Mets Merized Online » John Delcos http://metsmerizedonline.com Fri, 28 Nov 2014 19:54:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Wright Remains the Mets’ Most Critical Question http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/wright-remains-the-mets-most-critical-question.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/wright-remains-the-mets-most-critical-question.html/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:05:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170886 david wright

Among the myriad of questions facing the New York Mets headed into next season, I believe the most important is the status of David Wright.

A recent ESPN poll listed baseball’s top ten third basemen and Wright, based on his recent injury history and performance, wasn’t on the list and shouldn’t have been. Therein, is why he’s my most critical Mets’ question for 2015.

The key focus on Wright is health. Only once in the past four years did he play in as many as 150 games. Last season, a bum left shoulder limited him to 134 games and hurt his performance in the field and at the plate.

As the face of the franchise, Wright was rewarded with an eight-year, $138 million contract that has the Mets committed to him through the 2020 season. He was signed with the hope he’d regain his All-Star form.

This isn’t about whether the Mets should have signed Wright, he’s here and not going anywhere.

It must be understood Wright has been a star, but his most productive seasons were when he was younger and healthier, but also when he was surrounded by supporting talent, notably Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Wright has always been an important element to the Mets’ success, but never the centerpiece bat.

This year will be more of the same. The main source of power will come from Lucas Duda followed by Curtis Granderson. If they meet expectations, a lot of pressure could come off Wright.

A seven-time All-Star, Wright figures to bat third and could be presented with solid RBI opportunities if there’s a productive leadoff hitter and a strong season from Daniel Murphy.

It can’t be underestimated how the upheaval at the top of the order, plus the lack of support behind him, coupled with his injuries and propensity for carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders contributed to him not driving in over 100 runs since 2010 or scoring over 100 runs since 2008.

This is a critical year for Wright, who at 31, is at the crossroads of his career. Does his slide continue or can he recapture the stroke that made him an elite talent?

A very productive Wright can carry the Mets to the next level and even have his team battling for a potential playoff spot this season. If not, and he struggles again, there will be the lingering questions about his contract, especially if he’s healthy and still doesn’t produce. There are six more years on that contract.

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Handicapping Trade Value and Odds Of Mets Pitchers http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/handicapping-trade-value-and-odds-of-mets-pitchers.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/handicapping-trade-value-and-odds-of-mets-pitchers.html/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:11:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168227 zack wheeler

To get something, you have to give something, but what the New York Mets don’t want to give up is their young pitching.  Understandable, but how long can they hold out?

The Mets say they won’t deal Matt Harvey, but remember there is no such thing as an untouchable. What if some team, in the words of Don Corleone, make them “an offer they can’t refuse.’’

Let’s take a look at the Mets’ young arms in relation to their trade value and odds they could be dealt.

MATT HARVEY (75:1) Everybody wants him and that’s a given. However, coming off Tommy John surgery there might be a twinge of reluctance of making a big offer although the odds of recovery are good. They might get more if Harvey rebounds with a good season, which would undoubtedly spike his value. Also a consideration is that he may eventually bolt when given the chance considering his sometimes rocky relationship with management. If he continues to perform well and the Mets don’t sign him to a long term contract, his salary would increase dramatically through arbitration. Sometime in that process, if they can’t get a long term deal done, they might seriously think of trading him off before he leaves as a free agent to the Bronx. But not this offseason.

ZACK WHEELER (50:1) Some scouts say his stuff is better than Harvey’s, but Zack Wheeler doesn’t have nearly the poise or knowledge of pitching. Harvey is way ahead in those areas. Wheeler is reminiscent of Nolan Ryan early in his career when he threw hard with no idea where the pitch would go. Wheeler tries too much for the strikeout, which elevates is pitch count and reduces his innings. His potential is so high that he’s worth waiting for, but conversely it is so attractive there will be takers. Another thing about Wheeler, and this also applies to Harvey and Jacob deGrom, is they are very affordable for the next 3-4 years. Mets would have to be overwhelmed.

JACOB deGROM (50:1) It would be a crime if he is not the Rookie of the Year. He’s closer to being where Harvey is than Wheeler. He’s got great stuff, an outstanding breaking ball, poise and a sense about what pitching is all about. He’s definitely more a pitcher than a thrower. Like Harvey in his first year, deGrom caught teams by surprise. It might be different in 2015. But, I like this guy and would be more disappointed if he were traded than Harvey or Wheeler.

NOAH SYNDERGAARD (25:1) Some scouts say Noah Syndergaard might be the best prospect of all, but we really won’t know what he is until he pitches at the major league level, which won’t be until June at the earliest. He’s got a terrific breaking ball, great stuff and by all accounts could be the real thing. We shall see, and I hope we see it in Flushing.

JON NIESE (10:1) He’s left-handed, throws hard, 27 and signed to a reasonable contract. That makes Jon Niese attractive to the Mets and other teams. What’s not to like? Well, there’s his injury history, inconsistency (only one winning season in seven years), and the bad habit of not being able to put away hitters and letting innings unravel. The argument is a change of scenery might help, but unlike the previous four mentioned his value has decreased. Good GMs don’t typically sell low.

RAFAEL MONTERO (5:1) He has loads of potential, but other teams also see that in him. Rafael Montero is a lot like Jenrry Mejia in that the Mets haven’t found a definitive role for him. Starter or reliever? He could be in the rotation until Syndergaard is ready and if Niese were traded. But, on Opening Day I see him either in the bullpen or Triple-A.

DILLON GEE (3:1) He’s rated no higher than a fifth starter and could be bumped to the bullpen when Syndergaard is ready. Too bad. Gee doesn’t have great stuff, but is mentally tough – until he gets to Philadelphia – and shows a lot of poise. He’s somebody that could get the Mets something at the deadline as he can also work out of the bullpen in long relief. There’s things a contender could like about him. Question is, will the Mets be such a contender? The Mets could have traded him numerous times, but there were no serious takers. That says something.

BARTOLO COLON (2:1) At 41, he threw over 200 innings and won 15 games. Was it all him, or did the move to the National League and spacious Citi Field have something to do with that? Colon will get $11 million in 2015, of which half of that will be gone by the trade deadline. If the Mets are in it, they’d be wise to keep him, but if he’s pitching well he could bring something in return in the right package. He’s likely being shopped, but nobody will offer anything until they explore the free-agent market.

