Mar 31

Reviewing the Mets’ issues going into the season.

I hope you’re all doing well, anxious for another season of watching the Mets. While the Yankees faced Detroit this afternoon at the Stadium, the Mets worked out in preparation to play the Marlins tomorrow night.

When the Mets opened spring training six weeks ago, I proposed a list of ten issues surrounding the team that would dictate the course of the season. Spring training only partially answered those questions.

Here’s the top issues surrounding the Mets and the progress made:


A: This is still an on-going issue that won’t be going away any time soon. The Wilpons remain adamant they were played and have no intention of selling the franchise outright. The family is looking for a limited owner, but heavyweights such as Mark Cuban and Donald Trump say they don’t want to pay up to $500 million for what is tantamount to a season ticket with free parking. The Wilpons still want full control and aren’t willing to offer up part of SNY in a deal. The Mets’ inactivity during the winter was emblematic of their financial stress, and although GM Sandy Alderson said the team would have the resources at the trade deadline, nobody is expecting much, especially if they’ll be listening to offers for Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.


A: So far, so good. There was no problem in selling right field to Beltran, although that had a lot to do with the outfielder making the choice himself because of his fragile knees. Reports are positive about the Mets’ attitude and concentration on fundamentals. There weren’t any problems with how the releases of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.were handled. The first impression has been a good one, but we’ll see how responsive the Mets are when the grind starts.


A: Beltran will be in the starting lineup tomorrow, but we didn’t know that until the beginning of the week. Beltran’s health remains a concern and despite the move to right field, nobody knows how his knees will hold up and the production the Mets might receive. The only certainty with Beltran is he won’t be back next season and the Mets would love to work a deal to save some of his $18.5 million contract. An interesting dilemma would be what would the Mets do at the trade deadline with Beltran if they are contending and he’s hitting?


A: Alderson said the Mets will have the resources to sign Reyes to an extension, but would they be willing to take that chance if he’s not playing well? Reyes didn’t have a bad finish to the end of last season, but realistically he’s been a health question the past two years. Should Reyes get off to a great start his price tag will undoubtedly spike as will the attention he’ll draw from teams wanting to make a deal. This will put the Mets in the stressful situation of risking him leave as a free agent.


A: With Johan Santana out, Pelfrey enters the season as the ace. Pelfrey didn’t have a good spring training stats wise, but then again he didn’t last year, either and had the best season of his career. Friday’s Opening Day starter said his goal this summer is to be more consistent. A miserable July might have prevented Pelfrey from winning 20 games last year, but he said he learned from that stretch, and one of those things was not to abandon his fastball. There were still times last year when Pelfrey lost his focus and ran up his pitch count which cost him the chance to work longer and even finish games.


A.: If he does, it won’t be right away as he’ll open the season on the disabled list with a strained left rib cage muscle. It’s not an easy injury to overcome as it saps your power because it slows the hitter’s bat speed. Prior to the rib cage, Bay was complaining about a sore back, and even before then he wasn’t having a good spring power wise. For the $66 million package they are spending on him, the Mets expect 25 to 30 homers a year, not the six he hit last year. With Beltran not a given and Bay out, there’s the concern David Wright will feel the pressure to carry the team as he has the past two seasons.


A: Evidently, the Mets believe Dickey is the real deal, otherwise they wouldn’t have given him a two-year deal. Dickey’s knuckler makes him second in the rotation, but there’s still the matter of him proving he can do it again. Dickey came out of nowhere to keep the Mets competitive in the first half, but there’s no element of surprise this year.


A: Jon Niese, at No. 3, got off to a 6-2 start, but finished 9-10. Obviously, there’s more learning that needs to be done. Chris Young and Chris Capuano will attempt to rebound from injuries as the No. 4 and No. 5 starters, respectively. Bottom line on the last two: Despite good springs there is no guarantee the Mets will get 25 starts from each.


A: Francisco Rodriguez and Bobby Parnell are the only names you’ll remember from last year, which is just as well considering what the Mets got out of their pen. The overriding issue with the bullpen is whether they’ll allow Rodriguez to complete 55 games that would enable his $17.5 million option to kick in. Parnell gets the set-up role. The rest of the pen includes D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak and Blaine Boyer. Jason Isringhausen will stay in Florida for an extended spring training, and the Mets will need him to mentor this inexperienced pen.


