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.

Sep 18

Mets Wrap: Josh Satin Delivers Game Winner; Ruben Tejada Fractures Leg

It was a situation Josh Satin has experienced countless times, even before he did so tonight with the New York Mets.

“Incredible,’’ Satin said before a crowd of notepads and cameras. “It was one of the moments you kind of dream about, especially for me, a guy who has been in the minor leagues for the better part of five years.

SATIN: Comes through in clutch. (AP)

SATIN: Comes through in clutch. (AP)

“When I take batting practice, I say it,’’ he continued before taking the role of an imaginary play-by-play announcer. “Bases loaded, down by one run, two out in the ninth …’’

What would happen next, after battling off four straight sliders from Sergio Romo, Satin had a hunch.

“After he threw me four straight sliders I had a feeling in the back of my mind he would throw me a fastball,” said Satin.

Romo did and Satin ripped it to left to drive in two runs that carried the Mets, who for seven innings had been listless against Matt Cain, to a 5-4 victory over the champion Giants.

“It’s easy say, `We’re not supposed to hit this guy,’ ” manager Terry Collins said. “This could be a big lift for us.’’

Prior to the game, Collins said he wanted his team to leave an impression on him and his coaches.

“Any time you walk on a field somebody is watching, and most of the time it is me,’’ Collins said when if there was enough time left in the season for a player to make an impression, good or bad, regarding next year.

“Every time you leave the field make somebody talk about you. Run hard to first. Back up a play. Throw a curveball for strikes.’’

The Mets did very little of those things for seven innings tonight, but there’s a reason why they play nine.

“If you wonder what our offense is supposed to be about, it was in that ninth inning,’’ Collins said. “We put on one good at-bat after another.’’

The Mets stole a run in the eighth when Matt den Dekker singled, stole second, went to third on Buster Posey’s wild throw, and scored on Satin’s sacrifice fly.

That appeared to be a cosmetic run until the ninth. Andrew Brown drew a walk off Santiago Casilla. After Lucas Duda struck out, Brown took second on a wild pitch, and Casilla continued to walk Juan Lagares.

Romo replaced Casilla, and faced Zack Lutz, who  pinch-hit for Ruben Tejada, who fractured his right fibula in a collision with Brown in the top of the inning. Lutz doubled home Brown – “It was a fastball out over the plate,’’ Lutz said – and rookie Juan Centeno, in his major league debut, singled home Lagares.

After Omar Quintanilla flew out to shallow right, up was Satin, home in his backyard.

This time, his imagination was real.

“It’s been an incredible year,’’ said Satin, “and this was the best moment.’’

TEJADA INJURED: It wasn’t so great for Tejada, who fractured his leg in a collision with Brown. Tejada will be out from six to eight weeks before beginning rehab. “I dropped down like I’ve been trained to,” Brown said. “At the last second he clipped my leg. It makes me feel horrible.”

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Aug 19

Sickels Weighs In On D’Arnaud

mejia d'arnaud

John Sickels on Minor League Ball featured Travis d’Arnaud as his Prospect of the Day and pointed out how steadily his throwing has improved as evidenced by increasing caught-stealing percentages since turning pro. So for those of you worried about those three stolen bases against him this weekend, don’t go jumping to any conclusions, and it was not like the pitcher’s didn’t play a part in it.

Here is what he had to say regarding D’Arnaud’s bat and projectability:

Offensively, his best tool is power. He was rather impatient early in his career but has made progress with the strike zone. He looked dramatically improved in that department for Vegas this spring and summer, when he wasn’t hurt anyway. His power usually comes when he pulls the ball, although he is more willing to take something the opposite way than he was earlier in his career.

I don’t see him as a .300 hitter at the major league level, but he should be good for a solid .250-.270 range, with an adequate OBP and better-than-average power. He could exceed those projections in his peak seasons.

Back in February, I wrote a Prospect Smackdown article comparing d’Arnaud with Mike Zunino of the Seattle Mariners, who is d’Arnaud’s primary competition as the top catching prospect in baseball. I concluded that I preferred Zunino very slightly because he was two years younger. Zunino has had his own set of problems this year. Catchers get hurt a lot and they often don’t have linear development curves.

Although I don’t see him in the Buster Posey or Joe Mauer class of superstar catcher, d’Arnaud produces quality play on both sides of the ball. If he can avoid getting hurt too often, d’Arnaud will be a fixture in the Mets lineup for years to come.

By the way, despite an report yesterday that the Mets will be keeping d’Arnaud once John Buck returns on Tuesday, the team says they haven’t made an official determination about that yet and it’s still up for debate.

