Mar 24

Mets Roster Taking Shape; Matt Harvey Rocked

The Mets are closer to settling on their Opening Day roster, and being the Mets, some of their decision-making is predicated on injuries.

MURPHY: DL bound?

MURPHY: DL bound?

Half their infield – third baseman David Wright and second baseman Daniel Murphy, both of whom are slowed with strained intercostal muscles – will be determined at the end of the week, but the disabled list remains very much in play for both.

Wright reported no problems after taking live batting practice today, but how he felt after his swings is not the story.

“It’s the next step,’’ Wright told reporters. “Any time you get to the next step, it’s a significant step. It’s one step closer. … It’s important that I see how I feel tomorrow. I’ve said all along that Opening Day is my goal.’’

In all probability, Wright and Murphy will open the season backdated to the disabled list, meaning they would miss only the first five games of the season. It they were to play in a major league exhibition game and are injured, their DL stints would be backdated to the day after the injury.

Murphy played in a minor league game today and saw his first meaningful pitch since last season said it was “like trying to hit an aspirin.’’ Murphy went 1-for-2 with a walk, but said the biggest test might have been when he checked his swing and didn’t feel anything.

Because of the structure of minor league spring training games, Murphy could get as many as five or six at-bats a game, but that could increase the possibility of overdoing things and sustaining another injury.

If both Wright and Murphy go on the DL, one scenario has Justin Turner playing third and Jordany Valdespin at second. Another has Zach Lutz playing third and Turner at second.

Brandon Hicks is no longer a third base option as he was outrighted to the minors today, leaving way for Omar Quintanilla to make the team.

In addition, the Mets optioned to the minor league camp left-hander Aaron Laffey, Andrew Brown, Brian Bixler and Jamie Hoffman. By sending down Laffey, the Mets are reasonably sure Shaun Marcum – who missed his last start and took a cortisone injection in his shoulder – will be able to rejoin the rotation Thursday. Of course, if he’s not, it’s easy enough to recall Laffey.

A long shot to make the Opening Day roster, despite their need for defense in the outfield, was center fielder Matt den Dekker. That’s not going to happen now as broke his right wrist attempting to make a catch today. Compared to Jim Edmonds, den Dekker has had an exceptional spring in the field, but has struggled until recently at the plate.

METS OPTION d’ARNAUD: The Mets’ key to the R.A. Dickey was getting catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.

The Mets gambled keeping d’Arnaud around this week because had he been injured he would have opened the season on the major league disabled list, which would have started the clock on his service time. Should d’Arnaud, who hit .343 this spring, spend the first 20 days of the season in the minor leagues, his free agency would be delayed from after the 2018 season to after the 2019 season. His arbitration status would also be delayed a year if he’s not one of the top 22 percent of rookies called up.

That’s irrelevant insists GM Sandy Alderson.

“I know people talk about control and all of that,’’ Alderson said. “If John Buck gets hurt tomorrow, Travis d’Arnaud is the front-line catcher.’’

THE GAME: Matt Harvey’s next-to-last spring training start was not a good one, as he was hit for four runs in five innings in a 9-4 loss in a split-squad game to Detroit. In the other game, the Mets rallied from six runs down to beat St. Louis as Jamie Hoffman, Lutz and Mike Baxter homered.

Harvey struck out the side in the first, including Triple-Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, but it was all uphill from there. Harvey said he let his emotions get away from him and overthrew after the first inning.

“Definitely something I learned is try not to get too pumped up for a team and a lineup like that – back off and let everything work,’’ Harvey said.

Also not having a good day was set-up reliever Brandon Lyon, who gave up five runs on six his in one third of an inning.

Mar 09

Inside The Mets’ Clubhouse; Today’s Lineup Against Astros

Good Saturday morning. A little talk in the clubhouse about the USA losing last night to Mexico. The operative word being “little.’’

I’ve only been here a few days, but trust me on this one, after doing 20 some spring trainings the days are usually all alike. We’re usually in the clubhouse by 7:45 in the morning, sometimes earlier depending on where the game is that day.

The first thing most players do is head straight to a corner wall where the lineup is posted. Most guys know the night before if they’ll be playing, but it is a force of habit for many.

The Mets’ clubhouse has changed over the years. Once shamed about not honoring their past, photos of Mets’ alumni are plastered over the walls. Tom Seaver, Ed Kranepool, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson and Jerry Koosman.

Always fun to look at.

Continue reading

Mar 08

Bobby Parnell Looks Good In Mets’ Defeat; Dillon Gee Wild

It is too soon to say much definitive about Terry Collins’ 2013 Mets other than it has the makings of a long year.

Twice this afternoon, the frustrated Mets’ manager answered seemingly innocuous questions about his roster with a curt, “It is March 8.’’

PARNELL: Making strides.

PARNELL: Making strides.

One silver thread out of today’s 3-2 loss to Detroit was reliever Bobby Parnell, who pitched a 1-2-3 sixth as he’s settling in to the closer job with Frank Francisco destined to open the season on the disabled list with a sore right elbow.

Parnell could always throw hard – sometimes in triple digits – but had trouble with command of his secondary pitches. That wasn’t the case against the Tigers.

“My curveball is working really well,’’ said Parnell. “Last year, I was inconsistent with my curveball. Today I was able to able to throw it for strikes early in the count.’’

Parnell was aggressive and attacked the hitters, and perhaps most importantly threw his curveball in counts where the hitter would normally be expecting a fastball.

“His breaking ball has really improved,’’ Collins said. “I loved his demeanor. He’s going after hitters like he knows he’s going to get them out.’’

