New York Mets: Chris Capuano

A Mets free-agent shoppers guide

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
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Getty ImagesPlayers who could be of value to the Mets: Shin-Soo Choo, Stephen Drew, Bronson Arroyo.
When putting together a list of the priorities for the Mets in this offseason's free-agent market, you must be realistic.

To think that the team is going to land anyone with a nine-figure salary is a longshot (no matter what Sandy Alderson says), so cross Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury off any wish-lists.

Logic would also dictate that pitchers for whom the market might provide a four-year commitment comparable to the one Edwin Jackson got last winter (four years, $52 million) are not what this front office is looking for, so scratch off Matt Garza and Ricky Nolasco (and probably Ubaldo Jimenez, Tim Lincecum and Ervin Santana). We also left out a few pitchers with strong preferences for specific teams or markets-- A.J. Burnett (Pirates), Dan Haren (West Coast), Tim Hudson (Braves) and Hiroki Kuroda (Yankees/Japan).

But there are players who would be good fits for this team, which most likely will be shopping for multiple outfielders, a shortstop, both starting pitchers and relievers, and maybe a backup catcher.

What is below is a list arranged alphabetically, rather than by rank, of 20 targets that we deemed realistic based on educated guesses and available information. When the World Series concludes, these players will be on the market for the Mets to pursue.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 5, Mets 4 (12)

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
2:22
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LOS ANGELES -- The 40-year-old closer could not stop the runaway train.

Trying to protect a two-run lead, fill-in stopper LaTroy Hawkins surrendered a two-run homer to pinch hitter Andre Ethier with one out in the ninth. Adrian Gonzalez then a delivered a walk-off double against Pedro Feliciano in the 12th as the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Mets with a 5-4, come-from-behind win Wednesday. Yasiel Puig scored the decisive run after hustling for a double on a grounder up the middle.

The latest L.A. miracle upped the Dodgers’ winning streak to eight games. The Dodgers are 23-3 since the All-Star break.

Hawkins, who has assumed the closing role with Bobby Parnell on the disabled list, had allowed only one earned run in 12 innings since the All-Star break. The Mets had been 44-5 when leading after eight innings. Hawkins had converted three straight save chances since assuming Parnell's duty.

Ethier is now 4-for-6 with two homers, six RBIs and a walk in his career against Hawkins. Ethier was making his first appearance since being scratched from Tuesday’s starting lineup with left calf tightness. Hawkins had been struck in the groin with a comebacker the batter before Ethier's blast and required a visit from trainer Ray Ramirez.

The Mets have played 51 extra innings this season. The major league record is 82 by the 1918 Washington Senators, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The franchise record is 60 extra innings, in 1979 and ’85, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Gee plus: Dillon Gee retired the game’s first nine batters, then wriggled free of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. And behind a three-run homer from Marlon Byrd, the Mets had put themselves in position for a 4-2 win entering the bottom of the ninth.

Byrd finished 3-for-6 and fell a triple shy of the cycle. Andrew Brown, subbing in left field for resting Eric Young Jr., earlier contributed an RBI double. The Mets chased former teammate Chris Capuano after five innings, having produced 10 hits and two walks to build a 4-0 lead.

Gee’s line: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. He threw 95 pitches (65 strikes).

Former Dodgers farmhand Scott Rice contributed two scoreless relief innings.

Perfect through three, Gee surrendered a leadoff single to Carl Crawford in the fourth. Crawford ended up getting picked off, which proved important, because L.A. failed to score in the inning despite producing four hits. Mark Ellis flied out to strand the bases loaded.

The Dodgers, though, again loaded the bases in the sixth, this time for Ellis with one out. And this time they scored.

Ellis narrowly beat out a would-be inning-ending double play, allowing Adrian Gonzalez to score. Jerry Hairston Jr. followed with an RBI single up the middle, past diving Daniel Murphy, to make it 4-2. Gee finally stopped the bleeding by striking out Tim Federowicz to strand runners on the corners.

At the plate, Gee had a triple. Officially, he became the first Mets pitcher with a three-bagger since Nelson Figueroa in 2009, although Jonathon Niese had a triple two years ago as a pinch hitter in the 11th inning against the Miami Marlins.

Left outs: Ike Davis, starting against a left-hander for the first time since his return from Las Vegas, went 0-for-3 against the southpaw Capuano. Davis later doubled.

Wilmer! Wilmer Flores delivered a pinch-hit single in the ninth in his first action since Monday’s game, when he twisted his right ankle. Jenrry Mejia pinch ran for Flores.

What’s next: The Mets bus to San Diego. Zack Wheeler (5-2, 3.63 ERA) opposes Padres right-hander Tyson Ross (3-5, 2.75) at 10:10 p.m. ET Thursday at Petco Park.

Series preview: Mets at Dodgers

August, 12, 2013
8/12/13
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Getty ImagesThe Mets face (l to r) Ricky Nolasco, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano at Dodger Stadium.
METS (54-61, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (67-50, first place/NL West)

Monday: RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-1, 1.96) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (8-9, 3.65), 10:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Matt Harvey (9-3, 2.09) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-3, 2.99), 10:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (8-8, 3.82) vs. LHP Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.50), 10:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

• The Dodgers are 37-8 since June 22, matching the best 45-game stretch in franchise history. They also posted that record in 1899 and 1953.

The turnaround spared manager Don Mattingly getting fired, he said last week while revealing a late-May meeting with team president Stan Kasten. The Dodgers were a season-low 12 games under .500 before their current 45-game surge.

"Stan was really honest. He didn't want to do anything but he said, 'Donnie, at some point I got to do something,'" Mattingly said, as quoted by ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I understood it. I was fine with that. I understand. At some point you need a change of voice, a different voice."

Hanley Ramirez (.359, 11 HR, 37 RBIs) continues to experience pain in his right shoulder a week after diving into the stands during a catch attempt at Wrigley Field. He has not started any of the past seven games. The disabled list is a consideration, although the Dodgers lost some backdating ability when Ramirez was used as a pinch hitter Friday. Nick Punto and Dee Gordon have shared the shortstop duty with Ramirez banged up.


Brian D. Kersey/Getty ImagesYasiel Puig is a leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.


• First baseman Adrian Gonzalez departed Sunday’s game in the ninth inning with dizziness. Gonzalez leads the Dodgers in homers (16) and RBIs (72).

Ricky Nolasco was acquired from the Miami Marlins on July 6 for Angel Sanchez, Steve Ames and Josh Wall. Nolasco is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts since joining L.A. He has exceeded 5 2/3 innings only once since arriving, in his Dodgers debut at Arizona.

• Cuban defector Yasiel Puig, a 22-year-old rookie, is hitting .441 (15-for-34) with 12 walks in 10 August games. Puig became the first player since Joe DiMaggio in 1936 to have 70 or more hits and 10 homers in his first 50 major league games.

Writes ESPN.com’s Dave Schoenfield: “Puig got two hits in his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 3, then hit two homers the next game, and has been a lightning rod ever since for his play on the field and for his on-field antics that have upset opponents -- a brawl, a bat flip, a confident attitude, a spikes-high slide that Dusty Baker complained about. He plays the game with the flair of someone who escaped Cuba and enjoys displaying his talent for the entire world.”

