New York Mets: Jacoby Ellsbury

Morning Briefing: Relax, it's Harvey Day

June, 2, 2013

FIRST PITCH: It’s finally Matt Harvey Day again as the Mets look to avoid getting swept against the Miami Marlins.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Matt Harvey Day has arrived.

Harvey (5-0, 1.85 ERA) leads the majors in opponent batting average (.172) and the National League in 10-strikeout games (three). He opposes right-hander Kevin Slowey (1-5, 3,59) at 1:10 p.m. at Marlins Park.

Sunday’s news reports:

• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News suggests it may NOT be wise for the Mets to spend heavily in free agency next offseason. Writes Madden:

Disillusioned fans are demanding they live up to that promise and spend, spend, spend. But on what?

For one thing, the free-agent market, which more and more is proving to be the wrong way to go, is very problematic next year. Yes, Shin-Soo Choo, who, with his fifth-best OPS (.973) entering Friday, would seem like the perfect fit to solve a big part of the Mets’ outfield problems. And, yes, even Hunter Pence, who’s off to a typical season in which he projects to hit .285-.290 with 25 homers, 85 RBI and an OPS of a little over .800, would be a nice fit as well. But neither one of these guys is a franchise-type player, although they will expect to be paid as such as free agents.

Choo, who will be 31 next year, is represented by the Scott (Avenging Agent) Boras, and, as such, is going to be seeking a six- or seven-year deal at $20 million or more per. Same thing for Pence, who is 30 next year. Jacoby Ellsbury, another Boras client, is also going to be out there and is having only a so-so season. He will be 30 next year and hasn’t been the same since dislocating his shoulder last season, but that won’t stop Boras from seeking a similar seven-year, $140 million-$150 million deal.

It is a proven fact that most free-agent contracts of five years or more to players 30 or over are bad investments.

Collin McHugh allowed four runs in four-plus innings and the Mets’ bats had a quiet day against Jose Fernandez as the Marlins beat the Mets, 8-1, Saturday.

“This is what we have to work with, so we are going to have to figure it out,” David Wright told reporters postgame, according to the Daily News. “There is no magic potion, there’s no offensive savior that is going to come and get us out of this thing. It’s up to us to work our way out of it.

“It’s up to me. I got to go up there and start being better and maybe taking some walks. I am swinging at some pitches I normally wouldn’t swing at and getting myself out a little bit. I keep preaching that the offense is kind of run on getting on base and taking your walks and I am not doing that right now.”

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

Jonathon Niese should retake his rotation spot next Friday. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Zack Wheeler limited Fresno to one run on three hits and a walk in six innings and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered as Las Vegas won, 2-1. Binghamton’s Rafael Montero tossed seven scoreless innings and Savannah’s Luis Cessa tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings in shutout victories. Read the full minor league recap here.

Read more on Wheeler in the Post.

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Daniel Murphy. Among the exchanges:

Q: What would it mean to you to play in the All-Star Game at Citi Field this summer?

A: That would be unbelievable. That would be so much fun. It would be such a humbling experience. But I do understand that is a long way away.

• Harvey tells Maric Carig in Newsday the opponent -- whether the Yankees in a buzz-filled stadium or Marlins in an empty ballpark -- is immaterial. "I play a game within the game,” Harvey said. “Each hitter is a game. I don't want to get beat by any hitter. That's how I take it.''

Ken Davidoff in the Post offers some statistics to underscore Harvey’s torrid start.

Writes columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post:

Harvey was a freshman and his dad was his coach at Fitch High School in Groton, Conn., when they were playing senior-laden powerhouse Norwich Free Academy. Harvey had the freshest arm on the team so he was named to pitch that day. Before the game, his dad asked: “You OK with this?’’

The freshman looked his father in the eye and said, “Don’t ever ask that question again.’’

Harvey pitched a complete-game victory that day and hasn’t stopped shutting down opponents since.

Tim Byrdak pitched in an extended spring training game for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in August, while Matt den Dekker still is working back from a broken wrist suffered in spring training.

• Cody Derespina in Newsday offers his top-10 Mets prospects.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing visits Tomorrowland, where Matt Harvey is only a day away.

BIRTHDAYS: Former reliever Mike Stanton turns 46. … Infielder Kelvin Chapman is 57. … Kurt Abbott is 44.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do the Mets have any choice but to overpay for free agents next offseason?

Morning briefing: 'Spin in? Seems so

March, 12, 2013

FIRST PITCH: The Mets enjoy their second straight Tuesday off-day today.

Meanwhile, in Miami, David Wright and Team USA open second-round play in the World Baseball Classic. The American squad faces Puerto Rico at 8 p.m. at Marlins Park.

When the Mets regroup Wednesday, Matt Harvey will start against the Washington Nationals in Viera, Fla.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Jordany Valdespin is never dull.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Jordany Valdespin tweeted that nobody can stop him. Then, Justin Verlander did, in a manner of speaking. After Valdespin opened Monday’s game against the Detroit Tigers with a homer, he was plunked in the groin with a 94 mph fastball in the fifth inning. He was not wearing an athletic supporter.

Valdespin indicated afterward he was fine. His performance appears to be making him a shoo-in for the Opening Day roster, seemingly over Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

As for Valdespin getting hit by a pitch, Valdespin will be susceptible for more reason than his brashness.

“Valdespin will continue to get hit because he dives into the plate and he jumps at the pitcher, which prevents him from getting out of the way of inside pitches,” a scout said. “It had become a regular occurrence, and won’t change until Valdespin tones down his hitting approach.”

Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News regarding Valdespin:

Jordany Valdespin makes the Mets nervous, mainly because they don't trust him with a glove on his hand or a tweet-dispensing iPhone within reach. Of course, he also makes their eyes light up at times with his ability to turn on a fastball -- or, as was the case Monday, the Justin Verlander changeup that Valdespin launched over the right-field fence leading off the game against the Tigers.

For a team that is expected to struggle to score runs, in fact, the Mets can hardly ignore Valdespin's offensive potential. They're going to have to find a way to get his bat in the lineup, at least against right-handed pitching.

Read more in the Post, Daily News, Record, Star-Ledger, Newsday and

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
Matt den Dekker had a near-miss on this shot to the track in right-center Monday, but later came up with another stellar grab.

Jonathon Niese, in line to become the 22nd Opening Day starter in franchise history, limited the Tigers to one hit and four walks in 4 2/3 scoreless innings Monday. Jenrry Mejia rediscovered his cutter and tossed a scoreless frame. Matt den Dekker had another highlight-reel catch and drew a comparison to Jacoby Ellsbury for his fielding, but den Dekker also struck out twice against Verlander. The Mets ultimately beat Detroit 11-0 behind homers from Brandon Hicks, Brian Bixler and Valdespin. Read more in Newsday, the Post, Record and

• Read more on den Dekker’s growing catch collection in the Daily News, Star-Ledger and Journal.

• Nieuwenhuis, whom the Mets hoped would be ready to return to Grapefruit League action Wednesday, will take a little longer before entering a game. Terry Collins indicated Nieuwenhuis instead should get onto the field and perform baseball activities tomorrow for the first time since suffering a bone bruise on his left knee sliding nine days ago. Daniel Murphy (side muscle) remains on target to enter Grapefruit League action late this week, Collins said. Read more on Murphy in the Post and Nieuwenhuis in the Times.

• Collins confirmed Jeremy Hefner is the rotation alternative to Johan Santana, who appears destined to open the season on the disabled list.

Pedro Feliciano appears the wild card as the Mets try to assemble a bullpen. With Frank Francisco likely to open the season on the disabled list, Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, Brandon Lyon, LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison appear safe bets. That seemingly leaves one or two spots, depending on Feliciano’s fate. Jeurys Familia has pitched so well, repeatedly getting groundballs with his sinker, it is hard to fathom he is left off. So submariner Greg Burke’s fate may be tied to whether Feliciano can prove he is worthy of a roster spot.

Of course, Burke over Feliciano would give the Mets only one lefty reliever, so Robert Carson cannot be entirely written off, even if the organization believes he needs more Triple-A seasoning.

Andrew Keh in the Times notes the Mets are deferring to veterans with track records in the bullpen.

• Mark Herrmann in Newsday asks catchers how they settled on that position. "Honestly, I just got thrown back there when I was 13 or 14,” Travis d’Arnaud told Herrmann. “I pitched and played shortstop. But one of my teammates threw hard and somebody said, 'Trav, can you handle this?' I said sure.”

• Will the Mets lose more than R.A. Dickey’s production with his trade to the Toronto Blue Jays? Michael Salfino in the Journal notes Mets starters who pitched against the same team as Dickey the following day had a 2.38 ERA in 2012. Writes Salfino:

If this phenomena is to be believed (the Dickey hangover didn't exist in 2010 and 2011), then there's reason to believe the rest of the Mets staff will see some drop-off this season. Though Jonathon Niese had the most starts after Dickey (seven, with a 2.34 ERA), the effect was staff-wide. Even Jeremy Hefner (2.16 in five post-Dickey starts) and Chris Young (2.08 in two) benefited. And Mets fans are left to imagine if fireballing Matt Harvey can replicate last year's results (1.37 ERA with 25 Ks in 19.2 innings) following Dickey's floaters.

Coincidence or not, the Mets bullpen is bound to suffer without their bearded comrade. Since Dickey joined the Mets in 2010, Mets relievers had a 3.44 ERA after taking the ball from Dickey versus a 4.26 in all other games.

• Right-handed prospect Michael Fulmer will undergo surgery today to repair torn meniscus cartilage. Fulmer, the 44th overall pick in the 2011 draft, went 7-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 21 starts with low-A Savannah last season. “Only a very minor setback in a long career. Looking forward to getting back to 100%,” Fulmer tweeted.

From the bloggers Mets Police celebrates the overturn of New York City’s ban on large sugary beverages with a photo gallery of large Mets cups. … Rising Apple offers competing viewpoints on issues facing the Mets. ... The Eddie Kranepool Society hopes the Mets salute the '73 edition.

BIRTHDAYS: Darryl Strawberry turns 51. … Former Mets reliever Carlos Muniz turns 32.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should Jordany Valdespin be an everyday player, at least against right-handed pitching?

Catch 22: den Dekker's glove ready, not bat

March, 11, 2013

USA TODAY Sports/Associated Press
Outfield coach Tom Goodwin favorably compares Matt den Dekker's glove to Jacoby Ellsbury's defensive prowess.
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Matt den Dekker made another Amazin’ catch Monday. This time he earned a comparison to Jacoby Ellsbury from outfield coach Tom Goodwin.

Den Dekker, already featured four times on SportsCenter’s top-10 plays even though he has yet to reach the majors, raced onto the track in left-center in the fifth inning to take away an extra-base hit from Austin Jackson.

The 25-year-old prospect stayed on his feet this time. Earlier this spring training, he reached over the wall to take away a homer from Washington’s Anthony Rendon. Then, two days ago, he slid on the track in left-center to rob Houston’s Trevor Crowe.

“From the first day I saw him, he’s reminded me of Ellsbury -- their body types and the way they can go get the ball,” Goodwin said. “I think he has stronger arm than Jacoby has, but both of them can run. He’s a difference-maker out there in center field.”

Said Jonathon Niese, the beneficiary of Monday’s grab: “Oh, it was amazing. He plays a great outfield. It’s great to have that defense behind you. It’s really important. Obviously he saves a lot of pitchers a lot of runs with those kinds of catches. Not too many people in the game can make those kinds of catches. It’s real important to have guys like that.”

So why isn’t den Dekker a serious consideration for the Opening Day roster?

That would be his bat.

The lefty-hitting, lefty-throwing den Dekker did produce a two-run single through the right side of the infield in the seventh against left-hander Phil Coke, but he struck out twice earlier in the game against Justin Verlander, including once after getting ahead in the count, 3-0, with a runner at third base. Den Dekker has K’d 10 times in 27 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Last season, he hit .220 with 90 strikeouts in 295 at-bats at Triple-A Buffalo after tearing up Binghamton during the first half of 2012.

“He’s working on some things,” Terry Collins said. “He’s really trying to be a little more selective at the plate.

“The one situation today where he had the guy at third and less than two outs and he got 3-0 on the best pitcher in the game, you’ve got to be ready to attack. You can’t let him get back in the count like he did. But he’s trying to get something he can handle.

“Later in the game that was a good swing he put on the lefty, so he’s making huge progress.

“Defensively, I’m not sure we’ve got anybody better.”

If you scrutinize Collins’ words, you can see confirmation that den Dekker is all but assured of opening the season patrolling center for Triple-A Las Vegas.

“Everybody talks about platooning,” Collins said. “If you’re going to be a platoon player, you’ve got to be able to do something off the bench in the National League -- and that’s not just play defense.”



Juan Lagares
.314 1 7 8
HRL. Duda 3
RBIL. Duda 8
RE. Young Jr. 12
OPSJ. Lagares .816
WC. Torres 2
ERAJ. Mejia 2.81
SOJ. Mejia 18