Spring Traning Roster Lag

 

It seems as if we are getting close to hitting the wall of the 2013 spring training marathon. Due to the World Baseball Classic, spring training started earlier than usual and the writers and bloggers covering the training camp are starting to drone on. So I thought maybe this is good time to take a look at how the 25 man roster of the Mets is shaping up:

Pitchers

(Starters)

Jon Niese

Matt Harvey

Dillon Gee

Shaun Marcum

Jeremy Hefner

 

I don’t think anyone is looking at Johan Santana starting the season at Citi Field, which is fine with me. This should be the season we see Jon Niese make the next step as a starter. Niese has improved every year he’s been up in the bigs and he looks to have shed the conditioning and stamina problems he’s had in the past. It also helps when you have two studs like Harvey and Zack Wheeler as teammates as well pushing you to keep pace.

 

Bullpen

Bobby Parnell

Brandon Lyon

Josh Edgin

Scott Atchinson

LaTroy Hawkins

Pedro Felicano

 

Those six barring injury look like they will be lined up on the first base line of Citi Field on April 1st. That would leave one spot left. Will Frank Francisco be ready for opening day? That’s a big question mark. So who would get the last spot in the pen? It could go to Collin McHugh even though he really doesn’t excite anyone when he’s on the mound.  Jeurys Familia would have to step it up in the next few weeks to stick as well. Even with a small sample size it would seem that Greg Burke would grab that last spot in the pen.  

 

Infielders

 

Ike Davis

Daniel Murphy

Ruben Tejada

David Wright

Justin Turner

 

The last infield spot could come down to Brian Bixler, Brandon Hicks, Zack Lutz and Josh Satin. Jordany Valdespin will most likely make the team as a hybrid Inf/Of.  Hicks, Lutz and Satin have shown some power in the minors and all hit from the right side. It will come down to the wire as to who becomes the 25th man on the Mets roster.

 

Outfield

 

Lucas Duda

Collin Cowgill

Marlon Byrd

Mike Baxter

 

Again Valdespin works his way here as the righty caddy for Duda and also as a fill in at 2nd base for Murph. Kirk Nieuwenhuis deep bruise of his knee hurts in more ways than one and Matt Den Dekker is the best defensive outfielder in camp but his bat is still under construction. We’ve beaten this outfield topic to death but a big question is, as bad as this outfield looks now, what happens if one or two of these guys go down with injury??? GULP!!!!!

 

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Time To Play Mets Wheel of Bullpen Fortune

 

While Mets fandom awaits a decision on whether Michael Bourn will be patrolling centerfield of Citi Field, leading off and becoming the catalyst for the Mets offense, we also await the official announcement of Brandon Lyon becoming a Met and another contestant on Wheel of Mets Bullpen.

Counting Lyons, I’m looking at 11 candidates for 6 or maybe 7 spots in the Mets pen, a bullpen that I feel was the biggest reason for the second half collapse the Mets found them in last season. When you have a relief core that allows close to 32 % of inherited runners to touch home plate and also finds themselves in 55 save opportunities and blowing 19 of those precious assignments, will break the spirit of even the most strong willed teams so when you have a team like the Mets that doesn’t exactly ooze self-esteem and pluck, the ineffective pen was more a kick in the gut than uplifting last season. Sandy Alderson realizes this as well and has gone out this offseason to assemble relievers to come to Port St. Lonesome to engage in a big time completion to come North and become a strength for the Mets instead of last year’s failure.

Building a bullpen can be a bit of a crapshoot and last year one of the players Alderson went out on a limb on was closer Frank Francisco, signing the volatile reliever for 2yrs/$12mil, a signing I’m sure the Mets GM would love to take back . Between nagging injuries and ineffectiveness it was a lost season for Francisco. Although Francisco did save 23 games in 26 opportunities, when he entered games with runners on base his percentage of inherited runners left on base was a woeful 67.2 % and he’d shoot himself in the foot many time with walks as well.

