From Tom Seaver to Dwight Gooden to David Wright, A look at the New York Mets past, present and future.
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The 2013 Mets have had some players step up(SP Matt Harvey, C John Buck, OF Mike Baxter, INF-OF Justin Turner, Closer Bobby Parnell and 2B Daniel Murphy) while others continue to be enigmas(1B Ike Davis, SP Dillon Gee and RP Josh Edgin) in the season’s opening weeks. The Offense does not have much power and speed but some how the team is 15th in runs among the 30 ML teams. The vast of majority of Mets who get the most at bats draw walks and work counts, as recently as last week the team led MLB in pitches seen per at bat, with a number just above 4. The lack of pitching depth-particularily in the rotation with dual aces-LH Johan Santana(Shoulder Surgery) and Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey(Off-season trade) gone- has been glaring and has taxed an overmatched and overworked bullpen. The NY staff ERA ranks 23rd in the game yet the starters(16th) numbers are much better than the relievers(27th). However, when you look at the inning pitched numbers(starters 28th, relievers 9th) you can understand why the relief corps have been hit so hard. Overuse is the number one way to expose a bullpen.
The Mets are currently 13-17(May 9th) and entered the season with major issues in the outfield, rotation and bullpen. Amazingly, I feel the Mets pen is potentially the most correctable and promising. I like Parnell(3-0,0.84 ERA, 3 saves in 5 chances) and he has taken a major step up mentally in 2013. The top 5 relievers in games pitched all sport sub 4.50 ERAs and veterans Latroy Hawkins(2.57 ERA in 15), Brandon Lyon(4.38, 15) and Scott Atchinson(4.11,16) have helped stabilize the unit. Long time minor leaguer southpaw Greg Burke has been a godsend, going 1-1 with 1.76 ERA in 18 games. A key for this group is the progress of RH Jeurys Familia(3.48 ERA in 10 1/3 innings) and LH Josh Edgin(sent down to Triple A end of April after posting a 9.64 ERA in 11 games) during the remainder of the 2013 campaign. Edgin showed tremendous promise after a late season call up in 2012 and was awful but Familia has power stuff and just needs to maintain his control to be an effective 8th inning option.
Offensively, as bad as 1B Ike Davis has been(.165 April with 4 home runs and 8 rbi), Baxter and Buck have been outstanding. A salary “throw- in” to the Dickey trade, Buck has been great behind the plate and with the bat(.236, 10 HRs, 29 RBI). Baxter is a baseball player(as Mets Manager Terry Collins likes to say) and contributes every time he plays. He has a .371 OBP and LF Lucas Duda(.391 OBP, 7 homers) has also consistently put together good ML at bats. The power-speed combo that OF Jordany Valdespin provides(2 HRs, 4 steals) intrigues me and veteran OF Marlon Byrd(.253,2, 12) has helped stabilize the team. Meanwhile, INF Justin Turner has been so impressive(.392 avg,.833 OPS in 43 at bats) that Collins is trying to find him playing time in the outfield. 3B David Wright continues to be David Wright(.298,.970 OPS, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 6 steals) and set the tone for the most exciting win of the early season when he parked the top closer in the game(Atlanta Braves Craig Kimbrel) to tie the game in the 9th last week.
Sorry about the lack of columns over the past 2 weeks, I am orignally from the Boston,Mass area and also have been dealing with a major surgery on my Pet. I will have a blog up early this week. Thanks for understanding!
The First two weeks have given some indicators on what the 2013 New York Mets can be- and how we can better determine that. The Outfield platoon with Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Collin Cowgill, Jordany Valdespin, Marlon Byrd and Kirk Nieuwenhuis has worked well and Manager Terry Collins has made it work, finding roles and playing time for each. Valdespin looks to be a good leadoff option while Byrd and Duda have some key hits. Baxter always puts together good at bats and Cowgill sparks with power and presence. Nieuwenhuis is the wildcard, to me, he has the most overall ability of any OF and he just needs reps and confidence. Pitching wise, I think the Mets know they can win any game Jon Niese and Matt Harvey pitch. The key for this team heading forward is the other three rotation spots. Zach Wheeler cannot arrive in Flushing soon enough!
GENERAL METS NOTES: The Mets had no idea when they traded 2012 NL CY Young winner R.A. Dickey they would be getting Johnny Bench back…LOL. John Buck leads the NL in RBI with 18 and has 6 home runs. Mets catchers had 5 homers in 2012. Buck has always had talent and has been great with Mets pitchers as well. Nice throw in. LOL…The Mets have a home run in each game with 6 different Mets going deep, Duda has 3 while 2B Daniel Murphy and Cowgill have 2 apiece. Murphy is noticeably hitting with more sting and power as pointed out by SNY’s own Keith Hernandez … I try to be nice but when you see the nonsense the Mets are dealing with schedule wise, it is hard to not criticize MLB scheduling. Road night games in Minnesota and Denver— in April? We play in a division with 2 Warm Weather teams!!! And have little or no starting pitching depth…. all of these reschedules and doubleheaders will wear out our pitching staff! Nice job, Bud! Not like you owned the Milwaukee Brewers or anything for almost 25 years. This is the same commish who had no answer for a tie in the all star game. A wise man once say fail to prepare, prepare to ……
The New York Mets took 2 of three from two teams predicted to be among the worst in all of MLB but beggers cannot be choosers and this team needs a good start. The product we saw over the first 6 games is what it is and what they need to do to win- strong starting pitching, a mix and match bullpen and contributions from the entire roster. The platoon Outfield seems to have sparked the team with names like Mike Baxter(Solid ABs, gets walks), Marlon Byrd(A Pro, does everything well), Jordany Valdespin(Raw talent, tools) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis(Just looks like a ball player) all contributing while Collin Cowgill(2 Homers) appears to be approaching folk hero status in Flushing. Newly acquired C John Buck(RA Dickey trade) leads the NL in RBI and appears to be more than just a guy here to keep the plate warm for super prospect Travis d’Arnaud. People need to realize these two areas- Catcher and Outfield- were weaknesses for the Mets in 2012. These guys are not replacing Bench, Mantle and Maris, Solid, fundamental play is an upgrade. A good first week for the 2013 New York Mets.
STATS OF THE WEEK: Mets homered in the opening 6 games for the first time since 1987…. After taking 2 of 3 from The Padres and Marlins at Citi Field, the Mets won their first 2 series for the 1st time since 2006. Get excited- the last time the Mets made the postseason? 2006- When they won the NL East. Book the Parade!
The 2013 New York Mets are in the 3rd year of a rebuilding project under the helm of GM Sandy Alderson and we are starting to see some key components make way and be potential contributors on the Big League level. Youngsters like 1B Ike Davis, SP Matt Harvey, 2B Matt Harvey and SS Rueben Tejada have become viable players while more established veterans like SP Jon Niese and Closer Bobby Parnell appear ready to take the next step as the #1 starter and 9th inning guy. 3B David Wright remains the constant and sets the tone on and off the field. The recent moves involving veterans in the outfield(Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd) and bullpen(Brandon Lyon, Latroy Hawkins,etc) will go along way in determining the fortunes of the 2013 club. However with super prospects such as SP Zach Wheeler and C Travis d’Arnaud on the horizon, fans in Flushing are hopeful the Mets are close to playing meaningful games in September. Fans of the club should also be excited that the team’s front office added those two via trade. The history of the Mets shows when they trade or develop young players they have success.
