New York Mets: Lee Brice

Mets morning briefing 9.7.12

September, 7, 2012
After a day off, the Mets open a six-game homestand Friday night. Chipper Jones visits Queens for the final time as a player this weekend. Jon Niese (10-8, 3.55 ERA) opposes Atlanta Braves left-hander Paul Maholm (11-9, 3.79) in Friday's 7 p.m. series opener.

Read the series preview here.

Friday's news reports:

• The Mets have decided to wear first-responder caps pregame but not in-game on Tuesday, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. A team spokesman said the decision was made by the team and not Major League Baseball. MLB would not allow the in-game usage last year. Read more in the Times, Newsday and Daily News.

David Eulit/Getty Images
Chipper Jones has been saluted at each stop on his farewell tour, including in Kansas City for the All-Star Game.

• What to expect this weekend for Chipper's final visit? Well, it's not exactly like Citi Field will be packed. But the retiring third baseman figures to hear a couple of "LAR-reee" chants. Writes Steve Hummer in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Of all the road stops along this season’s Farewell Chipper Tour, the three-day series that begins tonight at Citi Field figures to be the most emotionally confusing. Before departing, Jones didn’t know quite what to expect from a crowd grown used to derisively chanting his given name -- “LAR-reee, LAR-reee, LAR-reee” -- while watching him dismantle the home team. “Trust me, if I was a New York fan I don’t know how I’d feel,” he said. “There would be a certain part of me that would appreciate the realm of the career. But man, that’s a lot of heartache [through the years].” ...

Yet, Jones did so love the vibe there that he named one of his four sons Shea. The tenor of the name just pleased his ear. “A great name,” he said. “Hey, my dad named me Larry. C’mon, give a kid something to work with.” ...

There is reason to suspect New Yorkers will be kind to Jones as they wish him goodbye, giving him at least a grudging respect, along with an as-yet unknown parting gift. Jones has sensed an easing in relations. “For the first 10 years I was in the league, I never left my hotel room in New York,” he said. “I went from the room to the bus to the park to the bus and back. Now, I can walk down the street and everybody’s great. Those who recognize me, they’re great. I get messages on Twitter from Mets fans all over saying: ‘I admire what you’ve done;’ ‘You’ve been a great player for a long time;’ ‘You killed my Mets and I hate you for it, but I respect the player and the person that you’ve become.’ That for me is an ultimate compliment.”

Read more in the Post and Times.

Andy McCullough in the Star-Ledger notes Niese could be a valuable trade piece for the Mets this winter since the club is most deep in starting pitching and a stagnant payroll means the Mets may need to deal an established player such as the southpaw for multiple prospects in order to improve. Writes McCullough:

Baseball officials outside the organization believe Niese could elicit a quality return on the trade market. “People would be interested in [Niese] because he’s a starter who some people see as a No. 3,” one executive said. “Some people see him a little bit like where they saw Gio Gonzalez last year.” ... [Sandy] Alderson can look to his protégé, Oakland general manager Billy Beane, for a blueprint. A survey of competing executives indicated Niese’s value is comparable to Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, the two starting pitchers the Athletics traded last winter. The executives requested anonymity in order to speak freely about the situation. “You’re looking at about two or three prospects [for Niese],” one executive said. “At least.”

Tim Byrdak pronounced Wednesday's surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder as well as torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee a success. Byrdak hopes to return to the majors, but the shoulder surgery requires roughly a 12-month recovery time.

Paul J. Bereswill/Associated Press
R.A. Dickey has an agreement to write three children's books.

R.A. Dickey will author three children's books.

Phil Niekro and Tim Wakefield endorsed Dickey's Cy Young candidacy to Andy Martino in the Daily News.

"I can tell you that every knuckleballer is rooting for him," Niekro said.

Said Wakefield: “He is doing our fraternity proud in proving to people that it is not a trick pitch. ... It would put a stamp of legitimacy on the pitch, and that is one thing that R.A. wants to do."