With the imminent signing of Brandon Lyons, the back end of the Mets pen should be improved over last year (in the words of Sandy Alderson when asked about whether the pen will be better in 2013 said “how could it be worse?”)  And what we will see in the camp is a good old fashion open completion for not just bullpen spots but for the very important back end of the pen spots.  So looking at the very early morning line let’s see who could or should emerge as the core of the Mets bullpen in 2013.

The guys I look for to make the move to be the 7th inning, 8th inning and closer are Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Brandon Lyon, Josh Edgin, and Scott Atchison.  All five look to be Mets for 2013 but who of these 5 will step up to grab the closers job? I don’t see Bobby Parnell getting the job as he is much more effective in innings 6 thru 8 and last year he started to lose a little bit of velocity on his fastball and he has tried to make his curve to be more effective. Edgin has been on a fast track to the big leagues on the strength of using a hard fastball and effective slider that helped the stout lefty rack up K’s at a 10.53 per 9 IP.  Scott Atchinson may be the find of the off season. He was the one bright spot in the train wreck that was the 2012 Boston Red Sox. Atchinson relies on a solid cutter that he has under great command and last season he stranded 85 % of the runners on base that he inherited which is why I can’t wait to see him pitch this spring. Brandon Lyon could be the guy that takes on Frank Frank for the coveted closers role. The Mets will be banking on getting Lyon back to his effective D’Backs and Tigers days to solidify the back end of the pen and hope that the blown saves and late inning bullpen meltdowns are a thing of the past.

Jureys Familia and Jenry Mejia are two wildcards in the bullpen completion. Should either or both work as relievers or starters? There are varied opinions on the direction of both pitchers and it could boil down to how each are used this spring and if either pitchers shows more at one spot than the other. I could see Familia sticking as reliever more than Mejia who has a starter’s mentality and is also at a point in his career that the Mets love to find pitchers at, second year after Tommy John surgery.

LaTroy Hawkins comes to camp as a guy whose has seen a lot of big league baseball and could be more of an asset as a sounding board for the younger relievers that his work on the mound. Hawkins looks to be a 6th inning guy or a guy to give a break to an overused reliever that is if it makes the team.

It’s Robert Carson’ job to lose as the LOOGY especially with Pedro Feliciano back from rotator cuff surgery (2nd year after surgery seems to be the Mets pattern of obtaining pitching) and Tim Byrdak back in a minor league deal off of last season’s shoulder surgery.

So if I had to put out an early projection of the Mets bullpen I’d rank thusly:

CL Francisco/Lyon

SU Parnell

SU Edgin

SU Atchison

RP Carson

RP Familia/Hawkins

Whoever is not named closer moves to set up role and to tell you the truth; the Mets have the makings of a pretty decent bullpen. Hopefully between Terry Collins, Dan Warthen and Ricky Bones can work this pen correctly unlike last season when there was a communication breakdown between the relievers and the Manager and Pitching Coach. That’s a post for another day.

 

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Bunch of Bull-Pen

Raise your hand if you remember when relievers were escorted to the pitchers mound by the bullpen cart?

 

Loses are never good, and loses that cost you winning a series, which would have been the third straight series the Mets  had taken from the Phuck Phaces ,are awful but when you have a lead and the bullpen blows a win, that is downright  intolerable.

If I weren’t a Mets fan, I’d be doubled over laughing at the fan bases response to games the Mets bullpen blow. Nothing sets this fan base off like a good old fashion late inning bullpen melt down and last night was no different.  The only issue I have with the overreaction by some of the fan base is the back end of the pen that imploded last night hasn’t been that bad of late.  I will say as a whole the bullpen has a problem with inherited runners scoring and with the exception of Bobby Parnell and Frank Francisco, there isn’t a reliever who can come in and get the big strikeout when it’s needed.

I would have like to see Terry Collins leave Dillon Gee in finish the 7th inning. Gee has pitched so well his last three starts and the double he gave up it seems should have been played better by Andres Torres. Collins is going to have to have faith in his starters going deeper into games, especially with R.A. Dickey, who I feel he yanks too early in starts where he’s breezing along.

