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 11

Mets Could Use John Lannan In Bullpen

Starter or reliever, it doesn’t matter to left-hander John Lannan, who just wants to be on the New York Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Lannan, 29, was brought into camp to compete for the fifth-starter role with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia. Matsuzaka appears to have the inside track, but Lannan will start Wednesday against St. Louis.

LANNAN:  Will pitch for food. (AP)

LANNAN: Will pitch for food. (AP)

However, the demotion of reliever Josh Edgin to the minor league camp leaves Scott Rice as the only lefty in the pen, and the Mets are seriously considering Lannan in that role.

“I think that’s been the plan since Day 1. They’ve been pretty transparent with that,’’ Lannan told reporters in Port St. Lucie Tuesday morning about working in relief. “TC asked me how I felt about it. Obviously I’ll do anything to help the team, in any capacity.’’

Lannan has appeared in 148 major league games, all as a starter. He’s only worked out of the bullpen seven times in 95 minor league games, so there’s obviously a lot to learn.

The times Lannan did work in the pen he knew when he was to enter the game and had time to warm up. This will be different.

“I want to see how I am when the phone rings and I don’t have any warning,’’ Lannan said. “You always hear about that adrenaline rush when the phone rings. If it does come to that point, I want to see how I react to that.’’

Lannan said he can get loose quickly, but there’s more to it than that, as he must see how his arm adjusts to: 1) warming up several times in the same game, 2) how he responds to back-to-back appearances, and 3) how he feels after pitching two or three innings one day and coming back the next.

Lannan is coming back from surgery in the offseason to repair a tendon linking the thigh muscles to his left knee. So far, he’s pleased with his camp, having given up two runs on hour hits with four strikeouts and zero walks in two appearances.

Lannan still believes he can start on this level, and at his age, he’s worth keeping around in whatever role. Pitching is such a commodity and the Mets have several issues in their rotation, so even if he makes the roster in the pen he could start again.

ON DECK: Mets vs. Cardinals result.

Mar 08

Mets Week In Review: Alderson Thinking 90 Wins; Davis, Duda Ailing; Syndergaard Impressive

Can you believe it, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, declared in a staff meeting his belief his team is capable of winning 90 games this season.

Manager Terry Collins told the players they should take it as a compliment.

It’s interesting to wonder if Alderson really believes this, then what his patience level would be for Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada if they struggle as in previous years.

In addition to the issues with Davis and Tejada, the Mets have significant questions with their starting pitching, which won’t include Matt Harvey. Also, the Mets have questions about their catcher, outfield and leadoff situation.

In addition this week:

* Davis (calves) and Lucas Duda (left hamstring) were sidelined. Tejada was also shelved with a strained hamstring.

* Pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard continued to impress with two scoreless innings Monday against the Braves.

* David Wright and Daniel Murphy, who sustained strained oblique muscles in previous camps, were held out of the first week of exhibition games. They played for the first time Friday.

* Curtis Granderson homered twice in an exhibition victory Tuesday over Houston.

* Relievers Vic Black and Gonzalez Germen struggled with control.

* Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who underwent elbow surgery, said he is willing to talk with Matt Harvey about his rehab.

* Jenrry Mejia, competing for a spot in the rotation or in the bullpen, said his elbow is pain free.

* Jonathon Niese said he’s not feeling pain in his left shoulder.

* Bartolo Colon and Bobby Parnell worked in an intrasquad game Thursday and were cleared to make their exhibition debut Monday.

Mar 05

Looking At Mets’ Bullpen; Parnell To Throw Today

Closer Bobby Parnell insists he will be ready for Opening Day, which, if it happens, is good news for the New York Mets. Parnell is scheduled to throw one inning in an intrasquad game today, pitching mostly to David Wright and Daniel Murphy.

If Parnell isn’t ready, Vic Black is first in line to be closer. However, after walking the bases loaded Tuesday, his command is an obvious issue.

PARNELL: To throw today. (AP)

PARNELL: To throw today. (AP)

Assuming a healthy Parnell, the other givens in the bullpen are Black – in a set-up role – lefty Scott Rice and Carlos Torres. That is four relievers in a projected seven-man bullpen.

Torres appears the most versatile, last year working in long relief, as a spot starter and in various match-up situations.

Early in spring training Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth were presumed to be in, but there’s no guarantee they’ll keep both, and it is difficult to say who has the edge.

For the sake of the argument, let’s say only one will make it between Valverde and Farnsworth. That leaves room for two more arms.

One would think Josh Edgin would be a factor as to give the Mets two left-handers.

That makes one more to come from Jeurys Familia, Farnsworth/Valverde and possibly Jenrry Mejia:

Familia: Has loads of potential and can throw hard. However, he hasn’t overwhelmed so far, but it is very early.

Farnsworth/Valverde: Both have outs in their contracts where they can opt to leave if they were not on the major league roster by June. Both could be worth keeping in the hope of them regaining something, and possibly act as a trade chip in July.

Mejia: The Cardinals have been successful in developing some of their power arms by first using them in the bullpen. However, the Mets have bounced Mejia from pen to starter, and he’s had elbow issues. They should think long and hard before sending him to the bullpen, especially since the numbers suggest he’s better as a starter.

While there has been little positive out of the pen to date, there’s still plenty of time. Soon, there won’t be.

 

Mar 01

Mets Week In Review: Niese, Davis, Trade Rumors

Since injuries to starting pitchers are more important than temper tantrums by struggling first basemen, undoubtedly the most important news item of the week was the MRI on left-hander Jon Niese.

The MRI showed no structural damage, but revealed weakness in the back area of the shoulder, which Niese took responsibility for, saying he didn’t work that enough.

That disclosure raised numerous questions about the Mets’ handling of the injury.

Niese’s first exhibition start, Tuesday against Houston, will be pushed back. He is to resume throwing and will be given a set of exercises designed to strengthen the back area of his shoulder.

Manager Terry Collins named Niese his Opening Day starter, and so far that hasn’t changed.

Also this week:

* Ike Davis verbally sparred with New York Post reporter Mike Puma, saying he didn’t “approve’’ of his story the first baseman concealed an oblique injury last year. Davis said he didn’t want to disclose the injury because it was about the time he was to be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas and didn’t want it to come off as making excuses.

Davis did not refute the accuracy of the story and produced a line-drive quote: “I sucked last year because I sucked.’’

However, Puma did him one better, and when asked what would happen if Davis took a swing at him, said: “He might miss.’’

* In the wake of the Davis story, Collins said he wants players to reveal injuries and indicated last year could have been different for Davis had he done so. Later, Niese said he didn’t want to tell anybody about his shoulder ailment.

* In a meeting with his staff, general manager Sandy Alderson said he thought 90 victories were possible, which would be a 20 percent improvement. Talk about setting the bar high.

* The Mets remain ambivalent about Ruben Tejada being their Opening Day shortstop. Alderson did not close the door on free agent Stephen Drew and talked trade with Seattle about Nick Franklin.

* Prospect Noah Syndergaard struck out five in two innings in Thursday’s intrasquad game. Syndergaard threw a nasty curve and fastball that topped out a 97 mph. His first exhibition start is scheduled for Monday against Atlanta.

* Outfielder Eric Young and pitcher Bartolo Colon missed time with muscle strains.

* Collins announced his tentative starting rotation: Niese, Colon, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and the fifth starter, which is to come from the group of Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia.

* Collins said he would ease David Wright and Daniel Murphy into games, and indicated Wilmer Flores would get time at shortstop.