New York Mets: Francisco Rodriguez

Morning Briefing: Trade talk or hot air?

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
FIRST PITCH: The Mets continue their series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday at Miller Park at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Jonathon Niese (5-5, 3.13 ERA) opposes right-hander Wily Peralta (11-6, 3.58).

Saturday’s news reports:

• Team insiders told that the Mets have engaged in limited dialogue involving Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy with other clubs, but there has not been anything substantive. That does not preclude a trade materializing before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.

Regarding a big-ticket item such as Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez, a team insider severely tempered the suddenly rampant fan enthusiasm. The source said the Mets worked hard over a few years to build up their young pitching and are unlikely to part with multiple high-level pitching prospects in one deal.

David Wright nonetheless told Mike Puma in the Post: “It’s going to be a tough call when we do get to the point, which I think is very soon, of what are you willing to give, because [the Rockies] are not going to be giving these guys away. What are you willing to give to obtain that? And that is kind of an open-ended question.”

Read more in Newsday.

• After being blanked through eight innings, the Amazin’s scored three runs in the final frame against ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez, highlighted by Lucas Duda's go-ahead two-run homer, en route to a 3-2 win against the Brewers. Duda has accounted for all three second-half homers by the Mets.

Murphy produced three hits, but also had two errors, including a costly grounder through his legs in the sixth, when Milwaukee broke a scoreless tie against Zack Wheeler. Wheeler ultimately was charged with two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings. It marked Wheeler’s fifth straight start allowing one earned run while completing at least six innings.

The Mets last overcame a ninth-inning deficit of at least two runs on May 11, against the Philadelphia Phillies. That day, the Mets scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth en route to a 5-4, 11-inning victory.

With 59 games remaining, the Mets (49-54) trail the first-place Washington Nationals by 8 games. The Amazin’s are six games back in the wild card, with four non-playoff teams -- St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Miami -- ahead of them.

Read game recaps in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Journal and at

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who looked uncomfortable after leaving his appearance Thursday in Milwaukee, is due to have an MRI of his right elbow on Saturday in New York. He remains active … for now. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and at

Kirk Nieuwenhuis had three hits, including a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh, as Las Vegas rallied to beat Salt Lake, 11-6. Greg Peavey limited Trenton to one run in eight innings as the B-Mets won, 6-1. Matt Bowman originally was due to start for Binghamton, but ended up getting summoned to Las Vegas after Darin Gorski fractured a foot. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes about Matt Garza's performance against the Mets in the series opener:

On Thursday, Matt Garza threw eight innings after lasting just one-third of an inning in his previous start in Washington. He became the first pitcher since the Mets' Bobby Jones in 1997 to pitch one-third of an inning or less and then eight innings or more in consecutive starts. Jones didn't retire a batter in a loss at Atlanta on Sept. 17, 1997, and then threw eight innings in a victory at Florida on Sept. 22, 1997.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear reflects on how the Mets fan mindset can adjust when the Mets finally begin to win consistently.

BIRTHDAYS: No one to ever play for the Mets was born on this date, but Mick Jagger, Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey all celebrate birthdays on July 26.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Did you prematurely write off Zack Wheeler?

Series preview: Mets at Brewers

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23

Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesJonathan Lucroy had a two-homer game Tuesday against Cincinnati, including a walk-off shot.
METS (48-53, third place/NL East) vs. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (57-45, first place/NL Central)

Thursday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-2, 2.92) vs. RHP Matt Garza (6-7, 4.04), 8:10 p.m. ET

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.78) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 3.79), 8:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (5-5, 3.13) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (11-6, 3.58), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jacob deGrom (4-5, 3.01) vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson (1-1, 5.06), 2:10 p.m. ET

Brewers short hops

Matt Garza aims to rebound after having the shortest start of his career Saturday at Washington. Garza recorded only one out while surrendering five earned runs on five hits and two walks.

• All-Star third baseman Aramis Ramirez played in his 2,000th career game Wednesday. Ramirez, 36, became the 14th active player to reach that milestone, joining Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu, Adrian Beltre, Paul Konerko, Jason Giambi, Torii Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Beltran, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols and Jimmy Rollins. Ramirez had floated retirement as a possibility after this season, but since has resolved to continue playing in 2015. The sides have a mutual $14 million option for next season with a $4 million team buyout.

Jonathan Lucroy started the All-Star Game at catcher because of an injury to St. Louis’ Yadier Molina. Lucroy’s .312 average is tied for fifth in the National League. He had been 9-for-55 this month before a two-homer game Tuesday, which included a walk-off shot. It was his second career walk-off homer. Both have come against the Cincinnati Reds. The other: against flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman last Aug. 16.

Greg Fiume/Getty ImagesRyan Braun has an 11-game hitting streak.

• First baseman Mark Reynolds had two homers Wednesday as Milwaukee completed a sweep of the Reds. Reynolds’ 16 homers are tied for 10th in the NL, but he also has a .207 average and .300 on-base percentage.

Scooter Gennett departed Tuesday’s game with right quadriceps tightness and did not play Wednesday, although he is not considered a DL candidate. Gennett leads NL second baseman in average (.305) and slugging percentage (.481). Rickie Weeks started in his place.

• The Brewers recently mourned the loss of shortstop Jean Segura's 9-month-old son Janniel. The youngster unexpectedly passed away in the Dominican Republic on July 12. The 24-year-old Segura returned from bereavement leave on Friday.

• A 2 a.m. fire in the kitchen of a restaurant at Miller Park on Monday caused damage that has left an area of the ballpark unusable. The area includes a few escalators and elevators in left field, a concession area and meeting rooms.

Yovani Gallardo has allowed 19 runs (16 earned) on 33 hits, four walks and a hit batter in 23 1/3 innings over his past four starts.

• The Brewers have been in first place since April 5.

• Ex-Met Carlos Gomez has been selected to two straight All-Star Games.

• Right fielder Ryan Braun has an 11-game hitting streak. His 224 career homers are third on the franchise’s all-time list. Robin Yount is No. 1 at 251. Prince Fielder is second at 230. Before this season, Braun only had one career appearance in right field -- in the 2009 All-Star Game.

Francisco Rodriguez has 333 saves, which rank 12th all time. Next up is Rollie Fingers at 341. K-Rod’s All-Star selection this season was the fifth of his career. He last had been selected in 2009 as a Met.

• Since his first major league homer on July 23, 2013, Khris Davis' 27 long balls rank third among NL outfielders, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton (37) and Justin Upton (29).

Series preview: Mets vs. Brewers

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9

Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta and Kyle Lohse during the upcoming series at Citi Field.
METS (28-35, fourth place/NL East) vs. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (38-26, first place/NL Central)

Tuesday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0, 3.21) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (5-2, 4.19), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-2, 3.19) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (5-5, 3.03), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.68) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (7-2, 3.27), 7:10 p.m. ET

Brewers short hops

• Ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez has 19 saves, one shy of Sergio Romo’s MLB-leading 20 with the San Francisco Giants. K-Rod produced a four-out save Sunday as the Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0. It marked his first save exceeding one inning since June 9, 2011 with the Mets against Milwaukee.

Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesFrancisco Rodriguez recorded his 323rd career save Sunday.

