Mar 14

Mets Today: Wheeler Starts; Vegas Bound

There’s a lot to like about Zack Wheeler, who really wants the ball Opening Day for the Mets. Manager Terry Collins said if Jonathon Niese isn’t physically ready, he would decide between Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee.

Colon is the most experienced, but with no goodwill stock in the organization. Gee is deserving based on 199 innings last year, but ambivalent to the prospect. Meanwhile, Wheeler wants that game, which are points in his favor.

WHEELER: Starts tonight. (AP)

WHEELER: Starts tonight. (AP)

Also to like about Wheeler is his perfectionist nature. Despite three scoreless innings Sunday against Atlanta, Wheeler wasn’t pleased with his changeup, which will be his focus tonight against Miami.

Wheeler said at times he opens up his shoulders too early.

“Every time you get out there on the mound, it’s been a little problem for me,’’ Wheeler said. “There’s a little too much adrenaline, I guess.’’

Too much adrenaline is an argument against starting Wheeler Opening Day.

In addition:

* A group of Mets will travel to Las Vegas for split-squad games Saturday and Sunday against the Chicago Cubs. Among those expected to go are David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud, Bobby Parnell and starters Colon and Jenrry Mejia.

* Ike Davis (calves) and Lucas Duda (left hamstring) will continue to take batting practice and field grounders at first base. It is hoped they will play in DH roles this weekend. Neither has done any running.

* No word when Wilmer Flores will get another chance to play shortstop, but with two split-squad games this weekend there could be an opportunity.

 

Mar 11

Revisiting Mets’ Primary Spring Training Issues

On the first day of spring training, I posed five Mets manager Terry Collins needed to answer by Opening Day. Now, halfway through – 20 days remaining to be exact – it is time to revisit those questions, which haven’t been done in the positive:

Q: WHO WILL BE THE FIFTH STARTER?
A: Ideally, they wanted Jenrry Mejia but his elbow remains an issue, and there’s a chance he could open the season in the bullpen or the minor leagues. Either way, the fifth starter role isn’t imminent. Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are candidates. Without Mejia, Matsuzaka appeared to have the inside track, and that’s likely to remain. With lefty reliever Josh Edgin sent to the minor league camp, Lannan will get time working in relief (there will be a separate post on that later today).

PARNELL: Said he'll be ready (AP)

PARNELL: Said he’ll be ready (AP)

Q: WILL BOBBY PARNELL BE READY BY OPENING DAY?
A: Parnell, recovering from neck surgery, insists he’ll be ready, but he’s only made one appearance. Collins would like to give him at least seven or eight. Assuming Parnell is ready, Vic Black will get the set-up role, but his control hasn’t been good. Veterans Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde are competing for jobs in the bullpen and both have closer experience.

Q: WILL THE IKE DAVIS SAGA EVER END?
A: Not any time soon. The Mets tried to trade Davis since October, but their asking price was too high. Davis kept tabs on the rumors and acknowledged he is surprised to be in Port St. Lucie. He began camp the projected starter, but it hasn’t been a good spring. First, he acknowledged he hid an oblique strain last year to avoid the appearance of making an excuse. The following day he ripped into the reporter who had the audacity to write what Davis said. Next was tightness in both calves, caused by too much work in the weight room. He’s currently in a walking boot. About those 90-plus at-bats Collins wanted? Not happening. He’ll likely start the season on the disabled list.

Q: CAN RUBEN TEJADA BECOME THE PLAYER EXPECTED OF HIM?
A: That doesn’t look promising, either. Tejada has a strained hamstring and his defense has not been good. He’s also not hitting. The Mets aren’t close to signing free-agent Stephen Drew or trading for Seattle’s Nick Franklin. Wilmer Flores started today at shortstop and could get more time.

Q: WHO WILL BE THE LEADOFF HITTER?
A: Collins prefers Eric Young, who missed several games with tightness in his side. Collins prefers Daniel Murphy second and Tejada – if he plays – down in the order. Currently, it appears it will come down between Eric or Chris Young. The latter, however, strikes out too much to be a successful leadoff hitter. If Eric Young gets the job, we should see Juan Lagares in the minor leagues instead of languishing on the bench.

ON DECK: Lannan in the bullpen.

Mar 08

Mets Week In Review: Alderson Thinking 90 Wins; Davis, Duda Ailing; Syndergaard Impressive

Can you believe it, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, declared in a staff meeting his belief his team is capable of winning 90 games this season.

Manager Terry Collins told the players they should take it as a compliment.