Mets season prediction: 79-83— Division is brutal with two teams that could win the World Series(the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals) and another loaded with proud vets and a winning culture(Philadelphia Phillies). I am not going to insult your intelligence and tell you the Marlins are good. That team could not win the Big 10.
American League Playoff Teams: Tampa, Detroit, Texas(AL Champion) division winners. WildCard teams: Oakland and Kansas City
National League Playoff Teams: Washington(World Series Champion), Cincinnati, SF Giants division winner. Wildcard teams: Atlanta and
MVPs: Detroit 1B Prince Fielder(AL) and Washington OF Bryce Harper(NL)
CY YOUNG: Royals SP James Shields(AL) and Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg(NL)
Rookie of the Year: Tampa OF Will Myers(AL) and LA Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu(NL)
General Thoughts on the season: Love the big offseason trade the Royals(Added Shields and SP Wade Davis) and Rays(Myers and kids back) made, helps both teams fill needs- Rays needed offense, Royals established ML pitchers. Helps both make the postseason….. The most quietly improved AL team nobody talks about in the AL are the Cleveland Indians. They have the best lineup in the division(AL Central) now with pro bats at every spot with a nice blend of speed and power as well as no easy outs. They also added an incredible manager in Terry Francona, who did the impossible(won 2 World Series in Boston) and added veteran leaders in Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi. If this team pitches, they make the playoffs…. The teams in the AL West should go to church everyday and twice on Sunday and thank the Lord for the addition of the Houston Astros to their division. In what should be a tight AL wildcard race, playing that massive rebuild job 19 times has to help your postseason chances…. The September closer for the Detroit Tigers is not on their team right now and they will pay a pretty penny to add one at the request of their beloved owner Mike Ilitch. Look for teams with closers at the end of deals(Arizona Diamondbacks JJ Putz) and clubs with multiple 9th inning options(Cincinnati with Aroldis Chapman-Jonathan Broxton or Boston with Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey) or the Washington Nationals with the trio of Drew Storen,Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano. Here is something to ponder: If the New York Yankees are terrible- and they will be – would they turn down a Mariano Rivera for Nick Castellanos(one of the top position player prospects in the game) proposal?… The Washington Nationals will be tough to beat and have no real weaknesses…. Love the Los Angeles Angels lineup and defense but they have questions throughtout their pitching staff and will be in a lot of 11-8 games. Not a recipe for success… Home runs will be way down with HGH testing and more PED issues on the horizon…. Look for Fielder to have an incredible 2nd season in Detroit. He had platoon players hitting behind him in 2012 and was good. This year he as an elite switch hitter protecting him in DH Victor Martinez. Might be the only player in MLB to hit 40 home runs this season…. The Pittsburgh Pirates will finish above .500 for the 1st time since 1992… The New York Yankees will finish in 5th in the AL East. Why? Their are only 5 teams…. By May 1st the stories will start where Miami Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton will ended up…. Keep an eye on the Oakland A’s– Billy Beane has done it again with young position players and pitching up to his ears. This guy wins bringing knives to gun fights….. Another vastly improved team to watch for: the Seattle Mariners— added a lot of pop(Kendry Morales and Michael Morse) to a good pitching staff and young talented position core. In a tough division but will contend in 2013.
NY METS STARTING LINEUP FOR MONDAY vs PADRES AT CITI FIELD :
1- CF Collin Cowgill
2- 2B Daniel Murphy
3- 3B David Wright
4- 1B Ike Davis
5- RF Marlon Byrd
6-LF Lucas Duda
7-C John Buck
8-SS Rueben Tejada
9-P Jonathan Niese
Injury updates: Veteran relievers Pedro Feliciano(arm,heart) and Tim Byrdak(Shoulder,knee) are staying in Florida to strengthen their arms and continue rehab from surgeries . Of the two, Feliciano appears closer to contributing to the big club while a realistic date for Byrdak appears to be sometime in July. Meanwhile, former closer Frank Francisco(elbow) continues to work towards a return in April. Camp star and fan favorite Matt den Dekker(broken wrist) will not require surgery and will be in a cast for at least a month. The acrobatic centerfielder made incredible catch after incredible catch all spring and while not offering much with the bat, he was a strong candidate to make the team due to his defensive prowess.
Mets ace lefty Johan Santana will undergo season(career?) ending surgery Tuesday to repair an anterior capsule tear in his throwing shoulder. Santana had the exact same procedure late in 2010 and was out 19 months. This type of operation has been done on ML pitchers an estimated 10 times, Santana is the first to go under the knife twice. The Mets are responsible for the 25.5 million of Johan’s 2012 contract and will pay a 5.5 buyout for 2014 so an option does not kick in. This is devastating news for both the team, Johan and Mets fans. This guy is a great, great player and team guy who made history with the club’s 1st No Hitter last season. Huge loss and blow to everyone involved. Get well, Johan!
After several moves with the 40 man roster and minor trades, the Mets 25 man 2013 roster has come into picture. The team will carry 2 catchers, 6 infielders(Jordany Valdespin can play OF as well) and 5 outfielders. One infield spot is to be determined by health, Justin Turner has a minor league issue and will test it out Sunday at Citi Field. If he is ok, Justin makes the team as the primary backup infielder. If he does not, 1B-3B Zack Lutz will head North with the big club. 3B and newly appointed captain David Wright and 2B Daniel Murphy both appear good to go after missing time with lat injuries. Th pitching staff will break camp with 8 relievers(4 starters) with one being sent to the minors when 5th starter Shawn Marcum is ready to start game 6(April 7th) . Here is the roster as I type:
INFIELDERS(6): 1B Ike Davis, Murphy, SS Rueben Tejada, Wright, Valdespin, Turner-Lutz
OUTFIELDERS(5): LF Lucas Duda, CF Collin Cowgill, RF Marlon Byrd, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter
CATCHER(2): John Buck, Anthony Recker
STARTING PITCHERS(4): LH Jonahan Niese, RH Matt Harvey, RH Dillon Gee, RH Jeremy Heffner
RELIEF PITCHERS(8): RHs Bobby Parnell, Brandon Lyon, Latroy Hawkins, Scott Atchinson, Greg Burke, Jeurys Familia, LHs Josh Edgin and Scott Rice
The New York Mets were dealt a herculean blow Thursday when ace lefty Johan Santana, who tossed the 1st No hitter in Franchise history June 1st,2012 , re-tore the anterior capsule in his left shoulder. The diagnosis is not definite yet numerous media reports confirm it and NY General Manager Sandy Alderson says surgery and a missed season are a “strong possibility”. If the this is an anterior capsule tear, it is the same injury that cost Santana the end of the 2010 season and the entire 2011 campaign. Having this surgery once is difficult and for a 2nd time is almost unprecedented. Johan Santana’s career is in major jeopardy and this is devastating news for the Mets both on and off the field.
