Jan 30

Very Curious About Matz

Of all the Mets’ young pitchers, the one I’m most curious in seeing this spring is Steven Matz. The seemingly perpetual injured left-hander made only 22 starts last season before going on the disabled list to undergo elbow surgery.

Drafted in 2009, Matz has only thrown 168 career innings, but he needs to throw at least 200 be considered an ace. He has a biting slider, but it puts excessive stress on his arm, and before he was lost he started throwing his curveball and change-up more.

He’s left-handed, which enhances his value, but he’s of little use if he can’t stay in the rotation. Matt Harvey has been lost twice to off-season surgery since 2013, but he’s as strong as a bull. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have also shown signs of being able to go long into games. But, Matz, much like Zack Wheeler, remains an unknown.

He’s the guy I expect to see manager Terry Collins attach an innings limit on before the others.

 

 

 

Jan 29

Woods’ Failure Brings To Mind Wright

Watching Tiger Woods fail to make the cut this weekend at Torrey Pines, I couldn’t help but think about David Wright’s comeback from his back issues and wonder what he’ll give the Mets this summer.

Perhaps, based on his importance to the franchise and salary, he should be given the latitude to call his own shots regarding his playing time (in the short term) and the issue of retirement (in the long term). However, in retrospect, it doesn’t matter because those things are to be determined by the stability and pain level in his back.

WRIGHT: Facing a tough year. (AP)

WRIGHT: Facing a tough year. (AP)

If he hurts, he doesn’t play; if he’s pain-free, he’ll be in there.

Of course, manager Terry Collins can’t afford to push the envelope, but must be prudent in structuring Wright’s playing time and such matters of days off and rest against certain pitchers.

However, there are a couple of things I’ve wondered about lately concerning Wright.

First, were the Mets ever serious about playing Wright at first base? I’m guessing not because there’s still a lot of crouching at first. Since the Mets don’t play in the American League where they could use the DH, probably the only other position he might be moved to is left field, where the stress on his back might be less. Then again, there would be questions about his arm strength and at age 34 and position change would be difficult.

One thing I am curious about is how much he’s considering altering his hitting style. Will he concentrate more on going to right field and less on pulling the ball to left, which creates more torque in his lower back?

Also, will he consider going to a lighter bat and concentrate on being more of a contact hitter. This would likely entail hitting second or perhaps seventh or eighth in the order.

I’m betting Wright will make the right decision because he’s always been about doing what is best for the team.

Jan 27

Odds Don’t Look Good On Blevins Returning

Throughout his 10-year major league career, soon-to-be-ex-Met Jerry Blevins made it on one-year contracts. He’s 33-years-old now and this is his chance for a multi-year deal.

FOX Sports reported Blevins is seeking a deal two-year package of at least $12 million. If accurate, then I can’t see the coming close to matching that figure.

Opponents had a .229 on-base last summer off Blevins. GM Sandy Alderson highly regards that statistic, so you would figure that would work in reverse.

Considering the Mets are anticipating at least a 30-game suspension for Jeurys Familia for domestic abuse and their overall thinness of the bullpen – if you don’t believe me I’m sure Noah Syndergaard will rank them for you – there’s a strong need to find a reliable set-up reliever to expected new closer Addison Reed.

The Mets reached the postseason the last two years, but with Washington better and Atlanta improved, things won’t be so easy for them to get back to the playoffs.

If the Mets are going to build their bullpen on the cheap, that’s their choice. However, their window is closing, and with multiple questions, Alderson better be right on his gamble.

Jan 26

Will Mets’ Stance On Building Bullpen Be Prelude Of Things To Come?

The closer we get to spring training – it is a little more than two weeks now – we keep hearing the same old names, relievers the Mets could have had weeks ago. However, GM Sandy Alderson continues to play hardball in an effort to hold onto the last dollar.

His unwillingness to spend this winter outside of Yoenis Cespedes and the qualifying offer to Neil Walker has to make one wonder how committed he’ll be if the Mets need to make a move this summer to compete for a playoff spot.

There certainly doesn’t figure a deal to bring in a $13-million contract as they did last season for Jay Bruce, a player they have been trying to get rid of all winter. Or dealing for Cespedes in 2015.

Reportedly, Alderson is looking at Sergio Romo, former Met Joe Smith and left-hander Jerry Blevins, who was effective for the Mets last season (.214 average against him by lefty hitters).

If Blevins – who made $4 million last year – is out of the Mets’ price range, then clearly Romo ($9 million last year) and Smith ($5.25 million) would seem a dream with no chance of happening.

With the myriad of questions surrounding the rotation, a deep bullpen is essential. It would appear the Mets are counting heavily on Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, who only gave them a half-year window last season.

Undoubtedly, there will be a stretch or two when this could come back to bite the Mets. But, that’s a gamble Alderson seems willing to make.

 

 

 

 

Jan 25

Mets Name Bruce Starter In Right; What Becomes Of Conforto?

It became clear nearly a month ago Jay Bruce would not be traded and would make the Opening Day roster. The no-brainer now has been realized with The New York Post and several other media outlets reported Bruce would be the starter in right field. What else did you expect? The Mets weren’t going to pay him $13 million to sit on the bench.

“Obviously, the market for certain players, certain free agents and therefore trade has been slow at best, nonexistent at worst,” GM Sandy Alderson told reporters about the lukewarm-to-cold market for Bruce. What Alderson neglected to say, however, is a major reason for the sluggish market for Bruce was when the general manager announced his intention to deal him if Yoenis Cespedes returned.

CONFORTO: Could he open season in minors? (Getty)

CONFORTO: Could he open season in minors? (Getty)

There have been several reports stating manager Terry Collins will try to fit four outfielders – Bruce, Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto – into three slots. That’s not accurate. The fourth outfielder is Juan Lagares being the fourth outfield and not Conforto.

With Granderson to move to center, the Mets need an accomplished player to play center, and that’s Lagares, who won a Gold Glove at the position. It’s inconceivable, if not flat out irresponsible, to go into the season without an accomplished center fielder.

So, where does that leave Conforto?

I’m thinking there are four options regarding Conforto:

FIFTH OUTFIELDER: They could carry him as the fifth outfielder, a role that would give Conforto limited at-bats. Conforto, whom Collins anointed the Mets’ No. 3 hitter of the future, needs regular at-bats.

TRADE HIM: I’m sure you could get something substantial for him, including a reliever, but this is the worst option to me. Long after Bruce and Cespedes are gone, Conforto could be whistling line drives all over Citi Field.

DEFINITIVE PLAYING FORMAT: Rotating Conforto to spell Cespedes, Granderson and Bruce at least once a week could give Conforto up to three games a week, which is doable. Collins could have done the same last year with Wilmer Flores in the infield, but couldn’t manage the juggling. I can’t see Collins doing this successfully with Conforto in the outfield.

MINOR LEAGUES: I hate to say it, but I’m thinking it is more likely Conforto will wind up in Las Vegas. It’s the option that will give Conforto the most at-bats and playing time.