Apr 26

Santana update. Could he be dealt?

The Mets arrive at Nationals Park this afternoon with the news Johan Santana’s rehab is progressing, but not to where the team is willing to put a definitive timetable on his return. And, it won’t until he starts throwing off the mound, and even then any date will depend on his pain threshold.

SANTANA: Positive update.

While the news is encouraging, I’m not counting on Santana being a viable pitcher this season, and that even if he does return it will take time before he rounds into form, if at all.

The goal for Santana is to recover from his surgery and regain his strength, however long it takes, and not worry about him going seven or nine innings. Just get out to the mound, period. The intent should be to get him ready for 2012, and if not, at least ensure he answers any health questions a contending team might have if it wants to pursue him in a trade.

Personally, I’m not holding out any hope Santana makes it through the rest of his contract uninjured considering he’s already had three surgeries since joining the Mets.

If I’m the Mets and I can pull off a trade, I’d jump on it. You have to considering their legal and financial restraints. They’ll have Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and probably Francisco Rodriguez off the books after this season. They would be lucky if they could add Santana’s contract to that list.

The plan is to continue throwing off flat ground – he’s currently at 100 feet – through May, then get on the mound followed by rehab games. Santana said this spring he wants to reach 180 on flat ground before getting on the mound.

Santana posted an update on his Twitter account.

The positive outlook is by the All-Star break, and pitching coach Dan Warthen said he’s hoping for a dozen starts.

The Mets spent their day at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this afternoon, with no reports so far of any no-shows. Last season, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran blew off the trip which is a favorite of owner Fred Wilpon. Beltran said earlier he would make the appearance.

 

Apr 20

Where’s the light for the Mets?

The Mets didn’t exactly win one for Brad Emaus last night, but in his honor played crappy baseball as they were stuffed by the Houston Astros, a team they should handle.

Guess not.

“Our team has not played well in any aspect,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said last night, narrowing it down. The Mets were supposed to be under talented on the field, but they were supposed to hustle and play sound fundamentally. That was going to keep them competitive.

The foundation is pitching, but the Mets have cracks all over. Jon Niese was behind in the count all evening and it is somewhat of a surprise he only gave up two runs through six innings.

RA Dickey goes tonight. He kept the ball around the plate for the most part last season, but that’s past tense. His control, like that of Mike Pelfrey, is also off. Dickey is no longer a surprise, he no longer sneaks up on teams. Teams are waiting for him.

The bullpen has been a disaster, and now we learn Bobby Parnell has numbness in his middle finger and can’t properly grip the ball. His velocity has been down. So much for him being the eighth-inning set-up reliever and future closer. There are just too many issues for him. Should the numbness persist, the disabled list can’t be far away.

Numbers wise, the Mets are averaging giving up roughly three runs a game after the fifth inning, a clear indictment of their bullpen. On the bright side, Francisco Rodriguez in on a pace to not reach 55 competed games.

But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Jason Bay is back tomorrow.

 

Mar 17

Parnell working on slider

Though nothing official has been said, Bobby Parnell will be the eighth-inning set-up reliever, even if he’s not convinced himself.

“Nobody has told me what I’ll be doing,’’ said Parnell before leaving for spring training. Even now, after a solid spring and no apparent competition, he’s not convinced.

PARNELL: The future closer.

“I still feel like I’m fighting for it,’’ he told reporters yesterday. “I would say that I have a better shot this year than I did last year. Last year, everything was still up in the air _ I was still fighting for a spot, I didn’t really know what was going on.’’

Two years ago, the Mets gave Parnell a handful of starts, but he fizzled and then manager Jerry Manuel gave up on him. No regrets, said Parnell, who said he the experience was beneficial.

“It was a good thing,’’ Parnell recently told me. “It gave me a chance to work on other pitches. I know you can’t get by one pitch, that being a 98 mph. fastball that sometimes touch triple digits.

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Feb 01

Alderson wants to cut budget in the future

I wrote the other day to not expect the Mets go crazy next winter when the contracts of Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and possibly Francisco Rodriguez come off the books. Sandy Alderson pretty much confirmed that this week.

“Our payroll going into the season will be somewhere between 140 and 150 million [dollars],’’ Alderson said.

Then he drooped the other shoe.

“I think that’s significantly higher than we’d like it to be on an annual basis.’’

Ouch.

With the Phillies’ spending beginning at over $160 million for this season, can the Mets realistically expect to compete if they want to go “significantly,’’ lower?

With Alderson not defining what a significant reduction will be, it doesn’t take a stretch to reason the Mets don’t figure to spend extravagantly in the market, but will use the farm system to develop their team.

Building from within is the preferable way to go, but requires considerable patience and luck. To make it work, as San Francisco did last year, one must also develop pitching and the Mets don’t have any major league ready arms in the near future.

Building from within also requires the willingness to shop the market to patch the holes and in that regard we don’t know of Alderson’s aggressiveness when it comes to pursuing free agents. Even if the Mets slash their budget next year, he’ll still have greater resources than he did in Oakland and San Diego.

When he was hired, Alderson said he understood New York was a different animal and he had act to keep the fan base interested and excited.

So far, we’ve been told to wait. And, we’re hearing it again.

Jan 27

Smooth sailing not guaranteed for 2012

The conventional thinking is this is a throwaway season with the Mets not being able to compete until 2012 after the team clears its books of Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and possibly Francisco Rodriguez.

However, that’s not a given.

While the Mets should have more financial flexibility next winter, they’ll have a wide range of holes to fill including an outfielder to replace Beltran, at least two starting pitchers and possibly a closer if they don’t bring back Rodriguez.

There’s also the possibility of needing a second baseman and maybe a catcher if Josh Thole doesn’t pan out.

Take away those four contracts and the Mets will have $54 million to play with, but that’s only for one year. That’s probably enough to fill four spots, but will the Mets make four long-term signings?

That doesn’t appear to be Sandy Alderson’s way of doing things.

Another potential hole could be shortstop if Jose Reyes walks after the season.

The bottom line is the Mets could still have a lot of work to do after this season, and possibly next year as well.