Today we were given mixed reports regarding Chris Young’s future with the Mets. Adam Rubin, a team beat reporter for ESPN, said that Young may be cut from the team as early as Thursday. If we were judging this news off of numbers alone, this wouldn’t be a story at all, he deserves to be cut. But, when you pay a player $7.25 million just this past off-season, this becomes headline worthy.
The 30-year-old outfielder has failed to return to his all-star form with the Mets this season. Sandy Alderson brought him in quickly this winter to be the teams left fielder/fourth outfielder. Truth is, no one really knows what exactly Alderson promised him. Whatever it was, he is now walking on thin ice when it comes to keeping his job.
Despite Rubin’s report, Mets officials vehemently deny that there is any truth to this. However, we all know that doesn’t exactly mean much. It’s not like Alderson would come out and tell us “Yes, that report is correct and we plan on cutting Young if he doesn’t perform over the course of these next two days”. That wasn’t going to happen. Alderson gave us the statement that he HAD to come out and make. It’s impossible to let those reports float around over a player’s head, even if that is indeed your plan.
Personally, I hope the Mets do cut ties with Young. He has proven to be a complete bust of a signing, something we all saw coming months ago. His defense has been sub par and he looks over matched at the plate. I know we all want to jump on Alderson for making this move in the first place, and rightly so, but I will give him some credit if he ends this debacle of a signing sooner rather than later. It takes a lot to admit that one of you biggest off-season moves was the wrong one, but you must do whats right for the team, not your ego.
The Mets will be better off playing their younger outfielders on a daily basis than putting a struggling veteran out there whose career looks to be nearly done. With Juan Lagares due to return from the DL soon, their void in center field will once again be taken care of. Curtis Granderson has turned his season around and will remain to be a stable in right field. I would like to see Terry Collins continue to throw a combination of Eric Young Jr., Andrew Brown, Eric Campbell and Kirk Nieuwenhuis out there in left field. All of these players are better option than Chris Young at this point.
Bite the bullet Sandy and make the move. We may not be happy you made the signing, but we will respect you for admitting your mistakes.
The Mets were able to salvage a game in their series against the Dodgers last night, but it didn’t come easy. After Juan Lagares helped the Mets recapture the lead in the bottom of the seventh, the bull pen was in jeopardy of blowing the lead in the eighth inning. After Yasiel Puig nearly tied the game, with a double off the center field wall, Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate against Dice-K.
Ramirez ripped a ball into left field, which looked like a sure thing hit that would tie the game at four a piece. That is until Eric Campbell, who was making his first start in the outfield, decided he wasn’t having any of that. Campbell made a tremendous diving catch to rob Ramirez and was able to quickly get to his feet and fire the ball into second base, doubling off Puig for an inning ending double play.
Puig may have made the better catch just a few innings earlier, as he robbed Wilmer Flores of an extra base hit in the right center gap, but Campbell provided the play of the game given the situation. It was unknown just what kind of defense Campbell would provide in the outfield coming into tonight, it’s unlikely he will be a gold glove caliber defender, but he certainly showed us he knows what he’s doing out there.
Hat tip to Wally Backman for pushing Campbell to be promoted and assuring Terry Collins of his capabilities.
Now that we have finally moved on from the Davis/Duda debate, we can focus our attention to the outfield dilemma. For the first time this season, at some point this week Terry Collins will finally have all four of his outfielders healthy. Unlike the first baseman battle, I think this will be a nice problem to have.
With injuries to Chris Young to start off the year and Juan Lagares in the recent weeks, the Mets outfield has yet to be in full force. Curtis Granderson, has been the one preseason starter who has stayed in the lineup, besides his brief hiccup after crashing into the wall in Arizona. Eric Young Jr., who was thought to be the odd man out, has held his own as an everyday player so far this season. The Mets lack a true leadoff hitter on this roster, but Young Jr. has filled that void quite well. Although he is only batting .216 with a .320 OBP, he is second in the league in stolen based, with 12, and fifth in runs scored, with 20. Somehow, someway, Young Jr. finds a way to be involved in the Mets offense.
Chris Yong, has gotten off to a slow start himself since his return from the disabled list. Despite only batting .196 on the year, he displayed his power over the weekend as to why he was brought in. Granderson, is the player struggling the most out of the bunch, batting a lowly .129 on the year. However, he did come through in the clutch twice during this past home stand with two different walk off RBI. You have to think the former All-Star is due to break out in a big way soon.
Lagares, was the biggest surprise out of the gate for the Mets. Not only was his playing his usual gold glove caliber defense, but he was the hottest hitter on the team. Lagares is hitting .314 with a .346 OBP and looks more comfortable than I have ever seen him at the plate. Over the weekend, he began playing in rehab games with Triple-A Las Vegas and should be ready any day now. Once Lagares is promoted, there is no doubt he will return as the team’s starting center fielder.
This is when things will begin to get interesting once again for Terry Collins. There will soon be four players fighting for three spots in the outfield. All of whom have different attributes and cases to keep themselves in the lineup. Granderson, despite his sluggish start, will be given extended time to turn things around, given his track record. Lagares, showed us last year he is as good as there is in the outfield, and now he came out in 2014 showing us improvement with the bat as well. If he returns and continues to produce, Collins will have him penciled into the lineup every day. I think we can all agree with the fact that Lagares need to be playing every day and Granderson should be given the benefit of the doubt, for a little while longer at least, that he will find his groove.
This leaves the combination of Chris and Eric Young fighting for playing time. One provides power, the other brings speed. Both play quality defense, so that won’t separate the two much. Whatever Collins works out, lefty/righty match ups, or goes with the hot hitter, the Mets will be adding a nice player to their bench. Chris Young would provide the home run threat, while Eric Young, can be used in late innings as a pinch runner when a stolen base is needed. This is the only position I would be okay with a platoon situation occurring. I’m not much of a platoon fan, but I could at least live with it between these two.
It hasn’t happened often in recent history with the Mets, but they finally have a good problem on their hands. Fingers crossed Collins doesn’t turn this into a complete four man rotation, shifting the outfield around every other game, because that would drive me nuts.
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 I had the pleasure, I guess, of going to yet another Mets Opening Day yesterday. What did I take away from the day? Some things never change. Continue reading
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.