Mets Merized Online Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:00:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Beyond the Mets ‘Core Four’ Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:00:50 +0000 mets spring training 2015

Despite Winter Storm Watches in the Northeast and the gloomy fog and cold that has encapsulated my Atlanta home for the past 3 months, it is finally time to play ball in South Florida, and I am abuzz with excitement!

Yes, every Spring I reach for what are usually unrealistic expectations regarding our Mets, and think “if this happens and that happens and we make a deal at the deadline…blah blah blah”. But this year just feels different. Don’t get me wrong, they still need some things to break their way, but It just doesn’t feel l need to try so hard to convince myself they could actually be very good this time around.

Another great thing about the Spring Training games starting is that we as fans will have something else to evaluate our team other than quotes from our GM, Manager and Players. To be honest, I really don’t care what any of them have to say. It doesn’t mean squat on March 4. What matters is how well they play and the caliber of their performance. Once they’re talking about the game or their performances,  then I’ll listen.

That said, there was something a player recently said that was very interesting. After his first bullpen session facing live batters, Matt Harvey referred to the teammates he faced – David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Michael Cuddyer – as the Mets ‘Core Four’. I get what he is trying to say here, as these four position players also represent a huge chunk of the team’s overall financial investment, as well as them being the longest tenured players. And while it may be true that a lot is riding on this Mets version of Core Four, there is just as much riding on the offensive production from a few other Mets players he didn’t mention.

Lucas Duda - Coming off a breakout 2014 when he was finally given the 1B job outright, Duda provided the Mets with the power threat from the clean-up position they had been desperately searching for. But it wasn’t all roses for Duda. He struggled mightily against LHP,  hitting just .180 against southpaws. And now, he is dealing with an oblique strain that will sideline him for at least the start of Spring Training, if not longer.

Juan Lagares - As long as Lagares is penciled into the starting lineup in CF, all is good in Metsville. The problem is that didn’t happen enough last year. Lagares hit the DL three different times in 2014 and played in only 116 games. Hamstings and Intercostals and Elbows, oh my! Lagares will have two challenges in 2015: 1) stay on the field, and 2) provide more production as the winner-by-default Leadoff Hitter. That means improving on a very modest .321 OBP.

Travis d’Arnaud - It used to be that for most teams, any offense you got out of the catching position was gravy. That is no longer the case. The NL is stacked with good offensive catchers and one has to wonder about the ceiling for d’Arnaud. Even if you assume the d’Arnaud from his post-Vegas demotion is the real deal (and not the clunker from April), he is a mid-pack threat at best. Still, that may be enough to deepen the order if everyone else lives up to their own expectations and potential.

Wilmer Flores - Okay, I’m going out on a (pretty sturdy) limb that Flores will be our everyday SS. While this post is more about offensive production, it will be Flores’ defense that will dictate whether we see it or not. Because if Flores gets benched due to poor defense, there will be no offense from our SS. Sandy’s posturing all winter was that he couldn’t find a better alternative than Flores. What he is counting on is that Flores is at least comparable to what he passed on. However, he could have certainly found a better backup plan than Tejada just in case.

I’m looking forward to seeing how these storylines play out on the field vs. on paper. In some cases, we may be pleasantly surprised. In some, we may be bitterly disappointed. But the time to sort it out on the field begins today. Thank God. Play Ball and Let’s Go Mets!

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Mets Take Back The Damn T-Shirts Wed, 04 Mar 2015 03:29:32 +0000 take the damn thing

According to Robert Brender of SNY, the Mets players no longer have their team issued “Take the Damn Thing” t-shirts. They’re all gone.

“I haven’t checked further,” Brender says. “But was told they were taken back.”


February 23

I just read this post on MetsBlog where Matt Cerrone reports (via Robert Brender) that the Mets are going to distribute a team-issued t-shirt that reads, “Take The Damn Thing,” alluding to the Mets winning a pennant.

“The Mets are getting hammered by hosts and callers this morning on MLB Network Radio. It’s only going to get worse when outside media and other team’s fans get wind of the t-shirt.”

Cerrone also writes:

“In the opinion of MLB Network Radio host Steve Phillips, based on his experience working for the Mets, these sort of statements are a coordinated effort by the team’s media, marketing and communications department.”

“According to Phillips, the team often agrees on a message they want to push in Spring Training. It’s possible the manager is let in on it, from which players may pick up on it as well, but the front office is almost always involved from the start of the process.”

Geez… It’s always something…

I don’t mind the players getting excited and talking playoffs, in fact I love it. But if this is all a coordinated effort by team marketing officials in conjunction with the front office??? Hmm… I don’t like the smell of that…


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Remembering That Baseball Is Supposed To Be Fun Wed, 04 Mar 2015 03:03:02 +0000 wright harvey

During today’s Intrasquad game, which ended in a scoreless tie by the way, the Daily News handed Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom a couple of mice and the two go doing play by play.


That’s what spring training is all about right there. A few dozen players taking to the field to prepare for a new season but still having fun and remembering it’s just a game.