• Former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson, returning from Tommy John surgery, signed with the Dodgers and is working his way back. He tossed a perfect inning Sunday with Triple-A Albuquerque. He has another minor league appearance scheduled for Tuesday, the day before he is eligible to be activated from the disabled list. The Mets, including pitching coach Dan Warthen, flew to California to watch Wilson during the offseason, and were disappointed Wilson was not further along in his rehab from the elbow surgery at that point.

• Center field Matt Kemp has been sidelined since injuring his left ankle sliding into home plate on June 21. He shagged fly balls and took batting practice Sunday, signaling a return is getting closer.

• Closer Kenley Jansen had retired 27 straight batters -- the equivalent of a perfect game -- before surrendering a single to St. Louis’ David Freese on Thursday. Jansen became the first Dodger to retire 27 straight since Greg Maddux retired 32 straight from Aug. 13-19, 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Ex-Met Chris Capuano allowed five runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Rays on Friday. The southpaw had combined to toss 13 scoreless innings over his previous two starts, against the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs.

• Reliever Carlos Marmol was acquired from the Cubs on July 2 for reliever Matt Guerrier. Marmol made his Dodgers debut 20 days later, after a minor league stint.

A.J. Ellis sees the most pitchers per plate appearance in the NL.

• Third baseman Juan Uribe became the victim of a hidden-ball trick by the Rays when he stepped off third base Saturday.

• L.A. acquired Drew Butera, a former Mets farmhand, from the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named and assigned the catcher to Albuquerque.

Series preview: Mets vs. Dodgers

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
9:15
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USA TODAY Sports
The Mets face (l to r) southpaws Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly and Hyun-Jin Ryu this week at Citi Field.
METS (9-8, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANEGELES DODGERS (8-10, fourth place/NL West)

Tuesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-1, 3.80) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-2, 1.88), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 0.93) vs. LHP Ted Lilly (0-0, -.--), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.07) vs. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1, 4.01), 1:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

• Los Angeles had eight starting pitchers in spring training, but the surplus is depleted. Aaron Harang was traded to the Colorado Rockies, then flipped to the Seattle Mariners, when L.A. seemed like it had a ton of depth. Zack Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone in the altercation with San Diego’s Carlos Quentin (which devolved into Padres president Tom Garfinkel having to apologize for an insensitive comment.) Fill-in Chris Capuano suffered a strained left calf. And now Chad Billingsley landed on the DL Sunday with elbow pain.

Ted Lilly makes his season debut Wednesday, after three minor league starts during which he allowed 24 hits and 15 runs (13 earned) in 17 innings. Lilly is returning from labrum surgery on his left shoulder. He missed the final 118 games of last season. Lilly was ready out of spring training and was upset when he did not make the Opening Day roster.


Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports
Zack Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone courtesy of Carlos Quentin.


Stephen Fife made his season debut Sunday in Baltimore, plugging another rotation spot.

Clayton Kershaw publicly said he did not want to negotiate a contract extension in-season, but the sides are believed to have continued talking hush-hush beyond Opening Day.

Kershaw became the second-youngest Dodger to reach 1,000 career strikeouts on Wednesday, at 25 years, 29 days. Fernando Valenzuela accomplished that feat at age 24 years, 303 days.

Kershaw enters the Citi Field outing off a loss to San Diego in which he matched a career high by surrendering three homers. Still, Kershaw has been exceptional this season. He is not getting run support. L.A. has scored a combined seven runs in his four starts.

Kershaw is 5-0 with a 1.37 ERA in six career starts against the Mets.

• The Dodgers acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Rockies on April 6 for Harang. The trade brought in a backup for A.J. Ellis that will allow 25-year-old catcher Tim Federowicz to get regular playing time in Triple-A. All three were on the active roster this weekend in Baltimore, but that is expected to change.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was named to seven straight South Korean All-Star teams before joining the majors this season. He is viewed as a No. 3 of 4 starter. The Dodgers paid a $25.7 million posting fee to Ryu’s South Korean club, plus owe him $36 million in salary over six years.

Hanley Ramirez, who is on the disabled list after undergoing right thumb surgery, may return quickly -- by the end of the month -- after initial projections of mid-May. Ramirez suffered the injury in the final game of the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic championship run, while diving awkwardly for a groundball.

L.A. has not announced whether Ramirez will play shortstop or third base when he returns, although the educated guess is shortstop. Both spots having gaping voids. Shortstop Justin Sellers is hitting .174. Third baseman Luis Cruz is hitting .087.

• The Dodgers took on $250 million in payroll in the Aug. 25, 2012 mega-trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought in Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.

• Cuban defector Yasiel Puig -- who signed for $42 million -- is hitting .333 with three homers and nine RBIs through 48 at-bats with Double-A Chattanooga. The 22-year-old right fielder may eventually make Andre Ethier expendable -- or, perhaps, Matt Kemp … if Kemp continues to struggle. Puig is briefly sidetracked in the Southern League because of a sprained left thumb.

• The struggling Kemp -- who finished second in MVP balloting just two years ago, behind Ryan Braun -- injured his shoulder last August in Colorado and had left surgery for a partially torn labrum in October. He had only one Cactus League homer and has not gone deep this season. Kemp is signed through 2019.

• The Dodgers’ most common batting order:

Crawford, lf
Mark Ellis, 2b
Kemp, cf
Gonzalez, 1b
Ethier, rf
Ellis, c
Cruz, 3b
Sellers, ss

• The Dodgers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-4 win Sunday at Baltimore. Kemp, who started the season slowly, went 3-for-5 to lift his average to .235. He produced his sixth RBI.

• Manager Don Mattingly appears on the hot seat. His 2014 option has not been picked up.

Series preview: Mets vs. Dodgers

July, 20, 2012
7/20/12
11:44
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Getty Images
The Mets face (l to r) Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Nathan Eovaldi this weekend.
METS (47-45, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (49-44, second place/NL West)

Friday: LHP Johan Santana (6-6, 3.59) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (6-5, 3.53), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Miguel Batista (1-2, 4.33) vs. LHP Chris Capuano (9-5, 2.75), 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jon Niese (7-4, 3.58) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-6, 4.33), 1:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers short hops

• Right fielder Andre Ethier and center fielder Matt Kemp, both of whom missed the series against the Mets in Los Angeles, returned to the Dodgers after the All-Star break. The Dodgers went 24-27 in the games Kemp missed with a left hamstring strain. He had been the NL’s Player of the Month for April and had produced gaudy numbers before the injury: .355, 12 homers and 28 RBIs in 36 games. Ethier had suffered a left oblique strain on June 28.


Reed Saxon/Associated Press
Matt Kemp returned from the disabled list after the All-Star break. He had missed 51 games.


Kemp is hitting .348 with a homer and three RBIs in five starts since returning. Ethier is hitting .350 with a homer and four RBIs in six games (five starts).

• Various reports indicate the Dodgers are in serious discussions with the Cubs about acquiring right-hander Ryan Dempster (5-3, NL-leading 1.86 ERA).

Chad Billingsley is suffering from right flexor tendon inflammation. Meanwhile, Ted Lilly remains on the DL with shoulder inflammation. Stephen Fife made his major league debut Tuesday against the Phillies, allowing one run in six innings. Billingsley was scratched from Sunday’s start, and Chris Capuano pitched a day early.

• The Mets are the lone NL team Capuano has never beaten.

• Third baseman Juan Uribe is 1-for-35 in his past 16 games.

• First baseman James Loney has not homered in 45 games and 128 at-bats.

• Reliever Todd Coffey underwent Tommy John surgery Wednesday.