Jul 09

Terry Collins’ Obligation With Matt Harvey Is To Mets, Not National League All-Star Team

His marketing dilemma is understood, but New York Mets manager Terry Collins would be making a mistake if he were to juggle Matt Harvey’s spot in the rotation, or even cut it short, just so his young ace can start Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

As of now Harvey’s next start would be Saturday in Pittsburgh, which would leave him enough rest to throw two innings Tuesday.

HARVEY: Another no-decision. (AP)

                     HARVEY: Another no-decision. (AP)

Collins’ first obligation is to manage the Mets and put them in position to win. That means having Harvey ready and able to pitch for the Mets and not attempt to give the Cincinnati Reds or Atlanta Braves home field in the World Series.

Isn’t tinkering with Harvey’s rest or pitch count reminiscent of letting Johan Santana throw over 130 pitches just so he could throw a no-hitter, and a tainted one, at that?

Of course, skipping Harvey’s start because of a blister on his right index finger will make this a moot point.

Then again, does it?

Collins said the blister prevented Harvey from making his between-starts bullpen session. If that was the case, Harvey entered the game with a blister, so what was he doing pitching in the first place? Did Collins start Harvey with the intent of showcasing him for National League manager Bruce Bochy? Believe me, Bochy knows enough about Harvey without Collins letting his ace audition for him.

Pitchers are fragile creatures, even physical workhorses like Harvey. The slightest thing, whether it be a bruise on the shin, or stiff neck, or blister on the finger can throw off his mechanics to the point where it can cause a serious injury to the arm.

Who is to say Harvey’s blister didn’t impact the pitch thrown to Buster Posey, which he took out of the park? Without Harvey admitting as much, there’s nothing definitive to say it did. There’s also nothing definitive to say it did not. There’s reasonable doubt.

I understand the importance of Harvey starting in the All-Star Game, not only to the Mets, but Major League Baseball. MLB wants television sets on at the start of the game so those around the country who haven’t seen him pitch will have an opportunity to see what the fuss is about.

Major League Baseball knows fans have a short attention span, and with the way pitchers are shuttled into the game, viewers aren’t going to hang around to see Harvey. Bud Selig can envision viewers channel surfing or clicking off the game. They want to see Harvey now, and Collins is doing everything he can to ensure it happens.

Even if it means the Mets lose a game now.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 04

Jeremy Hefner Pitching For Rotation Spot – Again

In which direction will the streak-prone Mets go? After winning four straight against the Yankees, they turned about face and were swept by the Miami Marlins.

They are in Washington for the start of a three-game series tonight, but these aren’t the same Nationals the national media gave a bye straight into the World Series.

Bryce Harper is on the disabled list and Stephen Strasburg might soon join him, and the struggling Nationals trail Atlanta by seven games. They are vulnerable to be taken and it would have been great to imagine the edge to this series had the Mets swept Miami instead. However, even without the Nationals’ two top players, they remain a formidable opponent in the NL East.

Tonight, Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.74) goes against Jordan Zimmerman (8-3, 2.37). Hefner has pitched better recently than his record would indicate, but overall, he’s 1-5 for a reason, and that is he’s vulnerable to the big inning. Hefner does not have the ability to shut down an inning quickly after trouble surfaces. One run quickly becomes two, then three and then it is call in the bullpen.

Hefner is pitching to keep his job in the rotation when Zack Wheeler is promoted in the next few weeks. Hefner is third in the pecking order behind Shaun Marcum (who’s making $4 million) and Dillon Gee (who has a greater window of consistency).

Hefner claims he’s beyond worrying about his spot in the rotation, saying, “I don’t worry about it anymore.’’

Even so, the scenario still exists, and if the Mets are bent on promoting Wheeler soon, somebody will be demoted, or their spot could be altered. For example, Hefner could work in long relief and Collin McHugh could be optioned.

Here’s the lineup the Mets hope will give Hefner a fighting chance:

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, LF

John Buck, C

Ike Davis, 1B

Jordany Valdespin, RF

Rick Ankiel, CF

Jeremy Hefner, RHP

METS MATTERS: Wright trails San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval by over 120,000 votes at third base in the All-Star balloting. The only other Met listed is Buck, who is third behind Buster Posey and Yadier Molina. … Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud will be in a protective walking boot for at least another week. … The prognosis of Dr. James Andrews is Scott Atchison does not need elbow surgery. … Congratulations to Kevin Burkhardt, who’ll call NFL games this year on FOX. … If you want to read an excellent piece on Wheeler, check out ESPN’s Adam Rubin’s story here.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos