Mar 03

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Impressive; Davis Scratched; Piazza In Camp

New York Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard threw two scoreless innings this afternoon in a 6-2 victory over Atlanta. Manager Terry Collins called it a “big test’’ as Syndergaard gave up one hit in his 30-pitch audition that included a three-pitch punch out of Evan Gattis.

“You’re not in Kansas anymore,’’ Collins told reporters of Syndergaard’s performance. “You’re where the big guys play. I thought he handled it great. You don’t see a lot of people throw three fastballs by Gattis. That won’t happen very much. He just made pitches he had to make.

“He’s a big, tough kid. He’s got all the traits of the good ones. He takes stuff seriously. He’s not joking around. He didn’t joke around even after he came out of the game. … There are certainly some things we’ve got to get him to do better. But, right now, he’s on track to be special.’’

That’s not to be interpreted to mean Syndergaard will open the season on the Opening Day roster. Syndergaard worked on an innings count last season at Double-A Binghamton, and projections are he will start the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

In addition:

* First baseman Lucas Duda left the game with leg stiffness and is day-to-day.

* First baseman Ike Davis was pulled from the lineup with a tight calf. He is expected to play Tuesday.

* Former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, 45, is in camp this week as a guest instructor. Jeff Wilpon invited him last September when he was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. “For me it’s very rewarding to coach and to try to help a little bit,’’ Piazza said.

* Shortstop Ruben Tejada did not play because of a tight left hamstring, but is expected to play Tuesday.

* Jonathon Niese said his left shoulder felt good after throwing in the bullpen Monday afternoon. Niese is scratched from tomorrow’s start. He is expected to throw again Thursday, but does not have a date set in which he will start.

* Major League Baseball’s new instant replay format will be tested at Tradition Field, March 7, 15, 18 and 23.

* Matt Harvey long-tossed this morning. He’s still a long way from the mound.

 

Feb 22

Mets Instruct D’Arnaud Not To Block Plate

Miami Marlins vs New York Mets

Travis d’Arnaud told reporters that regardless of what rule goes into effect regarding blocking the plate, Mets personnel have instructed him today that he is to stand in fair territory and give base runners the whole plate.

The rule, which is not official yet, is to allow runners a lane to part of the plate so as to avoid contact and collisions with the catcher.

Mets bench coach Bob Geren said that he is working with all the Mets catchers about positioning and making sure they tag across the plate.

Last week, Keith Law of ESPN listed Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud among his top twenty impact prospects for 2014, but says he is “the archetypal GWH player” — Good When Healthy.

D’Arnaud can catch, throw, and hit for power, but has to stay on the field. The Mets don’t have a heavy-use backup on the 40-man, so they’re counting on d’Arnaud to catch 120 games this year, which should mean 15-20 homers and excellent defense if he can stay out of the trainers’ room.

Yesterday, Adam Rubin spoke with hitting coach Dave Hudgens about how TDA can shorten his swing and make more contact without the need for conscious mechanical adjustments.

“I think cutting down his swing just means not trying so hard,” Hudgens told Rubin. “I think when he came up last year he was trying, maybe not in his mind, but it looked like he was trying to hit every ball out of the ballpark and over swinging a little bit and probably just trying to do too much. Watching him this year, so far early in camp, his swing has been easy. He’s been staying in the middle of the field. And that will lend to less effort and less bat wrap.”

Last season with the Mets, d’Arnaud batted .202/.286/.263, with one homer, five RBIs, and 21 strikeouts in 99 at-bats.

Rubin asks Hudgens to quantify d’Arnaud’s offensive capability? Is it .270 or .280 with 20 homers?

“Who knows?” Hudgens tells Rubins. “I’m not putting any numbers on guys. He’s got a chance to be a very good offensive player. I mean, he’s got very quick hands. He’s got a good idea at the plate. I think it’s just experience and confidence and getting that playing time. I think last year when he came up he hadn’t played that much. So I think a big thing is just staying healthy.”

If the fans are looking for d’Arnaud to be the next saving grace as Mike Piazza was for the Mets, Hudgens shares with Rubin, that would be asking too much. ”Piazza, I guess, was the greatest hitting catcher who ever lived. I just want Travis to be Travis.”

D’Arnaud acknowledged that he has some work to do and can’t come up to the plate thinking longball everytime. ”That was more me trying to hit the ball 600 feet,” he said. “When I would try to do that, I would overwrap or overswing pretty much, and it would just dig me in a bigger hole.”

Now it’s up to him to fix it.