Last series results

Mets won, 3-1, at Dodger Stadium, June 28-July 1 (AP game recaps)

Mets 3, Dodgers 2: In their first head-to-head matchup since Chris Capuano left for free agency, Chris Young and the Mets came away with the victory. David Wright hit a solo homer and RBI double as the Mets sent the Dodgers to their fifth straight loss. The Dodgers ended their 33-inning scoreless drought in the fourth, with Dee Gordon getting congratulated up and down the dugout after crossing the plate. Young (2-1) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Bobby Parnell, getting his first save opportunity since closer Frank Francisco went on the disabled list, pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first save of the year. Capuano (9-3) gave up three runs, five hits and no walks over seven innings. More

Mets 9, Dodgers 0: R.A. Dickey allowed three hits over eight innings to become the majors' first 12-game winner. Daniel Murphy homered and drove in five runs. The Dodgers' only hit over the first 6 1/3 innings was by opposing pitcher Aaron Harang, a two-out single in the second that fell between Kirk Niewenhuis and Andres Torres after some miscommunication. A.J. Ellis singled in the seventh and Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled in the eighth. More

Mets 5, Dodgers 0: Johan Santana scattered three hits over eight innings and sent the Dodgers to their seventh straight loss. Santana is 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in five career starts against the Dodgers, who were again missing Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis. They haven't led at any point of a game since June 24. Ike Davis hit a three-run homer. Nathan Eovaldi (0-5) gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. More

Dodgers 8, Mets 3: James Loney had two RBIs, and the Dodgers parlayed three errors into six unearned runs to help Clayton Kershaw win and snap the team's season-worst seven-game skid. Kershaw (6-4) allowed three runs (one earned) and five hits over seven innings. Terry Collins rested Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy in order to stack his lineup with all right-handed bats against Kershaw. The plan backfired in the fifth, when the Dodgers turned two errors by the right side of the infield into a pair of unearned runs that tied the score at 3 -- without the benefit of a hit. Second baseman Ronny Cedeno dropped a routine throw from David Wright on a potential double-play grounder by Tony Gwynn Jr. And Dee Gordon's grounder was misplayed by Justin Turner at first base. More

Mets morning briefing 6.29.12

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
6:15
AM ET
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Young topped former teammate Chris Capuano, David Wright drove in a pair of runs and Bobby Parnell converted his first save attempt as Frank Francisco's fill-in as the Mets beat the Dodgers, 3-2, Thursday night.

R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.31 ERA) opposes right-hander Aaron Harang (5-4, 3.81) in Game 2 of the series at 10:10 tonight.

Friday's news reports:

• Parnell flopped in a September audition for closer last season, but he touched 101 mph Thursday night while tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Parnell had to wait until the sixth game with Francisco unavailable before finally getting a save chance, since the Mets had lost four straight, then posted a 17-1 win against the Cubs before arriving in L.A.

• Young and Capuano appreciated lining up against each other in the opener, since both used opportunities with the Mets to revive their careers. Capuano, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers last offseason that includes a team option for 2014, fell to 9-3 despite pitching effectively. Read more in Newsday.

• Wright, already the franchise's RBI, runs and doubles leader, passed Darryl Strawberry for the franchise record for walks in his final plate appearance Thursday. Earlier, Wright had launched a solo shot against Capuano to pull even with Howard Johnson for third on the Mets' all-time homer list.

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

Jack Egbert picked up the win with two scoreless relief innings as Triple-A Buffalo beat Louisville, 4-2. Read Thursday's full minor league recap here.

• On the injury front: Jason Bay rode a stationary bicycle Wednesday and did not have any post-concussion symptoms arise, Terry Collins said. Mike Baxter (displaced collarbone) has not done any significant physical activity, the manager added. Mike Pelfrey, who is expected to be nontendered and become a free agent in December, is working on strengthening exercises following Tommy John surgery and should begin tossing a baseball in late August or early September.

• Despite struggling in a relief role with Buffalo and the organization considering moving Jenrry Mejia back into a starting role in the minors, Mejia will remain doing bullpen work with the Bisons for now, Collins said.

• Collins, who was overseeing the farm system in 2010, recently told reporters Dickey nearly was released rather than reassigned to minor league camp that spring training when he was the first cut from big league camp. Brian Costa in the Journal speaks with then-GM Omar Minaya about how close it came. Writes Costa:

They were wondering if Dickey was even worth sending to Triple-A Buffalo. "There was a possibility he was going to get released," said Omar Minaya, the Mets' general manager at the time. "That was talked about." It turned out to be the best move Minaya never made.

• A resolution could come Friday as Ike Davis awaits word of the amount of his fine and about a potential suspension. The discipline decision stems from Davis touching umpire Manny Gonzalez with his glove while disputing a safe call on a pickoff attempt Tuesday in Chicago.

• Dodgers slugger Andre Ethier, who suffered an oblique strain Wednesday in San Francisco, will avoid the DL for now.

• The Mets' victory in the opener came despite grueling travel. The team spent 4 1/2 hours Sunday evening on a plane with mechanical trouble at O'Hare before shifting to another that could fly the team to L.A. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Daily News.

• Right-hander Zack Wheeler as well as third baseman Jefry Marte and first baseman Eric Campbell were selected to represent Double-A Binghamton in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 11 in Reading, Pa.

• ESPN's Buster Olney writes that Oakland right-handed reliever Grant Balfour makes sense for the Mets to pursue via trade.

Lenny Dykstra wil plead guilty to bankruptcy fraud and faces as many as 20 years in prison.

TRIVIA: Wright passed Strawberry for the most walks in franchise history. Who ranks third?

Thursday's answer: First baseman Jeremy Reed misfired on a throw to the plate on May 18, 2009 at Dodger Stadium that allowed the winning run to score in the 11th inning.

Young, Capuano appreciate matchup

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
2:59
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Victor Decolongon/Getty ImagesThe Mets handed former teammate Chris Capuano only his third loss of the season Thursday.
LOS ANGELES -- Even former teammates Chris Capuano and Chris Young appreciated the meaning of lining up to face each other Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

Both pitchers signed with the Mets two offseasons ago, looking to re-establish their careers.

Capuano pitched a full season and parlayed the success into a two-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers.

Young managed only four starts before requiring surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his right shoulder. But he is back now and succeeding, as was again in evidence Thursday.

Young handed Capuano only his third loss in 12 decisions as a Dodger as the Mets won the series opener, 3-2.

"I know Chris started off so great last year and was pretty down when he went down with that injury," Capuano said after allowing three runs on five hits in seven innings. "I just told him, 'You know what I went through,' and knew that him, being the kind of person that he was, as smart as he is, that he was going to have a great plan and work that plan every day and come back. And he did.

"He's still young. He's still throwing the ball great. He's got so much deception in his delivery and he’s a competitor out there."

Said Terry Collins: "I thought Sandy [Alderson] did a tremendous job bringing those guys into camp. We needed starting pitching. They both pitched great coming off injury. One of them had an injury, but to have them face off tonight, certainly you tip your hat to both those guys, with what they've gone through."

Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireChris Young made his fifth 2012 start Thursday, exceeding his total of either of the previous two seasons.


Capuano never was a serious consideration for the Mets to re-sign this past offseason, despite going 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA in 33 appearances (31 starts) in 2011. He wanted a multiyear deal. The Mets were on austerity, looking for value additions, of which Capuano no longer qualified after his success a season ago.

