Feb 15

Top Ten Mets’ Questions Entering Spring Training

The New York Mets open spring training this week with ten key questions that must be answered in the positive to justify the optimism surrounding this team.

Of course, several questions are pitching oriented, beginning with the obvious:

Q: How healthy is Matt Harvey?

A: This is the most important question of the season. The Mets still don’t know how they’ll break down Harvey’s innings, but we should have a good sense by the time they break camp. Harvey claims to be healthy, but there is still the matter of throwing to hitters.

LAGARES: Pegged for leadoff. (AP)

LAGARES: Pegged for leadoff. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: Juan Lagares has the speed, but lacks the on-base percentage. Curtis Granderson was used there last season, but has more value hitting in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A bum shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season. A healthy Wright answers a lot of questions. The expectations of the Mets are dependent on their young pitching and a boost from their offense, and that’s about Wright.

Q: What will be the rotation order?

A: With Harvey reportedly not starting until the seventh game of the season, I’m thinking Bartolo Colon will be the Opening Day starter followed by Zack Wheeler, then Jon Niese and Jacob deGrom. With an off day thrown in that should leave Harvey to start the April 13 home opener against Philadelphia.

Q: Will Dillon Gee be traded?

A: They’ve been trying to trade him all winter, but probably wanted too much. That’s usually the way it is with the Mets. Gee is the sixth starter, but they won’t go with a six-man rotation. They could use him in long relief or send him to the minors.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: The one thing I don’t want to see is Flores losing his job with an off spring. He needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if he has a poor spring training. Manager Terry Collins has to convey confidence in his shortstop.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: That depends on the health of Bobby Parnell. As it is, he’s not expected back until a month into the season. That means Jenrry Mejia should be the closer coming out of spring training with Jeurys Familia the likely set-up reliever. The Mets will probably carry seven relievers, but how many will be left-handed?

Q: Will there be any additions?

A: The Mets’ biggest off-season acquisition was outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who’ll start in right field, with Granderson playing left. They also picked up John Mayberry for their bench. If everybody stays healthy, there is no reason to add anybody. Of course, at the end of spring training there is always a flood of available players who have been released.

Q: Who makes an impression?

A: Does Rafael Montero steal a spot? Will Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard leave a mark for later in the summer? Will Eric Campbell win a spot on the bench? For a team with six straight losing seasons, the Mets don’t have many issues with their starting position players. The main issues are with the bench and batting order.

Q: Any injuries?

A: This is always the wild card. Something could always happen, and if it does will the Mets have the depth to overcome? What must happen is for the Mets not to push the envelope with Harvey and Wright. It’s a long season.

Sep 15

Why Not DeGrom Or D’Arnaud For NL Rookie Honors?

Why not Jacob deGrom? Or Travis d’Arnaud?

Usually, the Rookie of the Year Award goes to hitters, as the writers tend to favor offense and the everyday player. When it comes to that, deGrom’s stiffest competition could come from teammate d’Arnaud, who leads NL Rookies with 13 homers and is second with 40 RBI, despite a .243 average in 102 games.

DeGrom: Viable NL Rookie candidate.

DeGrom: Viable NL Rookie candidate.

Had d’Arnaud played the entire season he might he the consensus pick.

Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton figures to be the other best bet, hitting .259 with six homers and 48 RBI in a league-leading 144 games for NL Rookies. Cubs third baseman Mike Olt has 12 homers and 32 RBI, but with a .154 average.

Hamilton plays center field, while d’Arnaud is a catcher, both difficult positions to break in with considering the defensive responsibilities.

DeGrom, tonight’s starter against Miami at Citi Field, trails Arizona’s Chase Anderson in record, 9-6 to 8-6, but leads him in innings pitched (127.1-109.1) and strikeouts (121-100) and has given up far fewer homers (7-16). As far as pitchers go, it has to be one of the two.

Other Mets under consideration are Wilmer Flores, Eric Campbell and Jeurys Familia.

If a Met wins, he will become the fifth Rookie of the Year in franchise history, joining Tom Seaver (1969), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984).

So, why not deGrom or d’Arnaud?

May 30

Chris Young and Sandy’s Big Gamble

chris young

Sandy Alderson’s $7.25 million gamble that Chris Young would suddenly revitalize his career by offering him an everyday role has come up snake-eyes for the New York Mets GM.

