Mar 26

New look here; same old look for Mets.

As you can tell, the blog has a new look. Many thanks to Joe DeCaro for his help. There will be some more subtle changes over the next few days with the overhaul complete by Opening Day. The new look has energized me and I’m looking forward to the season more than ever. As they have been for the past few seasons, I know the expectations are low for the Mets. Even so, there’s always something about the start of a new season. With Opening Day a little over a week away, the Mets have several questions that must be answered:

Q: Will David Wright be ready?

A: He hopes to play today, but said the odds are 50-50. I don’t know if a week is enough time to get ready. He could possibly open the season on the DL. If not, a slow start is almost assured.

Q: Will Johan Santana be ready?

A: It would be just like it for the Mets for Santana to be ready and not Wright. Santana made strong progress this spring and his availability will give the Mets a spring to their step. Santana will start today with a target of 90 pitches.

Q: What about the other injured?

A: Andres Torres, Ruben Tejada, Garret Olson and a few others have nagging injuries. Tim Byrdak will open the season on the DL and that’s also a possibility for Scott Hairston. On the plus side, Ike Davis seems fine.

Q: What’s going on with Mike Pelfrey?

A: Pelfrey said his ankle is fine and shouldn’t be used as an excuse. Too bad. That would mean his awful pitching is because he’s awful. I don’t believe Pelfrey can turn it on immediately after a lousy spring.

Q: Will Jason Bay find his stroke?

A: He’s been looking for several years now and is still struggling to be the player the Mets hoped.

 

Mar 18

Some things to mull over

The Mets are off tomorrow, which is a good thing, and gives us some time to look at what is going on for the Mets so far this spring.

Most encouraging has been Johan Santana’s progress through three starts. He’s been healthy and his velocity is gradually increasing.

Jon Niese has been solid and showing all signs he’s on the mend. If Santana isn’t ready for spring training, then Niese is the No. 1 as Mike Pelfrey hasn’t shown he’s capable in that role.

Pelfrey is still an enigma and has shown nothing to prove he’ll go into the season on a role. There’s still something missing in the Mets’ biggest question.

Health questions Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy seem as if they sound, but the latter still has his shaky moments at second base.

Andres Torres had a fast start in center field, but there’s not a reliable backup.

David Wright remains a health question, as does lefty reliever Tim Byrdak. With a hole in the bullpen, the Mets have four candidates vying for the role, with Garrett Olson seemingly having the inside track.

Ruben Tejada has a hamstring problem which was a temporary setback, but those types of injuries have a long recovery period.

 

Dec 06

If spring training were to start tomorrow ….

If spring training were to begin spring training tomorrow, the Mets would not bring to Florida that would be worthy of optimism, not with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami and Washington all getting better and willing to make the moves the Mets can’t afford in their present economic climate.

When asked what he would say to Mets’ fans to sell them on 2012, GM Sandy Alderson said his sales pitch would be focusing on the future, and if the team was healthy and played to its expectations they could be competitive.

We’ve heard that refrain before and we’ll hear it again,

But for now, assuming no additions to the roster, let’s see what the Mets will bring to Port St. Luice:

STARTING ROTATION

JOHAN SANTANA: Alderson said the other day he expects Santana back in the rotation. Would be nice for him go through a spring training first. There’s no guarantee when Santana will return, and if he does, how effective he’ll be. They can’t be thinking they’ll plug in a Cy Young Award winner.

MIKE PELFREY: The de facto ace last summer after a strong 2010 and Santana’s injury. He’ll get his raise for winning all of seven games. This just might be Pelfrey’s make-or-break season. If the Mets could land another starter, and they’ll need it after losing Chris Capuano to Los Angeles, I wouldn’t be adverse to trying Pelfrey as a closer. Something has to be done to shake up this guy.

RA DICKEY: After a rocky start, Dickey closed strong despite pitching injured. The fluke label should be removed because Dickey has been the Mets’ most consistent starter the past two years. Even so, he’s still a back end of the rotation guy.

DILLON GEE: Like Dickey in 2010, Gee came out of nowhere to become a viable member of the rotation. Gee sprinted out of the gate, but hitters eventually figured him out. However, on the plus side, Gee did his own adjusting. Gee passed through the organization without a lot of flash. Yes, we have to look at his first year with caution, but there’s also reason to be optimistic.

JON NIESE: Niese is another who is an injury question. When he’s been on he’s been nearly untouchable. He’s also had moments when he loses the strike zone. One of the Mets’ best decisions was not to include Niese in the Santana trade. It may turn out he’ll replace him in the rotation.

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Jul 14

Reading the tea leaves on dealing Beltran.

Sandy Alderson is working the phones this afternoon about Carlos Beltran. There’s a chance he could be taking more calls than making them.

“Carlos’ situation is well-known, and it’s not surprising given his situation and performance this year that a lot of interest has been expressed,’’ Alderson said. “We have not pursued that interest in great length to this point.’’

BELTRAN: Attracting interest.

As an All-Star, Beltran is probably the premier outfielder and bat in the trade market, so the Mets aren’t completely without leverage.

Where the Mets don’t have leverage, is that Beltran’s contract precludes him from being offered arbitration so they won’t get any compensatory draft picks.

The balance of Beltran’s contract is for roughly $8 million, so the Mets must decide if that’s worth the price to pay to gamble on staying in contention.

Unless the Mets are bowled over, Alderson said he’s willing to ride this out until the trade deadline, and even longer.

While the trade deadline is July 31, the Mets can move Beltran after that in a waiver deal. In that situation, Beltran must clear waivers before he can be traded.

Alderson’s stance is actually a good negotiating ploy. Everybody knew the Mets were desperate to deal Rodriguez, but by showing a willingness to wait on Beltran it’s possible he could force some general manager to blink and offer up a better prospect.

The Giants and Red Sox are the teams reported to have the most interest in Beltran. ESPN reported the Tigers might be players for Beltran.

As far as the Yankees, their primary objective is pitching.  Even with Alex Rodriguez out for at least a month, the belief is the Yankees still have enough offense.

If the Mets go all out in the trade market, they have several pieces that could prove attractive to a contender, including Chris Capuano, Jason Isringhausen, Tim Byrdak, Scott Hairston and Willie Harris.

All have served a purpose for the Mets this season, but all can be replaced in the winter.

 

Feb 25

Mets intrasquad game focus at second

Don’t read too much from the early glowing reports about Ruben Tejada swinging the bat well in Port St. Lucie. Don’t forget, until now it has simply been batting practice. Today, it will be an intrasquad game and then the early days in the exhibition schedule.

Of course, it is better than him not hitting.

The Mets have four second base candidates, with the speculated platoon of Daniel Murphy and Brad Emaus each starting today. Then there is Luis Castillo and Justin Turner, the latter with two options remaining which makes him the odd-man out.

Regarding Tejada, the plans are for him to play shortstop at Triple-A Buffalo. With the Mets having other second base options, that’s important because of the uncertainty regarding Jose Reyes’ future.

If the Mets sign Reyes to an extension, then Tejada could move to second if the others flame out or he could be used in a trade. If Reyes leaves, then it is important to have a ready alternative.

TODAY’S PITCHERS: Josh Stinson and D.J. Carrasco will be the respective starters, followed by: Taylor Tankersley, Mike O’Connor, Manny Alvarez, Tim Byrdak, Ryota Igarashi and Blaine Boyer.