Mar 17

Little Time, Many Questions For Mets

Spring training is not just to get ready for the season, but for teams to sharpen their cliché skills. The New York Mets have used many this spring, but the prevalent one is: There’s plenty of time left.

Memo to Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins: No, there isn’t.

DAVIS: Still a question. (Getty)

DAVIS: Still a question. (Getty)

With Opening Day two weeks away, the Mets have many decisions left; way too many for a team that could win 90 games. I bet Alderson already regrets that thought.

Here’s what’s left to decide:

FIRST BASE: Ike Davis entered spring training as the frontrunner, but because of leg injuries, neither him nor Lucas Duda has played much.

Neither will get close to 70 at-bats, much less the 90-plus Collins hoped for Davis.

They could, but I don’t see them carrying both.

Speculation is Davis will open the season on the disabled list, with Duda playing. That’s presumably because Duda is further along.

They could run Josh Satin out there, but I believe they wasted this spring to learn more about Wilmer Flores.

Collins suggested using Flores at shortstop, but he’s barely played there. He has a promising bat, but scouts say he is better equipped for second base or the corner infield positions.

Flores won’t get third because of David Wright, and last I checked first base is a corner infield position. Why couldn’t they look at Flores there? Where’s the vision?

SHORTSTOP: Publicly, they support Ruben Tejada, but almost as visible have been their efforts to land Stephen Drew and trade for Seattle’s Nick Franklin.

Neither is imminent, and the Orioles and Rays also have interest in Franklin. If they really wanted him, they should have acted weeks ago.

Shortstop remains a black hole, but I see Tejada winning the job by default because the Mets are skittish about giving Drew the money and surrendering prospects for Franklin. Anticipate Tejada as the Opening Day shortstop, with much criticism to follow.

LEADOFF HITTER: Collins prefers Eric Young, which is the best choice. However, where does that leave Juan Lagares? That’s the rub.

If Young plays, the outfield would include him, Chris Young and Curtis Granderson.

This isn’t softball, so there is no extra outfielder. For the purposes of his development, Lagares should play fulltime, either up here or in the minor leagues.

If it is here, they are wasting Eric Young. They also have no idea if Lagares can hit at this level.

One possibility is to go with Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the extra outfielder – both can play center – and give Lagares his at-bats in Triple-A Las Vegas.

PITCHING; Both the rotation and bullpen are seemingly set, but there’s the Jenrry Mejia question: Rotation or bullpen?

If they aren’t going to use Mejia in the rotation in the majors, they should use him as a starter in Las Vegas.

Mar 13

Mets Wrap: Warthen Apologizes For Slur; Mets Beat Nationals; Matsuzaka Sharp

Pitching coach Dan Warthen apologized for a racial slur and received support from Daisuke Matsuzaka and his interpreter, Jeff Cutler.

Warthen approached Cutler in the clubhouse and apologized to Cutler, saying: “I’m sorry I called you a Chinaman yesterday.’’

Warthen said the statement was a joke, and Cutler said he was not offended. However, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, a Chinese American from San Francisco heard the apology, and was put off by it, although not hearing the context of the original comment.

Warthen and GM Sandy Alderson apologized on behalf of the club.

Neither Matsuzaka nor Cutler vilified Warthen.

“Today I was just preparing for my game, so I just spoke to him about today’s lineup and what was going on during the game,’’ Matsuzaka said through Cutler. “… I think everyone makes mistakes, and Dan has already commented on it. I don’t want to dig deeper into it or try to add to what it is.’’

Said Cutler: “Dan has already commented on it. And Sandy has talked about it. I don’t really have anything else to add to it.’’

In addition:

* Matsuzaka started in the 7-5 victory over Washington and gave up one earned run and three hits over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked none to increase his grip as the projected fifth starter.

* Noah Syndergaard gave up three runs in 3.2 innings. He struck out five and acknowledged he would be sent to the minor leagues to start the season.

* Manager Terry Collins used Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom in relief. They will additional looks this spring, but neither is expected to make the Opening Day roster in the pen.

* Ruben Tejada committed his third error in six exhibition games, and after going 0-for-3, is 1-for-15.