The Ramon Ramirez 3 run jack to J-Roll was the back breaker but then Chris Schwinden  to finish out the inning but all he did was add to the carnage. What the hell is it with Schwinden ? Talk about the poster boy for the AAAA player?

 

Update: I just wrote a whole addendum to this post and deleted by accident so I’ll abbreviate it. RHP Elvin Ramirez will be on the roster tomorrow to help out the bullpen and Jenry Mejia and Chris Young are not far behind to replace the trio of Schwinden, Heftner (maybe?) and Egbert.

Josh Thole will be activated tomorrow as well which meand the Mets have to chose between Mike Nickeas and Rob Johnson as Tholes understudy. I’ll say they keep Johnson.

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The United Mets of Flushing

 

I didn’t see any of yesterday’s game as it was Mother’s Day and my kids had no sporting events (all through Little League we never scheduled games on Mother’s Day, I can’t say the same for youth soccer my kids regularly played on Mother’s Day making life difficult for a bunch of families, thankfully this season the schedule worked in our favor) but I received updates on my phone, it’s tough to be sitting in a theater during a play to check my phone when it’s vibrating with Mets news especially when my wife is sitting next to me, so it wasn’t until the conclusion of Perfect Crime did I see the carnage in Miami by left by the Mets bullpen.

So instead of a beyond belief 6-0 road trip the Mets head home to Flushing with a 4-2 mark instead. Now we all would have co-signed for that record at the start of the trip but since the two losses were of the blown by bullpen variety, it made for an angry fandom after the game because as I discussed on Saturday, nothing turns a baseball fans red like a blown save to lose a game, in fact Jon Rauch took to Twitter to lay some knowledge on some fans when it came to commitment to winning and having your teammates back. As we saw with the Frank Francisco taking on inept home plate umpire Todd Tichenor, who by the way is in his first season as an everyday MLB umpire, this Mets team has passion and they seem to have enacted the practice of no teammate left behind as Rauch put on display last night. They win as a team and they lose as a team. It seems some Mets fans are not grasping this concept; maybe some of you are pining for the days of “One Met Said” cowardice we’ve seen in the Mets clubhouse during past administrations.  Thankfully those days look to be over.

Now that doesn’t mean Terry Collins will keep the status quo in the bullpen as the manager stated he has “8 options” to use as a game closer and let’s be honest here Mets fans, you can scream and curse Frank Francisco and Manny Acosta for yesterday and Friday but the toughest thing to build in baseball today is a proficient bullpen. Look at the regal Bronx Bastards, they need help in their pen but even with their unlimited financial resources, they can’t go out and buy a closer to replace the Sainted Mariano the Majestic. So TC may have to go with the hot hand to close games or use a combo of Tim Byrdak, Bobby Parnell and Jon Rauch, the three most effective relievers so far, to finish out games.

At the end of last season, Sandy Alderson pointed out that all the blown saves that led to losses at the end of the season were unacceptable and that these types of situation’s can bring down a team. Right now this Mets team is united but you wonder how much that unity can stand if the late game meltdowns continue?

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Blown (Save) Away

Happy 87th Birthday to Yogi Berra, if you haven’t read Harvey Araton’s book Driving Mr. Yogi, you should it’s a terrific read    

 

 

Nothing pisses off a fan base more than a blown save that cost their team a win. As we witnessed in Miami last night, the Met s again unleashed their version of “5 O’clock Lightning” coming from behind again to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead as Mike Baxter has channeled his inner Smokey Burgess to become a potent late inning pinch hitter, drove in two runs with a double while batting for the offensively challenge Mike Nickeas.

I listened to latter part of this game in the car, enjoying the duo of Howie Rose and his partner Josh Lewin, who by the way has become a great listen and has blended in quite nicely with Howie making for such a pleasurable listen that even when I’m home I’ll tune in to hear a few innings, especially today when the game is on FOX, the sound on the TV goes mute and radio is turned up, but I digress.