I miss those old days when we didn’t have internet and how I used to hit my father up for a dime to get the Sports Final edition of the Daily News, in the Brooklyn where I grew up we called it the Night Owl.

During the spring it was full of funny stories and anecdotes from the team. Managers like Gil and Yogi were always good for a great story and you knew they were having just as much fun as the players. Gil’s stories always carried a moral, while Yogi just made absolutely no sense at all and nobody really cared.

In the eighties the Mets teams were full of pranksters and jokesters. They were young like today’s team and we had so much personality and colorful characters. Howard Johnson and Roger McDowell were always good for a few laughs. And I loved how they used to seek out and prank Gary Carter who always fell for their gags, took it in stride and also got a kick out of it too.

I miss those days. Now we live in a culture of “gotcha reporting” where reporters prefer to dig for seedy drama and sensational storylines, so they could then brag about how many retweets they got.

I guess new isn’t always better.

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Daniel Murphy Disagrees With Gay Lifestyle Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:56:45 +0000 daniel murphy

Sandy Alderson invited former ballplayer Billy Bean to Mets camp Tuesday. Bean, who is openly gay, now serves as Major League Baseball’s ambassador of inclusion.

He spent the day as a roving instructor after meeting with the entire organization prior to Tuesday’s workout.

Alderson initially wanted Bean to suit up with team and play in a Spring Training game, but Bean declined.

“I didn’t want it to be about me, or ‘Feel Sorry For Billy Bean Day at Port St. Lucie,’” Bean said.

“The Mets have a lot of fans in the LGBT community as well, and there’s a lot of fans who worship these guys. My message is the same: that everybody deserves a fair chance to be the best they can be.”

Second baseman Daniel Murphy later told reporter Mike Vorkunov of, “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him.”

“I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life.”

“There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That’s not love. That’s not love at all.”

So anyway, it was a weird day at Mets camp… Baseball game tomorrow!


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Collins Approves of How Wright and Parnell Handled Syndergaard Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:11:32 +0000 usatsi_8401528_168380427_lowres

Manager Terry Collins spoke with Mike Vorkunov of and fully supported the way David Wright handled the situation with top prospect Noah Syndergaard on Tuesday afternoon.

“There’s a code of conduct in a professional locker room. Our captain thought it was abused and therefore he took action. I’m on his side. I’m sure there’s a thing that happened on the other side.”

“I’m going to take the side of David and Bobby right now because when you’re a rookie there are no other excuses. We’re a team. We will be a team.”

As for Syndergaard, Collins called his actions an error of enthusiasm and a mistake.

“He will learn from it,” Collins said. “And if he does not, he will have a tough time here.”

Collins also had no issue with how Bobby Parnell disciplined Syndergaard. While Wright was scolding Syndergaard, Parnell grabbed his plate of food and dropped it into the trash bin.

“I think it’s the perfect way he dealt with it,” he said. “Perfect. I think Bobby did what I would do and a number of other guys would’ve have done. The captain made a statement and it wasn’t really adhered to and Bobby said, ‘Maybe he didn’t hear it’.”

“If a kid’s not playing nice, you take his toys away,” Parnell said.

“Being a young player, any chance you get to learn, you go out there and learn,” Wright told Newsday.

“I’m not a big ranter and raver. When I get on somebody, it’s 99 percent private. I’m not going to yell and scream. But when I speak to somebody, when I get on somebody, the point needs to be taken.”

Syndergaard told Marc Carig he was caught off guard by the controversy.

“It was surprising,” Syndergaard told Newsday. “It kind of caught me off guard. I really wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a deal. So it took me off guard a little bit. But I understand where it’s coming from.”

4:00 PM Original Post

Kristie Ackert of the Daily News broke the story that Mets captain David Wright had to lay down the law Tuesday afternoon when he spotted prospect Noah Syndergaard eating lunch in the clubhouse while the Mets’ Intrasquad game was taking place.

“Wright had just finished his work in the scrimmage and ran into the clubhouse where starting pitcher Zack Wheeler was talking to reporters.”

“That’s when he noticed Syndergaard, who did drills in the morning and who was not playing in the intrasquad game, sitting at the table in the clubhouse. Wright walked up and quietly but intently spoke to Syndergaard. Though his voice was quiet the word “bench,” was heard at least twice. The 22-year old spent the rest of the game out in the dugout watching the game, which ended in a scoreless tie.”

“It was a miscommunication,” Syndergaard said, explaining that he had missed lunch earlier in the day and was trying to eat and get out to the game.

Wright would not address the incident, nor would he talk about Syndergaard specifically, but he did speak about what he feels young players should be doing in training camp.

“If there is a young player that is here (in major-league camp) there is a reason, they have talent and potential,” Wright said. “I would encourage them to use this chance to take every opportunity to learn from it. If you are a young pitcher, you can learn from sitting in with meetings with Dan (Warthen) or watching a Zack Wheeler, who I know is young, but he has experience.”

“That’s what I think all young players should be doing,” Wright said. “That’s all.”

