New York Mets: Michael Bourn

Morning Briefing: Watch Dice-K or Jets?

September, 8, 2013

John Munson/The Star-Ledger/USA TODAY SportsMark Sanchez will be watching the Jets, not the Mets, on Sunday afternoon.
FIRST PITCH: Are you ready for some … Daisuke Matsuzaka?

Going up against the Jets game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Matsuzaka faces the Cleveland Indians at 1:05 p.m. as the Mets look to avoid getting swept at Progressive Field.

Matsuzaka pitched for the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate for most of this season. He brings an 0-3 record and 10.95 ERA into his matchup with rookie right-hander Danny Salazar (1-2, 3.00).

The Mets (63-77) now have the eighth-worst record in the majors, which would translate into getting a first-round draft pick that is protected regardless of how aggressive they are in free agency next offseason.

A loss today would drop the Mets 15 games under .500, which would match the season’s low-water mark. They were 24-39 on June 15, and 25-40 two days later. A loss, or Atlanta Braves win, also would mathematically eliminate the Mets from NL East contention. The wild card tragic number is 5.

Sunday’s news reports:

• Whether it is because they are shorthanded or intend to trade him, the Mets decided to bring Frank Francisco back to the major league level with Binghamton’s postseason elimination. Francisco had been out the entire season after undergoing seemingly benign surgery last Dec. 18 to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. If the Mets were to trade Francisco, he would be ineligible for the acquiring team’s postseason roster. Still, he could help a team like the Yankees get to October, while providing the Mets some salary relief.

Charles LeClaire/US PresswireThe Mets welcome back Frank Francisco today.

ESPN’s Pedro Gomez recalled the Yankees acquiring left-hander Rick Honeycutt on Sept. 25, 1995. (He subsequently faced only six batters.) More recently, the Mets considered trading Chris Capuano to the Boston Red Sox two years ago for one late-season start.

Francisco is owed $781,420.77 from today through the remainder of the season (22 days of a 183-day season). Mets insiders previously had predicted Sandy Alderson would release Francisco before letting him get to the major league level.

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

• The Mets announced postgame Saturday that reliever Greg Burke would join the Mets today in Cleveland. The team also is expected to add veteran right-hander Aaron Harang before next Saturday’s doubleheader against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.

Team insiders told that the Mets, as of Friday, also planned to call up Ruben Tejada, Mike Baxter and catcher Juan Centeno, but abruptly reversed course midday Saturday.

The Mets still may intend to call up Tejada at a later date -- the Daily News reported they will Monday -- but there was conflicting information because of the seemingly sudden reduction in the number of call-ups. If the Mets wait until Tuesday, they would delay Tejada’s free agency by a year, although it is now hard to envision him in the team’s plan four seasons down the road anyway. Alderson did not reply to a text message Saturday about whether Tejada eventually would be promoted.

• Las Vegas was eliminated Saturday in its best-of-five series. The lone Mets affiliate still alive is low-Savannah, which opens its South Atlantic League championship series Monday at Hagerstown, a Washington Nationals affiliate.

Jonathon Niese allowed five first-inning runs and Scott Atchison surrendered a three-run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera in the seventh as the Mets lost to the Indians, 9-4, Saturday. The Mets dropped into fourth place in the NL East.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Record and

• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger revisits with Michael Bourn the Mets’ failed pursuit of him as a free agent last offseason. Mets officials visited Bourn at his home in Texas, but have suggested they backed off at the end because they may have needed to forfeit the first-round draft pick they eventually used on high school first baseman Dominic Smith.

• Marc Carig in Newsday discusses Travis d’Arnaud’s major league performance so far.

David Wright is returning to New York with minor league seasons complete and the Mets’ Port St. Lucie, Fla., complex barren. Wright, on the DL with a strained right hamstring, will take batting practice and do other baseball activities at Citi Field. He is not ready for games. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

BIRTHDAYS: Bobby Parnell, on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his neck, turns 29.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you think the Mets should call up Ruben Tejada?