• Dickey also received an endorsement on the New York Times' editorial page.

• Tickets remain available for Ike Davis' charity event on Sunday night at City Winery in Manhattan. Country music performer Lee Brice is scheduled to perform. For more information, click here.

• St. Lucie was eliminated in the first round of the Florida State League playoffs, 11-7 by Jupiter in a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday night. Starter Chase Huchingson, who is scheduled to participate in the Arizona Fall League, surrendered six runs in 3 1/3 innings. St. Lucie rallied from a 6-1 deficit, evening the score with a five-run fifth, capped by a two-run double from Richard Lucas. The Mets surrendered the lead the following half-inning. "It was a great inning," St. Lucie manager Ryan Ellis told Bill Whitehead at about the five-run fifth."We put some key hits together, just were unfortunate not to go ahead or have a shutdown inning in the next inning. My guys battled like they did all year. It's good to see. I thought we had the team to win a championship, but we fell short of our goal."

The lone remaining Mets affiliate participating in the postseason is Brooklyn, which opens a best-of-three first-round series tonight at Coney Island against Hudson Valley. Read the Florida State League game recap here.

Dillon Gee, who has resumed throwing after surgery to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder, indicates he is feeling good. "I feel fine," Gee told Mike Kerwick in the Record. "I played catch [Tuesday]. My arm felt great. Obviously, my release point is a little off and stuff. I had 2˝ months without throwing a baseball, so that’s to be expected. Arm-wise, I feel great. Body-wise, I feel great. I’m really just looking forward to continue throwing this month and then going into the offseason with a clean slate and prepare like it’s any other year."

• With Jeurys Familia striking out Lance Berkman to begin the right-hander's major league career in St. Louis, Mark Herrmann in Newsday asked other Mets to recall their debuts. "Sunday night baseball at Yankee Stadium," Kelly Shoppach told Herrmann about a May 29, 2005 game with the Boston Red Sox, which actually was his first start, but not his debut. "Jeter led off the bottom of the first with a homer and Sheffield hit a homer two batters later. I remember thinking to myself, 'Man, I am not doing a very good job of calling a game here.' I remember the magnitude of the moment for me, and how deafening the old Yankee Stadium was."

TRIVIA: Against which opponent does Chipper have his most RBIs?

Thursday's answer: Davis did not hit any homers while playing 58 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2008, after being drafted that June in the first round.

Mets morning briefing 8.9.12

August, 9, 2012
Chris Young surrendered first-inning homers to Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton, then a second two-run shot in the fifth to Stanton, and the Mets lost their ninth straight home game, 13-0 to the Marlins on Wednesday.

The Mets, who again dropped to a season-worst five games under .500, last won at Citi Field on July 7. Their home losing streak is the longest since they also lost nine straight in the final days of Art Howe in 2004, at Shea Stadium. The franchise record is a 15-game home losing streak in 2002, in the final days of Bobby Valentine.

The Mets suffered their most lopsided shutout defeat since losing to the Yankees, 15-0, on June 14, 2009, in a game in which Johan Santana was thumped for nine runs in three innings in the Bronx. It was the second-largest home shutout defeat in franchise history, trailing only a 16-0 loss to the Braves on July 2, 1999 that included infielder Matt Franco surrendering a homer to Gerald Williams and a crowd of 51,979 mostly remaining on hand for postgame fireworks.

"When you get beat like this tonight, it's one of those games you just check off the calendar and get ready for tomorrow," Terry Collins said.

The Mets dropped a season-high 10˝ games off the NL wild-card pace.

As for the nine-game home skid, Collins said: "You remember last year we didn't play good at home. It was a huge concern of mine last year, due to the fact the ballpark was so big, and the kind of game we played, where we ran the bases and we didn't have a lot of power. And we just didn't play good here. Right now, you know, the ballpark is reconfigured. We had confidence playing here the first half. Right now there's nothing we do that's right. So this is when you cinch up your belt, reach inside, find out what you're made of, find out who wants to compete the last 50 games at the end of the season, because those are the guys you're going to want on the team."