Good job by the Mets captain who continues to impress me as a leader. As the one everyone looks up to, it’s up to Wright to set the tone and the example, while addressing things like this before they escalate or become a distraction. Wright is the top cop in that clubhouse. Here are some reactions and I’ll add to them as others speak up:

Daniel Murphy – “I bet Noah doesn’t do it again.”

Bobby Parnell – “When you have a young and impressionable player, and you need to make him understand something that he’s not understanding, you have to be a little forceful.”

Noah Syndergaard – “I took it as a teaching moment. He made his point. I understand where David was coming from. We’re playing a team sport. I should be out there supporting my teammates.”


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What We Learned From Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson Today Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:34:33 +0000 collins alderson spring

Here’s a wrap of the day’s Mets news and notes from Tradition Field at Port St. Lucie.

Sandy Alderson spoke with reporters today and said:

  • He expects that Dillon Gee will still be with the Mets on Opening Day. He reiterated Tuesday that his club has had little talk with other teams. If the trade market picks up, it will likely be towards the end of Spring Training.
  • The decision as to who starts both the season and the home opener as well as choosing the rotation alignment in general is not his to make, and that authority lies solely with Terry Collins.
  • Regarding shortstop Wilmer Flores, the Mets have moved past the evaluation process, and he considered a central player and critical part of the 25-man roster. He seems to be getting frustrated at addressing this question at every meeting with the media. Wilmer Flores is the Mets everyday starting shortstop.

Terry Collins also spoke with reporters and said:

  • Jon Niese is in the best shape of his life. Ha ha, just kidding, but he did say that Niese is clearly feeling better this Spring than at any point last year. His arm angle and arm speed are all improved and he say’s he is more on top of the ball which is when Niese is at his best.
  • Matt Reynolds looked solid defensively, and he will continue to play regularly so they can get a good look at him. He’s a headsy player and does all the little things well.
  • Collins is not concerned about Zack Wheeler‘s command or lack of it today, as that’s the “last thing to come for power arms.”
  • If Rafael Montero were to make the team as a reliever, a longshot at best, he would be a long man type who could come in and pitch multiple innings at a time. I think Montero is going to be a nice arm out of the pen at some point.
  • The Mets are very confident in Travis d’Arnaud as an offensive player, however the focus right now is solidifying his defensive game. Collins said he’s very impressed with how d’Arnaud is throwing right now, one of his problem areas last season.

That’s it for now… LGM

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Alderson Says No Active Trade Talks With Rangers About Gee Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:45:05 +0000 jurickson-profar-landov2

Sandy Alderson denied there were any active trade discussions with the Texas Rangers about trading a starter.

He added that it’s “fair to say” the Mets have had little to no recent talk about trading Dillon Gee or any other starting pitcher in recent weeks.

If a trade were to materialize, he expects it would happen much later in spring training if it were to happen at all.

March 2

Sources have told Chris Cotillo that the Texas Rangers are still interested in trading for Mets starter Dillon Gee.

It is unclear if the sides are in active discussions about a deal for Gee, says Cotillo, though Texas has been interested in the right-hander dating back to the Winter Meetings.

One possibility that is being bandied about is a deal that would send Gee and a few other pieces to the Rangers for shortstop Jurickson Profar, who is out for the year after shoulder surgery. The Mets could see Profar as a buy low target.

We’ll keep an eye on this and see if it picks up any steam.


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LHP Kyle Regnault Trying To Impress In Camp Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:39:19 +0000 regnault

Kyle Regnault is a left handed pitcher who has been pitching the Can-Am league for the last 3 years after pitching at URI. He is 26 years old and last year did some starting, relieving, and closing for the Les Capitales de Quebec. In his 3 years in the league Kyle has a 4.11 ERA, 1.306 WHIP, 8.3 H/9, and a 2.65 SO/W ratio with his best WHIP 1.235 and SO/W 3.75 last year.

When I saw that Kyle was in camp I was curious because I knew nothing about him and wanted to learn more about what kind of player he is. Here is the interview I did with him last week.

Mike M: First off, thank you from MetsMerized Online and congrats on being part of the Mets organization. How and when did the Mets approach you about becoming part of the organization?

Kyle: Thank You! I started working out with Phil Regan during the offseason last year. After this past season with the Quebec Capitales. I came to St Lucie in October to throw a bullpen for some of the Mets staff.

Mike M: What have you been doing this winter to get ready for the upcoming season? And did it differ at all because of being with the Mets?

Kyle: Yes it changed a bit. After signing with the mets in October, I was able to have follow the mets off-season strength program.

Mike M: Tell me about your pitch arsenal and how you like to work hitters.

Kyle: I throw a fourseam fastball, curveball, change up, and a cutter as my fourth pitch. As a reliever I’ve had a lot of success working off my fastball and having my curveball as an out pitch. With a change up that contrasts well off my fastball. As far as working hitters, it varies from player to player looking at tendencies and swings allows me to determine how to pitch them.

Mike M: Do you prefer to start or relieve? And have the Mets given you any indication which they would like you to do?

Kyle: Well, for the past few years I have been a reliever. Last year I moved into the rotation and made 12 starts. I would say I am a more polished reliever because I have had more experience. But I could do either one. Early indication reliever with Mets.

