Mar 06

March 6.10: What about Kunz?

Mike Pelfrey is pitching this afternoon for the Mets, but I’m more interested today in Eddie Kunz, the guy who was supposed to be the Mets closer after Billy Wagner.

With the bullpen in shambles in 2008, Kunz got a look-see and disappointed. Kunz, 24 next month, also pitched poorly early this week against the Braves, walking three and retiring only one of the six batters he faced. He gave up four runs, and while one outing won’t determine his fate, it has been awhile since we’ve seen something positive from Kunz other than the scouting reports.

“He’s got great stuff,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “His ball moves. It’s powerful sink.’’

Yes, the scouting report reads the same as it did when he came out of Oregon State, but the results haven’t been there, and the Mets, a team in need of a bullpen, are moving on without him.

Names are bandied about, and Jenrry Mejia is the flavor of the month, but nobody talks about Kunz anymore.

Spring training is for new beginnings, and for Kunz it could be about last chances.

Mar 05

March 5.10: Mets still interested in Beimel.

Obviously, signing Kiko Calero doesn’t quite cure all that ails the Mets’ bullpen ills, which is why they remain interested in free-agent lefty Joe Beimel.

The Mets have on the table a one-year, deal for less than $2 million, and considering we’re already into spring training with the first week of games it doesn’t appear the phone will be ringing anytime soon.

Beimel would be a good addition as it would take some of the pressure off Pedro Feliciano. You can’t go wrong with two lefties in the pen.

Mar 04

March 4.10: Mejia on Tap for Today.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey gets the start today against St. Louis, and Jason Bay, David Wright and Jeff Francoeur will make their spring training debuts, but arguably the most interesting moment of the day could be the appearance of 20-year-old prospect Jennry Mejia, whom manager Jerry Manuel admits is raw, but is also making noises about using him as a reliever.

And, in a comment that will do nothing but add pressure and expectations, Darryl Strawberry said his cutter reminded him of Mariano Rivera. Easy Darryl, easy Darryl.

Mejia has electric stuff, the kind scouts drool over and makes one wonder about future dominance as a starter. Mejia doesn’t have the command or pitch variety to be a starter now, but he could be a one-trick pony out of the pen. However, command is still command, and that’s important in any role and right now he’s more a thrower than a pitcher.

I saw how the Mets rushed Eddie Kunz – who is still struggling – and Bobby Parnell and I don’t want the same thing to happen to Mejia. If Mejia is to make the major league roster, he needs a defined role and a manager with the patience not to yank him out of a role with the first sign of struggle.

It’s easy to get seduced by a high-90s fastball, but most scouts say Mejia is not ready for prime time. Sure, it would be nice to fast forward a year or two, but that’s not realistic.

NOTE: No word yet as to why, but Jose Reyes was scratched from today’s line-up.

Mar 03

March 3.10: Positive reports so far on Perez.

It’s only spring training, and more to the point, it is only throwing off the mound and batting practice in spring training, but the reports so far have been good on Oliver Perez, beginning with his upbeat attitude and showing up in good shape.

PEREZ: Hoping for the best.

Perez spent the offseason working out as a sports institute in Arizona, where he worked on his conditioning and mechanics.

It is the latter where the first spring impression has been the greatest, with Perez throwing with a consistency, from his wind-up to his arm slot to his delivery. The result has been a better command and movement on his pitches. This is also something Sandy Koufax preached to Perez during his visits to Port St. Lucie.

Perez, entering the second season of a three-year contract, is slotted third in the rotation behind Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. In 2007, Perez won 15 games for the Mets to give us a glimpse of what could be. The last two years he’s shown more of those glimpses, but all too often gave us the Bad Ollie.

The Mets, thinking of those positive moments, didn’t bite on rotation help this winter, instead believing in the promise of Perez and Pelfrey. So far, the Mets have been pleased with how he’s throwing, but we’ve heard that before.

Spring training is for the promise of better things, and here’s hoping Perez keeps the headscratching to a minimum this year.

Feb 28

Feb. 28.10: Play to win now?

The exhibition schedule begins this week and with it the questions of the importance of winning these games. Pennants aren’t won in March, but sometimes the mentality needed to win can be developed.

While going 20-10 during spring training guarantees nothing, I can’t help but think going 10-20 isn’t a good thing. The Mets need to develop the attitude that playing well is important and they just can’t assume things will be better.

The Mets are a team with flaws, but also a team that played reckless with the fundamentals and more than a few times mailed in their effort. Playing aggressive and crisp baseball now is important because bad habits can develop by playing otherwise.

It is a long summer, but considering last season and how the two previous years ended I believe it is imperative to get off to a good start and get into good habits right away. The Mets’ psyche is delicate after the last three seasons, and despite the bold talk from David Wright and Johan Santana about the World Series and winning, this is a team that hasn’t always played with confidence.

The Mets need to develop a positive mentality and that begins with these games.