Mar 15

Re-Visiting Spring Training Questions

The Mets opened spring training with ten significant questions. A month later, let’s take a look at the status of those questions to see what progress the Mets have made in answering them:

Q: How healthy is Matt Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. So far, indications are positive regarding Harvey’s health. The Mets still don’t know how they’ll break down Harvey’s innings or where he will slot into the rotation.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson had some success hitting leadoff last year, but has more value hitting in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season and it wasn’t until Saturday when he hit his first homer of the spring. Improving their offense to complement the potential of their young pitching is largely dependent of Wright.

Q: What will be the rotation order?

A: This much we know: Harvey will pitch in one of the first five games. I am not totally sold on the notion Harvey won’t be the Opening Day starter. If not Harvey, I had been thinking about Bartolo Colon, but he’s been getting hammered. So, it is now up in the air, with possibly Jacob deGrom over Jon Niese – who I would slot in the middle of the rotation – and Zack Wheeler, who is bothered by a sore shoulder.

Q: Will Dillon Gee be traded?

A: The Mets wanted too much for Gee when they dangled him during the winter. With Wheeler ailing, the need to keep Gee has been enhanced. The Mets currently are thinking of using Gee out of the bullpen.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor spring training. Flores is off to a good start offensively and has committed only two errors.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets currently have a handful of candidates to replace Edgin as the situational lefty.

Q: Will there be any additions?

A: It stands to reason the Mets will sign a free-agent lefty reliever if they are unable to trade for one. Once teams start making roster cuts there will be a flood of free agents.

Q: Who makes an impression?

A: None of the left possibilities have been impressive, which means Rafael Montero could steal a spot in the bullpen. GM Sandy Alderson said Steven Matz would not go to the bullpen to replace Edgin. Noah Syndergaard won’t make the rotation, even with Colon having a rough spring.

Q: Any injuries?

A: This is always the wild card. Edgin is lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle. And, there’s a lot left to the spring.

Mar 05

Mets Matters: Colon Perfect In Loss To Nats

Bartolo Colon was perfect in his first exhibition start, retiring all six hitters in the Mets’ 5-4 loss Thursday to the Nationals.

“I felt pretty good today, but I’m not quite there yet – season-ready,’’ Colon told reporters. “I didn’t throw everything I needed to throw. It was my first time facing batters. But I was pretty happy with what I did. I had good control of all of my pitches.’’

mets-matters logoColon will next pitch Tuesday against minor league hitters. He is expected to throw over three innings.

At 41 entering the season, Colon said his goal is to exceed 200 innings for the second straight year.

METS MUST IMPROVE VS. NATS: Mets manager Terry Collins gives the edge to Washington’s rotation to that of his own team, “maybe because of experience.’’

If the Mets are to be competitive this year they must improve head-to-head against the Nationals.

“We can’t go 5-14 next year. You can’t,’’ Collins told reporters. “You’ve got to play better. … I think now our bullpen has settled down a little bit and I think we’re in a little bit better shape.’’

NEXT UP: The Mets host Detroit Friday at 1:10 p.m., with Matt Harvey getting the start. It will be his first game since Aug. 24, 2013. Noah Syndergaard will follow Harvey. … The sons of murdered NYPD officer Rafael Ramos will be the batboys.

Mar 04

Wright’s Apology Speaks Volumes

David Wright did the right thing when he lectured Noah Syndergaard for eating lunch in the clubhouse when his teammates were playing an intrasquad game.

WRIGHT: Stands up.

WRIGHT: Stands up.

Wright also did the correct thing Wednesday when he apologized to Syndergaard when the easy thing would have been not to have say anything. Wright already had the backing of manager Terry Collins, his teammates – including Syndergaard, who admitted he made a mistake – and most people who know anything about the dynamics of a team sport.

When Wright confronted Syndergaard, he did so unaware of several reporters standing nearby. That was his mistake.

“I didn’t notice the media was within earshot,’’ Wright told reporters. “So that’s what I apologized to Noah for. Now he has to answer questions; I have to answer questions; Terry has to answer questions. That’s not the way that I like to handle things. I wasn’t aware of my surroundings.’’

It’s about accountability, and that includes for the captain, also. Wright can’t justify getting on a teammate for making a mistake if he can’t stand up himself when he does the same.

It’s all part of doing the right thing.

ON DECK:  Dillon Gee rocked.

 

Mar 03

Wright Flashes Captain’s Bars To Syndergaard

David Wright gets it and always has. Now let’s see if the same can be said for Noah Syndergaard. The Mets’ captain reprimanded the young pitcher Tuesday for being in the clubhouse eating lunch instead of being on the bench for the intrasquad game.

Without getting in Syndergaard’s face, Wright let it be known Syndergaard’s place was in the dugout, not in an air-conditioned clubhouse. It’s something a team captain should do.

WRIGHT: Shows leadership skills. (AP)

WRIGHT: Shows leadership skills. (AP)

Syndergaard did not immediately move until Bobby Parnell picked up the rookie’s plate and dumped it in the trash.

Call that an exclamation point.

Wright is the captain for a reason, and that is to not only be a good example, but make sure his teammates understand.

“Being a young player, any chance you get to learn, you go out there and learn,’’ Wright told Newsday. “I’m not a big ranter and raver. When I get on somebody, it’s 99-percent private. I’m not going to yell and scream, but when I speak to somebody, when I get on somebody, the point needs to be taken.’’

The Mets have pointed to this year as when they could be competitive and possibly even challenge for the playoffs. Syndergaard is counted on to be a integral piece in the Mets’ development, and if he’s to become what they hope, he must learn how to win.

And, that includes learning the protocols of a clubhouse. If Syndergaard is to eventually be a leader, he can’t be if he’s eating in the clubhouse during a game – even an intrasquad game.

Wright was teaching. He showed Syndergaard there is a right way and a wrong way to being a teammate.

Syndergaard should have known better, but made a mistake. He said he didn’t think it was a big deal, and in the grand scheme of things, maybe it wasn’t. But, Syndergaard hasn’t been around long enough to make that decision.

Championship teams are built on little things, and that’s why Wright thought it was a big deal. Lecturing Syndergaard is as much a part of his job description as driving in runs and playing third base.

If he doesn’t step forward, then who will?

“I understand where David was coming from,’’ Syndergaard told Newsday. “We’re playing a team sport. I should be out there supporting my teammates.’’

Often, there is a mental turning point in a player’s career, as if a light switch was flipped. Maybe Wright turned it on for Syndergaard.