Feb 26

Forget Murphy Contract Talks, He’s A Goner After This Year

It is a moot point regarding Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Reports out of Port St. Lucie Thursday say Murphy is open to negotiations about a contract extension. He doesn’t want to talk during the season, but said his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, are available.They shouldn’t wait for the phone to ring because it won’t as the Mets are willing to let Murphy walk after this season when his $8-million contract expires.

MURPHY: He's gone. (AP)

MURPHY: He’s gone. (AP)

“As of right now, I’m a Met for this year for sure,’’ Murphy told reporters. “I’d love to be here in the future. That, again, is way in the distant future. I’ve got too much anxiety about today to worry about what happens in November.’’

Murphy will be shopping for a team in November, because if the Mets really wanted him they could have tied him up to a multi-year deal a long time ago.

After trying for a long time to find a place for the natural third baseman to play, the Mets tried left field and first base before settling on second base. It took time, but he’s developed into a better than average defender at the position.

The Mets tried to trade him and undoubtedly will want to move him at the deadline as to dump salary. If they wanted him, he’d be here, but the Mets’ unwillingness to negotiate speaks volumes.

And, with the Mets having other options – among them: Wilmer Flores, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds – it is clear Murphy isn’t in their future. At the most, it would be just like it was with Jose Reyes. They will make a token offer – one they know he won’t accept – then just let him leave.

So, if you’re a Murphy fan, enjoy him while you can, because he’ll soon be a goner.

ON DECK:  Spring training rotation.

 

Feb 26

Projecting Mets’ Opening Day Roster

With the exhibition games about to begin shortly, I thought it would be a good time to post my initial projection of the Mets’ 25-man Opening Day roster.

Whether it is Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon or Jon Niese, don’t look for the Mets to deal any of these starters. Anticipate Gee making the team in the bullpen.

NIESE: Only lefty starter. (AP)

NIESE: Only lefty starter. (AP)

Assuming no injuries or trades – and there are no signs of the latter occurring – this is how I envision the Mets’ Opening Day roster:

STARTING PITCHERS (5)

Matt Harvey: If he’s there, don’t exclude him as the Opening Day starter.

Zack Wheeler: If he improves his command he could have a breakout year.

Jon Niese: The lone lefty. I’d slot him third in the rotation order.

Bartolo Colon: Threw over 200 innings last season, won 15 games to provide valuable veteran presence.

Jacob deGrom: Hoping to avoid sophomore jinx.

BULLPEN (7)

Dillon Gee: Slated for long relief and spot start duty.

Jenrry Mejia: Gets closer role because Bobby Parnell won’t be ready until May.

Jeurys Familia: Eighth-inning set up and situational role.

Vic Black: Set-up and situational role.

Josh Edgin: Situational lefty.

Carlos Torres: Spot starter and long relief roles.

Seventh reliever: Barring a trade or signing, this spot could go to Scott Rice.

CATCHERS (2)

Travis d’Arnaud: Showed offensive potential, but needs to improve holding runners.

Anthony Recker: Back-up catcher. I would like to see him get more time because of power potential.

INFIELDERS (7)

Lucas Duda: Has strained side muscle and currently limited. Mets hoping for 30-homer encore.

Daniel Murphy: Steadiest bat will be closely watched at the trade deadline.

Wilmer Flores: The shortstop job is his to lose. Hoping Terry Collins gives him a long leash.

David Wright: A lot depends on him staying healthy.

Ruben Tejada: Collins says in the shortstop mix, but will back up at short and second.

Dilson Herrera: Made strong impression last year. I’d like to see him play more.

Eric Campbell: Can play the infield corners, outfield and will be tested at catcher this spring.

OUTFIELDERS (4)

Michael Cuddyer: Won NL batting title two years ago.

Juan Lagares: Center fielder could also bat leadoff.

Curtis Granderson: Also being considered as leadoff hitter. I’m not expecting 40, but 30 homers would be great.

John Mayberry: Adds right-handed bat.

ON DECK TODAY:  Previewing Matt Harvey’s throw day.

 

Feb 25

Mets Matters: Syndergaard Motivated

I really like what Noah Syndergaard told reporters in Port St. Lucie about his reaction to not being called up at the end of last season.

Realistically, it wasn’t going to happen as to protect his Super Two status.

mets-matters logoAfter getting the call from GM Sandy Alderson, Syndergaard refused to sulk, but instead used it a source of motivation.

“It was kind of heartbreaking,” Syndergaard told ESPN. “I went home, let things relax a little bit, and then got back in my workout program and just enjoyed time in the offseason.

“But it was disappointing. To be in the big leagues has been my dream ever since I was a little kid. … I use it as a little extra motivation, because I don’t want to hear that phone call again.’’

Syndergaard is expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas and join the Mets in June.

Syndergaard, 22, needs to develop a secondary pitch because scouts say he relies too much on his outstanding fastball. Normally, pitchers move up to the next level when they begin dominating the competition, something he did not do evidenced by his 2014 Vegas numbers: 9-7, 4.60 ERA and 1.481 WHIP in 26 starts.

By his own admission, Syndergaard said he wasn’t ready.

“Being in Triple-A, you’ve got guys who have been in the big leagues for a number of seasons. So they can hit a fastball,’’ Syndergaard said. “Hitting is timing, and pitching is throwing off timing. If you throw three fastballs on the heart of the plate, they’re going to time one up.’’

Nobody knows how good Syndergaard will be, but he has the right idea.

HARVEY TO THROW FRIDAY: Matt Harvey’s come back from Tommy John surgery will take another step Friday when he throws to hitters for the first time.

The plan is to take batting practice, but there’s even the chance the hitters won’t even swing, but to stand at the plate to re-acclimate him to having a batter in the box.

DUDA UPDATE: Lucas Duda’s side injury has been changed from a strained oblique to a intercostal muscle. He’s not expected to resume swinging until Friday.

ON DECK TOMORROW: Among other things, I’ll project the Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Feb 25

Too Early To Name Opening Day Starter

Mike Puma of The New York Post recently wrote the Mets are strongly considering going with Zack Wheeler as their Opening Day starter. While I like Puma and don’t dispute his sources, naming Wheeler, or anybody else for that matter, as the Opening Day starter now is premature and a bad idea.

Of course the media wants to know. I want to know, but considering the make-up of the Mets’ rotation it serves no purpose announcing a starter this early.

WHEELER: No reason to name his Opening Day starter now. (Getty)

WHEELER: No reason to name him Opening Day starter now. (Getty)

The Mets already said it will not be Matt Harvey, but what if that changes? It already changed from him being the home opener starter to working in of the first five games.

With six weeks remaining until Opening Day and the Mets lacking a legitimate ace such as Johan Santana or even a healthy Harvey, simply too much can happen that could change Terry Collins’ mind:

* What if Harvey has a great spring training? Surely he then would get the nod.

* What if Wheeler has a lousy spring training, or worse, is injured?

* What if one of the other starters emerges strong this spring. What then?

The Opening Day starter should be based on two things: 1) experience, and 2) merit. Wheeler, despite showing promise last year and is a cornerstone of the future, doesn’t meet either.

If he’s healthy, it should be Harvey because of his brief window of success and what he means to the franchise. If not, the best choice should be Bartolo Colon.

It is highly improbable he won’t be traded this spring, so it has to be him. He’s best equipped to handle the distractions and pressure, and last year was the Mets’ most accomplished starter winning 15 games and working over 200 innings.

Wheeler is the sexy pick, but for the best results, it should go with Colon.

But, even so, the same rules apply. It is too early and every manager should know not to make a decision until absolutely has to … and Collins has not need to make an announcement now.

ON DECK TODAY: Mets’ Matters: Today’s notebook.

Feb 25

Bullpen Close To Being Set; Would Include Gee

For the first time in his tenure as Mets’ general manager, Sandy Alderson has his bullpen close to being intact heading into spring training. And, with his rotation set, the Mets have a sense of pitching comfort they haven’t had since 2006, the last time they made the playoffs.

This is good news.

Gee: Ticketed for pen.

Gee: Ticketed for pen.

It is paramount a team have a strong bullpen if it remotely has the chance of being a contender. I like the make-up of this pen as it is loaded with hard-throwing arms, even with Bobby Parnell not available until May.

Without Parnell, the Mets have a strong idea of the relievers they’ll take north. Ideally, they want another left-hander to go with Josh Edgin, but if that doesn’t materialize they likely would carry Dillon Gee.

With the uncertainty of Matt Harvey coming back from Tommy John surgery, and if history is an indicator, and the likelihood of getting short starts from Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler, there will be a need for a spot starter and long reliever as innings would need to be filled.

That’s three spots in the rotation that would call for Gee and Carlos Torres, and why Rafael Montero would be left out. There’s a strong possibility the pen would accumulate innings early in the season.

Montero us unproven working consistently out of the bullpen and should be to Triple-A Las Vegas until he would be needed, which is a possibility considering the Mets are shopping Gee and Bartolo Colon.

“You’re asking somebody to do something at the major league level that he hasn’t done very much of. And it’s important that we get out of the gate,’’ Collins told reporters about Montero. “Knowing that Bobby is going to be ready probably in the first part of May, I’m not sure where Raffy would fit in that bullpen coming out of spring training.

“If Dillon is there, we’ve only got one more spot left, and you might go with a little more experienced guy at the start of the season.’’

Joining Edgin, Gee and Torres are Jenrry Mejia as the closer replacing Parnell, followed by Jeurys Familia and Vic Black. That leaves one more. Scott Rice, perhaps?

In a perfect world, Familia would be the eighth-inning set-up man with Black available for the seventh if the starter can’t go that far.

Of course, that’s in a perfect world.

ON DECK: Don’t name an Opening Day starter now.