.
|2010 - Ike Davis||.264||.351||.440|
Jason Bay inked a very generous four-year, $66 million contract with the New York Mets two offseasons ago, following a year in which he hit .267, with 36 HR and 119 RBI -- career-high power numbers. But when Bay played for the Mets last season, in his 95 games before he sustained a concussion, he hit just six homeruns, drove in 47 runs and batted .259. His OPS fell to his second worst mark of his career at .749.
At 32 years old, Bay is not a youngster, but it's not like he's over the hill, either. Regardless, the question arises, based on previous experiences: Will Jason Bay be just the latest in a myriad of free-agent busts to join the New York Mets?
Sunday in camp, Bay spoke about his expectations for this season, and that the concussion is no longer an issue.
"Every year I kind of say the same thing. ... Thirty, I think, is reasonable," he said, as quoted by ESPN NY. "Yeah, it's a big ballpark. And the number might take a hit. You look at David [Wright]. David hit near 30. It can be done. It's not so much about the home runs. It's about the overall production. For me anyway, if I'm driving in runs, I would like the home runs -- no question. But I still need to drive in runs. And even last year, with as down a year as I had ... I was still somewhat productive in my limited sample set with the RBIs."
Thirty homeruns seems like a grandiose prediction after he hit just six homeruns, at a career-low 5.1 percent HR/FB rate, last season with the Mets. What are the chances he returns to the 30-HR plateau, one he's reached in four of his seven seasons?
Bay has averaged 30 homeruns in his career, so it's not like this is a milestone that has no chances of happening. He also has a career 15.8 percent HR/FB rate in the majors, a rate that fell to a ridiculously-low five percent last season. Looking at his batted ball rates, his 45 percent fly-ball mark was also right at his career norm so it wasn't as if he hit way less fly balls. His ISO fell to .144, from a career mark of .231 -- and a career-best .269 with the Red Sox in 2009 --- but he still managed 20 doubles (he hit 29 with Boston in 2009). He struckout the same amount of time as he did in any other year, he walked slightly less, and his BABIP was right at his career average, but his power production fell off the charts -- he lost over 100 points in his slugging percentage (mostly due to the drop in homeruns) from his career average. Even with age and slight regression in the cards, to see a power decline that steep from a player of Bay's pedigree is puzzling. I just don't see a way it's for real and that his skills could've depreciated that much in one season.
Bay averaged 393.7 feet on his homeruns in 2009, while averaging 396.7 on his six last season, according to HitTracker. The average speed on his homeruns in 2010 dropped two miles per hour. Granted, he's now moved into the homerun-supressing CitiField, which allowed just 1.36 HR a game last season (Fenway Park was 2.30). However, it's not like PNC Park, where he played with the Pirates, is any easier on right handers (1.60 HR/game last season) and Bay hit 61 HR there over just less than six seasons. Bay hit just two homeruns to left field in 2010, while hitting nearly every single one to left field in 2009. Six is a small sample size, but is it possible he tried to alter his power approach/swing with the Red Sox, considering Fenway has such a short left-field wall, and failed to make the proper adjustments in New York (and then just became increasingly frustrated by his lack of success)? I think it's possible.
David Wright's homerun numbers dropped to just 10 in 2009 during his first season at CitiField, then he rebounded to 29 last season. Five of his 10 HR in 2009 were in CitiField -- 12 of his 29 last season went yard in the home ballpark.
Bay is too good a hitter -- and too hard of a worker -- to see his power numbers drop to all-time lows in two consecutive seasons. His batspeed may have slowed a little and he may have been trying to do too much in his first year in New York, but I don't think he's become this bad, this fast. Even though 30 homeruns may be a bit much considering the year he's just coming off of -- it is not out of the question -- I would think 20-25 HR would be attainable for the left fielder.
New York Mets full squad workouts begin on Monday, with pitchers and catchers having reported on Feb. 15. Over the past few days, there has been a lot of talk about a rebound season from Jason Bay, whether Carlos Beltran is a centerfielder anymore and Francisco Rodriguez' 55-games finished clause in his contract that automatically initiates a 2012 option.
All this talk and still no games -- not even "meaningless" spring training games -- have been played. The Mets begin their exhibition games next Friday with an intrasquad game and they announced their pitchers for the first days of action. Normally not to exciting, but with spots in the rotation and bullpen up for grabs, the battles are worth monitoring. Jenrry Mejia takes the hill for the first spring training game.
We won't take a look at this every day of spring training, but with everything officially getting underway, here's how the pitchers will line up:
Feb. 25: Intrasquad Game
Feb. 26: Atlanta Braves
Feb. 27: University of Michigan
Feb. 28: Washington Nationals
New York Mets position players are required to report to camp today, so just as SB Nation NY did with the other New York team, let's take a look at a few questions facing the position players as spring training kicks into high gear.
1. Will the key members in the lineup be able to stay healthy? This really can apply to any team in the Majors, but after a year that saw key members of the regular lineup, such as Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes all get hit with the injury bug, returning to full health is probably the most important component to getting this lineup clicking again. The Mets ranked 24th in runs scored last year; if guys can stay off the DL, that number should rise in the ranks this year.
2. Who will play second base? I've already touched on this earlier in camp, but with Luis Castillo fighting injuries and underwhelming production over the past year, this job is very much open for whomever produces this Spring. Daniel Murphy and Brad Emaus are both the top candidates. If Murphy can play adequate defense, he most likely will win the job, but Emaus will also get a long look because he has to be placed on waivers and returned to the Blue Jays after being claimed in the Rule 5 Draft if he doesn't make the team. A potential platoon could also be in order.
3. Can Ike Davis and Angel Pagan avoid sophomore slumps? Yeah, Pagan is 29 years old, but last year was the first season he played as a regular; before then the most games he played was 88. Pagan has always had talent, he's just dealt with a multitude of injuries over his career which have stunted that promise. After a .290 AVG, 11 HR, 69 RBI, 37 SB with plus outfield defense in his first full campaign, Pagan has played himself into a starting role this season. Davis wasn't thought of as a can't-miss prospect, but every year since he's been drafted he's shown a great deal of progression. He plays great defense at first, so that won't be a problem this season, but after a year in which he hit .264, with 19 HR and 71 RBI, it really remains to be seen what type of first basemen he becomes. If the other regulars can stay healthy, he should get his RBI chances, but more ups and downs from a young player cannot be ruled out.
4. What will the Mets get out of the catcher spot? Josh Thole played well in his first taste of extended action, 77 games, in the big leagues. He won't hit for power, but he walks a lot and the average should be decent. He has just 38 at bats against lefties, but just six hits -- but that shouldn't be a problem this year when Ronny Paulino returns from his PED suspension, which has eight games left. In his career, Paulino has been superb against lefties: .338/.390/.491. If the Terry Collins plays his cards right, offensively the catcher spot should be above average this season.
Sandy Alderson has been a busy man ever since he took the Mets' general manager job. Not only did he have to work the discounted free-agent wire this offseason, he currently has to deal with cash-strapped owners.
Now, he's getting to know his team and scouting his players in Port St. Lucie, Fla. for Mets camp. Alderson's also the GM for a New York sports team, so yeah, he also has to speak to the media as well -- and he's done it quite often already.
The latest exclusive Q&A comes from the Sporting News' Steve Greenberg who had a chance to sit down with Alderson and talk about the challenges facing the Mets this season.
Here are a few notable excerpts:
Alderson first touches on the realities of contending this season:
Sandy Alderson: The Mets can be that good. Position by position, we've got some very talented players. We're trying to add depth to those position players. We didn't score a lot of runs last year in part, I think, because of injuries. We seem to be in a pretty good position with those players going into this season; Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, they all missed significant playing time last year. If those players remain healthy, our lineup is as good as almost anybody's. And our team didn't pitch that badly last year; we finished sixth (in ERA) in the National League. We don't have (Johan) Santana going into the beginning of the season-obviously a critical loss for us-but with regard to our starting rotation, we've added a couple of guys (Chris Young and Chris Capuano), and if they can get back to prior form, and we hope they can, our rotation ought to be pretty good.
The Mets scored the seventh-fewest runs last season and it undoubtedly was because of so many injuries to key guys, and Jason Bay, when he was healthy, who disappointed. If everyone can stay off the DL this year, and Bay finds his power stroke again, this offense has to be better. Though, the rotation, especially without Santana, remains a question mark.