Series preview: Mets at Indians

September, 6, 2013

USA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesThe Met face (l to r) Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar this weekend.
METS (63-75, third place/NL East) vs. CLEVELAND INDIANS (74-65, second place/AL Central)

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-3, 3.36) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (7-7, 4.36), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.66) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54), 6:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3, 10.95) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (1-2, 3.00), 1:05 p.m. ET

Indians short hops

Corey Kluber makes his first start since Aug. 5 when he faces the Mets on Saturday. The Indians originally intended to have Kluber “piggyback” Scott Kazmir’s start Friday, but Justin Masterson has a left oblique issue and will miss at least one turn in the rotation. Kluber dealt with a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand.

Michael Bourn appeared to prefer signing with the Mets last offseason, but Mets officials insisted the fact that they would have needed to forfeit their 11th overall pick scuttled plans to ink him. Bourn instead signed with Cleveland for four years, $48 million, along with a vesting option for 2017. The Mets ended up using the draft pick on Los Angeles high school first baseman Dominic Smith.

Mark Duncan/Associated PressJoe Smith also faces his original organization for the first time this weekend.

• Sidearm-throwing set-up man Joe Smith is a free agent after the season. Smith (6-2, 2.47 ERA) originally was drafted by the Mets in the third round out of Wright State University in 2006. He made the major league team out of spring training the following season. The Mets dealt Smith to Cleveland on Dec. 11, 2008 in the three-team deal that brought relievers J.J. Putz and Sean Green to Queens from the Seattle Mariners.

Smith has ascended to eighth-inning usage with the Indians in part because of Vinnie Pestano’s ineffectiveness. Pestano, who rejoined the Indians the week as a September call-up, had been demoted to Triple-A after Cleveland obtained left-hander Marc Rzepczynski before the trade deadline.

• The Indians reportedly will look to trade closer Chris Perez this offseason. He is making $7.3 million in 2013 and is eligible for arbitration once more before free agency.

• Rookie Danny Salazar will be making his seventh major league start. His fastball has averaged 96.0 mph. The Indians are keeping Salazar's pitch count to fewer than 90.

• The Indians brought a live chicken onto the field Wednesday and dubbed it their “Rally Chicken.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched in Triple-A for Cleveland this season before being granted his release and signing with the Mets.

• Cleveland enters the weekend trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by three games for the second wild-card spot. The Yankees are 2 games behind the Rays.

• Ex-Yankee Nick Swisher is hitting only .237 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs in 464 at-bats. He signed a four-year, $56 million deal with a 2017 vesting option last winter.

• Ex-Met Kelly Shoppach is a September call-up for the Indians. He was signed as a minor league free agent on Aug. 30. Shoppach hit .196 with three homers in 35 games for the Mariners earlier this season, before his June 20 release.

Morning Briefing: Wally outta here?

September, 6, 2013
FIRST PITCH: After an off-day, the Mets now open an interleague series tonight at Cleveland, with Zack Wheeler opposing former Mets first-round pick Scott Kazmir.

It will mark Kazmir’s first time facing his original organization.

“I guess you can say there will always be something there from it being the team that drafted me,” Kazmir told “But it just feels like so long ago. I’m just concentrating on what I have to do and not really worried about too much of the significance of the game.”

Friday’s news reports:

• Mike Puma in the Post speculates that Las Vegas manager Wally Backman could decide to leave the organization if he is not offered a spot on Terry Collins’ 2014 staff.

• Puma in the Post revisits not signing Michael Bourn, who went to Cleveland on a four-year, $48 million deal, plus a $12 million vesting option for 2017. The Mets lucked into Marlon Byrd at $700,000 after deciding not to part with a draft pick for Bourn.

Bourn is hitting .262 with five homers, 39 RBIs and 21 steals and has a .315 on-base percentage in 490 plate appearances with the Indians.

“Where we sit right now, the answer is yeah,” manager Terry Collins told Puma about ending up better off having whiffed on Bourn. “But would Michael Bourn have made a difference in April? Come on. Maybe we wouldn’t be sitting where we are right now, so it’s a difficult thing to answer, because he was a good player, and we wanted him.

