Posted in Baseball, New York Mets, Uncategorized

Wednesday morning roundup as the Mets move towards Opening Day

With spring training nearing an end, the New York Mets and other teams are making their final preparations for the regular season.

Dillon Gee (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Dillon Gee (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Dillon Gee will make his last Grapefruit League start tonight against the Houston Astros to get ready for his first career Opening Day assignment.

Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will both make the Opening Day roster, though it’s still up in the air which one will get to face Stephen Strasburg on March 31st. (I don’t think it matters that much. As long as Terry Collins sticks with a platoon of Davis or Duda and Josh Satin at first base – something he’s probably not going to do – the Mets should manage to get some production out of the spot. If he decides one is an everyday player, I expect to see a repeat of last year’s performance.)

Sandy Alderson suggested that Juan Lagares would get the nod over Eric Young Jr. for the third spot in the outfield. If that decision lasts longer than Collin Cowgill’s status as the everyday centerfielder did last year, the Mets are making the right call – defense is worth more than stolen bases.

Continue reading “Wednesday morning roundup as the Mets move towards Opening Day”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Morning reading: A call to honor Joan Payson

Joan Payson's Mets Hall of Fame plaque (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Joan Payson’s Mets Hall of Fame plaque (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Blogger Becca Boosical wants the New York Mets to do more to honor team founder and original owner Joan Payson.

Here is my call to the Mets organization and my fellow fans – let us honor the woman who brought us our Mets. She is probably the most important person in the history of our team, because without her we wouldn’t be here.  Lets do something about it.  Giver her a gate, give her a day, give her the respect she deserves.  Fans, if you don’t know about her, learn about her. … Let us honor our past, so when we celebrate, it is that much sweeter. LGM!

(Becca’s Balls via Mets Police)

Continue reading “Morning reading: A call to honor Joan Payson”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Niese’s “spring training from hell” creates uncertainty in Mets’ rotation

Jonathon Niese walks off the field after being taken out of a game in 2012. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Jonathon Niese walks off the field after being taken out of a game in 2012. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Jon Niese is scheduled to have his second MRI exam of the spring today, and with Opening Day two weeks away it’s doubtful he’ll make his scheduled start.

Niese got a late start this spring because of shoulder soreness. He pitched two inning in a Grapefruit League game on March 11th and didn’t appear sharp. His fastball topped out at 89 mph, but manager Terry Collins didn’t seem too worried.

Sunday, Niese lasted two innings against the St. Louis Cardinals before leaving with a sore left elbow.  In a total of four innings this spring, he has allowed six runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out just one batter.

While both Niese and the Mets have downplayed the severity of the injury, it’s hard not to be concerned. He missed seven weeks last season with a partial tear of his rotator cuff, and Niese has only come close to the 200 inning mark once in his professional career.

See my New York Mets’ starting rotation preview article at Hot Stove Baseball.

This is just another reminder of the fragility of pitchers. This weekend, the Arizona Diamondbacks learned that they’d probably be without ace starter Patrick Corbin this season. The Atlanta Braves should find out today if Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy will need season-ending Tommy John surgery. And of course the only reason that Niese was in line for the Opening Day assignment this year was that Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery last October.

As excited as we can get about a pitching rotation with Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard in it sometime in 2015, a lot of things can keep it from happening.

Continue reading “Niese’s “spring training from hell” creates uncertainty in Mets’ rotation”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

With three weeks left, uncertainty remains at 1B & SS for Mets

Embed from Getty Images

Opening Day is about three weeks away, and the New York Mets have not really found clarity on many of the major issues they faced going into spring training.

Ike Davis flails at a pitch on Saturday (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Ike Davis flails at a pitch during a game last season. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Terry Collins wanted to get Ike Davis 90 to 100 at-bats this spring, but that’s not going to happen. On Monday, Davis was limping around the clubhouse in a walking boot intended to protect his sore right calf. He played in two games before getting injured, hitting a home run and striking out three times in six at-bats.

Unbelievably, Davis had not gotten an MRI yet even though he’s been out of action for nearly a week already. According to Newsday’s Anthony Rieber, Davis hopes to play again by the beginning of next week. Collins hopes to get Davis into minor league games as the DH this weekend, according to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin.

The primary challenger to Davis for the first base job is Lucas Duda, and he’s been out of action for most of the past week with a hamstring injury. He managed a double and a home run in seven at-bats before landing on the injury report.

Neither candidate has been able to stay on the field long enough to win the job.

Ruben Tejada (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Ruben Tejada (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

At shortstop, Ruben Tejada looks like a man who’s confidence has been shaken by all his unnamed critics in the Mets’ organization. He certainly hasn’t impressed, and I will be shocked if he isn’t booed loudly during Opening Day introductions at Citi Field.

To data, stopgap veteran Omar Quintanilla has gotten the most playing time at shortstop this spring: 30 innings in five games. Tejada’s played there in 26 innings over four games, and career minor leaguer Anthony Seratelli has 21 innings in five games. Despite all of the early camp discussion of giving Wilmer Flores a chance to play there, he’s only gotten six innings over two games.

That’s not really showing much of a commitment to anyone.

The Seattle Mariners continue to send scouts to Mets games, so there has almost certainly been at least some discussion about a trade involving Mariners infielder Nick Franklin… but the cost in prospects is likely to be high. Will Sandy Alderson be willing to pay it? Should he? My Magic 8-Ball says “Ask again later.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his Mets debut on Aug. 23, 2013 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

One area where clarity does seem to be developing is the starting rotation. Daisuke Matsuzaka seems to be the favorite for the fifth spot, though it’s still too early to say with any certainty and I disagree with the choice. His main competition, veteran John Lannan and youngster Jenrry Mejia, seem to be getting consideration for the Mets’ bullpen.

After lefties Josh Edgin, Steven Matz, Adam Kolarek and Jack Leathersich were among the first round of cuts Monday, Collins talked about getting Lannan some work out of the bullpen soon. (Someone should let the Mets’ skipper know that Lannan is not a prototypical lefty specialist – for his career, both lefty and righty batters have an identical .755 OPS against him.)

And though Mejia wants to start, it looks more like the Mets are considering him for the bullpen. Consider that Dillon Gee pitched four innings in a “B” game on Monday morning, while Mejia worked two innings in relief of him.

There’s still time for everything to shake out, and Opening Day lineups matter more to fans than they probably should anyway. Just ask Collin Cowgill.

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.

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.