Traditionally, winning teams are built for strength up the middle: catcher, pitching, second base and shortstop, and center field.
That’s not looking good so far for the Mets, especially with center fielder Andres Torres sidelined with a strained calf muscle.
With minor league prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis suffering with a strained oblique, manager Terry Collins will experiment with infielder Jordany Valdespin and Jason Bay in center. I can see Bay, but Valdespin is total desperation and an indictment on the Mets’ lack of depth and foresight to bolster the position.
Second base is a concern because of Daniel Murphy’s lack of experience at the position. He’s awkward around the bag and doesn’t have consistent footwork. Meanwhile, there’s no doubt about Ruben Tejada’s defensive prowess at shortstop, but there is the matter of playing a full season.
As for the pitching, both the rotation and bullpen are deep with questions and concerns. This isn’t a strikeout staff and still walks more hitters than it should. As for the bullpen, it is patchwork with no proven lefty.
Josh Thole came up with a lot of potential, especially at the plate. He’s still relatively new at the plate and it shows with his ability to call a game and block pitches. He is still far away from being proven.
Mike Pelfrey said he felt he was better today against the Cardinals than in his last start. Can you imagine what would have happened if he felt worse?
Pelfrey gave up four runs on six hits – including two homers – in 4 1/3 innings this afternoon. Once again, Pelfrey’s problem was a flat sinker. One of his problems last season was a lack of movement on his pitches, and movement is far more important than velocity.
Another down note was Ruben Tejada scratched with a groin injury. He’ll miss tomorrow’s game, also.
Terry Collins got testy after learning of Tejada’s injury. I brought this up yesterday and it is worthy of another mention … the Mets need to re-evaluate their off-season and pre-game conditioning and warm-up programs.
MLB.com reported 14 of 55 Mets have been on an injury report this spring, which is roughly 25 percent, an unusually high number.
We’re a week into the games and already the Mets have had injury issues with David Wright, Ike Davis, and, of course, the day-to-day watching of Johan Santana. Add Lucas Duda to the list. He was scratched from today’s against the Braves with a stiff back. He’ll likely be out until next week.
Here is today’s lineup for the Mets:
Ruben Tejada, SS
Josh Thole, C
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Valentino Pascucci, 1B
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF
Adam Loewen, LF
Juan Lagares, RF
Mike Baxter, DH
Ronny Cedeno, 3B
Dillon Gee, RP
The Mets are playing two games today, but all eyes are on Port St. Lucie where Johan Santana will make the start against St. Louis.
Here are the Mets’ lineups for today’s split-squad games:
vs. St. Louis at Port St. Lucie.
Andres Torres, cf
Jordany Valdespin, 2b
Jason Bay, dh
Ike Davis, 1b
Justin Turner, 3b
Josh Thole, c
Adam Loewen, lf
Mike Baxter, rf
Ronny Cedeno, ss
Johan Santana, lhp
vs. Houston Astros at Kissimmee
Ruben Tejada, ss
Wilmer Flores, dh
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Lucas Duda, rf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf
Josh Satin, 1b
Vinny Rottino, 3b
Rob Johnson, c
Juan Lagares, lf
Chris Schwinden, rhp
LINEUP COMMENTS: Terry Collins is keeping Jason Bay and Ike Davis together in the batting order, as they would normally be. … In the Houston game he’s also keeping together the double-play combination of Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy.
ON DECK: Santana gets the ball.
Manager Terry Collins conducted his first press conference of the spring this morning. He was upbeat and positive as expected, but made no brash projections, which was appreciated.
COLLINS: What is he saying?
However, like with all managers, there was a message beyond Collins’ words. What he said and what he meant are two different things.
Most managers take the one-game-at-a-time approach, but Collins did make the point of saying the team needed to get off to a fast start. He could have added that includes spring training, also.
Why is this important?