The head of medicine for the Dodgers did statistical analysis that suggested Capuano's 2011 performance meant he was back to his level of six years earlier with the Milwaukee Brewers, before a pair of elbow surgeries, so L.A. offered a two-year deal with a team option.

"I never had a conversation with them -- ever, really," Capuano said about the Mets this past offseason. "But, at the same time, I knew there were only going to be a few teams that were interested in me on a multiyear basis. The Dodgers were one of those teams that liked me for more than one year.

"Going into last season, New York was just the perfect landing spot for me," Capuano continued. "I was so thankful Sandy gave me a shot to go there and be in the rotation, because there weren't a lot of teams out there that were willing to give me that shot. And I had a fantastic time. I lived in Manhattan. I played for the Mets. And I had an unbelievable time. I was just a great experience."

Young was charged with two runs on six hits while striking out six in 6 1/3 innings. Collins noted the Dodgers' two-run fourth inning against Young could have been different had right fielder Lucas Duda not struggled to track a leadoff double by Dee Gordon and taken a bad route.

"We catch that ball, it's a different inning for him," Collins said about the shot, which dropped between Duda and Andres Torres.

Young has now made five starts this season, which he acknowledged was a meaningful number, since shoulder woes capped his 2010 season with San Diego and then his '11 season with the Mets at four apiece.

"The last couple of years I've never felt completely healthy," Young said. "I feel healthy at this point, so I expect to pitch the full season, the rest of the way.

"I've gotten more swings and misses the last couple of games. It tells me the life on the ball is getting a little bit better. My slider has gotten sharper. It's just a work in progress. It takes time. Everyone I've talked to who's had major shoulder surgery -- some people have said it's taken up to two years to get it completely back.

"It's good enough where it is now. I think I've proven that. But I want to be better, and I think I will be as the season progresses and as the arm strength comes along."

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, Dodgers 2

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
12:56
AM ET


Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: Assuming the closer’s role while Frank Francisco is on the disabled list, Bobby Parnell converted his first opportunity. Parnell earned his first save since last Sept. 22, when he was auditioning for the job after Jason Isringhausen notched No. 300.

And with David Wright contributing two RBIs and Chris Young outdueling former teammate Chris Capuano, the Mets beat the Dodgers, 3-2, Thursday night.

L.A. fell from first place in the National League West for the first time since April 10 with San Francisco beating Cincinnati.

DEEP THOUGHTS: Wright matched Howard Johnson for third on the franchise’s homer list with a leadoff blast in the fourth against his ex-teammate Capuano, which staked the Mets to a 2-0 lead.

It was the 192nd homer of Wright’s career, and came in his 4,426th at-bat. HoJo reached that total in 3,968 at-bats as a Met.

Darryl Strawberry owns the franchise record with 252 homers, followed by Mike Piazza with 220.

Wright also became the all-time walks leader in franchise history with an eighth-inning free pass. No. 581 of Wright’s career passed Strawberry.

Wright already had grabbed the franchise record for RBIs and runs scored this season, and previously owned the Mets doubles record.

Wright had opened Thursday’s scoring with a first-inning double that plated Ruben Tejada.

CHRISES: Young and Capuano -- who both signed with the Mets before the 2011 season for low base salaries with incentives -- squared off in the series opener, after Capuano parlayed his Mets success into a two-year, $10 million deal with Los Angeles.

Young retired the first nine Dodgers he faced before L.A. snapped its 33-inning scoreless drought and pulled even at 2 in the fourth with a leadoff double by Dee Gordon, followed by Elian Herrera’s triple and Juan Rivera’s single.

The Mets broke the tie the following half-inning against Capuano as Andres Torres doubled to drive in Mike Nickeas with the go-ahead run. Nickeas was playing his first game at Dodger Stadium since losing a high school state championship game at the ballpark.

Young departed with that 3-2 lead intact with one out in the seventh and Adam Kennedy on first base. Tim Byrdak recorded the inning’s final two outs -- lefty hitters Tony Gwynn Jr. and Gordon -- to strand two runners. Jon Rauch pitched a scoreless eighth for the Mets, benefiting from second baseman Daniel Murphy initiating a nifty double play.

Capuano’s line: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 K, 1 WP.

WHAT’S NEXT: R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.31 ERA) tries to rebound from a rare blemish when he opposes right-hander Aaron Harang on Friday at 10:10 p.m. ET.

Series preview: Mets at Dodgers

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
2:01
PM ET

Howard Smith/US Presswire
Former teammates Chris Capuano and Chris Young square off in Thursday's series opener at Dodger Stadium.
METS (40-34, third place/NL East) vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (43-33, first place/NL West)

Thursday: RHP Chris Young (1-1, 3.42) vs. LHP Chris Capuano (9-2, 2.60), 10:10 p.m. ET

Friday: RHP R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.31) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (5-4, 3.81), 10:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Johan Santana (5-4, 3.00) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-4, 4.04), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (5-6, 4.42) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (5-4, 2.74), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Dodgers short hops

Frank McCourt’s ownership ended May 1, when controlling owner Mark Walter, the CEO of a Chicago financial services company, and president Stan Kasten took over the Dodgers. Sale price: $2.15 billion, more than double any previous amount for a major league team. The ownership group includes Magic Johnson as the face. Johnson has McCourt’s old corner office, but he is not a key decision maker, and actually has not been around Dodger Stadium much because of his responsibilities as an NBA commentator. McCourt, who went through a high-profile divorce that added debt to the team, had owned the Dodgers since 2004. Kasten formerly served as president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.

• Right fielder Andre Ethier was forced from Wednesday’s game in San Francisco with a left oblique strain that likely will land him on the disabled list. Ethier joins fellow slugger Matt Kemp as unavailable. Kemp (.355, 12 HR) has been on the DL since straining his left hamstring May 30, and is not projected to return until after the All-Star break. Ethier’s 55 RBIs rank second in the NL, trailing only Carlos Beltran’s 59. Assuming Ethier is placed on the DL, ex-Pirate Andy Van Slyke’s son Scott Van Slyke could be promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque. Jerry Sands is another option.

• San Francisco pulled even with the Dodgers atop the NL West standings after completing a three-game sweep at AT&T Park in which L.A. did not score a run. It marked the first time the Dodgers had ever failed to score in a series of three-plus games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. L.A. has lost four straight and eight of nine. The Dodgers have been held scoreless for 30 innings, since Adam Kennedy’s sacrifice fly scored Juan Rivera in the sixth inning Sunday in a loss to the Angels. L.A. will try to avoid getting shut out four straight games for the first time in franchise history on Thursday night. How bad did things get in San Francisco? The Associated Press reported the Dodgers’ equipment truck broke down on the 101 freeway after the series.


Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Andre Ethier appears headed to the DL with an oblique strain.


• The Dodgers have reached agreement with outfielder Yasier Puig for $42 million over seven years pending a physical, ESPNDeportes.com’s Enrique Rojas reports. It would be the largest contract ever for a Cuban defector, surpassing the four-year, $36 million deal the A’s gave to outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

• Ex-Met Chris Capuano evened his career record at 66-66 in his most recent start, when he limited the Angels to one run and seven hits in seven innings. He is 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA at Dodger Stadium this season, while limiting opponents to a .215 batting average at home.

• Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi stepped into the rotation after Ted Lilly experienced shoulder inflammation and landed on the DL. Eovaldi, 22, went to Alvin (Texas) High, which also produced Nolan Ryan. His fastball has averaged 94.8 mph this season. He also throws a slider (13.6% of the time), curveball (10.1%) and changeup (5.0%). Eovaldi has been pitching well; his winless record is a function of no run support.

