Jan 18

Jan. 18.10: Spring training questions.

Questions, questions ....

Questions, questions ....

With a month before the start of spring training, let’s take a look at the ten top issues surrounding the Mets when the arrive at Port St. Lucie:

1) Who are the fifth starter candidates?
A: Jon Niese is from the organization. It could also be Oliver Perez or John Maine if the Mets should add another arm. Joel Pineiro and Jon Garland are still out there, but they are also linked to other teams. There’s no guarantee the Mets will bring in somebody else.

2) Where is Johan Santana?
A: Santana is coming off surgery. The Mets are saying he’ll be ready, but they said the same thing about John Maine last spring.

3) What is Jose Reyes status?
A: Reyes says he feels good, but he hasn’t tested that hamstring in game-type conditions. And, how much speed has he lost?

4) Did David Wright find his home run stroke over the winter?
A: Maybe it was Citi Field, maybe not. But, Wright did not hit with power last season. That has to change if the Mets are to do anything.

5) Carlos Beltran is how many weeks away?
A: Originally, they said 12 weeks. He won’t be ready by spring training to do baseball activities, but maybe they’ll have a better timetable by then.

6) What’s the catching situation look like?
A: The Mets have plenty of reserve catchers, but not a No. 1. They hope it will be Bengie Molina. They really don’t want to rush Josh Thole to the majors.

7) Who is the real Mike Pelfrey?
A: Pelfrey appeared on the verge of breaking out in 2008, but regressed last season. It’s about time he gets to the next level.

8) Where does the coin land?
A: Will Coinflip Perez show consistency beyond being inconsistent? He’s also coming off surgery. The reports are he’s working hard, but he’s worked hard before with no results.

9) What are the bullpen roles?
A: They could change if they sign John Smoltz. I’d rather have him in a set-up role than Kelvim Escobar. That way I could also drop Bobby Parnell down to a lower pressure slot.

10) What kind of camp will Jerry Manuel run?
A: Lax or clamp down? There were injuries last season, but the team also played fundamentally poor baseball and that’s his responsibility.

Dec 20

Dec. 20.09: Not knocking on Damon’s door ….

There was a time when I would have jumped at Johnny Damon coming to the Mets. But, that was several years ago. Damon, coming off a fabulous postseason, has renewed interest in some. Mostly, his agent, who is salivating with thoughts of another payday.

But, even Scott Boras wasn’t able to fake the Yankees this time.

Damon is a good player, but he’s an aging one with an inevitable breakdown in his immediate future. There’s no DH to hide him. If they won’t to go one year, OK, I’ll do it, but that’s not happening.

Damon wants three, and as good as he was hitting at Yankee Stadium, I don’t see that production in Citi Field. I’m passing on Damon.

Dec 15

Minaya promises better team ….

In the wake of yesterday’s big splash by the Phillies, Mets GM Omar Minaya promised a better team next year. Speaking to reporters at Citi Field, Minaya said: “I feel like, in past years, we have always found a way to improve our club, and I feel comfortable we will continue to work hard and, when it’s all said and done, when we get to Opening Day, our team is going to be better than they way they ended last year.”

Assuming Jose Reyes returns, David Wright regains his power stroke and a full, injury-free season from Carlos Beltran, not to mention, Johan Santana, the Mets can’t help but be better next year.

The injuries were the storyline last season, but even so there were plenty of times in which they did not perform, especially on the mound.

Minaya said the Mets aren’t done, and didn’t express discouragement as to how things have progressed.

“We have a plan, and our plan, I like our plan,” Minaya said without telling what it was. “We know who we’ve targeted, and we feel comfortable if we get our guys we’re gonna have a very good team on the field and we’re going to be a team that will compete for our division and compete for the pennant.”

The Mets ended the season needing at least two starters to address the concerns over Oliver Perez, John Maine and Mike Pelfrey. They also needed a catcher and left fielder.

As of now, none of those needs have been filled.

I don’t share Minaya’s confidence. Whether or not you guys do, let me know in the newest poll.

Dec 12

Another look at Bay ….

BAY: Is he the right fit?

BAY: Is he the right fit?

The offer is out there, four years at $65-million, which I don’t believe is enough to bring Jason Bay to the Mets. I may have overestimated in an earlier post on Bay’s asking value, but hold fast the Mets’ initial offer won’t get it done.

Before jumping on the Bay Bandwagon, let’s kick the tires a bit and look at some of the reasons to be cautious with him.

* He’s a dead pull hitter, which everybody is saying fits the style for Citi Field. That said, don’t you think pitchers know that and will give him nothing but breaking stuff over the plate? I can envision another David Wright dropoff.

* What does it say to you that the team that knows him best prefers Matt Holliday and is holding firm at four years, $60 million. Posturing? Perhaps. But, it must be considered.

* At 31, he’ll be 35 at the end of a presumably back-loaded contract. If the Mets make it five years, he’ll be 36. There are reports in Boston the Red Sox would have to move Bay to the DH slot at the end of his contract for concern of him being a defensive liability.

* Bay is a strikeout machine, fanning 162 times last season and not less that 129 in his career.

Dec 03

Matsui?

Omar Minaya is seeking the medical records of Hideki Matsui. Just informational. Doesn’t mean they are about to sign him to a three-year deal. Even so, it says the Mets could be thinking in that direction. I like Matsui, but his time has come and he’s a DH-type now. He’s not going to be able to cover that left field at Citi Field without some kind of breakdown.