Alderson also spoke about the prospects of the Mets being players in free agency next offseason -- certainly a topic on many Mets' fans minds.
Sandy Alderson: Our goal is to be a player in free agency and a major factor in free agency every year. We weren't in that position this year because of prior commitments. We need to manage our payroll in such a way that we can be active in the market for significant free agents every year; whether we will sign them every year would be another question, but we certainly wouldn't want to be precluded from thinking about it or being involved in trying to acquire them. If we're careful about how the payroll is structured, then we ought to be able to play that game every year.
The financial issues facing the team's owners certainly puts a damper -- at least on the expectations -- of what the Mets can do in free agency, but Alderson definitely has a fiscally-responsible plan, regardless of the team's financial standing and that's a good thing. With a few contracts off the books next offseason, the Mets should be players in the free agent market, but prudent ones at that.
Johan Santana last threw a pitch for the New York Mets on Sept. 2 as he suffered a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder and underwent surgery on Sept. 14. Recovery seems to be going as smoothly as anticipated for the ace lefty; two weeks ago he started tossing a baseball every other day and today general manager Sandy Alderson sketched out a timetable for Santana's return.
He expects Santana to throw from flat ground through April, then advance to the mound in May and said that he sees him contributing in six to eight weeks after that point.
"So if you do the math, it gets you to the end of June, the middle part of July," Alderson said, as quoted in ESPN NY.com.
Santana has a bulldog mentality and he's a very hard worker so the Mets will undoubtedly be very cautious with accelerating his rehabilitation process. He's "optimistic" about the whole recovery process and his return to pitching, but as ESPN NY notes, Santana could only cite Jorge Posada as another player who has suffered the same injury -- and he doesn't throw 100-plus pitches every five days.
Still, despite the optimism, he's still hesitant -- and rightly so -- about saying he will come back and return to be the type of dominating force he's been throughout his career.
"When you get your arm all cleaned up and fixed, there's always a question mark, because you never know," Santana said. "Time will tell. But if everything goes right and feels good, I'm going to continue playing as much as I can."
Santana is at Mets' spring training, at the request of Terry Collins, to act as a leader. It shows you how much his presence really means to this team and the example he sets for them.
If -- and if is the crucial word here -- the Mets can stay in the race up until Santana returns and he comes back at a high level, his mid-season addition to the rotation could be a huge x-factor for the team as they chase a playoff spot.
New York Mets spring training officially began today with pitchers and catchers reporting. Jose Reyes doesn't have to report until Feb. 19, but that didn't stop him from being the first day's topic for discussion.
Entering the last year of his five-year, $34.25 million contract, general manger Sandy Alderson said that "it's unlikely" that contract extension talks would occur during spring training with Reyes, who will make $11 million this year. In fact, there were rumblings just a few weeks ago that the Mets plan was to let Reyes play a full season to show how healthy he was before "maybe" offering him a new deal.
Even though Reyes said previously that he doesn't want to discuss an extension during the season, Alderson said: "It's not something I've ever ruled out, as a policy matter."
Still, despite the well-known financial struggles facing the Mets' ownership, the GM expressed optimism when discussing the possibility of doling out the dollars if and when time and performance warranted it.
"I'm confident I can do anything with any one individual player," Alderson said, as quoted in the The Record. "Anything we do is going to be viewed through the prism of what's going on in New York. There's no question about that. All I can do is try to make the best baseball judgments and at this point, I'm not facing any limitations and at this point, don't expect to."
Because Alderson comes from the school of thought that values walks and on-base percentage, and doesn't put a lot of stock in stolen bases, it was thought that Reyes wasn't his type of player: a stolen base machine when healthy, but one with just a .335 OBP for his career.
Alderson quieted those skeptics:
"I had a lot of different players on a lot of different teams, many of whom had very different profiles," Alderson said, as quoted from ESPN NY. That probably alludes to his reliance on speed and my sense that maybe speed is not as critical. But he brings so many different things to the table, as I've said earlier, that you can't just focus on the speed element. The speed element is a plus. There's no question about that, and well-appreciated by me, by the way."
