Feb 03

Mets Still Looking For Bullpen Help; Add Kyle Farnsworth

How much money the New York Mets have left to spend during what is left of their offseason is uncertain, but as recently reported here, it is earmarked for the bullpen, specifically a closer as Bobby Parnell’s status is questionable.

FARNSWORTH: Added to pen.

FARNSWORTH: Added to pen.

Fernando Rodney, Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Hanrahan have been mentioned on this site. ESPN added Kevin Gregg and Ryan Madson to the table.

Farnsworth, who has pitched for the Yankees, was signed to a minor-league deal Monday and given an invitation to spring training.

At 37, he was a combined 3-1 with a 4.70 ERA last season with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. Farnsworth’s role with the Mets, assuming he makes the team, will be not as a closer but to provide depth.

Figuring Parnell will not be ready for the season, the configuration of the Mets’ bullpen will be Vic Black – the presumed closer – Farnsworth, Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, Josh Edgin, Gonzalez Germen and Jeurys Familia.

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Jan 31

Looking At Mets’ Leadoff Hitter And Batting Order

As of now, New York Mets manager Terry Collins prefers outfielder Eric Young as his leadoff hitter, but telling ESPN nothing is etched in stone.

It never is this time of year.

ERIC YOUNG: First leadoff choice.

ERIC YOUNG: First leadoff choice.

If Young hits leadoff, and Chris Young – he of the $7.25 million contract – plays center and Granderson in right, the odd man out is Juan Lagares, arguably the Mets’ best defensive outfielder.

While Lagares prominently displayed his defensive abilities in center last season, he still has a lot to learn as a major league hitter, in particular learning the strike zone, being patient and going to the opposite field. Lagares’ 96 strikeouts with 20 at-bats and .281 on-base percentage in 421 plate appearances screams he’s not leadoff material.

Those numbers don’t fly anywhere in the order and he’s better off getting at-bats to learn those things on the minor league level rather than sitting on the bench in the majors. The Mets haven’t made that decision, but that would be the smart move.

Eric Young’s speed is a definite plus – he stole 38 bases last season – but his career .325 on-base percentage needs improvement. His 67-35 strikeouts-to-walks ratio last year is not acceptable for a leadoff hitter.

The Mets were 14th out of 15 teams in the National League in on-base percentage from the leadoff spot, so clearly improvement is needed. Young assumed the leadoff role in midseason after the Mets tried nine other options. NINE.

The non-productive nine were: Jordany Valdespin (16 games), Ruben Tejada (15), Collin Cowgill (nine), Mike Baxter (eight), Daniel Murphy and Omar Quintanilla (seven), Lagares (six), Justin Turner (three) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (one).

Valdespin, Cowgill, Baxter and Turner are out of the organization; Nieuwenhuis has fallen out of favor because of his propensity for striking out.

Tejada, Murphy and Quintanilla will make the Opening Day roster.

Collins indicated at the winter meetings if Tejada played to his potential he has the necessary skills to hit leadoff, but he’s still a project.

Assuming Eric Young hits leadoff, here’s the projected batting order for the Mets:

Eric Young: Is the Mets’ fastest player and their best base stealer.

Daniel Murphy: Has the patience and bat control to protect Young.

David Wright: The best hitter on a team, the best combination of power and average hits third. Wright has been his best hitting in front of an established power threat, whether it was Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado or Marlon Byrd.

Curtis Granderson: Theoretically, Granderson’s power potential should give Wright better pitches.

Chris Young: Will bat fifth to separate lefty hitters Granderson and Ike Davis.

Ike Davis: I am assuming Davis will make the team. Having him hit sixth should minimize the pressure on him.

Travis d’Arnaud: Showed little offensive presence last season. He’s no threat so pitchers might work around Davis, which, if nothing else, might help the struggling first baseman learn patience.

Ruben Tejada: At one time this guy hit .289. If he can reach that level again he could hit leadoff if Eric Young doesn’t pan out. Also, if he hits that clears the pitcher’s spot in the order and sets up the next inning.

But, that’s for now.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 23

Would Have Been Interesting To See A Grady Sizemore Comeback With Mets

The Red Sox did something yesterday I wish the New York Mets had done, and something I suggested before. I realize I’m in the minority on this, but I wish they signed Grady Sizemore.

SIZEMORE: Would have been fun gamble.

SIZEMORE: Would have been fun gamble.

