Mar 11

Mariners Still Looking To Move Franklin, Scouting The Mets

franklin

If you think it’s too late for teams to swing deals, think again. The Mariners are still actively scouting the Mets according to a report by ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. He states that Seattle has been religiously attending Mets games, and doubled their scouting contingent in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

It’s no secret that Seattle is shopping shortstop Nick Franklin and MLB Trade Rumors suspects they are readying a proposal for the Mets and are trying to determine a fair asking price. I agree with them. Check in often to see how the MLB odds will be impacted by whether or not the Mets and the M’s can come to an agreement.

Seattle is presumably looking for a young pitching prospect in return of similar value. Obviously, Noah Syndergaard and even Rafael Montero are off the table, but can the Mets tempt the Mariners with a pair of lesser pitching prospects like a Jacob deGrom and Michael Fulmer?

The Mets have no shortage of young arms with high upside, but are they ready to move one or two of them to get the upgrade they need at short?

Sandy Alderson continues to say that he’s quite happy with Ruben Tejada at short and that we shouldn’t expect any changes to the roster between now and Opening Day. However, I’m praying that it’s just a bluff, and we do know that he has acknowledged interest in Franklin as recently as last month.

The 22-year old Franklin batted .225/.303/.382 with 12 home runs, 20 doubles, 42 walks, 45 RBI and a 2.3 WAR in 412 plate appearances last season. Obviously that’s quite an offensive upgrade over anything that Tejada can produce.

The experts say that Franklin won’t stick at shortstop and that his fringe to average arm and range make him better suited for second base. But can he be any worse than Tejada who is also a second baseman albeit masquerading as a shortstop for the Mets the last three seasons?

For what it’s worth, Franklin is having a great Spring for the M’s batting .333/.368/.667 with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs and a 1.035 OPS in 18 at-bats.

Mar 11

Mets Wrap: Looking At Spring Training Issues; Niese Struggles; Murphy Update

Today, I revisited the top five issues facing the New York Mets heading into spring training.

They are: the fifth starter competition; whether Bobby Parnell will be ready for the season; the Ike Davis saga; Ruben Tejada’s status; and who might be the Opening Day starter.

To date, Daisuke Matsuzaka has the inside track; Parnell said he’s ready; both Davis and Tejada remain a mess; and manager Terry Collins prefers Eric Young, although that might keep Juan Lagares off the Opening Day roster.

In addition:

* Jon Niese struggled in his exhibition debut against St. Louis, giving up four runs on six hits and two walks in two innings in his exhibition debut, won by the Mets, 9-8, on Zach Lutz’s tie-breaking homer in the ninth. Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis also homered. If Niese isn’t ready, manager Terry Collins said he would go with either Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon.

* John Lannan, Wednesday’s starter, will be looked at out of the bullpen. That’s necessary with Josh Edgin being sent to the minor league camp.

* Wilmer Flores started at shortstop and contributed with Omar Quintanilla to botch a potential double-play grounder. However, Flores reached base three times and scored twice.

* Daniel Murphy, out with a bruised right shin, practiced outside, which could indicate he’ll play soon.

* The Mets announced they would host an international soccer match at Citi Field, July 24, between AC Milan and Olympiakos. Tickets go on sale Thursday at Mets.com/Soccer, Tickets.com or by calling (718) 507-TIXX.

Mar 11

Niese Has Rough Outing; Says He’s Fine Physically

The Cardinals hit Jonathon Niese hard today, but not as hard as the Mets’ left-hander hit himself.

The Cardinals rapped Niese for four runs on six hits and two walks in two innings in his exhibition debut, won by the Mets, 9-8, on Zach Lutz’s tie-breaking homer in the ninth.

Niese wasn’t happy with is fastball, which topped out at 89 mph., or his cutter, but took solace in not feeling discomfort his shoulder, which revealed substantial weakness in a Feb. 26 MRI.

“I’m at 50 pitches, so I’m halfway to 100,’’ Niese told reporters. “I would have liked to have done it in more than two innings. I guess it is what it is. I don’t feel like my pitches are as crisp.

“I think some of that might have to do with mechanics. But as far as my arm, it feels better and better each time. That’s a good sign.’’

As for his velocity, the Mets’ projected Opening Day starter said it should increase as he gets stronger in his final three exhibition starts.

Manager Terry Collins said if Niese is not being ready for Opening Day, March 31, against Washington at Citi Field, he would choose between Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon.

Offensively, in addition to Lutz, Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered for the Mets. Also, Wilmer Flores, who botched a potential double-play grounder in the first, reached base three times and scored twice.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.

 

Mar 11

Mets Could Use John Lannan In Bullpen

Starter or reliever, it doesn’t matter to left-hander John Lannan, who just wants to be on the New York Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Lannan, 29, was brought into camp to compete for the fifth-starter role with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia. Matsuzaka appears to have the inside track, but Lannan will start Wednesday against St. Louis.

LANNAN:  Will pitch for food. (AP)

LANNAN: Will pitch for food. (AP)

However, the demotion of reliever Josh Edgin to the minor league camp leaves Scott Rice as the only lefty in the pen, and the Mets are seriously considering Lannan in that role.

“I think that’s been the plan since Day 1. They’ve been pretty transparent with that,’’ Lannan told reporters in Port St. Lucie Tuesday morning about working in relief. “TC asked me how I felt about it. Obviously I’ll do anything to help the team, in any capacity.’’

Lannan has appeared in 148 major league games, all as a starter. He’s only worked out of the bullpen seven times in 95 minor league games, so there’s obviously a lot to learn.

The times Lannan did work in the pen he knew when he was to enter the game and had time to warm up. This will be different.

“I want to see how I am when the phone rings and I don’t have any warning,’’ Lannan said. “You always hear about that adrenaline rush when the phone rings. If it does come to that point, I want to see how I react to that.’’

Lannan said he can get loose quickly, but there’s more to it than that, as he must see how his arm adjusts to: 1) warming up several times in the same game, 2) how he responds to back-to-back appearances, and 3) how he feels after pitching two or three innings one day and coming back the next.

Lannan is coming back from surgery in the offseason to repair a tendon linking the thigh muscles to his left knee. So far, he’s pleased with his camp, having given up two runs on hour hits with four strikeouts and zero walks in two appearances.

Lannan still believes he can start on this level, and at his age, he’s worth keeping around in whatever role. Pitching is such a commodity and the Mets have several issues in their rotation, so even if he makes the roster in the pen he could start again.

ON DECK: Mets vs. Cardinals result.

Mar 11

Revisiting Mets’ Primary Spring Training Issues

On the first day of spring training, I posed five Mets manager Terry Collins needed to answer by Opening Day. Now, halfway through – 20 days remaining to be exact – it is time to revisit those questions, which haven’t been done in the positive:

Q: WHO WILL BE THE FIFTH STARTER?
A: Ideally, they wanted Jenrry Mejia but his elbow remains an issue, and there’s a chance he could open the season in the bullpen or the minor leagues. Either way, the fifth starter role isn’t imminent. Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are candidates. Without Mejia, Matsuzaka appeared to have the inside track, and that’s likely to remain. With lefty reliever Josh Edgin sent to the minor league camp, Lannan will get time working in relief (there will be a separate post on that later today).

PARNELL: Said he'll be ready (AP)

PARNELL: Said he’ll be ready (AP)

Q: WILL BOBBY PARNELL BE READY BY OPENING DAY?
A: Parnell, recovering from neck surgery, insists he’ll be ready, but he’s only made one appearance. Collins would like to give him at least seven or eight. Assuming Parnell is ready, Vic Black will get the set-up role, but his control hasn’t been good. Veterans Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde are competing for jobs in the bullpen and both have closer experience.

Q: WILL THE IKE DAVIS SAGA EVER END?
A: Not any time soon. The Mets tried to trade Davis since October, but their asking price was too high. Davis kept tabs on the rumors and acknowledged he is surprised to be in Port St. Lucie. He began camp the projected starter, but it hasn’t been a good spring. First, he acknowledged he hid an oblique strain last year to avoid the appearance of making an excuse. The following day he ripped into the reporter who had the audacity to write what Davis said. Next was tightness in both calves, caused by too much work in the weight room. He’s currently in a walking boot. About those 90-plus at-bats Collins wanted? Not happening. He’ll likely start the season on the disabled list.

Q: CAN RUBEN TEJADA BECOME THE PLAYER EXPECTED OF HIM?
A: That doesn’t look promising, either. Tejada has a strained hamstring and his defense has not been good. He’s also not hitting. The Mets aren’t close to signing free-agent Stephen Drew or trading for Seattle’s Nick Franklin. Wilmer Flores started today at shortstop and could get more time.

Q: WHO WILL BE THE LEADOFF HITTER?
A: Collins prefers Eric Young, who missed several games with tightness in his side. Collins prefers Daniel Murphy second and Tejada – if he plays – down in the order. Currently, it appears it will come down between Eric or Chris Young. The latter, however, strikes out too much to be a successful leadoff hitter. If Eric Young gets the job, we should see Juan Lagares in the minor leagues instead of languishing on the bench.

ON DECK: Lannan in the bullpen.