Mar 11

March 11.10: A plan for Mejia.

Contrary to how they handled Bobby Parnell last season, the Mets seem to have a definitive plan for Jenrry Mejia.

He has been working as a reliever this spring, and that’s what he’ll do for the remainder of camp and in the minor leagues.

Manager Jerry Manuel sees that Mariano Rivera-like movement on his cutter and envisions dominance coming out of the bullpen.

Last year, Parnell was bounced around from being a starter in the minors, to a reliever for the Mets, then a starter and finally back to the pen. After the season he admitted being confused and his confidence shaken.

Mejia is 20 and has been scintillating in his role. It is easy to see how Manuel could be thinking about 94-mph fastball coming out of the bullpen, perhaps as soon as this year. In 5 1/3 scoreless innings he has given up two hits and struck out five with no walks.

It’s that no walks that’s importance. The reviews have been good but the presumption is he’ll open the season in the minor leagues, likely the Class AA level.

That’s the plan now, here’s hoping they stick with it.

Mar 04

March 4.10: Mejia on Tap for Today.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey gets the start today against St. Louis, and Jason Bay, David Wright and Jeff Francoeur will make their spring training debuts, but arguably the most interesting moment of the day could be the appearance of 20-year-old prospect Jennry Mejia, whom manager Jerry Manuel admits is raw, but is also making noises about using him as a reliever.

And, in a comment that will do nothing but add pressure and expectations, Darryl Strawberry said his cutter reminded him of Mariano Rivera. Easy Darryl, easy Darryl.

Mejia has electric stuff, the kind scouts drool over and makes one wonder about future dominance as a starter. Mejia doesn’t have the command or pitch variety to be a starter now, but he could be a one-trick pony out of the pen. However, command is still command, and that’s important in any role and right now he’s more a thrower than a pitcher.

I saw how the Mets rushed Eddie Kunz – who is still struggling – and Bobby Parnell and I don’t want the same thing to happen to Mejia. If Mejia is to make the major league roster, he needs a defined role and a manager with the patience not to yank him out of a role with the first sign of struggle.

It’s easy to get seduced by a high-90s fastball, but most scouts say Mejia is not ready for prime time. Sure, it would be nice to fast forward a year or two, but that’s not realistic.

NOTE: No word yet as to why, but Jose Reyes was scratched from today’s line-up.

Oct 30

Mets vs. World Series teams match-ups

Sure, it might be piling on, but with today being an off-day in the World Series, I think its a good time to see where our heroes rate in comparison to the Phillies and Yankees. If Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon are watching they can’t be happy how the talent yardstick is measuring their team.

If you were to select a starting team between the Mets, Phillies and Yankees, I believe the Mets would place only two players, Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana among the starters with perhaps a few bench players.

Here’s how I look at that team:

C: Jorge Posada, Yankees.
Mets note: Omir Santos would be a distant third.

1B: Ryan Howard, Phillies.
Mets note: Daniel Murphy would be a distant third.

2B: Chase Utley, Phillies.
Mets note: Luis Castillo would be a distant third.

SS Derek Jeter, Yankees.
Mets note: Right now I’d have to go with Jose Reyes third.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees.
Mets note: David Wright would be second.

LF: Raul Ibanez, Phillies.
Mets note: Whomever the Mets throw out there would be third. That’s how weak they are at the position.

CF: Carlos Beltran, Mets.
Mets note: When healthy Beltran is clear cut, because of his power potential.

RF: Jayson Werth, Phillies.
Mets note: Jeff Francoeur would be third.

ROTATION
Johan Santana, Mets
Cliff Lee, Phillies
CC Sabathia, Yankees
AJ Burnett, Yankees
Cole Hamels, Phillies.
Mets note: Right now, I’d have to place Andy Pettitte, Joe Blanton and JA Happ ahead of any Met candidate. That’s a pretty good indictment about what is wrong.

CLOSER
Mariano Rivera, Yankees.
Mets note: I’d put Francisco Rodriguez second.

Of course, the team the Mets need to immediately concern themselves with are the Phillies. Being healthy would close the gap a bit, and going crazy in the free-agent market would close it even more, but not enough to where you can say the Mets are close to their level.

So, if Minaya and Wilpon are watching and making comparisons to where they rate, they can’t be pleased. Let’s just hope it prompts them to follow through on their words at the season ending press conference.

Oct 28

World Series Keys ….

I suppose it was going to come down to this all along, the Phillies against the Yankees in the World Series.

The Yankees, with the home field advantage because of the ridiculous All-Star Game gimmick, are considered the favorites. Would they be if the Phillies had the home field? I’m not so sure.

