Feb 21

Three Mets Players to Watch This Spring Training

COLLINS: Issues to address.

The Mets begin their first full squad workout in St. Lucie on Saturday, February 22 and for us fans there’s nothing better than watching the news filter out of the camp, knowing the first day of the season is getting ever so closer.

Spring training usually sets the benchmark for how a team will perform in the regular season. New additions show off their talent, last year’s rookies return with confidence, old-timers find ways to hang on and those recovering from injury face the uncertainty of testing out their bodies once more.

It’s a fascinating time for baseball fans, but also for those who set the MLB odds for each team and try to predict who will be the division and wild card winners. As rosters begin to take shape in the next six weeks, every team goes into Opening Day in a tie for first place. The tough part will be staying there.

For the Mets, their 2014 journey begins tomorrow. The Mets have many issues ranging from the muddled situation at first base and the yet to be contested battles for the fifth spot in the rotation and who will be the leadoff hitter. But there are three more things to watch for in spring training:

1. Bartolo Colon needs to deliver

Ever since our ace underwent Tommy John surgery late last year – ruling him out for the entirety of 2014 – many are betting and wondering who will replace the majestic Matt Harvey. All eyes will be on Bartolo Colon who was signed to a two year deal worth $20 million and has been the front office’s solution to replacing Harvey’s loss in the rotation. While we all keep our fingers crossed and hope for improved command from Zack Wheeler and the mid-season debut of the promising Noah Syndergaard, the Mets need to hit big it with Colon – Alderson’s highest paid pitcher in four years. They’ll also need to see Dillon Gee and Jon Niese look like the pitchers we saw in the second half of last season.

2. Travis d’Arnaud must step up

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of articles and features on framing pitches, and I’m looking forward to articles on D’Arnaud mashing pitches. TDA didn’t get his billing at top catching prospect for getting one or two extra strike call per nine innings. The rookie catcher played 31 games in the close of last season, but often showed how pressure can get to him. Yet despite his poor form that saw him finish 2013 batting .202, d’Arnaud has the capabilities to be a solid performer in the Mets roster and must prove himself in spring training. At 25-years old it’s time to show-off the offensive package we’ve been hearing about for the last four years.

3. Chris Young against RHP

I’m not worried about Curtis Granderson, we all know what he can do. But as long as Chris Young is being handed an everyday job after a season that saw him bat .200 with a .280 OBP – both lower than Juan Lagares – he’s the man under the microscope.  What scares me more about him – aside from Billy Beane casting him away and proclaiming him a platoon player – is his horrendous .225 career batting average against right handed pitching in 2,825 plate appearances. Is that sample size big enough for you? He has declined every year since 2010 except for his strikeout rate, that continues to climb. He’s pushing a promising prospect to the bench, he better pay us back in spades.

Dec 30

Pirates Acquire 1B Chris McGuiness

DAVIS: Nothing moving.

The Mets have unsuccessfully tried to get pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez from Orioles for Ike Davis, but are still talking to the Brewers, Orioles and Pirates, reported Mike Puma of the New York Post before the weekend.

However, scratch the Pirates off that list. The Bucs announced that have acquired first baseman Chris McGuiness from the Texas Rangers for righthander Miles Mikolas.

McGuiness, 25, batted .246 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI in 104 Triple-A games last season, and it looks like he’ll likely be the left-handed bat they were looking for to platoon with Gaby Sanchez.

Sandy Alderson continues to seek a top pitching prospect for Davis and is bent on holding out for one even if it means keeping him. My guess is that if Davis becomes the power hitter he’s been projected to be for another team, Alderson wants to make sure he gets a top arm out of it.

Seeing Davis become a 35+ home run hitter elsewhere would definitely sting. But will a team deal a top prospect on a hunch that Ike could be that guy? That’s the dilemma.

About two weeks ago it was reported that the Mets were seeking O’s top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy for Davis. On Friday, the Baltimore Sun reported that the Orioles would need to be “blown away” to deal Eduardo Rodriguez.

The Ike Davis rumors first caught fire at the GM Meetings and then again at the Winter Meetings when Sandy Alderson had several conversations with Brewers GM Doug Melvin in a trade for their young pitching prospect, Tyler Thornburg. However, those discussions fizzled out when the Brewers balked at the suggestion.

During the Mets Holiday Party, Alderson did confirm that he was still talking with a number of teams, but said “I can’t say anything will happen.”