“We had high hopes. Going into the winter we thought we had a healthy Johan [Santana], we knew Matt Harvey was coming. Who knows? You put [Bourn] at the top of the order with Marlon Byrd and David [Wright] in the lineup, but we didn’t get him.”

Robert Carson suffered the loss for a second straight night as Las Vegas fell in an 0-2 hole in its best-of-five series with a 5-4 loss at Salt Lake. Binghamton also faces elimination after losing at Trenton, 2-1, Thursday night. Read the full minor league recap here. looks at Juan Lagares’ outfield assists.

• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger discusses fielding with Lucas Duda. Writes Castillo:

A couple hours before returning to where he feels most comfortable on the baseball diamond, Lucas Duda offered a brutally honest assessment of his defensive skills.

"I don’t think I’m a major league ... let me rephrase that," Duda said Wednesday in Atlanta, catching himself to avoid having a self-deprecating evaluation become a self-damning one. "I think I’m much better at first base than I am in the outfield. I’m a big guy. I’m slow. You can just tell by looking at me -- I’m a first baseman."

• Previewing the Wheeler-Kazmir matchup, Mike Kerwick in the Record notes Dan Warthen was Kazmir’s pitching coach for part of a season at Class A St. Lucie.

• The Mets need more power in their lineup, Marc Carig writes in Newsday.

• Kristie Ackert in the Daily News profiles Eric Young Jr., who is now part of one of five father-son combinations to each produce 30 steals in a season. The others: Sandy Alomar Sr. and Roberto Alomar, Bobby and Barry Bonds, Jose Cruz Sr. and Jose Cruz Jr., and Maury and Bump Wills.

• Auto shop owners near Citi Field who are being displaced through eminent domain laws are holding a hunger strike, according to the Queens Courier. Writes Melissa Chan:

The city has been urging shops to leave in order to make way for a $3 billion project to redevelop Willets Point, which includes cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land and eventually constructing housing units and a mega mall near Citi Field. Developers need the City Council’s final approval to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to construct a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of the baseball stadium.

However, the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises did not vote on the project during a September 3 hearing and is not expected to do so this month, sources said. Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area, instead grilled city officials and developers for more answers and better relocation plans.

From the bloggers … Mark Berman at Blogging Mets looks at potential free-agent outfielders who could play at Citi Field in 2014.

BIRTHDAYS: One-time top outfield prospect Alex Escobar turns 35.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Are you excited Zack Wheeler and Scott Kazmir line up? Or has too much time passed to make it meaningful?

Morning Briefing: Playoff run?

July, 22, 2013
FIRST PITCH: If the Mets are going to make any noise in the National League East -- and that’s a major uphill battle despite their recent solid play -- it’s now or never.

The banged-up Atlanta Braves visit Citi Field for a four-game series beginning tonight at 7:10, with Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.32 ERA) opposing right-hander Julio Teheran (7-5, 3.35) in the opener.

The Mets, who have 68 games remaining, trail Atlanta by 10 games in the standings. The wild-card deficit behind the Cincinnati Reds is an identical 10 games.

Meanwhile, the Mets may welcome back Justin Turner from the disabled list today. He has been rehabbing most recently with the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Four of Turner’s seven starts with Brooklyn and Binghamton have come at shortstop. Terry Collins said he will use Turner at that position once or twice to give Omar Quintanilla a breather.

Read the Mets-Braves series preview here.

Monday’s news reports:

Matt Harvey tossed seven scoreless innings while striking out 10 and walking none and combined with Scott Atchison on a shutout as the Mets beat Philadelphia, 5-0, in Sunday’s rubber game at Citi Field. David Wright, Marlon Byrd and Juan Lagares all took All-Star Cliff Lee deep.

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesMatt Harvey receives congratulations after tossing seven scoreless innings Sunday.

Wright’s next homer will be No. 220, matching Mike Piazza for second on the Mets’ all-time list. The leader: Darryl Strawberry, at 252.

