Feb 29

Mets’ Leadoff Options Without Granderson

Curtis Granderson missed today’s workout with what the Mets called a minor eye issue. They don’t seem concerned.

“He had something in his eye. He said he had something in it yesterday,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He came today. It was pretty red. So as a precaution — you know, pinkeye can be very contagious — we sent him to the eye doctor to see what it was. … He’ll be fine.”

GRANDERSON: Doesn't  practice today. (Getty)

GRANDERSON: Doesn’t practice today. (Getty)

Let’s hope so, but how fine will the Mets be if he were out for a substantial bit of time?

If Granderson is gone, who’ll become the leadoff hitter? Since the Mets so highly prize on-base percentage, let’s take a look at 2015 OBP of the position players see who could be the best candidate.

David Wright (.379): His OBP is higher than Granderson’s, but it is only over 152 at-bats. Wright could still be the best choice based on his .377 career on-base percentage coupled with his decline in power. Since he’s no longer projected as the third hitter, but second, why not? Wright has been known to steal a base, but you have to wonder how much his back would impact his speed.

Lucas Duda (.352): He has a worthy OBP, but he’s their clean-up hitter so that won’t work. Plus, he has no speed.

Travis d’Arnaud (.340): Catchers have hit high in the order before, and he has a decent OBP but not the speed.

Yoenis Cespedes (.337): He has a representative OBP and some speed, he’s one of their primary power sources. He and Duda have to be back-to-back in the order so this wouldn’t happen.

Michael Conforto (.336): If the Mets don’t platoon Conforto he could be an intriguing possibility. Plus, he has some power potential. If Conforto hits first, it would keep Wright batting second.

Ruben Tejada (.338): When Jose Reyes left Tejada was considered to hit leadoff. But, the Mets are paying Asdrubal Cabrera to play shortstop.

Neil Walker ( .328): Daniel Murphy‘s replacement would merit some consideration based on his OBP, but I believe Wright or Conforto would be better choices.

Asdrubal Cabrera (.315): As with Walker, there are better options.

Wilmer Flores (.295): Nope.

Juan Lagares (.289): He has the speed, but not the OBP. So, even in those games he does play there he’s not the guy.

After examining these numbers, I’m wondering if manager Terry Collins might consider batting Wright first and sandwiching Cespedes between Granderson and Duda. That would give the Mets three consecutive power hitters with 30-homer potential.

It’s worth a thought.

 

 

Feb 28

Piazza Ideal Influence For Cespedes

After carrying the Mets to the World Series, Yoenis Cespedes was rewarded with a $75-million contract, and with it, likely 75 million tons of pressure. Expectations are high for the Mets, but there’s no better person to help Cespedes deal with them than Mike Piazza, who’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

PIAZZA: Needs to reach Cespedes.  (Mets)

PIAZZA: Needs to reach Cespedes. (Mets)

Unquestionably, the Mets picked the right time to invite Piazza to spring training as a guest instructor. While Travis d’Arnaud is eager to pick Piazza’s brain about the finer points of catching, Cespedes is the Met most likely to gain from his presence.

“I told him that when I talk to him, I’m going to tell him that there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him this year,” Piazza told reporters today. “He’s going to be expected to do a lot. And, I have a little bit of experience knowing that pressure. And, I hope he’s able to discipline himself and really define his strike zone and realize that when the pitchers are not pitching to him, he’s got to take his walks.”

That is Piazza’s assessment from watching the Mets in the postseason last fall. Piazza said Cespedes has a tendency to try to do too much and crush the ball with every swing.

There are some who think Cespedes is enjoying the trappings of his contract and being a New York start when he showed up in camp with a different car six days in a row. And, these weren’t a Camry and Honda Civic, but high-end wheels.

“I don’t care what you drive as long as you drive in runs,” Piazza said. “That’s the key. But, I think he’s going to fine. I think he’s so talented.”

The expectations are high for Cespedes, and the hopes are also high Piazza’s message will get through.

Feb 25

Harvey: “I Want To Be Part Of The Mets.”

Speaking to ESPN today, Matt Harvey said what Mets’ fans have wanted to hear for a long time. Several issues were glossed over in the interview, but the essential nugget was Harvey saying he wants to stay with the Mets. He didn’t say anything about home-team discounts or what it would take, but just saying that is cause for hope.

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

Harvey addressed the innings controversy ignited by agent Scott Boras by very diplomatically, saying, “as a young player, you want to play this game for a long time. I want to be part of the Mets and help this organization get to where we want to be.”

As for Boras, last year Harvey defiantly supported him by saying he hired the fire-balling agent to maximize his career, so naturally, speculation was – which I admit was voiced here – he’d take the last dollar and bolt for his childhood team, the Yankees. Harvey said the main issue Boras focused on was, “is helping this team getting as far as we can and not only getting there for one year but getting there multiple times.”

For that to happen, serious precautions needed to be taken to protect his arm, which generated a conflict between Harvey and his agent, his doctor and Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins.

“As a young guy you want to have a long career,” Harvey said. “ A doctor is telling you one thing, but as a competitor you want to be out there.”

When Boras leaked the innings story, Harvey, who was coming off Tommy John surgery, was to be shut down at 180 innings. Instead, and not without some tension, he threw 216. Unfortunately for him and the Mets, he didn’t reach 217, which would have been the ninth inning of Game 5.

Of course, as we all remember, manager Collins went against his better judgment and acquiesced to Harvey’s demand to remain in the game. He expended a lot of energy arguing with Collins and sprinting to the mound to start the ninth. Perhaps that’s when he ran of juice.

After reflecting on that night, Harvey admitting “some heartbreak and some sadness” and said: “Nobody wants to lose. Nobody is trying to lose. It’s one of those things. Once you sit back and realize what we did and what we’re capable of for years to come, and with who we have, and getting [Yoenis] Cespedes back, and getting a healthy David Wright, followed by the starting staff we have. It was a great experience for us. Something we can learn from, but not dwell on, but really pick up from where we left off and finish what we started.”

It’s spring training, a time for new beginnings, and with that comes the hope Harvey really wants to stay here and possibly the Mets can keep the band together.

Would be nice.

 

Feb 24

Wright, Collins Talk Playing Time

Mets manager Terry Collins met with David Wright today to begin discussing limiting his playing time during spring training and the season. Not surprisingly, a definitive games number was not reached.

WRIGHT: Talks limits with Collins. (AP)

WRIGHT: Talks limits with Collins. (AP)

It will begin by limiting his exhibition at-bats and time in the batting cage. During the season, Wright could sit in an afternoon game after a night game. However, there was no mention in sitting him in a game before, or after, an off day.

“It went great because he’s David Wright,” Collins told reporters.“It was all about the scheduling. It was all about what needed to take place before he’s in games. And David obviously was on board with it.”

GM Sandy Alderson set a target of 130 games for Wright, who missed four months last year with spinal stenosis, but that won’t appear to be the case.

“As much as I’ve tried to be in the lineup as much as possible, I think that I understand it’s probably best for me and best for the team where I get some rest because of the condition of my back,” Wright said. “I like to play. I think Terry is just trying to be proactive. And he’s trying to look out for me and look out for the long term.

“I felt like we did a good job last year, toward the end of the year, spacing out rest. I think this is going to be a little different because you’re starting in February rather than only having to worry about a couple of months doing this. So I think he just wants to get out in front of it and be a little bit more proactive and maybe help me look out for myself.”

Of that was Wright talking so you know he’s not going to complain. That’s just not his style. But, these are the Mets we’re talking about, and I bet you thought of Matt Harvey and his innings limit last year. I sure did. I just hope this was just the beginning and there will be further talks and this won’t be forgotten.

Wright’s health is too important.

 

Feb 23

Looking At Last Roster Spots

When a team reaches the World Series – win or lose – it shouldn’t have many position battles in spring training the following season which is the case with the Mets. As of now, the Mets realistically have just two roster spots, both of them in the bullpen.

As of now Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins are the current bullpen givens with two more spots to go. Logan Verrett and Rafael Montero should pitch for the Mets this summer, but will likely open the season in the minor leagues in the Triple-A Las Vegas rotation.

The three candidates for the final two spots are Sean Gilmartin, Josh Smoker and Erik Goeddel. Gilmartin and Goeddel should have the inside track based on their performances last year during the pennant race.

“It’s very important that we have seen what they have done under pressure in a pennant race,” manager Terry Collins said. “They certainly go in as the lead candidates, there is no question.”

Gilmartin is a lefty and went 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA as a Rule 5 acquisition in 50 games while Goeddel was 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 35 appearances before coming down with a sore elbow.

Smoker, 27, is a hard-throwing left-hander coming off a shoulder injury.