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It’s always something with the Mets…

Everybody’s favorite trio of Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda should get a break from being the main topic of discussion around the Mets today.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Pitching coach Dan Warthen (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Last night, Wall Street Journal reporter Stu Woo shared an account of pitching coach Dan Warthen using a derogatory term during a conversation with Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s translator Jeff Cutler on Tuesday.

“Jeff!”

Cutler and I turned around. It was Dan Warthen, the Mets pitching coach.

“I’m sorry I called you a ‘Chinaman’ yesterday,” Warthen told Cutler.

“It’s OK,” Cutler replied.

“I didn’t mean to insinuate –- I know you’re not Chinese,” Warthen said. He paused. “I thought it was a pretty good joke, though.”

“It was,” Cutler said, with a small laugh.

Woo felt the term was inappropriate and brought the matter to Jay Horwitz, the team’s vice president of media relations. Last night, Warthen and Mets GM Sandy Alderson issued apology statements.

Warthen should know better – this is 2014. And he should definitely make his apology face-to-face today.

Meanwhile, the pack of beat reporters will all have to ask their followup questions, and we’ll end up discussing how the Mets reacted and what is appropriate behavior in the clubhouse.

That discussion is an important one – at least for the athletes and professionals who inhabit that sphere.

But I wish we could be talking about baseball, even if the conversation does keep coming back to Tejada, Davis & Duda.

The comments are open – please share your thoughts, but remember to be respectful.

Added at 11:10 a.m.: Some of the players are starting to circle the wagons.

You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickr and Instagram, and follow @Paul_Hadsall on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.

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Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia: A tale of two pitchers

Adam Rubin wrote a gushing article in advance of Zack Wheeler‘s first spring training start tomorrow, comparing the Mets prospect to Stephen Strasburg.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Pitching coach Dan Warthen (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Rubin quotes pitching coach Dan Warthen:

“Zack Wheeler is going to be Zack Wheeler. He’s not going to worry whether he’s Stephen Strasburg. Right now, if I know Zack like I think I do, he thinks he’s better than Strasburg.”

“We have an unbelievable new program called PitchTrack, where we put him side by side with Strasburg,” Warthen explained. “According to the PitchTrack, his stuff was better than Strasburg the other night.

Warthen later notes Saturday was the first time he’d watched Wheeler pitch.

David Lennon and Anthony DiComo wrote about Jenrry Mejia, who pitched today against the Miami Marlins and took the loss in a 7-5 spring training defeat.

Autographed 2010 Topps Jennry Mejia card from my collection
Autographed 2010 Topps Jennry Mejia card from my collection

Like Wheeler, Mejia was once consider the top pitching prospect in the Mets farm system and we all hoped he’d be a future star. I remember standing on line at a New Jersey mall with dozens of other Met fans for the privilege paying $20 per signature for Mejia’s autograph in 2010. Several years and a Tommy John surgery later, it’s not clear that Mejia has a future in the major leagues – never mind stardom.

Lennon writes:

It’s difficult to figure out where Mejia fits in the Mets’ current plans. He started Tuesday against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium, and to say he was ineffective would be generous. In one inning of work, Mejia threw away a comebacker and allowed three hits, including a grand slam to Casey Kotchman.

One scout in attendance had Mejia throwing in the low 90s, but his fastball no longer seems to have the same natural cut that made him more of a weapon at age 20. In the scout’s mind, Mejia projects to the bullpen, and Warthen agrees, based on his mechanics.

DiComo writes:

As for Mejia, his ceiling remains unclear. Though the Mets are once again trying him in the rotation, he may not stick there unless he develops three reliable pitches. He may be a starter now, but his ultimate fate could also be a life in relief.

“You’ve got to look at everything involved,” manager Terry Collins said. “Down the road, maybe Jenrry’s best slot is going to be coming out of the bullpen. He’s got a great arm. If he can regain the cutter that he had three years ago, that’s a pretty dynamic situation.”

I’m already frustrated watching Meija and his successor as the Mets’ ballyhooed pitching prospect, Jeurys Familia. I hope they both have successful major league careers, but I no longer expect that they will.

With Zack Wheeler, the Mets have another highly-regarded young pitcher who’s getting way too much attention from fans and the media. But current GM Sandy Alderson is much less likely to rush him to the major leagues than Omar Minaya was with Mejia.

Giancarlo "Mike" Stanton (FLA) and Gerald Laird
Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton (photo credit: d-deee via Flickr)

For once, Alderson’s obsession with saving Fred & Jeff Wilpon’s money might work out – if Wheeler spends the whole year in the majors, he’s that much closer to arbitration and free agency. If he stays in the minors for the first half of the season, both can be delayed one year…

Of course, that’s assuming Wheeler is even still part of the Mets organization by Opening Day… there were reports of a rumored trade proposal that would send him and catcher Travis d’Arnaud to the Marlins for slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.

