Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Mets morning briefing 3.30.11
By Adam Rubin
Chris Young takes the mound for Wednesday's 12:10 p.m. Grapefruit League finale against the Florida Marlins. And with the Mets set to bus down to Miami Thursday morning, there are still matters unresolved with two days to go until the regular-season opener against, well, the Florida Marlins.
Jason Bay could be headed to the disabled list to open the season, perhaps paving the way for Lucas Duda on the Opening Day roster. Jason Isringhausen is expected to give his verdict as to whether he will commit up to two weeks in extended spring training in Port St. Lucie after Blaine Boyer was selected for the final bullpen spot. Nick Evans and Luis Hernandez waiver verdicts should be known Wednesday afternoon. And Carlos Beltran tries to play for a second straight day in the Grapefruit League, with Terry Collins planning to start him five of the first seven games of the regular season, provided Beltran's cranky knees allow.
On to Wednesday's news reports:
• Post beat writer Mike Puma picks the Mets that fit these and other categories:
- Most important position player: Jose Reyes
- Most important pitcher: R.A. Dickey
- Bigger-than-expected year: Beltran
- Most likely to disappoint: Mike Pelfrey
• Post columnist Joel Sherman offers these and other predictions:
Jose Reyes thrives, but the Mets don’t, and a July trade bidding war emerges among the Giants, Angels and Reds. Cincy obtains Reyes by dealing Homer Bailey and shortstop prospect Zack Cozart. ... Josh Thole increases his power to hit 35 doubles and 10 homers while Ike Davis and Angel Pagan validate that they are strong contributors, as well. ... Brad Emaus becomes a poor man’s Dan Uggla. ... The offense still is nothing more than middle of the pack because Carlos Beltran cannot get on the field enough and Jason Bay still does not conquer Citi Field in his second season as a Met. ... R.A. Dickey is the real thing, producing 200 innings and 15 wins; but Mike Pelfrey takes a step back, his ERA climbing toward 4.50.
• Broadcaster Tim McCarver said on a media conference call that he believes there should be an ownership change with the Mets. Newsday writes:
Based on what he has read, he said, he assumes selling a minority position without ceding control will not be enough. "I can't see any other way for them to go but to sell the ballclub," he said. McCarver added SNY's Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling will find it "very difficult to broadcast under these circumstances" because of the delicate nature of the ongoing story. "It's very, very difficult for everybody in that organization," he said, "and, I might add, for everyone in baseball."
• The Daily News covers McCarver's comments too. "It's deplorable. I would not want to be a player on the Mets right now," McCarver says. "Not because they are not talented enough, but because of all the questions surrounding the team this year will be [about] the off-field problems. It's very difficult to play under those circumstances."
• The Wall Street Journal also gets into the Opening Day spirit by talking about how the depressed real-estate market is a drag on Mets owners. Writes author Eliot Brown:
Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz ... made their fortune in real-estate investment long before they bought a stake in the Mets in 1980. But now, the largest of the real-estate funds they invest in and control, the $609 million Sterling American Property V fund, has seen values decline significantly and troubled properties accumulate. Last year, a loan servicer filed to foreclose on two office buildings in Fairfield, N.J., where the fund defaulted on a $35 million mortgage, according to loan research service Trepp LLC. ... In 2009, the Sterling fund agreed to hand over to lenders its 43-story tower at 333 Bush Street in San Francisco after a major tenant went bankrupt. The fund's investors have been hurt. Of the $35 million that the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana put into the Sterling fund, its investment at the end of 2010 was valued at $18.1 million, according to the Louisiana fund's chief investment officer.
• David Waldstein of the Times looks at the roster Sandy Alderson assembled on a shoestring offseason budget. “You can do it for that amount of money,” Alderson tells Waldstein about $10.8 million in salary commitments for players arriving from outside the organization. “The question is, how good are the players coming in? Right now, we think that our guys have performed pretty well. ... When we sat down in November to talk about our roster, we weren’t really happy with a lot of spots. We did an analysis of above the line, and below the line, of players we were happy with, and said these are areas we think we can improve. We end up opening day with a 50 percent turnover.”