Jan 07

Mike Piazza Likely To Fall Short Of Hall Of Fame; My Case For Putting Him In

Speculation has one former New York Met getting into the Hall of Fame tomorrow with another falling short.

Tom Glavine, a 300-game winner who played the bulk of his career in Atlanta, should get in on the first ballot. Mike Piazza is likely to be denied for a second straight year.

PIAZZA: Hall worthy for sure.

PIAZZA: Hall worthy for sure.

On the web site, Baseball Think Factory, its poll has Greg Maddux (100 percent), Tom Glavine (97.7), Frank Thomas (91.7) and Craig Biggio (81.2) getting in, with Piazza (72.2) looking in from the outside. To be voted in, a player must be on 75 percent of the ballots. To date, the poll results are from 134 ballots published, which is less than 25 percent of the votes submitted last year.

While all the votes have been submitted, the above is only a small sampling and things could change between now and tomorrow afternoon when the announcements are made.

Piazza was named on 57.8 percent of the ballots last winter and it is doubtful he can make up that ground in one year. Remember, it took several cracks for Gary Carter to get in.

“It’s a process,’’ Piazza said this summer after his induction into the Mets Hall of Fame. “I’m very proud of my career. Obviously I put my body of work up against anybody, I’ve said before. But, you know what? I truly feel that the process is a beautiful thing as well. It is what it is. I mean, looking back, Yogi [Berra] had three ballots. And, Joe DiMaggio three ballots.’’

That’s something I don’t get. Three ballots for DiMaggio? Babe Ruth got in on his first year, but wasn’t named on 100 percent of the ballots. That’s absurdity at the highest level. The player receiving the highest percentage is Tom Seaver. That could be challenged when it is Mariano Rivera’s turn, but there are some writers, amazingly so, who won’t vote for a player the first time on the ballot.

I know one writer who didn’t vote for Cal Ripken when he first appeared on the ballot.

Piazza was retrospective that day in Citi Field.

“You think of things in the bigger picture,’’ he continued. “And so if I’m so blessed and honored to get to that point someday, I will enjoy it and be proud and wear the honor that is so important. Up until that point, I can only do like an artist – here’s my work, my canvas -and it’s out of my hands.’’

And, it is an impressive picture with him being a 12-time All-Star and the career leader in home runs (427) by a player whose primary position was catcher.

Piazza had a lifetime .308 average, .377 on-base percentage and six years with at least 30 homers and 100 RBI. He’s among ten players in history with a .300 average and at least 400 homers.

Based on numbers alone, Piazza is deserving. But, keeping him out is speculation he was a PED user, something he continually, and vehemently denies.

No writer can say for sure Piazza was a PED user as he: never failed a drug test administered by Major League Baseball; never been charged or linked to PED in the courts such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens; never appeared in the Mitchell Report or any study subsidized by MLB; and never has been accused on the record by another player, coach, trainer or manager of using.

His supposed connection to steroids is based on speculation and because a few writers saw some pimples on his back.

This is proof?

ON DECK: Looking at Tom Glavine.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 31

My Hall Of Fame Ballot

10 METS FAYTOK

I just returned from the post office where I dropped off my Hall of Fame ballot. It’s a ritual for me that on Dec. 31 every year I’ll fill out my ballot. I like holding on to it, read all I can about the players on the ballot, talk to those in the game and also to other voters.

Like most kids I grew up with, and I imagine like most of you, I grew up a baseball junkie. I even logged on to check the box score from the first game I went to, July 19, 1965, in Cleveland, where the Indians beat the Baltimore Orioles. Chuck Hinton homered for the Indians. Rocky Colavito got a couple of hits.

I think back to watching the Indians with the father, to playing catch with my brother, to Little League, and from there, I get to vote for the Hall of Fame.

It is a privilege, which is why it pisses me off no end when I hear of my colleagues selling their vote to Deadspin, to leaving ballots blank, to not returning them, to not even caring whom they vote for. Shameful in my point of view.

I am sure there will be many who disagree with my ballot. I voted for the ten players I was allowed, and have some regret for those I might have omitted. I have no regrets for those I checked.

hof ballot

Jeff Bagwell: To my knowledge he’s like Mike Piazza. He’s never failed a drug test. He was never linked or accused in the Mitchell Report. Nobody on the record has ever charged him or testified to seeing him use PEDs.

Craig Biggio: Three thousand hits. Enough said. I read where one veteran voter accused Biggio of using PEDs, but offered no proof or time-frame.

