Mar 29

Alderson: Taking stock of the Mets.

We are a week away from Opening Day and Sandy Alderson’s take on his team on WFAN doesn’t exactly inspire a great deal of confidence:

ALDERSON: Why is this man smiling?

He’s worried about his defense, especially that from the right side with Daniel Murphy at second and Lucas Duda in right.  Center fielder Andres Torres has been gimpy, so there’s a question about his range. And, Josh Thole is still a work in progress at catcher.

 If you’re thinking Johan Santana is back and a given for 30 starts and 200-plus innings, think again. With the signing of Chris Young, the Mets are mulling over the idea of a six-man rotation. If Young is sound, in theory expanding the rotation would give Santana more rest between fewer starts. Another plus is fewer starts for Mike Pelfrey.

Pelfrey, incidentally, will start tonight. He takes an 11.49 ERA into the game. He has not pitched well this spring.

 In regards to Pelfrey’s performance and the Mets’ dismal spring training record of 6-16, Alderson called it “some indicator’’ of what to expect during the season. Spring training numbers aren’t always a blueprint of the season, but it is hard to turn it on and the Mets don’t have the talent to do so.

Alderson said Jason Bay is not driving the ball, but we’ve heard that before in his previous two years with the Mets.

Alderson also said he was not pleased with the depth of his team and expressed concern about the bullpen.

Let’s see, Alderson doesn’t know what he’ll get from Santana; is thinking at this late date of expanding the rotation so an injured pitcher can make it; has another starter with an ERA north of 11; is concerned about his defense, bullpen and depth; admits his overpaid left fielder isn’t hitting for power.

Yes sir, Opening Day is a week from today, and the forecast is for rain and temperatures in the 40s.

 Isn’t life grand?

Mar 28

Murphy clanks at second; Mets lose again.

This will happen more than a few times this season, so let’s get used to it. Murphy is learning the position and the Mets don’t have a minor league option they can plug into second, let alone one who can hit as well as Murphy. Before it’s all over, providing Murphy doesn’t get hurt again, he’ll help the Mets more with his bat than he will hurt them with his glove.

MURPHY: Was his problems in the field.

The Mets are literally a patchwork team and second base is one of those patches. Had Jose Reyes stayed, Ruben Tejada would be more than satisfactory at second base.

In Murphy, the Mets have a potentially potent bat with an erratic glove at second base. Murphy had positive moments when they played him at first and I have a good feeling he’ll be more than adequate at second by the end of the season.
Wasted was a quality start by Jon Niese, who gave up two runs with six strikeouts in six innings. With Santana a question, Niese enters the season the Mets’ most reliable pitcher.
Mar 28

Traditions keep slip sliding away

One by one the traditions of the sport fade and disappear. Some, like all day games, travel by train and fielders leaving their gloves in the field after each inning naturally became outdated and obsolete, and no longer create a sense of longing.

Others, such as interleague play, day baseball during the World Series, alignment  and the designated hitter can still strike a chord and to some remain hot-button issues.

I was reminded today of another of baseball’s passing traditions, and that is Opening Day. The first game of the season was always played in Cincinnati, then Washington. That’s the way it was for decades. I’ll always remember the President of the United States throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the season.

For one day each spring, the sporting world belonged to baseball and Opening Day. The NCAA Tournament had passed and the NFL draft was weeks away. The NBA and NHL were playing out there seasons, but for one day in early April it was nothing but baseball.

The sport was center stage with no competition.

However, Major League Baseball, in its marketing greed has given that away. Now, the real opening day belongs to the NFL, with a Thursday night national game and the rest of the schedule on Sunday.

Not so baseball anymore. It gave up its spot on center stage when it opted to open in late March with games in Japan. I don’t care if a team wants to go over there during spring training, or even play a series during the season, but Opening Day?

After your fans have been waiting all winter for the renewal of the new season, the first games are played half-way across the world. Even more ridiculous, is that regular season games are played the same time spring training games are still in session.

Why doesn’t Major League Baseball reclaim center stage by making Opening Day on the Tuesday after the NCAA title game, or perhaps the Sunday after the Final Four. And, play the games in the United States.

Baseball still claims itself our national pasttime, but it makes for a weak argument when it plays Opening Day on the other side of the ocean.

 

Mar 27

Will Mets hold back Santana?

This injury-riddled spring for the Mets has had one bright spot and that is the rehab of Johan Santana. His velocity has increased, topped off at 92, then leveled off to the high 80s in yesterday’s start.

SANTANA: Will they hold him back?

Santana’s arm strength has improved, but not to where the Mets would have hoped to start the season. I don’t believe a final start will get him to the level the Mets want, so after all the work he and the Mets have put in, why push the envelope now?

It’s been two years, so what’s another couple of weeks? The Mets must be cautious with this decision because Santana could represent a competitive and fun summer. I see the Mets holding back a couple of weeks to give Santana more time to build his strength with an extended spring training.

 

 

 

Mar 26

New look here; same old look for Mets.

As you can tell, the blog has a new look. Many thanks to Joe DeCaro for his help. There will be some more subtle changes over the next few days with the overhaul complete by Opening Day. The new look has energized me and I’m looking forward to the season more than ever. As they have been for the past few seasons, I know the expectations are low for the Mets. Even so, there’s always something about the start of a new season. With Opening Day a little over a week away, the Mets have several questions that must be answered:

Q: Will David Wright be ready?

A: He hopes to play today, but said the odds are 50-50. I don’t know if a week is enough time to get ready. He could possibly open the season on the DL. If not, a slow start is almost assured.

Q: Will Johan Santana be ready?

A: It would be just like it for the Mets for Santana to be ready and not Wright. Santana made strong progress this spring and his availability will give the Mets a spring to their step. Santana will start today with a target of 90 pitches.

Q: What about the other injured?

A: Andres Torres, Ruben Tejada, Garret Olson and a few others have nagging injuries. Tim Byrdak will open the season on the DL and that’s also a possibility for Scott Hairston. On the plus side, Ike Davis seems fine.

Q: What’s going on with Mike Pelfrey?

A: Pelfrey said his ankle is fine and shouldn’t be used as an excuse. Too bad. That would mean his awful pitching is because he’s awful. I don’t believe Pelfrey can turn it on immediately after a lousy spring.

Q: Will Jason Bay find his stroke?

A: He’s been looking for several years now and is still struggling to be the player the Mets hoped.