I was tempted to attend last night’s Mets game, with the $3.50 ticket promo and all, but man am I glad that I sat this one out. The Mets continued their embarrassing play at Citi Field with a 6-0 loss to the Braves. This might have been one of the worst home performances I have seen since the stadium opened. With Aaron Harang on the mound, yes AARON HARANG, the Mets were held to ONE HIT! And that hit didn’t even come against Harang!
This is the same Aaron Harang who was on the Mets just last season and could often be confessed with a guy throwing batting practice. But somehow Harang was able to put together six no-hit innings, but also walked six, which had his pitch count up to 121. At that point, manager Freddy Gonzalez opted to go to the bullpen. This didn’t exactly turn things around for the Mets offense, as they were still unable to get a rally going. The saving grace was a David Wright single in the 8th to prevent the embarrassment of having a no-hitter thrown against them at home. Continue reading
The injury bug struck the Mets once again, Juan Lagares is headed to the DL with a hamstring injury. After winning the center field job outright this spring, Lagares was off to a tremendous start to the season. Besides looking like one of the game’s premier defenders, Lagares was producing at the plate, leading the team with a .318 batting average.
On top of Lagares going down, Curtis Granderson was also injured last night. Granderson injured his entire left side while crashing into the right field wall attempting to make a catch. X-Rays have come back negative but I would expect him to be listed as day-to-day for now. Knowing the Mets, that could quickly change to a DL stint any day now. I know I wasn’t alone in feeling I was reliving the nightmare of watching Jason Bay crash into the wall a few years ago. Don’t shake your head, I know it crossed your mind too.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis is the man being tapped by Sandy Alderson to replace Lagares on the roster. Nieuwenhuis, who has spent a fair share of time with the Mets the past few years, is off to a strong start in AAA. So far he is hitting .310 with 2 home runs in his first ten games. Nieuwenhuis has always intrigued me, he is a strong defender who is capable of playing all three outfield positions and has some pop in his bat. He is a hard-nosed player who might have made this roster outright if he could just produce consistently at the plate. Continue reading
Everyone knew what Juan Lagares brought to the table defensively, but the question remained as to what he would bring with his bat. There were grumbling all of spring training in concerns to if Lagares would hit enough to be an everyday player. So far, he has put all of those concerns to rest. It’s not just that he’s hitting, but it’s when he’s doing his damage.
This franchise has lacked players that come through in the clutch for some time now, and in a small sample size, Lagares looks like one of those guys.
Well, the first baseman discussion certainly got even more interesting this afternoon. A day after Lucas Duda was the hero with 2 home runs, Ike Davis came to the rescue with a walk-off grand slam. Continue reading
The Mets have set their Opening Day roster and there were few surprises. Notably names who won their battles to earn a spot on this roster are Gonzalez German, Andrew Brown, Omar Quintanilla and Jenrry Mejia.
When Vic Black was demoted earlier this week, it was made pretty clear that German would earn the last spot in the bullpen. German doesn’t exactly do much for me, and will probably spend most of his time in mop up roles and in the middle innings. Assuming Black will eventually turn things around in AAA, German will have to produce to keep his spot on this team.
Brown and Quintanilla are two players I am most disappointed to see on this roster. It’s not that I overly dislike these guys, but we have all seen what these two are capable of and it’s not impressive. Neither has ever produced at a high level and both are questionable big league players. Eric Campbell and Anthony Seratelli would have been my choices to win these battles. Neither are spring chickens themselves, it’s not like they had to be sent to AAA to play every day and gain more experience. They are what they are and both could have provided new energy to this roster. It wouldn’t surprise me to see one of both of these guys promoted sooner rather than later.
The biggest surprised would probably be Mejia, who beat out Dice-K for the final spot in the rotation. It seemed as though the Mets would start the season with the veteran Dice-K, especially once his $100k bonus was picked up. But the Mets made what many felt was the right decision and went with the young option. They both had a nice spring training, but the Mets need to see what exactly they have with Mejia. This isn’t his first time rodeo, he has been up and down now for a few years, spending time in both the rotation and bullpen. Putting him in the rotation gives him a real opportunity as a starter and allows the front office to make a final decision on where his future is best suited.
Here is the complete Opening Day roster:
Eric Young Jr.
Well it only took until March 21st to happen, but the Mets finally have a first base competition on their hands. With Ike Davis and Lucas Duda each missing significant time this spring, no real answer has been made as to who the starting first baseman will be on opening day.
It feels like we have had this exact conversation for the better part of two years now, and frankly, I don’t see it ending anytime soon. Everyday this spring something else popped up and a reason was given why one, or both, of these men weren’t playing. Now that they have both conveniently returned, on the same day mind you, they are giving us the competition we have all been waiting for.