It’s interesting to wonder if Alderson really believes this, then what his patience level would be for Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada if they struggle as in previous years.

In addition to the issues with Davis and Tejada, the Mets have significant questions with their starting pitching, which won’t include Matt Harvey. Also, the Mets have questions about their catcher, outfield and leadoff situation.

In addition this week:

* Davis (calves) and Lucas Duda (left hamstring) were sidelined. Tejada was also shelved with a strained hamstring.

* Pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard continued to impress with two scoreless innings Monday against the Braves.

* David Wright and Daniel Murphy, who sustained strained oblique muscles in previous camps, were held out of the first week of exhibition games. They played for the first time Friday.

* Curtis Granderson homered twice in an exhibition victory Tuesday over Houston.

* Relievers Vic Black and Gonzalez Germen struggled with control.

* Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who underwent elbow surgery, said he is willing to talk with Matt Harvey about his rehab.

* Jenrry Mejia, competing for a spot in the rotation or in the bullpen, said his elbow is pain free.

* Jonathon Niese said he’s not feeling pain in his left shoulder.

* Bartolo Colon and Bobby Parnell worked in an intrasquad game Thursday and were cleared to make their exhibition debut Monday.

Mar 05

Mets Wrap: Lose Both Ends Of Split Squad Game; Mejia Said He’s Fine

The best news of an otherwise dismal day for the New York Mets is that Jenrry Mejia said he is pain free.

Mejia gave up one run in two innings in a game where the Mets were routed, 11-5, by the Washington Nationals at Viera, Fla.  The Mets also lost their Port St. Lucie game, 5-2 in 10 innings, to the Miami Marlins.

Mejia, in competition for the fifth-starter job, but with the possibility of working out of the bullpen, gave up an unearned run on one hit, two walks and three strikeouts in two innings.

Not in the box score was how his surgically-repaired elbow felt.

“That’s the most important thing – I feel better, I feel good right now,’’ Mejia told ESPN.com. “Everything is fine.’’

In addition:

* Things weren’t fine for reliever Cory Mazzoni, who was rocked for seven runs in one inning by the Nationals. Things might have been better for him had Wilmer Flores not missed a tag at second base on a throw from the outfield. The play might have opened the door, but Mazzoni still must find a way to get the outs needed.

* Also having a rough time was reliever Gonzalez Germen, who gave up three runs over 32 pitches in the loss to Miami.

* I don’t know why, but it appears the experiment with Flores at shortstop is over. Terry Collins wanted to get a look at him at shortstop, but with Ruben Tejada ailing and two games to choose from, Flores played second base. Makes no sense to me, unless the experiment is over, which is a bad call this early.

* Neither Tejada nor Ike Davis is expected to play tomorrow. Friday at the earliest.

 

Mar 05

Looking At Mets’ Bullpen; Parnell To Throw Today

Closer Bobby Parnell insists he will be ready for Opening Day, which, if it happens, is good news for the New York Mets. Parnell is scheduled to throw one inning in an intrasquad game today, pitching mostly to David Wright and Daniel Murphy.

If Parnell isn’t ready, Vic Black is first in line to be closer. However, after walking the bases loaded Tuesday, his command is an obvious issue.

PARNELL: To throw today. (AP)

PARNELL: To throw today. (AP)

Assuming a healthy Parnell, the other givens in the bullpen are Black – in a set-up role – lefty Scott Rice and Carlos Torres. That is four relievers in a projected seven-man bullpen.

Torres appears the most versatile, last year working in long relief, as a spot starter and in various match-up situations.

Early in spring training Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth were presumed to be in, but there’s no guarantee they’ll keep both, and it is difficult to say who has the edge.

For the sake of the argument, let’s say only one will make it between Valverde and Farnsworth. That leaves room for two more arms.

One would think Josh Edgin would be a factor as to give the Mets two left-handers.

That makes one more to come from Jeurys Familia, Farnsworth/Valverde and possibly Jenrry Mejia:

Familia: Has loads of potential and can throw hard. However, he hasn’t overwhelmed so far, but it is very early.

Farnsworth/Valverde: Both have outs in their contracts where they can opt to leave if they were not on the major league roster by June. Both could be worth keeping in the hope of them regaining something, and possibly act as a trade chip in July.

Mejia: The Cardinals have been successful in developing some of their power arms by first using them in the bullpen. However, the Mets have bounced Mejia from pen to starter, and he’s had elbow issues. They should think long and hard before sending him to the bullpen, especially since the numbers suggest he’s better as a starter.

While there has been little positive out of the pen to date, there’s still plenty of time. Soon, there won’t be.