Apr 08

Lucas Duda Powers Mets

Out of the ashes of last season we might have uncovered some life, that being Lucas Duda’s power. The guy is frighteningly strong and homered twice yesterday to beat the Braves.

DUDA: In HR trot.

With last season a washout from the beginning, it was a matter of time before Carlos Beltran was traded and that opened the door for Duda. That, and Ike Davis’ freakish injury.

After the Beltran trade the Mets finally acknowledged Duda’s future was in right field and played him there at the end. When you have a losing team, you must always think ahead and that’s what the Mets were able to accomplish last year with Duda.

“Lucas benefited from last summer when he was in the lineup every day and he realized he belongs,” manager Terry Collins said. “He put good swings on mistakes, he’s got the strength to hit it out of anywhere. He’s got a chance to be some kind of power hitter.”

Duda took advantage on the shorter dimensions with one of his homers, but the ball was still crushed. Later, he admitted to a confidence burst.

“Any time you produce a little bit you get that confidence going, and its carried over,” Duda said. “I think everybody [has doubts]. I don’t think you’d be human if you don’t.”

With Duda, Davis and David Wright, the Mets have some potent power potential in the middle of the order. They’d have even more if Jason Bay would produce.

 

 

Apr 08

Mets Lineup Today Against Braves

No, I never would have thought I’d write this sentence: The Mets will go for the sweep today against Atlanta. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Two games in is too early to draw any conclusions, but the first impression is good. The Mets’ pitching has been superb, both from the rotation and the bullpen, and today they’ll throw out Jon Niese against the Braves.

The Mets haven’t unleashed the bats, yet, but hit three solo homers yesterday. Lucas Duda went deep twice and David Wright hit a bomb to right-center. The new dimensions might have helped Duda, but they were ripped nonetheless.

Frank Francisco has two saves in two tries, and Terry Collins has gone to the bench twice already in the late innings for Daniel Murphy. I don’t mind that as long as he’s not giving away any at-bats by Murphy. But, using the bench keeps everybody involved and improves the defense.

It’s hard not to like what you’ve seen so far, but it is early. Most importantly, the Mets are taking advantage of an undermanned and underperforming Braves’ team. Atlanta won’t be like this all year, so you hit when you can. It’s a good start, so ride it as long as you can.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Ruben Tejada, ss
Daniel Murphy, 2b
David Wright, 3b
Ike Davis, 1b
Jason Bay, lf
Lucas Duda, rf
Scott Hairston, cf
Mike Nickeas, c
Jonathon Niese, lp

Apr 07

Collins Does A Complete 180 On Tejada

It looks like the injury to Andres Torres has not only led to what will be the major league debut of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but has also prompted manager Terry Collins to do a complete 180 on how he intended to treat shortstop Ruben Tejada this season.

Going all the way back to a conference call Collins did with bloggers back on February 28th, the Mets manager was very firm on his stance that we would not use Ruben Tejada as the team’s leadoff hitter in 2012.

In response to a question by New York Baseball Digest’s Mike Silva, Collins told us:

“As far as leading off, the one thing this kid is facing right now is replacing Jose Reyes. That’s a huge thing to put on the shoulders of a 21-year-old baseball player. He’s got enough on his mind to replace Jose defensively, let alone to say, ‘you’ve got to get on, you’ve got to get into scoring position because you’re replacing Jose Reyes.’ That’s an awful lot to ask of that young man.”

Terry Collins echoed those exact sentiments later on when he was a guest of Mike Francesa on WFAN:

“No. I won’t put that king of pressure on that kid. He has more than enough on his plate as it is replacing Reyes at short. We need him to go out there and focus on being the best shortstop he can be. That’s his main focus this season and I won’t add to that.”

So here we are, just one game into the season, and Terry Collins has already scrapped the plan to let Tejada play the 2012 season without the added pressure of batting leadoff.

Tejada will now have the dual role of replacing Jose Reyes defensively in the field, and now offensively as the leadoff hitter of the New York Mets as well. Wow. He’ll be doing this under the gaze of tens of thousands of Mets fans who still resent the fact that Jose Reyes is no longer here, and under glaring spotlight of the New York media who will hound him at his locker at the first hint of trouble.