• Second baseman Mark Ellis is due to begin a rehab assignment Saturday. Ellis required an urgent surgical procedure May 19 to drain blood and other fluid, or otherwise risked losing part of his left leg. He was injured absorbing a slide at second base from St. Louis’ Tyler Greene. Jerry Hairston Jr., brother of Scott Hairston, has manned second base.

• Catcher A.J. Ellis (no relation to Mark) has a .417 on-base percentage. That ranks fourth in the National League, trailing only Joey Votto (.478), David Wright (.449) and Carlos Ruiz (.430).

• Right-handed reliever Ronald Belisario has allowed only three runs and 11 hits in 24 1/3 innings since returning from a 25-game suspension on May 4. The suspension was related to a positive cocaine test that also forced him to miss last season with a visa issue, ESPNLosAngeles.com reported.

• Third baseman Juan Uribe is hitting .132 (5-for-38) in the two weeks since returning from the DL. His slump has resulted in switch-hitting rookie Elian Herrera starting two of the past four games at the position. Herrera wasn’t on the 40-man roster or even in big-league spring-training camp, but has bounced around multiple positions and plays most days, batting second.

• The lone Dodgers starter the Mets do not face is Chad Billingsley, who overlapped at Defiance (Ohio) High with Jon Niese.

• The Dodgers’ Sue Falsone (@SueFalsone) is the lone female head athletic trainer in the history of a major professional sports organization, according to the team.

• Shortstop Dee Gordon’s 24 steals match the Cubs’ Tony Campano for the major league lead.

• Closer Kenley Jansen has converted 12 of 15 save chances.

Last series results

Mets won, 3-1, at Dodger Stadium, July, 4-8, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Mets 5, Dodgers 2: Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran and Daniel had RBI doubles in the sixth inning after the Mets were held hitless through five by Rubby De La Rosa. Chris Capuano (8-7) allowed six hits and two runs in six innings. Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth to earn his 21st save in 24 chances. Terry Collins said he's willing to play with a 24-man roster for a few days while Jose Reyes recovers from a strained left hamstring rather than immediately placing him on the disabled list. More

Mets 6, Dodgers 0: Jason Bay made it 3-0 with a leadoff homer in the sixth against Ted Lilly and broke the game open in the eighth with his sixth of the season, a three-run shot off Blake Hawksworth. It was his first multihomer game since June 28, 2010, at Florida, when he went deep twice against Ricky Nolasco. Carlos Beltran also went deep and Mike Pelfrey (5-7) stranded seven runners in scoring position through six gritty innings. More

Mets 5, Dodgers 3: Ruben Tejada doubled home two runs while filling in again for injured shortstop Jose Reyes, helping lead the Mets to their fourth straight victory. Carlos Beltran doubled twice and scored twice. Jon Niese (8-7) allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings, improving to 8-4 over his past 14 starts. Hiroki Kuroda (6-10) gave up four runs and eight hits over six innings for Los Angeles, dropping to 1-5 with a 5.75 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets. More

Dodgers 6, Mets 0: Clayton Kershaw scattered five hits over eight innings and the Dodgers parlayed extra-base hits by Matt Kemp, Juan Uribe, Aaron Miles and Dioner Navarro into a five-run sixth inning. Kershaw got out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by striking out Ronny Paulino to end the inning after getting a visit from manager Don Mattingly. The Mets loaded the bases again in the ninth against Kenley Jansen before Hong-Chih Kuo got the final two outs. Dillon Gee (8-3) gave up five hits and six runs -- five earned -- struck out two and walked one to lose his second straight. Jose Reyes went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. More

Mets morning briefing 6.28.12

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
5:30
AM ET
LOS ANGELES -- Daniel Murphy's drought without a homer ended in a big way with two long balls and Ike Davis crossed .200 for the first time this season as the Mets routed the Cubs, 17-1, Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field to salvage the series finale.

The Mets snapped a four-game losing streak as they prepared to head to L.A. -- albeit after a several-hour delay at the airport trying to leave the Windy City. The Mets finally touched down in Cali about 3:30 a.m. ET., despite having played a day game at Wrigley Field.

As for his team's erratic spurts -- from series sweeps to getting swept, to sloppy play in two games against the Cubs, to a laugher in the finale, Terry Collins said: “If this was a team that had huge expectations, it could bother you. But because we weren’t expected to be very good, you can let some of the stuff go because you know that you’re dealing with young guys that are learning on the job here.”

Now, Chris Young (1-1, 3.42 ERA) takes on former teammate Chris Capuano (9-2, 2.60) in Thursday's 10:10 p.m. ET series opener at Dodger Stadium. Capuano capitalized on last season's success with the Mets to sign a two-year, $10 million deal in L.A., essentially pricing himself out of the Mets' appetite. He earned $3.925 million with the Mets last season, including incentives.

"That's how guys make what they make -- because of what they did a year ago," Collins said. "And Cappy pitched great for us. Absolutely great. Wonderful guy. He's a tremendous person, one of the hardest workers you've ever been around in your life. I'm really, really happy for him."

Last season, Capuano typically struggled the more he faced a batter in a game, suggesting he might be better in multi-inning relief work. The first time through the order as a starting pitcher, opponents hit .221 in 2011. That jumped to .268 the second time through the lineup, followed by .300 the third time, and .667 beyond that. That still holds somewhat true with the Dodgers -- it's .194, .183 and .318 the first three times through -- but Capuano has enjoyed wild success.

"I think he's another year removed from the surgeries and probably stronger and more confident in what he's doing," Collins said.

Thursday's news reports:

• Murphy downplayed homering in consecutive plate appearances after going 352 at-bats without a long ball. But, he allowed about the two shots beyond the ivy-covered outfield wall: “It was funny, I guess, if you go that long. I don’t know the at-bats, but apparently it was a long time.” It was the first two-homer game of Murphy's major league career.

• Writes columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post:

The baseball season serves as one huge math problem. You expect a certain level of production from every player, and when one player doesn’t deliver, another has to contribute more than you anticipate. That the Mets are still in the playoff conversation is a tribute to R.A. Dickey, Scott Hairston and even David Wright, all of whom have overachieved. That trio could keep going, yet you don’t want to bet on that in the marathon of a 162-game season. You’d rather be prepared for their slowdowns and have guys ready to accelerate. Enter Murphy and Davis, and maybe Josh Thole, too. And perhaps even some of the struggling relievers, just by luck. They can provide the safety net this team could need.

• From the classic lede department, Mike Puma in the Post writes: If the Friendly Confines were any friendlier to them yesterday, the Mets would have each needed a postgame cigarette. Read other game recaps in Newsday, the Star-Ledger, Times, Journal and Daily News.

• Not only did Davis cross .200, he also made amends with umpire Manny Gonzalez, whom Davis touched with his glove arguing a call Tuesday. Davis has yet to hear the amount of his fine and whether he will steer clear of a modest suspension. Read more in the Record.

• Collins lamented losing Vinny Rottino to the Cleveland Indians. Rottino had been removed from the 40-man roster to clear room for left-hander Justin Hampson. He therefore needed to be exposed to waivers before being optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. “It does sting a little bit,” Collins said. “He’s a good little player. I told him when I sent him out that he would be back. As I said the other night, once we know that Ruben [Tejada]’s legs are going to be OK, there’s a spot for guys like Vinny Rottino. So I’m really disappointed we lost him. And I hope he gets a chance to get more playing time and be a major leaguer for the rest of his career. A right-handed hitter that was having a big year in Triple-A -- I’ll tell you, a guy like him that gives you that third catcher and can play other positions, they’re huge.”

