Mar 05

Mejia Flying To NY For Undisclosed Medical Condition

MetsGreetings from Port St. Lucie, where the Mets have the afternoon off. However, just because they are down for the day, it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything happening.

I just checked into the hotel and will hit the ground running.

They wouldn’t be the Mets if there weren’t injury news. Jenrry Mejia returned to New York this morning to have an undisclosed medical condition checked out. As with Pedro Feliciano before him, his reporting physical was red flagged.

Mejia is coming off Tommy John surgery, but there is no word yet whether the injury is to his elbow.

Mejia, who is expected to open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, was scheduled to pitch in a “B’’ game this morning against Miami.

Also scheduled to pitch are Shaun Marcum, Felicano and LaTroy Hawkins. I’ll have those results later.

Feb 08

Something To Look Forward To From The Mets

As I watch the snow pile up outside my window, I am thinking of three of the best words in sports, “pitchers and catchers.’’

NIESE: Needs to take the next step.

                       NIESE: Needs to take the next step.

The official deadline for the Mets is Monday, but the lockers are already being filled in Port St. Lucie. I am hoping to get down there this spring and have already started looking at flights.

Most of the prognosticators have the Mets fighting the Marlins to stay out of the NL East. Many of them have them losing close to 100 games. I think they’ll finish ahead of Miami and I don’t see them losing that many games. I’d like to see .500, but I’m not ready to go there, yet.

For those thinking the worst, and as Mets fans I know you’ve all done it one time or another, I’d like to give you several things to watch for that could make this an interesting, if not exciting summer.

If you’re already writing off this season, here’s a few things to talk you down off the ledge.

The soundest road to contention is with young pitching. For those lamenting the lack of power and a weak outfield, just remember what the San Francisco Giants did in two of the past three years. Speaking of sparse outfields, was the Mets’ 2000 outfield all that good?

Hardly. It’s all starts with pitching and the Mets have three bright spots they are developing.

Jon Niese won a career-high 13 games last season and has the potential, if he stays healthy, to possibly win 17 or more. To reach that level he needs to win four more games in six months. That’s roughly one more every five weeks. That’s not that big a stretch with his stuff.

Niese had a nearly 3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and 1.17 WHIP in 2012 while working 190 innings in 30 starts. If he makes four more starts over 200 innings and maybe 17 wins are possible.

The Mets jumped from habit and signed Niese to a long-term contract way before they needed to because he throws hard, is lefthanded, pitches with guile and has experienced major league success. For those reasons, any team would want him but the Mets continually say no.

Two other rising pitching stars are Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. The Mets have brought along Harvey at a good pace and he started ten games last year, showing overpowering stuff and more importantly, composure beyond his years. His is the type of arm franchises are built around.

While Harvey is in the Opening Day rotation, the timetable for Wheeler is later in the summer after more time in Triple A. There’s no rush to promote Wheeler early, but we’ll see him soon enough.

We should also see catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud before the year is out, and I like the idea he’ll get a lot of time with Wheeler. The key to the R.A. Dickey trade from the Mets’ perspective, d’Arnaud has power potential, but he’s also coming off knee and back injuries.

Should he pan out then the Mets can argue success in the trade of their Cy Young Award winner.

Also something to look forward to is Ike Davis’ power. Davis, skillful around the first base bag, clubbed 32 homers last year after a bad start. He’s healthy now and two good halves could make 40 homers a realistic possibility. That’s a little over one a month. He could get that, along with more walks and fewer strikeouts, with an improved plate presence.

Then there is David Wright, who played at a MVP clip in the first half before the pressures of carrying the Mets on his back became too great a burden.

I’m looking at .300, 30 and 100 from Wright, nothing less. He rarely talks about numbers, but he’d probably say the same if pressed.

No, I don’t know how the Mets will do this year. However, if these six players can play to what is expected of them, this has a chance to be an interesting summer.

Jan 29

Alex Rodriguez In PED Trouble Again

This much we can say about Major League Baseball’s drug policy. It is working. Players are failing tests and being suspended. And, accusations of players using performance-enhancing drugs at an anti-aging clinic in Miami are being investigated.

A-ROD: Not smiling today.

A-ROD: Not smiling today.

Also clear is PEDs won’t go away, with players thinking the risk of being caught and docked 50 games pay is worth it for the performance numbers and an enhanced contract.

There is no greater example than Melky Cabrera, who paid his fine and sat out 50 games and the postseason only to be rewarded with a two-year, $16-million contract.

Perhaps, what should be open for discussion is to strengthen the penalties.

Alex Rodriguez, who admitted using steroids from 2001-2003 before joining the Yankees, yet vehemently denied taking the drug. He finally came clean. To clean your system of drugs permanently, you have to stop taking any, and Rodriguez hasn’t really done that.

He along with Cabrera, Nelson Cruz and Gio Gonzalez, were linked by a Miami News Times report they sold performance-enhancing drugs. Reportedly, Rodriguez used human growth hormones.

In material supplied the paper from an employee at the clinic, Rodriguez’s name appeared 16 times. Rodriguez retained heavyweight lawyer Roy Black, who denied the Yankee third baseman used. Even so, 16 mentions represent more than a coincidence.

The documents indicate Rodriguez’s alleged use of HGH began in 2009, the year he helped carry the Yankees to a World Series title.

Rodriguez, who recently underwent hip surgery (his second), might not be able to play this season. If found guilty of HGH use he won’t be suspended 50 games while on the disabled use, but could be fined 50 games salary.

Rodriguez once took great care in protecting his image, but that doesn’t appear the case anymore after being caught in Toronto with a stripper while still married, high-profile relationships with actresses while at the same time attempting to pick up women from the dugout in the ALCS.

Now comes this. As of now, the man many thought could become the all-time home run champion is hurt, connected to PEDs a second time. Rodriguez has his hired gun, but there is over $100 million at stake for the remainder of his contract. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Yankees explore their legal options under the presumption they were mislead when they signed Rodriguez, thinking he was clean.

Teams have been reluctant to challenge players on this issue because of the strength of the MLB Players Association. Now might be the time to go to court.

Jan 16

Soriano Has Nationals Thinking Title In NL East

Not that the bullpen-needy Mets would have made a play for Rafael Soriano anyway, but the Washington Nationals’ acquisition of the Yankees’ 2012 insurance policy has them as the sexy pick to win the NL East.

It isn’t as if they needed much make-up after winning 98 games last season, but Soriano strengthens an already strong bullpen stronger. For his $28-million, two-year deal, Soriano will close, but the Nationals also have Drew Storen – their once closer-in-waiting – and Tyler Clippard, who saved 32 games last year, for late in the game.

The Mets, the only team not to sign a free-agent this winter, kicked the tires on Brian Wilson, who after Tommy John surgery, would be a gamble. Their closer is Frank Francisco, who ended last season with arm problems.

The Nationals’ manager, Davey Johnson, is adept at juggling a bullpen, although he was helpless as his pen blew a six-run lead to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NL Division Series. That might have been the gnawing feeling that prompted them to sign Soriano.

The Nationals already upgraded with the acquisitions of starter Dan Haren and outfielder Denard Span. Washington also expects Stephen Strasburg to work at least 200 innings. Perhaps they learned from last summer’s mistake and will pace him out better.

Washington alienated a lot of people last year when they shut-down Strasburg, giving the impression they’ll make the playoffs every season. It’s not that easy, and the Nationals are showing that with what they’ve done this winter. One thing for sure, they won’t be a surprise this year.

The Braves won’t have Chipper Jones, but added outfielder B.J. Upton to their offense. They won 94 games last summer.

Philadelphia added outfielder Ben Revere and expect to have Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for the entire season. They should better last year’s 81 wins.

It appears the Mets will be competing with Miami to stay out of the cellar, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

That Nationals are building the right way, with a mix of drafting, trades and free-agent signings. With today’s economics, a team must be strong at all three phases, which the top three teams in the NL East have shown.

The Mets are putting their eggs in the farm-system basket, which is traditionally the way to go, and still is the foundation. However, they don’t have all the farm pieces to go the whole route, as they can’t fill out their roster with them or use them to trade.

The Mets also don’t have major league pieces they can trade without opening up additional holes.

As far as free-agency is concerned, they are balking on giving Scott Hairston – who hit 20 homers for them last year – a two-year deal.

The last time they had a good mix was 2007, the summer they blew a seven-game lead with 17 to play. They also blew a late lead in 2008, the last time they had a winning season.

That seemed like such a long time ago.

Nov 16

Bud Selig Should Void Marlins Trade

The biggest problem I’ve had with Commissioner Bud Selig is he was an owner, but even after divesting of the Milwaukee Brewers, he remained an owner at heart.

He’s a former owner paid by the owners, so, where do his loyalties lie?

WHAT ARE MARLINS FANS TELLING YOU, BUD?

It will never happen without government intervention, but the best way for baseball to be run is have the commissioner paid equally by the owners and players association, with another percentage from the umpire’s union. That formula should eliminate the perception of partiality.

As commissioner, Bud Selig has the authority to exercise his “best interest in baseball,’’ clause, which permits him to act in the best interest of the sport regardless of whom it impacts.

Continue reading