Mar 22

Santana To Stay Back; Wright, Marcum Updates

The Mets finally confirmed the obvious and said Johan Santana won’t be on the Opening Day roster. Considering he hadn’t thrown since his look-at-me-I’m-angry stunt, March 6, there was no suspense to this move.

“He’s not where he needs to be in his long-toss program,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters in one of spring trainings’ biggest understatements. “Even if it’s next week, he’s not going to open with us. He’s going to have to get himself ready. And that’s going to certainly determine on a daily basis where he is. But we’ll be gone. I’ll have to monitor it by the phone.’’

Collins said Santana is staying in Port St. Lucie until he’s ready, which could be up to a month. Collins dodged the inevitable question of whether Santana’s stunt sabotaged his efforts to be ready.

“It’s hard to say it was a setback. I just think he wanted to prove his arm was OK, that his arm was healthy,’’ Collins said. “Instead of trying to make sure and not let all this other stuff bother him, he got angry about it.

“We needed to go back to step one again. At that particular time that was his way of making sure everybody knew his shoulder was fine, that he wasn’t hurt. It’s just that he wasn’t ready to pitch. So now we’ve got to get him ready to pitch.’’

That Collins said they had to return to step one was a roundabout way of saying it was a setback without really saying it. But, Collins, who’ll need Santana this summer, wouldn’t come out and ruffle the feathers of his lefthanded diva.

Not sounding believable, Collins said he didn’t care about the past and was only worried about the future with Santana. Collins will save it for the book to tell us what he really feels.

WRIGHT UPDATE: David Wright, who is expected to join Santana on the disabled list, began stretching and strength-building exercises.

Wright strained his intercostal muscle while at the World Baseball Classic and said he’s hopeful of being ready by Opening Day. At the time the injury was revealed last Thursday, Collins estimated Wright would be out at least a month.

With a week to go, the odds are greater of Wright being re-injured than they are of him being ready.

Should Wright be cleared for a game, it will be in a minor league to backdate him to the disabled list ten days from the end of spring training.

MARCUM UPDATE: Assuming he is ready, Shaun Marcum will pitch Thursday against Washington. Not sure this is the right move.

If Marcum pitches and is injured and has to go on the disabled list, the Mets could only backdate it to Friday and could miss up to two starts.

Marcum received a cortisone injection in his shoulder Tuesday to relieve an impingement. If he pitches in a minor league game and is injured, the Mets could retroactive the date earlier.

If everything works out for the Mets, and that’s always a huge “if’’ with them, Jon Niese will be the Opening Day starter, followed by Marcum, Matt Harvey and then Dillon Gee. They are undecided whether to come back with Niese in the fifth game of the season or use Jeremy Hefner.

TONIGHT’S LINE-UP:

Jordany Valdespin, 2b

Collin Cowgill, cf

Mike Baxter, rf

Andrew Brown, lf

Anthony Recker, c

Brandon Hicks, 1b

Omar Quintanilla, ss

Brian Bixler, 3b

Jonathan Niese, lhp

Mar 16

Justin Turner Taking Over Third Base; Mets Lineup Against Marlins

If there was any doubt of Justin Turner making the Opening Day roster, that’s gone.

Because Turner has a greater upside offensively, he’s David Wright’s replacement at third base and will get more reps than Zach Lutz, Brandon Hicks and Brian Bixler.

He is starting and hitting second in today’s game against Miami in Port St. Lucie.

Wright was examined yesterday in New York and will return to Florida tonight and be in camp Sunday. As of now, he will be idle from three to five days, but could open the season on the disabled list.

The Mets have a history of strained intercostal and oblique muscles, including Wright missing a month last year. Daniel Murphy had one earlier this spring and has been out almost a month. Considering the history of this injury with the Mets, Terry Collins is planning not to have Wright for Opening Day.

Here’s today’s lineup and the Opening Day projection for each player:

Mike Baxter, rf:  Expected to make team and compete with Marlon Byrd for right field job. Has speed but doesn’t offer much offensively.

Justin Turner, 3b: Wright’s replacement at third base. Versatile player who is a tough out. Likes to work the count and drive up the pitch count.

Ike Davis, 1b: Safe at first. Mets looking for another 32 homers. Needs of cut down on strikeouts and improve on-base percentage. With two halves like his second half last year, 40 homers is within reach along with 100 RBI.

Marlon Byrd, cf: Veteran presence who’ll make team. Doesn’t give away outs.

Lucas Duda, lf: Starting in left. Expected to be main power source, but has to cut down on strikeouts. Needs to take the ball to the opposite field, be patient and increase his walks totals. He strikes out too much for what he gives the Mets offensively. Not Carl Yastrzemski in left field, either.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Projected to open season in minor leagues, but to be called up after May. Coming off knee and back injuries but has been healthy so far.

Brian Bixler, 2b: Should open season in minors. Ability to play second helps him with Murphy recovering.

Omar Quintanilla, ss: Could make team as reserve infielder. Little offensive threat.

Shaun Marcum, rhp: Projected fifth starter. Mets thinking of him as innings eater, which will be imperative with Johan Santana not in the rotation.

LINEUP ANALYSIS: Turner’s ability to make contact is why he’s hitting second today, and perhaps at the start of the season. Davis moves up to third in the order with Wright out. Byrd sandwiched between Davis and Duda, two hitters with high strikeout totals.