After Carl Crawford, a similarly talented player to Reyes, but one with less injury history/more power, inked a seven-year, $142 million pact this winter with the Red Sox, Mets executives now believe they have a framework for what Reyes could get in the open market. After all, he's about two years younger and plays a premium position with a dearth of dynamic offensive players.
"When he's healthy, depends I guess on your definition of healthy, but he's definitely the kind of impact player that can make a huge difference," Alderson said.
"But it's a matter of being the whole package. It's the on-base percentage. It's the defense. It's the stolen bases. It's the little bit of power that he has. It's the whole package that you're looking for, and in any given year, some of it shows up stronger than others. That's true for any player, not just Jose, so we'll see how it goes. I know he's motivated, so that's good for us."
Nobody ever said playing for a contract was a bad thing -- but if Reyes returns to his old form this season, the Mets better hope their financial situation doesn't impede any potential negotiations.
|2010 - Jose Reyes||.282||.321||.428|
As Mets pitchers and catchers report Tuesday, it would be naive to term any potential roster battle in spring training as "exciting." The second base job will probably be the most interesting, though there's not really an electrifying candidate who will really "wow" anyone with his talents. Another component to this spring training: none of the best Mets prospects are really battling for jobs. Ike Davis has hold of first base, Jenrry Mejia needs more time in the minors, Wilmer Flores is 19 and hasn't played above High-A and Matt Harvey has a power arm but hasn't logged an inning in the minors.
Still, the Mets active roster is far from set. One of the roles to be carved out this spring is the team's lefty reliever/LOOGY spot. With Pedro Feliciano's departure to the Yankees, the Mets really have an open tryout for his bullpen job. Whomever wins the spot has large shoes to fill, but considering the Mets will face left-handed hitters such as Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann quite often this season, it would certainly behoove the Mets to have a lefty neutralizer in the 'pen.
Let's take a look at the candidates, Tim Byrdak, Michael O'Connor and Taylor Tankersley -- all of whom are non-roster invitees -- and their chances to nab the job. There's a lot to learn about the new crop:
Tim Byrdak: Byrdak, 37, is the elder statesmen of the bunch. He toed the rubber for Kansas City from 1998 to 2000 (only throwing 32.2 innings), then had Tommy John Surgery in 2001 and made it back to the big leagues with Baltimore in 2005 and 2006. He spent a year with Detroit and then the past three have been spent with Houston. Primarily a fastball-slider guy, who will throw in a change-up on occasion, Byrdak averages about 89-90 mph on his fastball. His slider sits at around 82 mph and looks to be his go-to strikeout pitch. In his nine seasons, Byrdak has thrown 266.2 innings, given up 251 hits, walked 164 batters and fanned 242. His career ERA is 4.35 and his career WHIP is 1.55. In the past four seasons, however, Byrdak has a 3.46 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 and a 5.0 BB/9.
For the Mets' purposes, his lefty-right splits over his career: .202/.296/.380 to .288/.402/.484. Allowing close to a hit per inning isn't necessarily a terrible thing, but it is when you walk five batters per nine innings and that could be his undoing this spring. Still, he has the best major-league pedigree of the crop and has been effective in the 'pen over the past few seasons
Michael O'Connor: O'Connor is a 30-year-old who has only pitched at the major-league level for the Nationals before throwing in the minors for San Diego and Kansas City, and then the Mets in 2010. O'Connor has pitched as a starter for the majority of his professional career -- but with the Mets' Triple-A team, he has been exclusively a reliever. He came into 51 games last year, 70 innings, and allowed 65 hits, walked 17 (2.17 BB/9) and struckout 70 to a tune of a 2.67 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.
In his 747 minor-league innings, he has a 3.90 ERA, 1.26 WHIP to go along with 8.41 H/9, 2.91 BB/9 and 8.37 K/9. With the Nationals at the major-league level, O'Connor threw 114 innings, allowed 107 hits, fanned batters a much lower rate compared to his time in the minors, 63, and walked 56. He has a 5.45 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in the majors. O'Connor is a light-throwing lefty, as he'll only top out at 85-86 mph, with a curveball and changeup, but as someone who has struggled as a starter in the majors and who was extremely effective in relief at Triple-A, he may have a good shot at making a major-league career out of being a lefty-specialist assuming his audition with the Mets goes smoothly: his .241/.330/.402 line against lefties (with only two HR allowed) to .253/.347/.453 rate against righties (compared to 16 HR allowed) at the majors at least suggests that it might.
