Feb 22

Mets Instruct D’Arnaud Not To Block Plate

Miami Marlins vs New York Mets

Travis d’Arnaud told reporters that regardless of what rule goes into effect regarding blocking the plate, Mets personnel have instructed him today that he is to stand in fair territory and give base runners the whole plate.

The rule, which is not official yet, is to allow runners a lane to part of the plate so as to avoid contact and collisions with the catcher.

Mets bench coach Bob Geren said that he is working with all the Mets catchers about positioning and making sure they tag across the plate.

Last week, Keith Law of ESPN listed Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud among his top twenty impact prospects for 2014, but says he is “the archetypal GWH player” — Good When Healthy.

D’Arnaud can catch, throw, and hit for power, but has to stay on the field. The Mets don’t have a heavy-use backup on the 40-man, so they’re counting on d’Arnaud to catch 120 games this year, which should mean 15-20 homers and excellent defense if he can stay out of the trainers’ room.

Yesterday, Adam Rubin spoke with hitting coach Dave Hudgens about how TDA can shorten his swing and make more contact without the need for conscious mechanical adjustments.

“I think cutting down his swing just means not trying so hard,” Hudgens told Rubin. “I think when he came up last year he was trying, maybe not in his mind, but it looked like he was trying to hit every ball out of the ballpark and over swinging a little bit and probably just trying to do too much. Watching him this year, so far early in camp, his swing has been easy. He’s been staying in the middle of the field. And that will lend to less effort and less bat wrap.”

Last season with the Mets, d’Arnaud batted .202/.286/.263, with one homer, five RBIs, and 21 strikeouts in 99 at-bats.

Rubin asks Hudgens to quantify d’Arnaud’s offensive capability? Is it .270 or .280 with 20 homers?

“Who knows?” Hudgens tells Rubins. “I’m not putting any numbers on guys. He’s got a chance to be a very good offensive player. I mean, he’s got very quick hands. He’s got a good idea at the plate. I think it’s just experience and confidence and getting that playing time. I think last year when he came up he hadn’t played that much. So I think a big thing is just staying healthy.”

If the fans are looking for d’Arnaud to be the next saving grace as Mike Piazza was for the Mets, Hudgens shares with Rubin, that would be asking too much. ”Piazza, I guess, was the greatest hitting catcher who ever lived. I just want Travis to be Travis.”

D’Arnaud acknowledged that he has some work to do and can’t come up to the plate thinking longball everytime. ”That was more me trying to hit the ball 600 feet,” he said. “When I would try to do that, I would overwrap or overswing pretty much, and it would just dig me in a bigger hole.”

Now it’s up to him to fix it.

Feb 22

Mets Re-Financing In Place

Outside a miraculous recovery by Matt Harvey, the New York Mets have the best possible news today. On the day of their first full squad workout, the Mets finalized their refinancing, reported The New York Post.

So, if Fred and Jeff Wilpon are spotted smiling on one of the fields in Port St. Lucie, you’ll know why.

The Wilpon family, stung in the Ponzi scandal, were five weeks from having to make a $250 million payment on an expiring loan. Had the loan been called, it is questionable whether the Mets could have come up with the money.

Reportedly, the Mets lost $10 million last season, but with their payroll to be under $100 million for a third straight year and Major League Baseball’s new television contract, they could turn a profit this season.

The new loan, which is for five years and headed by Bank of America, is for the Libor average plus 3.25 percent. According to the report, the Mets did not have to pay down their former loan to make this one happen.

The Mets, who are currently valued at $1 billion, still need to have Major League Baseball approve the deal, which will be a formality.

Irving Picard, who was assigned to recovering funds for victims in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandal, initially sued the Wilpons for $1 billion, which would have necessitated selling the Mets. However, the courts reduced that to $386 million.

The Mets’ financial restraints were loosened this winter with the signings of Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young.

While that was an encouraging sign, as is the re-financing, don’t expect a spending spree next winter and the team to return to the days of a $143 million payroll.

If the Mets are competitive this season with a $90 million payroll, they will likely increase spending in small increments.

ON DECK: I’ll have a notebook pertaining to the first full-squad workout.



Feb 21

Wrapping The Day: Parnell Ailing; Fonzie In Camp; Collins Hints At Outfield Cuts

Closer Bobby Parnell did not throw today because of tightness in his left quadriceps muscle sustained covering first base Thursday afternoon.

Parnell threw 35 pitches Tuesday and is listed day-to-day, although manager Terry Collins is hopeful he’ll be able to go off the mound Saturday.

Parnell is recovering from neck surgery and his availability to start the season is questionable.

In addition:

* Collins hinted outfielders Matt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Andrew Brown and Cesar Puello would likely open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. “I think Matt den Dekker is still a huge prospect here.’’ Collins said. “It gives us an ample amount of insurance.’’

* General manager Sandy Alderson said he doesn’t want Mets catchers to block the plate this season. Alderson wants to avoid collisions as to stay healthy.

* Former Mets second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo is in camp as a roving minor league instructor.

* Pitching prospect Chasen Bradford won’t be able to throw for a week because of a strained oblique muscle.

* Position players underwent physicals today and the team will have its first full-squad workout Saturday.


Feb 21

Terry Collins Alludes To Outfield Roster Cuts

The New York Mets haven’t played an exhibition game yet and already manager Terry Collins is hinting at several roster cuts.

With a congested outfield, Collins suggested Matt den Dekker – arguably the best defensive outfielder in the organization – Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Andrew Brown and Cesar Puello beginning the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

It is also conceivable Juan Lagares will open the season in the minor leagues. Collins is very high on den Dekker.

“One of the things we’re very lucky with, when you come into camp and you have the likes of the outfield we have right now, they’re so athletic. They can all run,’’ Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. “Matt is in that [group]. He is still very, very highly thought of – a tremendous defender, as we know.

“One of the things you’ve seen in his career, he gets to a level and he may have a rough time in the beginning. And the next time he goes to that same level he advances. And we’re hoping the same thing occurs now, that he now knows what’s expected at the major-league level, what kind of pitching he’s going to see, what adjustments he has to make.

“I think Matt den Dekker is still a huge prospect here. It gives us an ample amount of insurance.’’

While Collins said den Dekker will need at-bats, the same applies for Lagares. Should Eric Young start over him, where will Lagares get his at-bats?

The Mets currently have three players competing for on outfield position. Curtis Granderson and Chris Young are givens, leaving Eric Young, Lagares and Lucas Duda for the other spot.

Should Lagares be optioned, Duda is not a viable outfield reserve and definitely can’t play center. That might force Collins to re-think Nieuwenhuis or Brown.

Feb 21

Bobby Parnell Injures Quad Muscle

Closer Bobby Parnell is day-to-day with a strained quad muscle. Parnell was injured covering first base during a pitchers fielding drill Thursday.

Parnell was scheduled to throw off the mound Thursday, but pushed his session back a day to be cautious. Then came the injury.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said he didn’t believe the injury was serious.

“Everyone thinks it’s very, very mild,’’ Warthen told reporters. “He wanted to throw today.’’

Parnell, who is coming off neck surgery to repair a herniated disc, threw 35 pitches in the bullpen Tuesday, but doesn’t know when he will throw again.

It was questionable to begin with whether Parnell will be ready for the start of the season. This sets him back even further, but the team isn’t close to saying there’s a sense of urgency with him.

If Parnell isn’t ready, the Mets plan on using Vic Black as the closer. They also signed veterans Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth for bullpen depth.