BOBBY PARNELL (30:1) I remember the day he hit triple digits on the radar gun at Fenway Park. But, it never happened for him as a starter. After some trial and error he won the closer role in 2013, but missed last season because of an injury. Should Mejia or Jeurys Familia win the closer role and Parnell proves healthy in spring training, maybe he gets dealt. But for now he’s not going anywhere.

JENRRY MEJIA (25:1) When the Mets were bouncing him from the bullpen to the rotation his value declined. Especially when it led to elbow surgery. Now, it was a sports hernia that cut his breakout season. Mejia showed he has the stuff to be a closer, especially since he’s learning how to pitch rather than just trying to blow heat past a hitter. There’s value here.

JEURYS FAMILIA (20:1) Had an outstanding rookie season and drew a lot of attention. Some believe he could be the closer of future, however some teams might think he could be a closer now. This is a tough one considering the fragile nature of constructing a bullpen. Of these three relievers, Parnell could be the most available, but also bring the least in return.

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15 Years Later, The Grand Slam Single Still Endures http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/15-years-later-the-grand-slam-single-still-endures.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/15-years-later-the-grand-slam-single-still-endures.html/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 04:44:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168114 robin ventura

One of the players I most enjoyed covering was Robin Ventura for those two years he played for the Yankees. In a clubhouse full of stars and egos, Ventura was a voice of calm, reason and humorous relief.

I enjoyed stopping by his locker to shoot the breeze for a minute or two, talking about things other than baseball. Very smart, clever and possessing an insight on numerous issues. When there was the inevitable blow up or moment of absurdity, Ventura was always there to put it into perspective with a quip as short and hard-hitting as his swing.

Once I asked him about his fight with Nolan Ryan, and his response was he knew he had made a mistake halfway out to the mound, but couldn’t turn around. You’ll even notice in the video he slowed down.

Was it an embarrassing moment? Yes, but years later he handled it with humor. He even joined with Ryan to autograph photos of the brawl.

When I covered the Orioles and he was with the White Sox, I’d make time to go over to his clubhouse for a few moments. He was accessible to anybody who would take the time to ask a question.

Ventura loved his time with Mets which included the 2000 NL Championship and of course the World Series loss to the Yankees.

“It was a great time,” said Ventura, who played for the Mets from 1999-2001. “We enjoyed it as a family just being there. The Mets were very good to me. There’s part of it going back, seeing a lot of faces that you’re friends with and happy to see.”

robin ventura grand slam single

His signature moment as a Met will always be the Grand Slam Single which happened 15 years ago today. It’s a a great memory and one that still gives many Mets fans goosebumps.

That night is one of the greatest team displays of enthusiasm outside of winning a championship I have ever seen. That, and the Piazza post 9-11 homer. Both were amazing to watch.

Ventura wasn’t a five-tool player, but was consistent and clutch. With a runner in scoring position you wanted him at the plate because he’d usually make contact.

Ventura was a .267 lifetime hitter and only once hit over .300, that being .301 in 1999, his first season with the Mets. Considering his 66-game hitting streak in college, I always wondered if he thought he should have hit for a higher average. He also hit 32 homers with a career-high 120 RBI in his first year with the Mets.

What the Mets wouldn’t give for a player with that production now.

Ventura had three solid years with the Mets, who, during that span had arguably one of the best defensive infields in history. Few balls got by Ventura, Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo and John Olerud.

Both Olerud and Ventura would later play for the Yankees. When they left the Yankees, I always believed I’d see both of them again managing in a major league dugout. I’m still waiting on Olerud.

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The Splendor and Folly of Yoenis Cespedes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/the-splendor-and-folly-of-yoenis-cespedes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/the-splendor-and-folly-of-yoenis-cespedes.html/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167970 yoenis cespedes

cespedes stats

What’s not to like? Especially when you compare that production to the last three years of Mets left fielders? Sure, Yoenis Cespedes is an intriguing name, but like those that came before him – Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales to name just two – it’s just more wishful thinking about something that has very little chance of happening.

I don’t want to rain on your off-season parade, but as good as he is, Cespedes will be far too costly for the Mets, both in terms of potential salary and perhaps more importantly, the prospects they must surrender to get him.

Let’s look at salary first.

Cespedes, 28, will make $10.5 million this season, after which he will become a free agent. The Mets can afford the $10.5 million for one year, but why would they give up talent for a one-year rental? That makes no sense.

As they did with Johan Santana, the Mets will have to agree to terms with Cespedes on a multi-year extension before completing a trade. That’s the way these things work. No extension; no trade.

Cespedes’ demands – and I’m guessing here – could be in the area of five-plus years and close to $90 million, if not more.

When you consider a five-year contract for Cespedes, you must also take into consideration the money they’ll be paying David Wright, Curtis Granderson, and in the future, possible long-term deals with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler among others.

As far as what it would cost in terms of talent to acquire Cespedes, remember the Red Sox gave up Jon Lester (even if it was only 14 weeks) to acquire him, who is better than anybody in the Mets’ rotation.

Personally, how far-fetched is it to think Boston might not just re-sign Lester, which would give the Sox both Lester and Cespedes.

Yes, Jon Niese is just one name who has some value, but it will also have to take some of the young pitching among Harvey, Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom. One of those four plus Niese is the price – or maybe it’s just a starting point. The Red Sox are in the hunt for controllable top of the rotation arms.

Sure, I like Cespedes and he’d look good in a Mets’ uniform, but I’ve been watching these new Mets long enough to know there’s little chance of this happening.

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Mets Still Searching For Answers At Leadoff Spot http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-still-searching-for-answers-at-leadoff-spot.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-still-searching-for-answers-at-leadoff-spot.html/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:30:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167527 juan lagares

Of all the Mets’ off-season questions, the matter of their leadoff hitter is one of the most intriguing. That is especially if their intent is to fill it from within.

With no budding Lou Brock or Rickey Henderson in their farm system, or even a Jose Reyes, their best hope is on their current 40-man roster. I say that because there’s no real answer for them in a particularly weak free-agent market and they are reluctant to trade their young pitching.

