Feb 12

Mets Today: Spring Training Starts

Pitchers and catchers report to the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie today and another season is underway.

It’s a drive-by reporting option. All they have to do is to make GM Sandy Alderson or manager Terry Collins aware they are in town.

Actually, many of them are already in camp and have been working out. So there aren’t any who have notified management they won’t report on time.

ON DECK

I would like to begin a “Today in Mets’ History” segment today. I have done this sporadically in the past and plan to have it up and running again.

Later today, I’ll also have a post on the four most pertinent issues the Mets must resolve in spring training.

THANKS TO ADAM RUBIN

One person who won’t be in Florida today is Adam Rubin, who left ESPN to take a job in public relations. I have tremendous respect for Rubin, who covered a beat better than any other reporter I ever met.

He is a tireless worker and I became a better reporter competing against him.

I’ll always remember his professionalism, driving across Florida to places like Kissimmee, Lakeland, and Fort Myers. When I moved to the Mets’ beat after covering the Yankees for eight seasons, he was the first person to call to welcome me to the beat. He introduced me to people and helped give me the lay of the land.

And, after I left the beat, he reached out to me and sent me a gift when he heard I was injured and hospitalized in 2014 to wish me well. And, when I resumed writing when I left the hospital after six months, he posted a link to my blog on a daily basis.

I’d like to thank Adam for his friendship and competition and wish him well in his new venture.

Feb 11

Reviewing Mets’ Status Quo Offseason

With the Mets’ pitchers and catchers reporting tomorrow, let’s take a quick look at what they did this offseason.

When you look at the Mets’ 40-man roster – Note: trading Gabriel Ynoa to the Orioles basically cleared a spot on the 40-man for Fernando Salas – it is the same as the team that finished 87-75, eight games behind the Nationals in the NL East and lost to the Giants in the wild-card game.

CESPEDES: Doesn't fill all Mets' holes. (AP)

CESPEDES: Doesn’t fill all Mets’ holes. (AP)

That the Nationals added Adam Eaton, yet lost closer Mark Melancon, so it is questionable as to how much they improved. However, they didn’t maintain the status quo as did the Mets.

We must also note the Braves, Phillies and Marlins also made moves to improve, so the NL East isn’t just a two-horse race anymore.

The Mets’ offseason plan first included picking up Jay Bruce’s $13-million option as a hedge for Yoenis Cespedes not coming back.

The Mets then resigned Cespedes and picked up Neil Walker’s one-year $17.2 qualifying offer. They also extended Lucas Duda and brought back Jose Reyes.

Pitching wise, the Mets also brought back Jerry Blevins and Salas.

However, they were unable to trade either Bruce or Curtis Granderson, and consequently, may not have a spot for Michael Conforto, the player that manager Terry Collins proclaimed to be the team’s future No. 3 hitter.

Regarding their pitching, they had three starters – Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom – undergo surgery. Throw in Zack Wheeler and that’s four recovering from the knife. That’s four injury-related questions, and you know as well as me not all questions are answered in the positive.

Complicating matters is the Mets let Bartolo Colon get away. That’s roughly 30 starts and 200 innings, not to mention 15 victories. There’s no guarantee either Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman can fill that void.

They also have a gap in the bullpen with the expected suspension of at least 30 games of closer Jeurys Familia. They will sub Addison Reed for Familia, but that still leaves a hole in the set-up role.

Yes, they got Cespedes and Walker – who is coming off back surgery – but GM Sandy Alderson has a $13-million outfielder he can’t trade and a myriad of pitching questions, so they didn’t get better. Once the games begin we will see they didn’t get worse.

Feb 09

Three Compelling Mets This Summer

We’re four days from Mets pitchers and catchers reporting in Port St. Lucie. Considering there’s a foot of snow on the ground, the wind is howling and temps are in the 20s, that’s a comforting thought. What’s not so comforting, however, is the potential future of these three Mets after this season.

WRIGHT: Facing pivotal year. (ABC)

WRIGHT: Facing pivotal year. (ABC)

David Wright: Reports are positive, but we’ll never know until the season begins. And, we don’t even have to get deep into the season before knowing some answers. Wright hasn’t played in a combined 100 games over the past two years because of back issues. Hopefully, Wright will bounce back. If he does, what’s to become of Jose Reyes. And, if Wright does play and Reyes’ time is reduced, what becomes of the leadoff hitter? However, if injuries sideline Wright again, there will be whispers – likely loud ones – of whether he should retire.

