Mar 17

Little Time, Many Questions For Mets

Spring training is not just to get ready for the season, but for teams to sharpen their cliché skills. The New York Mets have used many this spring, but the prevalent one is: There’s plenty of time left.

Memo to Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins: No, there isn’t.

DAVIS: Still a question. (Getty)

DAVIS: Still a question. (Getty)

With Opening Day two weeks away, the Mets have many decisions left; way too many for a team that could win 90 games. I bet Alderson already regrets that thought.

Here’s what’s left to decide:

FIRST BASE: Ike Davis entered spring training as the frontrunner, but because of leg injuries, neither him nor Lucas Duda has played much.

Neither will get close to 70 at-bats, much less the 90-plus Collins hoped for Davis.

They could, but I don’t see them carrying both.

Speculation is Davis will open the season on the disabled list, with Duda playing. That’s presumably because Duda is further along.

They could run Josh Satin out there, but I believe they wasted this spring to learn more about Wilmer Flores.

Collins suggested using Flores at shortstop, but he’s barely played there. He has a promising bat, but scouts say he is better equipped for second base or the corner infield positions.

Flores won’t get third because of David Wright, and last I checked first base is a corner infield position. Why couldn’t they look at Flores there? Where’s the vision?

SHORTSTOP: Publicly, they support Ruben Tejada, but almost as visible have been their efforts to land Stephen Drew and trade for Seattle’s Nick Franklin.

Neither is imminent, and the Orioles and Rays also have interest in Franklin. If they really wanted him, they should have acted weeks ago.

Shortstop remains a black hole, but I see Tejada winning the job by default because the Mets are skittish about giving Drew the money and surrendering prospects for Franklin. Anticipate Tejada as the Opening Day shortstop, with much criticism to follow.

LEADOFF HITTER: Collins prefers Eric Young, which is the best choice. However, where does that leave Juan Lagares? That’s the rub.

If Young plays, the outfield would include him, Chris Young and Curtis Granderson.

This isn’t softball, so there is no extra outfielder. For the purposes of his development, Lagares should play fulltime, either up here or in the minor leagues.

If it is here, they are wasting Eric Young. They also have no idea if Lagares can hit at this level.

One possibility is to go with Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the extra outfielder – both can play center – and give Lagares his at-bats in Triple-A Las Vegas.

PITCHING; Both the rotation and bullpen are seemingly set, but there’s the Jenrry Mejia question: Rotation or bullpen?

If they aren’t going to use Mejia in the rotation in the majors, they should use him as a starter in Las Vegas.

Mar 17

Game Recap: Cubs 6, Mets 3

MEJIA: Where to put him?

The Mets were defeated by the Chicago Cubs by the score of 6-3 on Sunday on Las Vegas to earn a split of their two game series.

Highlights:

Jenrry Mejia struggled in his second Grapefruit League start and allowed three runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings of work. The young right-hander allowed four hits, including a home run, and walked two while striking out one.

Rafael Montero relieved Mejia and tossed 2.2 innings, also allowing two earned runs on four hits including a home run. He walked one and struck out one.

Carlos Torres had another great outing, allowing a solo homerun in three innings of work and striking out five.

Vying for a utility outfield spot, Andrew Brown hit a two-run homer, while Zach Lutz had two hits including a solo home run.

Travis d’Arnaud was hitless again in three plate appearances and his batting average now stands at .143 in 28 at-bats.

Up Next:

The Mets take on the Miami Marlins on Monday at 1:05 PM in Jupiter, with John Lannan opposing Henderson Alvarez. The game will be broadcast on WOR 710 AM.

Mar 16

What Is The Plan For Jenrry Mejia?

The New York Mets have never settled on a role for Jenrry Mejia, which could be the case again this spring.

At 24, Mejia is one of those promising young arms the Mets are boasting. Coming off elbow surgery, they are treating him with kid gloves, but there have been no signs of a setback.

Most starters want to pitch 30 innings in spring training, but with only two weeks left has only worked two. He could get four today against the Cubs in Las Vegas, but won’t get close to 20, much less 30.

Originally, Mejia was to compete with Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan for the fifth-starter role. But, if building for the future is the objective for 2014, it should be Mejia because he has the greatest upside.

Without Matt Harvey, this would have been the perfect chance to develop Mejia. Instead, it is turning out to be a lost opportunity, either to use him for their rotation or showcase him for a trade.

With Mejia in the rotation, they’ll have a better idea of where they stand heading into 2015. If Matsuzaka gets those starts, they still won’t know about Mejia as a starter.

But, how about as a reliever?

The Mets tried that route without success in 2010. Then-manager Jerry Manuel, knowing his job was in severe jeopardy, wanted Mejia on the major league roster to work out of the bullpen to start that season. That was for Manuel’s interests, not Mejia’s.

However, Manuel wouldn’t use him in pressure situations, so Mejia languished without work when he could have been getting starts in the minor leagues.

Understandably, Mejia struggled and was eventually optioned to Triple-A to go back in the rotation. His arm didn’t adjust to the back-and-forth and he was eventually injured and required elbow surgery.

Entering that season, Mejia was a highly sought prospect, but his value was greatly reduced because of how he was used. The Mets couldn’t promote him as a reliever if they were afraid to use him in pressure situations. They also couldn’t promote him as a starter because they wouldn’t use him in that role, either.

After he was hurt, he missed all of 2011.

The Mets are again considering Mejia for their bullpen, but already have seven candidates without him. Just how much work would he get?

If not up here, they should use him as a starter in the minors, which is probably in their best long-term interest because that would hasten his development and possibly build his trade value.

I see him starting the season in Triple-A, but where ever he ends up, just pick a role and stick with it. In the end, I also see it never happening for Mejia with the Mets. They blew this one.

 

Mar 16

Mets and Twins Play to a 3-3 Tie

The Mets hosted the Minnesota Twins at Tradition Field and played to a 3-3 nine inning tie on Saturday at Port St. Lucie.

Dillon Gee started the game for the Mets and tossed three scoreless innings. Gee surrendered five hits while walking none and striking out three, and lowers his ERA to 1.69 for the Spring.

Despite the solid outing, Gee said he wasn’t as efficient as he would have liked.

“I want to go more innings than that, that’s not good to go three innings with 65 pitches,” Gee said. “It’s my work for the day right now and hopefully during the season I’ll get more work out of that. ”

“Didn’t give up any runs, that’s a key. Didn’t feel that great today, whatever it was five days ago that made me feel so good wasn’t really there today,” Gee said. “Keep working on it and made big pitches when I had to today in key situations with guys on base. That was good.”

Highlights:

  • Vic Black continued his career long pattern of inconsistency, looking great one day and awful the next. He inherited a 3-0 lead and made it evaporate. In one inning pitched he allowed three earned runs on three hits, two walks and zero strikeouts.
  • Matt den Dekker picked up another two hits today and scored a run. He is now batting .420 and continues to inch his way onto the Mets Opening Day roster.
  • Jeurys Familia continues to pile on scoreless appearances and now has four innings pitched without a run or walk. He also threw a 100 mph fastball today. He has the best and most nastiest stuff in the Mets bullpen. Future stud right here…
  • Chris Young went 2-for-3 and hit his first home run as a Met. He’s now lifted his average to .290 this spring.
  • Daniel Murphy drove in one with a sac fly, and Josh Satin added a run with an RBI single.
  • With half their team in Las Vegas, the Mets borrowed a slew of minor league players to complete the game including top prospects Dominic SmithDilson Herrera and Dustin Lawley. It was nice to see.

Up Next:

We’ll do this again on Sunday as the Mets play two more games, the first at 1:05 PM against the Cardinals in Jupiter, and the second at 4:05 PM against the Cubs in Las Vegas.

Mar 15

Den Dekker Battling His Way Onto The Opening Day Roster

Matt_den_Dekker3

(Photo by David Conde, Metsmerized Online)

In last night’s game recap I mentioned that Matt den Dekker may be putting himself back into the family photo in the Mets outfield.

Don’t look now but after going 1-for-3, Matt den Dekker is batting .409 (9-for-22) in 13 games with a double, triple, three runs and five RBIs. He’s entering the picture again.

Christina De Nicola of Mets.com shared some quotes from den Dekker who talks about his solid spring and how it relates to his career pattern of struggling during his first go-around after then putting up big numbers his second time around.

“My past years, I’ve always struggled when I moved up, and then played well the next year, and I just think it’s getting comfortable in the change of surroundings,” den Dekker said. “I’ve been in big league camp before. It’s definitely a little more familiarity and knowing what the guys want and how the other guys go about their business.”

“I’m just out here trying to compete for a spot and trying to make the team and help them out as much as I can.”

At this point, I’d say den Dekker is competing with Andrew Brown for the fifth outfielder position. But if he continues on this trend, it would be difficult for the Mets to not consider him for something more. Especially if the Mets don’t hit the ground running in April.

A year ago it was him that was considered the Mets’ center fielder of the future. That took a sharp detour however, after he fractured his wrist last Spring and then Juan Lagares emerged. But fortunes can change very quickly in this game.

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