The primary in-house candidates are Eric Young, Juan Lagares, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. All have something they could bring to the table, but all have issues to the negative.

Young, Lagares and Nieuwenhuis have the speed, but also rather low on-base percentages and a penchant for striking out too much.

Of the group, Murphy is the best hitter, but for a relatively weak lineup he’s better suited for a run-producing slot in the middle of the order. Also, Murphy’s on-base percentage, at .332, isn’t as lofty as one might think.

If Murphy is still here – another substantial question – he should be hitting between second and sixth.

As for Young, there’s an excellent chance it will be a moot point and that he won’t be brought back.

Last winter, manager Terry Collins toyed with the idea of experimenting with Tejada. However the catch here is Tejada needs a position to play and that means starting ahead of Wilmer Flores, which isn’t a given.

Mets’ 11 different leadoff hitters ranked last in the majors with a .235 average and paltry a .308 on-base percentage. If they want to change that, they’ll have to hope for a breakout season from one of the aforementioned players or be willing to spend.

Thoughts from Joe D.

If the Mets are left with filling the void internally, they most certainly should go with a platoon as no current player has demonstrated an aptitude for handling a pitcher’s handedness with equal aplomb.

Lagares, who batted .349 with a .387 on-base against left-handers is a no-brainer, only Terry Collins didn’t stumble upon that until the waning weeks on the season. Far too late where the gifted center fielder could have made a difference in the results.

Nieuwenhuis and his .350 OBP is the best of the rest and would be very capable as the other half of the platoon. But it’s most likely he’ll be left in a reserve role where he has thrived as a pinch hitter. He has never fared well with regular playing time.

So who would partner with Lagares to fill the platoon? It’s tough to say as only Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson have the next best OBP vs RHP – and they’re tied with an unimpressive .329.

The fact is that much like last Winter and the one before that, Sandy Alderson will have to address this leadoff situation which has stagnated ever since Jose Reyes was allowed to move on.

If Sandy fails to properly address this again, it will be a third straight season of MLB’s worst production batting leadoff for the Mets, and that may make any overall offensive improvement in 2015 less likelier.

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DeGrom’s Last Stand? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/degroms-last-stand.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/degroms-last-stand.html/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:26:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166292 degrom

There isn’t any doubt in my mind that Jacob deGrom should be the National League’s Rookie of the Year. What he did in Sunday’s 10-2 rout of the Braves to complete a rare sweep in Atlanta – one earned run with ten strikeouts in six innings – should seal the deal.

What deGrom’s performance may have also sealed – although Terry Collins isn’t saying – is his ledger for the 2014 season. The Mets initially planned on 180 innings for deGrom this year and he’s at 178.2. Close enough.

Collins will make a decision early this week.

“We’ll regroup here in a couple of days and decide what we’re going to do with him as far as his next start goes,’’ Collins told reporters after the game. “He’s real close to where we wanted him to get anyway on the season. We were talking from 180 to 185 was going to be max anyway. We’ll just see if he starts the next game.’’

Collins said he’s impressed with deGrom’s stuff, both on the mound and from within.“I know one thing: He walked in here and he said he wanted to pitch,’’ Collins said. “He’s not sitting back saying, ‘OK, I’ll just shut her down.’ He wants to go back out there.

“That was impressive to hear. This time of year, in our situation, it would have been very easy for a lot of guys to say, ‘I’m done. I’m washed up.’ He’s not like that.’’

Collins has been impressed with his team’s unwillingness to pack in the season, and that’s a good reflection on him and why he’ll be back.

I have no problem with the Mets shutting down deGrom now, although it would be nice for him to take a bow at Citi Field in the season’s final weekend. The Mets are being ultra cautious, which is what to expect from them evidenced by their treatment of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

If today was deGrom’s final start, he finished at 9-6 with a 2.63 ERA, 43 walks and 144 strikeouts. Those are definitely Rookie of the Year credentials.

Assuming deGrom is shut down, Rafael Montero would start next Saturday against the Houston Astros.

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Mets Are Still Undecided On One-Time Phenom Mejia http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mets-are-still-undecided-on-one-time-phenom-mejia.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mets-are-still-undecided-on-one-time-phenom-mejia.html/#comments Sun, 16 Mar 2014 13:28:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=150677 Brad Barr USA TODAY Sports jenrry mejia

Jenrry Mejia takes the mound and will oppose Cubs left-hander Chris Rusin at 4:05 PM Sunday as the Mets wrap up their two-game series at Cashman Field in Las Vegas.

The Mets have never settled on a role for Mejia, which could be the case again this spring. At 24, Mejia is one of those promising young arms the Mets are boasting. Coming off elbow surgery, they are treating him with kid gloves, but there have been no signs of a setback.

Most starters want to pitch 30 innings in spring training, but with only two weeks left Mejia has only worked two. He could get four today against the Cubs in Las Vegas, but won’t get close to 20, much less 30.

Originally, Mejia was to compete with Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan for the fifth-starter role. But, if building for the future is the objective for 2014, it should be Mejia because he has the greatest upside.

Without Matt Harvey, this would have been the perfect chance to develop Mejia. Instead, it is turning out to be a lost opportunity, either to use him for their rotation or showcase him for a trade.

With Mejia in the rotation, they’ll have a better idea of where they stand heading going into 2015. If Matsuzaka gets those starts, they still won’t know about Mejia as a starter.

But, how about as a reliever?

The Mets tried that route without success in 2010. Then-manager Jerry Manuel, knowing his job was in severe jeopardy, wanted Mejia on the major league roster to work out of the bullpen to start that season. That was for Manuel’s interests, not Mejia’s.

However, Manuel wouldn’t use him in pressure situations, so Mejia languished without work when he could have been getting starts in the minor leagues.

Understandably, Mejia struggled and was eventually optioned to Triple-A to go back in the rotation. His arm didn’t adjust to the back-and-forth and he was eventually injured and required Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow.

Entering that season, Mejia was a highly sought prospect, but his value was greatly reduced because of how he was used. After he was hurt, he missed all of 2011.

In five starts last season, pitching with a bone spur in his elbow, Mejia had a 2.30 ERA, walked four and struck out 27 in 27.1 innings pitched. He had a minor procedure to resolve that last fall and is finally 100% healthy for the first time in nearly four years.

The Mets are again considering Mejia for their bullpen, but already have seven candidates without him. Just how much work would he get?

If not up here, they should use him as a starter in the minors, which is probably in their best long-term interest because that would hasten his development and possibly build his trade value.

I see him starting the season in Triple-A, but where ever he ends up, just pick a role and stick with it.

(Photo: Brad Barr, USATSI)

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What’s With All The Mets’ Early Injuries? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/whats-with-all-the-mets-early-injuries.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/whats-with-all-the-mets-early-injuries.html/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 05:41:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149757 duda davis

The New York Mets have frequently been criticized for their handing of injuries, and already this spring there have been several, many of them of the tight muscle variety.

The first case was left-hander Jonathon Niese, who complained of a tired arm, caused by weak muscles in the back of his shoulder.

I raised several questions, primarily that he might not have been given the exercises needed for rehab. Niese is now throwing again and has been given a series of exercises.

The Mets’ other injuries this spring are new, and could fall under the umbrella of not warming up properly.

First basemen Ike Davis and Lucas Duda have missed time with tightness in their leg muscles; shortstop Ruben Tejada has a tight left hamstring; and outfielder Eric Young has muscle tightness in his side.

Manager Terry Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie he attributes these injuries to the fields being hard from being baked by the sun and the players could be overly exerting themselves.

While they could be contributing factors, there might be others, such as whether they spend enough time doing stretching exercises getting loose and are they properly hydrated?

Also, players these days spend an extraordinary amount of time lifting weights and perhaps not enough stretching or doing flexibility exercises. Those stretching exercises are not very popular and even David Wright jokingly remarked on Wednesday at how his teammates hate those drills.

I also am curious to know what type of off-season workout programs the players are on prior to reporting to spring training camp. Are they regimented and monitored by the team?

Who knows, Collins could be right and this could be a freak thing. However, there have already been four players – excluding Niese – who have missed time because of tight muscles.

This all must be analyzed, especially considering the Mets’ history in their handling of injuries.

(Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

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Featured Post: Time To Start Acting Like A 90 Win Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/featured-post-time-to-start-acting-like-a-90-win-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/featured-post-time-to-start-acting-like-a-90-win-team.html/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 17:23:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149588 sandy aldersonWe shall see if the New York Mets are capable of winning the 90 games that general manager Sandy Alderson believes they can.

I like manager Terry Collins’ response to his players, that they should take it as a compliment. That’s one way to look at things. What else can he do now that his boss has thrown down the gauntlet.

While Alderson expects his players to play like 90-win players, and Collins to manage like a 90-win manager, I wonder if that extends to him and Fred Wilpon?

Reportedly, Fred Wilpon said “they’d better win 90 games.’’

If that’s the case, will Wilpon give Alderson the go-ahead to get what is needed at the trade deadline? Just wondering.

For his part, how can Alderson believe 90 wins are possible when he has so many unresolved issues including first base, shortstop, the outfield and bullpen, not to mention an unproven catcher and being without his best pitcher?

I also can’t help but wonder how long a leash Alderson will give Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada. In each of the past two seasons the Mets dragged their feet when Davis floundered early. Ninety-win teams don’t act like that, When they have to make a move they do it, and fast. A 90-win team needs a 90-win general manager.

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Mets On Tap: Syndergaard To Start Against Braves http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mets-on-tap-syndergaard-to-start-against-braves.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/mets-on-tap-syndergaard-to-start-against-braves.html/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 12:01:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149483 syndergaard by by BRETT BARR USATSI

One of the bright spots for the New York Mets this spring is pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is coming off a two-inning, five-strikeout performance in last Thursday’s intrasquad game.

Today, he’ll face the Atlanta Braves at the Disney complex near Orlando.

“I kind of shocked myself a little bit,’’ Syndergaard said of his intrasquad outing. “I wasn’t expecting that my first time out there.’’

Syndergaard, who stands an imposing 6-foot-5, throws a nasty curveball and can blow a 97-98 mph fastball by you. That’s a good beginning, but to become an effective major league starter, he’ll need a third pitch.

“I’m excited, a little nervous at the same time,’’ Syndergaard said of today’s exhibition start. “It’s the first time facing a real big-league lineup. I’m going to go out there and do what I can. It’s still a game. They’re still playing baseball out there.’’

The Mets don’t anticipate bringing up Syndergaard until mid-June, instead, they made clear that either Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan will be the fifth-starter candidate to open the season. Three weeks a go both were singed from baseball’s scrapheap to minor league deals.

At the start of spring training, Jenrry Mejia was also listed as a fifth-starter possibility, but there appears a growing sentiment that he’ll likely end up in the bullpen or minor leagues despite a handful of tantalizing starts last season when he showed just how dominating he could be.

In addition:

* Also scheduled to pitch today are Jacob deGromMiguel SocolovichGonzalez GermenJosh Edgin and Jeff Walters.

* With Ruben Tejada day-to-day with a strained left hamstring, Wilmer Flores is expected to play shortstop today after Omar Quintanilla.

* Expect outfielder Eric Young to see time today.

• After three games the Mets remain winless in Grapefruit League play and have been outscored 21-6.

Photo by Brad Barr, USATSI

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Yelling At Reporters Isn’t Going To Fire Up Ike Davis http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/yelling-at-reporters-isnt-going-to-fire-up-ike-davis.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/yelling-at-reporters-isnt-going-to-fire-up-ike-davis.html/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 14:49:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149012 ike-davis

One of the more ridiculous things I’ve read in the wake of the Ike Davis - Mike Puma verbal spat is the notion this will motivate the underperforming first baseman. If that’s the case, the New York Mets have a greater problem than they thought.

That thinking is flawed on many levels. As a professional athlete, if Davis needs a confrontation with a reporter to fire him up, it says little about his mental faculties.

It says that mental makeup is weak.

A professional athlete should be motivated first by pride and second by a sense of accomplishment. These rank even ahead of money, as oftentimes you’ll hear if a player is solely motivated by dollars his fire dies and the game becomes a grueling job.

The hottest fire is the desire to compete, and yelling at a reporter is misguided and wasted energy. If Davis need jousting with Puma to get him going then he’s in the wrong profession.

If you’ve seen Davis struggle you have to know his pride is wounded. That is where the rebuilding must originate. Arguing with a reporter does nothing to restore his pride, unless he thinks it makes him big in the eyes of his teammates. Even then, I bet most of the were probably thinking to themselves, “please Ike, shut up.’’

Davis’ confidence is in tatters for the simple reason because what worked for him in high school, college and the minor leagues abandoned him in the major leagues.

The competition level is much greater and Davis has not adjusted. Those few good moments he’s enjoyed in the major leagues were snuffed out by superior pitching and injuries, and he doesn’t know how to react.

One just does not restore confidence without a fundamental overhaul, which in Davis’ case is his basic Neanderthal approach to hitting of  “I see ball, I crush ball.’’

Davis labels himself as a “home run’’ hitter with the understanding “strikeouts will happen.’’

What Davis doesn’t understand is why strikeouts happen, which are because of both mechanical and mental flaws. The two become linked.

Davis wants to pull the ball and does not use the whole field. Doing so leaves himself open to the mechanical issues of pulling his head off the pitch and opening up too quickly.

When that happens, there’s no way he can hit the outside pitch, especially if it is a breaking ball. He’s simply not in good hitting position.

Davis also has a terrible hitch and dramatically moves his hands before the pitch arrives, leaving him behind and slow in his swing.

The more he struggled with mechanics, the greater the frustration and the more he pressed. It grows into a vicious cycle.

If Davis said he was hurt last year I believe him, but what I don’t accept is the injury did not affect him. Being in pain makes it hard to swing the bat and slows everything.

And, hitting is about being quick. Being quick with your thinking and pitch recognition, being quick with your hands and with your hips.

Yelling at a reporter does nothing to speed up your swing.

Mechanics are the issue and in Davis’ case they stem from a poor approach. That good stretch of at-bats he needs to get him going – as some said – will never come unless he changes his thinking.

Look, Davis said he wants to be with the Mets and I believe him. Yesterday probably hurt the chances of the Mets making a trade because the perception is Davis is a headache in the clubhouse.

And, in the parking lot.

That Davis continued with Puma in the parking lot shows he didn’t adjust to the incident from earlier in the morning. Much like he hasn’t adjusted to the down-and-away slider.

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Could Matt Harvey Become A High Maintenance Super Nova? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/could-matt-harvey-become-a-high-maintenance-super-nova.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/could-matt-harvey-become-a-high-maintenance-super-nova.html/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 12:39:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148915 Could the New York Mets have a potential problem with Matt Harvey?

There are already signs of him being high maintenance … signs he enjoys the trappings of New York too much … signs he doesn’t handle injuries well … signs of being too sensitive … signs he knows he’s good and isn’t afraid to let you know.

Harvey has never pitched a complete season and is 12-10 lifetime. While we’re not talking about the second coming of Tom Seaver, Harvey seems to be carrying himself with a sense of entitlement and a “you can’t touch me’’ aura.

The latest is his reported reluctance to want to undergo his rehab in Port St. Lucie, which the Mets prefer, and desire to work out in New York.

After Harvey threw for the first time Saturday, general manager Sandy Alderson backed off saying where the 24-year-old 2010 will rehab, but made clear his preference.

“As a general rule, our players rehab in Florida,’’ Alderson said Saturday. “But that’s not a decision we’re going to make or mandate [now]. When we get to the end of spring training we’ll see where he is, and I’m sure there will be discussion between now and then.’’

MattHarvey1For somebody with 36 career starts, why should there even be discussion? If Port St. Lucie was good enough for David Wright and Pedro Martinez to rehab, it should be good enough for Harvey.

In fairness, we haven’t heard Harvey’s reasoning for his preference of New York, which leads to speculation, with little of it showing him in a good light.

Making this more touchy is this could go before the Players Association, as the collective bargaining agreement mandates a player can refuse his rehab in a spring training locale during the season for longer than 20 days.

“The CBA imposes limitations. Yeah,’’ Alderson said. “But in the past, for the most part, our players have been here and it’s been a good situation.’’

We know New York is Harvey’s home, has superior Italian food and a better nightlife than Port St. Lucie.

But, what’s the purpose here?

New York’s nightlife makes one wonder, as Harvey clearly enjoys the perks of being a star – even though that might be a premature characterization of his professional status. Harvey likes the clubs and openly spoke about his drinking in a Men’s Journal magazine piece.

“I’m young, I’m single,’’ he was quoted as saying. “I want to be in the mix. … I have a 48-hour rule. No drinking two days before a start. But, those other days? Yes, I’m gonna go out.’’

The bottom line: If you’re 24 and a high-profile figure, you shouldn’t need a rule about drinking. If he finds it necessary to have a rule, he shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.

Everybody these days has a phone with a camera. Harvey has already been caught several times in incidents of public displays of affection with his former supermodel girlfriend, Anne V. at Rangers and Knicks games, where he is gifted the tickets. More trappings.

He’s now seeing another model, Ashley Haas, which has his comments of wanting to be like Derek Jeter resurface. Of course, It is doubtful Jeter would have ever posed nude.

“That guy is the model,’’ he said. “I mean, first off, let’s just look at the women he’s dated. Obviously, he goes out – he’s meeting these girls somewhere – but you never hear about it. That’s where I want to be.’’

New York’s nightlife has burned out dozens of athletes. Look what it did for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Imagine what Mickey Mantle would have been able to accomplish with a little less drinking and womanizing.

And, as for Jeter, he’s not the Teflon he’s made out to be. Stories of sending his conquests home with a gift basket of memorabilia and forcing house guests to surrender their cell phones don’t portray him in a flattering light. Mom must be so proud.

Shortly after the magazine piece came out, Harvey complained about being misquoted and taken out of context. A reporter for a magazine profile records everything, so it is doubtful the quotes were manufactured. Backing off his comments shows a lack of accountability.

Harvey also got into it with WFAN talk-show host Joe Beningo, ripping him on Twitter and then deleting the post.

When it comes to fighting with a radio personality or the media in general, it is futile as it comes off as petty and unprofessional, plus, he’ll never have the last word.

The media isn’t as easy to bully as was former teammate Jon Rauch, whom Harvey forced out of town after challenging the former Mets reliever to a fight because he didn’t appreciate the rookie hazing, which included getting doused with water while sleeping on the trainer’s table.

If Harvey had a problem he could have confronted Rauch in private rather than making for a very uncomfortable clubhouse scene. That’s something somebody with a professional grasp on things would have done. Instead, he came off as behaving like Jordany Valdespin.

That’s not the only thing Harvey hasn’t handled well. Twice he wasn’t immediately forthcoming in disclosing injuries to the training staff, and arguably it led to his elbow surgery.

I want the best for Harvey. I want him to have a long and brilliant career. However, he has a long way to go, on and off the field. He hasn’t always shown good judgment and a case can be made it cost him this season.

He needs to reign himself in off the field, and that includes not making a big deal about where he rehabs. If reflects poorly on him and makes one wonder if this isn’t about carousing the bars with Haas and watching the Rangers.

If he maintains this course, instead of a franchise pitcher, he could end being a high maintenance super nova.

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Mets Owners Dodge Huge Debt Payment, New Loan In Place http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mets-owners-dodge-huge-debt-payment-new-loan-finalized.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mets-owners-dodge-huge-debt-payment-new-loan-finalized.html/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 15:33:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148732 Outside a miraculous recovery by Matt Harvey, the New York Mets have the best possible news today. On the day of their first full squad workout, the Mets finalized their refinancing, reported The New York Post.

So, if Fred and Jeff Wilpon are spotted smiling on one of the fields in Port St. Lucie, you’ll know why.

The Wilpon family, stung in the Ponzi scandal, were five weeks from having to make a $250 million payment on an expiring loan. Had the loan been called, it is questionable whether the Mets could have come up with the money.

wilpon collinsReportedly, the Mets lost $10 million last season, but with their payroll to be under $100 million for a third straight year and Major League Baseball’s new television contract, they could turn a profit this season.

The new loan, which is for five years and headed by Bank of America, is for the Libor average plus 3.25 percent. According to the report, the Mets did not have to pay down their former loan to make this one happen or shell out one shiny nickel.

The Mets, who are currently valued at $1 billion, still need to have Major League Baseball approve the deal, which will be a formality.

Irving Picard, who was assigned to recovering funds for victims in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandal, initially sued the Wilpons for $1 billion, which would have necessitated selling the Mets. However, the courts reduced that to $386 million.

The Mets’ financial restraints were loosened this winter with the signings of Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young. However, that did not represent any new spending, but merely replacing some of the dollars freed up by expiring contracts on Jason Bay and Johan Santana.

While that was an encouraging sign, as is the re-financing, don’t expect a spending spree next winter and the team to return to the days of a $143 million payroll.

If the Mets are competitive this season with a $90 million payroll, they will likely increase spending in small increments. At least that’s the hope.

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Collins Already Hinting On Roster Cuts http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/collins-already-hinting-on-roster-cuts.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/collins-already-hinting-on-roster-cuts.html/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 13:25:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148690 The New York Mets haven’t played an exhibition game yet and already manager Terry Collins is hinting at several roster cuts.

With a congested outfield, Collins suggested that Matt den DekkerKirk NieuwenhuisAndrew Brown and Cesar Puello will all begin the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

It is also conceivable Juan Lagares will open the season in the minor leagues. Collins is very high on den Dekker.

matt den dekker terry collins

“One of the things we’re very lucky with, when you come into camp and you have the likes of the outfield we have right now, they’re so athletic. They can all run,’’ Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. “Matt is in that [group]. He is still very, very highly thought of – a tremendous defender, as we know.

“One of the things you’ve seen in his career, he gets to a level and he may have a rough time in the beginning. And the next time he goes to that same level he advances. And we’re hoping the same thing occurs now, that he now knows what’s expected at the major-league level, what kind of pitching he’s going to see, what adjustments he has to make.

“I think Matt den Dekker is still a huge prospect here. It gives us an ample amount of insurance.’’

While Collins said den Dekker will need at-bats, the same applies for Lagares. Should Eric Young start over him, where will Lagares get his at-bats?

The Mets currently have three players competing for one outfield position. Curtis Granderson and Chris Young are givens, leaving Eric Young, Lagares and Lucas Duda for the other spot.

Should Lagares be optioned, Duda is not a viable outfield reserve and definitely can’t play center. That might force Collins to re-think Nieuwenhuis or Brown.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I’m not sold on den Dekker as much as you seem to be, John. He has yet to reduce his huge strikeout totals in the minors so can you imagine how that will translate in the majors? We actually got a small taste of that in 2013 when MDD batted .204 last season and struck out 23 times in 58 at-bats. That’s not a good sign. At 26, you’ll hardly find him on anymore Mets prospects lists and his stock just continues to tumble.

Nieuwenhuis is another player who has failed to make adjustments and will continue to see a huge amount of breaking pitches which just make him look bad. Captain Kirk now has 130 Ks in 377 major league at-bats.

I figured Andrew Brown earned a spot on the bench, but having Duda and Davis on the team puts the big squeeze on him. It’s not that Brown strikes out any less than the other two, but he makes up for it with his power off the bench and adequate outfield defense. He hit a couple of clutch shots last season and his seven homers and 24 RBI in just 150 AB is worth noting.

If Brown and Lagares don’t make the cut, it’s hard to argue that it makes the Mets a better team and that their taking their best 25. I’ll have something more detailed on Lagares in the morning.

Presented By Diehards

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Why Strikeouts Are A Big Concern For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/why-strikeouts-are-a-big-concern-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/why-strikeouts-are-a-big-concern-for-the-mets.html/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 01:40:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148671 chris-young-baseball-hq-4_3After writing about the high strikeout rates of Ike DavisChris Young and Lucas Duda, I received a question asking why my concern over strikeouts, with the reader saying, “there’s no difference between a strikeout and a soft grounder to second.’’

He couldn’t be more wrong.

First, a strikeout is a non-productive out, but much more can happen on a grounder to second or any other base for that matter, especially with less than two outs.

A grounder to second, or anywhere in the infield, or a fly ball, has the potential to create something positive while nothing can be generated from a strikeout unless the ball gets by the catcher. And, unless R.A. Dickey is pitching, how often does that happen?

A runner can score on a grounder to second. He can’t on a strikeout.

Also, with a soft grounder to second, there’s a chance the ball could get through for a hit or the fielder could muff it for an error or the batter beats it out. Either way, it leads to a base runner and potential run, or if there’s a runner on second or third, it could generate a run.

See the difference?

In addition, a grounder can advance a runner into scoring position.

ike-davis

When I once asked Davis about his propensity for striking out, he said, “I am a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs. Strikeouts are part of it.’’

Until he changes that attitude, he’ll never be a viable hitter.

I realize times have changed, but to me one of the most incredible statistics in history is that during his 13-year career, Joe DiMaggio hit 361 home runs, but only struck out 369 times.

Arguably, that might be more impressive than his 56-game hitting streak.

Carrying it a step further, last year the Mets struck out 1,384 times, or 8.5 times a game. Translated, they went a third of the game without making contact. Add to that Chris Young (148 K Avg/162 ) and Curtis Granderson (159 K Avg/162 ) who struck out 195 times in his last full season in 2012.

Still wonder why I think it’s a big deal?

 

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Chris Young Presents Quite the Paradox http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/chris-young-is-quite-the-paradox.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/chris-young-is-quite-the-paradox.html/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 19:55:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148642 The New York Mets haven’t even seen a pitch yet this spring, but it’s not too early to notice how outfielder Chris Young has muddled things.

And, it goes beyond the $7.25 million they’ll pay this year for the player who hit .200 last season with 12 homers and 93 strikeouts. Young’s 162-game averages are .235 with 24 homers and 148 strikeouts, so the Mets aren’t exactly renting a light’s out slugger.

YOUNG: What kind of Impact?

The Mets must play Young because of his contract, but doing so creates several obstacles and dilemmas for manager Terry Collins.

With Young and Curtis Granderson taking up two-thirds of the outfield, that leaves a decision between Eric Young and Juan Lagares for the remaining spot.

If Collins chooses Lagares to play center, it leaves him without a viable leadoff hitter. Lagares has the speed, but strikes out too much to be a top-of-the-order hitter, although he’s young and can improve.

Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada have been mentioned, but neither is a great choice. Murphy should hit lower in the order because he’s a gap hitter able to drive in runs. Tejada is coming off a bad year and doesn’t have a good on-base percentage either.

Chris Young can’t lead off because he strikes out too much. Granderson can’t do it either because he also strikes out a ton and must hit fourth anyway to protect David Wright.

But, if Collins chooses Eric Young to hit leadoff and presumably play center, it relegates Lagares to the bench. Or based on what Collins has been strongly suggesting lately, it’s more likely they send Lagares to the minors instead to get him more at-bats. Never mind all the runs he saved with his glove and his arm and the excitement he brought to the team when he finally took over in center.

So, in essence the Mets are paying $7.25 million for a player that would likely delay the development of Lagares for another season.

The Mets are also contemplating keeping both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on the Opening Day roster, with the intent of giving the latter some time in left field. But, how often will he play if Chris Young is here? And does Keeping both now squeeze out another young player in Wilmer Flores?

The Mets say they are building for the future, but Chris Young doesn’t contribute to that aim because he’s gone after this season. Either he doesn’t produce and they won’t bring him back, or he’ll hit and go elsewhere because the Mets won’t want to pay what he’s asking.

So, if the Mets’ timetable isn’t to win this year, why pay all that money for a rental?

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Wheeler Doesn’t Want Attention, Wants To Throw Strikes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/wheeler-doesnt-want-attention-wants-to-throw-strikes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/wheeler-doesnt-want-attention-wants-to-throw-strikes.html/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:04:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148516 zack-wheeler1

One of the highlights for the New York Mets last season was a double-header sweep of Atlanta anchored by future aces Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, who was making his major league debut.

If you weren’t reading about Harvey last summer you were reading about Wheeler. This spring most of the ink is going to Noah Syndergaard, whom the Mets expect will be in the major leagues in June if he continues to develop in Triple-A.

“That’s fine with me,’’ Wheeler told reporters Tuesday in Port St. Lucie when asked about the spotlight being on Syndergaard. “I don’t have to have all the attention.’’

Actually, in Wheeler’s perfect world, he would rather have little, if any. Wheeler is extremely quiet and shy, and if given the choice, he’d rather not talk if he didn’t have to.

Wheeler was 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA last season in 17 starts. Manager Terry Collins doesn’t presently see an innings limit on Wheeler, and believes his composure and natural stuff will enable him to progress.

Collins said at the Winter Meetings that Harvey showed he could make adjustments on the run and thinks Wheeler has that same capability.

Wheeler was matter-of-fact when asked yesterday what he needs to do to improve: “Just being more consistent, throwing more strikes and stuff.’’

Ask any veteran pitcher and he’d say the same thing. That’s one of the things the Mets like about Wheeler.

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Collins Impressed At How Tejada Trimmed Down http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/collins-impressed-at-how-tejada-trimmed-down.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/collins-impressed-at-how-tejada-trimmed-down.html/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 02:14:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148224 New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in Florida

February 17

Ruben Tejada reported early on Sunday and manager Terry Collins was impressed today by how he looked, saying: “You can tell he’s really worked hard and trimmed down. I asked him how much faster he was. He said, ‘I’ll show you.’ And I said, ‘OK, good.’ He’ll have the chance.’’

February 16

One of the New York Mets on the hot seat is shortstop Ruben Tejada, who got into manager Terry Collins’ doghouse for not reporting early two years ago, his first replacing Jose Reyes.

He appears to have gotten the message, with the proof being showing up to spring training Sunday, almost a week ahead of schedule.

Technically, he reported on time two years ago, but Collins’ way of thinking was in Tejada’s first year as starter he should have shown initiative and reported even earlier.

Tejada redeemed himself by hitting .289 in 2012, but didn’t report in peak shape last spring and his work ethic was brought into question. Tejada got off to a miserable start both at the plate and in the field, was injured and eventually optioned to the minors.

He struggled when he returned and ended the season with a fractured leg and seemingly out of the Mets’ future plans.

However, when the shortstop market – Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew – became too pricey, the Mets had no alternative but to thought they’d give Tejada another chance.

Other than the market, what moved the Mets toward a Tejada encore was his commitment in an off-season fitness camp in Michigan.

Tejada’s presence in Ann Arbor, and reporting early is a good sign.

