Mar 29

Alderson Facing A Lot Of Questions This Week

The Mets are entering the final week of their eventful spring training. Unless the Mets make a surprise trade – and what are the odds of that? – there shouldn’t be any notable additions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions to be made.

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

And, if you’ve followed closely, you know GM Sandy Alderson will make the final call on those decisions with only a minimal input from manager Terry Collins. The most successful teams have collaboration between the GM and the manager, usually based on respect, but that’s not the basis of this relationship. When the GM tells an author of his eroding confidence in his manager, what does that tell you?

So, operating under the theory this is Alderson’s team, here is what he must decide:

LEFTY RELIEVER: With Scott Rice optioned out, the thinking in Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin will get the nod over Dario Alvarez. There’s been talk about going outside, but that’s been going on all spring.

DISABLED LIST: There have been reports of Daniel Murphy and Vic Black being ready for Opening Day, but it’s a long season so why push it?

SECOND BASE: If not Murphy, then who? Alderson discusses Danny Muno or Matt Reynolds, but ignores Ruben Tejada, who is supposed to be the backup.

LEADOFF HITTER: They really don’t have one in the traditional sense, but based on their options it should be Juan Lagares. Quite simply, Curtis Granderson has more value as a run producer in the middle of the order.

BATTING ORDER: Primarily because of the juggling at the leadoff spot, there’s been little consistency in the order. We’ve seen the Mets have over 100 different batting order combinations in recent seasons. Unfortunately, it could be that way again.

ROTATION ORDER: Most teams who already know their rotation would have an order. Not the Mets.

So, Alderson has a lot to think about this week.

Mar 27

Mets Matters: Murphy DL Bound; Harvey Sharp

In what hardly is a surprise, the Mets are now saying they expect Daniel Murphy to open the season on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring.

“Look, any hamstring is typically a minimum of a couple of weeks,’’ GM Sandy Alderson told reporters today. “For him to come back sooner than roughly Opening Day would be a little surprising. But given the way he felt – and the fact that it was a very mild strain – it’s still a possibility he will be ready. I don’t think it’s anything we can predict right now.’’

mets-matters logoMurphy was injured March 19.

Alderson’s comments are vague, which is no shock. Alderson’s initial prognosis was, “he’ll be out a week or so, maybe a little longer … and, “hamstrings take longer than people want to admit.’’

He was correct there, but his subsequent comment about the injury being a “very mild strain,’’ is nonsense considering the Mets downgraded the hamstring from tightness to a pull. Until Alderson today, the Mets never described it a “very mild strain.’’

Two weeks from March 19 is April 2, or next Thursday.

If Murphy plays next week it will only be in minor league games, which will enable the Mets to backdate his time on the DL and allow him to miss only the season’s first six days. If he plays in a regular exhibition game and is injured the clock would start ticking that date.

Murphy started hitting off a tee Wednesday and did some light running Friday.

METS LOSE TODAY: Matt Harvey, who turned 26, gave up one run on three hits with five strikeouts in 4.1 innings in today’s 5-4 loss to St. Louis. … In the Mets’ grand experiment of batting the pitcher’s spot eighth, those hitters went a combined 1-for-3, which was pinch-hitter Anthony Recker’s single. Harvey was hitless in two at-bats. The Nos. 9 and 1 hitters – Danny Muno and Curtis Granderson – were a combined 4-for-7. … Closer Jenrry Mejia gave up a three-run homer in the eighth inning. … Lefty specialist Sean Gilmartin, a Rule 5 pick, struck out Scott Moore looking with two outs in the seventh.

EXTRA INNINGS: ESPN reported the Mets are scouting lefty relievers Rex Brothers (Colorado) and Boone Logan (Los Angeles Dodgers). Count on Logan being too pricey for the Mets as he is due $11.75 million in 2015 and 2016. … Pitching coach Dan Warthen said closer Bobby Parnell could throw 100 mph., which is another useless prediction by the Mets. Let’s see him not open the season on the DL first. … Jacob deGrom will start Saturday against Washington’s Stephen Strasberg at Tradition Field.

 

Mar 27

What’s Collins Really Thinking With His Lineup?

Here’s why I have trouble taking the Mets seriously at times. In today’s game against St. Louis, manager Terry Collins plans to bat Matt Harvey eighth.

Theoretically, it would enable him to bat Juan Lagares ninth followed by Curtis Granderson and David Wright.

COLLINS: What's he really thinking?

COLLINS: What’s he really thinking?

“I know in our market it’s a big issue. It’ll be a headline, back-page story,’’ Collins told reporters the other day. “But I’ll just do it to see what it looks like. Nothing more than that.’’

So, why do it then? That question becomes more pertinent when you consider the rest of the lineup.

First of all, if this is done to bunch your speed at the top of the order, you can do it the traditional way. The problem is Lagares isn’t even in the lineup, so the initial point is automatically defeated. Traditionally – and why is it tradition is such a taboo word in baseball these days? – a team’s best hitter, which is the combination of average and power, bats third. And, with the Mets that is Wright.

Today, it is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who admittedly has had a good spring, but will open the season on the bench. Collins also has Michael Cuddyer clean-up and Wilmer Flores fifth – where neither will be during the season – Eric Campbell at first and Danny Muno at second. Campbell is a role player and Muno likely won’t make the team.

Spring training is in part used to experiment. Fine, but it you’re going to experiment then at least do it in such a way that you’ll get somewhat of an idea of how things will be in the season.

Here’s today’s Mets’ lineup:

Curtis Granderson, rf: Will bat leadoff only if Lagares can’t do the job, which means that’s another issue.

David Wright, 3b: Is having a good spring and should bat third until he proves he can’t.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf: Will make the team in part because he’s had a good spring, but also because he’s out of options.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: Won’t hit clean-up as that’s reserved for Lucas Duda. We’ll see how long he lasts in left field.

Wilmer Flores, ss: Is playing with a bruised foot. Let’s hope he doesn’t get re-injured. Even so, I can’t see him hitting this high in the order.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: He hasn’t had a great spring hitting, but I can see him in the sixth slot at times.

Eric Campbell, 1b: Valuable role player.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Yes, the DH is used to spread out at-bats, but they hit in the National League. How many games did the Mets lose because their pitcher was an automatic out or couldn’t advance a runner? Bottom line: The batters should hit more during spring training.

Danny Muno, 2b: Is making a push to make the team, however if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready then Ruben Tejada should be playing more at the end of spring training.

So, there you have it, the Mets’ order one-through-nine. Of the nine spots, only d’Arnaud at sixth seems like something they’ll do during the season.

Collins has wasted today’s batting order and made today a joke. Is that what he really wanted to do, or is he sending a message to GM Sandy Alderson? And, what could that message be? Perhaps that he doesn’t have a legitimate leadoff hitter? Or that Granderson really isn’t a good fit for this team?

I’m sure there are others, and you don’t have to look that hard.

 

Mar 19

The Mets Will Need All That Pitching Depth They Treasure

The Mets have been boasting about their depth in pitching, and they will need it in the wake of season-ending injuries to Zack Wheeler and reliever Josh Edgin.

They will also be without Bobby Parnell to start the year and Vic Black could also open on the disabled list. Wheeler, Edgin and Parnell have elbow problems; Black has a bum shoulder.

GEE: Strong effort today. (AP)

GEE: Strong effort today. (AP)

That’s four pitchers the Mets counted on who won’t be available.

The Mets believe there is a high upside for Wheeler, but frankly if Gee gives them his best numbers of 13 victories (13 in 2011), 32 starts and 199 innings (both in 2013), that would be more than they could hope for. (Wheeler’s best numbers were 11 victories, 32 starts and 185.1 innings last season.

Gee and Rafael Montero showed today why the Mets were lucky they weren’t able to deal both, or either, this winter. Gee and Montero have been termed expendable by the Mets because of the promise of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

With Wheeler out for the season, Gee is back in the rotation and was stretched out today in the form of 3.2 scoreless innings against the Astros. As for Montero, he was also stretched out today with 3.2 innings – one run on two hits – also against Houston.

