Mar 04

Mets Matters: Nieuwenhuis Has Big Day

As far as first impressions go, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a great one going 4-for-4 with a RBI in the Mets’ 8-2 rout of Atlanta.

mets-matters logoNieuwenhuis, who is out of options, is competing Matt den Dekker for a reserve outfield spot. Not having options gives Nieuwenhuis an edge.

“He’s out of options, so it’s nice to see him have a big day,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He’s had to battle so many injuries in the last couple of years. The one thing we saw both he and Matt do, that’s shorten their swings up a little bit to where they can put the ball in play more consistently.’’

Today’s box score: Mets 8, Atlanta 2

GEE ROCKED: Dillon Gee, whom the Mets are trying to deal, gave up two runs in a two-inning, 35-pitch debut.

Gee is next scheduled to pitch Sunday out of the bullpen.

EXTRA INNINGS: Wilmer Flores left the game in the fifth inning when he was hit by a pitch on his left pinkie finger. … Flores’ replacement, Matt Reynolds had a RBI single. … Leadoff hitter candidate Juan Lagares had two hits, including a double, with a walk and run scored. … Lucas Duda, out with a left intercostal muscle strain, swung the bat. … Former Met Eric Young, stole a base on Travis d’Arnaud. … The Mets play Washington Thursday (5:05 p.m.), with Bartolo Colon getting the start. Gabriel Ynoa, Cory Mazzoni and Josh Edgin will also work for the Mets.

Feb 26

Forget Murphy Contract Talks, He’s A Goner After This Year

It is a moot point regarding Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Reports out of Port St. Lucie Thursday say Murphy is open to negotiations about a contract extension. He doesn’t want to talk during the season, but said his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, are available.They shouldn’t wait for the phone to ring because it won’t as the Mets are willing to let Murphy walk after this season when his $8-million contract expires.

MURPHY: He's gone. (AP)

MURPHY: He’s gone. (AP)

“As of right now, I’m a Met for this year for sure,’’ Murphy told reporters. “I’d love to be here in the future. That, again, is way in the distant future. I’ve got too much anxiety about today to worry about what happens in November.’’

Murphy will be shopping for a team in November, because if the Mets really wanted him they could have tied him up to a multi-year deal a long time ago.

After trying for a long time to find a place for the natural third baseman to play, the Mets tried left field and first base before settling on second base. It took time, but he’s developed into a better than average defender at the position.

The Mets tried to trade him and undoubtedly will want to move him at the deadline as to dump salary. If they wanted him, he’d be here, but the Mets’ unwillingness to negotiate speaks volumes.

And, with the Mets having other options – among them: Wilmer Flores, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds – it is clear Murphy isn’t in their future. At the most, it would be just like it was with Jose Reyes. They will make a token offer – one they know he won’t accept – then just let him leave.

So, if you’re a Murphy fan, enjoy him while you can, because he’ll soon be a goner.

ON DECK:  Spring training rotation.

 

Feb 24

Mets Matters: Alderson Jabs Flores; Parnell To Throw; Duda Ailing

If I were Wilmer Flores, I’d be hacked off at GM Sandy Alderson. I wouldn’t be happy being Ruben Tejada, either.

Several times Alderson has cracked wise about the Mets’ shortstop situation. The Wall Street Journal reported when Alderson showed up for jury duty he was asked what he did in his free time.

Reportedly, Alderson said: “Well, now I’m looking for a shortstop.’’

I still don’t understand why a general manager would continually undercut his players in public.

mets-matters logo* Today, manager Terry Collins said the Mets would miss Eric Young’s speed. Young’s absence underscores the Mets’ need for a leadoff hitter. Currently, it’s between Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson.

Earlier today, I endorsed Lagares because I believe Granderson’s greater value is as a run producer in the middle of the order.

* Hindered by his wild throwing to bases, the Mets will work hard with reliever Jeurys Familia this spring. The Mets also want Familia to throw more four-seam fastballs, which gives hitters something else to consider.

* Reliever Bobby Parnell is scheduled to throw in the bullpen and pitch to hitters this weekend. As with Matt Harvey, Parnell is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Parnell could throw to hitters on Thursday.

* Lucas Duda sustained a strained left oblique muscle and might not hit for another three days, but will participate in fielding drills.

Feb 24

Collins Has Reason For Saying Tejada In The Mix

After hearing most of the offseason how Wilmer Flores would be the Opening Day shortstop, even before the first full squad workout, manager Terry Collins said Ruben Tejada would compete for the job.

This isn’t about waffling, because what else could Collins say? He certainly can’t slam the door on Tejada this early.

TEJADA: Still under fire.

TEJADA: Still under fire.

Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie: “I’m not going to say that Wilmer Flores won’t be the shortstop. I’m not saying that. … All I’m saying is I’m giving this other guy a chance because I know two years ago I had some coaches on this staff, who are still here, that thought this guy was going to be an All-Star, especially offensively.’’

True enough.

In 2012, the year after Jose Reyes left, Tejada hit .289 in 114 games. The following season, Tejada didn’t report in good shape and labored at the plate and in the field hitting .202 with a .250 on-base percentage and committed eight errors in 55 games.

The Mets committed to the unproven Flores in large part to deflect from their failure to land a shortstop in the free agent or trade markets. Based on how Tejada played the last two years, they couldn’t give him the job.

Even so, the Mets could need Tejada this year, especially if Flores doesn’t pan out. And, if Flores does prove to be a keeper and the Mets want to move Tejada, they can’t have him as a disgruntled trade chip.

Collins said Tejada is in the mix because as a manager he must keep his players enthused and feeling part of the team.

Feb 11

Suggested Mets’ Batting Order

Spring training is for a lot of things, but I thought I’d save Terry Collins time and suggest a batting order for him. Several slots will automatically fall into place, but where Collins will do his most head scratching will be over the leadoff position.

Juan Lagares, CF: He has the speed and at the end of last season proved he could steal a base. However, he needs to get on base to utilize that speed which is why he must cut his strikeouts and raise his on-base percentage.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Willing to take a pitch, which should help Lagares. Was the Mets’ best hitter last season and his ability to drive the ball in the gap could give the Mets an early first-inning lead.

David Wright, 3B: Theoretically, third is where the best hitter should be, which is the combination of power and average. Injuries sapped Wright’s production the past few years and the Mets are hoping for a bounce back season. If he has one it will solve a lot of problems.

Lucas Duda, 1B: Gave the Mets 30 homers last year and they aren’t expecting anything less. When he gets hot he should offer Wright protection. Still strikes out too many times, but is showing improved plate discipline.

Michael Cuddyer, RF: He should hit here to separate the left-handed hitters. How sweet would it be if he returned to the form where he lead the National League in hitting.

Curtis Granderson, LF: Even with the fences moved in, nobody expects him to hit 40 homers again. But, 30 should be reasonable along with a boatload of doubles in the gap. If Lagares falters, Granderson could get another look at leadoff, but he strikes out too much to excel there in the long haul.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: Another right-handed hitter to give the order balance. Showed glimpses of power, but if he masters things behind the plate the Mets will take what they can get from him offensively.

Wilmer Flores, SS: He’ll have enough pressure as it is, so dropping him to eighth to see what he can do is the best option. Hitting here ahead of |the pitcher should help improve his plate discipline. There’s nothing wrong with a walk to clear the pitcher’s spot.

Pitcher: Unless you’re in Tony La Russa’s world, pitchers bat ninth.

Things will vary according to injuries, days off and slumps. But, this offers a balanced order with the hitters providing the most protection for each other. That is, if they are hitting.