(Photo by Anthony J. Causi)

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10 Mets Who Could Be Dealt At Trade Deadline http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/10-mets-who-could-be-dealt-at-trade-deadline.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/10-mets-who-could-be-dealt-at-trade-deadline.html/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 23:00:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148132 dillon gee

Realistically, the New York Mets could be a .500 team if everything breaks right. That’s an improvement of at least one more victory a month, which isn’t unrealistic. However, let’s say it unravels early for them and it becomes apparent they have no shot at a wild card berth much less finishing at .500 or better.

What then?

Should they opt to scuttle their ship, and go from buyers to sellers again, they have numerous assets they might unload. And, none of them are their young pitchers. Here’s where they could start:

Dillon Gee: He’s under appreciated, yet consistent and an innings eater. Last season he gave them 199 and overall was their most durable and consistent starter. If the Mets can’t appreciate |that, somebody else will. He’s attractive because of his consistency, willingness to take the ball, and reasonable contract. If he’s healthy and having good season, teams could be lining up for him.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: Should they bring up Noah Syndergaard and he pitches well and there are no injuries in the rotation, Matsuzaka could draw interest from a contender. Especially, if he’s pitching like he did in his final three 2014 starts.

John Lannan: The same applies to Lannan as Matsuzaka. He’s not in their long-term plans so get what they can.

Kyle Farnsworth: If the Mets are cooked by midseason and Farnsworth is pitching well, teams are always looking for a reliable reliever.

Taylor Teagarden: He has a contract clause that allows him to leave if he’s not on the major league roster by June. So, if both Travis d’Arnaud and Anthony Recker show the catching situation is in good hands. It makes sense to showcase him.

Ike Davis: The assumption is if he’s showing anything in the first half… If there’s some run production, somebody might bite. They certainly didn’t during the winter. Davis has to show some measure of progress because teams had little interest over the winter.

Lucas Duda: Pretty much everything that applied to Davis goes for Duda. Also, if one is outperforming the other, they can keep the hot bat and deal the other.

Daniel Murphy: He will make $5 million this year, but over half will be eaten by the end of July. That’s a reasonable contract for a consistent hitter. Should Wilmer Flores demonstrate he can play the position, it might push the Mets to deal Murphy.

Eric Young: Another player with a doable contract. He came to the Mets because they needed speed and a leadoff hitter. Surely, there might be another contender who would need the same. Although calling him a leadoff hitter might be a stretch in the true sense of the role.

Chris Young: I still don’t know why the Mets signed him to a one-year, $7.25 million contract. If he doesn’t play well it is a waste and there will be likely no interest. However, if he performs, the Mets won’t go high in re-signing him and with only a one-year deal teams could show interest.

So, there you have it. Out of a 25-man roster, the Mets have ten chips. Most are average, but a few have the potential to help a contender. They probably won’t bring back much, but in the Mets’ position stockpiling players is a positive.

None of these players are untouchable or seemingly in their long-term plans. You might make a case for Davis if he’s broken out of his funk, but they’ve been saying that for three years.

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Spring Training: Five Questions Terry Collins Must Answer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/spring-training-five-questions-terry-collins-must-answer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/spring-training-five-questions-terry-collins-must-answer.html/#comments Sat, 15 Feb 2014 14:00:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148076 terry collins

Spring training is finally here, and with it comes several issues the New York Mets must address. A lot of things must break right if they are to contend for a wild-card, but manager Terry Collins has five key questions to answer if they are to have a winning season, something they haven’t had since 2008:

Q: WHO WILL BE THE FIFTH STARTER?

Ideally, it should be Jenrry Mejia, but if the Mets are thinking they could have a winning season, Collins could go with veterans John Lannan or Daisuke Matsuzaka. “I’ve always said those veterans can really get you out of the blocks,’’ Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie Friday. “Then, when those kids are ready, they’re the ones a lot of times that bring you that extra energy, especially late in the summer.’’ Perhaps one of those kids could be the 24-year-old Mejia, but the Mets have eyes on Noah Syndergaard.

Q: WILL BOBBY PARNELL BE READY BY OPENING DAY?

We might not know the answer until they break camp. Parnell underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck and wasn’t supposed to throw off the mound for two weeks. However, he threw 10 pitches Friday and reported no discomfort. Of course, with a pitcher recovering from surgery, it is always the next few days that count. If healthy, Parnell is the closer. If not, Vic Black gets the first opportunity.

Q: WILL THE IKE DAVIS SAGA EVER END?

It sure would be nice. The Mets tried to trade Davis since October, but reportedly their asking price was too high. Davis kept tabs on the rumors and acknowledged he is surprised to be in Port St. Lucie. “The articles would say I wasn’t going to be here, so [it’s] a little bit of a shock I didn’t get traded,’’ Davis told reporters Friday. Davis goes into spring training as the projected starter and Collins said he’ll get at least 90 at-bats in hope of avoiding another slow start. The Mets haven’t said whether they’ll keep both Davis and Lucas Duda on the Opening Day roster.

Q: CAN RUBEN TEJADA SHOW CONSIDERABLE IMPROVEMENT?

Your guess is as good as mine. The Mets soured on Tejada last year, but after his dedication in attending a fitness camp in Michigan are prepared to let him keep his job. Collins hedged on making a formal announcement and mentioned Anthony Seratelli as a back-up infielder. The Mets also plan on giving Wilmer Flores time at shortstop, where he played in 2011. Flores is potentially a better offensive threat, so if he takes to the position it could be interesting.

Q: WHO WILL BE THE LEADOFF HITTER?

The answer could also finalize the outfield alignment. Collins stated a preference for Eric Young, who stole 38 bases last year, but must improve his .318 on-base percentage. Tejada, Chris Young  and Daniel Murphy have all been mentioned, Eric Young gives the Mets a base running threat they’ve missed since losing Jose Reyes. If Eric Young gets the job he’ll play left field. There have been whispers of moving him to second and Murphy to first. However, that would entail breakdowns by both Davis and Duda. As far as second base, Eric Young has only played 56 games at the position. It will take more than a few games in spring training to learn the position. Assuming Eric Young in left, the rest of the starting outfield would be Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, meaning Juan Lagares would probably be optioned.

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