A: The Mets finally did the right thing and cut ties with Luis Castillo. Then he had the nerve to say he didn’t get a real chance. Huh? Daniel Murphy stuck, but as a left-handed bat off the bench. In the end, Rule 5 draft choice Brad Emaus will start. But, winning the job and holding on to it are two different things.


Mar 30

Bay to DL; Izzy stays.

Jason Bay returned to New York today to have his strained left rib cage examined and all indications are he’ll be placed on the disabled list. When manager Terry Collins said he’d rather lose Bay for a week rather than a month, how else can you read the tea leaves?

This is not an easy injury from which to recover, and even when he does return there’s no guarantee he’ll hit the ground running. And, he wasn’t exactly stroking the ball with power this spring. So, with Opening Day two days away the Mets have two significant power issues: Not having Bay at the start and concerns about Beltran’s health.

Meanwhile, Jason Isringhausen accepted the Mets’ decision to stay in Florida for an extended spring training. Odds are Isringhausen will be on the 25-man roster soon enough. Isringhausen had a good spring and his experience could be beneficial to a young bullpen.

Oh, a note that should make you crack a smile: The Phillies, who have a hole at second base with Chase Utley injured, waived Luis Castillo today.



Mar 29

Bay ailing … so what else is new?

Carlos Beltran is scheduled to play this afternoon, which could be a dicey gamble because if something happens they won’t be able to back date him the last ten days in spring training. What good is one game, say five innings in a Grapefruit League game going to do?

BAY: Not smiling now.

Not much. A tweak and he could be on the disabled list for at least two weeks into the season.

Right, I know what you’re thinking …. where he could join Jason Bay.

Bay was scratched from today’s game with pain in his rib cage. These things take time, so Bay going on the DL (it would be retroactive to March 24), isn’t out of the question. Considering these are the Mets it’s probably a certainty.

Nice timing on optioning Nick Evans, wouldn’t you say? It Bay goes on the DL Lucas Duda would open the season on the 25-man roster. So, on days when Beltran is off, we’ll have an outfield of Duda, Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Kind of inspiring, wouldn’t you say?

Meanwhile, the Mets are trying to convince Jason Isringhausen to stay in Port St. Lucie for an extended spring training, which would allow them to keep Blaine Boyer. Isringhausen is 38 and has pitched well this spring. He might decide he doesn’t want to stay in Florida, and if so, somebody will claim him

In addition, Boyer has an out clause in his contract any might opt to hook on elsewhere. If they can pull this off and be able to keep both Isringhausen and Boyer it would be sweet, because you know they are going to need them eventually.

Mar 24

Alderson conference call

I just finished up a conference call with GM Sandy Alderson. Among the highlights:

* If the Mets were in contention at the trade deadline he would have the financial flexibility to add a player or pitcher.

* Alderson would like to see an improvement in Jose Reyes’ on-base percentage. He said Reyes’ performance, along with where the team is will be the key factors in a contract extension. If Reyes is performing well and the team is not, the Mets could still sign him to an extension. Alderson said the Mets would have the financial resources to extend Reyes.

* He said he is not concerned with Jason Bay’s lack of power during spring training and believes he will adjust to Citi Field this summer.

* Said Nick Evans is still in the mix to make the team, especially if Carlos Beltran starts the season on the disabled list.

* Is not surprised the second base decision is lasting this long.



Mar 24

Giving up on Beltran being ready

The more I think about it, the less I see the purpose of Carlos Beltran being ready by Opening Day.

BELTRAN: Why push it?

Today and tomorrow he’ll be in simulation games. Maybe another DH stint in a minor league game this weekend. That would leave less than a week’s worth of minor league games to get ready, and who knows how many would be in right field?

The Mets need Beltran healthy for the purpose of dealing him at the trade deadline because he won’t be re-signed, and realistically, will they really be a contender this year?

The plan they devised for Beltran yesterday makes sense to the degree that he won’t lose extra games on the DL because they would back date it only the last 10 days of spring training, but in actuality he won’t be ready regardless. Plus, with the wet turf and cold weather in early April, the odds are really good of him being re-injured.

The Mets are in position of trying to salvage what they can out of Beltran. He’s barely been healthy the past two years and won’t get much better in the next week.