Nov 01

Mets Have Plenty Of Choices In Free Agent Market

 It never takes long for the free-agent season to begin with 147 players now on the market, including seven New York Mets. The Mets’ list includes: David Aardsma, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano, Frank Francisco, Aaron Harang, LaTroy Hawkins and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Shortly, Johan Santana will join them as the Mets are expected to decline their option and pay him the $5.5 million buyout.

All are pitchers, which is a primary need. The Mets are seeking two starters for the back end of their rotation and could make a run at bringing back Matsuzaka and/or Harang.

For now, the Mets filled those spots on their 40-man roster by activating the following seven players from the 60-day injured reserve list: Ike Davis, Josh Edgin, Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Parnell and Scott Rice.

Harvey and Hefner are expected to miss the 2014 season, and it isn’t known whether Parnell and Mejia, both recovering from surgery, will be available for the start of the season.

Rice should be ready, while Davis could end up being traded as the Mets have a glut of first basemen.

The Major League Baseball Players Association has released the following list of 147 players who are free agents:

ATLANTA

RHP: Luis Ayala, Freddy Garcia, Tim Hudson, Kameron Loe.

LHP: Scott Downs, Paul Maholm, Eric O’Flaherty.

C: Brian McCann.

ARIZONA

C: Wil Nieves.

INF: Willie Bloomquist, Eric Chavez.

BALTIMORE

RHP: Scot Feldman, Jason Hammel.

C: Chris Snyder.

INF: Brian Roberts.

OF: Nate McLouth, Michael Morse.

BOSTON

RHP: Joel Hanrahan.

C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

INF: Stephen Drew, John McDonald, Mike Napoli.

OF: Jacoby Ellsbury.

CHICAGO CUBS

RHP: Scott Baker, Kevin Gregg, Matt Guerrier.

C: Dioner Navarro.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

RHP: Gavin Floyd.

INF: Paul Konerko.

CINCINNATI

RHP: Bronson Arroyo, Nick Masset.

LHP: Zach Duke, Manny Parra.

IF: Cesar Izturis.

OF: Shin-Soo Choo.

CLEVELAND

RHP: Matt Albers, Joe Smith.

LHP: Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir.

C: Kelly Shoppach.

INF: Jason Giambi.

COLORADO

RHP: Rafael Betancourt, Roy Oswalt.

LHP: Jeff Francis.

C: Yorvit Torrealba.

INF: Todd Helton.

DETROIT

RHP: Joaquin Benoit, Jeremy Bonderman, Octavio Dotel.

C: Bravan Pena.

INF: Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta, Ramon Santiago.

HOUSTON

LHP: Erik Bedard.

KANSAS CITY

RHP: Bruce Chen, Ervin Santana.

INF: Carlos Pena, Miguel Tejada.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

LHP: Jason Vargas.
OF: Jerry Hairston.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

RHP: J.P. Howell, Carlos Marmol, Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez, Brian Wilson.

INF: Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker, Juan Uribe, Michael Young.

MIAMI

RHP: Chad Qualls.

INF: Placido Polanco.

OF: Matt Diaz, Austin Kearns, Juan Pierre.

MILWAUKEE

LHP: Mike Gonzalez.

INF: Yuniesky Betancourt.

OF: Corey Hart.

MINNESOTA

RHP: Mike Pelfrey.

NEW YORK YANKEES

RHP: Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, Mariano Rivera,

LHP: Andy Pettitte.

INF: Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Brendan Ryan, Kevin Youkilis.

OF: Curtis Granderson.

OAKLAND

RHP: Grant Balfour, Bartolo Colon.

PHILADELPHIA

RHP: Roy Halladay.

C: Carlos Ruiz.

PITTSBURGH

RHP: A.J. Burnett, Kyle Farnsworth, Jeff Karstens.

C: John Buck.

INF: Justin Morneau.

OF: Marlon Byrd,

SAN DIEGO

RHP: Jason Marquis.

INF: Ronny Cedeno.

OF: Mark Kotsay.

SEATTLE

LHP: Oliver Perez.

C: Humberto Quintero.

INF: Kendrys Morales

OF: Endy Chavez, Raul Ibanez.

SAN FRANCISCO

RHP: Chad Gaudin.

LHP: Javier Lopez.

ST. LOUS

RHP: Chris Carpenter, Edward Mujica.

INF: Rafael Furcal.

OF: Carlos Beltran.

TAMPA BAY

RHP: Jesse Crain, Roberto Hernandez, Fernando Rodney, Jamey Wright.

C: Jose Molina.

INF: Kelly Johnson, James Loney, Luke Scott.

OF: Delmon Young.

TEXAS

RHP: Jason Frasor, Matt Garza, Colby Lewis.

C: A.J. Pierzynski, Geovany Soto.

INF: Lance Berkman,

OF: Nelson Cruz.

TORONTO

RHP: Josh Johnson, Ramon Ortiz.

LHP: Darren Oliver.

OF: Rajai Davis.

WASHINGTON

RHP: Dan Haren.

INF: Chad Tracy.

Sep 07

Mets See Good In Zack Wheeler Despite Loss; Scott Rice Season Ends

The result wasn’t what the New York Mets wanted, but overall they must be pleased with what they’ve seen from Zack Wheeler this season.

Even Friday night when he walked five in five innings in a loss at Cleveland.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

I thought Wheeler might have been rushed to the major leagues because he didn’t dominate at Triple-A Las Vegas, and that idea seemed to be reinforced when his control was off early. Wheeler seemed to correct the problem, but it resurfaced against the Indians.

However, after the game he told reporters his shoulder was “flying open.’’ That he understood that flaw, no doubt pointed out by pitching coach Dan Warthen, but limited the damage are positives.

What’s next for Wheeler’s development is to not only notice a mechanical issue by himself, but also be able to correct it during the game. The great ones cannot only recognize a flaw by where their pitch went, but correct in during the at-bat.

During his first two starts, the Mets went overboard in calling his pitches – perhaps in the wake of Terry Collins getting messages Wheeler was tipping his pitches – but they quickly abandoned that plan and allowed him to use his fastball.

Although the Mets will limit his innings for the remainder of the season, Wheeler, 7-4, could get another three or four starts, and should he run the table, will have won more games than Matt Harvey.

Who would have thought that in April?

Who also would have envisioned at the time that Scott Rice would still be around?

Everybody expected big things from Harvey, but Rice was easily the Mets’ most inspirational story of the season. Harvey was the given; Rice was the underdog who made good.

The 31-year-old lefty reliever toiled for 14 years in the minor leagues before hooking on with the Mets this spring. He didn’t stick because of the state of their bullpen, but because he deserved to in leading the majors with 73 appearances.

Rice was 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA, but his most important statistic was the .174 average lefties hit off him. As a lefty specialist, that’s important. Rice walked 27 and struck out 41, and could go into spring training as the lead lefty in the pen.

Rice’s season, however, ended with the news he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Even so, Rice was a good Mets’ story this summer. Maybe the best.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 16

Mets Bullpen Has Surprised This Season

gonzalez germanAfter 3-4 consecutive seasons of bullpen failures and a couple of unsuccessful revamps and overhauls by Sandy Alderson in 2011 and 2012, it looks like the Mets have finally turned a corner and figured things out this season. In doing so they’ve also uncovered a few potential keepers for 2014 and beyond, some of them developed through our system and others who were key acquisitions straight from the scrap heap.

One such find has been Gonzalez Germen, who recorded the final six outs in last night’s 4-1 win against the San Diego Padres to notch his first major league save. It was a big moment for Germen who plans to give the game ball to his mother. Germen stepped in for LaTroy Hawkins who was unavailable due to a sore groin. Hawkins too, has been a key cog in this now very effective bullpen.

Since July 1, the Mets pen has a 2.10 ERA (30 earned runs/128.2 innings), ranking third in the majors. New York’s pen has a 1.83 ERA (seven earned runs/34.1 innings) this month, the sixth-best mark in the majors. The pen’s 3.64 overall ERA, ranks 15th in the majors after two straight seasons of ranking 29th in 2011 and 2012.

Even more telling is that Met relievers have stranded 141 of 189 inherited runners, the fifth-best percentage (74.6) in the majors. The Mets’ bullpen has been coming into games in critical spots and have done a great job of limiting the damage and stranding runners. It’s time to give Sandy Alderson his due for a job well done this season.

The Mets bullpen has endured losses to their close Bobby Parnell who was in the midst of the best season of his career, and also losing second-year reliever Josh Edgin was a significant blow as well. Since his return from the minors, Edgin led the bullpen in BAA and WHIP.

Some player performances of note are that of Scott Rice, who leads the team with 61 appearances and has surprised everyone while limiting opposing batters to a .224 average and posting a 3.34 ERA in his rookie season. The 32-year old late bloomer, has held lefthanded batters to a .162 average and has allowed just one home run all season in 45.1 innings pitched. Boom…

Scott Atchison was another scrapheap signing and all he’s managed to do is post a 3.34 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 31 appearances since joining the Mets.

As a reliever, perhaps the best performance of this season belongs to Carlos Torres whose 0.65 ERA is the best mark among all relievers in the game. His 0.87 WHIP ranks fifth in the NL and he has 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

So while not everything has gone perfectly for the Mets this season, there have been some very notable bright spots and certainly the bullpen has been one of them.

Aug 09

LaTroy Hawkins Better Closer Option Than Committee

Isn’t it always the way with the New York Mets? There’s positives brewing, but something always seems to get in the way, such as Bobby Parnell’s bulging disk.

HAWKINS: Best option for closer.

HAWKINS: Best option for closer.

Once pegged to lose 100 games, the Mets are talking about .500 and finishing in second place in the NL East, but gone is Parnell, probably for the year if surgery is required.

The Mets’ bullpen has been stellar since the beginning of July, but there’s only one real choice to replace Parnell and that would be 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins instead of going with a bullpen-by-committee, which rarely works and usually ends up using guys outside of their customary roles.

Hawkins saved the last two games of the Colorado series, and has 90 saves in his career. Not great over 19 years, but it is the best the Mets have going for them right now.

Hawkins struggled early in the season, but has been consistently effective. He has experience pitching in tight games, and Terry Collins has more trust in him than in Scott Atchison or Scott Rice or Pedro Feliciano.

Even at 40, Hawkins was throwing in the mid-90s against the Rockies. He can still bring it when he has to, and averages 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and only 1.6 walks per nine innings.

Perhaps Hawkins will eventually run on fumes, but if the Mets are cognizant about not getting him up constantly, and perhaps occasionally let their set-up reliever work into the ninth if there’s a three-run lead, it could preserve him.

Collins’ bullpen has been exceptional over the past month, but now he must make a significant choice: Does he go the committee route or give his trust to Hawkins?

The thought of saving Zack Wheeler’s innings by using him in relief is not a good idea as the change in routine creates the possibility of injury. And, please, nobody mention Frank Francisco. Please.

Hawkins has pitched well and is deserving of closing until he can’t it anymore.

I don’t think there’s any doubt Hawkins has to be the closer until Parnell returns, which as of now looks to be next spring.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 24

Jeremy Hefner Trying To Rebound From Last Start

It is amazing how a team starts getting greedy when it starts playing better. For example, had Bobby Parnell not blown Monday’s save opportunity they would be trying tonight to clinch this series with Atlanta.

After being 15 games under .500, the Mets are again eight below. Several times they’ve been here, but unable to reach seven and get on a roll that would legitimatize their prospects of a successful season.

HEFNER: Trying to rebound after mauling by Phillies. (AP)

HEFNER: Trying to rebound after mauling by Phillies. (AP)

Jeremy Hefner, who sizzled going into the break, was hammered by Philadelphia last Friday. Hefner has 13 quality starts to highlight a staff with a 3.20 ERA since May 26. Collectively, the staff has given up four earned runs in the last 36 innings, or since Hefner’s game coming out of the break.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Eric Young, LF: Is 2-for-18 on the homestand. Has .280 average since joining Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Hitting just .244 at Citi Field.

David Wright, 3B: Hitting .350 since the break. Ranks fifth in the NL with a .395 on-base percentage.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Leads the Mets with 17 homers.

Ike Davis, 1B: Hitting .385 on the homestand, but only .191 at home for the season.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF: Batting just .192 with RISP.

Anthony Recker, C: Has five homers, four of which have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Only 1-for-15 on the homestand, and batting .122 over his last 12 games.

Jeremy Hefner, RHP: Is 0-1 with a 5.85 ERA in three career games against Atlanta.

GAME NOTES: Mets are 6-4 in their last ten games. … The Mets have come from behind 22 times to win. … Since Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler combined in a doubleheader sweep of the Braves, June 18, the Mets are 19-12, for the best record in the NL East. Philly and Miami are each 15-14, the Braves are 14-16 and Washington is 14-17. … The Mets’ bullpen has a 2.45 ERA in eight July games. The pen has 13 blown save opportunities. … Scott Rice hasn’t given up a run in 13 of his last 14 appearances. … Eight inherited runners have scored off Scott Atchison, the most on the team. … Tonight will be the Mets’ 74th different batting order in 97 games. … Wright’s next homer will be his 220th, to tie Mike Piazza for second in club history. Darryl Strawberry is first with 252. … The Mets are 7-8 in walk-off games.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos