In a conference call Wednesday evening, Mets GM Sandy Alderson addressed several issues surrounding the team. Here are some of the things he told us:
- Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud will not be allowed to block the plate. The reason for that is obvious – his health.
- The leadoff spot is still up in the air but Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is the leading candidate, still has a lot of work to do.
- If Nieuwenhuis plays full-time he will strikeout over 100 times that could give the Mets four players with over 100 strikeouts when you consider David Wright, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. While strikeouts are a concern, hopefully they will be offset by an increased on-base percentage and run production.
- If the Mets are competitive this summer, he knows he will face the dilemma of trading pitching prospects to acquire an outfield bat and it’s not something he’s looking forward to do, but he may not have a choice.
- Alderson said how the Mets handled Matt Harvey last year should buy him patience from fans wanting to rush Zack Wheeler. He added there’s no sense in force-feeding a young player if he’s not ready. If the rotation pitches reasonably well there will be no obligation for him to bring up Wheeler when he can only benefit by more development.
These and other issues from Alderson’s conference call will be explored in greater detail in future posts.
MURPHY BREAKOUT: Terry Collins told us that Murphy is still a week to ten days away from returning to the lineup. Knowing the scrappy player and how he never wants to miss a start, it must be killing him not to be on the field as it is Collins. Joe D. reminded me that this is the first Spring where he’s not learning a new position and I agree with him that this will lead to a much improved season at the plate including a spike in home runs.
DUDA CONCERNS: If the Mets could take one positive out of Wednesday’s 12-4 waxing at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals, it is that Lucas Duda broke a 0-for-7 slide with groundball single. No, they did not stop the game to give him the ball. Duda finished 1-for-3 with one strikeout, so it isn’t as if he’s found it all of a sudden. The Mets like his power potential, but must be concerned about his wasted at-bats. He had 120 strikeouts with only 51 walks in 459 plate appearances last season.
PEDRO HAS HEART: The Mets and Pedro Feliciano got some good news the lefty reliever’s heart tests came back clear, and that he can resume baseball activities. I’m happy to hear the good news. Pedro’s been fun to cover, one of the nicest players the Mets have had and always greets reporters with a smile and a hello.
CAPTAIN WRIGHT: Wright returned to the lineup with two singles. He’s not scheduled to play Thursday, but is Friday against Detroit at Port St. Lucie. David Wright hopes to play third instead of DH in that game. On Saturday he leaves for the World Baseball Classic. Collins is polling the clubhouse for opinions on Wright’s potential captaincy and wants this done prior to Opening Day, It’s impossible to think his teammates will vote him down.
JOHAN DOWN BUT NOT OUT: You have to feel bad for Johan Santana who was frustrated after his last bullpen so much so that the team decided to let him shut it down and work on some issues locating his pitches. The good news is that Adam Rubin reported yesterday, that he will throw off a mound on Friday with the hope that he’ll be getting ready to make a Grapefruit League start in about ten day.
ZACK WILL BE BACK: Zack Wheeler was scratched from yesterday’s start with a slight strain of his right oblique. Although the Mets have not said anything, expect him to miss at least another start. It’s precautionary and considering his value to the organization it’s the smart move. This front office has made a noticeable and improved difference in how seriously they take a players injuries no matter how minor. In all honesty, I couldn’t say the same thing about the last regime.
SPRING AHEAD: Four more days until I check into my hotel in St. Lucie and will begin covering the team again from Mets camp. It’s been a strange and new experience reporting about the team while being 500 miles away, and I look forward to covering them the old-fashioned way again beginning next week. I promised Joe D. some exclusive player interviews for MMO so look for those. And I look forward to bringing you some more insights from Sandy and his staff as well. Be good everybody.