A Spring Suitable For Optimists And Pessimists Alike
The top stories for the Mets so far this spring is the (again) absence of Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes’, and the emergence of Ike Davis and Jenrry Mejia. Add a sidebar by the unsinkable Nelson (Molly Brown) Figueroa, and it has been business as usual at camp.
Established players hone their skills and young ones aspire to impress. Certainly Mejia has. So much that his current manger, Jerry Manuel is talking him up as the next Mariano Rivera or Dwight Gooden (who would you hope he becomes?). Can you blame the loquacious skipper?
After all, it’s imperative his club gets off to a robust start or he could be sitting on his porch in Sacramento by June. To a baseball lifer being exiled during the season is tantamount to facing a firing squad, sans blindfold. So, Jerry needs all the boots on the ground he can get.
There is a good chance, however, that Mejia will start the season playing for Tim Teufel up in chilly Binghamton. As the weather warms he could be moved further north and ply his trade for Buffalo. Could he, or more importantly, should he make his Mets debut, it might be with other September call ups.
For the time being Manuel lobbies for arms. He can thank his general manager for hanging him out to dry by shopping at K-Mart this winter. The pitching corps (or corpse) is wafer thin, one gem in a pile of rocks. Forget the fact that Ollie Perez (surprise), and Mike Pelfrey have been yielding runs by the bushel, and Jon Niese and Fernando Nieve looked like Triple A fodder yesterday, Johan Santana can only pitch every five days.
The real problem could be the bullpen. Frankie Rodriquez is the only sure bet, pink eye and all. Sure Pedro Feliciano can sing a nice tune but after him what is left? A couple of Japanese imports (they better be more Honda and less Toyota engineered), Sean Green, and a bevy of questions marks.
No wonder Mejia stands out. He has a live arm, is throwing mostly strikes, and is contrasted by a conglomeration of dreck. As for Davis, he could hit .500 this spring and still have no shot. What the heck do the Mets do with Daniel Murphy if Davis is retained?
He has shown a live bat, but he was touted as having “light-tower power” when drafted out of college. In fact, his fielding has revealed more holes than his bat. Imagine him booting one when Santana is on the hill? You talk about stares that could melt the polar ice caps.
Finally, no one loves to play the game of baseball more than Reyes.’ The current thyroid malady has to be eating him alive. But with the proper meds his condition should be held in check. Mets fans hope the same can’t be said about his bat and million dollar wheels when he returns.
Beltran is a different story. He has soured on the organization and if the Mets fall out of contention I think he has a good chance of being moved at the trade deadline. If he proves he is healthy that is. He could bring back a package of young talent and dumping his salary is an added benefit.
This spring has proven several things so far: The Mets do have some up and coming players, the pitching is shaky at best, and two of their best players are still on the shelf. Some things never change.
At least David Wright seems to be back. Did you see the home run he hit against the Astros? He jacked it to left field, a good sign, as the days to the Citi Field opener thankfully recedes faster than the snow covered hills (at least Upstate, that is!).
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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