The Mets try to avoid getting swept in a 12:10 p.m. matinee today as R.A. Dickey (14-3, 2.82 ERA) opposes right-hander Josh Johnson (7-7, 3.85).

Thursday's news reports:

• Despite playing with a sore right hand, Reyes delivered a game-opening homer to extend his career-high hitting streak to 26 games, the longest in the majors this season, and the longest by a player after leaving the Mets, topping Jeff Kent's 25-game streak with the Astros in 2004. It also is the longest streak by a reigning batting champion since Joe DiMaggio ultimately posted a record-setting 56-gamer in 1941. Reyes matched Emilio Bonifacio (2011) for the second-longest streak in Marlins history. He trails only Luis Castillo's 35-game streak in 2002.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Giancarlo Stanton crushed two homers Wednesday, in his second game since returning from knee surgery.

Stanton (4-for-5, 4 RBIs) joined Alex Rodriguez as the only players in MLB history with three 20-plus homer seasons before turning 23, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Garrett Olson was charged with four runs while recording only one out in relief in his Mets debut. Olson is not a true lefty specialist -- lefties hit .270 against him in Triple-A, with righties hitting .272. So the Mets eventually could promote converted sidearm lefty C.J. Nitkowski, who is making a comeback at age 39. Nitkowski allowed three hits and a walk in in 1 2/3 innings Tuesday night with Buffalo at Lehigh Valley. In two Triple-A appearances since a promotion from Binghamton, lefties have two hits and one strikeout in seven plate appearances against him.

Young surrendered seven runs in 4 1/3 innings as his ERA swelled to 4.87.

"Maybe that's part of coming off the surgery," Young said, referring to his procedure to repair a torn anterior capsule on May 16, 2011. "It just some nights takes a little bit longer to get loose. Tonight it did."

Read game recaps in the Post, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Miami Herald and Daily News.

• Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen told Joe Capozzi in the Palm Beach Post that Stanton will get Thursday's matinee off, since the slugger was just activated from the DL on Tuesday after recovering from July 8 arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Meanwhile, Guillen plans to restore ex-Met Heath Bell to the closer's role, writes Clark Spencer in the Miami Herald. Bell has tossed nine scoreless innings spanning 10 relief appearances since the All-Star break, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out eight.

• Santana threw a bullpen session Wednesday at Citi Field and reiterated he is prepared to return from the disabled list to face the Braves on Saturday. Collins again suggested the Mets may give Santana extra rest at points in September to avoid any question about the southpaw's health come spring training 2013.

Against the Braves, Matt Harvey will oppose left-hander Paul Maholm in Friday's series opener, followed by Santana against right-hander Kris Medlen, then Jon Niese opposite right-hander Ben Sheets on Sunday. Read more on Santana in the Post, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

Brian Costa in the Journal chronicles the fall of Jason Bay, who is now a platoon player -- meaning he may only start Friday against Maholm during the remainder of the homestand. Writes Costa:

What happened to Jason Bay? "There's really no answer," [hitting coach Dave] Hudgens said. "There is no answer." Plenty of players have seen their production decline as they age. Some lose bat speed. Some cannot overcome the effects of injuries. And Bay, who will turn 34 next month, has had his share of ailments. But baseball has never seen an erosion of ability quite like this. For the first seven years of his career, Bay compiled a .519 slugging percentage, the 21st-best mark in the majors over that span (minimum 1,000 games played). But in 2˝ years with the Mets, through Tuesday, Bay has slugged .371. Among players who slugged .500 or better in their first seven major-league seasons, it is the largest decline in history over seasons eight through 10, according to Stats LLC. In other words, no player who has displayed so much power in his first seven years has ever produced so little over the following three.