Rodriguez has 323 career saves, which ranks 15th all time. Next up: Roberto Hernandez at 326. K-Rod re-signed with Milwaukee on Feb. 7 for $3.25 million, with the potential to earn another $550,000 in performance bonuses. He did not pitch in the Cactus League until March 15 because he stepped on a cactus.

• Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is tied with Yasiel Puig for second in the National League with a .335 average, trailing only Troy Tulowitzki (.361). Lucroy has 23 doubles. He is on pace for 58, which would set a franchise record. Lyle Overbay had 53 doubles in 2004, during his first stint with the Brewers.

• Shortstop Jean Segura moved to the leadoff spot on May 22, with ex-Met Carlos Gomez switching to cleanup. Segura ranks second in the NL in runs scored since the change with 14. Teammate Khris Davis, a left fielder, has a league-leading 16.

Aramis Ramirez returned to the starting lineup as the DH Wednesday and then at third base Friday after spending three weeks on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Mark Reynolds played third base in Ramirez’s absence.

• After unsuccessful talks with the Mets regarding Ike Davis, the Brewers have pieced together first base this season with an ex-Yankee duo: the righty-hitting Reynolds and the lefty-hitting Overbay. They are hitting a combined .213 (66-for-310), but also have 15 homers and 45 RBIs, including Reynolds’ production at other positions. Reynolds’ 13 homers are tied for fourth in the NL.

• Right-hander Tyler Thornburg, whom the Mets reportedly sought in a potential trade for Davis during the offseason, has landed on the disabled list with right elbow soreness. Right-hander Mike Fiers was promoted from Triple-A Nashville.

Kyle Lohse had been 17-5 with a 2.80 ERA over his last 34 starts before surrendering eight runs in five innings at Pittsburgh on Friday. The ill-fated start lifted his season ERA from 2.60 to 3.27.

• Gomez is hitting .307 with 12 homers, 35 RBIs and 11 steals in 231 at-bats. The excitable Gomez served a three-game suspension in mid-May for his role in a bench-clearing brawl at Pittsburgh. He also had helped incite a brawl against the Atlanta Braves last season.

• Second baseman Rickie Weeks is batting .381 (24-for-63) since April 25.

Ryan Braun missed the final 65 games of last season after negotiating a suspension related to his Biogenesis involvement. Braun admitted via a statement last August to using a “cream and a lozenge” to rehab a 2011 injury. He has batted second in 14 of the past 15 games. He exclusively had batter third the previous three seasons. Braun is third on Milwaukee’s all-time home run list with 220, trailing Robin Yount (251) and Prince Fielder (230).

• Left-handed reliever Will Smith, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals on Dec. 5 for outfielder Norichika Aoki, has a 0.94 ERA in 32 appearances. Lefty batters are hitting .135 (5-for-37) against him this season. Fellow lefty reliever Wei-Chung Wang is the 11th Taiwanese player in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He debuted in the majors at age 21, becoming the youngest player ever to appear in the majors from that country.

Matt Garza signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Brewers on Jan. 27 after splitting the 2013 season between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers.

Morning Briefing: Thor's Day a relief

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13

Jeff Roberson/Associated PressNoah Syndergaard makes what may be his final 2014 Grapefruit League appearance on Thursday, after Daisuke Matsuzaka opens the game.

FIRST PITCH: Thor's Day comes on Thursday this week, but it technically also is due to come in relief.

Daisuke Matsuzaka gets the start in the 1:05 p.m. game against the Washington Nationals in Viera, opposite left-hander Ross Detwiler. Terry Collins plans to have Dice-K and Syndergaard combine to log the entire nine innings. In essence, Syndergaard will be “piggybacking” Matsuzaka with the top prospect’s own start.

Given the Mets may be doing their weekly cuts on Mondays this spring training, and given innings are becoming scarcer, this might be Syndergaard’s final 2014 Grapefruit League appearance.

“I know it’s inevitable,” Syndergaard told Dan Martin in the Post about eventually ending up in minor-league camp. “With the finances and everything, I understand it’s a game, but it’s also a business.”

In starts against the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers, the 21-year-old Syndergaard has combined to allow two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out five in five innings. He could have escaped run-free had Eric Young Jr. -- in his first action this spring training at second base -- successfully handled a two-out grounder by Steve Lombardozzi.

Thursday’s news reports:

• Pitching coach Dan Warthen apologized Wednesday night after Wall Street Journal reporter Stu Woo heard him use a slur once commonly used to denigrate people of Asian descent. Read more in the Journal, Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and

David Wright effusively praised the Atlanta Braves for swiftly addressing the injury to Kris Medlen by signing Ervin Santana for one year, $14.1 million. Still, Wright would not condemn his own organization’s thriftiness.

Enrique Rojas/ESPNBraves owners took one hour to approve the $14.1 million expenditure that landed Ervin Santana, GM Frank Wren told SiriusXM.

Sandy Alderson also did not care to link the Santana signing and the Mets’ situation with free-agent Stephen Drew.

“No. 1, it was a one-year deal,” Alderson told reporters about the Braves and Santana. “And, No. 2, Atlanta has more than one loss from their starting rotation. I don’t think it has any significant bearing on us.”

The most Alderson said regarding Ruben Tejada and shortstop is: “We’ll continue to look at our other options.” Tejada is 1-for-12 with two errors in Grapefruit League play.

Read more in the Post, Newsday, Record and

• Tyler Kepner in the Times profiles Wright, writing:

A couple of years ago, in the offseason, [Mets fan Greg] Fedak’s wife, Cheryl, was in Norfolk, Va., on business. She went to dinner and could not find a seat. Wright was there with some friends and had an open seat at his table. She sat with the group, and Wright bought her a beer.

“He’s really down to earth,” Fedak said, “a guy you can relate to.”

John Lannan limited the Washington Nationals to two unearned runs in four innings and retired the final eight batters he faced as the Mets lost, 6-4, Wednesday at Tradition Field. Bobby Parnell’s velocity topped out at 88-89 mph in his second Grapefruit League appearance, but the closer indicated he is healthy and maintained his velocity will rise. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday and

Carlos Torres, who had been projected to comfortably make the Opening Day roster anyway, is making the team as a reliever, Collins firmly stated.

• On Thursday, Ike Davis (calf) and Lucas Duda (hamstring) will repeat Wednesday’s outdoor activities that included batting and taking grounders -- again without running, though. Now Collins hopes both will be able to DH on the minor-league side sometime this weekend. Davis and Duda have been sidelined from games since the beginning of last week. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.

• Mookie Wilson arrived at the Mets’ complex this week and has been working as an instructor with outfielders on the minor-league side.

• Oddsmaker Bovada lists Wright as an 18-to-1 shot to win the National League MVP. That is tied with Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki for 12th-likeliest. Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen is the favorite, at 6-to-1.

Bartolo Colon is a 25-to-1 shot as NL Cy Young winner. Zack Wheeler (40-to-1) and Jonathon Niese (66-to-1) also appear on that list. L.A.’s Clayton Kershaw is the favorite, at 13-to-2.

• Anthony Rieber in Newsday writes a feature about the large volume of mail players get requesting autographs.

• Michael J. Fensom discusses Tejada in the Star-Ledger.

• Former Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez injured himself stepping barefoot on a cactus, Tom Haudricourt writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

From the bloggers … speaks with Cesar Puello about moving past last season’s Biogenesis-related suspension. … Rising Apple suggests that Santana signing with the Braves should not be a license to bash the Mets. … John Delcos at Mets Report argues the importance of carrying Lannan as a second lefty in the bullpen.

