New York Mets: Bobby Valentine
Kathy Willens/Associated PressMike Piazza is flanked by former teammates John Franco and Edgardo Alfonzo during Sunday's Mets Hall of Fame ceremony.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets will have a familiar look in 2014, at least in terms of manager and coaches.
Sandy Alderson is due to announce a two-year contract extension for Collins with a team option for 2016 at a noon press conference today at Citi Field. Collins’ entire coaching staff also is expected to return intact.
The Mets completed their season Sunday with a 74-88 record -- identical to 2012 -- after beating the Brewers, 3-2, behind two unearned runs in the eighth inning. They finished in third place, a game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies, although David Wright was not impressed. The Mets will pick 10th in next June’s draft -- meaning they will not forfeit their first-round pick should they sign a premium free agent.
Want to voice your opinion about which players stay and go? Please vote in our Take ’em or trash ’em poll here. We already have more than 2,500 ballots cast.
Monday’s news reports:
• Mike Piazza became the 27th inductee into the Mets Hall of Fame on Sunday. Mayor Mike Bloomberg declared it “Mike Piazza Day” in New York City.
Because as the Mets embark on one of their most important offseasons in some time, Piazza's return was a timely reminder of all the good that can come from spending money on the right player. It's easy to forget, but when the Mets acquired Piazza in a 1998 midseason trade and gave him $91 million that next offseason, it represented an organizational shift in strategy.
Burned by a few high-priced contracts in the early 1990s, the Mets grew reluctant to spend and turned their focus within. Sound familiar?
Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post advocates Piazza getting enshrined in that Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, too. Writes Kernan:
There is no getting around the PED scandal and Piazza is pointing out that is the way the game went down in that era. In his heart of hearts he believes he will be in the Hall of Fame someday.
There is no doubt in my mind Piazza is a Hall of Fame player. I voted for him last time and I will vote for him again next time. Piazza received 57.8 percent of the vote his first time on the ballot. He needs 75 percent to get into Cooperstown.
Mike Puma in the Post notes Bobby Valentine, who managed Piazza, was not among the group invited to take part in the on-field pregame ceremony. Writes Puma:
According to sources, Valentine -- who worked in-studio for SNY on Sunday -- was not extended an invitation to the event. Piazza provided the club with a list of people he wanted invited.
Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Matt Harvey continues to undergo physical therapy at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Collins said he believes Harvey soon will be cleared to begin his throwing program in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in the hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery. Read more in the Daily News.
• Bob Raissman in the Daily News notes how Howie Rose handled the Mets’ final game on WFAN. The station is switching to Yankees games next season, prompting the Mets to need to find a new home. Writes Raissman:
In the end, Howie Rose was not looking back.
During the eighth inning of the Mets’ final radiocast on WFAN, he thanked everyone responsible for getting the games on the air since 1987 when WHN became WFAN. And in the ninth, he said farewell-- for now.
"Well, Shakespeare said the play is the thing," Rose said. "But for a baseball broadcaster the game is the thing."
He said "it's time to listen to the games" in a new location. He did not know where that would be, but told fans to "stay well" and "stay safe."
"And like that old cliché goes," Rose said, "check your local listings."
• Eric Young Jr. won the NL steals crown with two on the final day to finish with 46. He entered the day tied with Milwaukee’s Jean Segura, who sat with a cranky hamstring. Young and father Eric Sr. became the first father-son tandem ever to win league steal honors for a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
• Read game/season recaps and looks ahead to the future in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Record.
• The representative for free-agent-to-be LaTroy Hawkins and the Mets already have spoken about a return in 2014, according to multiple reports.
• From the bloggers … Mark Berman at Blogging Mets hands out final grades in his Mets report card.
BIRTHDAYS: Dave Magadan, now the Texas Rangers hitting coach, turns 51.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
And let’s just say Collins largely has not been thrilled with the players’ approaches at the plate after the Mets were shut out for the second time in three days Wednesday.
“We can sit here every night and discuss the same stuff over and over,” Collins said. “You’ve got to make adjustments. You can’t keep thinking you’re going to get balls to pull, or try to go up there and pull every pitch. You’ve got to step out of the batter’s box, or sit in the dugout and pay attention, and realize what the opposing pitcher is doing to get you out, and try to come up with a plan to make an adjustment at the plate and put the bat on the ball.
“I know they’re young. That’s all part of it. But, as we’ve said before, in the growing stages in this part of the year, we want to see some guys get better. And part of that getting better is being able to gather yourself on the side, and get in the batter’s box, and put a good at-bat on.”
The Mets try to get on track and avoid getting swept in the four-game series against the Washington Nationals when Aaron Harang makes his Mets debut opposite right-hander Tanner Roark at 1:10 p.m.
• Yankees president Randy Levine called it “very sad” that Bobby Valentine on Tuesday suggested the Yankees were AWOL when the city needed them after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, writes Andrew Marchand for ESPNNewYork.com. "Bobby Valentine should know better than to be pointing fingers on a day like today," Levine told Marchand. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday and Star-Ledger.
• Collins will return to manage the Mets next season, Mike Puma reports in the Post. That is consistent with what ESPNNewYork.com reported Sept. 1. The organization would only shift course if something monumental occurred, such as a managerial behavior meltdown. As for the Mets’ 2-8 record in September, which is better than only the Chicago White Sox, a team official told Puma: Collins “can’t totally be graded on something he doesn’t have right now.”