Andre Ethier departed Wednesday's Dodgers game with an oblique injury, meaning the Mets should be spared having to face L.A.'s two most potent sluggers -- Matt Kemp and Ethier. L.A. was shut out in all three games in San Francisco and has not scored in 30 innings. Writes Dylan Hernandez in the Los Angeles Times:

Ethier felt what he described as a "cramp or tight pinch" in his left rib cage when checking his swing to draw a first-inning walk against Tim Lincecum. He was removed from the game after Juan Rivera grounded into an inning-ending double play. "It just didn't get any better," said Ethier, who ranks second in the NL with 55 runs batted in. Ethier and trainer Sue Falsone said they wouldn't know if he would have to be put on the disabled list until he underwent an MRI exam Thursday. But if Ethier is sidelined, he figures to be out awhile: Position players usually take about a month to recover from oblique muscle strains.

Jon Niese posted a 1.89 ERA in June. A scout watching the Mets at Wrigley Field noted that losing streaks ought not be too long with R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana and Niese in the rotation, no matter what is going on otherwise with the team.

Valentino Pascucci broke out of a 1-for-22 rut with five RBIs as Buffalo snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 9-4 win against Louisville. Before the game, Pascucci as well as Matt Harvey and closer Fernando Cabrera officially were selected as the Bisons' representatives for the July 11 Triple-A All-Star Game, which Buffalo will host. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, in a 3-for-26 rut, sat Wednesday against right-hander Jeff Samardzija. Nieuwenhuis could be out again Thursday with the Mets facing the southpaw Capuano, although fellow-lefty-hitter Murphy figures to start at second base off Wednesday's two-homer performance. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.

TRIVIA: Who was the Mets first baseman who had the errant throw home on May 18, 2009 that allowed the winning run to score in the bottom of the 11th at Dodger Stadium?

Wednesday's answer: Capuano had the higher base salary in 2011 -- $1.5 million, to Young's $1.1 million. Both contracts maxed out at $4.5 million, but Young achieved no performance bonuses because he made only four starts before shoulder difficulty sidelined him.

Mets considered, passed over for awards

June, 3, 2012
6/03/12
1:41
PM ET

US Presswire
Gio Gonzalez (left) and Giancarlo Stanton (right) topped the Mets' R.A. Dickey and David Wright for the NL's monthly awards.
David Wright and R.A. Dickey had strong performances in May, but both were passed over for the National League monthly awards.

Washington's Gio Gonzalez was named NL Pitcher of the Month. He was 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA in May. Gonzalez had a league-leading 45 strikeouts, in 32 innings. Dickey, listed among others receiving consideration, was 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA for the month, with 33 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings.

Other strong May pitching performances were turned in by Cole Hamels (5-0, 2.25) and ex-Met Chris Capuano (4-1, 1.62).

Miami's Giancarlo Stanton was named NL Player of the Month. Stanton hit .343 with 12 homers. Wright hit .347 with 13 doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs in May.

Washington's Bryce Harper was the NL Rookie of the Month.

Mets morning briefing 5.16.12

May, 16, 2012
5/16/12
2:43
AM ET
David Wright jawed with his manager, Terry Collins, in the dugout, but insisted afterward he was upset in the heat of the moment with the situation, not at his manager. The Mets ultimately lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-0, Tuesday at soggy Citi Field. Collins pulled Wright in the bottom of the seventh along with Daniel Murphy, trying to protect the third baseman from getting drilled a half-inning after D.J. Carrasco served up a homer to Rickie Weeks, then plunked Ryan Braun with the next pitch. Wright wanted to stand in the batter's box to take the expected retaliatory blow and end the drama.

"At this level, somebody is going to get hit," Collins said about retaliation, to which the Mets skipper felt the Brewers were entitled. "And it wasn't going to be David Wright tonight. I can't control what's going to happen down the road. He's not going to get hurt in this game, in this situation, tonight."

Please join me for a Mets chat at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday here.

Wednesday's news reports:

• Before the T.C.-Wright dugout spectacle, Dillon Gee had let down the Mets. Gee served up a pair of homers to Travis Ishikawa and was charged with seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. "Mistakes that he makes are in the middle of the plate," Collins said. "I mean, when I took him out of the game, Nicky [catcher Mike Nickeas] said every mistake he made tonight they drilled."

Said Gee: "I don't know. I'm at a loss for words today. I felt good out there. I felt like I made a lot of good pitches. In my mind, I only made a couple of mistakes."

Meanwhile, Murphy extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games before departing the game.

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

• Columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post summarizes the Wright-Collins argument this way:

Whether [the hit by pitch] was intentional or not isn’t important. Neither is the transaction of removing Wright from the game. This was: Both Collins and Wright care enough about this team and this season as it approaches the quarter pole that they were willing to fill the dugout with noise and rancor, even for a lost cause. They are a fine match, a manager who cares and a player who cares even more.

Read my take here. Columnist Tim Smith in the Daily News also opines on the topic.

• Mayor Michael Bloomberg, MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon will participate in a ceremony at City Hall during which the 2013 All-Star Game officially will be awarded to Citi Field. The long-planned event was delayed in being announced for months as MLB worked out contracts with the Javits Convention Center for a fan fest as well as logistics such as NYPD staffing costs for a midtown parade of All-Stars and Central Park concert. You can watch the official announcement live at 11:30 a.m. on the city's web site here. Read more in Newsday, the Times, Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

• Collins told Anthony McCarron in the Daily News that Jason Bay "absolutely" will get his left-field job back when he returns from the DL after dealing with a fractured rib. Collins acknowledged the challenge will be finding playing time for Kirk Nieuwenhuis as well, but the manager will make it work. “He didn’t come here to be an extra player," Collins told McCarron about Bay. Nieuwenhuis went 0-for-3 Tuesday. He is hitting .294 with two homers, 12 RBIs, 14 walks and 39 strikeouts in 119 at-bats.

Josh Thole was examined Tuesday at Citi Field and expected to imminently gain clearance to begin athletic activities. The catcher said he should learn the results of a concussion test Wednesday. Thole, who suffered what may be the fourth concussion of his professional career nine days ago in a plate collision with Ty Wigginton, said his headaches ended Friday. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

Jenrry Mejia and Chris Young are slated to move to Triple-A Buffalo to continue their returns from surgeries that both were performed on May 16, 2011. Mejia soon should be exposed to relief work to gauge his ability to contribute at the major league level in that capacity, an organization source told ESPNNewYork.com. Young was due to pitch for Class A St. Lucie on Tuesday night, but the game was rained out. He presumably will pitch Wednesday morning for the Florida State League club before moving to Triple-A.

• A special screening of the Andres Torres-centered documentary "Gigante," about the center fielder's battle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, will be held at NYU School of Medicine (550 First Ave.) on May 31 at 7 p.m. The free event is open to the public, but preregistration is mandatory at yungogigante.eventbrite.com.

• Wright was noncommittal on his receptiveness to discussing a contract in-season if the Mets approached his representatives.