The Mets made what all fans of the club have known for years official when they named 3B David Wright the captain of the team. #5 is the on and off field face of the club and for those watched Team USA in the World Baseball Classic you realize how well respected he is throughtout the game. It is not coincidence that a strong American team fell apart when Wright was lost due to injury. After David commited long term to staying in Flushing this offseason, naming him the official “C” of the team was a given. This is a a win win for both the player and organization. Cannot say enough about David Wright and what he means to me as a Mets fan. Just a pro’s pro who has shown up when it is both good and bad. Not many guys do that. David Wright does. In regards to the Captain’s health, Wright has made good progress with his side side muscle pull and has started to do baseball related drills outside of swinging a bat. He was given a cortisone shot early in the treatment stage and opening day looks promising. Wright joins 1B Keith Hernandez, Late C Gary Carter and Reliever John Franco as Mets captains.
With Johan Santana(Shoulder) still not close to being able to take the mound, Mets manager Terry Collins has named LHP Jonathan Niese opening day starter. The southpaw has been tremendous this spring posting a 0.71 ERA in Grapefruit league play. Niese, who has a big supporter in Collins, pitched a career high 190 1/3 innings in 2012 with 155 Ks and a 3.50 ERA. Both Niese and Collins are aiming for big things in 2013 with a stated goal of 200+ innings a given. With Santana ailing and the trade of 2012 NL CY Young winner R.A. Dickey in the offseason, Niese must step forward if the Mets are going to contend in 2013. The starting rotation is now set with RHPs Shaun Marcum, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee to follow. Jeremy Heffner, who has also had a strong spring, is the 5th starter and the team has not announced whether they will skip his spot the first time thru the rotation with the amount of off days early in April.
Mets superstar 3B David Wright had to withdraw from the elimination round of the World Baseball Classic Thursday, setting off alarms in Flushing and the rest of New York. The leader of both Team USA and the Mets is out with a moderate intercostal strain(ENGLISH: He has pull in lat(side) muscle, bad injury for baseball players since you torn your hips, sides all the time). The team was planning on resting Wright for 3 to 5 days and will evaluate him at that time. NY GM Sandy Alderson would not speculate about a return date but Mets skipper Terry Collins told reporters #5 might open the season on the DL. However, he also noted Wright is tough and played with a broken bone in his back 2 years ago. The team will look to fill the position internally with utility INFs Justin Turner, Brandon Hicks, Brian Bixler and Zach Lutz being the leading candidates. Turner appears to be the leader while Bixler is not even on the 40 man roster. Lutz is an interesting name due to his power but his lack of major league experience is a major detriment. Regardless of who the choice is, the Mets need their on and off field leader back playing as soon as possible.
With the start of the 2013 MLB season rapidly approaching, the New York Mets continue to have issues with several key components, mostly on the pitching side. Closer Frank Francisco(Off season elbow surgery) threw off the mound for the first time today(March 10th) while #1 starter Johan Santana(Day to day, due to a lack of arm strength) is a good bet to open the season on the DL or some sort of extended spring training stint. As far as the closer situation goes, the Mets have an excellent internal option in Bobby Parnell. As far as the rotation works out , minus Santana and 2012 NL CY Young winner R.A. Dickey, the team has issues. Lets hope super prospect Zach Wheeler is not far away!
Position players wise, 2B Daniel Murphy(Lat strain, out since Mid February) and OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis(knee) should be back sometime this week. Both are vital cogs for the team in 2013. Murphy is a solid bat and has improved defensively at 2B while Nieuwenhuis is the best internal option for the team in centerfield. The Mets have cleary found one OF in Collin Cowgill(.375 in 24 spring ABs) and camp invitee Marlon Byrd(.348,23 ABs) has been outstanding. Meanwhile, LF Lucas Duda has come on strong(.280, homer, 3 rbi in 25 ABs) and 1B Ike Davis(.368, hr in 19 ABs) continues to impress after his strong second half in 2012. However, the best stick in camp has been super utility man Jordany Valdespin(.360,2 hrs, 5 rbi in 25 ABs). Valdespin has more than likely played himself onto the club and with his speed and power, he can be a huge weapon for this team heading forward.
The Mets organization and fans alike should be excited watching the 2013 World Baseball Classic and in particular, Team USA. Why? The unquestioned leader of that squad is 3B David Wright. His Grand Slam turned the tide in the Italy elimination game and his overall play in the field and quality ABs have really stood out. The Mets have a lot of problems but 3B and team leader is not one of them. It is really easy to lead a team with multi-millionaires and an unlimited check book(Yes, raise your hand, Jeter!) but this guy signed on to stay here long term. Wright has been here for the good and bad times, lets hope more good ones are on the way.
Barring a trade or signing in camp, the Mets outfield appears to be set going into 2013 after the remaining top free agent OF Michael Bourn shunned the Mets to sign with the Cleveland Indians last week. The candidates appear to be Lucas Duda in Left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis manning Center with platoon options including Collin Cowgill,Mike Baxter, Marlon Byrd and Andrew Brown. Jordany Valdespin, who has immense talent, will also get a look. Rest assured, this group reminds no one of the 1961 Yankees but if they can catch the ball and hit enough, their is no reason this group cannot be functional. The infield should be very good and can carry the team offensively. Losing out on Bourn hurts but he filled one spot. The Mets have an entire OF to fill.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson continues to address the biggest weakness of the 2012 Mets(The bullpen and pitching depth in general) while also trying to fortify what appears to be the flaw of the 2013 team- the Outfield. The team recently signed long time veteran reliever Latroy Hawkins(2-3,3.64 in 48 games for the LA Angels in 2012, been in Majors since 1997) and are reportedly close to inking former ML closer Brandon Lyon to compete or supplant Mets 2012 saves leader Frank Francisco(offseason elbow surgery). Meanwhile, numerous media outlets have the Mets leading in the sweepstakes for the top remaining free agent Outfielder, former Atlanta Brave CF Michael Bourn. Besides the obvious money-term and length of a deal, Scott Boras is Bourn’s agent,etc, the Mets are waiting for a determination from MLB on the status of their 1st pick in the 2013 if they sign a top level free agent.
With all of the Greater New York media focusing on the Mets attempt to possibly sign free agent CF Michael Bourn, GM Sandy Alderson has quietly added two solid ML pitchers in both the rotation and bullpen in the past week. Veteran RHSP Shaun Marcum(7-4,3.70 in 21 starts for Milwaukee in 2012) inked a 1 year deal and slots right into one of the 5 spots in the starting rotation. The team signed RHRP Scott Atchison to minor league deal with an invite to major league Spring Training. In 42 games for the Boston Red Sox in 2012 he went 2-1 with a 1.58 ERA in 51 1/3 innings. A stat of interest for Mets fans- he owns left-handed hitters(.188 average). As someone who was born and raised in the Boston area, I cannot emphasize enough how great a signing this is for the Mets.