Tom Glavine: Some say they’ll keep Glavine off and vote Greg Maddux ahead of him. Absurd. Three hundred wins is an automatic ticket punch for me. Glavine and Maddux should go in together.

Greg Maddux: A no-brainer.

Edgar Martinez: I know I’ll take heat for this, but I don’t mind. I didn’t invent the designated hitter position. And, as long as MLB plays with the DH, I don’t see why a player has to have his position work against him. Sure, Martinez played most of his games as the DH, but that is a legitimate position. How many of the numbers belonging to Paul MolitorGeorge BrettCarl Yastrzemski and Eddie Murray were accumulated at a DH?

Jack Morris: He’s been on the ballot for years and don’t understand the reluctance of some voters to shy away from him. Morris was a money pitcher who fell shy of 300 wins. The game has changed and eventually you’ll see the bar lowered to accommodate those who just missed 300 wins.

Mike Mussina: He’s another who fell shy of 300 wins. If he hung on he could have made it. When you consider his body of work, he’s two blown saves a year from 300, which shouldn’t be enough to keep him out. I covered Mussina in Baltimore and with the Yankees, and have no doubts he did it cleanly.

Mike Piazza: If he gets the votes, he’ll likely go in as a Dodger. He’s on my ballot for the same reason as Jeff Bagwell. I don’t see where the accusations of several Holier than Thou writers who based their thinking on seeing several pimples on his back as being substantial.

Tim Raines: Along with Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock – both in the Hall of Fame – he’s one of the game’s premier leadoff hitters. Had he played the bulk of his career in the United States, especially New York or Los Angeles, he’d have been in already.

Frank Thomas: One of the outspoken critics of the PED era. He compiled massive numbers, and he did it cleanly.

Maybe next time:

The regrets on my ballot are Fred McGriff, who fell shy of 500 homers and Jeff Kent, the career leader of homers by a second baseman.

I never thought of Kent as a first ballot Hall of Famer, but several people have planted the seed for him. Maybe next year.

Mets on the ballot:

Mike Piazza: Voted for him.

Jeff Kent,: Maybe next year.

Moises Alou: Funny, when I think of him what I remember most is him pointing at Steve Bartman.

Paul Lo Duca: You must be joking.

Armando Benitez: His signature moment with the Mets was a 10-pitch at-bat in which he walked Paul O’Neill in the 2000 World Series. There’s also numerous blown save opportunities against the Braves.

Kenny Rogers: How about that bases-loaded walk against the Braves in the playoffs?

Sep 29

Mets Wrap: Putting A Bow On 2013

The New York Mets had as nice a day as they could have hoped for on the afternoon in which they said good-bye to another season steeped in frustration.

Injuries to their two best players – David Wright and Matt Harvey – lengthy slumps and a patchwork outfield and bullpen all contributed to a fifth straight losing season.

WRIGHT and PIAZZA

WRIGHT and PIAZZA

Even so, the day had an element of joy as Mike Piazza was inducted into the franchise’s Hall of Fame.

“I look back now, in retrospect, and realize it was just fate. I was just meant to be here,’’ said Piazza about playing with the Mets.

“You know, you can talk about agents and numbers and arguments and who’s right and who’s wrong. But if you look at the big picture of life, you realize that sometimes there’s just a destiny in things.

“And I truly feel it was my plan to be here, in one way, shape or form. It may not have been the most beautiful journey at the time, but it was meant to be.’’

The Mets said good-bye to their season before a capacity Citi Field crowd, the largest since the All-Star Game. First, they cheered Piazza on a sun-drenched afternoon, and then as the Mets scored twice in the eighth inning to beat Milwaukee.

The victory, coupled with Philadelphia’s loss to Atlanta, gave the Mets third place in the NL East, something Wright embraced with a yawn.

“We’re still going home (Monday),’’ Wright said. “I guess finishing in third in the Central would have been good this year, because they’re going to the playoffs.

“Like I said, that’s just those little things that if you want to use that to make you feel better about yourself, then that’s fine. I don’t necessarily think it’s all that important.
“We finished with a win. That’s always nice. But the bottom line is we’re going home, just like the majority of the teams in the National League tomorrow. There’s not too much to smile about with that.’’

Perhaps not, but it does represent some progress, enough which should give Terry Collins a contract extension. General manager Sandy Alderson will address that issue in a noon press conference Monday.

Alderson could also get questions on Harvey’s rehab from an elbow tear, and his plans to answer the questions at first base – Ike Davis or Lucas Duda? – shortstop with Ruben Tejada’s regression, the bullpen and rotation.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos