Nov 09

2012 Mets Player Review: The Bench

KIRK NIEUWENHUIS, OF

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Our player review series concludes today with a look at the bench, which wasn’t without questions. With Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda starting, that thinned the bench. Mike Nickeas was behind the plate; Justin Turner a capable reserve in the infield; and Scott Hairston and Mike Baxter were in the outfield. Kirk Nieuwenhuis opened the season in the minor leagues. The Mets liked Jordany Valdespin’s speed and ability to make things happen on the bases. In Nickeas, the Mets had a capable receiver, but not much offense; Turner had success as a pinch-hitter;  and Hairston and Baxter showed occasional power. Of the two, Baxter is the better defensive player.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Hairston proved capable – perhaps too capable – in the outfield as he ended up starting when Duda was optioned and Jason Bay alternatively struggled and was hurt and hit 20 homers. Baxter saved Johan Santana’s no-hitter with a spectacular catch in left field and also provided some pop. Nieuwenhuis got an early opportunity when Andres Torres pulled up lame (calf) the first week of the season and played very well for about two months before major league pitching caught up with him (you’ll keep getting breaking balls off the plate until you prove you can hit them). Kelly Shoppach was brought in late in the season to back-up Josh Thole and hit for sporadic power. Speaking of power, Valdespin provided a long-ball spark as a pinch-hitter.

LOOKING AT 2013:  Hairston was so good he’ll command a multi-year deal in the free-agent market, something the Mets don’t want to do. Say good-bye, although with what they have returning in the outfield they should think twice. With Bay gone and Torres not expected to be tendered, Nieuwenhuis will get a chance to earn a spot during spring training. He can handle the job defensively, but needs to cut down on his strikeouts and increase his on-base percentage considering he’s not expected to hit for power. Valdespin played some second base in the fall league, which should enhance his value. Valdespin could also benefit by Bay’s departure. Turner could be brought back, and if not, there will be plenty of alternatives on the market. Shoppach had his moments, but the Mets won’t pay over $1 million for a back-up when the starter makes half that amount. GM Sandy Alderson said there won’t be any big-ticket free agents, but inexpensive reserve outfielders and a catcher could be found.

Aug 29

A Message To Josh Thole

If not a breakout season, 2012 was supposed to be a season where catcher Josh Thole would take it to another level, both defensively and as a hitter. That hasn’t been the case, and one hopes Thole will receive the message manager Terry Collins is sending him tonight.

THOLE: Sitting tonight vs. righty.

Originally, right-handed hitting Kelly Shoppach – who homered last night – was to start against left Cole Hamels. However, when Hamels was scratched this afternoon because of a stomach ailment and replaced by right-handed call-up Tyler Cloyd, Collins stuck with Shoppach instead of going to Thole.

Maybe Collins is simply rewarding Shoppach, but somewhere in there must be a message the Mets aren’t satisfied with what Thole is giving them. Production from behind the plate is needed, but it isn’t to the dire point where the Mets will move away from Thole, so he should report to spring training as the starter, but the patience in him is getting shorter.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Ruben Tejada, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Ike Davis, 1b

Lucas Duda, lf

Scott Hairston, cf

Mike Baxter, rf

Kelly Shoppach, c

Matt Harvey, rhp

INTERESTING NOTE: Scott Hairston has already cleared waivers so there are contenders seeking an outfield bat who are scouting the Mets. Hairston is is center tonight, which makes me wonder if the Mets are showcasing his versatility.

Hairston, by the way, has been productive off the bench and is somebody the Mets should bring back.

 

Aug 16

Dickey Seeing Red After Losing Bracelet In 6-1 Mets Loss

R.A. Dickey‘s quest for a Cy Young hit a speed bump Wednesday night in a bizarre 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

But Dickey will have to wait at least five more days to bolster his credentials. The knuckleballer served up a season-high three home runs to the Reds on Wednesday, dropping the Mets to a 6-1 loss.

Dickey may have been thrown off his game when the umpires forced him to cut off a bracelet that his daughter had given him when he made his climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Dickey was visibly pissed, and had worn that bracelet all season long without any previous gripes by the umpires. Terry Collins confirmed it was the umpires who ordered Dickey’s bracelet cut and that it was not requested by Reds.

The Reds tagged Dickey five earned runs on ten hits including three home tuns in six innings of work. The home runs were definitely not cheapies especially Todd Frazier‘s which was estimated at 475 feet. Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce walloped the other two. He did strike out ten, so there’s that…

The Mets only had four hits in the games, two each by Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada who batted first and second in the order.

The Mets are 9-22 since the all-star break and now seven games under .500 for the season.

Bobby Ojeda says the Mets now have a growing reputation in the league that they are passive offense and that teams are pounding the middle of the zone because they know the Mets batters are not going to swing.

The Mets will try to avoid the sweep in tomorrow’s finale as rookie Matt Harvey (1-3, 3.63 ERA) faces Cincinnati right-hander Homer Bailey (10-7, 4.08).

Aug 09

Mets Lineup, August 9, Against Miami

After last night’s disaster, the Mets talked about showing up again tomorrow. Well, tomorrow got here a lot faster than normal. There’s no time to stew on 13-0 as the Mets and Marlins are back at it today at noon.

Here’s the lineup:

Ruben Tejada – SS

Mike Baxter – RF

Daniel Murphy – 2B

David Wright – 3B

Ike Davis – 1B

Jordany Valdespin – LF

Andres Torres – CF

Josh Thole – C

R.A. Dickey – RHP

LINEUP COMMENTS: Interesting to see Ruben Tejada and Mike Baxter 1-2 in the order. … Good to see Baxter and Jordany Valespin getting time. … I think we’ve seen the last days of Andres Torres as a leadoff hitter.

 

Aug 08

Mets Need To See Valdespin

The Jason Bay Platoon as begun and tonight we’ll see the left-handed side in Jordany Valdespin against the Marlins.

Good.

Actually, we should see Valdespin full time because when you come right down to it, they have no real outfielders to speak of. Arguably, their best outfielder is one who should be a role player and that’s Scott Hairston. Andres Torres hasn’t given the Mets anything to get excited about. Neither has Lucas Duda. Kirk Nieuwenhuis provided a jolt of energy for awhile, then plummeted to Earth, and later to the minor leagues where he’s nursing a foot injury.

And, of course, we all know about Bay. An ESPN poll had 76 percent eating Bay’s contract, but it’s not their money and GM Sandy Alderson will wait things out in hopes of finding somebody stupid enough to trade for him.

Until then, he’s on the bench, and we should see Valdespin in all situations the rest of the way to see what kind of player he is. This should be a six-week audition for 2013.

Here’s tonight’s line-up, which features Valdespin in left and batting sixth.

Ruben Tejada, SS
Mike Baxter, RF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Jordany Valdespin, LF
Andres Torres, CF
Josh Thole, C
Chris Young RHP