Jan 18

Jan. 18.10: Spring training questions.

Questions, questions ....

Questions, questions ....

With a month before the start of spring training, let’s take a look at the ten top issues surrounding the Mets when the arrive at Port St. Lucie:

1) Who are the fifth starter candidates?
A: Jon Niese is from the organization. It could also be Oliver Perez or John Maine if the Mets should add another arm. Joel Pineiro and Jon Garland are still out there, but they are also linked to other teams. There’s no guarantee the Mets will bring in somebody else.

2) Where is Johan Santana?
A: Santana is coming off surgery. The Mets are saying he’ll be ready, but they said the same thing about John Maine last spring.

3) What is Jose Reyes status?
A: Reyes says he feels good, but he hasn’t tested that hamstring in game-type conditions. And, how much speed has he lost?

4) Did David Wright find his home run stroke over the winter?
A: Maybe it was Citi Field, maybe not. But, Wright did not hit with power last season. That has to change if the Mets are to do anything.

5) Carlos Beltran is how many weeks away?
A: Originally, they said 12 weeks. He won’t be ready by spring training to do baseball activities, but maybe they’ll have a better timetable by then.

6) What’s the catching situation look like?
A: The Mets have plenty of reserve catchers, but not a No. 1. They hope it will be Bengie Molina. They really don’t want to rush Josh Thole to the majors.

7) Who is the real Mike Pelfrey?
A: Pelfrey appeared on the verge of breaking out in 2008, but regressed last season. It’s about time he gets to the next level.

8) Where does the coin land?
A: Will Coinflip Perez show consistency beyond being inconsistent? He’s also coming off surgery. The reports are he’s working hard, but he’s worked hard before with no results.

9) What are the bullpen roles?
A: They could change if they sign John Smoltz. I’d rather have him in a set-up role than Kelvim Escobar. That way I could also drop Bobby Parnell down to a lower pressure slot.

10) What kind of camp will Jerry Manuel run?
A: Lax or clamp down? There were injuries last season, but the team also played fundamentally poor baseball and that’s his responsibility.

Jan 17

Jan. 17.10: Loose threads.

Loose Threads: What's on your mind?

Loose Threads: What's on your mind?

I think we might see the Mets do some things this week. Nothing major, of course, but some fill in stuff, like adding a journeyman outfielder to replace Carlos Beltran. Hopefully, perhaps one good enough to keep Fernando Martinez in the minors to tune his game.

John Smoltz is out there and he’s been linked to the Mets.

Also, there could be the long-awaited arrival of Bengie Molina. Please try to contain yourself when that does happen.

These, and any other Mets or baseball topics are on the table for Loose Threads. So are the NFL Playoffs or anything on your minds. I’ll be checking in especially during the Jets game, so if you have any comments during the game, please post away.

Me?

I’m going to hang around the house to watch the playoff games, and later on the season premiere of “24.”

Jan 17

Jan. 17.10: Force feeding F-Mart.

I don’t know what the Mets are going to do in center field, but I am hoping one of the options isn’t to force feed Fernando Martinez at the position.

MARTINEZ: Likely to be force-fed CF with Beltran out.

MARTINEZ: Likely to be force-fed CF with Beltran out.


Martinez, needs a healthy, uninterrupted season at Triple-A to get a better feel for his progress. We’ve heard a lot about his potential, but he’s been sidetracked by injuries. While with the Mets, he’s shown flashes but nothing warranting a full season in the majors.

But, I don’t think that will happen. He’ll probably be up here.

As much as I wanted them to go after Rick Ankiel – and I know of the opposition of that on this blog – it’s a long shot at best.

They’re likely to get a role player to share time with Angel Pagan, and, of course, Martinez.

Jan 16

Jan. 16.10: Can’t anybody around here communicate?

MINAYA: Said team didn't give OK.

MINAYA: Said team didn't give OK.

Mets GM Omar Minaya said things are good between the Mets and Carlos Beltran. Among other things, he did say he spoke with Beltran before the surgery, but didn’t OK the surgery.

He said there was no need for any side to apologize, but also said: “I did not say not to have surgery. What I said to him was, ‘I’m happy to hear there’s a plan in place, but we have to go through the protocol.’ He said the plan was to be operated on (Wednesday). At that point in time, I had not heard from my doctors on whether we had agreed to it or not. I didn’t tell him not to do it. I said as long as the protocol is met, that type of stuff.’’

So, the team endorsed the idea of surgery but didn’t OK it? Sounds muddled to me.

I’m thinking Beltran figures since he spoke with Minaya that he believes protocol was met. OK, so the Mets didn’t take out an ad to say go ahead and do it. But, since their was communication, they had plenty of opportunities to say NO, if they were uncomfortable. But, if they were uncomfortable why would they have sent the workers compensation papers needed for the surgery?

Either way, I wouldn’t be too quick to believe it’s paradise with Beltran and the Mets.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks designated Eric Byrnes for assignment. He is to make $11 million next year.

Also:

* FoxSports reported the Mets are in contact with free-agent Jerry Hairston Jr., who can play both the infield and outfield. Hairston, 33, hit .251 with 34 extra base hits in 131 games for the Reds and Yankees last season.

* On the arbitration front, John Maine avoided the process and signed a one-year deal worth $3.3 million plus incentives.

Also, Pedro Feliciano, Jeff Francoeur, Sean Green and Angel Pagan filed.

No surprises on any of that, as the Mets traditionally avoid the arbitration process.

Jan 15

Jan. 15.10: The bottom line.

Let’s forget about who is right or wrong in the Carlos Beltran fiasco. The bottom line is the Mets are without their best player, who has a degenerative condition, and with no guarantee of how he’ll perform if and when he returns.

All prognosis have to be met with skepticism.

The Mets aren’t equipped to replace Beltran, and as it has been pointed out, this adds the need to consider Carlos Delgado to offset the loss of power.

But, who plays center field?

If the Mets had no confidence with Angel Pagan in left field, they certainly don’t have confidence in him in center.

There’s not a lot out there left on the free agent market, but as I wrote several weeks ago, Rick Ankiel is available. He strikes out a ton, but he does hit for power and is very good defensively. If I’m Ankiel’s agent, I’m calling the Mets.