Josh Satin appears to have solidified his spot on this roster and might very well have earned a full-time platoon role at first base. I like Satin as a player, I think he is a nice addition to the roster for an entire season, but I don’t know if I want to see him playing every other game. In my opinion, he is best suited as a bench player, filling in at first base and giving David Wright a day off at third as needed, while serving as the right-handed bat off the bench. I think Satin is one of those players that will be exposed if he is given too much playing time, as we have seen all too often with players of his caliber with the Mets.
What the front office, Terry Collins and the entire fan base really want is for Ike Davis or Lucas Duda to take this job and run with it. I have always leaned towards Ike Davis in this argument, as we have already seen what his power production can be, hitting 32 homeruns and 90 RBI just two seasons ago. The biggest questions that surround Davis is his mental toughness. He seemed to have a hard time handling the media and the pressure that was being put on him the last two seasons. Once something that like begins, it’s as if the media smells blood in the water. Now you have a target on your back and I don’t know if he is up to handling that if he gets off to yet another slow start.
Lucas Duda has always been an interesting case. The man clearly possesses the power to fulfill a corner infield position, but never seems to produce at the expected level. He’s never hit more than 15 homeruns in a season and last year had only 33 RBI, that’s not exactly an ideal HR-RBI ratio. But the front office loves his approach at the plate because he WALKS! That’s great and all, but I want my first baseman driving in runs! I felt like every game I watched last season I would see Duda go down looking at strike three at least once a game. I agree that his patience at the plate could be beneficial, but he HAS to do a better job at picking his spots and swinging the bat more often.
I’m done trying to play favorites between these two, whoever performs has my vote of confidence. Truth be told though, and I HATE to say this, but it would not surprise me in the least bit if they both ultimately fail to hold down the position for an entire season. I really hope one of them is able to put a strong hold on first base, I really do, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Enough with the media incidents, no more unsolvable injuries and I will not accept a batting average hovering around .200 anymore, earn your keep.
Terry Collins has the right approach when it comes to this situation saying this yesterday:
“If somebody gets off to a slow start, we’re going to make a change. We said we’re going to win baseball games, so we’ve got to get out of the gate, and we’ve got to get out of it on a positive note. And if someone slumps, we’ve got someone behind him.”
I couldn’t agree more, Terry. Not just these two, but everyone on this team needs to be held accountable for their performance on the field. If they aren’t getting the job done, next man up. If you are really going to prove this team is finally about winning, then no more 3rd and 4th chances for some of these guys, either they perform or you find someone else that will.
The past couple of days I was down in Port St. Lucie taking in a few Mets spring training games with my father. It was a great trip that left walking away with a few thoughts:
What/Who impressed me
Bartolo Colon- I was on hand for Colons first start of the spring. Although he allowed 3 runs over his 5 innings of work, he actually showed positive signs of why he was brought here. His fastball appeared to have good movement and he changes speed with all of his pitches quite well. He was hitting the low 90’s on the radar gun with his fastball and kept the ball down for the most part. The Mets will need their best defensive squad on the field behind him but I think this signing will prove to be a positive one. Who doesn’t love a fat guy?
Zack Wheeler – The forgotten young arm continues to progress. His effortless and fluid motion on the mound is fun to watch. He looks smooth all around and the ball comes out of his hand nicely. I got up close to the bullpen during his warm up session and it was hard to walk away and not be impressed.
Vic Black- I’m looking forward to the addition of Vic Black in the bullpen for a full season. When he’s on the mound, he has a presence about him that most successful relievers seem to have. I like his arsenal of pitches and his breaking ball is sharp. Hopefully Black can take the setup role and run with it.
Juan Lagares Defense- This won’t to a shock to any Mets fan, but his defense is truly impressive. He was tracking down balls with seemingly little to no effort. The most impressive play I saw him make was a throw he made to David Wright that gunned down a runner by a good 20 feet. It was one of those “wow” plays that caught everyone’s attention.
Matt den Dekker- A player who just last spring was fighting for a chance to start for the Mets, is now playing just to remain relevant in the organization, impressed me with his offense. He was 4-4 over the 3 games I saw and looked much more comfortable than I have ever seen him before at the plate. He had a nice approach, taking a few balls to the opposite field which is a great sign. The biggest concern with den Dekker was his lack of offensive production, striking out far too often. If he has turned the corner and is able to continue to put the ball in play, we could be hearing his name back in discussion for outfield playing time very soon.
Josh Satin – With Duda and Davis sitting out, milking injuries, Satin is making the most out of his. He hit a deep home run to left center field against the Cardinals that impressed me the most. He doesn’t pull the ball too often, and when he does, it is with power even less. That homerun is something that I would like to see more from him if he wants to see considerable time at first base.
