Feb 25

Mets Matters: Mets Lose To Nats; Duda To Get Extra Work; Cowgill At Leadoff

Lucas Duda did not start tonight’s 6-4 exhibition game loss against Washington, and won’t be in the lineup tomorrow. Look for him Wednesday or Thursday.

In his first two games, Duda went 0-for-7 with six strikeouts, and told reporters today, “we’re not going to hit the panic just yet.’’

DUDA: Gets cage work.

DUDA: Gets cage work.

The Mets will opt for extra work in the batting cage instead.

Duda, who underwent wrist surgery in the offseason, began to swing the bat in late January rather than December, and has been limited so far this spring, and manager Terry Collins attributes that to his early problems.

This is a good tact to take with Duda, who is being heavily counted on this year to fill voids in left field and power production.

Collins said this is not a demotion and doesn’t want to embarrass Duda, and believes this is the best way to restore his confidence, which can’t be too high right about now.

As of now, Duda is penciled in as the left fielder, but center appears to be a platoon between Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill. The platoon will include the leadoff spot.

Nieuwenhuis will get the first chance to win the job, but the Mets are concerned about his high strikeouts ratio. He struck out 98 times with 25 walks in 282 at-bats. He did hit seven homers, but who knows what his power potential can be? For the amount of times he strikes out, he would need to hit a lot more homers.

Cowgill started tonight in center and at leadoff. It has only been a couple of games, but Cowgill has made a good first impression with his hustle.

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Feb 25

Until The Product On The Field Improves, Mets Attendance Will Continue To Decline

mets fans

Josh Kosman of the NY Post is reporting that the Mets won’t have much money to play with this season and are expecting to lose more than $10 million this year as well as suffering a fifth straight year of declining attendance.

“There is little room this year to raise salaries,” said a source familiar with the team’s finances told the Post.

Last week, principal owner Fred Wilpon told reporters that the Mets’ money woes were over and suggested that he had the resources to boost payroll and sign some major free agents if that’s what Sandy Alderson chose to do.

“While attendance is expected to be down,” Kosman writes. “The team is banking on a small uptick in gate proceeds in its second season of so-called dynamic pricing, which allows ticket prices to be adjusted on the fly based on supply and demand.”

As I’ve said repeatedly and will say again, unless the product on the field improves, fans will continue to stay away. People don’t flock to ballparks and lay out a hundred bucks a game just because a team’s farm system ranks in the top ten. What matters most is wins and the players they pay to see.

As I’ve preached for the last two years, it looks like payroll will in fact be around $80 million in 2013 counting dollars that are actually being paid out. In July of 2011, many of my readers were aghast at that projection and yet here we are.

Next season, the Mets will have about $30 million in payroll commitments, give or take a few. Does anyone really expect Sandy Alderson to go out on a $70 million dollar spending spree? I don’t.

Read Kosman’s full article in the New York Post here.

Feb 25

Harvey And D’Arnaud Not There; Duda Totally Off

The Mets tell us to look forward to 2014 and beyond, but we received a glimpse into that future Sunday when Matt Harvey pitched two innings to catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

After ten starts last summer, Harvey is already in the Mets’ rotation; for d’Arnaud, it was his first game since he injured his left knee last June.

There were several communication issues, which is to be expected from a young battery that has never worked together. The most important lesson is Harvey has the final decision on what he throws. If he doesn’t like the pitch, he calls d’Arnaud out to the mound. The bottom line is the pitcher has control over what he throws. If he’s not comfortable with the pitch it will get crushed.

Like a lot of people, d’Arnaud praised Harvey’s poise and demeanor. Harvey said he wasn’t concerned with the miscommunication, citing that they hadn’t worked together before.

Manager Terry Collins made it a point to say d’Arnaud would catch each of the Mets’ starters.

The Mets were also happy with Dillon Gee, who made his first start since surgery last season to repair a damaged artery in his shoulder. Gee threw last September, so he had a feel for his arm and expressed no worries.

Meanwhile, not having a feel for anything is Lucas Duda, who so far is 0-for-7 with six strikeouts. Not anywhere to go but up from there.

Duda’s problem is mechanical reports ESPN in that his lead foot is still too high when he begins his stride. Consequently, he’s not in hitting position and the ball gets in on him too quickly.

WEEKEND METS NOTES: Jonathan Niese gave up a run on three hits in two innings against the University of Michigan. He came out of the game saying he needed to work on getting ahead in the count more. Actually, that’s what all pitchers need to do. … Josh Edgin blew a save against Houston. … Jeurys Familia. … Collin Cowgill is making a good impression.

Feb 24

Collins Would Be Foolish To Rush Santana

Is Terry Collins serious? If he follows through on a reported plan with Johan Santana you can bet it will come back to bite the Mets. It can’t but come back to bite them.

The Mets pushed back Santana for nearly two weeks because he lacks the arm strength in his arm, yet, unbelievably, even with their history of handling injuries are trying to think of a way he’ll be ready for Opening Day, if not to start the opener at least the first time through the rotation.

COLLINS: Won't be smiling if Santana gets hurt.

COLLINS: Won’t be smiling if Santana gets hurt.

Just not smart.

Assuming Santana is back on the mound by March 15, it leaves him a little over two weeks to get ready.

The accepted spring training timetable for a starter is to take six starts to work his way up to 90 plus for a game. That way he’ll get roughly 30 innings.

Collins’ plan has Santana starting with 45 pitches and adding 15-pitch increments until he gets to at least 90 over four starts. That’s a forced workload for a young bulldog of a pitcher let alone for someone less than two years removed from shoulder surgery.

Collins took heat last summer for keeping Santana in for 134 pitches during his no-hitter. But, he generally received a pass because there were extenuating circumstances, such as the first no-hitter in franchise history and that Santana had already built up his arm by making two months worth of starts.

There will be no free pass this time should Collins push Santana and the left-hander comes away injured.

Just not a smart move.

Feb 24

Mets Matters: Matt Harvey Starts; Pedro Feliciano Sidelined

Matt Harvey gets the ball today against the Houston Astros of the American League at Kissimmee. That just sounds odd. The Mets and Astros were born in 1962 to the National League. (There will be a separate post on that later). For them to be in the AL West doesn’t look right.

Harvey is the Mets’ prized prospect and made a strong first impression during ten starts last year. Not only does he have the physical tools and the stuff, but he showed a willingness to challenge hitters and showed a composure beyond his years.

HARVEY: Goes today vs. Houston (AP)

HARVEY: Goes today vs. Houston (AP)

Travis d’Arnaud will make the trip, as will outfielders Collin Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team will stay back to play the University of Michigan, Fred Wilpon’s alma mater.

Jonathan Niese and Dillon Gee will pitch in that game. For Gee, it will be his first game since undergoing surgery last summer to repair an artery in his pitching shoulder. Gee began throwing last September and said he doesn’t have any concerns.

David Wright has the day off. He will play in three more exhibition games before leaving for the World Baseball Classic next Saturday.

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