Now for the remaining mission of the Alderson, adding an impact outfielder to a young, unproven group at Citi Field. The Mets and top remaining free agent Outfielder Michael Bourn had a “secret” meeting last week and the team and player would be a perfect fit.(As suggested by this blogger earlier this offseason) But.. their are two major obstacles here– Bourn is represented by super agent Scott Boras, who maximizes top dollar for each and everyone of his clients. The Mets have been dealing with financial issues since club ownership was hit hard in Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme and would not appear to be in a position to negotiate with Boras. Secondly, Bourn’s former club- the Atlanta Braves-offered him a qualifying offer and any team the has a pick in the 1st 10 selections of the draft is protected if they sign elite free agents. NY had the 10th worst record but the pick was bumped to 11 after the Pittsburgh Pirates could not sign their own 2012 1st rounder(Stanford RHP Mark Appel) . Many do not believe it is wise or financially prudent for the rebuilding Mets to sign a free agent to a multi million dollar deal while losing a high first round selection. However, adding Bourn to this outfield would greatly improve the on field product and make a major question mark presentable.
The Top 10 New York Mets Prospects according to the annual Baseball America National League East prospects issue,dated January 22,2013. I am adding what minor league level they should open the 2013 campaign at.
1- RHP Zack Wheeler, Triple A
2- SS Gavin Cecchini, Low Class A
3- OF Brandon Nimmo, Low Class A
4-RHP Luis Mateo, A
5-RHP Rafael Montero, Double A
6- 3B-2B Wilmer Flores, Triple A
7- RHP Michael Fulmer , Hi Class A
8- RHP Jeurys Familia, Mets
9- RHP Domingo Tapia , Hi A
10- RHP Cory Mazzoni, Triple A
The New York Mets are looking to add a veteran starting pitcher and multiple arms to a weak relief core as the New Year approaches. The rotation has 4 quality starters with Lefties Johan Santana and Jon Niese as well as righties Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey signed for 2013. However, both Santana(arm fatigue) and Gee(Blood clot surgery) missed large portions of the 2012 campaign and the team would be smart to have a surplus of available starting pitching. Bullpen wise, the top 3 spots appear secure with their closer(Frank Francisco), 8th inning man(Bobby Parnell) and lefty specialist(Josh Edgin) all back. Francisco underwent surgery December 18th to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. He should be ready to throw well before Spring Training. The Mets could use at least one more veteran righthander and a lefty to ease the load on Edgin.
The Mets have 3 primary internal options who made starts with the team in 2012 in RHPs Jeremy Heffner, Jenrry Mejia and Collin McHugh. Heffner made 13 starts(appeared in 26 games) and went 4-7 with a 5.09 ERA. The youngster has guts and could be a bottom of the rotation type. McHugh was hit hard in his 8 games(4 starts) but K-ed 17 in 21 and a third innings. He also was one of the better pitchers in the Mets minor league system the last two seasons(9-4,3.84 ERA in 27 games(22 starts) in 2011, 7-9,2.91 ERA in 25 2012 starts). Mejia has the most promise of the 3 and had a strong 2012 minor league campaign(1-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 5 starts at Triple A Buffalo, 4-4,3.59 in 14 minor league starts(30 games) after missing most of 2011 with Tommy John surgery in his throwing elbow. He was called up by the big club in September,going 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in 5 games(3 starts). Whoever earns the 5th spot in the rotation is more than likely keeping the seat warm for Mets super prospect RHP Zach Wheeler, who posted sub 3.30 ERAs at the Double and Triple A levels in 25 starts in 2012. A veteran free agent like ex Met Chris Young(4-9,4.15 ERA in 20 starts after rejoining the team in May after missing most of 2011 with an injured pitching shoulder) would also make sense. The team has also been linked to free agent Carl Pavano and engaged trade talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers who have 8 to 9 ML ready starters under contract.
The relief corps needs more quality arms as well as internal improvement. Francisco is a good ML closer and just needs to stay healthy. Parnell is an enigma and has struggled when attempting to close. He has tremendous stuff and talent, Mets fans continue to hope he turns those tools into outs and production. Edgin was impressive after being recalled and the southpaw has big time gas(30 Ks in 25.2 innings). He also has extensive closing experience in the minors(converted 30 of 39 saves in the minors from 2010-11) and just looks like a player. The team definitely needs to add another lefty to help Edgin avoid the same fate that felled lefty specialist Tim Byrdak(shoulder surgery) in 2012. Byrdak was brought back as a non roster FA and could pitch by midseason. Here is a name for Mets fans to remember- LHP Darin Gorski. After a strong 2011 at A ball(11-3,2.08 in 28 games(27 starts), he regressed at AA in 2012(9-8,4.00, 25 games(24 starts). However, Mets skipper Terry Collins wants to try him as a lefty specialist in Spring Training and the team added Gorski to the 40 man roster November 20th. LH Robert Carson(1-2,3.86, 10 saves in the minors in 2012, 0-0,4.73 with Mets in 17 games) also figures in the mix. RHP Jeurys Familia was appeared in 8 games with the big club in 2012 also could make the big league club with a strong spring. The Mets could also add a veteran arm with late inning experience to provide Collins with flexibility- names like ex closers Matt Capps and Jose Valverde have been rumored. J.P. Howell, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, is a strong free agent option.
After resolving the two major issues of the 2012 offseason by resigning 3B David Wright and trading 2012 NL CY Young winner R.A. Dickey, NY Mets GM Sandy Alderson still has moves to make as the start of spring training approaches. Outfield continues to be the most obvious need with only Lucas Duda, the favorite to be the starting Left Fielder in 2013, a good bet to be in the lineup opening day. The team could also use another veteran low cost veteran starting pitcher as well as bullpen help, particularly of the left handed variety.
The recent trade with the Oakland A’s helped the Mets add an ideal 4th OF type in RH Collin Cowgill. His right handed stick(.298 vs LHP, .223 vs RH in 196 at bats over 2 ML seasons) makes him a strong platoon candidate on a team loaded with left handed bats in the Outfield. Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis(Can play all 3 OF spots) and Mike Baxter are all left handed batters, so adding a quality righty helps balance the group. Scott Hairston is a free agent and continues to talk with the Mets and 2-3 other teams. Reportedly, he is holding out for a 2 year deal. Hairston had a strong 2012 campaign, hitting .263 with 20 homers(career high) and 57 rbi in 377 at bats for the Mets. He brutalized lefties, clubbing 11 homers in 189 at bats while hitting .286 vs Southpaws.
In an ideal world, free agent CF Michael Bourn would be on the Mets by New Years. But he is a Scott Boras client($$$$$$$) and the Mets are not yet in the position to target elite free agents. Bourn, a top flight leadoff man and excellent CF, is a perfect fit for the Mets. Just not going to happen unless Santa drops off a present at Citi Field! Instead, look to trades for players such as Oakland A’s CF Coco Crisp or two members of the Arizona Diamondbacks- OFs Jason Kubel and Gerardo Parra. The Colorado Rockies also have 5 major league level OFs and reportedly have been shopping CF Dexter Fowler(GET HIM!) and superstar RF Carlos Gonzalez(expensive!!!). Regardless, the Mets cannot seriously open the season with this current group in the outfield and Alderson must add at least 1 major league player before April 1st.