Ironically, I can’t really blame Collins here because Sandy Alderson gave him little choice. The depth on this team is going to be a huge problem all season long. One day in and already our sixth ranked prospect in the system will be debuting in center field today regardless of whether he is ready or not.

The choices at leadoff hitter beyond Andres Torres were who exactly?

David Wright? Daniel Murphy? Jason Bay?

There was no thought given to this situation after Reyes packed his bags for Miami, and even less thought was given when they traded another likely leadoff hitter in Angel Pagan. Torres was a terrible option to bat leadoff right from jump-street, and everybody knew it.

Anyway, the deed is done, the course has been charted and it’s full steam ahead with Nieuwenhuis in center field and Tejada batting leadoff.

All we can do now is hope for a successful outcome, but make no mistake that so far this season, Collins and Alderson are flying by the seats of their pants.

Apr 05

Wrapping up Mets Opening Day

Game #1: Mets 1, Braves 0, at Citi Field (1-0)

BY THE NUMBERS: The Mets are 33-18 in season openers, the best record in the major leagues.

SANTANA: Goes five strong. (Getty)

QUOTE BOOK: “If we pitch we can play with anybody. Our guy pitched today.’’ – manager Terry Collins on Johan Santana’s strong effort.

SANTANA IS BACK: Hopefully, that is the case. If nothing else, it was a good sign and a positive step after five scoreless innings against the Braves in his first start since Sept. 2010.

Santana gave up two hits, and another good sign was pitching out of trouble in the fifth.

Santana threw in the high 80s and he’ll be the first to admit he’s still a work in progress.

Psychologically, this was a huge game for the Santana and the Mets. Had Santana imploded it could have left a strong negative impression. There was nothing but positives today for Santana.

BULLPEN STELLAR: With no outs and a runner on third in the seventh, Tim Byrdak – who underwent knee surgery three weeks ago – entered and got out of the inning.

The Mets’ new-look bullpen threw four scoreless innings. One game, of course, but a good sign. And, who didn’t think the worse when Byrdak entered.

Frank Francisco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

OFFENSE STAGNANT: David Wright, Josh Thole and Daniel Murphy had two hits apiece and Wright drove in the game winner. Jason Bay was hitless in three at-bats and was booed during introductions.

THE DOWNSIDE: Center fielder Andres Torres re-strained his left calf muscle and will go on the disabled list. The Mets haven’t announced who’ll they’ll bring up, but it could be Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Collins said Collins said Ruben Tejada will be the leadoff hitter.

UP NEXT: The Mets are off Friday. R.A. Dickey will start Saturday and Jon Niese will work Sunday.

Apr 02

Parnell sharp; Santana gets Opening nod.

Bobby Parnell, who had been uninspiring during his tenure with the Mets, has been scintillating this spring, enough where they could consider opening the season with him in the closer role if Frank Francisco is placed on the disabled list with a sore left knee.

PARNELL: Has had excellent spring.

While Parnell was throwing three scoreless innings at Atlanta in a spot start – because the Mets didn’t want Jon Niese to face the same team he’ll pitch against Sunday – Francisco was getting an MRI.

“Early in camp I felt a little sore in there and it went away,’’ Francisco told reporters today. “In the last three days, I felt soreness in there again, but that’s it. We’re going to take care of that. I did my workout and everything, and it felt fine, but they’re going to take a look at it.’’

 A MRI, followed by manager Terry Collins saying he was concerned about Francisco’s knee can’t be a good omen for the injury ravaged Mets.

Francisco, a Toronto castoff, was signed to a two-year, $12-million contract in the offseason. The Mets also signed another Blue Jays’ reliever, Jon Rauch, but he’s been ineffective this spring with a 7.94 ERA. Parnell, who struggled in the closer role last September, hasn’t given up a run in 12 1/3 innings during spring training.

Despite his success, I’m not so sure moving Parnell to the closer role is the way to go if Francisco’s injury is deemed short term. The Mets have bounced Parnell around in the past and he has not responded to the changing roles. Because he’s been pitching well I’d be reluctant to tinker with him.

I would reconsider that position if Francisco’s injury is determined to be long term.

Meanwhile, the Mets finally announced Johan Santana will be the Opening Day starter Thursday against the Braves. Santana would be followed in the rotation by R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese.