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.

Feb 26

Feb. 26.10: Loose threads.

Sorry, but my internet was down until recently. Let me catch you up on some of what’s going in spring training.

* Not pleased with their bullpen and not wanting to burn out Pedro Feliciano, the Mets are searching for another lefty reliever. Toward that end, the Mets made an offer to free-agent Joe Beimel, the former Dodger. Beimel will take some of the load off Feliciano and give more depth to the pen.

* Jennry Mejia was wild during batting practice. The scouting reports on him are that he’s got a strong arm and throws hard, but doesn’t always know where it’s going. Mejia is a prospect worth watching – on the minor league level this season. They would be rushing him if they kept him on the major league level this season.

* The Mets will hold an intrasquad game Monday at Tradition Field. Nelson Figueroa will get the start against the Braves Tuesday when the exhibition schedule begins.

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 19

Feb. 19.10: Liking the attitude.

Of course it is early in spring training, but one has to like the initial attitude coming from the team’s leaders, that being David Wright and Johan Santana. On the day after Wright said the team’s goal is to win the World Series, Santana echoed that sentiment.

SANTANA: Liking his attitude.

SANTANA: Liking his attitude.


Said Santana: “My plan is to definitely win the World Series. That’s what we want to do… Whatever they want to say, that’s fine for us. We’re just going to play and have fun at the same time. That’s what baseball is all about.”

Ok, maybe they don’t see the criticism, or maybe they are ignoring it, but either way winning begins with attitude.

Part of Santana’s attitude is coming from the fact he said he arm feels good and he has full extension. Quite honestly, it’s all about pitching and that starts with him.

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.