Mar 20

Mets’ Pitching Updates: Gee Could Be Opening Day Starter With Niese To DL

They are called “probable’’ pitchers for a reason. It’s because anything can happen, and for the Mets they frequently do.

Injuries to his shoulder and now elbow bumped Jonathon Niese from his scheduled Opening Day start, and thrust Dillon Gee into that role. However, manager Terry Collins has not shut the door on Bartolo Colon.

The current plan is for Niese to open the season on the disabled list and not pitch him until April 6, the fourth game of the season against Cincinnati at Citi Field. He received a cortisone injection Monday to treat elbow inflammation.

Based on his consistency last season and leading the staff with 199 innings pitched, Gee is deserving of the honor of starting Opening Day, March 31, against Washington at Citi Field. Gee had been penciled in start the third game of the season, also against Washington, because of his 4-2 record with a 2.72 ERA last year against the Nationals.

Gee had career highs last year in: innings (199), starts (32), complete games (two), strikeouts (142) and ERA (3.62).

The Mets’ rotation to open the season figures to be: Gee, Colon and Zack Wheeler against the Nationals, followed by Daisuke Matsuzaka, Gee and Niese against Cincinnati.

The Nationals’ projected starters in the first series will be Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman.

 

Mar 19

Mets Today: Goin’ Fishing

Today is one of the most anticipated days of spring training for the New York Mets. It is their off day, which means they can sleep in, play golf, take in a movie, go out to lunch and dinner.

Outside of those needing treatment – hello Ike Davis and Lucas Duda – a few pitchers might throw to maintain their routines.

Other than that, the Mets’ complex will be closed.

Davis and Duda will assuredly receive treatment because manager Terry Collins said either could play in Thursday’s exhibition game against Atlanta.

Neither player has run in minor league and intrasquad games. They have only run in conditioning drills.

Collins announced his rotation following the off day:

Thursday vs. Atlanta: Zack Wheeler.

Friday vs. Minnesota: Dillon Gee

Saturday vs. Miami: Bartolo Colon

Sunday (split squads) vs. Atlanta and Washington: Jenrry Mejia and John Lannan, respectively.

Monday vs. St. Louis: Daisuke Matsuzaka

Mar 16

What Is The Plan For Jenrry Mejia?

The New York Mets have never settled on a role for Jenrry Mejia, which could be the case again this spring.

At 24, Mejia is one of those promising young arms the Mets are boasting. Coming off elbow surgery, they are treating him with kid gloves, but there have been no signs of a setback.

Most starters want to pitch 30 innings in spring training, but with only two weeks left has only worked two. He could get four today against the Cubs in Las Vegas, but won’t get close to 20, much less 30.

Originally, Mejia was to compete with Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan for the fifth-starter role. But, if building for the future is the objective for 2014, it should be Mejia because he has the greatest upside.

Without Matt Harvey, this would have been the perfect chance to develop Mejia. Instead, it is turning out to be a lost opportunity, either to use him for their rotation or showcase him for a trade.

With Mejia in the rotation, they’ll have a better idea of where they stand heading into 2015. If Matsuzaka gets those starts, they still won’t know about Mejia as a starter.

But, how about as a reliever?

The Mets tried that route without success in 2010. Then-manager Jerry Manuel, knowing his job was in severe jeopardy, wanted Mejia on the major league roster to work out of the bullpen to start that season. That was for Manuel’s interests, not Mejia’s.

However, Manuel wouldn’t use him in pressure situations, so Mejia languished without work when he could have been getting starts in the minor leagues.

Understandably, Mejia struggled and was eventually optioned to Triple-A to go back in the rotation. His arm didn’t adjust to the back-and-forth and he was eventually injured and required elbow surgery.

Entering that season, Mejia was a highly sought prospect, but his value was greatly reduced because of how he was used. The Mets couldn’t promote him as a reliever if they were afraid to use him in pressure situations. They also couldn’t promote him as a starter because they wouldn’t use him in that role, either.

After he was hurt, he missed all of 2011.

The Mets are again considering Mejia for their bullpen, but already have seven candidates without him. Just how much work would he get?

If not up here, they should use him as a starter in the minors, which is probably in their best long-term interest because that would hasten his development and possibly build his trade value.

I see him starting the season in Triple-A, but where ever he ends up, just pick a role and stick with it. In the end, I also see it never happening for Mejia with the Mets. They blew this one.

 

Mar 14

Niese Mishandles Twitter Issue

There are many conflicts Jon Niese will face in his Mets’ career, ranging from hitters, to injuries, to the weather and considerably more. Trying to take on reporters doing their jobs using Twitter is one he’ll have difficulty winning.

That is, if he even has a chance.

In the wake of pitching coach Dan Warthen’s apology for a supposed racial slur, an angry Niese told reporters to stop Tweeting from the clubhouse. I understand his angst, but as in most issues steeped in emotion, it is an uphill climb and one handled poorly by all sides.

Reporters are allowed by Major League Baseball to tweet and post blogs from the clubhouse, and in fact, I was one of the first Mets’ reporters to post blogs from the clubhouse when I started the beat in 2006.

Major League Baseball wants the information out there. That creates interest, which leads to ticket sales and television-radio ratings. It’s about money, so as much as Niese wants it, he’s fighting the bottom line.

That’s also why many of Niese’s teammates, including Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, have Twitter handles.

So, who is at fault for this flap?

It starts with Warthen, who apologized to Daisuke Matsuzaka’s interpreter, Jeff Cutler, for his comment, but unfortunately did so in front of a reporter he might not have known well, if at all.

Apologies, warranted or not, should be done in private, especially if there’s not a working knowledge of the reporter, who reportedly is from San Francisco and not on the Mets’ beat.

Also at blame is the reporter, who, according to reports either overheard the apology and/or wasn’t part of the conversation.  I don’t know the reporter, who is Chinese and offended by the comment. That’s his issue, but his sensitivities sparked this fire and now it’s a political correctness issue.

One person is upset and now the world revolves around those feelings.

Seemingly, the apology was an off-the-record comment, and therefore the reporter violated a basic tenet of the reporter-athlete relationship, which made it harder for all reporters to do their jobs.

Finally, Niese must take responsibility for how this unravels. When you’re in a crowded clubhouse, you don’t tell a group of reporters: “Stop Tweeting about our clubhouse. That —-‘s got to stop.’’

How could he not think it wasn’t going to escalate from there? There are ways to deal with the press, either by talking to reporters privately or through the media relations department.

This could have been handled better by everyone.

 

Mar 13

Mets’ Lineup, March 13, Against Washington

Daisuke Matsuzaka has the opportunity to cement his position as the Mets’ fifth starter today against Washington.

This is the lineup behind him:

Ruben Tejada, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Curtis Granderson, rf

Josh Satin, 1b

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Andrew Brown, lf

Anthony Recker, dh

Matt den Dekker, cf

LINEUP COMMENTS: Tejada as the leadoff hitter is semi-interesting. Manager Terry Collins alluded to the possibility over the winter, but we know it won’t happen on a consistent basis. … Anthony Recker as the DH indicates Lucas Duda still isn’t ready. … I wish they would play Matt den Dekker more. I really like his defense. The Mets are higher on Juan Lagares, however, but he needs the at-bats in the minor leagues instead of sitting on the bench in the majors.

ON DECK: What’s going on at shortstop?