Would I trade my two best prospects – a starting pitcher and a catcher – for an established young home run-hitting outfielder? I don’t know… but thinking about the Mets’ track record with prospects, I’m probably a little more tempted than I should be.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

If he’s healthy, Johan Santana must keep pitching

Last night, Johan Santana became the first pitcher in Mets history to allow six or more runs in five straight starts.

Think about that for a moment. The 1962 New York Mets are still the worst team in modern baseball history, losing a remarkable 120 games. Five other times, they’ve lost 100 or more games. They had 13 more seasons that they’ve lost at least 90 games.

But they never ran a starter out there who gave up six or more runs five times in a row before last night.

And they have to do it again, and keep doing it until Santana figures out what’s wrong.

Yet according to ESPN New York, Dan Warthen said last night that the Mets would need to at least consider shutting Santana down before the end of the season.

Worse, Santana himself “seemed receptive” to the idea according to Adam Rubin.

If Santana is hurt, of course he should be placed on the disabled list and treated. But he says he’s fine.

And if he’s fine, Santana has to keep pitching — no matter how ugly the results are.

Although his second half struggles mean the one-time Mets’ ace should be forced to earn his spot in the rotation next spring, his $25.5 million salary guarantees it, if not the Opening Day assignment.

So let’s get the experimenting, tinkering with mechanics and whatever else Warthen thinks he has in his bag of tricks underway now, during garbage time. There’s no reason to delay just to salvage pride.

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Warthen survives shakeup of Mets coaching staff

The Mets announced significant changes to their coaching staff today. Third base coach Chip Hale left to take a job as Bob Melvin‘s bench coach in Oakland. Bullpen coach Jon Debus, bench coach Ken Oberkfell and first base coach Mookie Wilson were let go, though Debus and Wilson will be offered other position within the organization.

Dan Warthen will return for another season as Mets pitching coach (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Buffalo Bisons manager Tim Teufel will replace Hale as the Mets’ third base coach, leaving Bighamton Mets manager Wally Backman as the front-runner for the Triple-A manager’s job. Buffalo pitching coach Ricky Bones will replace Debus as the bullpen coach.

The Mets have not replaced Wilson or Oberkfell yet, though Daily News beat writer Andy Martino reports speculation that former major league managers Larry Bowa or Jim Riggleman could end up winning the bench coach spot.

None of the coaching moves really seem that important to me, but one non-move leaves me scratching my head.

Dan Warthen is coming back for another year as the Mets pitching coach.

Mets pitchers ranked 21st in team ERA (4.19) and 9th in most runs allowed (742).

Apparently Warthen is getting a pass because the talent wasn’t there. Martino quotes one (unamed) organizational source: “It wasn’t (Warthen’s) fault that Bobby Parnell couldn’t command his fastball, or that D.J. Carrasco had a tough year. Dan prepared those pitchers.”

Well, maybe that’s so… but Carrasco is one of six Mets currently under contract for 2012, and Parnell is likely to be back as well. In fact, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has led us to believe that the only major changes to next year’s pitching staff are going to be Johan Santana‘s return and the acquisition of a closer from outside the organization.

So if the pitchers aren’t going to change, and the coach isn’t going to change… the results probably aren’t going to change. At least not for the better – everyone expects the outfield walls to move in at Citi Field, so Mets pitchers will probably give up more home runs in 2012.

That’s not exactly a thought that fills me with cheer as I watch the Philadelphia Phillies try beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Wednesday morning roundup: some reading for the last day of the season

While the Mets were losing a 13-inning marathon last night that was only important to people following the National League batting race, the two wild card chases remained unresolved.

Today, a Boston Red Sox fan might be willing to pay sticker price for this Ryan Lavarnway 2011 Pro Debut autograph baseball card that I bought as one of three for $10 in August.

St. Louis rallied from a 5-0 deficit to defeat Houston 13-6, while Philadelphia crushed Atlanta 7-1 to tie the National League wild card race.

In the American League, Tampa Bay defeated the Yankees 5-3 aided by a triple play and a home run by Matt Joyce. Meanwhile, Boston rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway hit a pair of home runs to help the Red Sox beat Baltimore 8-7, allowing Boston to remain tied with the Rays in the wild card hunt.

It all comes down to the final day of the season, and there’s a good chance that one or both races could require a 163rd game tomorrow to decide them. I don’t have a strong rooting interest in either race, but it will be fun to see an exciting finish.

Interesting stories around the web: