Mar 03

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Impressive; Davis Scratched; Piazza In Camp

New York Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard threw two scoreless innings this afternoon in a 6-2 victory over Atlanta. Manager Terry Collins called it a “big test’’ as Syndergaard gave up one hit in his 30-pitch audition that included a three-pitch punch out of Evan Gattis.

“You’re not in Kansas anymore,’’ Collins told reporters of Syndergaard’s performance. “You’re where the big guys play. I thought he handled it great. You don’t see a lot of people throw three fastballs by Gattis. That won’t happen very much. He just made pitches he had to make.

“He’s a big, tough kid. He’s got all the traits of the good ones. He takes stuff seriously. He’s not joking around. He didn’t joke around even after he came out of the game. … There are certainly some things we’ve got to get him to do better. But, right now, he’s on track to be special.’’

That’s not to be interpreted to mean Syndergaard will open the season on the Opening Day roster. Syndergaard worked on an innings count last season at Double-A Binghamton, and projections are he will start the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

In addition:

* First baseman Lucas Duda left the game with leg stiffness and is day-to-day.

* First baseman Ike Davis was pulled from the lineup with a tight calf. He is expected to play Tuesday.

* Former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, 45, is in camp this week as a guest instructor. Jeff Wilpon invited him last September when he was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. “For me it’s very rewarding to coach and to try to help a little bit,’’ Piazza said.

* Shortstop Ruben Tejada did not play because of a tight left hamstring, but is expected to play Tuesday.

* Jonathon Niese said his left shoulder felt good after throwing in the bullpen Monday afternoon. Niese is scratched from tomorrow’s start. He is expected to throw again Thursday, but does not have a date set in which he will start.

* Major League Baseball’s new instant replay format will be tested at Tradition Field, March 7, 15, 18 and 23.

* Matt Harvey long-tossed this morning. He’s still a long way from the mound.

 

Mar 03

Alderson: Will He Act Like 90 Wins Are Possible?

We shall see if the New York Mets are capable of winning the 90 games general manager Sandy Alderson believes.

I like manager Terry Collins’ response to his players they should take it as a compliment. That’s one way to look at things. Another is if 90 is possible, are then the expectations that of a 90-win team?

ALDERSON: Dances the dance.

ALDERSON: Dances the dance.

While Alderson expects his players to play like 90-win players, and Collins to manage like a 90-win manager, I wonder if that extends to him and Fred Wilpon.

Reportedly, Wilpon said “they’d better in 90 games.’’ If so, will Wilpon he give Alderson the go-ahead to get what is needed at the trade deadline? Just wondering.

For his part, how can Alderson believe 90 wins are possible when he has issues at first base, shortstop, in the outfield and in the bullpen, not to mention an unproven catcher and without his best pitcher?

I also can’t help but wonder how long a leash Alderson will give Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada. In each of the past two seasons the Mets dragged their feet when Davis floundered early. Ninety-win teams don’t just carry struggling players at first base and shortstop, and when they have to make a move they do it, and fast.

 

 

Mar 03

Mets Today: Syndergaard To Start Against Braves

One of the bright spots for the New York Mets this spring is pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is coming off a two-inning, five-strikeout performance in last Thursday’s intrasquad game.

Today, he’ll face Atlanta at the Disney complex near Orlando.

“I kind of shocked myself a little bit,’’ Syndergaard said of his intrasquad outing. “I wasn’t expecting that my first time out there.’’

Syndergaard, who stands an imposing 6-foot-5, throws a nasty curveball and 97 mph., fastball. That’s a good beginning, but to become an effective major league starter, he’ll need a third pitch.

“I’m excited, a little nervous at the same time,’’ Syndergaard said of today’s exhibition start. “It’s the first time facing a real big-league lineup. I’m going to go out there and do what I can. It’s still a game. They’re still playing baseball out there.’’

The Mets don’t anticipate bringing up Syndergaard until mid-June, instead, going with Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan, as the fifth-starter candidate to open the season.