Matt Harvey: Twice since 2013 Harvey had a season cut short with an arm injury that required surgery. He’s been throwing and said he’s ready. That doesn’t mean he’s ready for 30 starts and 200-plus innings, which is the benchmark for a healthy starter. Harvey has a lifetime 29-28 record and will be a free-agent after the 2018 season. If he wants the big money as he suggested late in the 2015 season, he’d better start living up to his potential. If Harvey is healthy and has a strong year, his market value will undoubtedly increase, and with it possible trade rumors. With the Mets having a myriad of issues and assuming the rest of their rotation is healthy, it would be easier to trade Harvey,

Michael Conforto: Manager Terry Collins projected him to be the Mets’ No.3 hitter for the next ten years, but sputtered after a hot start and rode the Vegas shuttle. When Jay Bruce‘s option was picked up and Yoenis Cespedes re-signed, Conforto is without a spot. Bruce, Conforto and Curtis Granderson gives the Mets three left-handed hitters. Maybe that might work one night against Max Scherzer, but let’s face it, Cespedes will play most every night. And, with Juan Lagares the only true center fielder, Conforto is fifth on the outfield depth chart. With at-bats figuring to be scarce, could Conforto be ticketed for the minor leagues, or even possibly dangled as trade bait?

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 08

Mets Send Huge Contingent To WBC

As they always do, the Mets will send a large group to the World Baseball Classic. The marquee names going will be Jose Reyes and Jeurys Familia, both of whom nraised interesting questions. I understand the pull for representing one’s country or heritage, but what about the significance of getting ready to play for the team that pays you?

First, look at Reyes. The Mets are talking about him being a super sub, capable of playing every infield position save first base and even seeing time in center field. Reyes will play for the Dominican Republic, traditionally a very strong team, and if they reach the finals the Mets might not have him back until March 22. That’s not giving Terry Collins a lot of time to see Reyes at second or center. Doesn’t Reyes owe some loyalty to the Mets who signed him – after a suspension for domestic abuse – when nobody else would?

As for Familia, his likely suspension will come down during spring training. How he’ll be used by the Dominican Republic remains to be seen, but I would think the Mets would like to see Familia pitch in save situations before possibly losing him for up to 30 games if not more.

Personally, I think he owes it to the Mets,

Also participating in the World Baseball Classic are Seth Lugo, Gavin Cecchini, Brandon Nimmo, Hansel Robles, Ty Kelly, Rene Rivera and T.J. Rivera, all of whom have compelling reasons to be in camp instead of getting perhaps sparse playing time in the WBC.

Lugo, who distinguished himself last year in a starting role, could be used as a fifth starter or out of the bullpen. If it’s the latter, pitching coach Dan Warthen would like to see it. With Familia expected to be suspended, it could mean an expanded role for Robles. Warthen would probably like to see that, too. Warthen would also probably like to see Rene Rivera work with the rotation.

Cecchini, Nimmo, Kelly and T.J. Rivera are all competing for spots on the bench. They arguably could get more playing time in spring training for the Mets than for Teams Italy, Puerto Rico and Isreal in the WBC.

The World Baseball Classic isn’t going anywhere, and the Mets have always been big supporters, but eventually they have to stress to their players they have obligations to them, also.

Neither Collins nor GM Sandy Alderson would say this, but I wonder what they are truly thinking.

Feb 07

Spring Training Schedule

When your spring training home is on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, there aren’t a lot of opponent’s options. They have a combined 17 games against NL East foes Atlanta, Miami and Washington, which is not always desirable, especially when seven of their last nine games are against the division.

Feb. 12: Pitchers and catchers report.

Feb. 13: Pitchers and catchers physicals.

Feb. 14: First pitchers and catchers workout.

Feb. 17: Full squad reports.

Feb. 18: Position players physicals.

Feb. 19: First full squad workout.

Feb. 24: at Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.

Feb. 25: Nationals at PSL, 1:05 p.m.

Feb. 26: Tigers at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

Feb. 27: Astros at PSL, !:10 p.m.

Feb. 28: at Marlins, 1:05 p.m.

March 1: at Cardinals, 1:05 p.m.

March 2: Marlins at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 3: Astros at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 4: at Astros, 1:05 p.m.

March 5: Cardinals at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 6: at Marlins, 1:05 p.m.

March 7: OFF

March 8 (SS): at Astros, 1:05 p.m.; and Red Sox at PSL 1:10 p.m.

March 9: Tigers at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 10 (SS): at Braves, 1:05 p.m.; Astros at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 11: Nationals at 1:10 p.m.

March 12: at Tigers, 1:05 p.m.

March 13: Marlins at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 14: at Astros, 1:05 p.m.

March 15: at Marlins, 1:05 p.m.

March 16: at Nationals, 1:05 p.m.

March 17: Cardinals at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 18: at Cardinals, 1:05 p.m.

March 19: Marlins at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 20: at Tigers, 1:05 p.m.

March 21: OFF

March 22: Marlins at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 23: at Nationals, 1:05 p.m.

March 24: Astros at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 25: at Braves, 1:05 p.m.

March 26: Braves at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 27 (SS): at Marlins, 1:05 p.m.; Nationals at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 28: Cardinals at PSL, 1:10 p.m.

March 29: at Braves, 1:05 p.m.

NOTES and COMMENTS: 14 road games; 15 home games; no night games; 17 games vs. NL East opponents Washington, Miami and Atlanta; three split-squad dates; four exhibition games vs. Braves, including March 29, then open the season April 3 vs. Atlanta on Opening Day at Citi Field.