In a deal that will hurt the Mets definitely short term but hopefully help long term, New York traded 2012 National League CY Young winner R.A. Dickey and Catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Toronto Blue Jays for Cs Travis d’Arnaud and John Buck, RH pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard and minor league OF-INF Wuilmer Becerra. The deal was finalized Monday after hard negotiations over the past several days, Dickey signed a two year extension with the Jays after passing his physical. While the trade of their staff ace hurts the teams prospects in 2013, the Mets turned a position of weakness(catcher) into a strength with the addition of a proven major leaguer in Buck and elite super prospect in D’Arnaud. Syndergaard is another power arm who should combine with Matt Harvey and top prospect Zach Wheeler to provide the Mets with dominant starting pitching over the next decade.
This deal was about the future of the Mets franchise and not short term success or ticket sales. GM Sandy Alderson has done a great job with these types of trades in the past, famously acquiring Wheeler from the Pitching rich San Francisco Giants at the 2011 trade deadline for soon to be free agent OF Carlos Beltran. Dickey is 38 and the Mets are not going to win the World Series in the next 2-3 years. They might in 4 or 5. As great a story and man Dickey is, this was a great baseball trade and had to be done. The Mets lack proven major league level talent and they added three parts that will help them in 2013 and beyond.
Buck is not Johnny Bench but he is a major league starting catcher and will at worst keep the set warm for d’Arnaud when the 2013 campaign opens. Buck hit a career high 20 homers for the Jays in 2010 before signing with the Miami Marlins in 2011. He hit 16 and 12 long balls the past 2 seasons in Florida and is a career .235 hitter in over 3100 major league at bats. Buck was part of the huge Marlins offseason trade(fire sale?) with the Jays where ex Met SS Jose Reyes and several other high profile Marlins were essentially sold to Toronto. Travis is an elite power bat and was the key component of the trade the Philadelphia Phillies made to acquire staff ace Roy Halladay in November 2009. A good athlete behind the plate who also controls the oppositions run game, he should be in Queens sometime in 2013. A late season knee injury kept him from being September call up for Toronto in 2012. The #11 prospect in all of baseball according to mlb.com’s 2012 prospect watch, D’arnaud hit .333 with 16 homers in 67 games for Triple A Las Vegas in 2012.
Syndergaard(#83 of 100 in the MLB’s Top 100 prospects list) is a big, talented righty who was a first round pick in the 2010 supplemental draft by Toronto. Noah was a third in the MidWest league in strikeouts and made the league’s all star team. If he pitched enough innings to qualify, he would have had the fourth lowest ERA in the MWL.(Toronto had him on an innings limit) Featuring a fastball in the upper 90s, he also possesses an above average power breaking ball and changeup. He projects to be a top line starter in the near future. Becerra is a raw athlete from Venezuela that will remind many Mets fans of Jordanny Valdespin. Has tremendous physical tools(speed,power) and needs to find a position. Originally a shortstop, he moved to to the outfield in 2012. Unfortunately, a pitch hit him in the face, breaking his jaw and cutting his season to 11 games. The Mets generally do well with this type of talent.
As far as Dickey goes, I have a mixed bag of emotions. Love the guy and what he brought to the Mets. Genuinely a good dude who overcame a well documented and extremely difficult child hood to become a major league star. Never mind the fact that he is missing a major ligament in his arm that is vital for pitching, Dickey was fun to watch and cover. I am glad he got paid and I am also glad I got to watch him pitch in New York for 3 years. This season was not a fluke, R.A. was good for his entire tenure in Queens. Hopefully, he will continue to pitch well in Toronto and unlike so many ex-Mets, I will pull for him for the rest of his career. Guy battled for a team that has lacked that over the past couple of seasons and by all accounts, was an excellent teammate. However, this trade needed to be done and Alderson should be praised for showing both the brains and balls to do it. It is never easy to trade a star for the unknown- prospects. Particularly in the win now Market that is NY.
Finally, some of the credit for this deal has to be thrown to Mets executive J.P Ricciardi, who served as the GM of Toronto from November 2001 til October 2009. He has tremendous contacts within that organization and had to play a vital role for Alderson in the dealings with the Jays. Hats off to the Special assistant to the General Manager! While this deal has put helped the Mets future, they still have holes to fill. The team needs at least 2 major league outfielders(Lucas Duda is a good bet to start in Left while internal candidates Mike Baxter(RF) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis(CF) are more platoon types at this point), a starting pitcher and relief help. The Mets made a minor trade with the Oakland A’s today to acquire OF Collin Cowgill today, who is 4th outfielder type. However, numerous reports have the team working on adding an OF with teams like the A’s(CF Coco Crisp) and Arizona Diamondbacks mentioned. Ex Met Scott Hairston(would be a good platoon guy with Baxter in RF) and Cody Ross(Good offensive player and locker room guy) are the free agent targets. The team has around 7 million to spend according to reports.
The New York Mets and their star 3B David Wright finalized a 8 year, $138 million dollar extension Thursday night and the deal is the biggest in franchise history. The signing is huge for both the player and organization, the Mets have moved(or lost them to free agency) their own homegrown stars(Tom Seaver, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden) or added players who were already established stars(Keith Hernandez, Gary Garter and Mike Piazza) on other teams. David Wright grew up in this organization and is the Mets. He idolizes Cal Ripken Jr and it is important to him that he is linked to one team. This deal all but insures that.
The Mets needed this extension done for reasons both on and off the field. The Wilpon ownership group seems to be on better financial ground after the Madoff fiasco and this deal should give them some good will with a tortured fan base. Wright also understood the economics of the contract and the team. The deal is more front-loaded to help the team add assets and also not punish the team when Wright is near the end of what should be a Hall of Fame career. More importantly, Wright is clearly the Mets leader and best player and the team needs him in both capacities. Fans look to #5 to help lead them back to the postseason and he also provides them with a level of comfort. On a personal note, I am happier than a pig in mud. I was terrified Wright would be an ex Met and this news ends that speculation. David Wright is the face of the Mets and you could not ask for a better representative in MLB. An early Holiday gift for Mets fans!
Now that the team has inked Wright, all the focus of the offseason turns to 2012 NL CY Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. The team has him under contract thru 2013 and has been trying to sign him to an extension. Reports have a deal close with a term and dollar amount being reasonable(3 years/25 mill). Thing should heat up this week at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. Numerous media outlets have the Mets looking to trade either Dickey or LHSP Jon Niese for players that could help the 2013 Mets. One of these two is a good bet to be moved within the next 7 to 10 days. New York’s biggest needs are in the outfield, bullpen and behind the plate at catcher.
