Feb 25

Harvey And D’Arnaud Not There; Duda Totally Off

The Mets tell us to look forward to 2014 and beyond, but we received a glimpse into that future Sunday when Matt Harvey pitched two innings to catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

After ten starts last summer, Harvey is already in the Mets’ rotation; for d’Arnaud, it was his first game since he injured his left knee last June.

There were several communication issues, which is to be expected from a young battery that has never worked together. The most important lesson is Harvey has the final decision on what he throws. If he doesn’t like the pitch, he calls d’Arnaud out to the mound. The bottom line is the pitcher has control over what he throws. If he’s not comfortable with the pitch it will get crushed.

Like a lot of people, d’Arnaud praised Harvey’s poise and demeanor. Harvey said he wasn’t concerned with the miscommunication, citing that they hadn’t worked together before.

Manager Terry Collins made it a point to say d’Arnaud would catch each of the Mets’ starters.

The Mets were also happy with Dillon Gee, who made his first start since surgery last season to repair a damaged artery in his shoulder. Gee threw last September, so he had a feel for his arm and expressed no worries.

Meanwhile, not having a feel for anything is Lucas Duda, who so far is 0-for-7 with six strikeouts. Not anywhere to go but up from there.

Duda’s problem is mechanical reports ESPN in that his lead foot is still too high when he begins his stride. Consequently, he’s not in hitting position and the ball gets in on him too quickly.

WEEKEND METS NOTES: Jonathan Niese gave up a run on three hits in two innings against the University of Michigan. He came out of the game saying he needed to work on getting ahead in the count more. Actually, that’s what all pitchers need to do. … Josh Edgin blew a save against Houston. … Jeurys Familia. … Collin Cowgill is making a good impression.

Feb 23

Mets Matters: Thoughts On Mets Winning Exhibition Opener

THE GAME: Ruben Tejada hit a two-run homer and Collin Cowgill drove in a run with double as the Mets won their exhibition opener, 5-3, over Washington. One game does not a spring training make, but if you’re going to play the games it is better to win them.

WHEELER IMPRESSIVE: Zack Wheeler wowed them in his first appearance of the spring, giving up a walk and hit in two scoreless innings. Wheeler threw mostly fastballs and sliders, the two easiest pitches to throw at the start, and will work more on his secondary pitches later in the spring. Even so, manager Terry Collins – despite Johan Santana’s condition – said Wheeler would likely open the season for Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets believe they have a keeper in Wheeler, who threw 30 pitches with 19 of them strikes and working in the 94-96 mph., range and need to move him along slowly. He’ll continue to get work, but as spring training progresses and more innings go to the starters, he could get time in minor league or split squad games. Said Wheeler: “There wasn’t really nerves. I was just a little pumped up going out there. After I got settled down, after the first couple of batters, I think everything went well.’’ Translation: Yes, there were nerves.

PARNELL GETS TOUGH SAVE: With Frank Francisco down with elbow soreness, Bobby Parnell becomes the closer. Parnell worked the ninth and got out of trouble caused by an infield hit and error. I’d much rather see Parnell get in and out of trouble than blow hitters away. The more acclimated he becomes to working out of pressure situations the better. The word on Francisco is he might pick up a baseball Monday, but it would be several weeks before he’s throwing in games. The chances are very good he’ll open the season on the DL and Parnell will be the closer. Jeurys Familia will get a chance to close in a split-squad game Sunday against Houston in Kissimmee.

FELICIANO SIDELINED: Lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano was diagnosed with a heart condition and will be required to wear a monitor to measure an irregular heartbeat. Collins told reporters: “My understanding is he has a heart condition that could possibly be very serious. So that’s why we’re being very, very careful with him. Until we get further results on some of the tests he took in New York, he’s not to be on the field.’’ There remains the distinct possibility this could be the end of Felicano’s career.

NOTES: Shaun Marcum had a rough outing, giving up three runs on four hits, including a two-run homer to Chris Snyder. Marcum said he was having mechanical problems and pushing his change-up. … Somehow, the Mets still think they can get four starts for Santana and have him ready for the Opening Day. What’s the big rush? … Jenrry Mejia will start Tuesday against St. Louis. … Daniel Murphy is working out, but hasn’t been cleared to hit.

ON DECK: I’ll have my Sunday Column for you tomorrow morning. Have a great night.

 

Feb 23

Mets Lineup Against Washington; Notebook

Here’s today’s lineup and some thoughts about it for the Mets’ exhibition opener against Washington:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Ruben Tejada, ss

David Wright, 3b

Ike Davis, 1b

Marlon Byrd, rf

Lucas Duda, lf

John Buck, c

Justin Turner, 2b

Jordany Valdespin, dh

Shaun Marcum, rhp

LINEUP THOUGHTS: Zack Wheeler, Cory Mazzoni, Jeurys Familia and Darin Gorski will also pitch for the Mets. I like that Wheeler pitching in relief. Yes, it’s only an exhibition game, but there are still nerves involved. No sense adding extra pressure. … Marcum should get two innings or roughly 30 pitches to start. He’s the projected fifth starter. … The first four in the batting order are as I suggested several days ago. Notice how Terry Collins separated Ike Davis and Lucas Duda with Marlon Byrd. It’s important to separate the two strikeout machines. … The spring training objectives is for starting pitchers to make six starts and compile 30 innings. Hitters need around 50 to 60 at-bats.

METS NOTEBOOK: First baseman Rhyne Hughes was signed to a minor league contract and will report to the minor league camp. Hughes hit 13 with 56 RBI in 266 at-bats for the Double-A Bowie. … Jenrry Mejia is in camp, delayed over a week with a visa issue.

Feb 11

Mets Pitchers And Catchers Report Today With Several Questions

Pitchers and catchers report today in Port St. Lucie, although dozens of Mets are already in camp, which is the first encouraging sign of spring training.

As with most teams, the Mets have an array of issues and questions they must address over the next six weeks if they have hope of being competitive this season.

Gee: How healthy is he?

Gee: How healthy is he?

It begins with health and pitching, which for the Mets seem intertwined every spring. A competitive season needs a sound Johan Santana and Dillon Gee, with the Mets ideally getting 200 innings from each.

Gee is coming off surgery to remove a blood clot in his arm. He’s shown flashes, but hasn’t been projected any higher than a fourth starter. Then again, Gee has never pitched a complete season where he’s gotten over 30 starts. Obviously, if he can do that and approach 200 innings it would take strain from a makeshift bullpen.

As for Santana, this is his walk year. If he remains healthy and productive, the Mets have a chance to approach .500. However, regardless of how well he pitches the Mets will not pick up his option for 2014. Trading Santana is wishful thinking, but should they get lucky the Mets would have to assume a portion of Santana’s contract.

Complete and healthy seasons from Santana and Gee, plus the continued development of Matt Harvey will only begin to make up for the loss of R.A. Dickey, assuming, of course, he doesn’t fall back to his pre-Cy Young performance. Dickey is not the second coming of Tom Seaver, and last year was his first as a dominant pitcher. Still, it’s 20 fewer wins from the rotation.

Figuring the Mets break camp with their rotation intact, the next issue is their makeshift bullpen.

GM Sandy Alderson backtracked and Frank Francisco is the closer going in, but that’s written in pencil as he’s coming off elbow surgery. This means spring training is for the Mets to determine Francisco’s health or come up with another closer, probably Bobby Parnell or recently-signed Brandon Lyon.

Continue reading

Oct 26

2012 Mets Player Review: Jenrry Mejia And Other Spot Starters

 

JENRRY MEJIA, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: The Mets knew they had pitching issues entering spring training, so by definition they expected a need for emergency starters. They opened the season with Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee as their rotation. Santana and Niese were coming off injuries, and nobody knew what to expect from Pelfrey and Gee. Veteran Chris Young was signed for the inevitable insurance and closed the season in the rotation. The Mets forecasted starts for Matt Harvey and Jenrry Mejia, but most likely as September call-ups. The Mets figured they had Miguel Batista, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia to make emergency starts in the event of injuries.

WHAT THEY GOT: Injuries claimed Pelfrey, Santana and Gee, and before it was over eight other pitchers started 58 games for the Mets. That’s roughly a third of their games. That, as much as any other statistic, explains this season. Young, who was signed in March, made 20 starts after recovering from shoulder surgery. He proved to be a reliable innings eater, so much, in fact, that it might earn him a contract elsewhere. Veterans who gobble up innings are always valuable. Harvey was so impressive in his shot that he’s going into next season in the rotation. For those not yet earmarked for a roster spot next season, Jeremy Hefner started 13 games, followed by Batista (5), Collin McHugh (4), Mejia (3), Chris Schwinden (2) and Familia (1). McHugh and Hefner had their moments, both good and bad, but made no lasting impression either way. The most puzzling is Mejia, who was coming off surgery. Although his numbers are better as a starter, the Mets still don’t have a long-term plan for him as there are factions in the organization who believe he’s better suited coming out of the bullpen. The Mets like Familia’s potential, but he was hit hard when he got the ball. McHugh, Hefner and Schwinden did nothing to separate themselves from the pack and Batista was what they expected, a long-man stop-gap.

 

LOOKING AT 2013: There is a need for Young, but he’s low on their priorities, even if the Mets don’t tender Pelfrey. Harvey is in the rotation, but ten starts isn’t a big window, so who wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a setback? McHugh, Hefner and Schwinden will probably open the season in the minor leagues and Batista could again be in the bullpen. Familia will be in the minors. The biggest question is Mejia’s role. The Mets have confused him by shuttling him between roles. For his own good and that of the team, the Mets should choose a role and stay that course until he proves incapable. Once a highly-touted prospect, Mejia seems to be regressing.