Mar 02

March 2.10: Let the games begin.

It’s been raining most of the morning, but today’s exhibition against the Braves is still expected to be played. Nelson Figueroa is scheduled to start for the Mets.

The Mets made some drastic  changes to their starting line-up.

Here’s the original:

Gary Matthews, CF

Luis Castillo, 2B

Jose Reyes, SS

David Wright, 3B

Jason Bay, LF

Mike Jacobs, DH

Jeff Francoeur, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Chris Coste, C

Here’s the second:

Jesus Feliciano, LF

Ruben Tejada, SS

Gary Matthews, CF

Mike Jacobs, DH

Mike Hessman, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Chris Coste, C

Jason Pirdie, RF

Luis Hernandez, 2B

Analysis: It is clear the grounds are wet and soft in Port St. Lucie and Jerry Manuel is protecting his players from possible injury. Especially wise in Jose Reyes’ case.

NOTES: Francisco Rodriguez is still recovering from pink eye and hasn’t been cleared to rejoin the team. … Pitcher Hisanori Takahashi left the team to attend to his visa issues resolved. … Lefty Jon Niese is saying his hamstring issue is behind him. … As of now, the Mets plan on opening the season with a five-man rotation. In this order: Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine and the fifth starter. Let’s figure Niese for now. … Reyes tested his hamstring Monday with a triple in the intrasquad game and gave a thumbs up.

It’s been raining most of the morning, but today’s exhibition against the Braves is still expected to be played. Nelson Figueroa is scheduled to start for the Mets.

The Mets made some drastic  changes to their starting line-up.

Here’s the original:

Gary Matthews, CF

Luis Castillo, 2B

Jose Reyes, SS

David Wright, 3B

Jason Bay, LF

Mike Jacobs, DH

Jeff Francoeur, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Chris Coste, C

Here’s the second:

Jesus Feliciano, LF

Ruben Tejada, SS

Gary Matthews, CF

Mike Jacobs, DH

Mike Hessman, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Chris Coste, C

Jason Pirdie, RF

Luis Hernandez, 2B

Analysis: It is clear the grounds are wet and soft in Port St. Lucie and Jerry Manuel is protecting his players from possible injury. Especially wise in Jose Reyes’ case.

NOTES: Francisco Rodriguez is still recovering from pink eye and hasn’t been cleared to rejoin the team. … Pitcher Hisanori Takahashi left the team to attend to his visa issues resolved. … Lefty Jon Niese is saying his hamstring issue is behind him. … As of now, the Mets plan on opening the season with a five-man rotation. In this order: Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine and the fifth starter. Let’s figure Niese for now. … Reyes tested his hamstring Monday with a triple in the intrasquad game and gave a thumbs up.

Feb 28

Feb. 28.10: Play to win now?

The exhibition schedule begins this week and with it the questions of the importance of winning these games. Pennants aren’t won in March, but sometimes the mentality needed to win can be developed.

While going 20-10 during spring training guarantees nothing, I can’t help but think going 10-20 isn’t a good thing. The Mets need to develop the attitude that playing well is important and they just can’t assume things will be better.

The Mets are a team with flaws, but also a team that played reckless with the fundamentals and more than a few times mailed in their effort. Playing aggressive and crisp baseball now is important because bad habits can develop by playing otherwise.

It is a long summer, but considering last season and how the two previous years ended I believe it is imperative to get off to a good start and get into good habits right away. The Mets’ psyche is delicate after the last three seasons, and despite the bold talk from David Wright and Johan Santana about the World Series and winning, this is a team that hasn’t always played with confidence.

The Mets need to develop a positive mentality and that begins with these games.

Feb 27

Feb. 27.10: Mets batting order.

As of now, the question in the Mets’ batting order is at 4-5, where Jerry Manuel needs to decide how to slot David Wright and Jason Bay.

Jose Reyes, unfortunately, is still ticketed to bat third, with Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo hitting one-two. Then comes Wright-Bay  followed by Daniel Murphy, Jeff Francoeur, Rod Barajas and the pitcher.

With Carlos Beltran out, Wright is the Mets’ best hitter and should be third, with Reyes leading off. However, since that won’t be the case, I think he should bat fifth with Bay at clean-up. When the Mets’ batting order was its most potent in 2006, it had Beltran-Carlos Delgado-Wright.

With Reyes third, and presumably on base, Bay should get more fastballs and Wright would offer protection in the order. I like Murphy sixth because it should afford him more RBI opportunities.

Feb 26

Feb. 26.10: Loose threads.

Sorry, but my internet was down until recently. Let me catch you up on some of what’s going in spring training.

* Not pleased with their bullpen and not wanting to burn out Pedro Feliciano, the Mets are searching for another lefty reliever. Toward that end, the Mets made an offer to free-agent Joe Beimel, the former Dodger. Beimel will take some of the load off Feliciano and give more depth to the pen.

* Jennry Mejia was wild during batting practice. The scouting reports on him are that he’s got a strong arm and throws hard, but doesn’t always know where it’s going. Mejia is a prospect worth watching – on the minor league level this season. They would be rushing him if they kept him on the major league level this season.

* The Mets will hold an intrasquad game Monday at Tradition Field. Nelson Figueroa will get the start against the Braves Tuesday when the exhibition schedule begins.

Feb 24

Feb. 24.10: Wondering about Frenchy.

His thumb is good, so that shouldn’t be an issue with Jeff Francoeur. That doesn’t mean the Mets’ right fielder isn’t without questions or concerns.

Francoeur’s attitude – and his performance – was a breath of fresh air in a stagnant clubhouse of a listless team last summer. He played with an energy the team had been lacking, bringing with him from Atlanta that “grit” the Mets have long been accused of lacking.

However, Francoeur has been an enigma for several years, with his stock falling since he hit a career-high 29 homers with 103 RBI in 2006. Believe it or not, that is the only season he’s hit 20. He hit 19 with 105 RBI in 2007, but his numbers have been on a downward spiral since.

That’s probably why he cost the Mets only Ryan Church.

Francoeur cited a change of scenery as giving him a lift last season, and perhaps that was the case. He hit .311 with 10 homers and 41 RBI in 289 at-bats for the Mets. That projects to a decent season of a little more than 20 homers and 82 RBI. Even so, it is still shy of his best season.

So, what do we expect from Francoeur if healthy and him getting over 600 at-bats? Would it be the change of scenery and a new Francoeur? Will it be another disappointment?

Not a lot has been made of Francoeur being an issue, but his career is at a crossroads and it will be interesting, and important, to the Mets to find out in which direction he’s going.