Harvey’s 2.38 ERA through 30 games is the best in franchise history (min. 100 IP), topping Jerry Koosman’s 2.39 as well as No. 3 Jon Matlack (2.54), Dwight Gooden (2.66) and Tom Seaver (2.88).

Among pitchers debuting in the past 30 seasons in the majors, Harvey’s ERA ranks fourth-lowest through 30 career starts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The only better: Scott Erickson (2.16), Hisashi Iwakuma (2.22) and Joe Hesketh (2.33).

Harvey got 23 swings and misses Sunday, one shy of matching his career high. His fastball velocity averaged a career-best 97.4 mph. He went to a 2-0 count on only one batter in the game.

"It's definitely the best we've seen," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He used all of his pitches. He was aggressive with his fastball. He also threw in and out, up and down, threw to spots -- about everything you have to do. That's good. Real good.”

Collins suggested Harvey took the mound angry and was motivated by his dissatisfaction over a Men’s Journal portrayal of his social life.

“He should have fun and enjoy himself,” Gooden, who attended Sunday’s game on his bobblehead day, told columnist George Willis in the Post. “He just needs to remember a lot of things that may not offend some may offend others. You have to understand that you’re in New York and your success is going to be under a microscope. I didn’t see anything wrong with what he said, but some things you might want to say you have to hold on to.”

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

• Lagares is hitting .412 (14-for-34) in July. He went 7-for-10 with a homer and five RBIs against the Phillies during the weekend. Regarding what has become a platoon with Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collins said: “We’ve played pretty well with what we’ve been doing, but I think Juan is going to certainly get some playing time against right-handers, too -- not just a platoon thing.” Read more in the Post, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

• Michael Salfino in the Journal charts the Mets’ record by uniform they’ve worn.

Jordany Valdespin went 4-for-6 with a homer and five RBIs and Chris Schwinden may have disqualified himself for consideration for Friday’s spot start by allowing six runs in four innings as Las Vegas beat Reno, 15-8. Binghamton had seven doubles in a 5-3 win at New Britain. Dustin Lawley belted his 20th homer in St. Lucie’s 7-5 win against Daytona. Read the full minor league recap here.

• The Mets need an extra starter Thursday or Friday, depending upon whether they want to give Zack Wheeler an extra day of rest. The candidates: Jenrry Mejia, who has pitched strongly since his rehab tour has stopped in Binghamton, as well as highly regarded prospect Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and Schwinden.

• Byrd’s 2.1 WAR is better than Michael Bourn’s 1.5, Marc Carig notes in Newsday. The Mets settled for Byrd at a price tag of only $700,000 after the Cleveland Indians landed Bourn as a free agent.

• The consecutive long balls by Wright and Byrd in the first inning marked the first time this season Mets teammates had gone deep back to back. Read more in the Post.

• Tim Marchman in the Journal reviews Wheeler’s performance so far.

• The Phillies, now a game under .500, are on the fence about whether to buy or sell at the trade deadline. The Mets taking two of three may have pushed them into the seller category. Read more from columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing discovers sometimes the baseball gods really do listen. … The Kings of Queens talks Harvey’s impact on the Mets’ overall future.

BIRTHDAYS: Catcher Rob Johnson, who tossed a scoreless inning in Toronto last season, turns 31. After spending most of the season at Triple-A, he currently is on the St. Louis Cardinals big-league roster.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Can the Mets make a run at a postseason berth?

Morning briefing: J-Wilp preaches patience

June, 6, 2013

Julie Scheidegger/US PresswireBack in 2010, the Mets selected Matt Harvey with the seventh overall pick.

FIRST PITCH: Gavin Cecchini won’t be the new kid on the block much longer.

Paul DePodesta and crew begin drafting the 2013 class tonight. The Mets’ first pick is 11th overall, which you probably recall because that was the first pick not protected last offseason -- meaning the Mets would have forfeited it to sign Michael Bourn.

ESPN’s Keith Law projects the Mets will select California high school first baseman Dominic Smith.

Here’s a look at the Mets’ top picks of the past decade:

2012, Cecchini, 12th overall

2011, Brandon Nimmo, 13th

2010, Matt Harvey, seventh

2009, Steven Matz, 72nd

2008, Ike Davis, 18th

2007, Eddie Kunz, 42nd

2006, Kevin Mulvey, 62nd

2005, Mike Pelfrey, ninth

2004, Philip Humber, third

2003, Lastings Milledge, 12th

Under the previous regime, the Mets made a habit of forfeiting first-round picks in order to sign Type A free agents. That was the case in 2009 (for Francisco Rodriguez), 2007 (for Moises Alou) and 2006 (for Billy Wagner). The Mets later essentially sold two first-round picks to the Red Sox when they traded Wagner to Boston as a rental.

Also tonight, Shaun Marcum (0-6, 5.71 ERA) searches for his first Mets win when he opposes left-hander Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.64) at Nationals Park.

Thursday’s news reports:

• Jeff Wilpon visited Double-A Binghamton. He told the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

“There’s a plan. You can’t change the plan every year. OK? Sandy [Alderson], it’s taken him two or three years to get the plan into effect, and we have to wait and see it out.

Adam RubinFred Wilpon was in D.C. Wednesday with the Mets.

“You can’t just say it’s not going as fast as we want -- we’re six months behind, two months behind, whatever it might be. You’ve got to let the plan go all the way down the line. If you’re going to buy into something, you got to buy into it. You can’t change midstream, because if you’re constantly changing, there’s no chance you’re going to succeed. …

“I think we’re definitely happy with the plan and the direction we’re going. Is it happening as fast as anybody wants? No.

“You know, we’re fans. I’m a fan. I’m here to see good baseball. I want to see good baseball in New York. I want to see it up and down the organization. Sometimes it happens quicker, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Marlon Byrd homered twice, David Wright also went deep and Anthony Recker drove in three as the Mets enjoyed a rare laugher and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 10-1 win at D.C. Dillon Gee went seven innings, allowing one run, despite dealing with baserunners all night. It was Byrd’s sixth career multi-homer game, and first since June 9, 2010.

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

• Jon Heyman at and Ken Davidoff in the Post review how the Mets landed Matt Harvey in the 2010 draft.

Jonathon Niese threw a 39-pitch bullpen session Wednesday at Nationals Park and pronounced himself fit to face the Miami Marlins on Saturday at Citi Field after missing one turn in the rotation. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Journal and Record.

• SNY analyst Ron Darling has signed a long-term extension with TBS to continue his weekend and postseason work analyzing national games. “He has established himself as one of the preeminent baseball analysts in the game today and we’re excited he’ll continue to be an integral part of our MLB regular season and postseason coverage on TBS for many years to come,” said David Levy, president of TBS sales, distribution and sports.

• Andrew Keh in the Times profiles the overused left-handed specialist Scott Rice. “It’s funny,” Rice told Keh. “My arm feels awesome. But people keep coming up to me like: ‘How’s your arm? Are you OK?’ And I’m like: ‘Man, it feels good, but now I don’t know. Is it supposed to be hurting?’”

• Fueled in part by Cesar Puello’s 10th homer, Binghamton tried to rally from an eight-run deficit, but lost to Trenton, 10-6, Wednesday. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Puello faces a potential MLB suspension for his link to the South Florida clinic Biogensis, “Outside the Lines” has reported. Said Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez to the Press & Sun-Bulletin: “The funny thing about it is when everything happened in spring training, I found out a week later. When I got the message last night, I was nave. I didn’t know what they were talking about. I was lost. … I don’t know much about it, only the stuff that I’ve read and that I’ve heard on TV. Basically, we have to wait and see what happens. Hopefully nothing happens to him. He’s having a terrific year to this point.”

• Collins does not expect Jeurys Familia to return this season. Familia was expected to undergo a cleanout of his right elbow Wednesday in New York.

• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger and Mike Kerwick in the Record profile shortstop Omar Quintanilla.

John Buck faces wearing down in the second half, notes Jared Diamond in the Journal. Only Yadier Molina has started a higher percentage of his team’s games behind the plate.