Mike M: I saw that in 2012 you got to play with Jose Canseco, what was that like?

Kyle: It was a great experience be able to play beside him. Also great to pick his mind and hear some of his stories. He’s a funny guy.

Mike M: Who was the toughest hitter you faced in the Can-Am league?

Kyle: Sebastian Boucher, he was my teammate the past 2 seasons. A veteran hitter with one of the best approaches I’ve seen. I faced him many times my first season when I player for Worcester.

Mike M: What you think you need to improve on to take the next step and get closer to the Major Leagues?

Kyle: As a player I feel like you’re always trying to improve every aspect of your game. Whether it is trying to get ahead in counts, lowering walks, being more consistent with off speed, fielding your position. There is always room for improvement and they all go hand in hand.

Mike M: Thanks again for answering my questions! Good luck this season and hope you are successful with the Mets.

Kyle: Absolutely, Thank you!

Kyle obviously has a long way to go coming from the Can-Am league and never pitching in the affiliated Minor Leagues. But with the way Terry Collins handles his LOOGY the Mets need all the left handed depth they can get.

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Campbell Appears To Have Sewn Up Bench Spot Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:53:46 +0000 eric campbell

It appears that Eric Campbell has locked up the final bench spot even before the Mets play one inning of Grapefruit League games which begin on Wednesday.

Terry Collins has had Campbell playing all all over the field so far in spring training.

“He’s going to wear every one of those gloves that is in his bag this spring,” Collins said Monday. “He’s going to play some third and he’s going to play a little bit in the outfield once we make some decisions in the outfield and he will get some time out there.”

Campbell has also been getting reps behind the plate this Spring and was already anointed the team’s third catcher by Collins last week.

On Monday, Campbell was observed playing shortstop and second base, to which Collins said, “it may prove useful in an emergency and gives us more options.”

With Anthony Recker, Ruben Tejada and John Mayberry Jr. also assured of spots on the Opening Day roster, it would seem the final spot will go to one of Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker, and because the former is out of options, it’s almost a certainty that Kirk makes the team out of camp as well.

Barring any unforseen injuries, or one of those players falling completely flat on their face, your 2015 bench is pretty much set before the umpire screams, “Play ball!” tomorrow afternoon.


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Harvey To Make Season Debut April 9 Against Nationals Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:17:25 +0000 matt harvey

Matt Harvey will likely make his regular season debut on April 9 against the Nationals in DC according to a report by Kevin Kernan of the NY Post.

The Mets ace will then be slated to start the team’s second home game on April 14, against the Phillies at Citi Field.

“The Mets don’t need Harvey to over-amp it on Opening Day in Washington and run into issues as he returns from Tommy John surgery,” writes Kernan, who talked to several team sources.

“As for the Mets home opener, the same thinking is in place, the Mets don’t want Harvey to be over-amped, try a bit too hard, and run into trouble.”

Terry Collins has already said last that Harvey would pitch at least once during the team’s first five games of the season. Initially, the plan was to hold Harvey back and have him make his debut on April 13, the home opener.

This makes a lot of sense for a variety of reasons given how amped up Harvey is going to be.



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Spring Swagger or Naïveté? Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:07:27 +0000 mets spring training 2015

Spring Training comes with its own measure of swagger. Optimism is the size of a grapefruit. Predictions of an October pennant race sound as sweet as a sun-kissed Florida orange. From Florida to Arizona, managers and coaches spew sweet accolades on the crop of prospects and the 30-something coming back from season-ending surgery is once again fresh and productive, while players gush giddy gibberish sweeter than the citrus of a pomelo.

Isn’t it grand?

It’s part in parcel of Spring Training, the moment all 30 teams hit the reset button. The mood is sweet and sticky. There’s a sense of renewal, hope and promise. This could be the year.

The New York Mets are no different. They are bold and confident for a team that won 79 games last year and haven’t produced a winning record since 2008. In fact, the Mets are wearing their confidence on their sleeves — literally. Last week blue t-shirts were in each players locker. On the front it says: Win: It’s in Your Grasp. On the back: Take the Damn Thing. Jeff Wilpon tried this motivational tactic in 2012 when he had bright orange t-shirts with the Underdog logo printed.

There is also a naïveté that comes with the pending season.

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies

Jacob deGrom, the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year, started talking post season last week:

There’s a lot of hype around the team right now and we know that. We definitely want to live up to it. We want to make the playoffs, win the World Series.

Win the World Series, really? If anyone is setting the bar high for the Mets it’s, well, the Mets.

Tempting isn’t it? Everyone wants a taste of the forbidden fruit. Zack Wheeler has been heard comparing the team to the Giants. Yes, the team that has won three of the last five World Series.

(The Giants) are a little bit ahead of us, but we’re on the same path. It’ll be fun to do the same. You see how much success they have had with young arms and developing players. That’s what we are doing here, we just need to keep going.

If you watch (and listen) closely, the veterans speak differently; there are cautiously optimistic.

Curtis Granderson told the New York Daily News:

I think we are primed and ready … We have got to not believe our own hype, you can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve gotta to go out and play.

But it’s the captain, David Wright, who put all the talk in perspective:

Every year you have got 30 teams saying the same things to the players. Anybody can talk. Now let’s go out there and back it up and win baseball games. The last time I checked you don’t get anything for talking the best game.

Terry Collins set the tone on Day One, raising the expectations of everyone — including himself.

“We’ve been sitting around for four years asking everybody to be patient,” he said. “It’s time.”

Yes, it is, but is the timing right? David Wright is coming off his worst statistical season of his career. Matt Harvey missed the entire 2014 season after Tommy John surgery. Michael Cuddyer is 36 years old and was riddled by injuries last season. Bobby Parnell returns from surgery. Can Curtis Granderson return to form? Who will play shortstop? Do the Mets have enough depth?

Do the Mets have swagger or are they blinded by naïveté? There’s only one way to find out … play ball.

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Lagares Says His Elbow Is Fine Tue, 03 Mar 2015 02:22:51 +0000 juan lagares curtis granderson

Mike Vorkunov of followed up on comments made by Terry Collins on Sunday about the team having concerns with the elbow injury that shutdown Juan Lagares last season.

Collins told reporters that Lagares was going to be monitored this spring and during the season to make sure that his right elbow is without issue.

However the center fielder said Monday that all is right with him. “I feel fine,” he said.

Lagares told Vorkunov that the Mets have not yet approached him or talked about that, though he thinks that will happen at some point later this week.

He has been throwing all offseason and said there is no residual effect of that injury.

Good news for our Golden Boy.

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Dan Warthen Deserves Heaps Of Credit For Mets’ Pitching Renaissance Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:39:35 +0000 New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in Florida

Pitching coach Dan Warthen told Marc Carig of Newsday that he is “very skeptical” Harvey will be allowed to reach the 200 inning threshold that Sandy Alderson talked about last week. Warthen indicated that a more appropriate limit would be between 180 and 190 innings pitched.

“I would be very skeptical of 200 innings,” Warthen told the newspaper. “I don’t think we’re going to reach that number, but it would be very close. That’s at the high, high end.”

Warthen also said he believed Harvey could have pitched during the end of last season, but in retrospect he’s glad the Mets held off.

* * * * * * * *

Dan Warthen also told reporters that a decision on who will be the Mets Opening Day starter will have to be made by March 18.

The only starter who is not being considered is Matt Harvey who understands and is perfectly fine with the decision. Harvey will start one of the following four games.

“Matt will say the same thing: ‘I’m a good teammate. I plan on being the No. 1 guy for many years to come but right now I’m probably not the one that is deserving,’” Warthen said.

* * * * * * * *

On Monday, right-hander Zack Wheeler acknowledged to Mike Vorkunov of that he dislikes defensive shifts and would prefer the Mets not employ them when he’s on the mound.

“I don’t want to piss anybody off but, honestly, I don’t like it,” he said. “Teams are starting to be more analytical these days. … I don’t like analytics all that much, but I’m not the boss here. I really can’t control it. They know where I stand on that.”

At a conference this weekend, Alderson asserted that the Mets stopped using a shift behind one of its pitchers. Wheeler saw the information relayed in a tweet that day and, when asked, told a reporter he guessed it might have been him and, indeed, it was.

Terry Collins said the Mets have reached an accord with Wheeler, who appreciated that they listened. While the numbers may be on their side, sometimes there are other considerations to be had.

“We said you’re right,” Collins said. “You’re too important not to have confidence on the mound. So we’ll make the adjustments.”

* * * * * * * *

Matt Harvey is excited at how good his curve has been post surgery. Harvey said, the curveball came easier to him, so he began throwing it more. He added that pitching coach Dan Warthen encouraged it because the curve places far less torque on his elbow than the slider.

“It’s a great combination to be able to throw a four-seam fastball up in the zone and come back with a curveball,” Warthen said. “The delivery, everything is repeating itself beautifully right now.”

“I always threw sliders,” said Harvey, who threw approximately four of them for every three curves in 2013. “It’s nice having that develop.”

Look for him to reverse the trend and throw 4:3 curve to slider this season which could be huge. Harvey’s curve was his top out pitch over his MLB career with a nearly 40 percent strikeout rate.

* * * * * * * *

Finally, and I know many of you will disagree with me, but Dan Warthen deserves a ton of credit for how all of our young pitchers have developed. He works tirelessly with all of them to bring out their best and many of them are exceeding expectations.

For too long he’s been at the butt end of jokes, but in fact he should be held in high esteem for what’s become a pitching renaissance in Flushing and the juggernaut that is fueling all this talk of playoffs.

A big MMO hat tip to Dan Warthen for a job well done.


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Monday Spring Wrap: Wright Sets Things Straight, Harvey Excited After Throwing BP Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:54:04 +0000 matt harvey presser

Here’s a roundup of all the news and notes from Port St. Lucie today.

Matt Harvey faced live batters on Monday for the second time this spring as he prepares for his first Grapefruit League start on Friday against the Detroit Tigers.

He faced David Wright and Curtis Granderson and threw 26 pitches in all. Four swings and misses, four foul balls, four balls in play, two pitchouts. “I felt good with everything. It’s exciting to be back,” said Harvey.

Afterward, David Price texted Harvey and congratulated him on his return from Tommy John surgery. The two will hook up and oppose each other on Friday.

Harvey was popping the leather and Mets batters were impressed. Only Granderson really got a hold of one hitting a hard flyball to center.

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While David Wright would prefer it if everyone would chill out with the playoffs talk, he took offense to some who were calling the Mets cocky. He tells columnist John Harper of the Daily News:

“It’s the dumbest thing ever. Somebody asks you if you expect to win this year. What are you supposed to say? It’s not cockiness. There’s a difference between confident and cocky. I haven’t seen anybody being cocky.”

“People are saying, ‘You guys are talking a big game.’ We’re not talking a big game. But if you’re asking a group of competitive people who are confident in the guys in here if we’re going to be a good team — the answer is yes.”

And finally, Tuesday’s Intrasquad game will be streamed on, so have a look as Team Orange takes on Team Blue, but don’t let your boss catch you. ;-)

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Intrasquad and Grapefruit League Pitching Assignments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:01:02 +0000 degrom matz harvey

The Mets will have an intrasquad game on Tuesday before beginning their Grapefruit League games on Wednesday.

Here’s the pitchers slated to go for Tuesday’s noon intrasquad game:

Team Blue
Jonathon Niese
Rafael Montero
Sean Gilmartin
Carlos Torres
Vic Black

Team Orange
Zack Wheeler
Jenrry Mejia
Buddy Carlyle
Jeurys Familia

The Mets also announced the pitching assignments for week one of the Grapefruit League season.

March 4: Dillon Gee, Jon Velasquez in relief

March 5: Bartolo ColonGabriel Ynoa in relief

March 6: Matt HarveyNoah Syndergaard in relief

March 7 (SS): Jacob deGromMatt Bowman in relief

March 7 (SS): Steven MatzRafael Montero in relief

March 8: Jon NieseTyler Pill in relief

March 9: Zack WheelerCarlos Torres in relief

Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

All of the televised Mets games will be in Port St. Lucie and begin at 1:10 p.m.

6 Tigers, SNY
7 Braves, PIX11
8 Red Sox, PIX11
9 Marlins, SNY
12 Nationals, SNY
13 Braves, SNY
14 Nationals, PIX11
17 Marlins, SNY
19 Astros, SNY
20 Cardinals, SNY
22 Yankees, SNY
24 Astros, SNY
28 Nationals, PIX11
30 Marlins, SNY

1 Cardinals, SNY

Let the games begin!


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Kevin Long Says Batting Title Is Within Daniel Murphy’s Grasp Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:00:07 +0000 daniel-murphy

After his first Mets press conference here, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post pulled Kevin Long aside and asked him what Mets hitter has the best chance to become better this season. Long didn’t hesitate.

“Murphy,’’ he said. “A batting title is not out of his grasp.”

“He’s got a lot of pop and a lot of potential. There is more ability in there and we are going to try to draw it out.”

Murphy, a lifetime .290 hitter, batted .289 last season with nine home runs, 37 doubles, 57 RBIs and a .734 OPS. He has been among the top five in offensive production among all second basemen over the last two seasons.

Long said he believes Murphy not only can hit for a higher average but can add power to his swing as well after spending time breaking down his swing and working with him.

The only Met ever to win a batting title was Jose Reyes in 2011 when he batted .337.

Michael Cuddyer, an NL batting champion in 2013 when he hit .331 for the Rockies, agrees with Long and believes Murphy has the consistency and confidence you need to win a batting title.

“You hear that term professional hitter thrown out there a lot, to me that means you are not an easy out and that’s what Murphy does,” Cuddyer said. “He battles. He cares about hitting and he cares about getting base hits and there’s a difference.”

“Some guys don’t really care about getting base hits, they just want to go out there and do damage or hit home runs. He cares about getting base hits.”

I can certainly see Murphy becoming a batting champ with a few tweaks. He has that deceptive speed which also helps and gets him a bunch of infield hits.

I’ve gotta say, I can’t recall any other Mets hitting coach getting as much star treatment as Kevin Long. In the last two weeks alone I’ve heard him referred to as a Hall of Fame coach, a celebrity, and a rock star. I hope he delivers and can turn around an offense that ranked 28th in base hits and batting average last season.

Then I’ll add magician to his growing list of hyperbolic monikers.

As for Murphy, if he does becomes the second Met ever to win a batting title, ironically he’ll probably walk at the end of the season without an offer from the Mets just like that other guy. What’s his name again? ;-)

Baseball games begin on Wednesday! LGM

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Collins Prefers Granderson In RF and Cuddyer In LF Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:33:50 +0000 Terry-Collins-New-York-Mets-Manager

If you read my Spring Training notes from Port St. Lucie on Sunday, you may have been surprised – as I was – that Michael Cuddyer is deaf in his left ear due to a childhood virus.

He has barely played left field in his career (3 starts in 13 year career) because of it, but is willing to give it a shot after he was told that manager Terry Collins is considering the idea of keeping Curtis Granderson as the right fielder.


“I don’t have much experience, but there’s no saying I can’t go over there and learn,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in being an athlete, not just a right fielder or a first baseman, just being a baseball player.”

Cuddyer added that hearing the center fielder call for a ball shouldn’t be an issue if the Mets do intend to have him play in left.

But why the sudden shift in philosophy when since the day the Mets announced they signed Cuddyer the message has been he was the team’s right fielder and occasional first baseman?

Apparently Collins was very happy with how Curtis Granderson handled himself in right field, particularly on balls off the wall, and prefers to keep him there despite his MLB worst throwing arm.

“I hate to take anything away from Curtis; he played very well out there,” Collins said. “And to now say, ‘Go play left,’ and Michael has never played right in Citi Field is difficult.”

According to FanGraphs, Granderson’s throwing cost the Mets 7.4 runs, worst among 16 qualifying right fielders.

“I had an old scout years ago tell me if you worry about arm strength, you’re going to get your butt kicked,” Collins said. “You better worry about catching the baseball.”

Collins says he plans to monitor the next 10-14 days of spring training games before finalizing his decision. So there you have it my friends.

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Harvey To Throw Batting Practice Monday, Hitters Allowed To Swing Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:00:29 +0000 matt harvey

The team announced that Matt Harvey is scheduled to throw live batting practice again on Monday.

Unlike last week, the Mets say that hitters will be allowed to swing on Monday.

February 27

It was a big day for Matt Harvey who pitched to live batters today at Port St. Lucie for the first time in 18 months.

The big righthander let it rip, throwing all four of his pitches with ease and precision as he faced his teammates David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy – a grouping he tabbed “our core four.”

“I was in compete mode,” Harvey said. “I wasn’t holding back.”

There were plenty of fans on hand cheering the Mets ace on as he delivered pitch after pitch, about 45 in all, over a couple of sessions.

Wright and manager Terry Collins loved what they saw, with the Mets captain saying, “he looked just as good as the Matt Harvey of 2013.”

It was all smiles with plenty of applause when Harvey threw his final pitch, walked off the mound, and declaring the latest step in his comeback a huge success. Everyone who watched came away impressed.

“Once I pick up a ball there’s a mission, there’s a goal,” Harvey said in his press conference afterward.

“It’s a good feeling to be back and I couldn’t feel better.”

Harvey is now scheduled to make his spring training debut against the Detroit Tigers on March 6 at Tradition Field.

Harvey Days are back… Let the good times roll…

(Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

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Lagares Can Be Leadoff Hitter Mets Have Lacked Since Reyes Mon, 02 Mar 2015 01:39:59 +0000 jose reyes

If you had do pick one area, and by area I don’t mean position, where the Mets could use some significant improvement and some clarity, look no further than the leadoff spot in the batting order.

After years of being spoiled by having one of the best leadoff hitters in the league in Jose Reyes, there hasn’t been much to feel good about since the speedy shortstop packed his bags and headed for Miami after the 2011 season.

I charted the Mets leadoff production over the last four seasons and included the top two leadoff hitters used in each season. It clearly illustrates just how poorly the production has fallen off.

2011 – .318/.361/.465 (Reyes 124, Pagan 31)
2012 – .258/.323/.354 (Tejada 78, Torres 34)
2013 – .233/.293/.315 (Young 90, Valdespin 16)
2014 – .235/.308/.333 (Young 53, Granderson 52)

Four seasons later and the Mets still don’t have an obvious leadoff option, but what makes 2015 special is that for the first time in this five year span, we now have a very promising option in Juan Lagares.

On Monday, manager Terry Collins told reporters that the leadoff job would come down to either Lagares or Curtis Granderson. But then yesterday he admitted that he’s actually leaning toward Lagares and hopes he can solidify himself there this season because it would strengthen and lengthen the lineup.

“If we can get Juan to be more of an on-base guy, with the fact that he can run the bases, now you’re following up with Granderson, David Wright, Lucas Duda, Michael Cuddyer, Daniel Murphy, and all the sudden that’s a whole different middle of the lineup.”

“He can lead off if we can get him to be more patient and get the on-base up to .330-.340,” Collins said. “You’d like it higher than that, but we’ve gotta start with a reachable number.”

I was surprised to read a quote from assistant general manager John Ricco who was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. He admitted that finding a leadoff hitter hasn’t really been a priority over the past three years.

“We haven’t really targeted a top-of-the-order guy in the spots we’ve had open,” Ricco said. “Our priorities were in other places.”

It’s now obvious that the Mets see the leadoff spot as a key factor in scoring more runs and while they haven’t addressed it this offseason, it’s certainly one of the most talked about areas of concern. Better late than never.

juan lagares

The silver lining to all this is that Juan Lagares could be everything the team is looking for.

The Dominican born shortstop turned center fielder is a very conscientious player who takes nothing for granted and focuses on improving in all aspects of his game.