At the start of spring training, Jenrry Mejia was also listed as a fifth-starter possibility, but there appears a growing sentiment that won’t happen and he could end up in the bullpen or minor leagues. Mejia is recovering from elbow surgery.

In addition:

* Also scheduled to pitch today are Jacob deGrom, Miguel Socolovich, Gonzalez Germen, Josh Edgin and Jeff Walters.

* With Ruben Tejada day-to-day with a strained left hamstring, Wilmer Flores is expected to play shortstop today after Omar Quintanilla.

* Expect outfielder Eric Young to see time today.

ON DECK:  If Sandy Alderson expects the Mets to be a 90-win team, does that mean he’ll make moves like a 90-win franchise?

 

 

Mar 02

Mets Wrap: Hammered By Cardinals

The New York Mets dropped to 0-3 today in their exhibition schedule, losing 7-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

The Mets, who have not played David Wright and Daniel Murphy so far, have been outscored 21-6 in the first three games.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who reportedly has the inside track for the fifth-starter role, gave up one run in two innings. Newly acquired reliever Jose Valverde also gave up a run. The bulk of the damage was in a four-run sixth against lefty reliever Jack Leathersich.

In addition:

* Curtis Granderson had one of the Mets’ four hits with a first-inning double.

* Wilmer Flores saw time at shortstop as Ruben Tejada was scratched because of a tight left hamstring.

* Here’s a shocker: ESPN reported the Yankees might have interest in former Met shortstop Jose Reyes to succeed Derek Jeter. Who didn’t see that one coming?

* St. Louis shortstop Jhonny Peralta said the Mets offered him two years. The Cardinals gave him four.

 

Feb 27

The Mets’ Ambivalence Towards Ruben Tejada Opens Door For Flores

Of all the young New York Mets, the one I am most interested in seeing is Wilmer Flores, especially at shortstop. While Ruben Tejada is the starter by default, Flores has a legitimate shot with a strong spring to grab a job.

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

As the Mets monitor Stephen Drew’s interest and Seattle for Nick Franklin’s availability, it is clear they aren’t sold on Tejada. That makes it no better time than now for Flores to surface.

As team officials continue to portray Tejada as the most likely starter on Opening Day, they acknowledge those two other possibilities and are showing a declining enthusiasm for the incumbent.

A hot spring from Flores could make things interesting if the Mets don’t make an acquisition, especially if he shows something defensively.

The rap on Flores is he doesn’t have the first-step quickness in moving laterally. He also doesn’t have a lot of speed, but shortstops don’t have to be fast. Flores attended the same Michigan fitness camp as Tejada and reports are he improved his straight-ahead speed and lateral quickness.

However, for the offensively-challenged Mets, Flores’ upside is greater than Tejada’s. Flores drove in 13 runs in 27 games last season, which projected over a 162-game schedule is 78 RBI. In contrast, Tejada’s 162-game average is a mere 40.

In addition, as a spray hitter, Tejada’s career on-base percentage is only .323 and his 162-game average is 87 strikeouts.

Flores played shortstop in the minors until 2011, but because of the range issue, the Mets started playing him at third, second and first. All this begs the question: With all the ways prospects are measured, couldn’t they have figured out his range limitations?

Flores’ value to the Mets would be to show something at shortstop, because he is a man without a position and despite his supposed offensive abilities, never hit more than 18 homers (2012) in the minors.

His best season was at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013 when he hit .321 with a .357 on-base percentage, 15 homers and 86 RBI.

As the Mets consider Drew and Franklin – neither is imminent – this is the perfect time for Flores to make a statement.

Although Flores has experienced every position in the infield, shortstop is the one with the most potential for a breakthrough. Barring injuries, he won’t supplant David Wright at third or Daniel Murphy at second this year.

Who knows what could happen at first base? I floated the idea last year they might cut loose both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda and go with Flores at first base.

That’s not imminent, either.