Regardless of how the contract talks with 3B David Wright and Starting pitcher R.A. Dickey turn out, GM Sandy Alderson’s needs to fill holes in the Outfield, bullpen and at catcher. Whether the players are acquired in a trade, signed as free agents or a combination of both, the Mets need more talent. Most of the clubs position player prospects are two to three years away. The next month or so should give us a better idea what type of team the 2013 New York Mets will be. Here are some areas to focus on as the Winter Meetings approach(December 3rd thru the 6th)
The team has internal options in the outfield but could use at least 1 veteran and possibly two after the team let free agent bust Jason Bay go earlier this offseason. Lucas Duda is a natural LF and would provide the team with lacking power. Centerfield is another issue. Matt den Dekker is a 5 tool talent but struggled with his batting average after being called up to Triple A Buffalo. The 2010 5th round pick is a solid all around player but a best case scenario has him in Queens mid season 2014. Internally, Kirk Nieuwenhuis is your best option in 2013. A very good defender, his batting average plummeted every month he was up in majors- .325(April), .263(May), .238(June) and .105(38 July at bats). Right field sees local favorite Mike Baxter as a platoon type who hits righties and struggles vs southpaws. A veteran who can bat leadoff and possibly play some RF would be ideal addition.
The Mets are not likely to chase the top tier free agent Outfielders like Josh Hamilton, BJ Upton or Michael Bourn(who would look great at Citi Field!) due to the clubs perilous financial situation. Alderson does have some trade options however. The Cubs David DeJesus(More of a RF) and Twins Denard Span(Perfect for the Mets!!!) would be solid adds. Both players have young cheaper talent ready to take their spots so the Twins and Cubs could be looking to move them. Some free agent names that the team could afford include Ryan Ludwick and Cody Ross, who provide both power and the ability to handle lefties. Angel Pagan( Starting CF for the World Champion San Francisco Giants) and Scott Hairston(Solid 2012 campaign in Queens, 20 homers and hammered southpaws) are two players Mets fans are familiar with and would be good fits for the 2013 team.
Two other areas to look at are a right handed hitting catcher to pair with returnee Josh Thole. Thole’s fate might also be linked to Dickey’s, as he is the knuckleballer’s personal backstop. The catching free agent market is not too strong but someone like arbitration eligible George Kottaras from the Oakland A’s would help. The Mets might also bring back Kelly Shoppach,who the acquired in a late season trade. As far as bullpen help goes, the Mets did well late in the season with young arms like Josh Edgin, Bobby Parnell, Robert Carson,Jeurys Familia,etc and will wait out the reliever market than strike when they see an ideal fit. Manager Terry Collins has expressed a desire to add a veteran lefty in the pen and look for New York to sign two bullpen arms.
The Mets finalizing a buyout for free agent bust LF Jason Bay while picking up the 1 year options on star 3B David Wright($16 million) and 2012 National League CY Young winner starting pitcher R.A. Dickey($5 million) have been the headline grabbers in the offseason. Lets look at these 3 moves individually.
BAY:This had to be done for both Bay and the Mets. A good guy and worker, the one time great player did not work in Queens and that fact was more than likely not going to change. He signed a 4 year 66 million dollar deal in 2009 and the club bought him out for $21 million On November 7th. He played in only 288 games for Mets, battling numerous injuries while hitting only 26 home runs. To give you an idea how much Bay dropped off, before he joined the Mets, he had 4 seasons of 100+ rbi and hit between 22 and 36 homers from 2004 to 2009. I say it all the time on these pages, I have never seen a player of this quality completely fall apart to this level. Bay played at an all star, MVP candidate level in Boston after replacing Red Sox star Manny Ramirez. In NY, he was so bad he was unplayable. Sad to see this happen to a good man and pro. The best for both Bay and the Mets. I covered this man when he broke in the Pirates and would like to wish him well.
WRIGHT:The face of the franchise has been offered a long term deal and getting him signed to an extension is priority one of the Mets offseason. A reasonable number and length would be 5 years/100 million to 7/126. Wright would be 31 when that contract kicked it(2014). The unquestioned leader of the Mets is also homegrown organizational face and not having him signed by the start of Spring Training would create a media circus all season long with trade talks,rumors being reported 24/7. GM Sandy Alderson recently stated he hopes to gain some “clarity” before the Baseball Winter Meetings December 3rd thru the 6th. Meaning he hopes to have a better idea where he stands with both Wright and pitcher R.A. Dickey and if talks are not progressing, he could look to trade them.
DICKEY:An amazing story and season from one of the better people in the game could not have come at a better time for the talented knuckleballer. The 38 year old is signed thru the 2013 campaign and likes pitching in NY. A 2 year deal between 20-25 million with an option year would be reasonable. Dickey has made 91 starts in 3 seasons with Mets and pitched most of last season with a serious abdominal injury.He is tough and embraced pitching in the pressurized NY market. A team leader on and off the field, inking him long term would give the Mets a deep talented rotation with Dickey, LHPs Johan Santana and Jon Niese joining youngsters Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee. There has been more trade rumors circulating about Dickey than Wright but most of them have the Mets asking for a kings ransom,a good indicator the team prefers to sign him long term.
A dream season for a great story and man was recognized Wednesday November 14 as R.A. Dickey won the 2012 National League Cy Young. The award is the 5th in Mets history(Hall of Famer Tom Seaver won 3 and Dwight Gooden 1) and the popular knuckleballer received 27 of 32 1st place votes. Dickey posted a 20-6 record with a 2.73 ERA. He led the NL in quality starts(27), Strikeouts(230) and innings pitched(233 2/3). More importantly, he was a staff ace for a team that saw its rotation beaten and battered all season with health issues. Dickey also published a book in spring training detailing his childhood that saw him being sexually abused. Prior to reporting to camp, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. That journey became symbolic for the season Dickey put together. On a personal note, I could not be happier for a player. R.A. is an easy guy to pull for and a class act on and off the field. Playing for the Mets as off late has not been easy but he makes it look easy. Total Class act. Just an amazing story, Dickey almost quit baseball in 2006, was the last man cut as the 2010 Mets left spring training and pitched most of 2012 with a torn muscle in his abdomen. A great, great day for R.A. and the Mets.
32 2/3- Team record consecutive scoreless innings
1990- Last time a Met pitcher won 20 games(Frank Viola)
74-88- The Mets 2012 record. Dickey was 20-6, so he won 27% of the team wins!!!!!
4.25:1-Dickey’s strike out to walk ratio. 2 to 1 is good.
STAT OF THE YEAR: Dickey became the only pitcher in modern baseball history(1900 and on) to pitch back to back one hitters while striking out at least 10 in each start- on June 13th(at Tampa Bay) and June 18th(vs Baltimore).
PREVIOUS METS CY YOUNG WINNERS:
Tom Seaver(1969, 1973 and 1975)
METS 20 GAME WINNERS:
Took about a month off from blogging for several reasons, ranging from a sick pet(Lucifer is doing MUCH better) to concerns about my own health. But the chief reason I stopped writing was this team was making me crazy. After one August loss, I called up Comcast and cancelled my MLB Extra Innings package, offering to pay them money to take the Mets away from me. What was once a fun team to cover(The entire first half of 2012) became an unwatchable beaten lot(The entire 2nd half). I do this job because I love the game and talking about it. I stopped liking this team and the same old answers and excuses turned me away. With the season coming to close, I feel refreshed and eager to focus on 2013 and going forward. Before we do that, lets look at some important accomplishments individual Mets have achieved in 2012.
