Jan 29

Jan. 29.10: Minaya thinking positive.

Mets GM Omar Minaya was in full defense mode last night on SNY, saying among other things, he still has full autonomy, but sometimes decisions are a collaborative effort and he doesn’t care as long as the right decision is made.

PELFREY: A major if.

PELFREY: A major if.


Sounds good, but I didn’t expect to hear anything other than that on that topic. Anything other than that is a sign of weakness.

Most curious was his stance on the pitching.

John Lackey was the only difference maker in the free agent market, and I don’t believe the Mets were even in that game. Everything else in the market, he said, wasn’t significantly better than what the Mets already have.

The Mets’ three question marks – John Maine, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez – when healthy are as good as what was on the market. In theory, if you take the best years of those three, Minaya would be correct.

So, the Mets’ pitching plans really were to hope they improve and stay healthy. Rarely, when a team has as many pitching questions as the Mets, that the answers all come up roses.

A significant key, and one I believe might be the most important this season, is the development of Pelfrey, who regressed after a good season in 2008. Even so, Pelfrey still managed double-digit victories.

“If we can get Mike Pelfrey to be the Mike Pelfrey of 2008,” Minaya said. “There’s upside there.”
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Jan 28

Jan. 28.10: Around the horn.

PEREZ: Yawn ... says he feels good.

PEREZ: Yawn ... says he feels good.

Oliver Perez closed mini-camp with a strong side session and said he’s comfortable with his mechanics. Pitching coach Dan Warthen is trying to get him to make a longer stride with his lead leg which will help him drive toward the plate. Theoretically, that’s supposed to help with his control. But, I’ve lost track of all of Perez’s mechanical adjustments designed to help his command. We shall see.

* All indications are the Mets are about to bring back Fernando Tatis. For a role player, Tatis has done pretty good for himself as he’s about to get his third year in the majors after leaving the game. Tatis’ primary asset is his versatility that enables him to play the infield and outfield corners and second base in a pinch. Tatis will be used primarily to platoon with Daniel Murphy at first base.

* John Smoltz said he’s interested in signing with the Mets. He’s being recruited by former Braves teammate Jeff Francoeur.

* Manager Jerry Manuel said Bobby Parnell won’t compete for the fifth starter job in spring training but to compete for the set-up role. Kelvim Escobar is also a candidate for that job. Of course, if Smoltz were signed for the bullpen it would bump everybody down a notch.

Jan 26

Jan. 26.10: Sheets off the board; Smoltz still available.

Ben Sheets apparently wasn’t worth the gamble, so he signed with Oakland for $10 million. I’m not even sure the Mets made an offer.

I understand the Mets’ reasoning and can’t fault them here. Sheets was a DL trip waiting to happen, and the Mets have too many of those already.

On Jan. 23, I wrote, “But, it’s better than remaining stagnant,’’ regarding Sheets which was a lukewarm endorsement.

Elsewhere:

• Johan Santana and Oliver Perez threw in Port St. Lucie without pain.
• The Mets are still contemplating signing John Smoltz.
• The Cubs signed former Mets outfielder Xavier Nady.

Check out the new poll.

Jan 25

Jan. 25.10: Santana to throw off the mound tomorrow.

Johan Santana will test his surgically-repaired left elbow off the mound tomorrow, the second day of the Mets’ three-day mini-camp.Santana underwent surgery, Sept. 1, and the prognosis is good for his return by Opening Day.

SANTANA: Goes off mound tomorrow.

SANTANA: Goes off mound tomorrow.


It’s the first time he’s thrown off the mound since the surgery.

Speaking to reporters today in Port St. Lucie, Santana said: “I’m feeling good. Time will tell, but I am feeling good. We did a pretty good job with the offseason, working out and doing all the rehab, and I’m feeling good. Everything is on schedule.”

In other injury news, Oliver Perez said he’s not feeling any discomfort in his right knee, which had scar tissue removed. … GM Omar Minaya said he’s still exploring the catching market after losing FA Bengie Molina to San Francisco.

Santana went through this before when he was with Minnesota, so he has a frame of reference.

Jan 18

Jan. 18.10: Spring training questions.

Questions, questions ....

Questions, questions ....

With a month before the start of spring training, let’s take a look at the ten top issues surrounding the Mets when the arrive at Port St. Lucie:

1) Who are the fifth starter candidates?
A: Jon Niese is from the organization. It could also be Oliver Perez or John Maine if the Mets should add another arm. Joel Pineiro and Jon Garland are still out there, but they are also linked to other teams. There’s no guarantee the Mets will bring in somebody else.

2) Where is Johan Santana?
A: Santana is coming off surgery. The Mets are saying he’ll be ready, but they said the same thing about John Maine last spring.

3) What is Jose Reyes status?
A: Reyes says he feels good, but he hasn’t tested that hamstring in game-type conditions. And, how much speed has he lost?

4) Did David Wright find his home run stroke over the winter?
A: Maybe it was Citi Field, maybe not. But, Wright did not hit with power last season. That has to change if the Mets are to do anything.

5) Carlos Beltran is how many weeks away?
A: Originally, they said 12 weeks. He won’t be ready by spring training to do baseball activities, but maybe they’ll have a better timetable by then.

6) What’s the catching situation look like?
A: The Mets have plenty of reserve catchers, but not a No. 1. They hope it will be Bengie Molina. They really don’t want to rush Josh Thole to the majors.

7) Who is the real Mike Pelfrey?
A: Pelfrey appeared on the verge of breaking out in 2008, but regressed last season. It’s about time he gets to the next level.

8) Where does the coin land?
A: Will Coinflip Perez show consistency beyond being inconsistent? He’s also coming off surgery. The reports are he’s working hard, but he’s worked hard before with no results.

9) What are the bullpen roles?
A: They could change if they sign John Smoltz. I’d rather have him in a set-up role than Kelvim Escobar. That way I could also drop Bobby Parnell down to a lower pressure slot.

10) What kind of camp will Jerry Manuel run?
A: Lax or clamp down? There were injuries last season, but the team also played fundamentally poor baseball and that’s his responsibility.