Brian Costa in the Journal profiles sudden pinch-hitter-extraordinaire/local product Mike Baxter. Baxter is hitting .471 (8-for-17) with five RBIs as a pinch hitter this season, including a sixth-inning double Tuesday. The contribution also includes a go-ahead two-run double in the ninth inning Friday at Marlins Park.

Plenty of players have found success in pinch-hit roles, but they tend to be veterans who were starters at one point. Baxter, 27, entered Tuesday with just 58 games of major-league experience and just 10 career starts. "Mike is becoming really good at it in a short window," said Mets third-base coach Tim Teufel, who had 192 pinch-hit appearances during his 11-year major-league career. "Usually for a young player, it takes time. He's taken to the role. He's found a way." The Mets' depth was a perceived weakness going into the season. But despite several injuries, they entered Tuesday with a 20-15 record, thanks in part to some unexpected contributions from players at the fringes of the roster. Players like Baxter.

Michael Salfino in the Journal looks at the Mets' patience at the plate under hitting coach Dave Hudgens. Among the relevant stats: Through Monday, the Mets had seen the most pitches per plate appearance in MLB (3.98), according to Stats LLC, better than runner-up Oakland (3.97) and No. 3 Arizona (3.94). Writes Salfino:

The epitome of the Mets desire to work counts as much as possible, though, is their place as the only team in baseball yet to swing at a 3-0 pitch (70 opportunities). That's widely regarded as the optimal hitter's count. But the Mets clearly don't want to help pitchers work their way out of trouble. New York's patient approach seems to be organization-wide. A spate of injuries have seen four opening day starters head to the disabled list, but replacements Justin Turner (4.22 pitches per plate appearance), Mike Baxter (4.23) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (4.22) have actually improved the Mets average.

• Baseball America projects the Mets taking Louisiana high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini with the 12th overall pick in the draft next month. The magazine also says the Mets have been "strongly linked" to Texas high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins and Texas A&M right-hander Michael Wacha.

Brandon Brown had three RBIs and Dustin Lawley homered as Savannah held on for a 4-3 win at Charleston. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

• Collins is not a fan of prescribed roles in the bullpen, but the manager said pregame Tuesday that he needs to accept it as part of the evolution of the game. “Guys are here to do certain jobs,” Collins said. “That’s what they’re paid for. That’s what they prepare for. I mean, you have pitchers in the game today who don’t even go to the bullpen until the sixth inning. They’re not even out there. They’re doing stuff in the clubhouse. They’re stretching. They’re getting rubdowns. That’s the way it is and you have to adjust. I don’t have to like it, but I have to accept it.” Writes columnist Mark Bradley in the Star-Ledger:

No one could have blamed Collins if he took a match and some gasoline to his bullpen roles after Francisco blew the lead twice last weekend in Miami, which was potentially damaging to the psyche of his entire team. And when Francisco got into trouble in the ninth inning on Monday, and the fans were letting him hear it, you wondered, was Collins willing to let another one get away? “The one thing I don’t want to do is turn our bullpen inside out because we have a couple of blown saves,” Collins said. “Everybody has blown saves. But if you start changing everybody’s roles, then all of the sudden it’s very uncomfortable for some guys.” And then Collins repeated, “That’s something I’ve come to accept.”

Johan Santana and Chris Capuano appear on columnist Bob Klapisch's list of 10 early season MLB surprises in the Record. Writes Klapisch on Santana:

You don’t dominate hitters with an 88-mph fastball without brains and guts, both of which are still Santana’s most precious currencies. His arm has been rebuilt by surgeons, who couldn’t restore the left-hander’s 94-mph heater of his prime. Still, Santana is so good, he’s averaging more than a strikeout an inning. It’s hard to believe Santana was on the DL for the entire 2011 season. Put it this way: The 2.92 ERA isn’t just surprising, it’s magic.

• SNY will televise its "Yearbook" show for the 1962 season for the first time on Thursday at 8 p.m., Ken Belson writes in the Times. Writes Belson:

To sports fans, the show, which is called “1962 Yearbook,” is a wonderful example of how sports was covered a half-century ago, complete with fawning announcers, eager players and a lack of whiz-bang technology that predominates on sports networks these days. “They were trying to generate interest and enthusiasm among the fans,” said Gary Morgenstern, senior vice president for programming at SNY, said of the show and others that would follow. “They weren’t terribly successful, so it was about getting people to fall in love with the team.” The tapes were discovered in 2008, when the Mets were cleaning out Shea Stadium and moving to Citi Field. The video was not meant to be shown on television. Rather, it was to be used by the team’s sales staff to drum up ticket sales in the off-season.

Miguel Batista remains on target for his next start, despite dealing with a groin issue while tossing seven scoreless innings Monday. He is due to pitch at Toronto on Saturday.

• Mets players already were wearing hockey jerseys in the clubhouse Tuesday, in preparation for a dress-up en route to Toronto after Thursday's homestand finale. Mike Kerwick in the Record spotted R.A. Dickey in a Predators jersey (he lives in Nashville), the Whitestone native Baxter wearing a Rangers jersey, and Nieuwenhuis -- a Denver-area product -- wearing an Avalanche jersey.

TRIVIA: Who hit the homers off Braden Looper to spoil Pedro Martinez's Mets debut in Cincinnati on Opening Day in 2005?

Monday's answer: Gee attended the University of Texas-Arlington.

Mets morning briefing 3.1.12

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
6:51
AM ET
Johan Santana faces Mets hitters Thursday when he throws batting practice. It marks his first time against hitters since the fall instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla. The Mets are one day away from beginning intrasquad games and four days away from Monday's Grapefruit League opener, when Dillon Gee will take the mound at 6 p.m. against the Washington Nationals.

Thursday's news reports:

• Major League Baseball's drug-prevention program now includes blood being drawn to test for HGH. The Mets experienced the testing for the first time Wednesday morning, writes David Lennon in Newsday. "As long as they're not doing it on a game day, it doesn't bother me," Mike Pelfrey told Lennon. "It actually went really smooth in there. It was in-and-out, just like that. You sit down, they wrap your arm, stick you and it's over." Said center-field prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is subject to the testing because he is on the 40-man roster: "For the first hour afterward I was having trouble trying to swing, so I think that affected it. I think that would definitely be a concern if they start trying to do the tests right before a game. After the game would be much better." Read more in the Daily News.

Brian Costa in the Wall Street Journal and Ken Davidoff in Newsday spoke with the Washington Nationals' Chien-Ming Wang, who is recovered from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder, the same procedure Santana had Sept. 14, 2010. Wang returned to the majors last season, at the two-year anniversary of his surgery, against the Mets as it turned out. Writes Davidoff:

Wang said that it took him "almost two years" to feel normal again; he had his surgery on July 30, 2009 and made his big-league return on July 29, 2011. "That's what I was told from the beginning: It would take up to two years," Santana said. "And that was the mindset. If I could come back sooner, great. If not, hey, it's two years. There is a time frame there, and I'm really working my way back, and working hard."

"He's a little different animal, probably, than Chien-Ming," [pitching coach Dan] Warthen said of Santana. "He knows himself. He has an easier arm working angle. Chien-Ming had a lot more torque. Personally, I think Johan has a better chance to come back sooner."

