Mar 15

Re-Visiting Spring Training Questions

The Mets opened spring training with ten significant questions. A month later, let’s take a look at the status of those questions to see what progress the Mets have made in answering them:

Q: How healthy is Matt Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. So far, indications are positive regarding Harvey’s health. The Mets still don’t know how they’ll break down Harvey’s innings or where he will slot into the rotation.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson had some success hitting leadoff last year, but has more value hitting in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season and it wasn’t until Saturday when he hit his first homer of the spring. Improving their offense to complement the potential of their young pitching is largely dependent of Wright.

Q: What will be the rotation order?

A: This much we know: Harvey will pitch in one of the first five games. I am not totally sold on the notion Harvey won’t be the Opening Day starter. If not Harvey, I had been thinking about Bartolo Colon, but he’s been getting hammered. So, it is now up in the air, with possibly Jacob deGrom over Jon Niese – who I would slot in the middle of the rotation – and Zack Wheeler, who is bothered by a sore shoulder.

Q: Will Dillon Gee be traded?

A: The Mets wanted too much for Gee when they dangled him during the winter. With Wheeler ailing, the need to keep Gee has been enhanced. The Mets currently are thinking of using Gee out of the bullpen.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor spring training. Flores is off to a good start offensively and has committed only two errors.

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

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets currently have a handful of candidates to replace Edgin as the situational lefty.

Q: Will there be any additions?

A: It stands to reason the Mets will sign a free-agent lefty reliever if they are unable to trade for one. Once teams start making roster cuts there will be a flood of free agents.

Q: Who makes an impression?

A: None of the left possibilities have been impressive, which means Rafael Montero could steal a spot in the bullpen. GM Sandy Alderson said Steven Matz would not go to the bullpen to replace Edgin. Noah Syndergaard won’t make the rotation, even with Colon having a rough spring.

Q: Any injuries?

A: This is always the wild card. Edgin is lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle. And, there’s a lot left to the spring.

Mar 11

Mets Matters: Edgin Examined; Harvey Sluggish In Loss

Mets left reliever Josh Edgin returned to New York Wednesday to have his sore elbow examined by team doctor David Altcheck.

The Mets say using prospect Steven Matz out of the bullpen. Among those being considered for the role is Scott Rice, who gave up five runs in the Mets’ 7-4 loss to Miami.

mets-matters logoAlso on the list are Dario Alvarez and Rule 5 selection Sean Gilmartin.

Matt Harvey started for the Mets and gave up two runs on six hits in 2.2 innings. Harvey said he felt sluggish with his mechanics, but felt good physically with no pain in his elbow.

Harvey’s next game will be Monday against Boston in Fort Myers. He’s scheduled for 60 pitches over four innings.

PITCHING BRIGHT SPOT: Unquestionably the highlight of the day was Noah Syndergaard, who gave up one hit and struck out five in 2.2 scoreless innings.

As he’s done all spring, Syndergaard will follow Harvey Monday in Fort Myers.

EXTRA INNINGS: Ruben Tejada started at third base and doubled twice and drew a bases-loaded walk. … In working out of the bullpen, Dillon Gee inherited a runner on third and gave up a RBI single. He then retired the next four hitters. … Michael Conforto went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts. … Travis d’Arnaud continues to struggle, as he was 0-for-3 and fell to 2-for-17 (.118) on the spring. … The Mets are 3-6 this spring.

UP NEXT: The Mets host Washington Thursday, with Jacob deGrom starting against the Nationals’ A.J. Cole. Steven Matz, Rafael Montero, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia will also pitch for the Mets.

Feb 18

No Reason For Mets To Rush Parnell

There have been reports Bobby Parnell will regain his closer role when he’s activated from the disabled list roughly a month into the season. Parnell told reporters today in Port St. Lucie, “the ultimate goal when I go up there is to close.’’

PARNELL:  Treat with kid gloves. (AP)

PARNELL: Treat with kid gloves. (AP)

Although manager Terry Collins previously indicated that possibility, Parnell said he’s been promised nothing, which is the right way to go because there are too many unanswered questions.

