Forget about the snow that’s falling as I write this. Spring training officially got underway this week. Mickey Callaway is excited about his new team, which is good because you know you’re in trouble if your first-year manager isn’t excited about his team in February.
Zack Wheeler may not be happy, but Vargas makes the Mets a better team. Now Wheeler gets to compete with Matt Harvey, Stephen Matz, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero for two starting spots and three or four bullpen spots. And when the inevitable injuries occur, the Mets should have better options to turn to than they did last year.
Since it looks like the Mets might only carry four outfielders to start the season, they’re talking about giving Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores some reps in the outfield this spring. Now let me go on record to say that Wilmer Flores, outfielder, is a terrible idea. Jose Reyes is probably not going to be a good outfielder at this stage of his career either. But if the Mets are determined to stick them there at some point this season, I hope they get the ‘experiment’ started this spring.
Let’s find out whether Reyes or Flores can play out there in meaningless exhibition games, and give them enough experience to let them be at least somewhat comfortable before that day game after a night game comes along when Juan Lagares is banged up and Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t feel up to playing. (Hey. at least the Mets brought back Matt den Dekker on a minor league deal so there’s somebody that can play centerfield in Triple-A.)
Colon, who will turn 43 next season, replaces Jonathon Niese in the rotation at the start of the season. When Zack Wheeler is ready to return from Tommy John surgery, Colon will likely move to the bullpen.
In the meantime, we’ll get to enjoy more highlight reel-worthy at-bats and fielding plays…and I’ll get to spend another year watching at least one Mets player who is older than me.
I think we all recognized the need for concern when Zack Wheeler was scratched from his scheduled spring training start last weekend and sent for an MRI on his elbow, no matter how much the Mets tried to downplay its significance.
And today, we got the news we were dreading:
Zack Wheeler has a torn UCL in his right elbow. Tommy John surgery is almost certainly inevitable. #Mets
For the short term, I guess this moves Dillon Gee back into the rotation. Some fans would rather see Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz get the opportunity, but there’s no way Sandy Alderson is going to put either of them on the Opening Day roster and lose a year of control when he could bring them along at the end of April and delay their free agency by a year.
There will be more opportunities. Bartolo Colon turns 42 in May – what are the odds he stays in the rotation all year? Gee and Jonathon Niese don’t have the best track records for staying off the DL, either. And nobody really knows what to expect from Matt Harvey in his first year back from Tommy John surgery.
I’m more interested in how Alderson the loss of Wheeler and Josh Edgin impact the bullpen. Going into the spring, six of the seven spots seemed to be set with Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Edgin, Carlos Torres and Gee. With Edgin gone for the year and Gee likely back in the rotation, there are suddenly three openings for a group of relievers who haven’t done a lot to impress this spring.
I’m not worried about the Mets’ rotation, even with the loss of Wheeler. But the relief corps is another story. Bobby Parnell will be back eventually, and maybe someone else steps up to join the four reliable relievers out there. Let’s hope for the best.
I picked up a few more packs of 2015 Topps baseball cards today – I didn’t want to let the coupon from my Target “value box” go to waste. Since I think everybody’s either well on their way to collecting whatever part of the set appeals to them (or doesn’t care about it at all), I’ll stick to the highlights.
I found two more Mets for my team set (only eight more to go, and I think a few of those are in the mail to me.)
The 2014 Topps Heritage High Numbers set is expected to show up next week (though the final checklist remains a company secret, apparently.) But that’s ok… see, I just recently picked up the two Mets cards from last year’s Topps Heritage High Numbers set.
John Buck was already a former Met by the time this card came out last year. Buck got off to a hot start to the season and then was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates along with Marlon Byrd to obtain Vic Black and Dilson Herrera on August 27th, 2013. You couldn’t ask for much more from a player who was essentially a throw-in in the R.A. Dickey trade. Buck played in a handful of games for the Mariners and Angels this year, but also spent time in the minor leagues.
Zack Wheeler‘s rookie card was the more in-demand of the pair of Mets in this set. Wheeler has the stuff to be a frontline starter in the major leagues, but he’s still trying to put it all together. He went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA in his first full big league season, and he improved on his strikeouts per nine innings, walks per nine innings and home runs per nine innings numbers from his rookie year. Wheeler’s combination of major league success and potential (he’s just going to turn 25 next season) have made him the subject of trade rumors, but I find it hard to believe that the Mets will let him go now.
Topps Heritage fans – do you get the High Number update series, or do you count your set complete with the pack-released cards?
There are just 14 games to go in the Mets’ season, and I’m still putting together my 2014 Topps Heritage team set.
One of the readers of my website was kind enough to offer to send me four of the cards that I still needed – Terry Collins, Jenrry Mejia, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. (How many of them will be Mets in 2015?)