Friday, March 11, 2011
Mets morning briefing 3.11.11
By Adam Rubin
Lucas Duda continues to rake, Carlos Beltran continues to rehab and the Marlins come to Port St. Lucie on Friday.
On to the day's news reports:
• David Wright tells the Post's Joel Sherman there's no way he would ever ask for a trade to escape the perpetual soap operas with the Mets. Remember, Wright even grew up rooting for the Mets' Triple-A players in Norfolk, Va. His favorite players were Benny Agbayani and Randy Milligan, the latter eventually signing him as a Mets scout.
"I can't imagine ever asking out," Wright tells Sherman. "It would feel like I was jumping ship. I want to be part of the solution. That [requesting a trade] seems like the easy way out. As much as I want to win, there has to be loyalty, too. It would be very easy to go in there and ask out when the going gets tough. ... I am a loyal person and I feel loyal to this ownership group because it has been good to me. You have the good, the bad and the ugly. We certainly have had the bad and the ugly. So now I want to be part of the good. I enjoy the challenge. I want to believe that I will endure the bad times for a prize at the end." ... Wright, by the way, is under the Mets' control through 2013. He will earn $14 million this season and $15 million next year. The Mets have a $16 million option for '13 with a $1 million buyout.
• The Daily News reports that subpoenas were issued Thursday to sports memorabilia auction houses compelling them to turn over information to the grand jury looking into fired clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels' allegedly unauthorized distribution of Mets memorabilia for personal gain. The article states:
Sports memorabilia sources say Samuels did not deal directly with auction houses but instead sold the items to collectors and dealers. The Queens investigators may be trying to track items that eventually wound up at auctions, the sources said. "We don't have any record of dealing with Samuels," one memorabilia source told the Daily News. "It looks like they are throwing out a net to see what kind of information they can find."
• Jenrry Mejia is ticketed for the Triple-A Buffalo rotation to work on his curveball and changeup, which pitching coach Dan Warthen currently labels "considerably below average" control-wise. That's a stark departure from last year, when Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya rushed Mejia to the majors as a reliever, writes Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal. Notes Costa:
Baseball Prospectus published a study last month that found that, between 2005 and 2009, on average, Mets players had the fewest minor-league plate appearances and innings pitched prior to their major-league debuts of any team in baseball. "It's a careful balance between challenging the player while also giving him the opportunity to experience success," said Paul DePodesta, the Mets' head of player development. "The most difficult situations arise when someone has an advanced skill, say defense or a big fastball, while the rest of the skills are behind."
• Fernando Martinez, now 22, recalls to Newsday's Anthony Rieber his audition in Port St. Lucie for the Mets in 2005 before signing with the organization for $1.3 million. "That day was very exciting for me," Martinez tells Rieber. "Very exciting. It was nice just to see Jose Reyes , Beltran, Pedro Martinez. I remember seeing those guys on TV." With Beltran's knees betraying him, Duda -- who homered in Viera on Thursday -- and Martinez are the prospects who may be the heir apparents in 2012, if not earlier. One major challenge for Martinez is proving he can stay healthy. He has his own arthritic right knee and has averaged only 77 games a professional regular season because of assorted injuries. "Sometimes I think in my mind, 'What happened to me? Why did I have so many injuries?'" Martinez tells Rieber. Says Jose Reyes: "He's still 22 years old. He's got a lot of baseball left. He's just got to stay out of the training room."
• Reyes tells the Post's Dan Martin he will get up to speed turning double plays no matter who wins the second-base competition. Martin then goes over a laundry list of second basemen with whom Reyes has worked in his career, writing: There was Miguel Cairo and Kaz Matsui in 2005; Matsui, Jose Valentin and Chris Woodward in '06 and [Luis] Castillo, Damion Easley and Ruben Gotay the following season. Not much has improved in the ensuing years. Says Reyes: "When you come to spring training, you always want to know who you're going to play with. But that hasn't happened this year. It doesn't happen very often for me. Right now, I'm ready to play with anybody because I've played with so many."
