With 20 Games In 19 Days, Mets Competition Heating Up

An article by posted on March 16, 2010

Pretty soon, all the pre-season bantering will end and the regular season will be underway.

There are 19 days left between now and opening day on Sun, April 4th. The Amazins play 20 games, including two split squad, and most notably, a fitting test for them are the 4 games against the Cards, which will certainly feature near full regular season lineups.

The real talk for now is what’s happening on the field in PSL with the competition for roster spots, specifically, the starting rotation (the #5 spot presumably), first base, center field (until Beltran returns from injury), and the bench. Perhaps, even some discussion on who holds down the SS position, with the absence of Jose Reyes, should be considered. Of course, the “losers” head down to Buffalo and the “winners” get an all expense paid trip to Flushing and Citi Field. Let’s take a look at the progress so far.

#5 Starter

  • Nelson Figueroa: 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 8.0 IP, 0 R’s, 4 H’s, 3 BB’s, 9 SO’s
  • Jon Niese: 0-0, 7.04 ERA in 7.2 IP, 7 R’s, 10 H’s, 4 BB’s, and 7 SO’s
  • Fernando Nieve: 0-0, 6.00 ERA in 9.0 IP, 6 R’s, 12 H’s, 5 BB’s, and 2 SO’s.
  • Hisanori Takahashi: 2-0, 0.00 ERA in 6.0 IP, 0 R’s, 2 H’s, 0 BB’s, and 9 SO’s.

Takahashi has been mentioned in some circles, and from Jerry Manuel, as a possible option at 5th spot and not the bullpen as previously thought. Surprising. I know that Niese is the front runner according to recent speculation. Being the third lefty in the rotation is a definite advantage against certain lefty heavy lineups/matchups in the NL East.

My pick: I think if we’re looking at numbers only, Figgy has distinguished himself as someone worth one last shot at a rotation spot. I would personally hate to see him get sent down again and perhaps never seen again in a Mets uniform. Nieve may see bullpen time if any of the other two get spots on the staff.

Your pick: Who do you like and why?  

Center Field

  • Angel Pagan: 8 gms, 21 ABs, .238 AVG/.429 SLG/.304 OBP
  • Fernando Martinez: 8 gms, 22 ABs, .591 AVG/1.136 SLG/.542 OBP.
  • Gary Matthews Jr: 7 gms, 21 ABs, .333 AVG /.762 SLG /.417 OBP.

Nobody believes that Matthews will take the starting spot in Beltran’s absence. F-Mart has been discussed but questions about his baseball IQ and rookie mistakes may keep him in AAA a little longer before call-up. So the consensus pick is Pagan, who suffers, at times, from some of the same IQ and rookie issues.

My pick: I’m thinking about who can maintain the field without making game costing mistakes until Beltran returns. I am going to go with the one with the most professional experience and baseball know-how. You guessed it. I am picking Gary Matthews, Jr. This also gives F-Mart and Pagan the time they sorely need.

Your pick: If you had to choose a competent replacement for Beltran to start, who would you prefer and why?

Shortstop

  • Alex Cora:  7 gms, 17 AB’s, .353 AVG/.412 SLG/.389 OBP
  • Ruben Tejada: 9 gms, 28 AB’s, .357 AVG/.393 SLG/.419 OBP

We can’t do anything about the fact that Reyes is out but the important part is the production, speed on the bags, and competent play in the field. Tejada has great upside and although considered for the spot by some, perhaps not ready for an every day role in the majors. With Cora, you may expect good defense, which is a plus but he’s projecting to bat 7th or 8th in the lineup so his ability to put the ball in play is all that’s needed. He won’t be leading off.

My pick: I like Russ Adams but he’s not one of the choices so I will go with the professional and the veteran Cora. We simply need competency at the position until our speedster returns. Adams or Tejada may not be bad as late game backups if the Mets have a comfortable lead to ensure them some playing experience.

Your pick: Who do you like?

First Base

  • Ike Davis: 10 gms, 22 AB’s, .500 AVG/.909 SLG/.560 OBP
  • Chris Carter: 6 gms, 11 AB’s, .455 AVG/.1.364 SLG/.500 OBP
  • Mike Jacobs: 7 gms, 16 AB’s, .250 AVG/.625 SLG/.429 OBP
  • Daniel Murphy: 8 gms, 24 AB’s, .167 AVG/.292 SLG/.222 OBP

Numbers-wise, this may not say much for half of these guys but the competition seems to still be Murphy’s to lose. I suppose his working with Mex makes him a front runner. You typically don’t want to look at numbers this time of year as determining factors but it’s hard to ignore some of these. What do they mean? I don’t know yet but it’s something to watch.

My pick: I’m inclined to give D Murph a legit shot at the position with Chris Carter as the backup. I’m going against the grain again. Based on recent history, having good defense AND a good bat in the lineup serves us better. I know Jake is the one everyone thinks is the best fit but I prefer to give C.C. the shot.

Your pick: You got a better idea than Murph at first? Who’s the best backup in your mind?

Relief Pitching

Pick ‘em: Kiko Calero, Pat Misch, Jenrry Mejia, Ryota Igarashi, Elmer Dessens, Bobby Parnell, and Sean Green. (not counting Kelvim Escobar)

Pat Misch: 3 gms, 0.00 ERA, 7 IP, 4 hits, 3 BB’s, 3 SO’s , 1 SV.
Ryota Igarashi: 5 gms, 6 IP, 1-2 SVO, 6.00 ERA, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 BB, 1 SO.
Jenrry Mejia: 3 gms, 7.1 IP, 1.23 ERA, 7 hits, 1 run, 0 BB, 8 SO
Bobby Parnell: 4 gms, 6.1 IP, 4.26 ERA, 7 hits, 3 runs, 4 BB, 7 SO
Kiko Calero: 1 gm, 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 hit, 1 BB, 1 SO
Elmer Dessens: 4 gms, 3.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, 4 hits, 1 run, 0 BB, 1 SO
Sean Green: 4 gms, 4 IP, 4.50 ERA, 3 hits, 2 runs, 6 BB, 4 SO

We need a second lefty which has Misch in the conversation somewhat. Projections say Igarashi has a great shot at commanding the 8th inning. Bobby Livingston, although pitching pretty well, will probably be in Buffalo for a bit as will Tobi Stoner and Eric Neisen, whom I believe has some real potential. Calero is working on his slider as he recovers from injury and looking pretty good so far.

My pick: (8th inning) Ryota Igarashi, (LOOGY) Pat Misch, (ROOGY) Kiko Calero, (7th inning) Bobby Parnell. Tentatively, I offer Sean Green and/or Elmer Dessens backend middle relief situations. I left out Mejia because he could easily be considered for the 5th spot or another bullpen spot if he stays with the club. I’m undecided on where I think he will go to be honest.

Your pick: So what’s your take on these?

As we get closer to opening day, every game played from here on out will decide the composition of what I believe is a contending club in 2010. LGM!

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