BIRTHDAYS: Johan Santana, who tossed the only no-hitter in Mets history, turns 35. He recently signed a minor-league deal with the Baltimore Orioles, as he tries to return from a second surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who will win the NL MVP and Cy Young?

Rapid Reaction: Brewers 7, Mets 6

July, 6, 2013
MILWAUKEE -- Here is all you need to know about Shaun Marcum: Brandon Lyon's fate might be awaiting him sooner than later.

Marcum surrendered six runs and became the quickest Met in 12 years to compile double-digit losses in a 7-6 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night at Miller Park.

Marlon Byrd produced a two-out solo homer in the ninth against ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out to end the game.

The Mets do not have a ton of rotation depth, but Carlos Torres had been highly successful starting with Triple-A Las Vegas before a promotion for relief work. He likely would step in if the Mets decided to designate Marcum for assignment at some point, as they did with Lyon at the end of the last homestand.

Jeffrey Phelps/Associated PressShaun Marcum, while facing his former team, suffered his 10th loss Saturday night.

Of course, the DL also is an option perhaps. Manager Terry Collins acknowledged Marcum dealt with tingling in his fingers in his previous start.

The Mets, trailing 5-0, did claw back to within a run multiple times.

John Buck had a solo homer in a two-run fifth against Yovani Gallardo. Buck then produced a two-run single an inning later that pulled the Mets within 5-4. (Buck was not in the original starting lineup, but Marcum requested him over Anthony Recker and Collins made the adjustment.)

After sloppy fielding gave back a run in the bottom half of the sixth, the Mets loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against John Axford. Byrd delivered a sacrifice fly to pull the Mets within 6-5. But Nieuwenhuis, who was 4-for-4 with two walks in the series opener, then lined out to left field.

Marcum's line: 5+ IP, 11 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.

He dropped to 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA. The last Met with 10 losses this early in a season: Steve Trachsel, who suffered his 10th defeat on July 5, 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

As for the ugly bottom-of-the-sixth play: After Logan Schafer had a leadoff single, Gallardo tried to bunt him ahead. Marcum fielded the ball in front of the plate and tossed to first base, but Daniel Murphy missed the throw for an E-4. Schafer scampered all the way home as the Brewers took a 6-4 lead that ended Marcum's night.

LaTroy Hawkins surrendered a seventh-inning run -- snapping a streak of 14 appearances without surrendering an earned run -- as Milwaukee took a 7-5 lead. Hawkins was making his 909th appearance, passing Eddie Guardado for 21st all time. Next up: Gene Garber with 931.

Murphy flied out to strand two runners in scoring position a half-inning later.

The day after: In his second day back with the big league club, Ike Davis went 0-for-2 with three walks. He has reached base in seven of 11 plate appearances since his return from Vegas.

Ouch: Nieuwenhuis walked off gingerly after slamming his right knee into teammate Eric Young Jr. on the track in left-center on Young's eighth-inning-ending catch.

What's next: Jeremy Hefner (3-6, 3.54 ERA) opposes left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (1-1, 2.43) in the 2:10 p.m. ET rubber game on Sunday. Wily Peralta originally had been slated for the start, but he will be pushed back two days to allow more time for a hamstring strain suffered in his latest start to heal.

Because the Mets are facing a southpaw rather than a righty, that might afford Collins an opportunity to get Josh Satin a start after two games out of the lineup.

Series preview: Mets at Brewers

July, 4, 2013

USA TODAY Spors/Associated Press/Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Johnny Hellweg, Yovani Gallardo and tentatively Wily Peralta this weekend.
METS (35-47, fourth place/NL East) vs. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (34-50, fifth place/NL Central)

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-1, 5.06) vs. RHP Johnny Hellweg (0-1, 20.25), 8:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Shaun Marcum (1-9, 5.03) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (6-8, 4.78), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (3-6, 3.54) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (5-9, 5.27), 2:10 p.m. ET

Brewers short hops

Wily Peralta was forced to leave Tuesday’s start against the Washington Nationals in the sixth inning with a left hamstring strain. He is questionable to make Sunday’s start. Fellow starting pitcher Marco Estrada already has been on the DL for nearly a month with a left hamstring strain. If Peralta is not able to make the start, right-hander Tyler Thornburg, the Brewers’ top prospect, who currently is working out of the bullpen, is a candidate to fill in.

• Ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez has taken over the closer role from Jim Henderson. Manager Ron Roenicke told Milwaukee reporters the decision was performance-based and not intended to showcase K-Rod before the July 31 trade deadline, although Rodriguez clearly is a trade candidate. Rodriguez has a 0.92 ERA and has recorded seven saves. That included the 300th save of his career, which made him the 25th pitcher in major league history to reach that plateau. K-Rod joined the Brewers on May 16, four weeks after signing with the organization. His contract calls for a prorated portion of a $2 million base salary.

Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesEx-Met Carlos Gomez leads the NL in WAR.

• Center fielder Carlos Gomez signed a three-year, $24 million extension in March. After earning $4.3 million this year, he will receive $7 million in 2014, $8 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016. Gomez was traded by the Mets to the Minnesota Twins in the Johan Santana deal. He recently missed a week with a sprained left shoulder, which he suffered crashing into the outfield wall. Gomez’s 4.8 WAR leads the NL. David Wright ranks second at 4.7.

• Left fielder Ryan Braun, who is on the disabled list with an inflamed nerve between the thumb and index finger in his right hand, has started swinging a bat. He potentially could return before the All-Star break.

Jean Segura, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels along with Johnny Hellweg for Zack Greinke before last year’s trade deadline, leads the National League in hits. He ranks third in NL All-Star balloting at shortstop. The only major leaguers with 10-plus homers and 20-plus steals this season are Segura and Mike Trout.

Juan Francisco was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on June 3 for Double-A left-hander Thomas Keeling. A natural third baseman, the Brewers nearly exclusively have used Francisco at first base, although he did play third base Thursday and commit two errors. His only previous pro experience at first base was three games in 2010 in Triple-A with the Cincinnati Reds.

• Hellweg, a 6-foot-9 rookie, allowed seven runs (five earned) in 1 2/3 innings in his major league debut last Friday. He then appeared once in relief. Kyle Lohse jumped ahead in the rotation because Lohse’s June 30 start lasted only 1 2/3 innings before a rain delay ended his outing. Hellweg touched 102 mph in a Triple-A game earlier this season.

Yovani Gallardo was charged with a season-high eight runs against Nats in his last start. That is as many earned runs as Gallardo surrendered in five June outings. The three-inning outing was his shortest since April 27, 2012. Gallardo, although signed for next season, is a trade candidate.

Jonathan Lucroy’s 40 RBIs as a catcher rank second in the NL at that position, trailing only St. Louis’ Yadier Molina.

Corey Hart, who has not appeared this season, needs left knee surgery that will sideline him the entire year. He had undergone surgery in January on his right knee. Hart is eligible for free agency after the season. He is one of three Brewers first basemen who have season-ending injuries. The others: Mat Gamel (torn ACL suffered during spring training) and Taylor Green (hip surgery).

• Third baseman Aramis Ramirez has required sporadic days off for a left knee issue. He twice has sprained the knee this season.

• The Brewers have drawn the fewest walks in the majors.

• Second baseman Rickie Weeks hit .355 with five homers in June.

• Former closer John Axford has not surrendered a run in his last 23 appearances. Axford reportedly is drawing trade interest.

Morning briefing: K-Rod wants reunion

March, 7, 2013

FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey gets the Grapefruit League start today as the Mets face the Miami Marlins at 1:10 p.m. at Tradition Field. Greg Burke and Brandon Lyon also are scheduled to pitch.

The Marlins are scheduled to start right-hander Ricky Nolasco.

Thursday’s news reports:

Courtesy of New York Mets
Johan Santana is aiming to enter Grapefruit League play next Thursday.

Johan Santana is due to appear in a Grapefruit League game next Thursday against the Detroit Tigers in Port St. Lucie. Santana threw off a mound, while Zack Wheeler (oblique) long-tossed Wednesday. Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said Santana is “very sad” about being unable to represent his country in the World Baseball Classic. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Journal, Post, Record, Daily News and

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post writes about the Mets about to bridge two eras, with Santana fading and Wheeler about to ascend. “What’s not to be excited about?” special assistant J.P. Ricciardi told Sherman about Wheeler. “He’s got great stuff. He has a great arm. He is a nice kid. And he has a good work ethic. If you aren’t going to get excited about him, who are you going to get excited about?”

Jenrry Mejia, who was flagged for a thyroid issue in his initial physical, is scheduled to travel back from New York to Port St. Lucie this morning.

Miguel Cabrera led a juggernaut offense with two homers and Jonathon Niese tossed 2 1/3 innings as Venezuela beat the Mets, 14-10, in an exhibition game Wednesday at Tradition Field. Read more at

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News discusses the importance of Niese to the franchise.

Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, not Ike Davis, was tabbed to replace injured Mark Teixeira on Team USA’s WBC roster. Joe Torre acknowledged considering Davis but suggested Hosmer already being in Arizona, where Team USA opens play against Mexico on Friday, was a major factor.

“There were a couple of issues,” Torre told David Lennon in Newsday. “We were looking for a left-hander, and Ike is certainly someone we talked about. We talked about Ryan Howard. But where we were, if we could stay in Arizona -- only because of how close we were to the end and he wouldn’t be able to get here for [Wednesday’s exhibition] game and stuff -- it just worked out perfect. He’s here.”

Read more in the Record.

• Although it is unlikely to materialize, Francisco Rodriguez said he would like to rejoin the Mets. K-Rod, who is pitching for Venezuela in the WBC, remains a free agent. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Times, Newsday, Daily News and

David Wright went 2-for-4 with an RBI and played five innings at third base in Team USA’s WBC tune-up against the Colorado Rockies.

Marlon Byrd and Jordany Valdespin both got looks in center field during Wednesday’s game against Venezuela.

• Kevin Kernan in the Post checks in with Scott Kazmir at Cleveland Indians camp.

From the bloggers Faith and Fear in Flushing celebrates the prospective return of Pedro Feliciano, suggesting the wrong Mets icon's image is gracing the spring-training caps this year. … Mets Police reports the Amazin’s have a .684 winning percentage in games in which Dan Twohig has attended and kept score, dating to 1980.
BIRTHDAYS: Jeff Kent turns 45. … Right-hander Mauro Gozzo turns 47.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Whom should Joe Torre have chosen to replace Mark Teixeira on Team USA’s roster: Ike Davis, Paul Konerko, Ryan Howard or Eric Hosmer?

Valverde on radar to unseat Francisco

February, 1, 2013

Getty Images/US Presswire
Jose Valverde is definitely on the Mets' radar, while Francisco Rodriguez is considered less likely and Brian Wilson a long shot.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who expressed serious concern with Frank Francisco as his closer, is trying to remedy the situation.

Alderson is pursuing Jose Valverde to compete with -- or more likely unseat -- Francisco as closer, a baseball source told

The deal with agent Scott Boras for Valverde would have to be on the Mets' terms, though. That means it would probably be akin to the contract to which Shaun Marcum agreed -- $4 million base, with a similar amount in incentives based on games finished or saves, in Valverde's case.

Valverde, 34, went 3-4 with a 3.78 ERA and produced 35 saves for the Detroit Tigers last season. He earned $9 million in 2012.

The Mets have tried to be inventive in locating a candidate to unseat Francisco, who will earn $6.5 million this season. Two baseball sources said Mets brass visited Roy Oswalt to try to convince him to come on board as the Mets' closer. But he is ultimately uninterested in following the path John Smoltz traveled from rotation to closer, so Oswalt won't be coming on board.

The Mets even would consider reuniting with Francisco Rodriguez, who had an interesting end to his Mets tenure -- the Citi Field incident with his girlfriend's father, and then he was hurriedly traded to a team that would have been on his no-trade list if it had been properly submitted.

However, a K-Rod reunion is unlikely. Boras, who also represents Rodriguez, is believed to still be seeking about $7 million for the right-hander's services.

Brian Wilson, the closer who has been linked the most to the Mets, is now considered very unlikely to be signed by New York. He threw only 20 pitches with low velocity when the Mets auditioned him last month at UCLA, and he is deemed not ready to return yet from Tommy John surgery.

The Mets expect to add to their bullpen before pitchers and catchers report in 10 days. They have one serious offer out to a late-inning reliever (but not a closer) and expect to hear back shortly. It's unclear which reliever that may be, but those who fit that profile include Brandon Lyon and Kevin Gregg.

Report: K-Rod, agent settle dispute

October, 31, 2012
Former Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez will receive more than $2 million in a settlement with his former representative, Paul Kinzer, and that agency, USA Today reported.

The claim originated from the agent's failure to submit a no-trade list, which allowed the Mets to hurriedly trade K-Rod in 2011 to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Notes: Frankie sore, Bay provides power

September, 23, 2012
Closer Frank Francisco was unavailable with a sore elbow on Saturday and Mets manager Terry Collins doubts that he will have Francisco for the series finale against the Marlins on Sunday. Francisco has elbow tendinitis and has not pitched since Sept. 16 against Milwaukee.

"He was pretty sore today and said he could not throw today," Collins said.

Before the Mets' 4-3 win over the Marlins, Collins said Francisco was "fine" and was available to pitch Friday night, but the team wanted to use him in a save situation. He added that he hoped the team would have a chance to use Francisco during Saturday's action.

After Collins pulled starter R.A. Dickey with the Mets up 4-0 with two men on and no outs in the ninth, which is a save situation, he instead had to bring in Jon Rauch with Francisco sidelined. Rauch promptly served up a three-run homer off the foul pole and would allow the tying run to second before striking out Gorkys Hernandez to secure the Mets win and give Dickey his 19th victory on the year.

"What I like about (Rauch) is that he throws strikes. He throws all of his pitches for strikes and he's not afraid," Collins said. "He gave up a home run to a guy who is a fly ball hitter and he throws the ball over the plate. If you're going to beat us, beat us swinging the bat. That's why he's been pitching. He said he was surprised he got in there today. But he came through when we needed him to."

BAY DAY: Jason Bay's two-run shot in the second inning gave the Mets a lead they never relinquished, but also reaffirmed Collins' belief that there's some life in the left fielder's bat.

"You see that so you know it's still there. It's not like this guy has lost his strength. It's not like he's lost his bat speed. He's not. That's why we continue to search for the answers," Collins said. "Great defender. Good base runner. Great power. All the things that he came here with he still has. We just got to figure out what's causing the issue with some hits."

Bay was placed in the lineup for two reasons Saturday: his defense and his grand slam against Mark Buehrle the last time they faced. Both reasons proved to be helpful. He played solid defense in left as usual and he gave the Mets a 2-0 lead with his eighth homer of the year.

"It's been a very frustrating year for me but still trying to go out there and salvage some things and work on some things," Bay said. "Obviously when Dickey's pitching it feels a little bit different and you can tell just by the crowd, kind of getting some runs early was huge, especially hitting a home run. Still working on things, by no means giving up. Going out there and still battle and get some results."

Mets morning briefing 8.30.12

August, 30, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -- Lucas Duda delivered a two-run homer, Matt Harvey limited the Phillies to two runs in 6 1/3 innings and relievers Josh Edgin, Robert Carson, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco combined to retire the final eight batters without a blemish as the Mets beat Philadelphia, 3-2, Wednesday night. The Mets pulled into a third-place tie with Philadelphia in the NL East, although Terry Collins insisted that was not a goal -- just to get to .500.

The Mets are now 7-1 at Citizens Bank Park this season. And they already have clinched their third series win in Philadelphia in 2012. The only other season in which the Amazin's won three series of three-plus games in the City of Brotherly Love came in 1989.

One boost has come from the bullpen, which has tossed 8 1/3 scoreless innings in the series and 14 1/3 scoreless innings over the past six games. Meanwhile, in his past three starts, Harvey is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 20 innings. He's also hitting .462 (6-for-13) with three RBIs this season.

Thursday's news reports:

• Collins acknowledged pregame that Harvey is expected to be shut down before the end of the season due to an innings limit. Including Wednesday's workload and his minor league duty, Harvey has now logged 152 1/3 innings. Sandy Alderson previously suggested Harvey may be capped in the 165- to 170-inning range, although a team insider said the total may get to 175.

Eric Hartline/Associated Press
Matt Harvey limited Philadelphia to two runs in 6 1/3 innings Wednesday.

• Read game recaps in the Post, Newsday, Times, Daily News, Record and Star-Ledger.

Kelly Shoppach started the past two games, although Collins said Josh Thole now would catch through Saturday, with Shoppach's next opportunity Sunday in Miami against southpaw Mark Buehrle. The manager said Shoppach needs to play enough so the Mets can gauge if he's a match for 2013. Thole is 0-for-21 over his past seven starts. “We’re going to see more righties than lefties,” Collins said. “I want to give Kelly a shot. We brought him here to find out if it’s going to be a fit. So I think he needs some playing time to find that out.” Read more in the Times, Post, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.

• The Mets' seven-member Arizona Fall League contingent will be composed of right-handers Ryan Fraser and Greg Peavey, left-handers Adam Kolarek and Chase Huchingson, infielder Danny Muno and outfielders Darrell Ceciliani and Cesar Puello. St. Lucie manager Ryan Fraser will serve as a hitting coach for the Surprise, Ariz., team.

Gonzalez Germen allowed one run in seven innings as Binghamton beat Reading, 6-2. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

Brian Costa in the Journal notes the Mets work quickly on the mound. Writes Costa:

The Mets entered Wednesday averaging just 20.4 seconds between pitches, according to FanGraphs, the fastest pace in the majors. Their starting pitchers have been particularly brisk, averaging 19.4 seconds between pitches, more than half a second faster than any other team. There is, of course, no trophy for working the fastest. And speed is not a prerequisite for success. But Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen strongly discourages pitchers from dawdling on the mound.

"We want them to be the aggressor all the time," Warthen said. "We want them to get on the mound, throw the baseball and at least have the appearance of, 'We're going after you. This is our game, and you have to hit me.'" Section 8.04 of the Major League Baseball rulebook requires pitchers to release the ball no more than 12 seconds after receiving it when the bases are empty and the batter is in the box. But the rule doesn't cover situations with men on base. And since umpires don't have stopwatches, it's more of a request than a requirement.

TRIVIA: Who led the Mets in wins during the 1989 season -- the last time the Mets won three series of three-plus games in Philly? (Hint: It was a three-way tie.)

Wednesday's answer: The only first basemen in Mets history to produce more homers than Ike Davis (24) in a single season are Carlos Delgado (38 twice), Dave Kingman (37), Eddie Murray (27) and Mo Vaughn (26).

Mets morning briefing 7.19.12

July, 19, 2012
WASHINGTON -- David Wright and Jason Bay (yes, Jason Bay) had solo homers in the ninth, but the Mets' comeback fell short in a 4-3 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday night in D.C.

Now, R.A. Dickey (12-1) must top Gio Gonzalez (12-4) in a battle of the NL's wins leaders for the Mets to halt a six-game losing streak and avoid returning to Citi Field with a winless second-half-opening trip to Atlanta and D.C.

Thursday's news reports:

Terry Collins called a pregame team meeting Wednesday to rally his team. The manager suggested it primarily was spurred by Pedro Beato's postgame comments Tuesday, which seemed to question whether Josh Thole could have blocked a game-ending wild pitch. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.

Miguel Batista, who has been selected to start Saturday's game against the Dodgers at Citi Field over Matt Harvey, offered some bullish comments after Wednesday's loss. After allowing the Nats' final two runs in two-thirds of an inning on the day a starting pitcher normally would throw a bullpen session, Batista suggested the Mets are the best team in the majors. His right leg, which took a glancing blow on a comebacker, is fine, he suggested.

Mike Puma in the Post reported Harvey could debut as soon as next Thursday's road-trip opener at Arizona if Batista is a bust against L.A. Puma suggested one reason the Mets went to Batista first is because he would be the likely roster casualty for Harvey. And, if Harvey struggled, the Mets potentially would have lost Batista and not had a viable fallback.

Chris Young was flawless in a scoreless duel with Jordan Zimmermann until the sixth inning, when Adam LaRoche delivered a two-run homer on a pitch that actually was off the plate. "There's no satisfaction tonight. We lost the game," Young said. "We needed a win, and I didn't get it done. ... I didn't think it was a bad pitch. It wasn't like I missed my spot or left something over the plate that he punished. He hit a decent pitch." The Mets' deficit swelled to three runs once Batista allowed a two-run double to Steve Lombardozzi. Batista had fallen behind in the count, 2-0, and put a ball over the middle of the plate. Read Wednesday's game recaps in the Post, Record, Newsday, Daily News, Times and Journal.

Jeurys Familia limited Toledo to one run and three hits in a career-high eight innings, but Triple-A Buffalo lost in extra innings to the Mud Hens. With St. Lucie, Mike Baxter went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as the DH in the fourth day of a maximum 20-day rehab assignment. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

• Bay actually went 2-for-4 with the ninth-inning solo homer. Pregame, Collins was explaining why Bay -- and not Jordany Valdespin -- got the start. Valdespin, the would-be hero of Tuesday's game with a three-run pinch-hit homer before things went awry, this time struck out against the same pitcher, Tyler Clippard, for the final out. Read more on Bay in the Daily News.

Jon Rauch had his knees drained before the series opener and was unavailable Tuesday. He returned to game action Wednesday and pitched a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts. Writes Anthony DiComo at

Rauch said he was in "quite a bit of pain" Tuesday due to his knees filling up with fluid, "to the point where I could barely even walk." Around game time, a doctor came to the clubhouse to drain both knees and give Rauch a cortisone injection, which reduced the pain. Because of the procedure, Collins believed that Rauch was unavailable in the 10th inning Tuesday -- even if Rauch disagreed. "I could have pitched," Rauch said. "I could have pitched through pain. It wouldn't have been the first time." Rauch has undergone surgeries to both knees in his career and endured arthritis for years, prompting him to receive an injection of synthetic cartilage on July 8. But he had a bad reaction to the procedure and his knees filled up with fluid, which a doctor drained Tuesday.

• The Mets are aiming for Frank Francisco (oblique) to begin a rehab assignment next Friday, so the closer should miss the upcoming homestand against the Dodgers and Nationals.

• VP Paul DePodesta, who oversees the farm system and draft, spoke about Jenrry Mejia's future role, expectations for Harvey, Zack Wheeler's innings limit and sleeper prospects in the system during a Q&A with Read Part I and Part 2.

• Dickey has allowed five runs apiece in three of his past four starts. He tells Tom Pedulla in Newsday: "During the course of the 162-game season, every starter, whether it is Justin Verlander or whoever it may be, has to weather some storms and not overthink things. That's when you get in trouble."

Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News about the importance of Dickey's outing against the Nats:

Somehow, he has lost the touch, getting smacked around in three of his last four starts to the tune of 15 earned runs. Dickey doesn’t seem to know why the knuckler has flattened out of late, but if he can’t find the feel that made him mostly unhittable for three months, the Mets are dead. If Dickey can’t deliver a win, it will feel like they are dead. Two days ago it was none other than Terry Collins who said this was a crucial series for the Mets, as much for their psyche as what it could mean in the standings. “We need to come out of this series feeling good about ourselves,” Collins said. “Whether that’s one, two, or three wins, we need to come out of it feeling like we’re still competing.” Collins apparently didn’t consider the possibility of zero wins.

Read more in the Times.

• On the trade front:

David Lennon in Newsday reports the Mets have targeted Oakland reliever Grant Balfour.

Sandy Alderson tells Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger: “We’re not interested in doing something just to create the impression that we’re doing something." McCullough reports the Mets have scouted Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez, San Diego’s Huston Street, Kansas City’s Jonathan Broxton and Houston’s Brett Myers.

Writes Brian Costa in the Journal:

According to people familiar with their thinking, the Mets are targeting a closer-type, with three pitchers in particular topping their wish list: Milwaukee's Francisco Rodriguez, Houston's Brett Myers and San Diego's Huston Street. But the Padres are said to "have no plans" to trade Street, their All-Star closer, and are not even listening to offers at this point. And the Brewers just made the former Met Rodriguez their closer, replacing the struggling John Axford, so it's not clear whether he'll be on the market. Myers, the Astros' 31-year-old closer, appears to be the most attainable of the three at the moment. But the high end of the relief market is a slim one. ...

They've talked to the Athletics about Grant Balfour, but their interest in him is described as tepid. And they've talked to the Padres about setup man Luke Gregerson, who entered Wednesday with a 3.32 ERA in 44 appearances. But the Mets balked at San Diego's request for Daniel Murphy in such a deal, according to a person with knowledge of the talks.

Cody Derespina in Newsday recaps Alderson's trade history with the Mets.

Michael Salfino in the Journal notes Harvey has had more Triple-A seasoning than most college pitchers who fit his profile. Writes Salfino:

Harvey has already pitched 105 innings in Triple-A Buffalo since 2011, compiling a 3.34 ERA and striking out over a batter per inning. The average Triple A-stay of the 20 active pitchers drafted out of college in the first 15 overall picks since 2005 is just 22.8 innings, according to Stats, LLC.. And seven didn't even stop there at all before proceeding directly to the majors. The White Sox had all-star lefty Chris Sale -- drafted six spots after Harvey -- toss a mere 6.3 Triple-A innings before calling him up for good. The Nationals gave Stephen Strasburg a 33.3-inning layover. Tim Lincecum pitched just 31 innings at the highest minor league level before winning the Cy Young Award in 2008.

• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record writes about the fall of Lenny Dykstra. Writes Klapisch:

The idea of Dykstra in an orange jumpsuit seems impossible to those who remember the fearless ballplayer who took on the world in a 5-foot-9 frame. But that person is “gone,” said Darryl Strawberry. “That Lenny has been gone for a long time.” Speaking by telephone Wednesday, Darryl echoed the sentiment of most ’80s-era Mets, acknowledging the depths of Dykstra’s crimes, yet somehow still feeling sorry for him. “Mentally, Lenny just isn’t the same person. He doesn’t have the same mental capacity as he did when he was playing,” Strawberry said. “Whatever Lenny put in his body, it changed his personality.”

TRIVIA: In what stadium did Wright make his major league debut?

Wednesday's answer: The Braves' Diory Hernandez was at third base and scored when D.J. Carrasco balked in the winning run at Turner Field on June 16, 2011.

Mets morning briefing 7.4.12

July, 4, 2012
The fireworks came a night early for the Mets. The Amazin's completed game No. 81 -- reaching the midway point of their season at 44-37 -- by blasting the reeling Phillies, 11-1, Tuesday night before a Citi Field-record crowd of 42,516. Daniel Murphy (4-for-5) and David Wright each produced four RBIs and Jon Niese tossed a season-high eight innings in the series-opening victory. Niese also contributed a two-run single against Vance Worley.

“We’re very pleased to be where we are,” Terry Collins said. “The guys have played very hard. I think the most impressive thing is their resilience. After a bad night or a bad series or whatever we’ve had, they’ve been able to bounce back from it. But we’ve got 81 more to go.”

The Mets will try to match their season high at eight games over .500 when Chris Young (2-1, 3.30 ERA) opposes winless left-hander Cliff Lee (0-5, 4.13) this afternoon.

Wednesday's news reports:

Jordany Valdespin appears headed back to the Mets, sources told Valdespin homered Tuesday for Triple-A Buffalo, a day after producing a four-steal game with the Bisons. It was not immediately certain who would be the roster casualty, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis was scratched from Tuesday's lineup after suffering a bruised right hand during batting practice. Andres Torres instead started in center field.

• Wright's three-run homer moved him past Howard Johnson for sole possession of third on the club's all-time homer list at 193. He also became the first player in franchise history to reach double digits in long balls in nine different seasons. Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry and Ed Kranepool each had eight seasons of 10-plus homers as Mets.

In support of Wright, Sandy Alderson took to Twitter for a second time in three days to take a jab at the selection of Pablo Sandoval as the NL's starting third baseman in the All-Star Game.

Alderson tweeted on Tuesday: ASG election of "Kung Fu Panda" shows the value of a cute nickname. Surprised Giants fans didn't elect a "ball dude" to start at 3B.

That followed a Sunday tweet in which Alderson wrote: Wright vs.Sandoval: A city of 8 million was outvoted by a city of 800,000.

Those jabs had been Alderson's first tweets from his account @MetsGM since April 12.

Read more on Wright's big Tuesday (and Alderson's tweeting) in Newsday and the Daily News.

• Meanwhile, retiring third baseman Chipper Jones has been added to the All-Star Game as a replacement for injured Dodger Matt Kemp, joining Sandoval and Wright.

• Murphy had two late shots at the cycle. And when bench coach Bob Geren brought up the possibility, Murphy quipped: "Not unless they let me hit it from second base," according to Conor Orr in the Star-Ledger. Read other game recaps in the Times, Record, Newsday, Daily News and Post.

• The Phillies dropped to 10 games under .500 for the first time since July 22, 2002. Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News about floundering Philadelphia:

The Phillies look like a dead team that knows trades might be coming. At the very least, they may be digging themselves too deep a hole to climb out of, even with Chase Utley finally back from injury and Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay perhaps on the way as well. For that matter, I listened to Charlie Manuel talk on Tuesday about getting his injured stars back soon, perhaps making a big run in the second half of the season, and I thought I was hearing Jerry Manuel all over again, holding onto hope in 2009 for a turnaround that never came. It’s hard to believe but, somehow, the Phillies and their all-world starting rotation have become the Mets of recent years, when whatever could go wrong usually did. And, no less unexpectedly, the Mets have become the Phillies of recent years, tough in the clutch, riding a wave of dominant starting pitching, including eight innings of brilliance from Jon Niese on Tuesday night.

Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:

In this upside-down National League East, the five-time defending divisional champions are looking like the broken team. The club that appears poised to dominate the trade deadline like the Mets did in 2011. The guys giving away good players -- Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino, in this instance -- and looking ahead to next year, in other words. ... It’s a stunning development for an organization that had seemed to figure out everything. Sure, industry folks wondered if the big contracts (Howard, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon) and win-now trades (for Lee, Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence) would eventually haunt the Phillies. Not this soon, though.

• Following up on a report in the Post, David Lennon in Newsday wrote about a potential reunion with Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez:

Courtesy of New York Mets
The largest crowd in Citi Field history was treated to a pre-July 4 fireworks display after Tuesday's rout of the Phillies.

Put it this way: they aren't against the idea, and a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday that Francisco Rodriguez is among the relievers currently being considered to add bullpen help. The New York Post first reported the Mets' interest in K-Rod, and it appears his past transgressions in Flushing won't get in the way of a possible reunion. Rodriguez, who earns $8 million this season on a one-year deal, is presently underperforming in a setup role for Brewers closer John Axford and might soon be available.

The Mets could probably get him by taking on most of the money -- down to $4 million by now -- rather than giving up a valuable prospect, something that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is very reluctant to do.

K-Rod's former teammates say they would not object to a return. Josh Thole told Mark Hale in the Post: “The people outside don’t know what kind of guy this guy is. He made one mistake.” Said Tim Byrdak to the newspaper: “I never saw any of [the problems] when I was with him last year. Great guy. ... Nice guy to play with. He was a good teammate.”

A team source, while not entirely ruling out acquiring a high-priced closer type, recently told that he did not foresee the Mets trading for another team's closer for setup duty. Of course, K-Rod doesn't exactly fit into that description anymore, since he has served as a set-up man for the past year.

Meanwhile, Tom Haudricourt in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel chronicles K-Rod's 2012 struggles. Writes Haudricourt:

Rodriguez, who earlier in the season pitched with an ailing leg and back but supposedly has felt OK of late, surrendered two runs on two hits, including a homer, in two-thirds of an inning [Tuesday]. He emerged with a 1.53 WHIP (walks and hits per inning), compared with a 1.138 WHIP in 31 appearances with Milwaukee after being acquired from the New York Mets in a mid-season trade. [Brewers manager Ron] Roenicke said it has been a matter of command for Rodriguez, who has issued 16 walks in 36 2/3 innings while allowing five home runs.

"His stuff, for me, is actually better," said Roenicke. "I don't know [why his command has been worse]. Some of it was the issue with the leg but he's been feeling pretty good lately, so I can't answer that. He's usually not wild with his fastball. This year, he's been a little more wild with the breaking ball. The breaking ball used to be automatic. When I saw him three years ago [with the Angels], it was curveball, slider and then an in-the-dirt slider whenever he wanted to. It's not that way now, but I don't know what the difference is."

Jason Bay hit indoors and ran at Citi Field on Tuesday. He expected to head to the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Thursday and potentially be activated from the disabled list in nine days, when the Mets reassemble after the All-Star break in Atlanta for the July 13 second-half opener. Read more on Bay's return from a concussion in the Record, Star-Ledger, Times and Newsday.

• Citi Field again will host soccer on Aug. 15, when Ecuador faces Chile at 8 p.m. Tickets, which begin at $30, go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. at (718) 507-TIXX and at Ecuador and Greece met at the stadium on June 7, 2011 and played to a 1-1 draw before an announced crowd of 39,656.

• Valdespin had an infield single that scored Raul Reyes in the bottom of the ninth for Buffalo to make a winner of Jenrry Mejia, despite the reliever allowing two runs in two innings. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

TRIVIA: The Mets have four players with 40-plus RBIs (Wright, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Murphy). Name the only other NL team that can claim that distinction.

Tuesday's answer: The Phillies last finished in last place in the NL East in 2000, when they went 65-97 under manager Terry Francona.

Mets morning briefing 7.3.12

July, 3, 2012
After an off day on Monday, the Mets kick off a six-game homestand to close out the first half of the 2012 regular season on Tuesday night.

The Philadelphia Phillies are in town for three games, followed by the Chicago Cubs for three games over the weekend.

This week is a golden opportunity for the second-place Mets (43-37), considering the Phillies (36-45) and the Cubs (30-49) are both last-place clubs.

It will be Jon Niese (6-3, 3.55) versus Vance Worley (4-4, 2.92) in the opener -- here's a link to Adam Rubin's series preview.

Tuesday's news reports

• The script has definitely been flipped -- it's strange to see the Phillies limp into New York as the underdogs, while the Mets are chasing a playoff spot. In fact, Mets catcher Josh Thole told Mike Puma of the Post that "I think 5-1 is a pretty good goal" for the week.

Read more about the upcoming Mets-Phillies series in the Daily News.

R.A. Dickey has gotten a ton of attention so far this season -- and rightfully so, as the veteran knuckleballer has been brilliant (12-1, 2.15). But the team's most valuable player, and the most valuable player in the major leagues, is David Wright, writes Mike Lupica in the Daily News.

Andres Torres had a wild weekend in Los Angeles -- Andrew Keh of the New York Times calls him "the Mets' most dynamic player," but also "one of their most maddening" -- click here to read more.

• The Mets could use some help in the bullpen. Could Francisco Rodriguez be on his way back to Queens? It's a possibility, writes Ken Davidoff in the Post.

• Niese, the Mets' starter on Tuesday night, had a terrible month of May but has rebounded nicely since then. Read more on Niese's development from Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger.

Bobby Parnell, the Mets' closer while Frank Francisco is on the disabled list, has a special relationship with the New York City Fire Department -- read more about it from Anthony Rieber in Newsday.

TRIVIA: When was the last year the Phillies finished in last place in the National League East?

Monday's answer: The last Met to homer against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was Jordany Valdespin. It was his first major-league hit -- a tie-breaking pinch-hit home run in Philadelphia on May 7.

Farm report: Leathersich rocketing

May, 23, 2012
Left-hander Jack Leathersich owns the Division II UMass Lowell single-season strikeout record. His gaudy K totals have continued as a pro, since getting drafted in the fifth round last June.

Leathersich, who made his high-A St. Lucie debut on Tuesday night, has now fanned 66 batters in 39 1/3 pro relief innings through stops with Brooklyn, Savannah and now in the Florida State League. He has surrendered only 18 hits. Not bad for a kid who threw 85 mph as a high school senior and described himself as "tiny" back then -- 5-foot-8, 150 pounds.

Courtesy of New York MetsJack Leathersich

Leathersich's fastball now sits at 91-93 mph and tops out at 95-96 mph when he's aiming for a strikeout. He also throws a circle change as well as what he describes as a slurve -- "kind of in the middle … not really like a 12-to-6 (curveball), but not like a hard slider. It kind of comes in diagonal."

Said Leathersich: "I don’t really go out there trying to strike people out. I never really have. Getting ahead is the biggest thing for me. When I get ahead 0-1, 1-2, 0-2, I do try to put them away. I try to get them out of there. But I've been working actually a lot this year on not going so deep in the counts -- trying to get one-, two-pitch outs."

Leathersich burst onto the radar while competing in the prestigious Cape Cod League during college. He was one of only the three or four Division II players invited, by his count. That's where he picked up his nickname -- "Rocket." His Twitter handle remains @LeatherRocket.

"My buddy, Marcus Stroman -- he's going to be a top-10 pick this year, from Duke -- he just started calling me that," Leathersich said. "We were roommates. He pitched the ninth inning and I pitched the eighth normally. I don't know. It kind of just stuck."

Leathersich's best experience as a pro so far? That would have to be his Aug. 30 appearance for Brooklyn last season. The Lowell Spinners are in that league, and share a stadium with Leathersich's college program. Pitching as a pro on the field where he was a college standout, Leathersich tossed two scoreless innings, striking out the side in his first frame.

"That was crazy," Leathersich said. "That was definitely a pretty cool moment in my life. Everybody was there. I mean, everybody from my town (Beverly, Mass.), which is only a half-hour away. And everybody from Lowell, where I went to school. The place was pretty packed. It was a rush when I got called into the game."

In his Florida State League debut Tuesday, Leathersich surrendered his first professional homer. He was charged with two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out three in 2 2/3 innings.

"Anybody, I feel, who says that they don't have to work on anything is lying to you," Leathersich said. "I've definitely been working on my offspeed a lot -- changeup, curveball, throwing it in any count for a strike. That's what (Savannah pitching coach) Frank Viola and I were really working on when I was down there. He's helped me out tremendously with everything. … I'm just going to keep working on my offspeed pitches and holding runners, fielding my position and all of the stuff I had been working on in Savannah."

Organization leaders

Average: Bobby Scales, Buffalo, .339; T.J. Rivera, Savannah, .333; Jefry Marte, Binghamton, .321; Matt den Dekker, Binghamton, .310; Eric Campbell, Binghamton, .310; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, .310; Vinny Rottino, Buffalo, .307; Matt Tuiasosopo, Buffalo, .301; Juan Lagares, Binghamton, .293; Danny Muno, St. Lucie, .283.

Homers: Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 11; Travis Taijeron, Savannah, 8; Cory Vaughn, St. Lucie, 8; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 7.

RBI: Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 34; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 29; Travis Taijeron, Savannah, 27; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 25; Vinny Rottino, Buffalo, 25.

Steals: Luis Nieves, Savannah, 9; Cesar Puello, St. Lucie, 9; Wilfredo Tovar, St. Lucie, 9; Pedro Zapata, Binghamton, 8.

ERA: Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 2.15; Collin McHugh, Binghamton, 2.15; Tyler Pill, Savannah, 2.29; Angel Cuan, St. Lucie, 2.37; Alex Panteliodis, Savannah, 2.63; Rafael Montero, Savannah, 2.64; Chase Huchingson, St. Lucie, 2.68; Jeremy Hefner, Buffalo, 2.72; Chris Schwinden, Buffalo, 2.72; Dylan Owen, Buffalo, 3.19.

Wins: Chase Huchingson, St. Lucie, 5.

Saves: Adrian Rosario, Binghamton, 12; Fernando Cabrera, Buffalo, 9; T.J. Chism, Savannah, 6; Adam Kolarek, St. Lucie, 4.

Strikeouts: Matt Harvey, Buffalo, 49; Garrett Olson, Buffalo, 49; Jeurys Familia, Buffalo, 45; Collin McHugh, Binghamton, 45; Zack Wheeler, Binghamton, 45.

Short hops

• Infielder Danny Muno, the Mets' eighth-round pick in 2011 out of Fresno State, was suspended 50 games for a positive test for a metabolite of Drostanolone, a performance-enhancing drug, Major League Baseball announced Friday. Muno, 23, had been hitting .283 with five homers and 23 RBIs while batting leadoff and manning second base for Class A St. Lucie. Robbie Shields, a third-round pick in 2009 from Florida Southern College, has taken over at second base for the Florida State League club. Alonzo Harris Jr. has assumed the vacated leadoff spot. Since Muno's suspension, Harris is hitting .391 (9-for-23) with five runs scored in five games. That has upped the Mississippi high school product's average 38 points, to .271.

• Left-hander Josh Edgin opened enough eyes in spring training that he formally was added to camp in March after initially not receiving an invite. Now, he has not allowed an earned run in his past six relief appearances with Triple-A Buffalo. Edgin touched 95 mph with his fastball Monday, then tossed a no-hit inning with two strikeouts Tuesday against Indianapolis.

• Right-hander Collin McHugh (4-3, 2.15 ERA in nine starts) has been a bright spot in a Double-A Binghamton rotation that largely has struggled of late. He had completed at least seven innings in each of his past three outings, until that streak ended Tuesday when McHugh served up a solo homer to open the seventh inning at New Britain that broke a scoreless tie, then hit a batter with the next pitch and was ejected. "My ejection from the game tonight was completely absurd!" McHugh tweeted afterward. "I did not throw at ANYONE, nor would I consider it in a 1 run game in the 7th."

McHugh, an 18th-round pick in 2008 out of Berry College, has allowed only six earned runs in 27 1/3 innings during his past four starts. McHugh made his Double-A debut on May 31, 2011. In what is now a full year in the Eastern League, the Atlanta native has compiled a 12-5 record and 2.62 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts).

• Right-hander Elvin Ramirez, the former Rule 5 pick returned to the Mets after spending a season on the Nationals' 40-man roster with shoulder woes, has yet to allow a run in seven Triple-A appearances. In nine scoreless innings, he has limited opponents to three hits while striking out 10, walking none and hitting one batter. Opponents are hitting .100 (3-for-30) against him. Ramirez began the season with Binghamton.

Josh Satin is 6-for-his-last-14 with eight walks during that stretch. He nearly exclusively has played first base with the Bisons.

Jordany Valdespin delivered a pinch-hit homer Saturday for Buffalo, on the day he awoke in Toronto and then was demoted to clear a roster spot for Jeremy Hefner. In two subsequent games while starting at second base, though, Valdespin went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. He committed two errors Sunday. Brad Emaus started at second base Tuesday, and Valdespin was retired as a pinch hitter.

Fernando Cabrera is 9-for-9 in save opportunities with the Bisons.

• The Mets released 22-year-old right-hander Eduardo Aldama. He went 3-5 with a 5.37 ERA at Class A Brooklyn last season.

(Read full post)



Bartolo Colon
15 4.09 151 202
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187