You read that correctly. For the bargain-basement price of $750,000 – with incentive clauses on games played and plate appearances that could reach $5 million – the Red Sox took a gamble on a former All-Star.

From 2005-2008, Sizemore averaged 27 homers and 81 RBI with the Indians and was on the cusp for becoming one of the game’s best players before his career hit an injury-plagued tailspin. Then, from 2009 on, he’s had six operations, including his left (throwing elbow), two hernias, two knee operations – one on each side – and his lower back.

He missed all of last season rehabbing his right knee and back.

That’s a lot of cutting and the odds are long on him returning to star status. If he doesn’t, the Red Sox would only be out $750,000, which in today’s baseball economy is chump change – even by Mets’ standards.

It would have been a low-risk, high-reward gamble for the Mets. Conversely, they’ll give Chris Young $7.25 million, which I still can’t get over.

The probability of Sizemore reaching the 27-81 plateaus is long, but the Mets would take – and be happy with – a lot less for fewer than a million. Plus, his reputation of a hard worker and gamer would be good examples for a young team, and you don’t think Juan Lagares can’t learn a thing or two about playing centerfield from Sizemore?

I always liked Sizemore and hate to see a promising career go down as his has done. But, I also like comeback stories and Sizemore would have been a good one. Again, I know I am in the minority on this, but I’m allowed to cheer for good stories and it would have been fun to see it happen at Citi Field.

ON DECK: Mets sign Duda. All arbitration players locked up.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 20

Factors Suggest Ike Davis Will Start At First Over Lucas Duda

Recent developments with Lucas Duda indicate the New York Mets are probably more likely to go with Ike Davis at first base.

Duda, who hit 15 homers with 33 RBI last season, had been earmarked for the job, especially coupled with the Mets’ desire to trade Davis. General manager Sandy Alderson spoke openly this winter about trading Davis.

However, with the Mets unable to trade Davis, and with them offering arbitration, it became obvious the underachieving first baseman wasn’t going anywhere.

I believe Davis will prevail for the following reasons:

* It has become increasingly difficult to trade him, especially since projected trading partner Milwaukee signed both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay.

* Duda filed for $1.9 million and the Mets countered with $1.35 million. Meanwhile, Davis and the Mets settled for $3.5 million. Based on the salary, it is more likely the Mets start Davis. However, Duda’s salary, whatever an arbitrator decides, would be high for a minor league player.

* If the Mets decided to keep both on the Opening Day roster, as Alderson suggested is possible, and with Duda expected to get outfield time during spring training, logically Davis would go to first.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 16

Expanded Instant Replay Is Approved By Owners

A new era in baseball is upon us after the owners today unanimously approved expansion of instant replay at their meetings in Arizona. Considering the constant criticism of umpiring today, I’m all for this decision.

It might have to be modified somewhat in the number of challenges allowed to managers, or even if the decision to review might come from an umpire in the replay center, similar to how replays are automatically reviewed in the NFL after scoring plays and turnovers.

Currently managers are allowed only one challenge through the first six innings. After that, the umpires would initiate the challenges. If the umpires can challenge after the seventh inning, then why not before then?

Of all sports, baseball might be the most conducive to replay because much of the action is located at fixed positions, such as the bases and plate, the outfield fences and foul lines.

In addition to home runs, replay will be applied to:
• Ground-rule double

• Fan interference

• Stadium boundary calls

• Force play*

• Tag play

• Fair/foul in outfield only

• Trap play in outfield only

• Batter hit by pitch

• Timing play

• Touching a base (requires appeal)

• Passing runners

• Record keeping

What won’t be reviewable is the “neighborhood plays’’ at second base, which really would be the easiest to review.

MLB executive and former manager Tony LaRussa, who helped design the new system, estimated up to 90 percent of potential calls are reviewable.

“We’re really [targeting] the dramatic miss,’’ La Russa said, “not all misses.’’

One of the potential flaws in this system is managers could use challenges as a way to stall for time to allow a reliever to get ready in the bullpen. However, managers have found ways to stall for over 100 years, so perhaps that’s not such a big deal in the long run.

What I’m not crazy about is limiting the number of challenges, because after all, there could be more than one play that is close enough to be reviewed.

Given that, I wouldn’t mind having the umpire crew in the replay center in New York, buzzing the crew chief to say a play is under review.

However, this is better than what we’ve had in recent years.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos