Mar 07

March 7.10: Looking at the day.

PEREZ: Not a good day.

The good news was obvious, the X-Ray on Mike Pelfrey’s right knee was negative and pitcher Hisanori Takahashi struck out six in three innings.

Based on today’s appearance, Jerry Manuel said they’d have to find a spot for him among the 12 pitchers he’d take north. But, that’s based on today.

Today’s real story line was really about Oliver Perez. Manuel has been raving about how he’s been throwing this spring. There were two positive signs in today’s ugly performance, beginning with no pain in his elbow. He gave up five runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings. But, he was around the plate, throwing 33 of 49 pitches for strikes. That’s a positive.

I’ve been critical of Perez, and he does drive you crazy, but I wrote earlier in spring that I would look at the good from him as a bonus.

I suppose another way of saying that is I don’t expect much. That way I can’t be disappointed.

Feb 25

Feb. 25.10: Fitting in Green.

Sometimes, I just don’t get Jerry Manuel. For instance, when talking about Sean Green, when the topic was his submarine delivery, he said he hopes it doesn’t reduce him to being a specialist.

Huh?

Isn’t that the whole essence of putting together a bullpen, finding a defined role for each guy? Obviously, there’s room for adjustment depending on the game situation, but don’t the terms long-man, closer, eighth-inning set-up man and “left-hander out of the bullpen,’’ all denote specialists?

When Manuel brings in Pedro Feliciano to face Adrian Gonzalez instead of a right-hander isn’t he using a specialist? Hell, each bullpen decision is about match-ups and subsequently about specialization.

As far as being a specialist, Manuel will determine that by how he uses Green. As a submariner, Green should be effective against both right-handed and left-handed, that is, if his ball in down, moving and on the corners.  If Manuel doesn’t want to pigeon-hole Green’s job – which on the surface would seem to be to come in and get the ground ball, especially against right-handed hitters – then he doesn’t have to.

It is Manuel’s job in constructing the bullpen to slot pitchers to different game situations. To say he doesn’t want Green to be a specialist is contrary to what should be going on.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with specialists as long as they do their job. In the basic sense every reliever should be a specialist in that their role should simply be to get hitters out, which has been a widespread problem of the bullpen the last three years.

Feb 24

Feb. 24.10: Wrapping up the day.

The following is an accumulation of news and notes from spring training today:

* Rod Barajas reported to camp and will wear Carlos Delgado’s No. 21.

* Japanese pitchers Ryota Igarashi and Hisanori Takahashi threw live batting practice.

* Sean Green is working on a submarine delivery. In theory it should produce a sharper sinker conducive for getting the double-play grounder.

* Pedro Feliciano is working on a cutter. The more pitches the better.

* Jerry Manuel said Fernando Nieve is versatile enough to work as a long-man, eighth-inning set-up man or starter. That’s another way of saying he has no idea on how to use him. If Jon Niese steps up, Nieve would likely be the long man.

* Good reports so far on Angel Pagan’s confidence. Pagan has no doubt he can hold center field until Carlos Beltran’s return in mid-May.

Feb 21

Feb. 21.10: Catching up on the weekend.

WILPON: Distancing himself from Omar?

WILPON: Distancing himself from Omar?

Fred Wilpon held court today, and his words gave the impression of separating himself from his baseball people – Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel.

It’s his money, but they make the decisions, Wilpon said.

“I understand from the fan’s point of view, because I am one myself, and I’m very, very sensitive to what their feelings are, and I understand some of it,’’ Wilpon said of the fans’ angst, but added, “I think that we have to be guided by our baseball people, and our baseball people evaluated, for example, some of our pitchers as good or better than what was on the market.

“Our baseball people evaluated other positions and we went by what they did. Jeff (Wilpon) followed them. Jeff and I don’t pick the baseball players. So that’s what they wanted to do.’’

In addition:

* If Jose Reyes does bat third, Manuel said it is possible Gary Matthews Jr., could lead off if he wins the center field job until Carlos Beltran returns. Again, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, and Reyes is one of the game’s best leadoff hitters.

* Manuel also said prospect Jennry Mejia could compete for the eighth-inning set-up role, which indicates two things, 1) a concern about Kelvim Escobar, and 2) and doubts about Bobby Parnell.

* Jon Niese appears the leading candidate for the fifth starter spot. Kind of expected that all along. That Manuel would suggest that suggests good news on his hamstring.

* Rod Barajas was finally signed, which gives Josh Thole a chance to develop his game at Triple-A. Not good news for Omir Santos.

Feb 18

Feb. 18.10: Pitchers and catchers report with issues.

Finally, pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie today, and with them, more than a few issues that comprise the 2010 New York Mets.

It seems like forever since the Mets were last in the playoffs, but consecutive collapses and last summer’s injury-riddled freefall have us wondering if fourth place in the NL East was an aberration or a realistic assessment.

Assuming for a moment David Wright’s goal is realistic, that the World Series is realistic, it won’t happen just by saying so. For the Mets to compete, never mind win it all, the following questions must be answered in the positive during spring training:

Question: What is this team’s attitude?
Assessment: Wright is correct, this team has to use embarrassment as a motivator. There were too many games last year where the Mets just mailed it in, too many games where their heart wasn’t in it. This was also not a thinking team, whether it be on the bases, in the field or at the plate. The Mets gave away far too many outs on the field and at-bats at the plate.

Question: How healthy is this team?
Assessment: Injuries sabotaged the 2009 season, and already Carlos Beltran won’t be ready for the first month and set-up reliever Kelvim Escobar is behind with shoulder issues. The early signs are positive for Jose Reyes, Jeff Francoeur, Oliver Perez and Johan Santana, all of who are coming off surgery. Of course, they must pass the test under game conditions.

Question: What is the status of the three pitching questions, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine?
Assessment: How far the Mets go this season is dependant on their pitching, and all three represent significant concerns. The Mets didn’t make any rotation additions this winter because they believe in the upside of these three. Pelfrey took a step back last season; Perez, who has always been erratic, spent the offseason working out and the reports have been good; and Maine is in his second year since surgery.

Question: Who is fifth starter?
Assessment: Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Pat Misch and Nelson Figueroa are all in the mix. None represent givens. The fifth starter probably won’t matter until the end of April, but that still leaves five months where every fifth day a question takes the mound unless somebody steps forward.

Question: What is the make-up of the bullpen?
Assessment: The bullpen took the Mets deep into the 2006 playoffs, but played a significant role into the collapses of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Closer Francisco Rodriguez can be an adventure at times and there’s no dependable set-up man. Pedro Feliciano was run into the ground last summer, and other than him where are the consistent arms in situational roles.