Feb 17

The team to beat?

Francisco Rodriguez said the Mets are the team to beat, which is the attitude they should take. Afterall, do you want your team to think it can’t win?

But, the truth is, the Phillies are the defending champions. They are the team to beat. The Mets can talk all they want. It makes interesting chat for a day or two. However, until they do it on the field, which they haven’t done, it’s all hot air.

Feb 16

Santana update

While the Phillies are set with Cole Hamels as their Opening Day starter, the Mets aren’t there yet with Johan Santana.

Santana threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Sunday, and is not yet at full strength following surgery to repair a torn mtorn meniscus in his left knee.

“Everything is where it’s supposed to be,” Santana told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I don’t expect to be 100 percent right away. It’s going to take some time. We’ve got around seven weeks to get everything going and I’m pretty sure we’re not going to have any problems.”

Feb 15

Griffey to Braves?

It’s looking as it that might be the case. Griffey, who lives in Orlando – where the Braves train in spring training – has wanted to play for Atlanta. He might soon get the case. The Braves confirmed interest today according to ESPN.com.

I broached Griffey to the Mets a couple of weeks ago, a thought that was rather coldly received. Apparently, the Braves still think he has something left.

He does vs. the Phillies, hitting .357 against them last season. Of course, Griffey isn’t the same player, but for a team wanting to win this year he’s a good piece to have. He’s exactly the kind of bat you trade for in July. Why not have him all season?

The Phillies, by the way, have already named Cole Hamels their Opening Day starter.

Feb 04

Positive or negative?

On one hand, perhaps baseball’s worst bullpen has been improved. The Mets blew 29 save opportunities last season, but the additions of Francisco Rodriguez and JJ Putz has to close the one-game gap on the Phillies assuming all else is equal.

That’s the strongest positive.

Another positive is the time Daniel Murphy  spent last season in the majors and the addition of Tim Redding improves the fifth spot in the rotation. The overall depth of the bullpen is better.

The rest isn’t so much glaring negatives as they are questions. Yes, if there’s no improvement from Luis Castillo, that becomes a glaring negative.

The following Q and A gives a thumbnail perspective of the other hand.

Q: How’s Johan Santana’s knee?
A: Nothing negative to report, but we’ll know when he he gets on the mound.

Q: How’s John Maine’s shoulder?
A: Reports are surgery went well and he should be ready for spring training. But, we really won’t know until he starts throwing.

Q: Is Mike Pelfrey ready to continue his progress?
A: Sometimes, after a large jump in innings, a pitcher hits a growth wall. We’ll have to see. You can’t just pencil him in for 200 innings and 18 wins. It’s not that simple.

Q: Who is the real Carlos Delgado?
A: Can anyone say for certain it will be the second half Delgado or the first half Delgado?

Q: How healthy is Ryan Church?
A: The Mets say he’s fine, but will be pick up where he left off before the concussion?

Q: How productive will the Murphy-Tatis platoon in left be?
A: The Mets will take what they got last year, but nobody is making any promises.

Add it up, if the Mets produce the same as they did last year, the bullpen improvement should pick up a game on the Phillies. Then again, we don’t know if the Phillies won’t be any better. However, there’s no guarantee the Mets will get the same production, or if it will be better or worse.

Given all this, with the start of spring training less than two weeks out, what’s your confidence level?