As for Triple-A manager Wally Backman’s future, Puma writes:
According to sources, Backman considered tendering his resignation near the end of spring training because he was unhappy receiving orders from team officials about playing time for certain individuals. Backman then angered [Sandy] Alderson later in the season, with comments about how he would fix Ike Davis, after the first baseman was demoted to Las Vegas.
But Backman knows how to manage, something that was reaffirmed this season when he took Las Vegas to the Pacific Coast League playoffs despite having his roster decimated to fill holes with the Mets.
Look for Backman to land in another organization next season, unless the Mets are willing to give him a shot on the major league coaching staff. But such an addition could create an uncomfortable situation because of the mostly false perception that Backman would be the manager in waiting.
Puma also wrote:
Alderson, through channels, has made it known there is almost no chance he would hire popular Wally Backman to manage the Mets if there was an opening.
Backman has thrived managing at the Triple-A level, but there are fears within the organization he would clash with this front office, which -- make no mistake about it -- has the final word on everything related to the on-field product.
The Mets expect to have their first-base answer in-house, between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin, and will pencil in Travis d'Arnaud at catcher, Daniel Murphy at second base and [Juan] Lagares in center -- though they hope to see more offensive consistency from d'Arnaud and more plate discipline from Murphy. With David Wright back at third base, that will leave shortstop and the outfield corners as the main areas for import.
Ruben Tejada had a lost year and is out of favor and Omar Quintanilla looks like a utilityman, so shortstop will very likely be an emphasis, though the free-agent market at that premium position is less than promising. The emergence of Lagares, the addition of speedy veteran Eric Young Jr. and especially the enormous surprise season of Marlon Byrd meant a potential disaster area in the outfield was somewhat better than expected, but Byrd was traded to the Pirates and Young is seen as an excellent fourth or fifth outfielder they'd like to bring back as a backup. So outfield will once again be the biggest area to look at.
While Choo appears like the best fit, there will surely be a bidding war for a player who is second the National League with a .425 on-base percentage. Choo was below average in center field this year, but will presumably be coveted as a corner man by many teams.
• Zack Wheeler surrendered one run in seven innings, but the Mets were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention with a 3-0 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday night. The Mets mustered only three hits against Dan Haren and four relievers. Tejada went 0-for-3 in his first major league appearance since May 29.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Wheeler has tossed 163 2/3 innings. The organization is likely to let him make two more starts and approach 180 innings. Read more on a rookie pitcher trying to pitch deep into September in the Journal.
• The Yankees’ move to WFAN -- both AM and FM signals -- was made official Wednesday, bouncing the Mets elsewhere on the dial. Read more in Newsday, the Post and Journal.
• Wright ran the bases Wednesday for the first time since suffering a strained right hamstring. Collins estimates Wright may be back in a game by the middle of next week. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Journal.
• An MRI taken on Wednesday revealed Justin Turner suffered a small right hamstring strain a day earlier. Turner should miss a couple of games, Collins suggested.
• Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez has joined the major league coaching staff. Backman will not be added.
• D’Arnaud discusses his struggles in the Daily News. Scouts on Wednesday told ESPNNewYork.com that d’Arnaud is going to have to make his swing more compact. Right now, he is helpless against breaking balls. And it seems like he is not catching up to the fastballs he is sitting on. He is hitting .152 (10-for-66) with a homer and three RBIs since his promotion.
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger looks at Matt den Dekker’s season and future.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing marks the passage of another lost season. … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests Valentine is misguided judging the Yankees’ post-9/11 contribution.
BIRTHDAYS: Luis Castillo, known during his Mets days for that drop at Yankee Stadium, turns 38.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Was Bobby Valentine in the wrong disparaging the Yankees’ contribution after 9/11?
@AdamRubinESPN Why do fans insist on seeing "the kids" play, then complain with the anemic results, like the last 2 series?— Anthony Messana (@AntJCM47) September 12, 2013
The forecast for tonight calls for a low of 28 degrees and 30 percent chance of snow in Minneapolis.
Approximately five inches of snow fell Thursday.
Jonathon Niese (1-0, 2.13 ERA) is scheduled to face ex-Phillie Vance Worley in the series opener.
Read the series preview here.
Friday’s news reports:
• Anthony Rieber in Newsday notes Matt Harvey has plenty of friends on the NHL’s Rangers, including Brian Boyle and Henrik Lundquist. Harvey has sought fashion advice from Lundquist. "I saw what he did the other day," Boyle told Rieber about Harvey. "Nine strikeouts, one earned? I think it's cool to kind of follow him. He's a humble guy. I hope he turns into a superstar. You really do root for a guy like that."
• Andrew Keh in the Times gets the Phillies to rave about Harvey.
Said Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel: “He’s got a little bit of style like Seaver. He’s a drop-and-drive guy. He gets a lot of torque from his backside pitching off the rubber. He’s got a chance to be real good.”
Said Laynce Nix to Keh: “He’s throwing stuff that a closer comes out of the bullpen and throws for one inning. But he’s doing it for a game.”
• Zach Lutz belted a grand slam and Las Vegas routed Sacramento. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Neil Best in Newsday writes about a night with SNY commentator/Sacred Heart athletic director/former major league manager Bobby Valentine.
• Read more about the frigid Minnesota weather in the Daily News.