Taylor Tankersley: The 27-year-old has spent his entire career with the Marlins, amassing 118 innings in four stints at the major-league level. In his career, he has a 4.58 ERA, 1.52 WHIP; and he's given up 109 hits, struckout 115 and walked 70. Another guy who appears to kill his own fortunes with walks, but someone who has the ability to wiggle out of the messes on his own because of his solid strikeout numbers. In his first two seasons, he threw 88.1 innings, allowed 75 hits, walked 55 and K'd 95 -- accompanied with a 3.46 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.
He threw just 12 innings last season after suffering a fractured elbow in 2009, when he missed the whole season, but the Mets' managements has to hope that he can regain some of his ability, two years after surgery. Tankersley runs his fastball in the high 80s, has a slider and changeup, which he uses the least frequently. His lefty-righty splits in the majors: .223/.313/.372 to .268/.386/.452. If his stuff is back and he can limit his walks, Tankersley could make noise this Spring.
Darkhorses: Oliver Perez: If his starting experiment fails completely and Terry Collins decides to try him as a reliever, his .226/.317/.374 career mark against lefties looks nice, but over the past few years his stuff has wilted, he's lost the strikezone completely and his ERA and WHIP have soared, so that all that seems like wishful thinking at this point. Casey Fossum: Mets signed him to a minor-league deal -- so their hopes were already low -- as he hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009 and spent 2010 in Japan, where he struggled as a LOOGY.
The New York Mets' payroll is burdened by a number of ill-advised contracts (see below) and as a result management was only able to make cost-conscious maneuvers (along with hoping players have healthier years) this offseason to patch up roster holes. The Mets open camp on Tuesday -- position players report on Feb. 19 -- and the position with the biggest question mark heading into Spring Training is second base.
Last year the Mets' collection of 2B's, which consisted of Luis Castillo, Alex Cora and Ruben Tejada, put together a pitiful .226/.307/.285 statline, with the MLB's second-to-last 61 runs scored, a league-worst one homerun and a league-worst (by nearly 30 points) .592 OPS. Hence, the competition -- which includes Luis Castillo, Brad Emaus, Dan Murphy and Justin Turner -- for the job this Spring is wide open.
Let's take an in-depth look at the candidates (alphabetically) and what they bring (or don't bring) to the table:
Luis Castillo: There has been some rumblings this offseason that the 35-year-old, who has one year, $6 million left on his bloated his contract, could be released, as his production has waned to the point of being a non-factor in the past few seasons. A speed/OBP guy with absolutely no power, Castillo not only had to deal with a number of foot/leg injuries last season, he has to also put up with age. Players of Castillo's ilk don't typically regain speed in their mid-30s. Last season Castillo played in just 86 games, with a .235/.337/.267 slash line to go along with eight steals. In his prime, Castillo was a good No. 2 hitter, who could drew a decent amount of walks and who was difficult to strikeout. Those days as a No. 2 hitter are now gone, however. In addition to a drop-off in hitting production, Castillo's fielding has also been on the decline the past few seasons and even though it improved slightly last year, what can really be expected for an older, now injury-prone middle infielder this season? Range isn't typically added as you age. He'll be given a chance this Spring, but silently Mets' management is not really rooting for him.
Brad Emaus: The Mets took the 24-year-old Emaus, a 2B/3B, in the Rule 5 Draft from the Toronto Blue Jays in December and he will get a long look just on the sheer fact that the Mets have to place him on waivers and offer him back to Toronto if he's not on their 25-man roster. The 6-foot, 200-pound Emaus has never played in the majors and has moderate power potential for a middle infielder, with decent on-base skills. Last season, across Double-A and Triple-A, he hit .290 with 15 HR, 61 RBI and 13 stolen bases, in a very hitter-friendly environment. He also had 32 doubles in 2010 and hasn't had below 28 in his three full seasons in the minors. Emaus had a .397 OBP (.364 in his minor-league career) across two levels last season, but his strength appears to be that he's tough to strikeout and he doesn't mind taking walks, similar to Castillo. It's worth noting, he did fare noticeably weaker against righties this offseason in winter ball. He's not a tremendous fielder, but if the Mets can get some offense out of 2B, they'll be more than happy. With J.P. Riccardi, the original GM who drafted Emaus, on his side, and his decent offensive skills, Emaus should be the early favorite.