As Young shown throughout his career, he was not able to suddenly start hitting righthanded pitching the way Sandy thought he would simply by letting him face more of them. You see the trick to this game is to try and minimize the bad at-bats, the bad matchups, the bad results.

You can’t put out a fire by dousing it with gasoline, and that’s essentially what has happened here with Chris Young.

Alderson believed that CY’s .219 batting average over the last two years was an aberration and the result of inconsistent playing time. Wrong.

However, all the extra playing time has now resulted in career worst numbers for Young who went 0-for-3 on Wednesday and is now batting .195 with three homers and 11 RBI for the season. Hardly the middle of the order slugger Sandy thought he was getting when he decided to invest 9 percent of his payroll budget on him.

Young’s playing days are now winding down and the rebuilding Mets have turned to 40-year old Bobby Abreu as their short term solution, opting for the grizzled veteran instead of younger options like Eric Campbell or Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who homered two more times last night for Triple-A Las Vegas.

The impetus for the Mets underperforming offense which led to the firing of hitting coach Dave Hudgens, is as much on the shoulders of Chris Young more than any other player on the roster.

Seeing Young fail again and again in endless RBI situations may have been the tipping point for what transpired after the weekend series with the Diamondbacks. 

What happens now?

It’s tough to say now that Collins has grown enamored with Abreu, who was only supposed to be the bat off the bench and not someone getting a healthy diet of everyday playing time.

But you have to believe that at some point Nieuwenhuis, who is 14 years younger than Abreu and has hit eight homers this season, more than any other player on the Mets roster, will get another chance to show if he belongs.

There’s no guarantee that Kirk will be the answer. But in a true rebuild and on most any major league roster with an eye toward the future, the choice between Chris Young, Bobby Abreu and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, wouldn’t be as difficult a decision as it seems to be for the Mets.

Mar 15

Playing In Las Vegas A Good Idea

The New York Mets haven’t had the best working relationships with their minor league affiliates over the years, moving from Tidewater, to Norfolk, to Buffalo, and now Las Vegas.

Much of the problem, especially with Buffalo, was not doing much to promote those affiliates. The perception with Buffalo, and now Las Vegas, is those cities were merely pit stops until somebody offered a better arrangement.

It doesn’t take much of an effort for the major league team to play several exhibition games the final weekend of spring training, and in the case with Las Vegas – where the weather is good – in the middle.

The cost of air travel and hotels for the weekend is miniscule in comparison to the goodwill and opportunity for the minor league city to show off the big club. Of course, those costs are also offset by their cut of the gate.

This is the only chance for those fans to see David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud, the latter who played last year in Las Vegas. They’ll also get a chance to watch Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia, who could pitch part of this season in Las Vegas.

Some of the other Mets expected to make the trip are Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores, Omar Quintanilla, Jacob deGrom, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Kevin Plawecki, Anthony Seratelli and Eric Campbell. All but Quintanilla should see time in Las Vegas this summer.

Las Vegas was kind of a stretch for the Mets because they didn’t have much choice after Buffalo, as it is several time zones away, which makes last-minute moves difficult.

Buffalo was perfect because it is a city with professional sports and call-ups were easy. It’s too bad that didn’t work.

I don’t know how long they’ll stay with Las Vegas, but this was a good idea.

ON DECK: Bartolo Colon.

Mar 05

Mets Today: Split-Squad Game With Gee And Mejia

The New York Mets have their first split-squad game of the spring as they are home to the Marlins and on the road to the Nationals.

Dillon Gee will start in Port St. Lucie while Jenrry Mejia starts in Viera. Mejia is competing with Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan for the fifth spot in the rotation, but there also exists he could be in the bullpen to start the season.

Mejia’s status in the bullpen is dependent on whether Jose Valverde and/or Kyle Farnsworth make the team.

Here are today’s Mets lineups:

AGAINST MIAMI

Eric Young, lf

Chris Young, dh

Curtis Granderson, rf

Josh Satin, 3b

Matt Clark, 1b

Anthony Recker, c

Matt den Dekker, cf

Omar Quintanilla, ss

Danny Muno, 2b

AGAINST WASHINGTON

Juan Lagares, cf

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf

Andrew Brown, lf

Brandon Allen, dh

Wilmer Flores, 2b

Eric Campbell, 1b

Zach Lutz, 3b

Taylor Teagarden, c

Anthony Seratelli, ss