David Wright appeared to wear down toward the end of last season, and after another busy winter, it will be crucial for the All-Star third baseman to keep the demands of his fame in check. With his popularity exploding beyond New York, the Mets’ cover boy must be able to handle the intensifying spotlight. So far I think he has handled his celebrity status quite well. He says and does all the right things, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he were to take it to the next level this season. I expect a huge season from David, especially now that he will have Moises Alou protecting him in the lineup.
All signs point to Lastings Milledge being ticketed for Triple-A New Orleans to begin the year. Minaya spoke with Willie Randolph, and the two agreed Shawn Green should be considered the right field favorite. "I think if Shawn is healthy, he’s going to be given every opportunity to be the guy," Minaya said. Shawn Green might be starting the season in right field, but I hope he don’t strain a neck muscle looking over his shoulder.
Last year the Mets got 61 starts from Steve Trachsel (30), Alay Soler (eight), Brian Bannister (six), Dave Williams (five), Victor Zambrano (five), Jose Lima (four) and Jeremi Gonzalez (three). In those games, the team was 35-26. Knowing all that… I feel a lot better about our pitching now. Don’t you? Read my 2007 Pitching Preview at Mets Merized Online.
Omar Minaya said he’s never been a part of a Mets camp with so much promising youth. In addition to Milledge, he’ll have highly regarded outfield prospects Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez in camp. Tony Pena’s teenage son Francisco, a catcher, will be there. And joining Pelfrey and Humber will be pitchers Kevin Mulvey and Joe Smith. Wow, I have to admit it’s been a long time since the Mets had so much quality depth in their minor leagues.
While discussing Citifield, Fred Wilpon said fans should see a steel outline of the first level of the stadium, from their seats at Shea by Opening Day. By June, the brick exterior, with its granite base, should also be visible. The team will debut a Web cam on mets.com next week so fans can see daily snapshots of stadium progress. How cool is that!
I read somewhere that the acquisition of David Newhan spelled doom for the chances of Ben Johnson making the opening day roster. Coupled with the fact that currently reliever Jon Adkins is also on the outside looking in, it begs this question: Why exactly did we trade promising relievers Royce Ring and Heath Bell to San Diego? They each had great success in the minors last year, and the mets couldn’t stop telling us how either one could step in and close for us in a couple of years. I just hope Ben Johnson does make the team. He has some nice power that the Mets bench could really use right now.
Buster Olney reported that he spoke with Padres GM Kevin Towers about the Mets’ signing of Chan Ho Park. Olney says that the Padres actually offered Park $1 million but that he signed with New York, because he had a better chance of being part of their rotation. When it was first reported that Park had signed for $3 million, I was very critical of the signing, but at $600,000 it was a great move and a risk worth taking.