• Mark Bowman at MLB.com notes David Wright, B.J. Upton and Ryan Zimmerman were all members of the same travel team in Norfolk, Va., while in high school. And now they’re in the same division. "David talks a good game," Upton said. "But we can get in Dave's dome pretty easy. Ryan is pretty stoic.”
• Terry Collins has used four different leadoff hitters in the past five games, notes Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger.
• Ike Davis was born in Minnesota while his father Ron played for the Twins, notes Mike Puma in the Post. Mike Kerwick in the Record, meanwhile, addresses Davis' slow start.
• Collins is not a fan of interleague play. Read more in the Post.
• From the bloggers … To Mets Police, Thursday was the day the Mets fan base lost its mind.
BIRTHDAYS: Paul LoDuca turns 41. … D.J. Carrasco, whose last pitch in the majors came a day after he plunked Ryan Braun, turns 36. … Former Mets infielder/Brooklyn Cyclones product Danny Garcia is 33.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
FIRST PITCH: The Mets are nearly outta here.
After today’s 12:10 p.m. game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Tradition Field, the Mets will say goodbye to Port St. Lucie.
They have one more Florida stop before heading north -- a Saturday matinee against the Baltimore Orioles across the state in Sarasota.
Matt Harvey and Jake Westbrook face off this afternoon.
The Mets sit at 14-14-3 in Grapefruit League play with two games remaining.
Friday’s news reports:
• Johan Santana ’s career is in jeopardy after multiple renowned doctors concur he likely has re-torn the anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder. Santana took 19 months to return to the majors after his original surgery. No major league pitcher has undergone that procedure twice.
Johan Santana's Mets career may be over.
Combined with the $21 million owed to Jason Bay (albeit $15 million deferred for one to two years), the Mets will have $52 million in payroll for which they get zero return in 2013. In fact, the active payroll may be no more than $40 million to $45 million -- a small-market sum.
Sandy Alderson indicated the Mets “probably” will not seek outside pitching help despite acknowledging the safety net is “not terribly deep.”
The highlights of Santana’s Mets career obviously include his historic June 1, 2012 no-hitter as well as his shutout against the Marlins in Game No. 161 in 2008, which came on short rest, off a career-high pitch count while pitching with a torn meniscus. That kept the Mets in postseason contention until the season’s final day.
Alderson said he did not know when the probable re-tear occurred, so he could not assign as the culprit Santana unexpectedly jumping onto a mound during spring training to counter claims he had arrived out of shape.
Here are columnist takes on Santana from Ian O’Connor at ESPNNewYork.com, Bob Klapisch in the Record, Mike Vaccaro in the Post, David Lennon in Newsday and Mike Lupica in the Daily News.
Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Post, Times, Journal, Newsday and Record.
• Zack Wheeler and fellow prospect Aderlin Rodriguez had some drama in minor league camp. Read more in the Daily News.
• Jim Baumbach in Newsday notes the Mets’ Opening Day sellout streak may be kaput. The Mets officially have sold out 14 straight home openers.
• Daniel Murphy reentered Grapefruit League play, signaling he will be ready for Opening Day. Murphy had an aggressive, and arguably ill-advised, dive into second base. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday and Record.
• David Wright played third base in a minor league game Thursday and hopes to play in a Grapefruit League game today or Saturday. Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger and Record.
• Prospect Domingo Tapia surrendered second-inning homers to Adam LaRoche and Danny Espinosa and the Mets lost to the Nationals, 5-1, Thursday.
• SNY confirmed Sacred Heart athletic director Bobby Valentine will serve as a pregame/postgame host on the network for 12-15 games this season.
"I like being busy," Valentine told John Jeansonne in Newsday. "Get up early, go to bed late. That's what it's all about. This seemed like a nice way to watch a ballgame.
“I was competing in international dance competition the same week as playing in Babe Ruth League regional championships as a kid. I was in the school class plays the same week as the high school championship football game. It's all I know; let's put it that way."
Read more in the Times and Star-Ledger.
• The Mets keep insisting they need to continue to get Kirk Nieuwenhuis at-bats, which continues to suggest he will come north with the club as a center fielder. Read more in Newsday.
• “Shameless” star Emmy Rossum will sing the national anthem on Opening Day at Citi Field.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal writes a season preview entitled, “The Crawl Through the Desert Continues.” The package includes a position-by-position breakdown. "You never want to concede that anything is more important than the win total," Alderson told Brian Costa, also in the Journal. "But to the extent that players we view as cornerstone players over the next three to five years continue to improve, that's very important to us."
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing never saw shoulders quite as broad as Santana's. … Regarding Santana, Terry Collins' words, "You don't want to ruin the organization," stick out in the ears of Mets Police.
BIRTHDAYS: Billy Beane, a former Mets first-round pick, turns 51. … Former outfielder Alex Ochoa turns 41.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: No-hitter or Game No. 161 in 2008. Which is Johan’s more significant game?
A lot of emotions with the @johansantana news, none good. Being with him when he got the news was surreal. Still can't believe it.— Chris Leible (@ChrisLeible) March 29, 2013
FIRST PITCH: After enjoying an off-day, the Mets can sleep in today before returning to work. The Amazin’s travel to Kissimmee to face the Houston Astros at 6:05 p.m.