From the bloggersRising Apple believes it is time to promote lefty reliever Jack Leathersich from Double-A Binghamton. … Faith and Fear in Flushing chats with Howie Rose. … John Delcos at Mets Report believes the way to create room for Zack Wheeler is by trading Shaun Marcum.

BIRTHDAYS: Bud Harrelson is 69.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Are you OK with the Mets’ plan and showing patience?

Morning briefing: Piazza's Mets isolation

March, 6, 2013

Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Miguel Cabrera and Team Venezuela visit Tradition Field this afternoon.

FIRST PITCH: A day after the death of Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, the Mets face that country’s World Baseball Classic team in a 12:35 p.m. exhibition today at Tradition Field.

Jonathon Niese, Scott Atchison and Hansel Robles are due to pitch for the Mets.

Former Cincinnati Reds right-hander Ramon Ramirez (not the ex-Met) is due to start for Venezuela. He pitched in Mexico last season.

At last night’s Miami Marlins exhibition win against Team Venezuela at Roger Dean Stadium, there was no moment of silence to recognize the controversial Chavez’s death and the Venezuelan flag was lowered to half-staff only briefly -- a joint decision between the Marlins and MLB.

"He was a man of baseball," Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "He was always aware of the team and who was on it. He was the first call I got in the morning during the tournaments in 2006 and 2009. He lived for baseball.

"It's always sad when someone dies. He was a human being, a president, a man who battled a lot for his life. He asked his family for peace. We're in a tough situation in our country right now. God has [Chavez] now."

Wednesday’s news reports:

AP Photo/Cliff Owen
Mike Piazza's relationship with the Mets has been chilly.

• David Lennon in Newsday checked in with Mike Piazza, a coach for Italy’s World Baseball Classic team, about whether he is estranged from the Mets. Writes Lennon:

Piazza does admit his relationship with the Mets has felt more distant lately, and he couldn't really put his finger on why. Returning for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at Citi Field sticks in his mind as a powerful event, but he stressed that it's more difficult for him to be around the team because of his family life in Miami. …

"I wouldn't say we're growing apart -- that's too strong," he said of the Mets. "It's not terrible. It's not bad. It's just kind of in a little bit of a lull, I guess. I think when you move on, and just start a new life, a new somewhere, it's tough to stay connected, and they've gone through some changes as well. I would say that I've turned a page in my life personally. I think if there is a future for me there, I truly believe things will work out. I'm always optimistic."

Wearing a heart monitor, Pedro Feliciano allowed a leadoff homer and plunked the lone lefty batter he faced while making his first appearance as a Met since 2010. Read more in the Post.

Shaun Marcum and LaTroy Hawkins pitched two innings apiece and the Mets were two-hit in a 4-0 loss to the Miami Marlins in a “B” game. Most players in major league camp had Tuesday off. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

Jenrry Mejia has been dispatched to New York for follow-up testing on his initial physical, a team spokesman said. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and Record.

• With Mark Teixeira withdrawing from the World Baseball Classic because of a strained wrist, Ike Davis is among multiple candidates to replace him, an official told

• Mets officials privately believe Johan Santana almost assuredly cannot avoid the DL to open the season, writes Andy Martino in the Daily News. Sandy Alderson publicly has described it as “less and less likely” that Santana can be ready for Opening Day.

• Via a video game, UniWatch gets an apparent sneak peek at this year’s All-Star Game uniforms. View here.

• Tickets for the July 14 Futures Game at Citi Field as well as FanFest at Jacob Javits Center go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. Details here.

• Richard Sandomir in the Times reports Mets’ revenue continues to tumble. Writes Sandomir:

The ballpark’s latest financial statements show some of the effects of faltering attendance. Last season, the Mets averaged 28,035 a game, down nearly 7 percent from the 2011 season.

Ticket receipts from Citi Field’s most expensive 10,635 seats -- the biggest source of revenue -- fell nearly 13 percent, to $43.9 million from $50.5 million in 2011. Advertising revenue also fell, to $44.2 million from $46.1 million. Luxury suite revenue took a small hit, dropping from $7.7 million to $7.5 million. But revenue from concessions, parking and “other” increased.

