Sep 04

Bruce Optimistic About Move To First Base

Jay Bruce is apparently serious about first base. And, we know the Mets are about him playing the position, otherwise, Peter Alonso would be with the team. Bruce has been in touch with former Cincinnati teammate Joey Votto, and he’s sought out the Giants’ Brandon Belt and Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo for tips on the position.

BRUCE: High on first.  (AP)

BRUCE: High on first. (AP)

And, when the Mets return home he plans to talk with Keith Hernandez, a defensive wiz at the position.

`”If I am going to do this I want to be good at it, and I think I can be good at it,” Bruce said.

So far, the Mets are happy with what they’ve seen from Bruce, both on the field and with his effort in trying to learn the new position.

“I think he looks good,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He is getting more and more comfortable over there the more games he plays. I think he is going to have the whole offseason to work at this if this is the route we are going to go, and [infield coach] Gary DiSarcina and myself feel like he can do the job at first base from what we have seen so far.”

Dominic Smith will rejoin the Mets this week, but the team has cooled on him after his poor performance in the second half. When Bruce was on the disabled list Wilmer Flores got the most time at first, and Callaway said he’ll see some time this month, but September is mostly for the Mets to get a feel for Bruce at the position.

Bruce is signed through 2020 and owed another $28 million after this season. Assuming Bruce works out at first base, the  Mets anticipate Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo playing mostly in left and right field, respectively, with Austin Jackson getting a shot at center.

“Obviously [Bruce] is going to get more and more time over there and we are going to continue where he’s at,” Callaway said. “But he feels comfortable and the coaches like what they have seen so far, so we are definitely excited that he can be our first baseman next year.”

Bruce said he’s comfortable fielding the position, but he’s challenged by the positioning on bunts, relays and cutoffs.

”’I don’t think fielding the position is going to be an issue for me as far as straight-up ground balls,” Bruce said. ”I feel I can get off the bag far enough to have the range and stuff like that. But it’s going to be the nuances that are going to be the most important.”

 

 

 

Oct 05

Mets-Giants Matchups; Loney Gets Start

Regardless of how Terry Collins explains it, the Mets’ manager made the right decision to start James Loney at first base in tonight’s wild-card game.

Collins said Loney is better defensively, but we already knew that to be a no-brainer. It is also a slam dunk that in what could be a classic pitcher’s duel – Madison Bumgarner vs. Noah Syndergaard – runs figure to come at a premium placing an emphasis on defense.

LONEY: Gets call. (AP)

LONEY: Gets call. (AP)

Collins also said Lucas Duda might not be physically ready, but why did the Mets go through the motions without knowing for sure?

Duda is a strikeout machine when he’s not on his game, and after missing most of the season, it was a reach hoping he’d catch lightning in a bottle. Loney doesn’t have great numbers against Bumgarner – 2-for-13 – but did play 100 games for the Mets and hit .265 with nine homers and 34 RBI. One of those homers was a deciding two-run blast Saturday to clinch home field for the wild-card.

Even so, Loney said he’s anxious to face Bumgarner.

“He’s been a great pitcher for many years now,” Loney told reporters. “[He] throws strikes and competes out there. A fierce competitor.”

Here’s the Mets’ lineup tonight and the likely Giant opposite number:

Jose Reyes, 3B: Returned to his roots and supplied the spark the Mets needed. … It could be a game-time decision for the Giants to start Eduardo Nunez (hamstring issues) or Conor Gillaspie.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Depending on your perspective, he could be their MVP with solid defense and clutch hitting despite two bad knees. … Brandon Crawford should have been on the All-Star team. He hit .275 with 12 homers and 84 RBI, but has been prone to the strikeout (115) this year.

Yoenis Cespedes, LF: Is the center piece of the Mets’ offense despite finishing the season on a 3-for-24 slide. … The Giants go with a familiar face – former Met Angel Pagan – who has been a solid switch-hitter in his five years on the West Coast. Is a stolen base threat with 15.

Curtis Granderson, CF: Had a strong second half to finish with 30 homers, but his RBI total was shockingly low. Has played a solid center. … Former Washington National Denard Span is back to torment the Mets. Hit 11 homers and still plays a decent center.

Jay Bruce, RF: Did not provide the pop the Mets wanted, but might have salvaged his tenure here to the point of returning next year with homers in three of his last five games. … Hunter Pence is a guy the Mets should have gone after when he was in Philadelphia. Has played hurt most of the year, but hit .289 with 13 homers and 57 RBI.

T.J. Rivera, 2B: Minor league batting champion is still hitting as Wilmer Flores’ replacement. Hasn’t been rattled yet. … Joe Panik has also played hurt most of the year, but still drove in 62 runs. Is beyond solid defensively.

Loney, 1B: Good glove and a steady bat. One of GM Sandy Alderson’s midseason replacements that helped put the Mets here. … Brandon Belt led the Giants with 17 homers. Is patient at the plate and solid defensively.

Rene Rivera, C: Wasn’t on the Opening Day roster, but his calming presence helped Matt Harvey early and later Syndergaard, especially against the running game. … Buster Posey could be the game’s premier catcher. Calls a great game and is a clutch hitter.

Syndergaard, RHP: Has overpowering stuff and with injuries to Harvey and Jacob deGrom emerged as the ace. Can support himself at the plate, but a weakness is an inability to slow down the running game (48 stolen bases in 57 attempts). … If you believe in the law of averages, the Mets could be in good shape against Bumgarner, who is 4-0 with a 0.62 ERA lifetime at Citi Field, and a 0.91 ERA in his last eight postseason appearances.

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Nov 29

Initial Look At Hot Stove Season

There’s been some interesting moves this offseason, but so far Toronto and Boston have made the most noise.

I’m thinking the Mets signing Michael Cuddyer, Oakland picking up Ike Davis, Cleveland getting Shaun Marcum and Arizona signing Nick Evans won’t exactly register on the baseball Richter Scale.

SANDOVAL: Big signing by Sox. (AP)

SANDOVAL: Big signing by Sox. (AP)

However, earlier this week, Boston signed free agents Hanley Ramirez – who will move to the outfield – and third baseman Pablo Sandoval. And, today the Blue Jays acquired All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson from Oakland in what is a typical move for them – trading a star to avoid paying him the big bucks.

Donaldson elevates the Blue Jays in the AL East, as Sandoval does for the Red Sox. With the Boston and San Francisco offers comparable, just why would Sandoval leave?

What hasn’t been mentioned – and Sandoval didn’t say in his Fenway press conference – was the Giants’ plans for All-Star catcher Buster Posey. Unquestionably their best player, the Giants figure to preserve Posey by moving him from behind the plate.

But, where?

He really can’t play left field, and Brandon Belt isn’t moving off first. That leaves third base, and in a couple of years Sandoval may not have a position. So, it’s a no-brainer for Sandoval to look elsewhere, and resting as a DH and peppering line drives off that wall, he could become a .300 hitter, something he hasn’t been since 2011.

Ramirez, at 31, could be considered a gamble. For one thing, he has a recent injury history and for not exactly busting it while with the Marlins. Ramirez, once an All-Star shortstop, didn’t take to third base after the Marlins signed Jose Reyes and will play left field in Boston in the shadow of the Green Monster, which is not an easy thing to do.

The Red Sox, who were burned by the Carl Crawford signing and acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, were rescued when they dumped them on the Dodgers. They responded by winning the World Series in 2013, but are back to their free-spending ways.

We will see if they are as successful this time. However, they don’t have Cuddyer.