Dillon Gee is scheduled to start for the Mets. Left-hander Aaron Laffey should see significant work as well as he gets stretched out as a fallback starter. Laffey is due to start a split-squad game Sunday.
Also scheduled to pitch today: Greg Burke, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia and Pedro Feliciano.
Justin Turner is listed for trip, which would mark his first game action since spraining his right ankle Saturday, assuming he proceeds.
Right-hander Alex White starts for Houston.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Bobby Valentine is completing a deal with SNY to work 10-15 games as a Mets studio analyst, Neil Best reports in Newsday.
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger profiles Jordany Valdespin, who has talent, but also the ability to irk teammates.
Valdespin, incidentally, may be backing off his pledge to wear a cup -- apparently having not learned a lesson from getting drilled in the groin by a 94 mph fastball from Justin Verlander. "We’ll see. I don’t feel good wearing it," Valdespin told Castillo. "We’ll see what happens. I’m not telling you yes or no, but we’ll see."
• Cody Derespina in Newsday writes the Mets had a mixed bag as far as baserunning in 2012. They scored from second on a single 66.8 percent of the time, the second-best rate in MLB. But they were fifth-worst in the majors at going first to third on a single (26.2 percent).
• Mike Puma in the Post seems to think the Mets’ revamped bullpen will be better. We’ll see. There aren’t many hard throwers aside from closer Bobby Parnell, especially if the Mets decide to put Familia in Triple-A. That could be the case if Feliciano (or Robert Carson or Scott Rice) is on and the Mets opt for the submariner Burke, too. If relievers aren’t striking guys out, you better have players behind them who can field.
Scott Atchison signed a minor league deal with the Mets, but should be in the bullpen. He has a 2.35 ERA in seven Grapefruit League appearances, writes Mike Kerwick in the Record.
Read more on Parnell in the Daily News.
• Marc Carig in Newsday looks at Travis d’Arnaud, who is slated for Triple-A but remains in major league camp.
• Kristie Ackert in the Daily News notes Marlon Byrd should be the team’s regular right fielder.
• From the bloggers … Rising Apple determines the turning point in Johan Santana ’s season was July 6, when his ankle was stepped on by Reed Johnson while he was covering first base, not the no-hitter more than a month earlier. … Shannon at Mets Police is having trouble identifying things to look forward to. … Metsmerized Online examines Byrd's journey from suspension to starting right fielder. … John Delcos at New York Mets Report suggests changes that could improve baseball.
BIRTHDAYS: Right-hander Blas Minor, who appeared in relief in 52 games for the Mets, turns 47.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you think the Mets’ bullpen will be improved this season?
Went shopping for clothes on my day off. Discovered my left arm is shorter than my right arm. What am I going to do?— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) March 19, 2013
FIRST PITCH: Let the games begin.
The Mets play an intrasquad game at noon today at Tradition Field (admission: $6). Scheduled to pitch: Gonzalez Germen, LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Rice, Collin McHugh, Elvin Ramirez, Greg Burke, Robert Carson, Brandon Lyon and Pedro Feliciano.
“In our particular situation, we’ve got decisions to make, I’ve got to start seeing people play,” Terry Collins said. “And I’m anxious to see them play. Yeah, I want to get started.”
Friday’s news reports:
• Union chief Michael Weiner made his annual visit to Mets camp to speak with players Thursday. Speaking with the media afterward, Weiner said about the Mets’ payroll: “Everybody would like to see the Mets as a competitive team. And it’s going to require a higher payroll.” Weiner also asserted David Wright would have received a more lucrative contract had he tested free agency. Writes Mike Puma in the Post on the Mets’ payroll comment:
A team official responded to Weiner’s criticism by saying the union chief should check the average payrolls of the last three World Series winners. The Giants (2010), Cardinals (2011) and Giants (2012) averaged about $106 million in payroll in claiming the last three world championships.
Read more on Weiner’s visit in Newsday, the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Times, Record and MLB.com.
Ron Darling Bobblehead Day is coming to Citi Field on April 21.
• The Mets announced their full 2013 promotional schedule, which includes five bobblehead giveaways: Ron Darling (April 21), John Franco (May 25), Wright (June 30), Dwight Gooden (July 21) and Tom Seaver (Aug. 25).
• Bobby Valentine reportedly will be the next athletic director at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Read more in the Connecticut Post.
• Ex-Met Chris Young signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals. Read more in The Washington Post.
• Mets farmhand Francisco Pena will play for his father Tony Pena on the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic.
• Grantland is not a fan of the Mets’ outfield. On that topic, columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post found humor that Bobby Bonilla, who is getting $1.2 million annually from the Mets in deferred payments, visited the club on Thursday. Writes Vaccaro:
The highest-paid outfielder in the room wears a green polo shirt, blue slacks, white cross-trainers and about 40 or so pounds from his last listed playing weight. Retirement seems to be agreeing with Bobby Bo, who last played for the Mets in 1999 (both baseball and, somewhat more famously, clubhouse cards) and who last played for anyone in 2001 and now works for the Players’ Association.
• Neil Best in Newsday chats with SNY analyst Bobby Ojeda.
• Collins has good reason to be concerned about the Mets’ baserunning the past two seasons, Jared Diamond notes in the Journal. Writes Diamond:
Their runners went from first base to third base on singles just 25.2 percent of the time last season, which ranked 23rd in baseball. They finished dead last in a statistic the website Baseball-Reference calls "bases taken," which counts the number of bases teams advance on, among other things, fly balls, wild pitches and passed balls. Those elements of baserunning have less to do with pure speed than they do instincts and hustle.
• Frank Francisco will begin tossing a baseball Monday after suffering elbow inflammation early in camp, Collins confirmed. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.
• John Buck offers his take on the various starting pitchers to Anthony DiComo at MLB.com. On Jonathon Niese, Buck said: "I like his cutter. It's something that wasn't really in my mind when I faced him on the other side. But now that I've seen a lot more film and concentrated on that aspect, and [hearing] him talk about how that makes him feel comfortable … it stuck out to me."
• On Sunday against the University of Michigan, Dillon Gee will pitch in his first game since undergoing emergency surgery at last year’s All-Star break to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder. Gee did get on a bullpen mound in September at Citi Field to allay concerns. “I accomplished what I wanted to last year, and that was to be able to come here with some peace of mind,” Gee told Andrew Keh in the Times. “Now I feel like I’m ready to compete again.”
Said Warthen to Keh: “His delivery is a little bit awkward, a little bit rusty, and his command isn’t where he wants it. But his hand feels good, his arm feels good and he can actually feel the baseball out of his hand. He’ll iron out a couple of delivery issues, and we’ll be right where he needs to be.”
• Collins said left-hander Josh Edgin worked on a sinker during the offseason that should make him more effective against righty hitters. Lefties hit .164 and righties hit .263 against Edgin during his rookie season. Read more in the Post.
• Feliciano, who pitches in today’s intrasquad game, tells Kristie Ackert in the Daily News about his shoulder: “I am ready now, ready to pitch. There is nothing there. It is strong. It’s stronger than it was before, because before the surgery and after, I have to work on it. I pitched in Puerto Rico in winter ball and I am ready to go.”
• Wright tells columnist John Harper in the Daily News he is “looking to become a better leader.”
• Lucas Duda will receive heavy playing time early in Grapefruit League play because he is working on a new stance, Collins said. Mike Kerwick in the Record speaks with Duda about the challenge of playing the outfield for a natural first baseman.
• From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear in Flushing makes the case for retiring Nos. 31 and 17 -- and quasi-retiring some other significant digits. … Mets Police would like to see a TV show in which Howie Rose interviews ex-Mets. … Contributors to Rising Apple predict which Mets player is most likely to break out in 2013.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets reliever J.J. Putz turns 36.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Please use the comments section to weigh in
"An intriguing opportunity has been presented to me and it's something I really feel I can enjoy doing and I feel could be mutually beneficial," Valentine told the newspaper.
Bobby Valentine could be returning to a role around the Mets.
The report stated Valentine's role likely would be limited to important games and capped at roughly 20.
Valentine was fired by the Boston Red Sox after one season.
SNY reportedly is expanding its pregame show to one hour for the upcoming season.
Jeremy Hefner surrendered five runs in five innings on Sunday as the Mets began instituting their six-man rotation.
"Well, we're not exactly playing great right now," Terry Collins replied when asked about the decrease in difficulty of opponent.
R.A. Dickey (15-4, 2.89 ERA) looks to regain a share of the NL wins lead when he opposes Rockies right-hander Alex White (2-6, 5.74) in Monday's 7:10 p.m. series opener. The game will be televised by SNY, after two days of blacked-out games for Cablevision customers on WPIX.
The biggest event should come pregame, when Collins meets with Sandy Alderson to get on the same page regarding Johan Santana. The likelihood appears that Santana proceeds with Thursday's start against the Rockies, but neither Collins nor pitching coach Dan Warthen was prepared to guarantee that before conferring with the GM.
Monday's news report:
Bryce Harper had a run-scoring triple and solo homer and Danny Espinosa had a two-run shot as the Nats built a 5-0 lead against Hefner. Daniel Murphy was ejected in the loss after a called third strike. Read game recaps in the Times, Star-Ledger, Post, Newsday, Daily News, Record and Journal.
Kelly Shoppach denied involvement in sending a text to Red Sox ownership trying to undermine Bobby Valentine. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.
Triple-A manager Wally Backman told the Buffalo News' Mike Harrington the Mets are expected to get bounced from Buffalo after the season. As a result, the Mets' Triple-A affiliate could end up in Las Vegas in 2013 and 2014.
Pedro Beato tossed two scoreless innings to produce the save in his debut with the Red Sox organization, preserving a 4-1 win against Buffalo. Kevin Plawecki had a pair of solo homers and caught a shutout as Brooklyn beat Vermont, 2-0. Read Sunday's full minor league recap here.
Ruben Tejada was given Sunday off until pinch hitting. He had started 22 straight games at shortstop. Read more in the Daily News.
TRIVIA: Which two other major league teams has Rockies skipper Jim Tracy managed?
Sunday's answer: Buffalo's Valentino Pascucci played for the Montreal Expos in 2004, including the final game in franchise history, on Oct. 3 at Shea Stadium against the Mets.
Shoppach acknowledged he met with Terry Collins pregame to ensure his new employer had no misunderstanding about his involvement.
"I'm really disappointed that my name was even brought up in that," Shoppach said. "I wasn't behind any texts. I actually didn't even attend the meeting [with ownership]. It was on an off-day in New York and I stayed back in Texas with my family.
"I've already gotten a few text messages from former teammates apologizing that my name was even brought up in it. Everybody that is involved in that whole situation knows that I had nothing to do with it. So, like I said, I'm a Met now. I'm really excited to be here, around a fun group of guys. And I wish the Red Sox nothing but well. I had a great time while I was there. But I'm a Met now and I'm excited about the opportunity here."
Read the full news story here.
The Mets begin their six-man rotation this afternoon at Nationals Park, as Jeremy Hefner (2-4, 4.76 ERA) opposes left-hander Gio Gonzalez (15-6, 3.29) at 1:35 p.m in the rubber game.
Sunday's news reports:
• The Mets' payroll, which suffered an historical one-year drop last offseason, is expected to remain the same, at roughly $90 million, for 2013, a baseball source told ESPNNewYork.com. Read the news story here.
• Terry Collins said he will confer with Sandy Alderson in New York on Monday to discuss a plan for Johan Santana. The expectation is Santana will proceed with a scheduled Thursday start against the Rockies at Citi Field. But neither Collins nor pitching coach Dan Warthen wanted to guarantee that appearance because the manager had not yet learned whether Alderson prefers more strongly to shut Santana down for the season. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.
• Santana is making $31 million next season, including a buyout of 2014. He also has no-trade protection. And his current string of subpar outings -- a franchise-record five straight starts of six-plus earned runs allowed -- raises the question of what he can be post-shoulder surgery. Still, Santana is not completely unmovable in a trade, a baseball executive suggested to Andy Martino in the Daily News. “Very limited trade value ... not ‘untradeable,’ but would have to have another big contract involved going to the Mets," the executive wrote in a text message, according to Martino. "Plus Mets would probably have to kick in some more because not many [players are] making $31 million for one year. Trade would have to [be] mostly salary-driven on both sides.”
Bobby Valentine was a victim of new Met Kelly Shoppach griping to ownership, the Daily News alleged.
Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was not the author of the now-infamous text message to Boston ownership complaining about manager Bobby Valentine, although it was sent from his cell phone, major league sources told the Daily News. Those sources also said new Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach was deeply involved in writing the message that touched off the latest Sox drama, but Shoppach would not confirm that charge.
A small group of players that has been unhappy with Valentine this season -- a group that included Shoppach, according to a source familiar with the circumstances -- was complaining about the manager in late July and engaged Gonzalez in the conversation. A member of the group suggested that the only way to bring about action would be to voice their problems to ownership. Gonzalez was tired of hearing the constant grumbling and agreed with them that a message from him -- the team’s highest-paid player -- would get management’s attention. ...
Shoppach bristled at the notion he was involved. “I have no influence on what they’re doing with upper management,” he said Saturday. “I am a backup catcher doing my job. It is my responsibility to do my job. That’s it: a guy on a one-year contract who is just happy to have a job around a bunch of talented guys like they have there.”
• Read Saturday's game recaps in the Post, Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Record and Daily News.
• Cablevision customers were unable to watch Saturday's Mets-Nats game on WPIX because of a dispute between the network and cable provider. Sunday's game also is due to be televised by WPIX, again leaving customers in the dark, barring a settlement. Read more in Newsday. (Note: Newsday and Cablevision have common ownership.)
• The Mets will line up to face the AL Central in 2013, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.
• Collin McHugh had a scoreless performance for the second straight season at Fenway Park as Buffalo beat Pawtucket, 2-0, Saturday. Read Saturday's full minor league recap here.
• Andrew Keh in the Times notes that David Wright, who already has achieved most of the franchise's hitting records, is nipping at Ed Kranepool's heels for another -- career hits as a Met. Writes Keh:
Kranepool, who played 1,853 games for the Mets from 1962 to 1979, collected 1,418 hits during his career. Wright, 29, ended Saturday with 1,222 games and 1,385 hits. Kranepool’s mark is 33 hits away. “When you talk about becoming a franchise’s all-time leader in anything, it’s a nice accomplishment,” Wright said. He added that passing Kranepool would have its own significance. “He was one of those original Mets,” Wright said, “and he played for this organization for so long, it’d be an honor.”
• Collins said it's possible Jenrry Mejia could appear as a starter for the Mets next month.
TRIVIA: Which current Mets minor leaguer played for the Expos?
Saturday's answer: Montreal retired the numbers of Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Rusty Staub and Tim Raines before relocating to Washington. The Nats put those numbers in circulation after one year in D.C. (They did not award Frank Howard's No. 33 from his Washington Sentators days until this season, when Jackson got it.)
The Mets are 32-18 all time on Opening Day, a .640 winning percentage that is the best in the majors. The Yankees are second at 65-46 (.586), followed by Baltimore at 63-47 (.573) and Seattle at 20-15 (.571), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Read the Mets-Braves series preview here.
Before the first pitch, join me for a noon ET chat here.
Thursday's news reports:
• Team doctor David Altchek, who performed Santana's surgery, believes the southpaw is out of the woods as he returns from Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.
• Brian Costa in the Journal speaks with Santana about his signature changeup, while Michael Salfino also in the Journal notes pitchers who missed a season often struggle upon their return. Writes Salfino:
Pitchers who started the season for a team after sitting through a layoff of more than a season have combined to allow 4.22 runs per game while averaging just 137.8 innings. Excluding pitchers who missed time due to military service, Santana's absence from big league action that began on Sept. 2, 2010 will be the sixth longest since 1921, according to Stats LLC. The hurler with the longest gap between appearing in the majors and pitching on opening day, former Pirate and later Brooklyn Dodger Preacher Roe, pitched the best of this group. But Roe didn't miss all that time due to injury: He toiled in the minors for five years after pitching a couple innings in 1938.
• Read ESPNNewYork.com's breakdown of Mets pitchers here, including scout comment. There's a breakdown of the team's hitters here.
• Jon Niese has agreed to a five-year, $25.5 million contract, which can be worth as much as $46 million if the Mets exercise options for 2017 and 2018. The deal will not become official until Niese undergoes a physical. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Times, Newsday and Post.
• Ike Davis belted a three-run homer off Freddy Garcia, but the Yankees rallied to beat the Mets, 8-3, at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The Mets completed the Grapefruit League with a 9-20-2 record, one shy of matching the franchise's most losses in a spring training. Read more in Newsday.
• Bill Madden in the Daily News writes that Sandy Alderson apologized to Mets personnel for taking a detour and having to play in Tampa against the Yankees on the eve of the season. Madden faulted a profit motivation by the owners, who needed to send the team to George M. Steinbrenner Field in order to have the Yankees visit Port St. Lucie, which resulted Tuesday in the largest crowd ever at the Mets' complex for a spring-training game. Writes Madden:
According to MLB sources, when the Mets’ higher-ups learned the Yankees were scheduled to make a rare trip to the east coast of Florida at the end of spring training to open up the new Miami ballpark, they asked if they would consider extending their Sun Coast stay an extra day to play a game in Port St. Lucie. Sure, the Yankees said, as long as the Mets agreed to make it a home-and-home situation so that both teams could benefit from one additional spring training sellout.
It apparently mattered not to the Mets that the only available date left on their schedule was the last one. After all, what’s a little inconvenience to Terry Collins and his players compared to an extra million dollars in spring training revenue, derived from hiking the ticket prices for the Yankees game -- which, despite the fact the Yankees sent only three regulars, Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones, still drew a record crowd of 7,644? And weren’t the Yankees doing them an extra favor by moving up the start of Wednesday’s game to noon?
As a result of Wednesday's game in Tampa, the Mets could not have a workout at Citi Field. So their outfielders will go into the first game with revised dimensions without a rehearsal at their stadium.
• Needing to clear 40-man roster spots for Mike Baxter and Miguel Batista, the Mets placed right-handers Josh Stinson and Armando Rodriguez on outright waivers. Stinson was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers and assigned to Double-A Huntsville. Rodriguez cleared waivers and will remain with the organization as a non-40-man roster player.
• Andrew Keh in the Times profiles right fielder Lucas Duda. Writes Keh:
Duda’s four home runs in exhibition games and a batting average that hovered around .300 provided some additional reassurance for the Mets’ front office. “Obviously, he’s got that power, that raw power, which scares pitchers out of the strike zone,” said Dave Hudgens, the team’s hitting coach. “He reminds me a ton of Jason Giambi -- that strength, the plate discipline, he can use the whole field, make adjustments.” When told of Hudgens’s comment, Duda said: “It’s nice to be compared to good players. But I’m myself. I can’t really try to be Jason Giambi. I know that sounds bland and vanilla.”
• The Mets' minor league affiliates open their seasons as well today, with Matt Harvey on the mound for Triple-A Buffalo and Collin McHugh starting for Double-A Binghamton.
Lynn Worthy in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin speaks with top prospect Zack Wheeler, who will pitch for the B-Mets on Friday. "My mom and dad always said me and my brothers, we get our arms from our mom, because she was always breaking people's fingers and stuff when she was throwing the softball," Wheeler told Worthy. "Everyone was always scared to play catch with her."
Mike Harrington's Triple-A Bisons preview in the Buffalo News looks at manager Wally Backman and the uncertain future of the affiliation agreement with the Mets, which expires after this season. Writes Harrington:
The teams' Player Development Contract is up after this season and there will be plenty of pressure on the Bisons to look elsewhere if the 2012 Herd, which opens its season tonight in Pawtucket, flames out again. The Bisons, who have not made the playoffs since 2005, have big expectations for the 25th anniversary season of Coca-Cola Field and they're not unfounded. The Mets have done a good job stocking the club with veteran free agents -- including the return of 2011 Buffalo MVP Valentino Pascucci -- and have put their two close-to-the-majors pitching prospects (6-foot-4 right-handers Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia) at the top of the Bisons' rotation. And to top it off, they've shuffled manager Wally Backman from Double-A Binghamton to Buffalo. Backman, the beloved second baseman from New York's 1986 World Series champions, is the rising star of the organization.
• Newsday's season preview package includes a look at the rotation, explanation of the difficult task of replacing Jose Reyes, a look at stadium grass maintenance, review of Citi Field dimension changes and a position-by-position look at the Mets.
• Andy Martino in the Daily News discusses Davis' left ankle (a nonissue, the first baseman says) as well as the suspected case of valley fever. Davis will get a follow-up exam of his lungs now that the team has arrived in New York. Writes Martino:
Although the ankle, which killed Davis’ sophomore year while he was batting .302, with seven home runs in 129 at-bats, has apparently healed (“The ankle is good,” Davis says. “I haven’t had a problem. Hopefully it never flares up.”), the Valley Fever lingers, and Davis cannot promise that it won’t be a problem. “I don’t know,” he said. “It could be, it couldn’t be. Obviously, it could have an effect. I feel tired, but so does everyone here.” The Mets, who issued a statement saying that Davis “likely” had Valley Fever, never went further than that, but Davis is operating under the assumption that he is indeed suffering from the desert-bred malady. “Oh yeah,” he says. “There is definitely something in there. The x-ray isn’t making stuff up.”
With spring training now over, it is difficult to say how much the condition affected Davis. He said this week that he “felt great,” ascribing his general weariness to the Grapefruit League’s unyielding schedule at the ballpark by 8 a.m., on the field for stretching and workouts by 9:30, play under sizzling sun at 1.
• The Marlins opened their season last night with Reyes at shortstop. And columnist Joel Sherman in the Post calls them the "IT" team. Writes Sherman:
There is glitz around the organization that begins with the vibrant colors and garish touches of this $634 million, retractable-roof facility, which could just as easily double as the largest disco in the world. They have a Jets-ian brash feel about them from the verbal jousts of manager Ozzie Guillen, the confident strut of owner Jeffrey Loria, the orange-dyed hair of Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, and the moon-shot abilities of Giancarlo Stanton. They will be the stars of the major leagues’ “Hard Knocks” ripoff, “The Franchise” on Showtime, and undoubtedly will end their six-year run of ranking last in NL attendance.
Jets coach Rex Ryan would look right amid the soap-opera potential and the unrestrained goal to win -- and win now. Look, it all could be ephemeral. The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the stadium financing. There are questions if there is enough local passion to retain fans once the novelty of the stadium fades. But, for now, the Marlins are an “It” team.
• The Daily News has scouting reports on Mets players, while Mike Puma in the Post and Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger have general previews. Mike Kerwick in the Record says Mets players, despite the doubters, believe. "I understand the expectations," Mike Pelfrey told Kerwick. "We lost … I don't know how many games we lost. Eighty-five? We lost the National League batting champion. I understand. But we're going to be OK."
• Also read about Citi Field dimension changes in the Record and Journal.
• Bobby Valentine will do a weekly Boston Red Sox radio spot with Michael Kay on ESPN 1050 right here in New York. Read more in the Daily News.
• Columnist Mike Vaccaro says in the Post that 2012 might seem bleak, but it's been far worse. Writes Vaccaro:
If we can agree that the 1962 Mets were the gold standard (or the zinc standard, perhaps) for ineptitude, there are several candidates for which one comes next. The 103-loss Worst Team Money Could Buy team of 1993 makes a strong case, thanks to their bleach spraying and firecracker slinging. The 2003-04 versions, brightened by Art Howe’s personality lighting up the room, demand a spot in the team photo. As do just about any team from 1963-67, though ’63’s 111-loss team which finished 48 games out of first place (and 15th out of ninth) merits special consideration.
Still, as a representative of the franchise’s darkest, gloomiest period, it’s impossible to overlook 1979, when the team lost 99 games (and had to go on a heroic six-game winning streak to close the season), finished 35 games behind the first-place Pirates (and 17 behind the fifth-place Cubs) and drew 788,905 customers to Shea Stadium, including a nine-game homestand to close the home schedule that attracted a total of 48,960 die-hards -- 27,033 of whom came for Fan Appreciation Day.
• Jason Bay did not have an RBI during Grapefruit League play. Writes McCullough in the Star-Ledger:
He is sick of this conversation. Jason Bay has had some variation of it for more than two years now, with friends, family, teammates, coaches and reporters. He has fielded questions about his mechanics, his inconsistency and his disappointing résumé as a Met. His answers are never satisfactory because his performance has never satisfied. “But I understand,” Bay said yesterday inside the visitors clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field for the Mets spring training finale. “Until you do something about it, that’s part of it.”
TRIVIA: Who was the winning pitcher in the Mets' first Opening Day victory as a franchise?
Wednesday's answer: Alex Cora is the only player to bat leadoff for the Mets other than Reyes since 2005. Cora started at shortstop and the No. 1 slot in the order two years ago, while Reyes was working back from a thyroid issue and opened the season on the disabled list.
One-time Mets prospect Alex Ochoa will serve as first-base coach and Tim Bogar will serve as bench coach. Bogar previously served as Boston's third base coach.
Holdover hitting coach Dave Magadan also played for the Mets. The staff also includes Jerry Royster as third base coach and Bob McClure as pitching coach.
David Waldstein of the Times, who covered Bobby V's Mets, tweets:
Funny thing about the Red Sox coaching staff. Valentine managed 1B coach Alex Ochoa and bench coach Tim Bogar with Mets ... Mets cut Bogar in spring training '97 which marked beginning of tension between Todd Hundley and Valentine. Hundley and Bogar were tight... and Hundley lashed out publicly, saying that it would never be forgotten (as Bogar sat on top of lockers and listened in)... They were mad that Bogar was cut so late in spring training making it hard to hook up with other team (he did, in Houston).
Read more at ESPNBoston.com.
ESPN's Karl Ravech tweets: "Sources say Gene Lamont no longer a candidate to be Red Sox manager. Valentine not yet offered job but appears imminent."
UPDATE: ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes tweets: "Bobby Valentine will become 45th manager of the Red Sox, according to sources. He is expected here midafternoon Wednesday."