Daniel Murphy: For the 25-year-old Murphy, this is a year of redemption. Set to be the starter at first for the Mets last year, he sprained his knee in Spring Training, then had to be on the sidelines watching as Ike Davis grabbed the position full time. The Mets then sent Murphy down to learn second base, as he's more of a natural third basemen despite not being particularly great at any position field, and he tore his MCL in his right knee while turning a double play, just weeks into the second-base experiment. On bat alone, Murphy is probably the Mets' best bet at second. He won't light up the power numbers, but in 2009 he did have 12 HR with 38 doubles to go along with a .266/.313/.427 slash line. As of now, Murphy has played most of his games at first base, but he's also played left field -- and third base and second base in the minors. As a super utility-type, which he's becoming, Murphy is a plus player, but as someone to rely on day-to-day at a defensively-demanding second base, it may be too much to ask. Murphy is a bit awkward in the field, but his transition to second base from a defensive standpoint is what will determine his playing time. Add in the fact that he has a noticeable split in the majors thus far (.240/.289/.442 against lefties to .282/.340/.436 against righties), and he may become a perfect platoon-guy with Emaus at second.
Justin Turner: Turner, 26, was claimed off of waivers from the Baltimore Orioles in May 2010. A good average hitter, Turner doesn't have a lot of pop or speed, nor is he known for his defense. As someone who has been on three teams since he was drafted, Turner doesn't really have a lot of upside, or else his previous organizations would've held onto him longer. At this point, if he's lucky, he profiles as a fringe utility player. In his short time in the majors, 21 games the past two seasons, Turner has a .114 AVG in 35 at-bats. He has amassed 38 HR in 1916 AB's in the minors with a .309/.373/.442 line. Another guy who doesn't strikeout a ton and has OK on-base skills, but with very limited chance to latch on to the 2B job without an overwhelming spring.
Other Potentials: Chin-lung Hu, 27, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers, has never been great offensively at the major-league level, but has Paul DePodesta as a fan, and a good glove. He also had a 299/.341/.418 line in the minors. Hu probably becomes the Mets' top 2B/SS backup this season. Ruben Tejada: Terry Collins said that the light-hitting Tejada will head to Triple-A to play shortstop when the season begins.
Here is a look at the roster that will greet new manager Terry Collins when 2011 Spring Training begins for the New York Mets as pitchers and catchers officially report to camp. Non-roster invitees are designated with an NR.
Collins took over for the fired Jerry Manuel after the Mets went 79-82 in 2010. Sandy Alderson also replaced Omar Minaya as general manager. The Mets also have the specter of ownership's involvement in the Bernie Madoff scandal hanging over the franchise as Spring Training begins.
Pitchers -- Manny Acosta, Manuel Alvarez, Pedro Beato, Taylor Buchholz, Chris Capuano,D. J. Carrasco, R. A. Dickey, Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejía, Pat Misch, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Mike Pelfrey, Óliver Pérez, Armando Rodríguez, Francisco Rodríguez, Johan Santana, Josh Stinson, Chris Young, Boof Bonser (NR), Blaine Boyer (NR), Tim Byrdak (NR), Ryota Igarashi (NR), Michael O'Connor (NR), Taylor Tankersley (NR).
Infielders -- Luis Castillo, Ike Davis, Brad Emaus, Nick Evans, Luis Hernández, Chin-lung Hu, Zach Lutz, Daniel Murphy, José Reyes, Rubén Tejada, Justin Turner, Jordany Valdespin, David Wright, Russ Adams (NR).
The New York Mets ended a rather forgettable season last year four games under .500. However, the offseason did begin quite promising with the canning of former GM Omar Minaya and coach Jerry Manuel and the hiring of new GM Sandy Alderson. The new GM then brought in some highly regarded baseball men, Paul Depodesta as vice president of player development and scouting, and J.P. Ricciardi as special assistant to Alderson, to form a very formidable front office, which would be active combing through the bargain bin.