Continue reading

Mar 06

Terry Collins Not Worried About Johan Santana

terry collins baby

COLLINS: Says he is eye to eye with Santana.

This time, Terry Collins knew what Johan Santana was doing and seemingly both are on the same page, even though the left-hander was mum today on both his throwing and the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

After mugging with several friends on the Venezuelan WBC team, Santana long-tossed in the outfield, and followed that with several pitches off the mound from where he fielded bunts.

The timetable is a bullpen session, then batting practice and possibly pitching in a game, March 14. That would leave three starts before the start to the season.

“We’re not worried about April 1,” Collins said. “We’re worried about 30 starts. … This is about protecting him.’’

Collins and Santana didn’t appear on the same page Sunday when the latter threw off the mound and the manager questioning his reasoning later, saying he had nothing to prove.

MUPRHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy, sidelined with a strained right side muscle, played catch, took grounders and hit in the cage. He followed that up by saying he didn’t have a timetable for when he’d take live batting practice and appear in a game.

“I want to play,’’ Murphy said. “But, I want to be smart. There’s three weeks left. There’s time.’’

THE GAME: Jon Niese gave up four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings, and Carlos Torres was hit for seven runs on eight hits in 1.2 innings as the Mets were beaten, 14-10, by the Venezuelan WBC team.

Collin Cowgill continues to impress, going 3-for-4 with two RBI as the DH. … Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer and Lucas Duda was hitless in two at-bats.

K-ROD SEEKS REDEMPTION: Former Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez did not distinguish himself during his tenure with the Mets. It wouldn’t be a reach to say the highlight of his stay was general manager Sandy Alderson’s ability to trade him the summer after his fight with his former father-in-law outside the family lounge at Citi Field.

The punch cost Rodriguez an injured hand and night in jail.

Yesterday, he visited with Collins as a member of Venezuela’s WBC team. He told reporters after the game he would like a chance to make amends with the Mets.

“I would love to,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve got a great coaching staff over there. To come back and redeem myself would be great, because I’ve got to be realistic and honest. You would have to be real blind to not see that I fell when I was there. That’s not even a question. To be able to get one more shot and get it done would be great.”

JUST WONDERING: With Mark Teixeira out eight to ten weeks, and to open the season on the disabled list along with Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, nobody is projecting a hot start from the Yankees.

The media is expected to crush the Yankees assuming a slow start, which could take some of the negative attention away from the Mets.

METS NOTEBOOK: Despite the Mets scoring ten runs, Collins said he’s concerned about the offense. “We’re not swinging the bats very good,’’ he said. “But, we still have around 40 at-bats (per starter) to go.’’ … Kirk Nieuwenhuis is getting treatment on his bruised left knee and said there’s no timetable for his return. I’ll have something with Nieuwenhuis in the morning. … The Mets are in their 25th spring in Port St. Lucie, the seventh longest tenure in the majors. … Matt Harvey will start Thursday against Miami, followed by Greg Burke and Brandon Lyon. … Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will pitch Friday against Detroit at Lakeland. … Former Mets bullpen coach Guy Conti lives in nearby Vero Beach and is a guest instructor.

Feb 15

Mets Need Frank Francisco Healthy To Trade

The Mets should simply resign themselves to opening the season with Frank Francisco on the DL with the idea of using his roster spot for somebody else. The Mets’ thinking should be not to have Francisco healthy enough to be their closer, but healthy enough to trade.

That would enable Bobby Parnell to have the entire spring training to close. Having this time is better than training him as a closer only to have it pulled from him at the last minute.

FRANCISCO: Others could have interest.

FRANCISCO: Others could have interest.

And, if Parnell doesn’t cut it, then there’s time to work in Brandon Lyon and have Terry Collins configure his bullpen.

Reportedly, Francisco will be shut down for two weeks. What comes next is a period of long toss, followed by throwing on flat ground, then off the mound. Then there’s batting practice and perhaps a split-squad or minor league game before getting into a spring training game. That could be another two weeks, leaving Francisco just two weeks of games to get sharp, which is only asking for trouble.

There’s always the chance of a setback, so it makes sense to avoid rushing him and bring him along cautiously so he could be healthy to trade at the

July 31 deadline. If the Mets have a bad first half, teams will inquire about Francisco. They won’t call if his elbow is ailing.

As they rebuild, the Mets must keep thinking of pieces they can deal to stockpile prospects and draft choices.

Several other Mets fit that description:

Fifth starter Shaun Marcum: If Zack Wheeler is ready and nobody injured that makes Marcum expendable because he doesn’t fit into their long-term plans.

Most anybody in their outfield and bullpen: They don’t want to dangle Parnell and Lucas Duda, but if they could get something, what’s the harm?

John Buck: If Travis d’Arnaud is playing on the major league roster, then Buck could be attractive to a contender with a catching void.

Johan Santana: This is a long shot, but something the club would love to do, even if means picking up much of his remaining contract. If Santana is healthy and pitching well, somebody will be interested and the Mets will listen.

Daniel Murphy: If prospect Wilmer Flores has an impressive spring, he will fit into the Mets’ long-term plans which could make Murphy available to an AL team as a designated hitter.

Jenrry Mejia: Sooner or later he needs to prove he can pitch. The Mets have to be thinking it might not be with them. If that’s their eventual conclusion it is better to make a trade too early rather than too late.

There’s no telling how the season will play out, but expectations are low so looking to divest players not in their 2014 plans must be considered.

NOTE: I’ll have another post around noon.