Mar 15

Mets’ second base job still in the air

With two weeks remaining before Opening Day, Luis Hernandez is gaining ground on the second base job.

However, it is premature to say he’s the guy. Rarely are up-in-the-air roster decisions made with this much time remaining in camp. There’s still Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy, Luis Castillo and Justin Turner.

Turner, because of remaining options will be sent down. That’s logical. Castillo has turned off Terry Collins, but the manager might not have the final decision, especially with a $6 million commitment. Castillo has been playing well offensively, so there’s the outside chance they’ll hold onto him and hope to make an in-season deal. The Mets don’t want to swallow $6 million.

Murphy is having trouble turning the double-play and Emaus is having a slow spring. Still, as a Rule 5 player the Mets do see some potential. What they must decide on is if he fits beyond this season should he stick.

I still think the Murphy-Emaus platoon has a chance, but I’m beginning to wane a little on that stance. What I do know, is Hernandez, despite a solid spring, isn’t running away from things and there’s still time.

Outside of it not being Ruben Tejada, nothing is concrete at second base.

 

Mar 13

Mets must prepare for life without Santana

When it comes to injuries, especially to the shoulders of pitchers, always bet the over. That’s my feeling after Mets pitcher Johan Santana refuted a published report his season could be in jeopardy.

SANTANA: Will we ever see him again?

Santana turned 32 today, and naturally the Mets are concerned about his recovery from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. They’ve been worried since he walked off the mound last summer in pain, and it being his birthday simply makes it a logical time to revive the issue.

“We’re right on the right track,’’ Santana told reporters today.  “Whoever is saying I’m not ready, I think is lying. We are all on the same page here. … How can you have a setback at this point, where I’m just beginning to throw? I haven’t even got on the mound. I haven’t even forced my body to try to throw hard.’’

We knew from the outset the recovery would be painful with no real timetable. There are always setbacks and days when Santana might feel better than others.

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Mar 11

F-Mart among first roster cuts.

F-MART: Has the window closed?

The Mets made a round of roster cuts this morning, with outfielder Fernando Martinez and infielder Ruben Tejada among them. Also sent to the minor league camp were Josh Stinson, Tobi Stoner, Manny Alvarez, Armando Rodriguez, Zach Lutz, Jordanny Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kai Gronauer.

The Mets have been consistent with Tejada all along, saying they want him in Triple-A for the at-bats and to play shortstop. No real surprises.

The demotion of Martinez, once the franchise’s brightest position player prospect, makes me wonder if it will ever happen for him. That Lucas Duda is being given a chance to make the team and not Martinez tells you his stock has fallen.

Remember when the Mets had outfield prospects Martinez, Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez? Speed to burn. Milledge flamed out, Gomez was traded and the Mets hung onto Martinez because he had the highest ceiling.

No more.

When given the chance he hasn’t produced, but the biggest knock on Martinez has been his inability to stay healthy. Believe me, that goes on the scouting report as much has his ability to hit a curveball.

Yes, I understand the argument Martinez needs the minor league at-bats more than sitting on a major league bench, but that the Mets would sign reserves Scott Hairston and Willie Harris – whose upside has already been reached – rather than give Martinez a chance to earn a roster spot speaks of what they think of him. And, with Carlos Beltran down, that is even more magnified.

The Mets would not part with Martinez in any trade discussions in the past, but I can see that changing now. I can see them listening intently.

That is, if anybody else is still interested.

 

Mar 10

Let’s see Duda in right

Assuming Carlos Beltran isn’t available to the Mets by Opening Day, replacing him shouldn’t equal the dilemma CBS will have in replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.”

DUDA: Let's see what he has.

Both of Beltran’s knees are aching and he’s down for the week. Maybe he’ll come back next week; maybe he won’t.

So, who will the Mets use to replace the aching outfielder with a huge $18.5 million contract?

Veteran bench players Scott Hairston and Willie Harris can be plugged in and won’t embarrass the ball club. But, will they carry it? History says no, because afterall, they are role players. Their job is to temporarily fill a hole.

I want to see what Lucas Duda can bring to the table. Duda was a September call-up who started slow but closed hot. While Hairston and Harris could be somewhere else next season, or who knows, maybe even dealt in July to a contender, Duda could have a future with this team.

Duda is strong – he had four homers last year – so there’s power potential. He didn’t sparkle defensively and can only get better. Duda is off to a good start this spring and homered yesterday. We know what Hairston and Harris can do; Duda is an unknown.

However, for a team not expected to do anything this year, what’s the harm in giving him an audition?

 

Mar 09

Oliver Perez era coming to an end

The Mets are playing the Oliver Perez saga down to the very end.

PEREZ: Down and just about out.

In holding to their word they’d give Perez a chance to make it as a starter, GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins made the trip Tuesday to watch Perez get whipped by Houston, giving up three runs in three innings in what would be his last start with the Mets.

Alderson confirmed that today, saying Perez’s slim chance of sticking with the team was now out of the bullpen.

Kudos to Collins for sticking to his word making the two-hour bus ride to Kissimmee to watch Perez when the easy thing to do was let pitching coach Dan Warthen scout the long-shot for him.  It will go a long way toward Collins gaining credibility with his new team.

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