Wilmer Flores- Flores is making everyone aware that he can swing the bat. His offensive game seems to be the real deal, as he really squares up on the ball nicely. I was on hand for his first game at Shortstop and he did ALRIGHT. He didn’t look like a future gold glove winner, but he didn’t look like he would completely embarrass himself either. His counterpart was Johnny Peralta that day, a player known much more for his bat than his glove. In my mind, I see him as a great comparison for Flores, if he can prove to be a serviceable defender at the position, his bat could force the issue in seeing more time at shortstop.
Kevin Plawecki – Although I only got to see one at-bat from the young catcher, it was hard not to walk away impressed. He has this confidence about him while in the batter’s box and ripped a double down the left field line. He already has the major league body and I am really intrigued with his offensive game. Assuming d’Arnaud will turn things around offensively this season, Plawecki could either become a valuable trading chip or they should look to shift him over to first base. If the catcher position is going to be blocked, why not work this kid out in a position that appears to be up for grabs?
Mike Stanton Homerun – Mike Stanton hit one of the longest home runs I have ever seen in my life off of Jake Leathersitch. He fouled off a few pitches straight back and you just knew he was getting ready to launch one. The ball has a special sound off of his bat and he has as much power as any player in the game. I just hope he doesn’t hit too many of those against the Mets when it really counts.
Chris Christie – The New Jersey Governor was on hand for the games Sunday and Monday. What impressed me about Christie was the fact that this was a genuine trip with his family and not some kind of media stunt. You didn’t seem him parading around the field or sitting in the dugout. He did sit up in the Wilpon’s box with his sons and could be seen actually watching the games. Later on in the day I saw him at Duffy’s bowling with his boys, right in the middle of everyone else. He wasn’t surrounded by security guards or anything like that, he was simply enjoying the evening with his family. Love him or hate him, I respect seeing a politician act like a real person at the very least.
What/Who didn’t impress me
Jose Valverde- I know the veteran reliever was brought in on a minor league contract and comes with praise from Jim Leyland, but I’m not a fan of Valverde. His fastball did still have some life on it, climbing over the 90 mph mark, but he grooves it over the fat part of the plate. Every batter seemed to be sitting back and waiting for him to throw a fastball. He will probably make the team out of camp, but if he continues to pitch like this, I don’t think he will remain on this team for too long. I hope he only serves the team in a mop up role and that he won’t be seeing any meaningful innings.
Jonathon Niese- Niese looked erratic during his first start of the spring. His command and velocity were both off, but that was expected. I’m not sure he is 100% healthy after his little shoulder scare, which could factor into him being the opening day starter. I wouldn’t say I am worried about Niese just yet, as he was able to get his 50+ pitches in, but I can’t say I’m completely confident in him either.
Jake Leathersitch – The young left-hander, who has had great minor league success, looked completely over matched in camp. The biggest blow came from a ball Mike Stanton hit that I’m not sure has even landed yet. He was sent down to minor league camp after the game, he appears to have plenty to work on before a return to the majors.
Ruben Tejada’s Offense and Defense – When you watch Tejada play these days you feel like you are watching a man who has lost all of his confidence. His defense, once the high point in his game, has suddenly become questionable. There are routine balls that are giving him a hard time now, plays that have to be made from a guy who puts up his type of offensive numbers. At the plate, he looks overmatched and behind mostly every pitcher he faces. Although he did hit a nice double down the left field line one game, he looked lost every other time up. You have to wonder if all of the scrutiny he has been receiving is getting the best of him.
Road game observations
On the final day of our trip, we stopped into Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Cardinals to see them take on the Mets. First observation, Cardinals fans are a very loyal fan base. Unlike Tradition field, where you will see scattered Mets attire mixed throughout the crowd, among many plain clothed fans, everyone wears Cardinals gear. From infants to grandparents, the stadium looked like a sea of red. I did notice they were rather boring though. Most of the crowd takes part in friendly conversations, which is a great atmosphere to be around as a fan of the visiting team, but I missed the passion of the yelling fans at the same time. Take that as you will but I did actually miss it.
The biggest difference I noticed between the two ball parks and fan bases? The drinking. At tradition field, the beers are flowing straight to the 7th inning stretch (A little longer if you make your way down to the bar in right field). The Tiki Bar is a few bodies deep and the beer vendors are selling as if it is the last day on earth. At Roger Dean stadium, it was like pulling teeth for the vendors to sell a beer. I was surprised by this coming from a team plays in Budweiser’s backyard. Not sure what to take away from that, maybe this team really does make Mets fans drink, but it was something that clearly stood out to me.
If you have a chance to head down to Spring Training in the future, do it. The ticket prices beat the hell out of what you will see during the regular season, we sat on the dugout one day for $28 a piece! That’s a price that you won’t be able to match anywhere in the majors. You can sit back and relax while enjoying a game where you won’t stress over the outcome. Although we all love to see our favorite stars in action, it’s also nice to see some of the future talent get their first taste of major league baseball in as well.
This trip has left me excited for opening day, March 31st can’t come soon enough.