What if Jenrry Mejia is pitching lights out at the time and the Mets are playing well? It would be foolish for Collins to disrupt the chemistry his team is building. It’s counter-productive for Collins to promise something he’d later reverse track on.

Many managers don’t like to commit to anything unless they absolutely must and there’s no reason for Collins to play his hand now. Collins has fallen into that trap before and must avoid it this time.

Parnell demonstrated promise at closing in 2013 with 22 saves, a 2.16 ERA and 1.000 WHIP. Mejia converted 28 save opportunities last year, but with a 3.65 ERA and less than impressive 1.484 WHIP. What was promising was his 98-41 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

If Mejia stumbles in April, the Mets can go with Jeurys Familia or Vic Black. The Mets enter spring training with potentially their best bullpen in three years, especially if all four are on their games.

And, if Mejia, Familia and Black pitch well in April, there’s no point to rush back Parnell, especially when we don’t know how long it will take for him to work himself into pitching shape. Parnell wanting to be out there is not a good enough reason. Neither is his $3.7-million salary.

“Obviously I want to be there at the beginning of the year, but more importantly, I want to be there at the end of the year,’’ Parnell said. “If they feel like missing the beginning of the year is going to help me be there at the end, and be solid at the end, and help with the playoff push, then I’m all aboard on that.’’

This is something that doesn’t need to be decided until late April or early May. Anything before that is premature.

Dec 23

Why Rush To Judgment On Parnell?

Among the things I find puzzling with manager Terry Collins is his propensity for making announcements without all the facts. Most recently, he said Bobby Parnell will be next season’s closer, this despite not pitching last season and nobody knowing for sure his physical status.

With Parnell shelved, Jenrry Mejia took over as closer and saved 28 games. Incidentally, Parnell’s career high was 22 saves in 2013.

So, the Mets have two capable closers, and at times last year used Jeurys Familia and Vic Black in that role. So, what’s the hurry to make an announcement before the Jets fire Rex Ryan?

We are a week shy of three months before spring training and have no idea what to expect from Parnell. What’s wrong with going to Port St. Lucie with it open between Parnell and Mejia? (Black and Familia, considering their limited experience should go in with set-up roles.)

What I don’t want is to give the job to Parnell under the assumption he’s physically ready, then dealing Mejia. What I also don’t want is for Collins to go with a closer-by-committee, which rarely works.

 

Dec 09

Examining Mets’ Trade Assets

I keep hearing the Mets are willing to trade and have the chips to do so. However, it is well known they aren’t willing to part with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard.

So, what’s left to deal, and what is their trade value?

As the Winter Meetings progress, let’s examine their trade assets:

Jon Niese: The pros of being left-handed with a manageable salary have been negated by mediocrity and injuries. That the Mets have hung a “For Sale’’ sign on him further lowers his value.

Dillon Gee: Could have value, but more likely at the trade deadline. Mets’ obvious desire to deal him lowers return.

Bartolo Colon: Mets eager to trade him, also. They would have to eat part of his contract. Again, more likely to attract interest at July deadline.

Travis d’Arnaud: Nobody would trade for him outright as he’s still unproven.

Lucas Duda: Has value, but if he goes who will hit home runs?

Daniel Murphy: Haven’t the Mets been wanting to deal him for years? If somebody wants him, he’s available. But, don’t expect him to draw a significant return.

Wilmer Flores: What does it tell you that the Mets are still searching for a shortstop before he even gets a chance?

David Wright: With six years and $107 million remaining on his contract, plus a recent injury history, he’s not going anywhere.

Michael Cuddyer: They just signed him.

Juan Lagares: He could have trade value for a team wanting to build with speed, defense and youth. Oh, wait, isn’t that what the Mets want to do?

Curtis Granderson: His power is in decline and he has three years and $47 million left on his contract. Sure, the Mets would like to deal him. But, who would take on that contract and what could you get?

Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Bobby Parnell: Three power arms in the bullpen would attract interest. However, Parnell is coming off an injury that hurts his value. But, haven’t the Mets been wanting to build a bullpen for four years now?