Many New York fans think of a lost offseason as one where their team didn't land a prize free agent -- this Mets team did not but they also did one better, taking disaster to a new level as ownership announced that they sought a buyer for at least 25 percent of the team.
And while the Mets did not ink any marquee names, they did make some lower-risk (and cost), medium-reward-type signings this offseason: bringing in D.J. Carrasco and Taylor Buchholz to help the bullpen; Ronny Paulino to team with Josh Thole, Ching-Lung Hu to fill a backup middle infield spot; and signing Chris Capuano and Chris Young to fill out the rotation. New York also signed left-handed relievers Taylor Tankersley, Casey Fossum and Tim Byrdak. None of these signings are flashy or exciting, but still guys who will undoubtedly factor into the results on the field this season.
Nothing is every boring for this franchise, but finally, after a rather busy offseason, it's time to actually hit the field. Among those who have already reported to camp: David Wright, Thole, Daniel Murphy, Capuano, and Dillon Gee.
And no matter what happens during the offseason, it's hard to not get excited for a new season of baseball!
Here are some key Spring Training dates:
And here is the Mets full Spring Training schedule:
|Sat, Feb 26, 2011||1:10 pm EST||Braves||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Sun, Feb 27, 2011||12:10 pm EST||Wolverines||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Sun, Feb 27, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Braves||Champion Stadium|
|Mon, Feb 28, 2011||1:10 pm EST||Nationals||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Tue, Mar 01, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Nationals||Space Coast Stadium|
|Wed, Mar 02, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Cardinals||Roger Dean Stadium|
|Thu, Mar 03, 2011||1:10 pm EST||Cardinals||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Fri, Mar 04, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Marlins||Roger Dean Stadium|
|Sat, Mar 05, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Braves||Champion Stadium|
|Sun, Mar 06, 2011||1:10 pm EST||Red Sox||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Mon, Mar 07, 2011||1:10 pm EST||Tigers||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Tue, Mar 08, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Astros||Osceola County Stadium|
|Tue, Mar 08, 2011||1:10 pm EST||Nationals||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Wed, Mar 09, 2011||1:10 pm EST||Astros||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Thu, Mar 10, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Nationals||Space Coast Stadium|
|Thu, Mar 10, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Marlins||Roger Dean Stadium|
|Fri, Mar 11, 2011||1:10 pm EST||Marlins||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Sat, Mar 12, 2011||1:05 pm EST||Mets||@ Braves||Champion Stadium|
|Sun, Mar 13, 2011||1:10 pm EDT||Cardinals||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Tue, Mar 15, 2011||7:10 pm EDT||Nationals||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Wed, Mar 16, 2011||1:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Twins||Lee County Sports Complex, Hammond County Stadium|
|Thu, Mar 17, 2011||1:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Red Sox||City of Palms Park|
|Fri, Mar 18, 2011||1:10 pm EDT||Braves||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Sat, Mar 19, 2011||1:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Braves||Champion Stadium|
|Sat, Mar 19, 2011||1:10 pm EDT||Nationals||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Sun, Mar 20, 2011||1:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Marlins||Roger Dean Stadium|
|Mon, Mar 21, 2011||1:10 pm EDT||Braves||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Tue, Mar 22, 2011||1:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Tigers||Joker Marchant Stadium|
|Wed, Mar 23, 2011||1:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Cardinals||Roger Dean Stadium|
|Thu, Mar 24, 2011||1:10 pm EDT||Cardinals||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Fri, Mar 25, 2011||1:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Marlins||Roger Dean Stadium|
|Sat, Mar 26, 2011||1:10 pm EDT||Braves||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Sun, Mar 27, 2011||1:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Cardinals||Roger Dean Stadium|
|Mon, Mar 28, 2011||1:10 pm EDT||Marlins||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
|Tue, Mar 29, 2011||12:05 pm EDT||Mets||@ Nationals||Space Coast Stadium|
|Wed, Mar 30, 2011||12:10 pm EDT||Marlins||@ Mets||Digital Domain Park|
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