Nov 23

2011 Player Review: Justin Turner

JUSTIN TURNER

THE SKINNY: With second base a black hole last season when Brad Emaus didn’t make it and Daniel Murphy was hurt, Turner played more than anticipated. His playing time also increased when Jose Reyes twice went on the disabled list and Tejada played shortstop.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: In the minor leagues, where he had been since 2006 with the Cincinnati and Baltimore organizations. The Mets would keep an eye on him because of his ability to play multiple positions (second, third and shortstop).

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: Turner quickly got his opportunity with the Mets and made the most of it with his hustle, timely hitting and defensive versatility. However, just because Turner can play multiple positions doesn’t mean he can play them all well as 12 errors indicates.

JOHN’S TAKE: Murphy is the better hitter and should get the first chance at second base, assuming Reyes leaves and Tejada takes over shortstop. The Mets will need bench players and it is better to stay with Turner than take somebody else’s reject off the waiver wire this winter.

JOE’S TAKE: Ultimately I don’t see Justin Turner as an everyday player. With sporadic playing time Turner was a hitting machine at the plate. He had a drive and intensity that almost made him an intimidating presence at the plate, and his focus and approach at the plate were spot on. But when he got regular playing time the results suffered which was a shame. I’ll tell you one thing though about this kid, there’s no Mets player including David Wright, that I’d want up at the plate with runners on base. Turner may be the best situational hitter on the team, and his presence on the bench is a big plus for the Mets.

Nov 15

2011 Player Review: Ruben Tejada

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free-agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. Today, we’ll start evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada.

RUBEN TEJADA – 2B/SS

THE SKINNY: Ruben Tejada’s reputation is that of a slick glove but a spotty bat. Tejada’s natural position is shortstop, but when Jose Reyes was healthy and Daniel Murphy wasn’t, he played a solid 50 games at second base in 2010. Tejada played both positions last year and his .284 was better than anticipated.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: Tejada started the season in the minor leagues to play mostly shortstop in anticipation of Reyes leaving this winter. The Mets also wanted Tejada to work on his offense.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: As expected, Tejada opened the season in the minor leagues as the Mets used Brad Emaus and Murphy at second base. However, when Emaus fizzled and Murphy was injured, Tejada was recalled. When Reyes twice went on the disabled list he played shortstop and Justin Turner played a lot of second. Tejada hit .284 with a .360 on-base percentage. He developed a reputation of not being flustered at the plate and drove in 36 runs in only 328.

JOHN’S TAKE: Tejada has a long way to go to be in Reyes’ caliber and there will be a substantial void to fill. Several scouts said the Mets should be encouraged by Tejada’s progress, but it should be remembered it was only half a season and early impressions can be misleading. With the Mets in full rebuilding and cost-cutting mode, Reyes is not expected to return and the team won’t spend or trade to replace him. With the Mets at least three years away from contending status, this will be Tejada’s opportunity to prove he’s capable of handling the job. The Mets don’t have any immediate options other than Tejada to take over shortstop. Under normal circumstances, a player of Tejada’s limited major league experience wouldn’t enter spring training as the frontrunner for the job. However, these are far from normal circumstances for the Mets.

JOE’S TAKE: No Met position player progressed more than Ruben Tejada did in 2011. Initially, Tejada was dispatched from last season’s second base spring training battle despite outperforming the field. He started the season in Buffalo while Brad Emaus began his very short-lived tenure as the Mets starting second baseman. On May 18, Tejada came up and for the most part never looked back, and guess what? The 22-year old delivered. He had one bad month in July, take that away and he batted .312 in 82 games and showed an uncanny ability to turn it up a notch when runners were on base. In fact his .305 average with “runners on base” was better than… Well lets not go there. I’m looking forward to seeing what this young kid will do for an encore. I’m a big fan.

Apr 20

Where’s the light for the Mets?

The Mets didn’t exactly win one for Brad Emaus last night, but in his honor played crappy baseball as they were stuffed by the Houston Astros, a team they should handle.

Guess not.

“Our team has not played well in any aspect,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said last night, narrowing it down. The Mets were supposed to be under talented on the field, but they were supposed to hustle and play sound fundamentally. That was going to keep them competitive.

The foundation is pitching, but the Mets have cracks all over. Jon Niese was behind in the count all evening and it is somewhat of a surprise he only gave up two runs through six innings.

RA Dickey goes tonight. He kept the ball around the plate for the most part last season, but that’s past tense. His control, like that of Mike Pelfrey, is also off. Dickey is no longer a surprise, he no longer sneaks up on teams. Teams are waiting for him.

The bullpen has been a disaster, and now we learn Bobby Parnell has numbness in his middle finger and can’t properly grip the ball. His velocity has been down. So much for him being the eighth-inning set-up reliever and future closer. There are just too many issues for him. Should the numbness persist, the disabled list can’t be far away.

Numbers wise, the Mets are averaging giving up roughly three runs a game after the fifth inning, a clear indictment of their bullpen. On the bright side, Francisco Rodriguez in on a pace to not reach 55 competed games.

But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Jason Bay is back tomorrow.

 

Apr 18

Collins manages big; Wright gets it.

I loved the way Terry Collins managed yesterday afternoon, using RA Dickey and Chris Capuano in relief. After losing seven straight, Collins pulled out the stops yesterday in how he handled his overworked bullpen. Yesterday was their throw day anyway, so why not use them in the game to take some of the pressure off the pen.

WRIGHT: Brought some smiles yesterday.

The message was also clear to his team that every game is important. It’s something neither Willie Randolph nor Jerry Manuel would have done. There are times a manager might sacrifice a game in April or May to save his pen for later which I understand. But, all too often a manager doesn’t fully utilize a starter’s throw day, which is something Collins did and I hope isn’t reluctant to do again.

I also like how he moved Josh Thole to second. Angel Pagan hasn’t been producing and Collins took advantage of what Thole brings to the table. I also hope Collins sticks with Brad Emaus at second base. This could be construed as an experimental season and I’d like a real look at Emaus. It couldn’t couldn’t hurt.

By this time, you’ve probably seen the video of David Wright playing catch with Braves fans from the field. Wright hasn’t played well recently, but rather than sulk he continued to be a good ambassador to the sport that pays him well. There are a few guys who truly understand their role to the public and Wright is one of them. This guy gets it.

Long after those kids forget what happened in the game, they’ll remember their moment with Wright. Maybe he turned them into Mets fans, who knows? The important thing is he made a memory and there’s no price tag you can put on that.

On the field, however, Wright is again striking out too much and not delivering in the clutch, and twice this week ended games by making the final out with the tying and winning runs on base. I’m not going to bury Wright. He’s not a guy like Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard or Alex Rodriguez, who can carry a team on his back. He’s a hitter at his best when there are others around him producing. He is what he is, and that’s not going to change.

 

Apr 16

Mets’ Game 1 lineup at Atlanta

Here’s the lineup for Game 1 of today’s doubleheader at Atlanta:

Jose Reyes, SS

Angel Pagan, CF

David Wright, 3B

Carlos Beltran, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Willie Harris, LF

Brad Emaus, 2B

Josh Thole, C

DJ Carrasco, RP

 

LINEUP COMMENTS:  No surprises. Terry Collins said he’ll give Brad Emaus a legitimate chance at second base and he’s back there today. They knew going in with Emaus he had to stay on the roster for the full season because he’s a Rule 5 pick. Given that, they might has well give him a real chance to see what he can do. The Mets don’t want to hear this, but 2011 is a throwaway year. They aren’t going to win this season so they might as well see what they have in Emaus for the future.

 

NEXT UP: Chris Young and injury updates.