Although Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin started at the corner outfield spots Wednesday with Bay sitting, Collins predicted Lucas Duda would see at-bats in the not-too-distant future in left field. Duda, after a 3-for-25 start upon his demotion to Triple-A, since is hitting .381 (8-for-21) with two homers -- although he was hitless in four at-bats while drawing two walks Tuesday with the Bisons. Read more in the Post.

Tim Byrdak continued to weigh whether to proceed with surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder, a procedure that Santana and Young each underwent in the past two years. Either way, Byrdak's career is endangered, since he turns 39 this offseason. Collins has taken responsibility for Byrdak's extreme usage contributing to the shoulder injury, although the manager noted Byrdak relished the frequent appearances. Writes Andrew Keh in the Times:

Stephen Fealy, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, said there was a danger associated with trusting competitive athletes to evaluate their health. He likened pitchers to long-distance runners, who can ignore, willfully or not, physical warning signs. “They get the runner’s high, the serotonin and endorphins kick in, and they feel fine,” Fealy said. “The next day, they are down with a stress fracture.” Fealy said the medical field was still playing catch-up as it tried to study the demands of the sport.

It is accepted that there is a certain amount of uncertainty attached to even the most widely accepted pitch counts and innings limits. Bradford Parsons, an assistant professor of orthopedics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, agreed, and said it was even hazier for relievers because most medical studies focused on starters who pitched in a controlled setting, with consistent rest and regular, finely tuned schedules. “With relief pitchers, it’s even less known what the right number of pitches they can throw day-to-day is and how many days they can go without a day off,” Parsons said. “I think that’s why certain injuries can be frequent in relievers -- that data is even more arbitrarily set.”

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Olympian Brittany Viola advanced to this morning's 10-meter platform diving semifinals before being eliminated.

• Savannah pitching coach Frank Viola watched in person in London as his daughter Brittany advanced past the preliminary round Wednesday in 10-meter platform diving at the Olympics. She placed 14th in the opening round. The top 18 advanced to this morning's semifinals. She then failed to qualify for the finals.

“I’m a nervous wreck,” the ex-Met Viola told the Associated Press before the competition began. “It’s a lot easier going out for Game 7 knowing you have the ball in your hand and you’re in control. In the stands, you’re a parent and have no control.”

• Right-hander Tyler Pill, the Mets' fourth-round pick in 2011, was named the Florida State League player of the month. Pill went 5-0 with a 1.55 ERA in July.

Right-handers Luis Mateo, Hansel Robles and Gabriel Ynoa and left-hander John Mincone have been selected to participate in Tuesday's New York-Penn League All-Star Game at Mahoning Valley. Ynoa, who turned 19 on May 26, is the youngest starting pitcher in Cyclones history. Mincone graduated from Half Hollow Hills East High School on Long Island.

MLB announced the suspension of right-hander Nicolas Debora of the Dominican Summer League Mets for 50 games for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing drug.

Lehigh Valley beat Buffalo, 5-4 in 12 innings, when Fernando Cabrera tossed a game-ending wild pitch in his third inning of relief. Starter Jeurys Familia surrendered four runs, but only one earned, on five hits and two walks while striking out seven in six innings. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

Ike Davis, whose charitable efforts now can be followed on Twitter (@theikedavis), is hosting a philanthropic event Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. at City Winery (155 Varick St.). Country music singer Lee Brice will perform. The event benefits research into childhood cancer. Davis lost close friend Mike Lio to Ewing's sarcoma on the eve of the first baseman's major league career.

The Johan Santana Foundation holds a charity event tonight at Del Posto on W. 10th Ave. to increase awareness about melanoma and to raise money for a sports complex in his Tovar, Venezuela, hometown. The event is sold out, but you can bid on items online here.

The Mets welcomed youth from Tuesday's Children and the Cory Lidle Foundation to Citi Field on Wednesday. Read more in the Post and Daily News.

TRIVIA: Who has the longest hitting streak in Mets history?

Wednesday's answer: Reyes started 20 games as the No. 3 hitter for the Mets in 2010, under Jerry Manuel.



Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187