Dec 20

Beltran Still Bitter Towards Mets Brass

beltrana122013

Speaking to reporters after the press conference at Yankee Stadium on Friday, Carlos Beltran was still upset with the Mets and for the first time he spoke publicly about his time with them.

“All the controversy about the Walter Reed,” Beltran said. “The knee — the organization trying to put me as a player that I was a ‘bad apple.’ I was this. I was that. I can deal with 0-for-4 and three strikeouts and talk to you guys. But when someone is trying to hurt you in a very personal way, trying to put things out there, then we got trouble. Now, it’s personal. When they say all that about me, I was hurt. You cannot believe the organization that signed you for seven years is trying to put you down. In that aspect, I felt hurt.”

Well, I’m surprised it took this long for him to speak out. The Mets screwed him over and always took advantage of any opportunity to make him look bad almost from day one in 2005 when someone leaked that he was soft. So Beltran played hurt and the numbers showed it.

Anyway, I’m glad he cleared his chest.

It wasn’t a knock on the Mets, his teammates or the fans whom he loved… It was a knock on the Mets’ owners… And I’m glad Beltran did it.

tron

Dec 19

Where Does Mets Farm System Rank?

syndergaard montero

Matt Mosher writes…

During a Baseball Prospectus Chat today, I asked Jason Parks, their head prospect guy, if the Mets farm was Top 10. (I assumed they were) He replied that they definitely were not.

That’s noteworthy because I believe he ranked them at No. 10 last year. So, at least according to one outlet, the farm’s overall ranking has dropped. Be interesting to see if Baseball America drops them some too. They are usually more harsh on the Mets than BP is. The lack of bats is completely killing them.

Joe D. writes…

Thanks for the heads up. I’m not surprised at all. With Zack Wheeler now in the Majors, you’d have to think they’d take a hit. But what really hurts them most was that top picks Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini didn’t burst out of the gate the way everyone expected. Additionally, their top position player Cesar Puello was suspended for PEDs.

I would say the Mets are probably in the 14-16 range and mostly because of Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, a solid and “healthy” season from Steven Matz, the emergence of Gabriel Ynoa and Jeff Walters, and Kevin Plawecki producing in A-Ball. By the way, how bad was that Fangraphs Top 10?

* * * * * * * *

Here are a couple of relevant Mets related questions from yesterday’s chat at BP:

Maybe an early holiday gift for readers: OFP grades/lines for Syndergaard, Stephenson, and Giolito? 

Syndergaard: 7 FB; 7 CB; 6+ CH
OFP: 7; No. 2 starter

Stephenson: 7+ FB; 7 CB; 5+ CH
OFP: 7; No. 2 starter

Giolito: 8 FB; 8 CB; 6+ CH
OFP: 8; No. 1 starter

The Mets are a top ten farm, right?

No. They aren’t a top ten farm. They have some very nice pieces, but it fades quickly after the first few names on the list.

Is Dominic Smith already the #1 ranked 1B prospect in the game? Potential 25/100?

I don’t see that kind of over-the-fence power from him. I like the bat, but I wouldn’t take him over Singleton, even with Singleton’s recent run of slack.

Thanks to Matt Mosher for the email and link to BP…

 

Dec 18

Harvey Excited About Mets’ New Additions

harvey

So far, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has gotten many of his players pumped up after shelling out $87 million for outfielders Chris Young, 30, and Curtis Granderson, 33, plus the addition of 41-year old starting pitcher Bartolo Colon. In the space of one week, Alderson added 44 years of baseball experience to the 25 man roster.

David Wright has already given the moves two thumbs up, and on Monday night, Mets ace Matt Harvey gave his vote of confidence.

“I like it,” Harvey said on the MSG Network Monday night at halftime of the Knicks’ 102-101 loss to the Wizards. “I talked to owner Jeff Wilpon, and he gave me a call after he signed both those guys. We’re really excited for Mets baseball.”

Harvey, who will miss the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery, said his rehab has gone according to plan so far.

“Everything’s going really well,” he said. “Obviously, at this point, I wish I could be out there for Opening Day. I’ve come to the realization that’s not really possible. Rehab is going really well, and my arm feels extremely well. It’s a slow process, but everything’s going really well.”

“Bartolo’s going to have to hold it down for me while I’m gone,” he said.

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