Revenue fell over all, to $121.5 million from $126.9 million. In 2010, it was $143.9 million.

David Wright had an RBI triple and walk in three plate appearances and logged five innings at third base as Team USA played to a 4-4 draw with the Chicago White Sox in a World Baseball Classic tune-up Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post asserts that even the Mets’ strength -- starting pitching -- cannot be viewed as a strength when compared with the division. Writes Sherman:

So the Mets like their rotation. But will it be better than Washington’s with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and plenty of back-end depth? Nope. Is it better than the Phillies’ with Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay (and if you say Halladay is a health concern, I would say not nearly as much as Johan Santana)?

Are the Mets’ starters better than the Braves’? Even if you think Santana, Jon Niese and Matt Harvey are comparable to Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor, well, tie goes to the group supported by superior relief. And Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel-led bullpen might be the converse of the Mets’ outfield -- the best unit in the majors.

So within the NL East, the Mets’ rotation -- which, again, is their strength -- projects as better than just the sell-off Marlins’.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal reports Collin Cowgill is one of only 56 position players since 1876 in the majors who throw lefty and bat righty. The only other active players in that category: Ryan Ludwick and Cody Ross. "It happened the way it was supposed to," Cowgill told Diamond.

• Ken Belson in the Times looks at the growing isolation the Mets have in Port St. Lucie with fewer and fewer teams to play. The Washington Nationals (Viera, Fla.) and Houston Astros (Kissimmee, Fla.) may be the next teams on the move. And the recent buzz among baseball personnel is that the St. Louis Cardinals may even look to depart nearby Jupiter, which they reportedly would be allowed to do if one more team departs Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

Michael Bourn, who signed with the Cleveland Indians after the Mets never got the draft-pick issue resolved, told Anthony McCarron in the Daily News: “Mets fans shouldn’t have anything to be mad at. They’re trying to move in the right direction. I can say that. I know that. … I couldn’t wait too much longer, man. It was close to spring training before it happened. I was ready to roll and so was Cleveland. I’m pretty sure the Mets were, too. It just didn’t happen.”

• Dan Martin in the Post writes the Mets regret putting some of their pitchers on the mound so early in spring training.

From the bloggers The Eddie Kranepool Society reviews Piazza’s autobiography. … Shannon from Mets Police looks back at his first day as a Shea Stadium vendor, Opening Day 1987.

BIRTHDAYS: No one to ever play in a game for the Mets was born on this date, but Shaquille O’Neal and Tom Arnold celebrate birthdays.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Which former Mets players’ numbers should the team retire?

Morning briefing: Mets to lose $10M+?

February, 25, 2013
Mr. Met (Money Issue) Illustration by Remie Geoffroi

FIRST PITCH: The Mets can sleep in Monday before continuing Grapefruit League play with a 6:10 p.m. game at Tradition Field against the Washington Nationals.

Collin McHugh, Gonzalez Germen, Scott Rice, Elvin Ramirez and Greg Burke are due to pitch for the Mets. Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nats, who already have listed this batting order:

Eury Perez, cf
Steve Lombardozzi, 2b
Corey Brown, rf
Tyler Moore, dh
Chris Marrero, 1b
Carlos Rivero, lf
Matt Skole, 3b
Chris Snyder, c
Zach Walters, ss

(See Nats’ full travel roster here.)

Monday’s news reports:

• Josh Kosman in the Post reports the Mets again will lose money this season. Writes Kosman:

The team is expecting to lose more than $10 million this year, after bleeding red the past two seasons, while attendance is projected to fall for a fifth straight year, The Post has learned.

The owners can expect to take about $65 million from separately owned SportsNet New York cable network, which airs Mets games. However, Citi Field saps $43 million in debt payments, leaving a net gain of $22 million from those two assets. That means there won’t be much left to sink into the ballclub. …

The team should have more financial freedom next year, when some $50 million in payroll comes off the books, thanks to expiring contracts with Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Frank Francisco, although Bay will continue to receive deferred payments.