When Baxter hit that double to score Captain Kirk and Ike to take the lead, the excitement in Howie’s voice was as jubilant a call I’ve heard from the radio booth in a long time. A 5-3 lead with six outs to go and the way the pen has been going it looked like you could start “putting this one in the books” but wait………..

Of all the players in the infield the last guy I’d predict making a crucial late inning error would be Ike Davis, I mean, no matter how awful a batting slump Ike has been in, he never brings that out to the field on defense so his costly error in the 8th that gave the Fish life was a bit of a shocker.

Give hat tips to Bobby Parnell and Tim Brydak who set up the save for Frank Francisco. All Frankie Frisco had to do was get three outs. Instead Greg Dobbs single gave the Fish their 4th walk off win of the year and their 9th win in 10 games.

That’s what makes this Frankie Frisco’ blown save hurt more, the Fish are red hot and here come the “5 O’Clock Lighting” Mets doing their come from behind magic again buoyed by another solid performance by their Ace Johan Santana (after a tough 1st inning Santana was masterful mixing mostly fastballs and slider but not many change ups to keep the Fish in check from innings 2-6 ) and looking to add to their dominant record against the NL East (now 13-6 after last night loss) but instead of killing Francisco maybe we have to credit Dobbs for hitting a pretty good pitch, a 94 mph fastball that was just inside the strike zone.

If we’ve learned anything about the 2012 Mets, this early in the season a loss like last nights doesn’t linger long with them, they’ll turn the page quickly.

I see where Rony Cedeno is at shortstop again today so my question is why is Jordany Valdespin here? If Terry Collins feels Cedeno is his guy until Ruben Tejada gets back that’s fine but if that’s the case maybe keeping Vinny Rottino around would have been the better move and let Valdespin play every day in Buffalo.  Rottino has played catcher so with two weak hitting catchers on the roster a guy like Rottino would be valuable.

 

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Brad Mills Left The Bullpen Gate Open

Never in a millon years did I think I’d miss Giusspepe Franco on a continous loop on SNY. Between this commercial and the Jeter trying to sell me a car that he wouldn’t be caught dead in, I hope SNY makes enough money on them to give Bobby Ojeda a big raise.  

I’m still trying to figure out the thinking of Brad Mills last night with his Salute to Tony La Russa in the 7th and 8th inning last night. It isn’t like Mills is rolling out a bullpen like the Cincinnati Reds Nasty Boys of 1990, but then again with the Astros leaving the Senior Circuit for that other league in 2013, then again it could be Mills’ form of protest to the switching of leagues with an Occupy Bullpen movement.

For all those who feel I’ve been shilling for Sandy Alderson, let me put this out there. The signing of Frank Francisco looks to be a big time blunder. Last night Francisco was not available due to a hamstring  (dehydration ?) issue, earlier he had trouble with his knee then add in that he’s has been totally ineffective as a closer, it adds up so far to one in the minus column for Alderson.

Speaking of the bullpen, there could be a shakeup soon as Mets relievers are starting to show signs of wear, ranking third in innings pitched (71.2, the Brewers lead the league at 75.1 IP) and dead last in the NL in ERA at 5.02 add in the Mets penchant for playing close games, unless Manny Acosta and Miguel Batista have a pitching epiphany they could be replaced by the rehabbing DJ Carrasco and maybe an eye opening Josh Edgin. You also have Jenry Mejia coming back from TJ surgery and Armando Rodriguez pitching very effectively in Bingo. So there are options within the organization which makes the Francisco signing look worse.

I don’t know if it’s just the mindset of the fan base or the years of incompetent management that has Mets fan fearing Kirk Nieuwenhuis going to the bench or back to Buffalo when Jason Bay gets back. First forget Buffalo that’s not happening and as for grabbing some pine, that should be where Andres Torres winds up. When you carry around a .243/.318/.402 lifetime batting line after 8 years of major league employment, you should be happy you have a seat in a big league dugout.

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NY Mets Had A Good Weekend, But It Could Have Been A Great Weekend

The good news is the Mets are 6-3 and took 2 of 3 from the Phuck Phaces in Filthadelphia. Should they have swept?  It not only would have been very sweet but I would have had a much better vibe about this team than I do this morning if they did. Do not get me wrong, I am very happy with this start and any time you can go to Filthadelphia and win a series is a solid positive but again the Mets allowed a team to get 4 or 5 outs in an inning will be the difference between the club staying in playoff contention or dropping to the second division.  The Mets are just not good enough to make a lot of mistakes.

Mike Pelfrey had another solid start yesterday, sure that WHIP of 1.80 is not good at all and he does leave pitches up in the zones that get smashed but yesterday after the first inning that looked like the beginning of a disastrous start, Pelf made adjustments and relied a lot on his sinker, a 90+MPH sinker I might add, and got ground ball out after ground ball out. Nice job out of Pelf.

I know Mike Nickeas is here for his defense but I don’t see how he is this solid defensive receiver.  Throwing out Juan Pierre at third was more on Pierre being an idiot making the third out at third base, than Nickeas being Jerry Grote. I’ll give Nickeas a bit of a hat tip as he seems to call a decent game but his backhanding of balls in the dirt and inability to keep balls in front of him has me turned off a bit.

Teams that have 2-1 leads going into the 7th inning have to get those last 9 outs and the ones that do are the teams that are pennant contenders. So far the bullpen has done a great job (Bobby Parnell, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco) but yesterday when the frontline relievers weren’t used and the second tier arms came in the game, the results were a disaster. It wasn’t all Ramon Ramirez, Miguel Batista and Manny Acosta’ fault as Ruben Tejada made a bad throwing error and Scott Hairston played left field like he had marbles instead of spike on his shoes but again this team has a super model thin margin of error.

Congrats to Mets Fan Rich for sending in the correct answer to yesterday’s trivia question (R.A. Dickey gave up 6 HR’s in a game tying a modern MLB record) and winning the VIP tickets to the Tribeca Film Festival showing of Knuckleball! On Saturday April 21 at 8PM. This event is open to the public for FREE. So come on down and get a chance to meet R.A. Dickey, Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield and Jim Bouton.

 

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GAME ON !

One month from today is opening day!

Busy day so far as I had to get to work by 6 AM so I can leave early as I have a meeting with my Babe Ruth team and catch Mets-Nats as well.  I called for the meeting to held at local joint that has a back room with a TV so we can discuss business, eat pizza and watch the game.

Unlike the Mets, no one from the NY Times followed me around to cover my early morning ferry and subway ride to work.

The pitching line up for tonight will start with Dillon Gee but the guy all eyes will be on is Matt Harvey, who is scheduled to come in after Gee gets his work in. Harvey will be followed by Miguel Batista who may still be basking in his wonderful 3-0 win over the Reds on the last day of the 2011 season, then Daniel Herrera, Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco to close things out.

Tomorrow we get out first look at Johan Santana. It nice to have game and performances that we can comment on finally.

While all are busy in St. Lonesome getting ready for tonight’s first spring game, The Skill Sets will be focused on the Judge Jed Rakoff’s Manhattan court room to find out if the clawback suit against them is still a go.

John Harper has concluded the reason the Mets have a lack of depth on the Major League roster is due to finances. Tomorrow Harper will report on how jumping into the Atlantic Ocean will cause you to get wet.

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CONGRATULATIONS TO JOHN FRANCO BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN US

Yesterday the New York Mets announced that John Franco will be indicted into the team’s Hall of Fame this coming season with the pomp and circumstance commencing on June 3rd.

There has been much speculation this winter on who would be selected as the next honoree to the Mets HOF, some folks feel Mike Piazza should have been named and of course he should but it looks like the Mets are waiting for his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame so they can throw a really big shindig with Mets HOF honors and a number retiring ceremony as well.

Franco gets the honor this season for many reasons, he played 14 seasons with the Mets, holds the record for most saves in franchise history and most importantly he’s a Wilpon loyalist. Franco holds a job with the club sort of like the Mets Ambassador to Public Functions, in which he’s perfectly suited for. Late season, he volunteered his services to mentor Bobby Parnell in finding his way to the craft of closing baseball games, which if I were the pitching coach I would have strongly voiced my opposition to but it seems the front office didn’t have a problem with since it seems the GM really has no use for Parnell as we see with the addition of Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco which relegates to Parnell to fighting for a bullpen job.    

As I say, I really don’t want to piss in the punch here on Franco’s honor of Mets Hall of Famer but in my opinion, this year’s Mets Hall of Fame honoree should have been us, the New York Mets Fan.  How great a ceremony would it be to honor the long suffering Mets fan? The team could have selected the longest tenure season ticket holder to accept the award in our behalf and then commission a plaque with a nice mosaic of Mets fans who may be the most diverse of all sports teams in this town.  What better way to celebrate 50 years of Mets baseball than honoring the folks who really are the heart and soul of the organization, the Mets fan. Without us there is no NY Mets and in this upcoming season of apparent discontent, what better way to show how much we mean to this organization but to honor is with a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

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PAGAN? HE GONE AND THE REBUILT BULLPEN

Well, if nothing else, Rauch and Francisco won’t tolerate much bullshit!

 

Well, the Mets won’t be coming home from Dallas empty handed. Maybe they are not the most sexy moves Mets fans wanted but they are practical, kind of like getting an iron or power tool for Christmas.  Let’s take a gander at the transaction shall we:

Angel Pagan to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez

Note to all Mets personnel, don’t piss off Terry Collins or you too will be shown the door.  It seems many of Pagan’s ex-teammates won’t be shedding any tears that he’s gone and neither will I. Talk about addition by subtraction. Pagan fell out of favor with the club because a piss poor attitude and putting oneself above the team that don’t fly here no more, especially when you’re fringe major leaguer.

The return from the Giants is quite intriguing. Torres is an upgrade defensively but he not much to look at in the batter’s box. Can Dave Hudgens can do the voodoo they he do-do and bring Torres back offensively to where he was in 2010 (.268/.343/.479 16 HR 43 2b 6.8 WAR) ?

The best part of the deal is getting Ramirez   added to this new look bullpen. Ramirez walks a few batters more than I like but he is effective against right handed hitters. I’m surprised Brian Sabean would include Ramirez in this deal because on the surface Pagan and Torres cancel each other at as both were non-tender candidates and if you’d look to deal Ramirez I’m sure the Giants could have gotten a better offer.

Mets sign Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco

One year deal for $3.5 mil for Rauch and a 2 year $12 mil for Francisco. Are either of these guys top flight pitchers? No ,but for the price they’ll should be more than serviceable . When you look at the Mets bullpen right now, it is far better than it was on the last day of the 2011 season. Rauch should be fine as the 8th inning set up man and Francisco  will take the role as closer but both could interchange the roles if need be. Francisco is a strike out pitcher who throws his fastball and split both effectively and comes with a manageable contract.

So right now the Mets bullpen looks as so:

Francisco  RHP

Rauch  RHP

Ramirez RHP

Parnell RHP

Acosta RHP

Brydak LHP

 

I don’t think Bobby Parnell is a lock for a bullpen spot but to not have to close or set up in the 8th inning could help as he could be the ROOGY to Brydak’s LOOGY. I’m sure Alderson would love to add another lefty to this group. What to do with DJ Carrasco? He has another year left on his deal but it’s just for a million and change so he could see himself included as a thrown in a deal (with Daniel Murphy?) . It seems Pedro Beato is ticketed for Buffalo and there isn’t anyone else from last season arson squad I’d want to keep.

You have to take these deals as a positive, not a jump up and down positive but the team is better than it was on the last day of the season positive.

 

 

 

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Tickets

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