Last year he made big strides at the plate by raising his batting average from .242 in 2013 to .281. Unfortunately the walk rate remained stagnant at .321, but that doesn’t mean he can’t improve. Jose Reyes improved.

According to Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, Collins thinks Lagares can do it. He points out that in his two years in the big leagues, the Gold Glove center fielder has, at the Mets’ request, improved at pulling the ball for more power and become a better base-stealer — he stole 13 bases last season, up from six as a rookie.

New hitting coach Kevin Long had some impressive things to say about Lagares and believes the best is yet to come.

“Juan is talented. I’ve noticed that,” Long said. “And I’m excited about this player. He’s got a nice demeanor about him. He’s confident. Obviously he’s going to have to hone in on the strike zone — and take these chases and swings out of the zone — and be able to lay off some pitches and determine what’s a pitch that he can do damage to.”

“He’s got a good swing. And he’s always had the ability to get hits. He finds a way. I think he hit .285. The major league average is .250. So he’s 35 points up there.”

“I think the point we’re looking at is: What is his on-base percentage? It’s probably .315-.320. If we can get that number up to .350-.360, you’ve gained on it quite a bit.”


Long compared Lagares to Robinson Cano when he was breaking into the majors. He says “it took time and constant reinforcement for Cano to become more selective, increasing not just his walk totals but his power numbers.”

“Maybe with Juan it will be something like, OK, let’s just swing at pitches middle of the plate and middle-away. Anything in, we take it instead of trying to cover the whole strike zone — and expanding it.”

Lagares has become one of Long’s most astute learners and we’re hearing that he is soaking in all the advice he can get, getting plenty of extra time in the cage, and all under the watchful eye of Long.

“Kevin told me he thinks I can get better, like Cano did,” Lagares said with a smile on Saturday. “For him to compare me to a guy like Cano, it feels good.”

I’ve been a fan of Juan Lagares since his Binghamton days. I remember ranking him our 17th best prospect in 2011 and 15th in 2012 and being laughed at both times because nobody else had him in their top 25.

When Matt den Dekker was all the rage defensively in 2012, I got into a huge Twitter debate with a couple of the guys on SNY when I said Lagares was the best defensive player in the entire organization. They famously told me, “Who’s Lagares?” which I retweeted to my heart’s delight a year later.

I know there are still some of you who look at Lagares and don’t believe he can pull it off. Trust me on this, if anyone can it’s him. He’s motivated to be the best he can be and when you have that mindset nothing is impossible. My guess is that by this time next year, Lagares will be one of the league’s top leadoff men. There I said it.

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Sunday Spring Notes: Opening Day, Lagares Leading Off, Granderson Staying In RF Sun, 01 Mar 2015 19:41:00 +0000 murphy syndergaard

There was quite a bit of Mets news and notes from Port St. Lucie today especially considering it was a Sunday. Here’s what we’ve learned.

1. With the Grapefruit League schedule kicking off on Wednesday, don’t expect to see David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson until next weekend. Terry Collins reiterated that all four will sit out the first two games and will not make their spring debuts until Friday. The Mets open the spring docket on the road and Collins is allowing his veterans to skip the road trips.

2. Terry Collins also said he’s now leaning toward using Michael Cuddyer in left field and Curtis Granderson in right field. It’s a switch from his earlier position. Collins said that after considering the matter further he likes Granderson’s ability to cover ground and his comfort with the wall in right field, and that it overrides any concerns with his lack of arm strength.

3. When confronted with the new outfield configuration plan, Cuddyer said that though he is deaf in his left ear since childhood, it won’t be an issue playing left field and hearing Juan Lagares call for the ball.

4. Speaking of Juan Lagares, he will bat leadoff on Wednesday when the Mets play against the Braves. “Get ready for it,” Terry Collins said. The Mets manager also added that the team still has some concerns with Lagares’ elbow, the one that shelved him last season, and that they will be monitoring it all spring long.

5. Lucas Duda is still a week away from swinging a bat in a game due to his left intercostal strain. But Collins said he will get some swings in this week off a tee. The hope is that he can participate in batting practice next week.

syndergaard harvey

6. Get ready to see both Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard make their Spring debut on Friday in a game that will be televised on SNY. That should be a big treat.

7. Terry Collins says everyone but Matt Harvey is being considered to start on Opening Day. He says that Zack Wheeler is getting strong consideration because he deserves it. Before the weekend, Adam Rubin had two team sources tell him that Bartolo Colon is also a serious candidate for the Opening Day assignment.

8. Finally I’ll leave you with this little tidbit from Terry Collins this afternoon. The Mets manager says he wants this team to have some swagger this year. “They need to start showing it, swagger.”

As a convenience, here are the pitching assignments for week one of the Grapefruit League season.

March 4: Dillon Gee, Jon Velasquez in relief

March 5: Bartolo ColonGabriel Ynoa in relief

March 6: Matt HarveyNoah Syndergaard in relief

March 7 (SS): Jacob deGromMatt Bowman in relief

March 7 (SS): Steven MatzRafael Montero in relief

March 8: Jon NieseTyler Pill in relief

March 9: Zack WheelerCarlos Torres in relief

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