* Ike Davis (calf injuries) and Lucas Duda (left hamstring) took batting practice and grounders. Neither ran, but Collins is hoping they can be used this weekend in DH roles.

Mar 13

Mets’ Alderson Bluffing On Shortstop Situation

There are times I’m not sure the New York Mets’ Sandy Alderson understands what it means to be a general manager in this market. Other times I am positive he doesn’t.

Take for instance, his caustic remark the other day when asked about the relevance to Atlanta’s signing of Ervin Santana – even if it meant forfeiting a draft pick – in contrast to the Mets sitting on their hands about the mess that is their shortstop situation.

TEJADA: Holding on (Getty)

TEJADA: Holding on (Getty)

“I’m not interpreting it in terms of ‘our situation,’ ” Alderson told reporters Wednesday. “I don’t know that we have a situation here.’’

You don’t? What else would you call it, then?

The Mets continue to say they have confidence in Ruben Tejada, yet their actions are to the contrary.

If they were enthusiastic about Tejada, then why do they keep monitoring Stephen Drew in the long-shot hope agent Scott Boras lowers the price? Would they still consider trading for Nick Franklin if they had confidence in Tejada? Would they wonder about Wilmer Flores if Tejada was their answer?

Meanwhile, Alderson said Tejada isn’t under a microscope, but considering what is swirling around him, what else would you call it?

“We continue to look at how he’s doing, but it won’t be a judgment based on one game or two games or three games,’’ Alderson said. “We’ve got a lot of spring training left. In the meantime, we’ll continue to look at our other options.’’

In classic GM speak; Alderson is saying everything is on the table, including Tejada not being the starter. There’s no other way this can be interpreted.

Meanwhile, of the internal options, Alderson won’t weigh in on Flores, although those in the organization and scouts continue to say he doesn’t have the range or footwork to play shortstop.

Alderson and manager Terry Collins must also buy into this, otherwise wouldn’t he get more of a chance?

As for when Flores might get another chance to play shortstop, Collins said: “You guys are asking me what’s going to happen in four days, and I don’t know what’s going to happen at 9 o’clock tonight.’’

That’s hardly comforting. By the way, two weeks isn’t a lot of time remaining. My guess is Tejada will be the Opening Day shortstop because Alderson is too paralyzed to pull the trigger on any other options.

ON DECK: Gamer/fifth starter situation.

 

Mar 13

Mets’ Lineup, March 13, Against Washington

Daisuke Matsuzaka has the opportunity to cement his position as the Mets’ fifth starter today against Washington.

This is the lineup behind him:

Ruben Tejada, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Curtis Granderson, rf

Josh Satin, 1b

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Andrew Brown, lf

Anthony Recker, dh

Matt den Dekker, cf

LINEUP COMMENTS: Tejada as the leadoff hitter is semi-interesting. Manager Terry Collins alluded to the possibility over the winter, but we know it won’t happen on a consistent basis. … Anthony Recker as the DH indicates Lucas Duda still isn’t ready. … I wish they would play Matt den Dekker more. I really like his defense. The Mets are higher on Juan Lagares, however, but he needs the at-bats in the minor leagues instead of sitting on the bench in the majors.

ON DECK: What’s going on at shortstop?

Mar 13

Mets Today: Matsuzaka Gets Start; Davis And Duda Status Update

Daisuke Matsuzaka entered spring training the frontrunner for the Mets’ fifth starter role, and despite a lackluster two starts, remains the favorite.

Left-hander John Lannan is having a better spring, but appears earmarked for the bullpen, which leaves Matsuzaka with a clear path.

Matsuzaka makes this third start today. In four innings covering his first two games, he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP. He has three strikeouts, but hasn’t walked a hitter.

Noah Syndergaard will also pitch today, with the two expected to fill the nine innings. Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom will also make the trip.

In addition:

* Ike Davis, who took grounders Wednesday, isn’t expected to play. He’s still wearing a protective boot. Manager Terry Collins said even before Davis could be a DH, has to show he can run without difficulty.

* Lucas Duda, bothered by a strained left hamstring, is closer to returning.

* Ruben Tejada is expected to play. Meanwhile, the Mets continue to monitor the shortstop market, but nothing is imminent.

ON DECK: The hole that is the Mets’ shortstop situation.