Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Baseball is back, and that is awesome

Baseball is back.

I got to watch the Opening Day introductions of the Mets players live on SNY before it was time to start work, so I saw the new Mets trainer get cheered for not being Ray Ramirez. Jacob deGrom earned applause even without his trademarked long locks. Wilmer Flores, man of the people, got one of the biggest ovations. So did David Wright, though it was sad to realize that the cheers were for what he’d already done and not what he might still accomplish on a baseball field.

Philip Evans looked like he was trying to run Brandon Nimmo competition for having the biggest smile on Opening Day. After a too-long winter, it was great.

I had to wait for the SNY Encore to watch the game, which the Mets won 9-4.

Noah Syndergaard was impressive, striking out 10 while walking none. But I agree with him that there’s room for improvement… forget about Yadier Molina’s fluke home run, because Molina hit a pretty good pitch and it barely stayed fair. But Jose Martinez (who the hell is Jose Martinez, anyway?) looked way too comfortable.

Amed Rosario had one of the biggest hits in the game. Brandon Nimmo was on base just about every time he came up. Yoenis Cespedes was Yoenis Cespedes (in a good way.) Nobody could touch Robert Gsellman when he came in in relief.

It was awesome. The cherry on top is that Michael Conforto might be back next week, almost a month ahead of schedule. (Adrian Gonzalez, you should probably consider yourself on notice.)

I got to see a few minutes of the Yankees’ opener, though not any of the exciting bits. Giancarlo Stanton lived up to the hype — at least on Day 1. A homer in his first official Yankee at bat gave John Sterling the chance to debut his awful home run call. (Dude, you had all winter and this is what you came up with?)

The other big star of the winter, Shohei Otani, singled in his first Major League at bat and drove in a run. He went 1-for-5 as the DH in the Los Angeles Angels’ Opening Day loss. Otani is set to make his MLB pitching debut on Easter Sunday.

Thanks to Easter and all the daytime baseball scheduled during the season’s opening week, it will be a little while before I can settle into a rhythm of watching games… but it’s nice to know that baseball and the Mets will be there for the next six months, at least.

Posted in Uncategorized

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

So, how about those Marlins?

I had a couple of things I was going to write about earlier tonight… but Jeffrey Loria and the Miami Marlins have made every other baseball story irrelevant for the moment.

Jose Reyes only got to spend one year with the Miami Marlins (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

In case you missed the news reports, the Marlins are close to completing a mega deal that would ship Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emiliano Bonifacio and John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Yunel Escobar, backup catcher Jeff Mathis, 22-year-old starter Henderson Alvarez and four minor leaguers, including three of the Jays’ top 10 prospects.

Miami had a $118 million payroll on Opening Day; once the deal goes through, they’ll have just under $22 million committed to six players and they’ll be able to pay the rest of their roster at or slightly above major league minimum. And after tonight, I’d hardly be surprised to see the Marlins move Ricky Nolasco and his $11.5 million contract.

Giancarlo Stanton is the one star player Marlins fans have left to root for, and who knows how much longer he’ll be around. His reaction to the trade:

Maybe someone could see this deal as a way for the Marlins to restock their farm system while escaping some poorly thought out contracts. But really, who could blame fans for thinking it’s just a way to let Loria put more of the Marlins’ revenue-sharing money into his own bank account instead of using it to improve his team?

Keith Olbermann says Major League Baseball is dead in Florida.

It’s hard to argue with him.

If there are bright spots to the deal, well, Toronto is going to be in a lot better shape to challenge the New York Yankees next year. All four other teams in the American League East are strong, or at least potentially strong in the case of the Boston Red Sox. The Steinbrenner sons may find themselves wishing they were worrying about ways to explain empty seats at playoff games next October.

And the Mets, no matter what Sandy Alderson does this winter, are not a lock for last place in the National League East in next year’s pre-season predictions.