Mar 10

Let’s See More Of Fred Wilpon

One figured Mets owner Fred Wilpon would be around Tradition Field Monday afternoon considering commissioner Rob Manfred was in Port St. Lucie.

What you didn’t expect was for Wilpon to talk with manager Terry Collins in his office for about 20 minutes after the game. Collins said Wilpon would be a regular presence during spring training.

WILPON: Let's see his fire.

WILPON: Let’s see his fire.

Let’s hope so. And, let’s hope he doesn’t fade once the season starts.

“He expects it to be a much better team. There’s no doubt about that,’’ Collins told reporters Monday. “He told me two weeks ago, ‘Look, I’m going to be here a lot – a lot,’ where, in the past, he’d come in and he’d be gone for a week or 10 days.’’

I really want to see that, and deep down, I believe Mets fans want to see more of the owner.

Collins said he and Wilpon discussed the rising number of walks (36 over the last 61 innings); the left-handed hole in the bullpen; and the roster composition. Normal stuff, but things you’re also wondering about, right?

I covered the Yankees for over eight years and tracking down George Steinbrenner was a daily chore. It was often fruitless, but there were times, such as when he ripped Hideki Irabu and forced the team to wait in the clubhouse for over three hours to delay a flight to Los Angeles, that it made for an interesting day.

A Steinbrenner explosion kept the Yankees on the back pages for three or four days. There was no owner like Steinbrenner, who not only left his mark on the Yankees, but baseball as well.

I don’t expect Wilpon to be that visible, or vocal … or cantankerous, for that matter. However, this is his team and I want to see fire from him. I know he as other financial interests, but the Mets are his most high profile venture by far. I want him to show Mets fans he’s really into his team. I want to see him sit in the stands and mingle with the fans.

People say Wilpon is passionate about baseball and the Mets. I want to see that feistiness. If the Mets lose three straight to the Nationals this summer, I want Wilpon to make a headline. When Wilpon speaks, people will listen and I want him to be a presence at Citi Field.

Several weeks ago I wrote a piece on what Wilpon could say to make people want to care about the Mets. Well, I want to see his passion about the Mets. If he does that, well, then maybe that’s his message to the fans that he cares.

Mar 10

Today In Mets History: First Exhibition Game

On this day in 1962, the expansion Mets played their first exhibition game, which they lost, 8-0, to the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Petersburg, Fl.

Mets pitchers Jay Hook, Clem Labine and Craig Anderson gave up a combined 12 hits, including homers by Gene Oliver and the late Minnie Minoso.

The Mets would go 40-120 in their inaugural season and finish 60 ½ games behind the first place Giants. They also finished 18 games behind the ninth-place Cubs.

ON DECK: Let’s see more of Fred Wilpon.

Mar 09

Mets Today: Wheeler Starts Against Marlins; Lineups

Zack Wheeler makes his spring training debut for the Mets against Miami, with former Yankee David Phelps starting for the Marlins.

Wheeler pitched in last Tuesday’s intrasquad game and gave up two hits and two walks in 1.2 innings.

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said Wheeler’s mechanics were off in that he was throwing across his body.

Here are today’s lineups:

METS

Curtis Granderson,rf

Ruben Tejada, ss

David Wright, 3b

Michael Cuddyer, 1b

Daniel Murphy, 2b

John Mayberry Jr., lf

Kevin Plawecki, c

Matt den Dekker, cf

Gavin Cecchini, dh

 

Zack Wheeler, rhp

MIAMI

Jordany Valdespin, rf

Derek Dietrich, 2b

Marcell Ozuna, cf

Michael Morse, 1b

Jarrod Saltalmacchia, c

Jeff Baker, dh

Don Kelly, 3b

Cole Gillespie, lf

Reid Brignac, ss

 

David Phelps, rhp

NOTES: Do you remember when Valdespin posted an online picture of himself wearing a Marlins cap? One of the great bonehead moves of all time. Well, he’s wearing it for real today. … Murphy returns to lineup. I like him in the middle of the order because those are better RBI opportunities. … With Juan Lagares getting the day off, Granderson is hitting leadoff. … Cuddyer hitting cleanup again. He’ll likely hit there during the season when Lucas Duda gets a day off against a tough lefthander. … By the way, Duda will take BP today and could get in a game Friday. … Commissioner Rob Manfred is in camp.

Mar 09

Wheeler “Must See” Met

So far, Mets’ starting pitchers have done well in their exhibition starts. Zack Wheeler is up next scheduled Monday afternoon against Miami at Tradition Field (1:10 p.m., SNY). Of all Mets pitchers, Wheeler is the one I am most intrigued with as he could have the biggest upside this summer.

WHEELER: Faces Marlins today.

WHEELER: Faces Marlins today.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey could have understandable issues; it would be interesting to see if 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom can have an encore season; Jon Niese can be an enigma; and Bartolo Colon is 41.

That leaves Wheeler, who was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA last year and threw 185.1 innings. Wheeler averages nine strikeouts per nine innings, which is ace worthy. However, his four walks per nine innings is something that must be reduced – by at least half.

Depending on whom you talk with, Wheeler’s stuff might be better than Harvey’s. Command is a different issue.

Wheeler must improve his control, and doing so would enable him to work deeper into games. In 32 starts last year, Wheeler worked into the seventh only 13 times. He also reached 100 pitches 24 times and 110 pitches 13 times.

That doesn’t seem like much, but there’s an accumulative effect on the arm when you factor what he throws in the bullpen between starts; the eight warm-ups between innings; and the 50 or more warm-ups before the game.

After April he did not throw less than 100 pitches in consecutive starts. That must change to not only preserve his arm, but he could add an inning a start that would also reduce the workload of the bullpen.

There are progressions in the development from a prospect to a quality starter. Wheeler has already shown he can be overpowering. Now he must prove he can dominate with his control.

If he does that, there’s no telling how good he can become.

 

Mar 09

Today In Mets History: “Meet The Mets” Song Released

On this day in 1963, the Mets released their official theme song, “Meet The Mets,’’ written by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz.

When I first heard Meet The Mets,’’ I thought, `Now, this is cool.’ Of course, I was only eight at the time.

Click here to play in its entirety. If they played it between innings it would go against baseball’s plan to shorten games.

So, do you recall your thoughts when you first heard the song? Would love to know.

ON DECK: Mets Today: Zack Wheeler starts against Marlins.