Mar 12

The Importance Of John Lannan As The Second Lefty In The Bullpen

John Lannan signed with the New York Mets to compete for a spot in the rotation, but circumstances dictate he might have a more valuable role out of the bullpen.

“I think that’s been the plan since Day 1,’’ Lannan said Tuesday about possibly working in relief. “They’ve been pretty transparent with that.’’

The Mets figure to keep seven relievers, but with Josh Edgin sent to the minor league camp earlier this week, it leaves Scott Rice as the only left-hander and an increased importance in Lannan.

Lannan starts today against St. Louis, but after that, figures to get substantial time out of the bullpen in a situational role. In today’s specialized game, teams can’t afford to get by with just one left-handed reliever, especially in the lefty-loaded hitting National League East, which goes beyond Chipper Jones, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

Jones retired, and Howard and Utley are on the decline, but the latter two still have their moments with the Phillies, as does Domonic Brown.

Washington could start as many as four lefty hitters in Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Nate McLouth and Denard Span.

The Braves have Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward, and the Marlins have Greg Dobbs and switch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Obviously, that’s more than Rice can handle, and something we don’t know if Lannan can do. He’s made 148 major league appearances, all as a starter. He’s only started seven of 95 minor league games.

This is not something easily picked up, especially with three weeks remaining in spring training.

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.

This is a gamble, no question.

 

Nov 23

Some issues for Collins

The thing that stood out most in listening to Terry Collins this morning is his emphasis in “playing the game the correctly.’’

Collins promised an accent on fundamentals with a team that too often disregarded them in the past. This is a team that gives away too many at-bats, both at the plate and on the mound, and loses focus.

That is the culture Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins vowed to change.

One thing apparent in Alderson’s comprehensive search and handpicking of Collins as manager is the continuity between the front office and field staff. There will be no more players taking their issues over the manager to the general manager.

That was the chemistry in Anaheim when the players revolted against Collins, and with the Mets when Tony Bernazard sabotaged Willie Randolph, and the last two years when Jerry Manuel managed without the respect of his players.

Collins said the right things, but there’s more I’d like to hear from him:

THE CORE: Collins wants the game played correctly, but hasn’t elaborated on what he doesn’t like about David Wright and Jose Reyes.

Wright put up decent numbers last season, but they were somewhat deceiving because of his strikeouts. Wright still gives up too many at-bats to kill rallies. The right way also means increasing Reyes’ on-base percentage. Injuries have limited Reyes from running and if he’s healthy will Collins turn him loose?

CARLOS BELTRAN: Collins mentioned how badly Beltran wants to win. The team will keep Beltran because of his contract.  Collins hasn’t said yet whether he wants Beltran to move to right field to make room for Angel Pagan in center.

THE BULLPEN: The Mets will offer arbitration to Pedro Feliciano. If he accepts the Mets will have a proven lefty specialist. With the assumption Francisco Rodriguez is back as closer, the next order of business in the pen will be designating a set-up man. Presumably, that will be Bobby Parnell. The Mets must now fill four spots in the bullpen. How many could be filled from the minor league system Collins oversaw last summer?

THE ROTATION: With Johan Santana on the shelf indefinitely, the Mets have three starters heading into the winter meetings: Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey and Jon Niese.

With the Mets not expected to be free-spending in the free-agent market, their options are from within, trades and middle-tier arms in free agency.

Collins must operate on the assumption there won’t be any significant additions so his thoughts on Dillon Gee are important. As it is now, no matter how healthy the Mets are with Jason Bay and Beltran, it means little without a strong rotation.

Alderson wants to unload Oliver Perez, but that’s a monumental task. Assuming the worst, that Perez is still here in the spring, how does Collins envision using him?

SECOND BASE: There are three candidates: Luis Castillo, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy. If Murphy can handle the position defensively, he offers the best bat.

Collins knows Tejada from the minor leagues and probably has an idea of his ceiling.

JENRRY MEJIA: As of now, the Mets regard Mejia as a potential starter.  With Collins’ background in player development he likely has his ideas of how he was used last year and what his timetable might be.

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.

Jul 19

Perez coming and other notes.

* Oliver Perez is en route to Arizona but might not be activated immediately. Jerry Manuel said when Perez returns it would be as a situational lefty with Hisanori Takahashi remaining in the rotation.

The Mets would like to unload Perez’s contract in a trade for a pitcher.  With the asking price for Roy Oswalt and Dan Haren too high for GM Omar Minaya’s liking, the Mets are concentrating on a middle-tier arm such as Ted Lilly, Brett Myers, Ben Sheets or Jake Westbrook.

For some reason, they won’t give Pat Misch a chance. Misch pitched well for them last year and represented Triple-A Buffalo in that league’s All-Star game.

* We are expected to see Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes in the lineup tonight at Arizona. It will be the first time in over a year they’ve been on the field together.

* It is anticipated Luis Castillo will be activated for tonight’s game. Ruben Tejada, who played well in the field, but had his problems at the plate, is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Buffalo where he’ll get regular at-bats.

Jul 18

Mets Chat Room; Santana hopes to stop slide.

Game #92 at Giants.

At 61-19, Johan Santana has been money in the bank in his career during the second half.  The Mets will need to cash a Santana check today against the Giants to avoid being swept and perhaps falling into a free fall.

Santana gave up five hits in seven innings in beating Atlanta last Sunday to prevent a sweep in that series.

Overall, the Mets have lost six of their last seven and eight of their last ten games.

“I feel much better,’’ Santana said. “Hopefully, this second half will be a strong one.’’

Continue reading