Posted in Baseball

So you're saying there's a chance….

CitiFieldFor one night at least, everything went right in Mets-land.

  • Michael Conforto went 4-for-4 with a walk in his second major league game.
  • Kelly Johnson made a good first impression in his Mets debut by going 2-for-6 with a home run.
  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis also went 4-for-4, driving in four of the Mets’ 15 runs.
  • Lucas Duda hit a pair of home runs, offering hope that he’s returning to his April & May All-Star candidate form.
  • Daniel Murphy went 2-for-4, including a home run
  • Matt Harvey went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs… oh, and he pitched a pretty good game too.

It’s fun to watch your team score 15 runs on 21 hits in a single night instead of taking a whole week to reach those totals. Imagine if Terry Collins issued that “hit or sit” ultimatum a little bit sooner.

The Mets have a tougher challenge awaiting them today. Zack Greinke hasn’t given up a run since June 13th… but maybe, just maybe, the Mets can be the team to put an end to his scoreless innings streak.

And maybe, just maybe, they can find enough offense on a consistent basis to get their amazing starting rotation to the postseason where anything can happen.

It might take something on the order of a minor miracle, but after games like last night’s it’s easier to believe.

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

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 Baseball, Uncategorized

Thoughts on the Yankees & Mets after the Tanaka signing

Yankee Stadium (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Yankee Stadium (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

On Wednesday, the New York Yankees signed Rakuten Golden Eagles star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract.

Tanaka’s signing marks the end of the Yankees’ shopping spree, which included a seven-year, $153 million contract for center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, a five-year, $85 million deal for catcher Brian McCann, a three-year, and a $45 million contract for outfielder Carlos Beltran.

The moves were necessary because the Yankees are coming off of their worst season since 1992, and their farm system has no players who are ready to provide significant help at the major league level.

The Yankees’ projected 2014 payroll currently stands at $210.8 million, with eight players signed to contracts with an average annual value of more than $10 million. While they should be competitive, they are by no means the favorites in the American League East. And they can’t really spend half a billion dollars every off-season, can they?

Continue reading “Thoughts on the Yankees & Mets after the Tanaka signing”

Posted in Baseball, Baseball Cards, Uncategorized

Minor Mets moves

Steve Matz 2009 Bowman Draft Picks autograph card 030/500
Steve Matz 2009 Bowman Draft Picks autograph card 030/500 (If you are seeing a baseball card image with rounded corners, it is just because that’s how my blog theme displays photos)

The New York Mets added minor league pitchers Steven Matz, Jeff Walters, Jacob deGrom and Erik Goeddel to the 40-man roster today, the deadline for shielding them from this year’s Rule 5 draft.

You can check Mets Minor League Blog for more on these guys; I’m not going to spend a lot of time writing about players I’m not very familiar with.

I just thought this would be a nice chance to show off the 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Steve Matz autograph card I picked up for a couple of bucks recently.

With the roster currently full, the Mets will have to remove someone before they can sign a free agent or select a player from another team in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft.

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

In other news, Sandy Alderson yesterday offered a weak defense of his decision to delay Ruben Tejada‘s September call up just long enough to make sure he wouldn’t earn credit for a full year of major league service time.

“I think our position is that we have very wide discretion in how we call up players in September,” Alderson said. “In the case of all of these players, we exercised that discretion and brought some up at a particular time and some up at a later time. That was totally within our right to do.”

Somehow, I think that an arbitrator would see things differently if Tejada and his agent do follow through with the grievance process. (I also think Tejada should be focused on proving that he belongs in the major leagues, or he won’t have to worry about when he becomes eligible for arbitration and free agency.)

 Tejada, Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores are all taking part in a voluntary fitness camp for disappointing players in Michigan this month, along with several minor league prospects. Let’s see if any of them are still Mets on March 31st, 2014 and if it has any tangible benefits.

Considering some of  the hot stove chatter surrounding the Mets, I would not be shocked if Tejada and Omar Quintanilla end up sharing the shortstop position again next year, despite Alderson’s reported desire to upgrade there.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

A few farewells

It’s that time of year, when baseball players find themselves in new organizations because their previous team needed to open up 40-man roster spots for more highly-regarded prospects or potential free agent signings.

The New York Mets removed four players from the 40-man roster today, and two were claimed by other teams.

Mike Baxter‘s catch will live on in Mets’ lore as long as the memory of Johan Santana‘s no hitter does.

I’ll wish him luck with the Dodgers, as long as he’s not playing against the Mets.

Robert Carson‘s departure will be noted by fewer people, and he really did not seem ready to contribute to a major league bullpen. However, I will remember him as one of the good guys who would come over and sign autographs, pose for pictures or even just wave to fans before games.

Greg Burke and Sean Henn could choose to remain with the Mets organization, or they may end up moving on to greener pastures elsewhere. Burke, too, gets credit for coming over to sign autographs after batting practice at several games I went to this year. Henn will probably just confuse people trying to figure out who was the most recent player to suit up for both the Mets and Yankees until someone else takes that distinction.

Mets Baseball Card Of The Week

Lucas Duda's 2013 Pinnacle baseball card
Lucas Duda’s 2013 Pinnacle baseball card

Lucas Duda‘s 2013 Pinnacle card is this week’s Mets baseball card of the week by default, as it’s the only one that came into my collection recently.

Once upon a time, Score put out some really cool baseball cards. Pinnacle was their attempt at an “elite” brand (before that meant packs costing hundreds of dollars.) Score stopped making baseball cards in the late 1990s.

Somewhere along the way, Panini picked up the brand, and did a nice job of invoking the old card designs. Unfortunately, because Panini only has a license from the Major League Baseball Players Association and not from Major League Baseball, they have to remove all team logos.

The basic Mets team set includes eight cards:

  • 23 Matt Harvey
  • 63 Ike Davis
  • 96 Lucas Duda
  • 115 David Wright
  • 145 Johan Santana
  • 151 Jeurys Familia
  • 165 Zack Wheeler
  • 196 Collin McHugh

You can find team sets on eBay for $1.99 (plus shipping).

I have not really felt motivated to purchase any of Panini’s baseball products because of the lack of team logos, but a friend gave me the Duda card.