Gee knows how fickle things can be, but he’s happy for now.

“I was almost a little nervous for today – just having to start again,’’ Gee told reporters. “It’s exciting. And I get adrenaline every time I get to do something I really love to do.

“It was nice. I tried to stay within myself and work on things and take it for what it was, but it was exciting to get back out there and do what I like to do.’’

With Gee back in the rotation, Montero is ticketed for the bullpen, that is, of course, unless another pitcher goes down.

Like the rotation, the back end of the Mets’ bullpen seemed secure, but without Edgin and now Black, things are unsettled beyond Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres. Figure Montero for a spot, along with Buddy Carlyle, who could be a free-agent if he’s not on the Opening Day roster.

However, that’s only five out of a potential seven relievers. At one time the Mets were concerned about getting a lefty reliever. Now they need multiple arms.

The old saying is true, in that you can never have enough pitching.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets swept their split-squad games, beating Houston, 3-1, and the Cardinals, 7-2. … Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson homered against the Astros. … Jon Niese gave up one run on three hits in four innings against St. Louis. … Parnell is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Friday. … Daniel Murphy left the game against St. Louis in the first inning with tightness in his right hamstring.

Mar 18

Projecting Opening Day Roster

Things change in spring training, and they have in a big way for the Mets, who are now without Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin for the year with both having Tommy John surgery.

I figured on projecting the Mets’ Opening Day roster several times this spring and I am minus two pitchers plus having second thoughts on other players, notably Dilson Herrera.

Here’s what I am thinking:

HARVEY: Could he be Opening Day starter? (Getty)

HARVEY: Could he be Opening Day starter? (Getty)

ROTATION (5)

Matt Harvey: Has been solid all spring, and although the Mets say he won’t be the Opening Day starter, I’m not sold on that.

Bartolo Colon: He was my first choice to be Opening Day starter, but his 10.29 ERA gives me second thoughts. However, the way the rotation plays itself out after the off day, Colon would be the starter.

Jacob deGrom: Last year’s Rookie of the Year has been scintillating.

Jon Niese: He’s pitched well so far. I have him pegged as the No. 3 starter in the rotation.

Dillon Gee: There’s a reason why he wasn’t traded, and that reason is being examined in New York today.

BULLPEN (7)

Jenrry Mejia: Will be the closer coming out of spring training with Bobby Parnell on the disabled list.

Jeurys Familia: Will be the eighth-inning set-up reliever.

Vic Black: Has a balky shoulder, but expected to be ready.

Carlos Torres: Able to work in situational and long relief.

Rafael Montero: He’s been up before and the Mets aren’t as protective of him as they are Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. He’s been able to get out lefty hitters.

Buddy Carlyle: He’s not shutdown coming out of the pen, but was decent for the Mets last summer.

Sean Gilmartin: I’m taking him over Scott Rice or Dario Alvarez because of his Rule 5 status.

CATCHERS (2)

Travis d’Arnaud: He’s hitting a miserable .160, including a double and three RBI. He should get a long look before the Mets pull the plug.

Anthony Recker: Gets the nod over Kevin Plawecki, whom the Mets want to have the at-bats.

INFIELD (6)

Lucas Duda: A strained left intercostal has limited him to only 11 at-bats.

Daniel Murphy: The Mets will continue to look to trade him by the July 31 deadline.

Wilmer Flores: It’s his job and he’s done nothing to lose it, hitting .414 with two errors.

David Wright: The reports have been good on his health and swing.

Ruben Tejada: He’s having a decent spring, good enough to warrant staying on the team.

Eric Campbell: Very capable coming off the bench to spell Wright.

OUTFIELD (5)

Michael Cuddyer: They still don’t know whether it will be right field or left field.

Juan Lagares: Having a great spring with a .467 on-base percentage, but we’re talking in playing only nine games with 27 at-bats.

Curtis Granderson: They don’t know where to play him, either in the field or in the order.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis: He’s out of options, but his .483 average makes him worthy.

John Mayberry Jr.: Showing flashes of power, which is what they want.