Feb 26

Mets Matters: Mejia Rocked; Wright Captaincy

Jenrry Mejia was hammered this afternoon by Miami in his spring training debut, giving up a grand slam in a five-inning first inning in the Mets’ 7-5 loss.

MEJIA: Not a good day.

          MEJIA: Not a good day. (AP)

Mejia gave up five runs on four hits in a 30-pitch inning. Apparently, few of those pitches were effective.

Terry Collins said Mejia didn’t have the darting cut on his fastball, and suggested the problem could be attributed to having Tommy John surgery after the 2010 season. That was the year Mejia was rushed as a reliever, demoted to the minor leagues where he started, then was injured.

The Mets still don’t know Mejia’s eventual role. He’s expected to start this year, but pitching coach Dan Warthen and minor league manager Wally Backman believe he’s better suited for the bullpen. Collins admitted to that after the game.

Mejia is expected to open the season in the minor leagues unless there’s an injury in the rotation.

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Feb 18

Mets’ Full-Squad Workouts Start Today; Collins’ Lame-Duck Status

The Mets will have their first full squad workout this morning, prior to which Terry Collins will address his teams. Like I posted last night, don’t expect rah-rah. And, don’t expect the manager to use his lame-duck status as a motivator. He doesn’t work that way.

It must be an odd feeling for Collins to enter the season as a lame duck manager. Ownership and upper management are looking ahead to 2014, when Johan Santana’s contract will be off the books.

Trouble for Collins is he’s thinking about this year because there’s no guarantee of anything beyond while everybody else is thinking of the future.

Collins knows the score, but to his credit he’s not saying anything about it. Fred Wilpon and Sandy Alderson said they are pleased with the job Collins is doing and I’m wondering when that will translate into an extension.

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Feb 02

Jordany Valdespin Throwing Away Career

The Mets are bringing Marlon Byrd, he of the PED suspension, to spring training. Byrd is 35 and hit .210 with one homer and nine RBI.

My first reaction was a yawn and my second was thinking how badly Jordany Valdespin is throwing away his career. The Mets have a huge hole in their outfield, but you never hear Valdespin’s name mentioned. And, here’s a guy with speed and came off the bench last year to hit a handful of pinch-hit homers. This is a guy with the potential to make an impact and he’s a virtual non-entity.

Valdespin began to shoot himself in the foot at the end of the season with a sour, combative attitude which included not hustling. What does it tell you when a bench player doesn’t hustle?

What does he do next?

With a chance to redeem himself to make an impression for the future, he’s suspended for insubordination.

What is wrong with this guy? He has a chance to be a major league player and be set for life financially. He has a chance to earn a starting outfield job in New York. It isn’t hard to be a popular player in this city. Hustle, play hard, be enthusiastic and demonstrate some success and the fans will love you. Just look at Lenny Dykstra and Wally Backman. Neither were great players, but were productive and played hard.

Valdespin had a chance to be a player like them.

Maybe he’s not another Carl Everett or Milton Bradley, but he’s headed in that direction. Valdespin has a chance to be a major leaguer and he’s throwing it all away.

His loss, not ours.

 

Sep 15

Jenrry Mejia Getting His Chance

A mark of a good manager is putting his players in position to succeed. He shouldn’t force a player to do something he’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, thereby increasing the chance of failure.

That’s what Jerry Manuel did to Jenrry Mejia in 2010. With his job clearly in jeopardy and no bullpen to speak of, Manuel insisted on putting Jenrry Mejia in a relief role coming out of spring training despite no experience at it and, no definable role with the Mets.

Mejia didn’t work for long stretches and struggled when he did get in games. Eventually, he performed so poorly he was optioned out. Once in the minors, they tried him as a starter again. He was eventually injured.

He starts tonight at Milwaukee, despite his last three appearances at Triple-A Buffalo being in relief, this after a solid stretch as a starter.

You guessed it, the Mets still don’t have an idea where Mejia fits into their 2013 plans.

Mejia had dramatically more success at Triple-A Buffalo this season as a starting pitcher than working in the bullpen. He had a 2.75 ERA in ten starts and a 5.48 ERA in 16 relief outings.

His manager at Buffalo, Wally Backman, has faith in him as a reliever.

“You know what? He had never really relieved before, until he got to the big leagues for the short time [in 2010],’’ Backman said. “They sent him back to Triple-A and he started. And then he got hurt. So this year he started as a starter.

“`And [then] we put him in the bullpen. And, believe it or not, I think it was his last three outings in the bullpen, he was pretty good. Then we all of a sudden started him again. To me, he was figuring it out.’’

Mejia has it figured out in his mind as to what he wants to do and where he’s most comfortable and it is starting.

“That’s what I’m looking forward (to),’’ Mejia said. “I want to show them I want to be a starter. I can do my job like a starter.’’

Mejia said he feels more in control with his pitches starting, perhaps because at the start of the game there’s less pressure and more a margin for error than in the eighth or ninth innings.

On paper the Mets’ rotation seems set for 2013, but it must be remembered Johan Santana and Dillon Gee are coming off injuries; Jonathan Niese has a way to go before reaching his potential and might have regressed this year; and Matt Harvey is unproven over the long haul.

All those variables could open up a spot for Mejia.

Nov 07

Good for Backman

I like that Wally Backman was finally offered the Mets’ Triple-A managerial job. It appeared Backman would take a bench coach job with Washington, which I said he should take because at the time the Mets didn’t offer him the Triple-A position.

Well, the Mets did offer that job and it is good he stays in the organization.

Backman could learn a lot by working with Davey Johnson, but he would learn significantly more by making his own decisions. Backman would stand to better his future position by managing in Buffalo rather than interning under Johnson.

Of course, we don’t know who will be on the managerial market when Terry Collins leaves, but should Backman steadily progress and he’s still in the organization, it stands to reason he’ll have the inside track for the Mets’ job.

Yes, Backman is showing loyalty to the Mets, and the organization is doing the same for him. But, this is also a business decision for Backman, who realizes his fastest road to the majors goes through Buffalo.