Writes Costa:

What makes Santana's recovery especially difficult to forecast -- and what sets him apart from Wang more than anything else -- is that his injury required open surgery. Most shoulder surgeries, including the one performed on Wang, can be done with a minimally invasive arthroscope. But doctors couldn't reach Santana's injury with a scope, so they had to make an incision in the area of the tear. As a result, he has also had to rehab the tissues and muscles that were cut in order to reach the tear. "It's an area of unknown," [Dr. Craig] Levitz, [the chief of orthopedic surgery at South Nassau Community Hospital], said. "There has not been a pitcher of his level that has had open surgery since 1970."

• 2011 first-round Brandon Nimmo, who is participating in the camp for top prospects, discussed his offseason and transition to professional baseball Wednesday. Nimmo said the speed of the game at the pro level, compared with his amateur days in Wyoming, was the biggest adjustment. Watch video of Nimmo's interview here. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Times, Post and Newsday.

• Unsigned Chris Young reportedly wants a major league deal, which is not happening with the Mets ... or, likely, anywhere. Young's had only nine and a half months to recover from the shoulder surgery also undergone by Wang and Santana.

• Gee did Pilates during the offseason at the recommendation of now-departed Chris Capuano to try to get into better shape for a long season. Jason Bay and Scott Hairston also do it. Writes Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger:

Surrounded by women this winter in a Texas shopping center and fastened into a contraption called “The Reformer,” Mets starter Dillon Gee vacillated between attempting to “fire” his abdominal muscles and wondering what the heck he was doing. The answer: Pilates. "Being an athlete, you’re used to being in a gym, throwing around weights," Gee said. "Now you're in this studio with a bunch of girls, strapped into this weird machine. I mean, it's definitely pretty weird." ... “Pilates is awesome,” Gee said. “You think it’s for chicks, and it should be easy -- and it’s … hard.”

• Offensive-minded second-base prospect Reese Havens is dealing with another back issue. Read more in the Times and Star-Ledger.

Terry Collins agreed that D.J. Carrasco's existing $1.2 million contract for the 2012 season gives him a leg up for one of the two up-for-grabs bullpen spots. But Carrasco is not taking anything for granted after watching the Mets last spring training release Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, who were owed a combined $18 million.

• Here's a breakdown of who might emerge as the second left-handed reliever in the bullpen with Tim Byrdak should the Mets decide to carry the extra southpaw. That's no guarantee. Five spots are essentially filled -- by closer Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Manny Acosta and Byrdak. Bobby Parnell has a minor league option remaining but probably merits being on the major league staff. So if Carrasco and Parnell make it and there are no injuries, no room exists for a second left-hander. There also are bullpen candidates with options such as Pedro Beato and Josh Stinson as well as Miguel Batista on a minor league deal in camp.

Parnell struggled in the closer's role late in the season after Jason Isringhausen achieved his 300th save. Parnell can be sent to the minors without passing through waivers. Then again, his 100 mph fastball would seem to have a place somewhere in the major league bullpen, even if it is not the late innings.

A team approached the Mets during the winter meetings trying to acquire Parnell, but after consideration team officials resolved not to give up that type of live arm. (You may recall the previous administration regretting trading similarly hard-throwing Matt Lindstrom to the Marlins, even though Jason Vargas, who was acquired for Lindstrom and was soon thereafter traded to the Mariners, turned out to be a pretty good pitcher.) "Work ethic is not the question with Bobby," Josh Thole told Mike Kerwick in the Record. "The one thing that I think would really [help] -- and he's made tremendous strides -- is the consistency of his breaking ball. Using his slider for a strike; knowing when to use it for a ball." Said Collins: "The two times I’ve seen him throw, his breaking ball is the best I’ve seen him have. The best. Great rotation, late break, flat, no hump to it at all. I want to see him get in a game and use it." Parnell also got married during the offseason. Read more in the Times.

• The Post's Mike Puma takes a look at the 6-foot-11 Rauch, who signed a one-year deal for $3.5 million and will serve as the primary set-up man to Francisco. "I think he can be an intimidating presence," Sandy Alderson told Puma. "We think, based on the [right-knee] surgery he had last fall, it will give him an opportunity to get back to the form he’s exhibited over the years and he provides us with a tremendous amount of depth, just as the other two [relievers] we acquired did."

• Center fielder Andres Torres' documentary "Gigante," which chronicles his battle with an attention-deficit disorder, will be out in a month, writes columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post. "With this film, I want to give hope to kids who have this ADHD condition," Torres told Kernan. "It's not easy and I want to share my story and inspire others. I want to make sure these kids always have hope that things will work out. It’s not impossible to do things. If you find the right medication plus therapy and some professional help, you can find success like I did. I struggled for many years."

Daniel Murphy, who got engaged during the offseason, continues to work with infield coach Tim Teufel on pivots at second base while turning double plays. “The things we’ve been talking to Murph about are just to be consistent. Catch the ball. Just make the routine plays,” Collins said. "Teuf has really worked hard with him on just trying to get one of the pivots down and not trying to do two or three different ones. We want him to get one down and do it real good. We know Murph's hands are OK. It's just such a new position to him, and that’s why we’re going to try to get him as many reps this spring as we can." Read about Murphy's tutorials via Peter Botte in the Daily News. Murphy, by the way, started working out in Port St. Lucie this year without wearing any braces. However, according to Collins, doctors asked him to resume wearing the brace on his right knee, the one he injured in 2010. Murphy complied, and it should not be an issue since he wore it last season without it restricting his mobility.

• Thole has given up his Mets player rep role to Byrdak and is concentrating on improving his catching. "He had some legitimate distractions,” Collins told columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News about Thole's 2011 season. "His wife had a baby and he was the players' union rep for God's sake. Barely a year and half in the big leagues and he's got those duties in which he had to deal with 'hat gate' (the Sept. 11 hat issue). That wasn’t fair to him."

TRIVIA: Who ranked third on the Mets in steals last season, behind Jose Reyes' 39 and Angel Pagan's 32?

(Wednesday's answer: After Dave Racaniello was unable to fulfill the role because of back issues, Paul Lo Duca stepped in and pitched to David Wright in the 2006 Home Run Derby at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Wright finished second in the competition, and has not competed since.)

View from spring training: Ex-Mets

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
9:40
PM ET

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Left-hander Chris Capuano signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Carlos Beltran signed a two-year, $26 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals after completing last season with the San Francisco Giants and missing the playoffs.

Capuano sounds like a goner

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
7:50
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Sandy Alderson did not come out and say it. But the GM left the strong impression Chris Capuano's 2011 production had priced the southpaw out of the amount of money the Mets intend to pay for that role in 2012.

Capuano, coming off his second Tommy John surgery, had a base salary of $1.5 million in his inaugural season as a Met. But he ended up earning $3.925 million with incentives. And now he could command a multi-year deal with a significant base salary because he has reestablished himself following the elbow procedure.

Asked if Capuano was a goner, Alderson said: “I wouldn’t say definitely. But I know one thing that we have to be aware of here is that we sign a player for one year here under the right circumstances that we not get too carried away with the relationship going forward. There’s sort of a history here of signing a guy for a year, he does pretty well, sign him for a couple of years or what have you and things don’t go as well. That’s not with respect to Chris necessarily, but as a general rule we will take a look at these things from the perspective of today as opposed to the perspective of a year ago.”

The Mets need to sign rotation depth who can compete with Dillon Gee and otherwise be assigned to the bullpen or Triple-A Buffalo.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
8 3.99 89 121
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .294
HRL. Duda 14
RBIL. Duda 48
RD. Murphy 56
OPSL. Duda .829
ERAJ. Niese 2.96
SOZ. Wheeler 105