Mar 11

Mets’ Depth Will Come To Play Early

Depth was to be a Mets’ strong point this year, and it will come into play a lot earlier than anticipated with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera expected to miss the start of the season with a strained patella tendon in his left knee. Ruben Tejada, who lost his job after Cabrera was acquired and recently has been the subject of trade rumors to St. Louis, is starting again.

TEJADA: Back in line up. (AP)

TEJADA: Back in line up. (AP)

“[Cabrera] may not be ready for opening day, and that’s one of the reasons we have the depth on our roster that we have now,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Friday. “If he’s ready in three or four weeks, it’s essentially the first week of the season and we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Cabrera was in New York Friday at the Hospital of Special Surgery to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection. He was injured Thursday when he was running the bases and didn’t slide.

“I was running – with the fly ball  to second, and thinking slide,” Cabrera said. “I saw the bad throw, so I tried to stay up. I felt something in my knee. It’s sore right now.”

With Cabrera in the first season of a two-year, 8.5-million contract, the Mets hoped to unload Tejada – who will make $3 million in 2016 – for a prospect before losing him to free-agency next winter.

Timing is everything, and right now it isn’t good for Cabrera. It’s better for Tejada, and it could be good in the long run for the Mets. When Cabrera returns – and there are no setbacks – and if Tejada plays well and proves his leg is sound, it could enhance his trade value.

 

 

Mar 06

Why Utley’s Suspension Was Dropped

Mets’ fans won’t be pleased with this, but Chase Utley‘s two-game suspension was dropped by Major League Baseball. Utley was suspended for his aggressive take-out slide in Game 2 of the NLDS that broke Ruben Tejada‘s right leg.

Baseball’s policeman, Joe Torre, called the slide illegal for being a “rolling block” occurring away from the base. The suspension resulted from an outcry by Mets’ fans and New York media, and I believe was issued to avoid an ugly scene when the NLDS moved to Citi Field.

Utley appealed – as was his right – and didn’t play in the games in New York.

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

TEJADA: Suspension dropped. (AP)

Here’s why I think the suspension was dropped:

* The umpire’s have discretion to eject a player if they deem it to be a dirty play and they did not.

* There was a take-out rule already in place dictating the runner must be able to reach the bag with his foot or hand and apparently the umpires believed this to be the case with Utley. (watch video)

* Replays showed Wilmer Flores‘ throw put Tejada in an awkward position, one in which he turned into Utley’s slide. This was not the runner’s fault.

* That Utley did not play in the two New York games could be viewed as a de facto suspension.

* Reaction among those in MLB is mixed between dirty and just aggressive. There was hardly a consensus in either position.

* MLB adopted a new rule on break-up slides.

When asked about the suspension Sunday, Tejada told reporters: “I don’t care really. I don’t care. I care about me. I’m healthy here. I’m happy here. So I don’t care about what’s going to happen there or what’s the decision they take there.”

Said Mets GM Sandy Alderson: “The most important thing is that the rule was changed.”

 

 

Mar 01

Today In Mets History: Seaver Begins Holdout

SEAVER: Began holdout on this date. (Topps)

SEAVER: Began holdout on this date. (Topps)

This date in 1976 was a sign of things to come, and they weren’t good as ace Tom Seaver began a spring training holdout. With it, Seaver’s golden stature with the Mets began to tarnish and the frayed relationship culminated with him being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977.

“If Seaver wants to play somewhere other than New York, I’ll oblige him,’’ said then-Mets GM Joe McDonald. “I’ll trade him if he wishes to be traded. We don’t want anyone who doesn’t want to be with us.”

Seaver’s response was he wanted to play with the Mets, “but not at the expense of making far less money than I can make someplace else.’’

Seaver eventually signed a three-year contract that paid him $200,000 annually, but that didn’t prevent the Mets from making the trade the franchise still regrets.

Feb 28

Piazza Ideal Influence For Cespedes

After carrying the Mets to the World Series, Yoenis Cespedes was rewarded with a $75-million contract, and with it, likely 75 million tons of pressure. Expectations are high for the Mets, but there’s no better person to help Cespedes deal with them than Mike Piazza, who’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

PIAZZA: Needs to reach Cespedes.  (Mets)

PIAZZA: Needs to reach Cespedes. (Mets)

Unquestionably, the Mets picked the right time to invite Piazza to spring training as a guest instructor. While Travis d’Arnaud is eager to pick Piazza’s brain about the finer points of catching, Cespedes is the Met most likely to gain from his presence.

“I told him that when I talk to him, I’m going to tell him that there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him this year,” Piazza told reporters today. “He’s going to be expected to do a lot. And, I have a little bit of experience knowing that pressure. And, I hope he’s able to discipline himself and really define his strike zone and realize that when the pitchers are not pitching to him, he’s got to take his walks.”

That is Piazza’s assessment from watching the Mets in the postseason last fall. Piazza said Cespedes has a tendency to try to do too much and crush the ball with every swing.

There are some who think Cespedes is enjoying the trappings of his contract and being a New York start when he showed up in camp with a different car six days in a row. And, these weren’t a Camry and Honda Civic, but high-end wheels.

“I don’t care what you drive as long as you drive in runs,” Piazza said. “That’s the key. But, I think he’s going to fine. I think he’s so talented.”

The expectations are high for Cespedes, and the hopes are also high Piazza’s message will get through.