Mar 15

Mets’ second base job still in the air

With two weeks remaining before Opening Day, Luis Hernandez is gaining ground on the second base job.

However, it is premature to say he’s the guy. Rarely are up-in-the-air roster decisions made with this much time remaining in camp. There’s still Brad Emaus and Daniel Murphy, Luis Castillo and Justin Turner.

Turner, because of remaining options will be sent down. That’s logical. Castillo has turned off Terry Collins, but the manager might not have the final decision, especially with a $6 million commitment. Castillo has been playing well offensively, so there’s the outside chance they’ll hold onto him and hope to make an in-season deal. The Mets don’t want to swallow $6 million.

Murphy is having trouble turning the double-play and Emaus is having a slow spring. Still, as a Rule 5 player the Mets do see some potential. What they must decide on is if he fits beyond this season should he stick.

I still think the Murphy-Emaus platoon has a chance, but I’m beginning to wane a little on that stance. What I do know, is Hernandez, despite a solid spring, isn’t running away from things and there’s still time.

Outside of it not being Ruben Tejada, nothing is concrete at second base.

 

Mar 04

Something to like about Collins

One thing that has impressed me so far about manager Terry Collins has been his decisiveness.

I liked how he put a timetable on the Carlos Beltran-Angel Pagan situation, although Beltran diffused it by making the switch on his own before it became a distraction. He’s also done the same thing with second base, saying he’d like to make a decision by the middle of the month. Look for Justin Turner to be one of the first roster cuts because he has remaining options. That will give more at-bats to Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus and Luis Castillo.

Word is Oliver Perez was on his way out, but likely delayed the inevitable with his strong outing the other day. Those scoreless innings bought Perez another appearance or two, although his chances of making the roster are out of the bullpen and not the rotation.

The Mets are a team in transition and didn’t bring a lot of bodies to camp. That Collins wants to define his roster quickly is a good decision. I like his no-nonsense, business-first approach. It is something this team has lacked.

Feb 15

Top Ten Mets issues as camp opens

Good afternoon. Players are trickling into camp today in Port St. Lucie. A few pitchers are throwing, but they don’t have to officially check in until to tomorrow.

No team reports to spring training without questions, and the Mets are no exception. They will enter the season this spring loaded with questions, but without any substantive answers.

Here’s the top ten issues surrounding your New York Mets:

Q: WHAT WILL BE THE OWNERSHIP FALLOUT?

A: Speculation has the Mets attempting to reach a settlement in the Ponzi mess instead of taking their chances in court where reportedly the losses could reach as high as a billion dollars and undoubtedly force the Wilpons to sell the franchise. Who knows? Even a settlement could be that costly. One thing where there is no doubt is the team won’t be adding salary at the trade deadline, but will be trying to shed it, notably with Carlos Beltran being shopped.

COLLINS: Will run a tight camp.

Q: HOW WILL TERRY COLLINS IMPLEMENT THE NEW CULTURE?

A:  The Mets are supposed to be a no-nonsense bunch concentrating on fundamentals. Such things like hustling, working the count, throwing to the right base and running the bases begin in spring training. Collins is expected to run a tight camp and is to be decisive about two issues, whether Beltran plays center or right and where, or if, Oliver Perez fits in the roster.

Q: HOW HEALTHY IS CARLOS BELTRAN?

A: Let’s face it, this is Beltran’s last year. The Mets would like to move him and save on his $18.5 million salary, but to maximize the return he has to be healthy, productive and playing center. Beltran playing a sound center will make him easier to move.

REYES: Could be moved.

Q: WHAT WILL BECOME OF JOSE REYES?

A: Again, this is predicated on the ownership situation. Ideally, the Mets would like to sign Reyes – the 2006-2007 model – to an extension, but what will their economic situation be like? If Reyes gets off to a great start the meter will start running high, and at the same time so would the price tag in prospects that it would take to procure him. There is a prevailing sentiment the Mets’ ownership situation might force the team to deal Reyes to ease the financial strain. Such a decision would impact the franchise for years.

Q: WILL MIKE PELFREY TAKE THE NEXT STEP?

A: Many scouting reports have Pelfrey ranked as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, but Johan Santana’s injury makes him the ace. Pelfrey said his goal is consistency, but he has to be more than that – he has to be dominant. The rest of the rotation is loaded with concerns, but even should Pelfrey develop into a 20-game winner, probably won’t be enough to lift the Mets into competitive status.

Q: WILL THE REAL JASON BAY STAND UP?

A.: The Mets expect 25 to 30 homers a year for the $66 million package they will spend on Jason Bay, not the six they received last season before he sustained a concussion. Bay gave the Mets hustle and defense, but was clearly an offensive liability. The Mets must hit this summer to make up for the multitude of pitching problems. David Wright, Beltran and Bay are the projected 3-4-5 hitters.

Q: WAS R.A. DICKEY A FLUKE?

A: The Mets are banking no with a two-year deal, but the fact remains he’s coming off the best season of his career. Dickey never pitched better than he did last year, and he’s only done it once. Dickey’s numbers dictate a No. 5 starter, but he’s second behind Pelfrey.

NIESE: Not proven.

Q: WHAT ABOUT THE BACK END OF THE ROTATION?

A: Jon Niese, the No. 3 starter, ran out of gas after a 6-2 start and finished 9-10. Clearly, he’s not a given. Neither are the No. 4 and No. 5 starters, which should come from a pool of Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Dillon Gee, and yes, Perez. Young and Capuano are coming off injuries, Gee is unproven and Perez is on his last chance. Management will not endure another summer of a Perez saga. He’ll earn it in spring training or they’ll cut ties and be quick about it.

Q: WHO’S IN THE BULLPEN?

A: Speculation is the Mets will monitor Francisco Rodriguez’s appearances as to avoid his $17.5 million option from kicking in. Of course, part of that is predicated on Rodriguez’s health.  But, what of the rest of the pen? Bobby Parnell figures to be the set-up man.  D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz and Taylor Tankersley will be in the mix there somewhere, but hardly come across as clamp-down relievers.  Pat Misch could be the long man, and there’s always the chance Perez could stick in the pen.

Q: WHO PLAYS SECOND?

A: The Mets have already said Ruben Tejada isn’t in the plans to start. The cast includes Daniel Murphy, who hasn’t shown he can play the position, or for that matter, stay healthy. Justin Turner, Chin-lung Hu, Brad Emaus and don’t forget, Luis Castillo, are also in the mix. The best combination would be Tejada’s glove and Murphy’s bat, but that’s not an option. The uncertainty of it all could bring us another year of Castillo, who, if nothing else, is fairly predictable in what he can provide.

Dec 16

Second base situation a good sign

It’s a good sign when Terry Collins said the Mets’ second base job is wide open on several fronts, perhaps most importantly because it signals a willingness to cut ties with Luis Castillo if he doesn’t carry his own weight.

If the Mets aren’t able to swing a deal – and who really expects that to happen? – then a willingness to eat the $6 million contract is a positive development.

As of now, Daniel Murphy, Rule 5 pickup from Toronto Brad Emaus, Castillo, and Justin Turner will be in the mix. Minus will be Ruben Tejada, who showed he could do the job with his glove but not the bat.

Murphy probably has the most potential obviously, but is learning the position. Emaus must remain on the 25-man roster or be returned to the Blue Jays, but the Mets have so many holes that carrying a utility infielder might be a reach.

That could mean Turner could slot in as a sleeper.

The encouraging thing to me is that if Castillo doesn’t earn the job outright, that the Mets are now willing to cut their losses. They’ll still pay the money, but would rid themselves of a non-productive player.

And, hopefully, that will follow through with Oliver Perez. Keep a good thought.

Jul 21

Roster move: Perez activated.

PEREZ: He's back.

Oliver Perez was activated following yesterday’s game. To make room for him Justin Turner was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, leaving Josh Thole around to catch another day.

Jerry Manuel lobbied hard to keep Thole, his third catcher, and got his way. Manuel said as long as Thole is on the roster he’ll play. This does leave a void as David Wright’s back-up. Henry Blanco?

But, what to do with Perez? Manuel said he’ll be the first lefty out of the bullpen. Despite Hisanori Takahashi’s recent problems, he’s still on to start Thursday at Los Angeles. There are no thoughts as of now of starting Perez.

And, falling under the category of: Let’s not hope that’s all there  is.

The Mets signed free-agent reliever Chad Cordero, who missed all of last season following labrum surgery. Cordero briefly pitched for Seattle last month but opted to become a free agent rather than take a minor league assignment.