Jan 23

Jan. 23.10: What’s the plan?

SHEETS: Would he make the off-season?

SHEETS: Would he make the off-season?

It’s strange asking this inside a month before spring training, but do the Mets have a plan to get better? With all their talk about pitching and defense/speed to complement Citi Field, what exactly have the Mets done to become that kind of team?

The best available pitcher in the market went to the Red Sox, with hardly a whimper coming from the Mets’ camp. Come to think of it, all of the available pitchers on the market went elsewhere or are lingering in the discount aisle.

Of course, adding Ben Sheets changes that to some degree. Sheets is still an injury gamble, and even with him, there are three more questions in the rotation. But, it’s better than remaining stagnant.

The biggest acquisition is an outfielder, with reports now coming his former team wanted to redo its offer because of health concerns. Adding Jason Bay without improving the rotation doesn’t improve the team dramatically, at least not to where they should be considered legitimate contenders.

Gary Matthews Jr., only illustrates there’s nothing in the minor league levels to promote in case of emergency. Don’t you think if Fernando Martinez were ready it would have been him?

The bullpen remains a mess and the rotation is Johan Santana and the Four Questions.

Plan?

The plan was to wait for everybody to get healthy and better and hope for the best. I wrote that last October. That was shot when Carlos Beltran went down. There is no real plan, at least nothing of substance.

I wonder if they have any new concession stands this year?

Jan 22

Jan. 22.10: Mets still looking for pitching.

Published reports have the Met serious about pitching, and have contacted Ben Sheets. They also have interest in former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang, who is coming off shoulder surgery and won’t be available until May 1. The team is also reported to be interested in John Smoltz and Jon Garland.

The word is very encouraging about Wang, who has been throwing pain free for seven weeks. Because of the abundance of off-days in April, the Mets can afford to wait until Wang is ready.

Sheets, who missed all of last season following surgery, is also throwing without difficulty. Reports are he could go for $8 million for one year.

I like the idea of Smoltz for the bullpen and buying time for Wang.

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Elsewhere, the Mets are considering adding the often-injured Chad Tracy as well as bringing back Fernando Tatis. The Mets are also looking at bringing back Carlos Delgado, who has played winter ball mostly as a DH, which doesn’t answer the basic question about his durability.

Dec 31

Dec. 31.09: Forecasting the Mets roster.

As I sit here and watch the snow fall, I can’t help but think about how nice spring training sounds. The Mets need some work to do before finalizing their roster. Here’s what I have for the Mets right now regarding their 25-man roster.

CATCHER
1. Omir Santos
2. Henry Blanco
Comment: If they land Bengie Molina, they’d send out Santos.

INFIELD
3. 1B: Daniel Murphy
4. 2B: Luis Castillo
5. SS: Jose Reyes
6. 3B: David Wright
7. INF: Alex Cora
8. INF: TBA (first base platoon)
9. INF: TBA
Comment: They need a RH bat to platoon with Murphy at first base. Ryan Garko would be perfect. They also need another utility infielder. A guy who could play both infield and outfield would be ideal.

OUTFIELD
10. LF: Jason Bay
11. CF: Carlos Beltran
12. RF: Jeff Francoeur
13. OF: Angel Pagan
Comment: They’d like somebody who could come off the bench with some power.

STARTERS
14. SP1: Johan Santana
15. SP2: Mike Pelfrey
16. SP3: John Maine
17. SP4: Oliver Perez
18. SP5: TBA
Comment: Yes, they might go short with the off-days in April, but they’ll need five eventually. In the interim, look at what they have now. I’m not thrilled.

BULLPEN
19. Francisco Rodriguez
20. Kelvim Escobar
21. Bobby Parnell
22. Pedro Feliciano
23. Sean Green
24. Brian Stokes
25. Ryota Igarashi
Comment: If they could find a utility player to play both infield and outfield, they could add another reliever.

Dec 28

Dec. 28.09: What to do with Parnell?

Since the Mets have Kelvim Escobar plugged into the set-up role it leaves them with a decision to make on Bobby Parnell.

PARNELL: What to do with him?

PARNELL: What to do with him?


Do they leave him in the bullpen in a less pressurized role, or if their long-term projection is for him as a starter, do they send him to the minors in that capacity?

The Mets bounced Parnell around last year from a seventh-inning reliever, to set-up reliever when JJ Putz was injured to the rotation when the roof caved in.

Parnell has a starter’s arm, but is lacking in the development of his secondary pitches. That was apparent in his stint last September as a starter. Parnell did not pitch well, but with the season lost, I thought the Mets should have stayed with him longer in the rotation. It could have only helped in his development.

I don’t know where the Mets’ thinking currently is on Parnell. If they like him in the pen, then keep him in the pen on the major league level where he had some success. But, if they believe he’s a starter, then they should have him start the season in the minors in that capacity.

However, and this is where the Mets’ lack of depth hurts them again, their bullpen is so weak they might not have any other option but to use him in relief, further delaying his development as a starter.

Jan 02

An honest look at the Mets ….

Even if you look at your glass being half full, it is still half empty. In that regard let’s take a look at the Mets’ questions, position by position:

Starting rotation: Have three quality starters, with one, John Maine coming off surgery. Still need to fill four and five. The fifth could be Jon Niese, who is unproven. That’s two questions out of five slots. They have marked, in order, Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez and Randy Wolf. It would be nice if they could land two, but I’m not betting on it. There’s been little mention of re-signing Pedro Martinez, but that could be a viable option as the fifth starter.

Bullpen: A tremendous job by GM Omar Minaya to land Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. The back end of the pen is solid. Duaner Sanchez’s health (shoulder) remains a concern, but with Putz, there should be less pressure. Pedro Feliciano is the lone situational lefty. The bullpen is greatly improved. Brian Stokes could be the long man.

Catcher: Sure, you’d like Brian Schneider to hit more, but this is not a weakness.

First base: Carlos Delgado returns, and if he hits as he did from June on, things will be fine. But, there’s always the chance he could hit as he did in 2007 and the beginning of last season. He was brought back in large part because of economics. The Mets are banking on him to continue as he did last year. Because his contract, injury history and running hot and cold the past two seasons, made him impossible to deal, his value to the Mets is in the hope of him staying hot.

Second base: The Mets would love, but won’t be able to, take a buyer for the remaining $18 million over the next three years on Luis Castillo’s contract. His value to the Mets, like Delgado’s, is in the hope of a bouncing back. Orlando Hudson’s name is on some’s wish list, but if Castillo stays, he plays.

Left field: Currently, we’re looking at a Daniel Murphy-Fernando Tatis platoon. Both overachieved last season. Things will be fine if they duplicate last season’s success, but Tatis came out of nowhere and Murphy wasn’t listed as one of the club’s top prospects. Yes, Manny Ramirez is out there, but I prefer Adam Dunn if the Mets are going to open their wallets for a slugger. Ramirez is a headache waiting to happen, although he might be on his best behavior if given a one-year deal. I like Dunn because he can buy time for Fernando Martinez and in 2010 can replace Delgado at first base.

Right field: Ryan Church wasn’t the same player after sustaining a concussion in May. If he plays like he did early last season, the Mets won’t have a problem in right.