R.A. CY?: Mets Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey became the 9th 20 game winner in Franchise history September 27th when he K-ed 13 in 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. I have written countless times on the amazing Dickey, who should win the 2012 National League CY Young award. On a 4th place team, he was 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 34 games(33 starts) while striking out a league leading 230. The Mets dealt with injuries to the rotation(Lost 3 of the 5 rotation members that broke camp in April to season ending ailments) and an inconsistent bullpen all season. Dickey assumed the role of staff saver with 233 2/3 innings pitched; but he provided both quality and QUANTITY. The former Tennessee Volunteer had an NL high 26 quality starts(6 innings or more, 3 earned runs or less) as well. All of these numbers justify the award but when you realize Dickey has been pitching with a torn right abdominal muscle since April, his season is even more remarkable. The injury will be corrected with a non-invasive procedure(Scheduled for October 18th) and he should be 100% for Spring Training 2013.
KING DAVID: 3B David Wright passed Ed Kranepool with an infield hit on Sept 26th giving him 1419 and the homegrown product who grew up as a Mets fan could not have been happier. “This organization means a lot to me,” Wright said. ” I wear the uniform with pride, and it’s obviously a humbling moment.” #5 also is the franchise leader in doubles, extra-base hits, walks,RBIs and runs. Wright’s future(he has a club option at $16 million for 2013) will dominate the Mets offseason.
IKE HIKE:The patience the Mets coaching staff and front office showed when 1B Ike Davis when he struggled thru the season’s first two months paid off when he exploded in the 2nd half of the campaign with 19 homers(tied for 5th in MLB) and 40 rbi. The popular 1B hit .185 in April then .153 in May but Manager Terry Collins stuck with him and the 3rd year major leaguer hit his 30th homer of 2012 September 24th. Fans need to realize a slow start was to be expected- he missed most of 2011 with a serious ankle injury and was felled with Valley Fever in Spring Training. Davis, who also brings excellent defense to the diamond, should be a key component for the Mets heading into 2013 and beyond.
The Mets shutdown ace lefty Johan Santana(6-9,4.85 ERA in 21 starts) for the the remainder of the 2012 season with a stiff back, that will not require surgery. After missing more than a full season after major shoulder surgery late in the 2010 campaign, the southpaw was outstanding early, going 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA in his first 11 starts. Santana threw the first no hitter in franchise history June 1st but used 134 pitches to do it. Mets Manager Terry Collins was concerned postgame about the toll the performance would have on his star. The stats support his train of thought as the Lefty was destroyed, going 3-8 with a 8.27 ERA in 10 starts. An ankle sprain further hindered Santana recently and he was placed on the DL before returning last week. Over his last 5 starts, Johan was 0-5 with a 15.63 ERA. The Mets have recalled pitching prospect Collin McHugh from Triple A to fill the spot in the rotation. In his final 5 Triple A starts, He has gone 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA and 52/19 Ks to walks ratio.
Been dealing a serious illness to my Guinea Pig, Lucifer, so will not have a full column this week. But the Mets have been busy– acquiring a solid major league catcher in veteran Kelly Shoppach from the Boston Red Sox and the team announced it will use 6 starting pitchers for the remainder of the season. Due to the recent struggles of ace Johan Santana and health concerns with fellow Lefty Jon Niese(never finished a ML season healthy), this is a good move. Swingman Jeremy Heffner will man the 6 spot and R.A. Dickey will stay on normal rest, pitching every 5th day.
The Mets bullpen lost a key cog with the news that veteran lefty specialist Tim Byrdak will miss the rest of the season due to a tear in the anterior capsule of his throwing shoulder. The 38 year old will undergo surgery in the coming days and the procedure could end his career, due to the seriousness of the injury. The southpaw was 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Byrdak had a team high 17 holds, striking out 34 in 56 games(30 and two third innings). A popular jokester and team leader, the reliever is a big loss on and off the field. Current New York starters Johan Santana and Chris Young both had similiar injuries but had different recovery times. Johan missed 20 months while Young was back in a little more than a year(13 months). Mets team doctor David Altchek will perform the surgery, interesting to note that Altchek operated on both Santana and Young as well.
Mets skipper Terry Collins has removed struggling LF Jason Bay from the starting lineup and will play him only against select lefties. In the 3rd season of a free agent contract, Bay is hitting onlu .157 with 5 homers and 11 rbi. For the most part, the Mets outfield will consist of Scott Hairston, Mike Baxter or Jordany Valdespin at the corners and red hot Andres Torres in Center. I have written or said this 500 times but for the life of me cannot understand what has happened to Bay, who is a good guy and was a great player. Sad to see for both the person and franchise.
Mets ace Johan Santana(6-8,4.58) has clearly paid the price for tossing the 1st No Hitter in Franchise history June 1st and we have statistical evidence. After throwing 134 pitches vs. the St. Louis Cardinals, he has gone 3-6 with a 7.98 ERA in 44 innings over 9 starts. In his 1st start from returning from the DL due to sprained ankle, The Southpaw was hammered by the Atlanta Braves for the 4th time this season. In the 9-3 loss Saturday night August 11th, Santana allowed 8 runs over 1 and third innings. Santana and Collins both claimed he is fine and cited rust as the cause. Over his last 4 starts, the lefty was 0-4 with a 17.36 ERA(27 earned runs in 14 innings). Keep in mind that the Braves have had his number all year. In 4 starts vs. Atlanta in 2012, the ugly stat line: 0-3,12.79 ERA in 12 and two third innings. Santana had a similiar outing in Georgia in April, when he was touched up for 6 runs(4 earned) in 1 and a third innings on April 17th. The good news? Santana seemed to be free and easy with good velocity.
METS NOTES: Lefty Jon Niese has really stepped up over his last 13 starts, pitching at least six innings in each contest. As beaten and battered as the rotation is, this could not come at a better time. It also keeps a team weakness(the Bullpen) off the field!!!!…. 2nd year INF Ruben Tejada has been a godsend for this team and leads major league shortstops in both batting average(.321) and On-base(.368) as of August 12th… The Mets opened the season 4-0 vs the hated Braves but have dropped to 1-7 since…2B Daniel Murphy has hit .350 at Citi Field as of August 12th… The Mets have lost 5 home series in a row…. CF Andres Torres played great defensively and has picked it up with the bat as of late. He hit .311(.400 On base) in July with 10 runs in 61 at bats. In August, he is hitting .281(.378 OB) with a homer and 6 rbi in 32 at bats.
First of all, want to give a major shout out to one of my online buddies who covers the greater NY-NJ Metro sports region and is also a diehard Mets fan. Christine Firko has an amazing site she updates often at sportsgirl247.com, a great blend of news,opinions and humor. I check it out daily and you should as well! Remember-sportsgirl247.com!
Just when many had them dead, the Mets have gone 6-4 in their last ten and played solid ball on a 3 city West Coast road trip. The pitching-particularly the rotation- has picked it up while the hitters have put together walks and hits to score enough runs. After an awful July, Mets skipper Terry Collins appears to have saved a sinking ship and has the team playing competitive ball. The last 2 months here are key for 2013– the team should use these games to analyze what players will be key components heading forward in 2013 and beyond. This group has some talent and can compete in the near future with some good moves in the offseason and strong internal player development.
PITCHING MOVES: Closer Frank Francisco rejoined the team this weekend and earned a save in his 1st appearance, Saturday night August 5th vs the Padres in San Diego. Big Frank was DL-ed with a side-oblique strain and not coincidentally, the Mets slump started about the time Francisco went down(June 23rd). To open a roster spot, lefty specialist Tim Byrdak was placed on the DL with sore left shoulder. Rookie Josh Edgin, who has been impressive since being recalled from Triple A, will now be elevated to a much bigger role in the pen. The talented lefty has been dominant at times in his 1st major league season, going 1-0,2.25 ERA in 12 games with 19 strikeouts. Edgin looks like a keeper and should be a big part of the relief corps for years to come.
SANTANA SET TO RETURN: Ace lefty Johan Santana(ankle) is scheduled to throw 45 pitches in a rehab assignment for Brooklyn Sunday August 5th. He will throw another 45 pitches later this week and should be good to go to start vs the Braves next Saturday, according to Collins. This is very good news for a Mets starting staff that is currently down 3 of the men who broke camp with the big club in April. Adding Santana both on the mound and in the locker room should give this club a huge boost.
BAXTER’S BIG NIGHT: OF Mike Baxter set a team record when he drew 5 walks in 5 plate appearances during Saturday night’s win in San Diego. I say this all the time and will continue to say it: The Kid can play and needs to be a part of this team heading forward…. Speaking of players who should be part of the team’s future, 2B Daniel Murphy has really been on fire. After hitting .360 in July, He is at .600 for August. On the season, Murphy is at .307 and is among the top 5 in the league with 33 doubles. He has 3 4 hit games since July 20th and has improved tremendously with the glove at 2nd base…Meanwhile, big righty Jon Rauch( a legit 6’11 by the way) has been pitching lights out since June. Over 23 appearances, he has allowed 5 earned runs,four walks and K-ed 13 over 17 1/3 innings. In July, he was dominant,posting a 1.17 ERA in 11 games(7 and 2/3 innings) and so far in August Rauch has not allowed a run in 2 games.
The New York Mets did not make any trades as the non-waiver deadline passed at 4 pm EST July 31st. Players like OF Scott Hairston and Lefty specialist Tim Byrdak were names often heard in reports but both stayed in Flushing. This was a good day for GM Sandy Alderson. This team is headed in the right direction and these two players have been a big part of the turnaround. Led by Manager Terry Collins, the Mets have played a gritty brand of baseball and have been a joy to watch. This is not a perfect team but they play hard and battle. The keys heading forward are improving the bullpen from within(Team lost 14 of 18 around the time closer Frank Francisco went on the DL) and figuring out the outfield for 2013. This team is 50-53 and 10 games back in the loss column. 3rd place in the tough NL East and a .500 record are realistic season goals.
Mets 1B Ike Davis has really come on in the last 6 weeks of the season and his turnaround appears complete after he clubbed 3 consecutive solo homers at the Arizona Diamondbacks July 28th. After hitting .185 and .154 in April and May, the 3rd year major leaguer hit .264 in June with 6 homers and 24 rbi. The Arizona native has carried those results into July where he is hitting .241 with 9 bombs and 15 rbi. Fans have to be patient with this young man, he missed over 120 games in 2011 with a serious ankle injury and battled Valley Fever in Spring Training. If the Mets can get this talent to continue to play this well in the 2nd half, both the team and player can view 2012 as a success.
UPDATES ON FRANK FRANCISCO AND THE OUTFIELD SITUATION:Some good news on the injury front regarding the Mets closer and an offensive sparkplug both in the outfield and off the bench. Closer Frank Francisco(Left oblique) threw a strong outing in Double A Sunday and could return as early as this week in San Francisco(4 game series July 30-August 2). Since being placed on the DL June 23rd the popular reliever has two more issues with his side and a 3rd with a knee. Mets Skipper Terry Collins does not need to see the big man throw back to back outings before activating him. Bobby Parnell has converted 3 of 5 save opportunities in Francisco’s absence while striking out more than a batter an inning and posting a 2.31 ERA. Meanwhile, Francisco struggled in the early going(7.71 April and 4.76 May ERAs) but was pitching great before the injury. He had saved 10 of his last 11 chances with a 1.76 ERA.
OF-PH Mike Baxter(Collarbone,rib) is set to be activated Monday July 30th and rookie OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis,who has batted .123 since June 16th, will be sent down to Triple A Buffalo. Baxter, a potent left handed bat who was hitting .323 in 65 games, was famously injured saving Johan Santana’s No Hitter June 1st, the first No No in Mets history. Look for Baxter to be eased back into the lineup with Collins trying to see what he has in LF Jason Bay(still struggling in his 3rd season in NY) and rookie spark plug Jordany Valdespin. Baxter could eventually end up platooning with Bay in LF. Nieuwenhuis has struggled after initial success(.325 April,.263 May) when was called up for the 2nd game of the season(CF Andres Torres injured a leg in the season opener) . He is a very good defensive player and does a lot of things well. Look for Kirk and fellow OF Lucas Duda, another OF recently sent down, to be back with the big club in the coming weeks. What becomes overlooked in the struggles of the young Mets outfielders is the strong season veteran Scott Hairston(.261,12 homers, 41 rbi, 5 steals) has put out. He has brutalized lefties all season(.315,9,26) and is one of the few Mets that have hit in the 2nd half(.317, 7 rbi).
With the Mets in a major slump(1 win in 12 post all star break contests,losers of 12 of 13 overall) and in dire need of a pick up, they got one Wednesday night July 26th in Arizona when their top pitching prospect RH Matt Harvey K-ed 11 over 5 and a third innings to help New York defeat the Diamond Backs 3-1. The Mets 1st round pick in the 2010 draft overpowered batters most of the night with a 98 MPH fastball and Harvey became the first player since 1900 to strike out 10 batters whike collecting 2 hits in his major league debut. Throwing fastballs 68% of the time, the righty struck out the first batter he faced, 3 of the first 5 and 8 of the first 14. Mets skipper Terry Collins was clearly pleased post game, “Electric stuff for sure, ” said Collins,nitpicking only that he would like to see Harvey throw his changeup more often. ” I haven’t seen 98 out of a starting pitcher in quite some time. He’s lived up to exactly what everybody’s talked about.” The Mets and opposition batters will ,hopefully, be talking for years to come.
JOHAN SANTANA UPDATE:LHSP Johan Santana(ankle) has begun long tossing and will throw off the mound sometime in the middle of next week according to Collins. Mets Minor League strength and conditioning coach Mike Herbst will travel to New York to monitor the southpaw’s progress. Barring setbacks, Santana will return to the rotation around August 8th and 9th.
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