Feb 18

Feb. 18.10: Pitchers and catchers report with issues.

Finally, pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie today, and with them, more than a few issues that comprise the 2010 New York Mets.

It seems like forever since the Mets were last in the playoffs, but consecutive collapses and last summer’s injury-riddled freefall have us wondering if fourth place in the NL East was an aberration or a realistic assessment.

Assuming for a moment David Wright’s goal is realistic, that the World Series is realistic, it won’t happen just by saying so. For the Mets to compete, never mind win it all, the following questions must be answered in the positive during spring training:

Question: What is this team’s attitude?
Assessment: Wright is correct, this team has to use embarrassment as a motivator. There were too many games last year where the Mets just mailed it in, too many games where their heart wasn’t in it. This was also not a thinking team, whether it be on the bases, in the field or at the plate. The Mets gave away far too many outs on the field and at-bats at the plate.

Question: How healthy is this team?
Assessment: Injuries sabotaged the 2009 season, and already Carlos Beltran won’t be ready for the first month and set-up reliever Kelvim Escobar is behind with shoulder issues. The early signs are positive for Jose Reyes, Jeff Francoeur, Oliver Perez and Johan Santana, all of who are coming off surgery. Of course, they must pass the test under game conditions.

Question: What is the status of the three pitching questions, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine?
Assessment: How far the Mets go this season is dependant on their pitching, and all three represent significant concerns. The Mets didn’t make any rotation additions this winter because they believe in the upside of these three. Pelfrey took a step back last season; Perez, who has always been erratic, spent the offseason working out and the reports have been good; and Maine is in his second year since surgery.

Question: Who is fifth starter?
Assessment: Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Pat Misch and Nelson Figueroa are all in the mix. None represent givens. The fifth starter probably won’t matter until the end of April, but that still leaves five months where every fifth day a question takes the mound unless somebody steps forward.

Question: What is the make-up of the bullpen?
Assessment: The bullpen took the Mets deep into the 2006 playoffs, but played a significant role into the collapses of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Closer Francisco Rodriguez can be an adventure at times and there’s no dependable set-up man. Pedro Feliciano was run into the ground last summer, and other than him where are the consistent arms in situational roles.

Feb 17

Feb. 17.10: Wright speaks in PSL.

David Wright held court this afternoon in Port St. Lucie, and among other things said the Mets’ expectations are to win the NL East and the World Series. Well, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Wright.

Wright said offensively, he hopes to find something comfortable and stick with it, which translated should mean more home runs. Wright was in a mind funk all last season and only hit 10 homers.

Of all the things he said, I like this best: “I hope its not the underdog role that gets guys fired up, I hope its the embarrassment of last year.”

Embarrassment can be a powerful motivator.

Feb 17

Feb. 17.10: Initial reports good on Reyes.

It’s been one day, but the first impression is a good one on Jose Reyes’ return. Reyes, who didn’t play after May 20 with a severe hamstring injury, took part in baseball activities yesterday and reported no difficulties.

REYES: Feelin' good.

REYES: Feelin' good.


Reyes, played catch, fielded fielded grounders, did agility drills and took batting practice, all without a peep from his hammy.

“The last five weeks I’ve been feeling very good,” Reyes told reporters. “It’s different when you do it on the field. It makes me feel normal now.”

In a recent thread I wrote Reyes was the position player the Mets needed most to bounce back. He’s the one who jumpstarts the offense and gives the team an energetic spark.

Incidentally, the other day former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, now at ESPN, said Reyes should be batting third instead of leadoff. I don’t like it. Let Reyes come back in surroundings he’s comfortable with, which is leading off.

Feb 16

Feb. 16.10: Open competition at first.

Omar Minaya said first base is wide open, but is it really?

“He’ll compete for the job,” Minaya said of Jacobs, and then of Murphy, added, “I think it’s fair to say that Murphy has proven himself worthy of being considered, but he’s going to have to continue. It’s an open competition.”

Not quite a ringing endorsement. Jacobs is 29, and hit 18 homers last year and with 92 RBI the season before that.

With Carlos Beltran out and Carlos Delgado gone, the Mets are in need of left-handed power. Yesterday I said Murphy had the potential to hit 20 homers. Well, Jacobs has proven he can hit more than that and he’s not learning a new position.

I can see Jacobs winning this thing with Murphy coming off the bench.

Who would you like to see at first?

Feb 14

Feb. 14.10: Happy Valentine’s Day.

On this holiday about love I hope you’re all with your significant others. For some of us, our lives are made up of many loves, many passions …. and for the readers of this blog, there’s a passion to baseball and the Mets.

What is it about baseball that you love like no other sport? And, what is it that drew you toward the Mets and caused you to never let go? And, never will.