• Newsday has its season-preview content, including:
- Beltran and Bay's situations here.
- How the clubhouse dialogue is upbeat and not about Bernard Madoff here. ("I couldn't have asked things to run better," Collins says. "I guess if Carlos would have come in 100 percent, but we kind of anticipated him taking some time, obviously. Our pitchers are throwing the ball great, our players are seeing the ball great. They're not too tired, they're not overused. I think we're on a great path for the start of the season.")
- Pelfrey as the Opening Day starter here. ("I always thought that watching Johan Santana throw during the last couple years, 'Man, it's pretty cool to get the ball on Opening Day,'" Pelfrey says. "It's a great honor, it's a great experience and now I'm going to get that opportunity.")
- Ten questions with Reyes here. ( "I consider David [Wright] my brother," Reyes says. "I've known him since 2001 in the minor leagues and we've never had any problems. Every time we come here, we come here smiling. We talk every day. I love David, and hopefully we can continue to play together for a long time.'')
-Wright's relationship with new hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who succeeds Wright's "baseball father" Howard Johnson here. ("You don't want to change too much," Wright says. "I think that Hudge really came in and did a great job transitioning. He knew some pretty key points in my swing from Day 1. He watched a lot of video during the winter and really got to know my swing pretty good. I was excited that our first conversation had to do with my specific swing, not his theory of hitting or anything."... Says Hudgens: "I just thought he had too much movement, too much going on in his swing, and I've just been trying to get him to calm down a little bit, slow down and be consistent at what he does. He's a great hitter, the ball jumps off his bat, but sometimes you're trying to do too much, trying to cover too much of the plate. He doesn't need to swing hard to do a lot of damage. Sometimes I'll watch his videos and it's like he's revved up and wants to kill the ball -- a lot of guys do that. I thought if he could slow down a little bit, get better pitches to hit, he could be more consistent.")
-Position-by-position analysis here.
-A look at both New York teams' GMs here.
• Andy Martino of the Daily News notes that with Bay's injury, this is the second straight year the Mets may have lost a player to the disabled list on the eve of the season. Last year, days before the Mets were poised to break camp, Daniel Murphy suffered the first of two 2010 injuries to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Murphy was poised to be the Opening Day first baseman. Instead, Mike Jacobs and Frank Catalanotto made the team -- rather than just one of those players.
• Read more about Bay and Beltran in the Star-Ledger, Post, Journal, Record and Daily News.
• Alderson said about not selecting Isringhausen for the Opening Day roster and asking him to stay behind in Florida: "There is always going to be some injury concern with Jason. But the next two weeks [would] tell us a little bit more about his velocity and how he bounces back from day-to-day, and will tell us a little more about our own situation in New York with the bullpen.” Read more in the Post.
• Don Norcross of the San Diego Union-Tribune summarizes Tuesday's change-of-scenery trade of first baseman Allan Dykstra to the Mets for right-handed reliever Eddie Kunz this way:
Dykstra batted .241 last year at (Class A) Lake Elsinore with 16 home runs and 70 RBI. He struck out 122 times in 386 at-bats. The Padres are deep in first-base prospects, including Kyle Blanks, Anthony Rizzo, Matt Clark and Cody Decker. “With the first basemen we currently have in the system, it was going to be hard for Allan to find at-bats,” said Padres Assistant General Manager Jason McLeod. “We wish him well in New York.” Dykstra was considered a questionable pick by former General Manager Kevin Towers at the time because he suffers from a degenerative hip.
BIRTHDAY: Terry Bross, who made eight relief appearances for the Mets in 1991, turns 45. The 6-foot-9 St. John's University product is now an agent.