Mar 17

D’Backs To Go With Owings At Short

0321130917cwp PNI0905-spt Diamondbacks

Jim Bowden of ESPN is hearing that Chris Owings will be the everyday shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet, Bowden reports they are going to start him over Didi Gregorius because of his bat.

As a result, Gregorius should now be a good trade piece for the D’Backs at some point this summer and Bowden expects Owings will be a Rookie of the Year candidate.

John Sickels profiled Owings a couple of months ago and said he was supposed to open 2013 at Double-A, but after a solid spring training, the D’Backs sent him to Triple-A Reno.

He responded with a .330/.359/.482 line, with 31 doubles, 12 homers, 22 walks, 99 strikeouts in 546 at-bats. He also set a career high with 20 stolen bases, and was named to the All Star Futures Game roster.

The 21-year old phenom was named the Topps 2013 Pacific Coast League Player of the Year and will be looking to impress again this season with his team who are not exactly seen as potential contenders for the title.

There has been a some buzz about the Mets monitoring the shortstop situation in Arizona in the past two weeks, but neither team has confirmed any interest in making a deal.

Sandy Alderson continues to hold firm on his position that there will not be any changes at shortstop between now and opening day.

Additionally, two other team sources told the NY Post that despite his spring performance, Ruben Tejada will be the shortstop and “he’ll be fine.”

Mar 11

Mariners Still Looking To Move Franklin, Scouting The Mets

franklin

If you think it’s too late for teams to swing deals, think again. The Mariners are still actively scouting the Mets according to a report by ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. He states that Seattle has been religiously attending Mets games, and doubled their scouting contingent in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

It’s no secret that Seattle is shopping shortstop Nick Franklin and MLB Trade Rumors suspects they are readying a proposal for the Mets and are trying to determine a fair asking price. I agree with them.

Seattle is presumably looking for a young pitching prospect in return of similar value. Obviously, Noah Syndergaard and even Rafael Montero are off the table, but can the Mets tempt the Mariners with a pair of lesser pitching prospects like a Jacob deGrom and Michael Fulmer?

The Mets have no shortage of young arms with high upside, but are they ready to move one or two of them to get the upgrade they need at short?

Sandy Alderson continues to say that he’s quite happy with Ruben Tejada at short and that we shouldn’t expect any changes to the roster between now and Opening Day. However, I’m praying that it’s just a bluff, and we do know that he has acknowledged interest in Franklin as recently as last month.

The 22-year old Franklin batted .225/.303/.382 with 12 home runs, 20 doubles, 42 walks, 45 RBI and a 2.3 WAR in 412 plate appearances last season. Obviously that’s quite an offensive upgrade over anything that Tejada can produce.

The experts say that Franklin won’t stick at shortstop and that his fringe to average arm and range make him better suited for second base. But can he be any worse than Tejada who is also a second baseman albeit masquerading as a shortstop for the Mets the last three seasons?

For what it’s worth, Franklin is having a great Spring for the M’s batting .333/.368/.667 with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs and a 1.035 OPS in 18 at-bats.

Mar 07

Mets’ Terry Collins To Use Replay Today

For years, New York Mets manager Terry Collins did not like the concept of instant replay. That changed, and Collins has the opportunity to test the new instant replay system in today’s exhibition game with St. Louis at Port St. Lucie.

COLLINS: Will use replay today. (AP)

COLLINS: Will use replay today. (AP)

“For years and years I never did – I didn’t like the thought of it,’’ Collins told ESPN. “But the technology is so good now and so fast, you’ve got to use it. I mean, there’s too much money involved. One win all of a sudden can make a big difference.’’

Collins plans to have three starting pitchers watch the broadcast feed from the home clubhouse and use a walkie-talkie to notify bench coach Bob Geren on plays that could be challenged. Collins didn’t specify what format the Mets will use to challenge during the season.

Managers will get one challenge during the season. If they use and lose it prior to the seventh inning, they will lose the chance to challenge again. After the seventh, they can appeal the umpires to confer.

There are several flaws in the system, but one method that should be beneficial and fair to all.

In the National Football League, scoring plays and turnovers are automatically reviewed in the press box and reverses are wired to the officials on the field.

Since all games are televised, and because there have been numerous snafus already this spring resulting in delays, the solution appears obvious. Why not have an umpire or MLB official monitoring the game from the press box?

If there’s a close play, that official can immediately buzz the crew chief the play is under review. Then the results can immediately be transmitted down.

This way, there are no such things as challenges. The idea of losing a challenge because you failed on a previous one is absurd.

Taking the challenge from the manager will undoubtedly not hinder the pace of the game because it eliminates the first step of arguing and then challenging.

If the idea is to get the play correct and be fair, this is the best way.

Feb 22

Harvey Feels “Awesome” After Throwing

For New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, the long and grueling rehab road on the anniversary of his Tommy John surgery took another step when he began his throwing program.

Officially, it was 20 throws on flat ground from 60 feet away to bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello.

HARVEY: Begins throwing program

HARVEY: Begins throwing program (Adam Rubin, ESPN)

Harvey underwent surgery, Oct. 22, after giving up on his plan of trying to treat the injury with rest in an attempt to be ready this season.

Harvey described the procedure to reporters Saturday as using a tendon from his right wrist and wrapping it around his elbow three times.

“It was awesome,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I know it was 20 throws at 60 feet, but everything felt absolutely amazing. I’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s going to be a tough process [even] with how things felt today. But I’ve got to stick with it and move forward.’’

The plan for Harvey, who went 9-5 (but with over 10 no-decisions last summer), is to throw three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) for now.

Each non-throw day is also important because it allows the trainers to see how the elbow responds to the throwing.

Harvey’s reputation is that of trying to push the envelope, which he acknowledged he must resist.

“There’s a little guy in the back of my head saying, ‘Don’t go too strong.’ He’s usually the one who’s right,’’ Harvey said. “Obviously feeling good and as competitive as I am, I always wanted to push more. But ‘Jiminy Cricket’ was telling me, ‘no’ in the back of my head.’’

Harvey said he’s like to pitch this year, but added that sentiment was the competitor in him surfacing. Harvey did acknowledge he agreed with general manager Sandy Alderson’s assertion he not be a focus this year.

Harvey conceded this was simply the first day in a long process.

 

 

Feb 22

Mets Instruct D’Arnaud Not To Block Plate

Miami Marlins vs New York Mets

Travis d’Arnaud told reporters that regardless of what rule goes into effect regarding blocking the plate, Mets personnel have instructed him today that he is to stand in fair territory and give base runners the whole plate.

The rule, which is not official yet, is to allow runners a lane to part of the plate so as to avoid contact and collisions with the catcher.

Mets bench coach Bob Geren said that he is working with all the Mets catchers about positioning and making sure they tag across the plate.

Last week, Keith Law of ESPN listed Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud among his top twenty impact prospects for 2014, but says he is “the archetypal GWH player” — Good When Healthy.

D’Arnaud can catch, throw, and hit for power, but has to stay on the field. The Mets don’t have a heavy-use backup on the 40-man, so they’re counting on d’Arnaud to catch 120 games this year, which should mean 15-20 homers and excellent defense if he can stay out of the trainers’ room.

Yesterday, Adam Rubin spoke with hitting coach Dave Hudgens about how TDA can shorten his swing and make more contact without the need for conscious mechanical adjustments.

“I think cutting down his swing just means not trying so hard,” Hudgens told Rubin. “I think when he came up last year he was trying, maybe not in his mind, but it looked like he was trying to hit every ball out of the ballpark and over swinging a little bit and probably just trying to do too much. Watching him this year, so far early in camp, his swing has been easy. He’s been staying in the middle of the field. And that will lend to less effort and less bat wrap.”

Last season with the Mets, d’Arnaud batted .202/.286/.263, with one homer, five RBIs, and 21 strikeouts in 99 at-bats.

Rubin asks Hudgens to quantify d’Arnaud’s offensive capability? Is it .270 or .280 with 20 homers?

“Who knows?” Hudgens tells Rubins. “I’m not putting any numbers on guys. He’s got a chance to be a very good offensive player. I mean, he’s got very quick hands. He’s got a good idea at the plate. I think it’s just experience and confidence and getting that playing time. I think last year when he came up he hadn’t played that much. So I think a big thing is just staying healthy.”

If the fans are looking for d’Arnaud to be the next saving grace as Mike Piazza was for the Mets, Hudgens shares with Rubin, that would be asking too much. ”Piazza, I guess, was the greatest hitting catcher who ever lived. I just want Travis to be Travis.”

D’Arnaud acknowledged that he has some work to do and can’t come up to the plate thinking longball everytime. ”That was more me trying to hit the ball 600 feet,” he said. “When I would try to do that, I would overwrap or overswing pretty much, and it would just dig me in a bigger hole.”

Now it’s up to him to fix it.