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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Feb 24

Delcos Sunday Column: Mets Should Say No To Robbie Cano

The funniest thing I heard with the Yankees and their contract negotiations with Robinson Cano is Scott Boras would take this to the open market to possibly draw the Mets in as an antagonist. That’s what Boras does, and the presence of other teams – some out of the desire to make things difficult for the Yankees – would boost the price.

CANO: Mets should say No.

CANO: Mets should say No.

I laughed out loud when I read one of the teams should be the Mets. Seriously, how could anybody write that and have the readers keep a straight face?

Regardless of Fred Wilpon’s desire to spend money next year, it won’t be on Cano for four significant reasons.

First, the Mets won’t bring in anybody for more than the $138 million package they gave David Wright. He’s a homegrown franchise player and nobody will beat that amount, at least not in the next year. Five years from now, maybe. But, not in 2014.

Secondly, the Yankees would never let them be beaten out by the Mets for a player they both sought. The Mets can’t go toe-to-toe with the Yankees financially regardless of how much money Wilpon wants to spend.

Both the Mets and Yankees wanted Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees cooled at the end. Even after getting his final offer from the Mets, Boras went back to the Yankees one last time. Boras wanted the Bronx, but for that price the Yankees were concerned about Beltran’s mental toughness in the New York market.

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Feb 23

Mets Matters: Thoughts On Mets Winning Exhibition Opener

THE GAME: Ruben Tejada hit a two-run homer and Collin Cowgill drove in a run with double as the Mets won their exhibition opener, 5-3, over Washington. One game does not a spring training make, but if you’re going to play the games it is better to win them.

WHEELER IMPRESSIVE: Zack Wheeler wowed them in his first appearance of the spring, giving up a walk and hit in two scoreless innings. Wheeler threw mostly fastballs and sliders, the two easiest pitches to throw at the start, and will work more on his secondary pitches later in the spring. Even so, manager Terry Collins – despite Johan Santana’s condition – said Wheeler would likely open the season for Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets believe they have a keeper in Wheeler, who threw 30 pitches with 19 of them strikes and working in the 94-96 mph., range and need to move him along slowly. He’ll continue to get work, but as spring training progresses and more innings go to the starters, he could get time in minor league or split squad games. Said Wheeler: “There wasn’t really nerves. I was just a little pumped up going out there. After I got settled down, after the first couple of batters, I think everything went well.’’ Translation: Yes, there were nerves.

PARNELL GETS TOUGH SAVE: With Frank Francisco down with elbow soreness, Bobby Parnell becomes the closer. Parnell worked the ninth and got out of trouble caused by an infield hit and error. I’d much rather see Parnell get in and out of trouble than blow hitters away. The more acclimated he becomes to working out of pressure situations the better. The word on Francisco is he might pick up a baseball Monday, but it would be several weeks before he’s throwing in games. The chances are very good he’ll open the season on the DL and Parnell will be the closer. Jeurys Familia will get a chance to close in a split-squad game Sunday against Houston in Kissimmee.

FELICIANO SIDELINED: Lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano was diagnosed with a heart condition and will be required to wear a monitor to measure an irregular heartbeat. Collins told reporters: “My understanding is he has a heart condition that could possibly be very serious. So that’s why we’re being very, very careful with him. Until we get further results on some of the tests he took in New York, he’s not to be on the field.’’ There remains the distinct possibility this could be the end of Felicano’s career.

NOTES: Shaun Marcum had a rough outing, giving up three runs on four hits, including a two-run homer to Chris Snyder. Marcum said he was having mechanical problems and pushing his change-up. … Somehow, the Mets still think they can get four starts for Santana and have him ready for the Opening Day. What’s the big rush? … Jenrry Mejia will start Tuesday against St. Louis. … Daniel Murphy is working out, but hasn’t been cleared to hit.

ON DECK: I’ll have my Sunday Column for you tomorrow morning. Have a great night.

 

Feb 23

Mets Lineup Against Washington; Notebook

Here’s today’s lineup and some thoughts about it for the Mets’ exhibition opener against Washington:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Ruben Tejada, ss

David Wright, 3b

Ike Davis, 1b

Marlon Byrd, rf

Lucas Duda, lf

John Buck, c

Justin Turner, 2b

Jordany Valdespin, dh

Shaun Marcum, rhp

LINEUP THOUGHTS: Zack Wheeler, Cory Mazzoni, Jeurys Familia and Darin Gorski will also pitch for the Mets. I like that Wheeler pitching in relief. Yes, it’s only an exhibition game, but there are still nerves involved. No sense adding extra pressure. … Marcum should get two innings or roughly 30 pitches to start. He’s the projected fifth starter. … The first four in the batting order are as I suggested several days ago. Notice how Terry Collins separated Ike Davis and Lucas Duda with Marlon Byrd. It’s important to separate the two strikeout machines. … The spring training objectives is for starting pitchers to make six starts and compile 30 innings. Hitters need around 50 to 60 at-bats.

METS NOTEBOOK: First baseman Rhyne Hughes was signed to a minor league contract and will report to the minor league camp. Hughes hit 13 with 56 RBI in 266 at-bats for the Double-A Bowie. … Jenrry Mejia is in camp, delayed over a week with a visa issue.

Feb 23

Mets Need To Get That Winning Feeling

The question is always posed at the start of the exhibition schedule: How important is it to win during spring training?

For most teams it isn’t and history is full of examples of spring training winners who were flops during the regular season. The reverse also holds true.

But, what about the Mets, who open up today against the Washington Nationals? What are we to make if Zack Wheeler outpitches Stephen Strasburg or if the Nationals light him up?

Probably nothing, but over the next five weeks I believe it is important for the Mets to show something, if for no other reason but to get a good feeling about themselves. And, for us to get a good feeling about them.

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