Looking at the match-ups, both teams are riding a hot ace and scorching bat, with the Phillies’ Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard against the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.

KEYS TO THE WORLD SERIES

KEYS TO THE WORLD SERIES


In looking at the match-ups, I’ll give the edge to the Yankees at catcher (only when Jorge Posada plays), shortstop (Derek Jeter lives for these moments and third base (Rodriguez seems to have shaken the October blues).

I’ll give the edge to the Phillies at first (I recognize the year Mark Teixeira had, but Howard is a monster), second (Chase Utley, for my money is one of the best players in the game), and all three outfield positions.

The starting rotations and bullpens are relatively even. Mariano Rivera is better than Brad Lidge, but Rivera can be negated because the bridge to him is tenuous. The Phillies’ offense is superior to that of Minnesota and the Angels, and once in the Yankees’ bullpen there’s no guarantee we’ll see Rivera.

Here are some of the more notable keys to this World Series:

1. KEY: Is Brad Lidge back from the dark side?
BREAKDOWN: Lidge blew 11 save opportunities this summer, but has been perfect in the postseason. If he’s regained his touch this is a huge factor to the Phillies.

2. KEY: Which superstar will have the bigger series?
BREAKDOWN: Both Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez tied Lou Gehrig’s record with RBI in eight straight postseason games. Rodriguez appears to have shaken his October blues, but there is one more round. Both have the ability to carry a team.

3. KEY: Will the Phillies be able to run on the Yankees’ catching?
BREAKDOWN: Philadelphia led the majors with an 81 percent success rate in stole bases. Once Chase Utley gets on, if he wants second it is his (23-for-23). The Phillies also like to run with Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins. Surprisingly, the Yankees were second. The Phillies can run on anybody, but they haven’t seen a move as good as Andy Pettitte’s.

4. KEY: Will the Phillies limit Mariano Rivera’s appearances?
BREAKDOWN: If Rivera gets four save opportunities, it’s a good bet the Yankees will win their 27th World Series title. However, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, the bridge to Rivera, has been rickety. Therefore, it is essential the Yankees will get innings from their starters to limit the bullpen exposure.

5. KEY: Will Cole Hamels return to prominence?
BREAKDOWN: Hamels, last year’s World Series MVP, had a miserable season. He’s pitched well in spots, but too often is vulnerable to the big inning.

6. KEY: Does Pedro Martinez have an encore in him?
BREAKDOWN: Assume for a moment CC Sabathia continues his roll in Game 1 and beats Cliff Lee. The Phillies would then need Martinez big time in Game 2 as falling down by two games would make defending their title difficult.

7. KEY: Will CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee continue to roll?
BREAKDOWN: Both have been virtually untouchable in the postseason and rightfully assume their roles as a No. 1. The Series could turn on who stumbles first.

8. KEY: Is there a rebound series for Mark Teixeira?
BREAKDOWN: Teixeira carried the Yankees for much of the season and had a hot ALDS against Minnesota. The Angels handcuffed him, but gave away that edge with their faulty defense. A hot Teixeira gives the Yankees another superstar bat.

9. KEY: Whose second level stars perform best?
BREAKDOWN: Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez vs. Johnny Damon, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Both teams are loaded and both have the marquee names, but those on the undercard are also vitally important.

10. KEY: What happens in the AJ Burnett and Joe Blanton games?
BREAKDOWN: Both starters have the capacity to pitch big and small. To win a series, a team needs a solid start from its No. 3 and No. 4 starters.

Oct 01

Concern over Rodriguez ….

It is easy to express concern over Francisco Rodriguez after yesterday’s 40-pitch, ninth-inning meltdown, but the reality is what happened shouldn’t be considered a surprise.

Rodriguez has been living on the edge all season, with yesterday being his seventh blown save of the summer. That’s a little over one a month, which is acceptable for closers not named Mariano Rivera.

RODRIGUEZ: Did a lot more celebrating last year.

RODRIGUEZ: Did a lot more celebrating last year.


In Mitch Williams-type fashion, Rodriguez makes an adventure out of every opportunity as he did last year for the Angels.

Rodriguez had a career year in 2008 with 68 saves, but he’s had more telling numbers this year, such as 111 base runners in 67 2/3 innings. His fastball is off and he’s been overly reliant on his breaking ball.

Perhaps the Angels knew something, because otherwise, you don’t let dominant closers get away. It’s not unreasonable to suggest the Angels forecasted a breakdown, which is why they wouldn’t give Rodriguez the money or the years.

I’m betting he doesn’t last the three years without breaking down.