• Oliver Perez's first appearance as a lefty specialist is scheduled to take place against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday at ESPN's Wide World of Sports. "You never know. That can be a really good job for me, for now," Perez said. Perez tells The New York's Times David Waldstein he probably would not be inclined to go to the minors with the Mets. That's fine, Waldstein notes, because the Mets aren't inclined to ask him to go to Buffalo this year. Read more in Newsday and the Post.
• Ronny Paulino (visa issues) may arrive in camp by the end of the weekend. Or he might not. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Zach Berman in the Star-Ledger looks at Taylor Buchholz, who is removed 21 months from Tommy John surgery and with his fourth team since then (Rockies, Blue Jays, Red Sox -- although he was just offseason property of Boston -- and the Mets). On Thursday in Viera, the 29-year-old Buchholz forced in an inherited run charged to Mike Pelfrey with a bases-loaded walk, but he has yet to allow his own run in six spring-training innings. He feels like 18 months out is when a pitcher finally returns to his normal performance after Tommy John surgery, which for Buchholz was being perhaps the National League's top set-up man in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies. “That’s kind of the going rate,” Buchholz tells Berman. “Last year was a struggle for me, but you go into that knowing it’s going to be a struggle. You get that full offseason and really get back into my true workouts, and I’m feeling good about myself. Everything is starting to click back to where I used to be pre-surgery.”
• Mike Pelfrey tells Daily News columnist John Harper he revels in lining up with Josh Johnson and likely Roy Halladay his first two starts of 2011. "I think it's great for me," Pelfrey tells Harper. "When you go against guys at that elite level, it brings the most out of you. You're always motivated, but against those type of guys, it even brings out more. I'm really looking forward to it."
• Terry Collins insists the Mets have capable starting pitching, although that's not exactly an opinion shared throughout the baseball community, especially considering the rotations of the Phillies, Braves and Marlins in the division. "We really have a lot of depth, and they're pretty much all pitching good so far," Collins tells the Daily News' Andy Martino.
• The Post catches up with former Mets GM Steve Phillips and asks him five questions. Those include his impressions of Sandy Alderson, whether Beltran and Reyes will be Mets in 2012, whether Jason Bay can have a bounceback year and about the Mets' owners Bernard Madoff troubles. On his own personal troubles, Phillips says: "At this point, I am very grateful just for companies like Sirius to stand by me and say this is a guy worth working with. I am just going through recovery and I just know that everything for me has to be one day at a time."
• The Record's Arthur Stapleton chats with Mike Nickeas about his dream of being a major league catcher. Nickeas was up with the Mets in September. And because Paulino must serve eight more games on his MLB suspension and Nickeas already is on the 40-man roster, he should break camp with the Mets. Fellow catcher Dusty Ryan has options, too. But adding Ryan to the 40-man roster, optioning him to Buffalo eight games later and then tying up that 40-man spot for the rest of the year doesn't seem to be prudent with Nickeas available.
Collins reveals that he almost had to release Nickeas at the end of spring training last year, while overseeing the minors. Writes Stapleton:
The team gave Nickeas an option of going on the disabled list to start the season -- the “phantom DL,” a way to stash players who are not injured for a period of time. The Mets wanted Nickeas to remain in their organization; several team officials have him targeted for a possible role in instruction and coaching down the line. He was not optimistic a spot would open up, but gave it a shot. Not only did Nickeas eventually get back on the field -- he made his major league debut as a September call-up and collected two hits in 10 at-bats. “That’s something that needs to be told to those guys over there [in minor league camp] because there are going to be some kids who break camp and we have no immediate spot for them,” Collins said. “Right away they think, ‘Oh man, I’ve got no future here.’ Mike Nickeas is the perfect example of, ‘Yes, you do have a future if you apply yourself; if you dedicate yourself, there is a future.’ He was the story of 2010 for me.”
BIRTHDAYS: Reliever Steve Reed, who came in a July 31, 2002 trade from the San Diego Padres with Jason Middlebrook for Bay, Bobby Jones and Josh Reynolds, was born on this day in 1965. ... Dock Ellis, who had 14 starts for the '79 Mets, was born in 1945. He passed away in 2008.