Feb 26

Thoughts About Today’s Mets Lineup

Jordany Valdespin, 2b

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Justin Turner, dh

Mike Baxter, rf

Zach Lutz, 1b

Brian Bixler, 3b

Landon Powell, c

Juan Lagares, lf

Omar Quintanilla, ss

Jenrry Mejia, rhp

LINEUP THOUGHTS: Interesting to see Valdespin leading off and playing second. The Mets are looking at him as a potential Plan B if Daniel Murphy is unable to start the season. If he starts, leadoff is a good spot for him because of his speed. … Also, the Mets want to see Nieuwenhuis at second if he doesn’t win the leadoff spot. There he’ll need to work the count and advance runners which require patience and bat control, two things Nieuwenhuis needs to improve. … Zach Lutz, playing first today, has a chance to make the roster as a bench player. … Quintanilla is also competing for a bench spot. … Regarding Mejia, in his first start they want to get an idea of his arm strength and command. He will work on his secondary pitches later. … There’s a rule the travel squad in an exhibition game must have five major leaguers. The Mets are stretching it a bit.

NOTE: I will have another post or two this afternoon.

Jan 04

Mets Matters: Chris Young Again?

I’ve written it several times, and it could be true: The Mets might add Chris Young to fill the void left by the trade of R.A. Dickey. For those scoring at home, Young won four games last year while Dickey won 20.

Yeah, that should be enough.

When contemplating bringing back Young, the key numbers are 20 starts and 115 innings, important because he is coming off surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder.

Should Young stay healthy he’s worth it, but nobody knows for sure. Of course, if he’s healthy and pitching well at the break, he could be a chip that could be traded.

SOCCER AT CITI FIELD: You know things aren’t going well when soccer doesn’t want to deal with you.

Reportedly, the Mets want to bring an expansion MLS team to Citi Field, but the league prefers building its own stadium at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. That’s a pretty arrogant stance considering where soccer rates in this country.

Unless the MLS wants to fund the project 100 percent, New York City should tell the league to take a hike. There are so many other priorities for New York, and this was prior to the damages caused by Sandy that a soccer stadium shouldn’t even be left open for discussion.

“An MLS team at Citi Field is a nonstarter for us,’’ MLS spokesperson Rita Heller said. “A soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a win for soccer fans, a win for the Queens community and a win for economic development.’’

What else would you expect her to say?

When a team begging for public funds talks about “economic development,’’ for the community it is time to run.

DUDA SAYS HE’S ON TRACK:  Lucas Duda, two months removed from surgery on his right wrist, said he would be ready for spring training.

He already has started throwing in California and plans to begin hitting in the next week or so.

Duda, projected to the left fielder, is already throwing and should start swinging the bat next week.

Currently, the Mets’ outfield is Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center and Mike Baxter in right. One bench option is Collin Cowgill, who was acquired from Oakland. The Mets are also thinking about using reserve infielder Justin Turner off the bench.

The Mets don’t have any plans to re-sign Scott Hairston, who is seeking two years on his contract extension. The competition for another right-handed hitting outfielder could fall between Andrew Brown and Brian Bixler.

 

Nov 17

Memo To Mets: Stop Screwing Around And Sign Dickey And Wright

The press release came via email as it always does and my first reaction was: How insignificant is Brian Bixler?

He means something to his family, but hit .193 with two homers and seven RBI last season for Colorado and Washington. Yup, that will have them breaking down the doors at Citi Field.

Another meaningless signing by the Mets, who continue to insult their dwindling fan base. Those are Jason Bay numbers and you know what happened to him.

Bixler is a utility player, of course. Bay? He’s home collecting his fortune, and as we all expect is about to sign with another team where he’ll suddenly be transformed into the slugger who once posted impressive numbers in Pittsburgh and Boston.

The only signings I am interested in now are that of R.A. Dickey and David Wright. The Mets showed signs of life in the first half last season and the primary reasons were Dickey and Wright. I know they were 14 games under .500 with them and could be 14 under with them.

That’s not the point. They can’t get any better, can’t appease their fans, and can’t generate any more excitement without them.

Not only the 2013 Mets, but for years to come, they would be sending the message of irrelevance to their public, to future free agents and Major League Baseball if they don’t keep their two best players.

When Wright hit the skids in the second half, arguably the only reason worth watching the Mets was Dickey. In fact, they juggled the rotation to give him extra starts at Citi Field. Dickey wanted the chance to pitch, and say thank you, to those that cheered him. The Mets wanted a few more fannies in the seats to buy hot dogs and beer.

I railed at the Miami Marlins yesterday for the trade that gutted their franchise and the same feelings apply to the Mets, only worse.

At least the Marlins made a decision – as bad as it was – and acted on it. The Mets? The perception is they are doing nothing. Talks are stagnant. If they let Dickey and Wright leave without pursuing them as they did Jose Reyes, that’s being passive-aggressive and it is worse.

Things could get better if they build around Dickey, Wright, Ike Davis, Jon Niese and Matt Harvey. That’s been the promise anyway. If they get better that’s when they will see a relief in their finances.

You have to spend money to make money, now do it and don’t bother us with any more Brian Bixler type signings.