Mar 16

Mets’ roster has remaining issues

HARRIS: Will play is Beltran opens on DL

With spring training down to a couple of weeks after today’s loss to Minnesota, the Mets are still trying to final situations in right field, second baseball, the bullpen and in the rotation.


All of these will be filled with those players already in camp.


Carlos Beltran has been cleared to resume baseball activities, but probably won’t play until next week, which would leave a week of games until Opening Day. However, with the Mets wanting to ease him back, it’s realistic to figure he might not be ready.

Currently, he’s limited to batting practice and doesn’t know when he’ll test his knees by playing the field or running the bases.

Should Beltran open the season on the disabled list, Willie Harris would probably get the start, but manager Terry Collins could go to a platoon system with Scott Hairston.

That would make Lucas Duda the odd-man out because the Mets want him to get consistent at-bats. The way he could stick would be if Beltran were to open on the disabled list. Beltran says he’ll be ready, but the time frame suggests otherwise.


Nobody wants Luis Castillo, but he’s playing the best offensively and is not ahead of the others defensively. Castillo can turn the double play better than the others but has limited range. It’s not totally out of the question Castillo would stick if the Mets find it distasteful to eat his $6 million contract.

Luis Hernandez has emerged, perhaps as the front-runner as has been reported, primarily because nobody has stepped to the forefront. Hernandez can play the position and isn’t a liability with the bat, but it’s not as if he’s blowing away the field.

Ideally, they would have liked for Daniel Murphy to grasp the position defensively, but that hasn’t happened, especially when it comes to the double play. Murphy should still make the team as a left-handed bat off the bench.

The Mets like the potential of Brad Emaus, but he’s not hitting and hasn’t made up for it with his glove. An Emaus-Murphy platoon isn’t out of the question should the Mets not want to return the Rule 5 Emaus to Toronto.

The only sure thing at second base is the return of Justin Turner to the minor leagues because he has remaining options.

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Mar 15

Mets’ second base job still in the air

With two weeks remaining before Opening Day, Luis Hernandez is gaining ground on the second base job.

However, it is premature to say he’s the guy. Rarely are up-in-the-air roster decisions made with this much time remaining in camp. There’s still Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy, Luis Castillo and Justin Turner.

Turner, because of remaining options will be sent down. That’s logical. Castillo has turned off Terry Collins, but the manager might not have the final decision, especially with a $6 million commitment. Castillo has been playing well offensively, so there’s the outside chance they’ll hold onto him and hope to make an in-season deal. The Mets don’t want to swallow $6 million.

Murphy is having trouble turning the double-play and Emaus is having a slow spring. Still, as a Rule 5 player the Mets do see some potential. What they must decide on is if he fits beyond this season should he stick.

I still think the Murphy-Emaus platoon has a chance, but I’m beginning to wane a little on that stance. What I do know, is Hernandez, despite a solid spring, isn’t running away from things and there’s still time.

Outside of it not being Ruben Tejada, nothing is concrete at second base.


Mar 13

Mets must prepare for life without Santana

When it comes to injuries, especially to the shoulders of pitchers, always bet the over. That’s my feeling after Mets pitcher Johan Santana refuted a published report his season could be in jeopardy.

SANTANA: Will we ever see him again?

Santana turned 32 today, and naturally the Mets are concerned about his recovery from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. They’ve been worried since he walked off the mound last summer in pain, and it being his birthday simply makes it a logical time to revive the issue.

“We’re right on the right track,’’ Santana told reporters today.  “Whoever is saying I’m not ready, I think is lying. We are all on the same page here. … How can you have a setback at this point, where I’m just beginning to throw? I haven’t even got on the mound. I haven’t even forced my body to try to throw hard.’’

We knew from the outset the recovery would be painful with no real timetable. There are always setbacks and days when Santana might feel better than others.

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Mar 11

F-Mart among first roster cuts.

F-MART: Has the window closed?

The Mets made a round of roster cuts this morning, with outfielder Fernando Martinez and infielder Ruben Tejada among them. Also sent to the minor league camp were Josh Stinson, Tobi Stoner, Manny Alvarez, Armando Rodriguez, Zach Lutz, Jordanny Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kai Gronauer.

The Mets have been consistent with Tejada all along, saying they want him in Triple-A for the at-bats and to play shortstop. No real surprises.

The demotion of Martinez, once the franchise’s brightest position player prospect, makes me wonder if it will ever happen for him. That Lucas Duda is being given a chance to make the team and not Martinez tells you his stock has fallen.

Remember when the Mets had outfield prospects Martinez, Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez? Speed to burn. Milledge flamed out, Gomez was traded and the Mets hung onto Martinez because he had the highest ceiling.

No more.

When given the chance he hasn’t produced, but the biggest knock on Martinez has been his inability to stay healthy. Believe me, that goes on the scouting report as much has his ability to hit a curveball.

Yes, I understand the argument Martinez needs the minor league at-bats more than sitting on a major league bench, but that the Mets would sign reserves Scott Hairston and Willie Harris – whose upside has already been reached – rather than give Martinez a chance to earn a roster spot speaks of what they think of him. And, with Carlos Beltran down, that is even more magnified.

The Mets would not part with Martinez in any trade discussions in the past, but I can see that changing now. I can see them listening intently.

That is, if anybody else is still interested.


Mar 10

Let’s see Duda in right

Assuming Carlos Beltran isn’t available to the Mets by Opening Day, replacing him shouldn’t equal the dilemma CBS will have in replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.”

DUDA: Let's see what he has.

Both of Beltran’s knees are aching and he’s down for the week. Maybe he’ll come back next week; maybe he won’t.

So, who will the Mets use to replace the aching outfielder with a huge $18.5 million contract?

Veteran bench players Scott Hairston and Willie Harris can be plugged in and won’t embarrass the ball club. But, will they carry it? History says no, because afterall, they are role players. Their job is to temporarily fill a hole.

I want to see what Lucas Duda can bring to the table. Duda was a September call-up who started slow but closed hot. While Hairston and Harris could be somewhere else next season, or who knows, maybe even dealt in July to a contender, Duda could have a future with this team.

Duda is strong – he had four homers last year – so there’s power potential. He didn’t sparkle defensively and can only get better. Duda is off to a good start this spring and homered yesterday. We know what Hairston and Harris can do; Duda is an unknown.

However, for a team not expected to do anything this year, what’s the harm in giving him an audition?