However, the Mets have paid only some of the $320 million in principal due lenders in 2014, making next year’s talks potentially tense if the Mets do not hit their own not-so-rosy projections, the source said.

Associated Press
The Mets miscalcuated in their bid to acquire Justin Upton or Michael Bourn.

• John Harper in the Daily News says the Mets pitched trading Daniel Murphy or Ruben Tejada to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Justin Upton late in the offseason. As for the draft-pick issue with Michael Bourn, Harper reported the Mets received a favorable initial reaction from MLB about getting the No. 11 draft pick protected, but other teams began to complain when the Mets’ desire became public. MLB then changed its stance.

Pedro Feliciano will be held out from baseball activity for two weeks while he wears a monitor that will allow team doctors to gauge the severity of his heart issue.

Feliciano is in camp on a minor league contract. While of secondary importance to Feliciano’s health, the inactivity could make it difficult for the southpaw to make the Opening Day roster.

If he fails to do so, the Mets may just carry one left-hander in the bullpen, Josh Edgin. That’s because the Mets should have a serious 40-man roster crunch at the end of spring training, so it would be easier to carry an extra righty reliever already on the 40 from a group that includes Burke, Jeurys Familia and Jeremy Hefner.

“When I come back I hope I pitch good, surprise everybody and make the team,” Feliciano told reporters Sunday.

Read more on Feliciano’s health situation in the Post, Times, Daily News, Star-Ledger and

Matt Harvey and Travis d’Arnaud served as a battery for the first time as the Mets and Astros tied, 7-7, in a nine-inning Grapefruit League game Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla. Jamie Hoffmann and Jordany Valdespin homered for the Mets. Edgin suffered a blown save in the ninth, but rallied to strand the bases loaded and preserve a tie.

Read more on d’Arnaud and Harvey in the Post, Newsday, Record, Daily News, Times and Star-Ledger.

Lucas Duda, who is adjusting his routine at the plate, struck out in all four plate appearances against the Astros and is now 0-for-7 with six strikeouts in Grapefruit League play. Terry Collins said Duda is getting caught with his front foot still in the air as the ball reaches the plate. Read more in the Record and Star-Ledger.

• In the other split-squad game, the Mets beat the University of Michigan, 5-2. Wilmer Flores homered. Dillon Gee pitched for the first time since emergency surgery at last year’s All-Star break to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder that was causing numbness in his arm. Jonathon Niese and prospect Rafael Montero also tossed two innings apiece.

• Noah Syndergaard, the right-handed pitching prospect acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays along with d’Arnaud in the R.A. Dickey trade, has reported to the complex for the Mets’ camp for top prospects. Syndergaard threw his first bullpen session as a member of the organization and admitted to being nervous with team personnel, his parents and plenty of media watching.

“Just being traded for a Cy Young Award winner has put a little nerves on me,” Syndergaard told reporters. “I’m sure after the first week I’ll be fine.’’

Read more on Syndergaard and the organization’s younger arms in Newsday, the Post and

• Andrew Keh in the Times goes fishing with the Mets, which plenty of players do to kill time during spring training. “It’s Port St. Lucie. It’s about the only thing there is to do,” Bobby Parnell tells Keh, who also writes:

Once, while playing for the St. Lucie Mets, [Ike] Davis and [Reese] Havens were climbing out of their two-man boat when they were confronted on the bank by a water moccasin, a venomous snake. “He wasn’t backing off, and he started coming at us,” Davis said. “We had an oar with us. He tried to get on the boat, and we hit him off. That was pretty freaky.”

• Jared Diamond in the Journal suggests naming David Wright captain is unnecessary since he already is the de facto leader, without the formal title. Writes Diamond:

Making Wright captain would allow the Mets to hold a news conference, jam dozens of television cameras into Citi Field for a formal announcement, and generate some goodwill before what could deteriorate into another losing season. It would allow them to plaster a "C" on Wright's uniform so they could sell replica jerseys and T-shirts.

In the clubhouse, where it matters, naming Wright captain would change nothing. The designation alone wouldn't transform him into a better leader. Keith Hernandez, one of the three captains in Mets history, called it strictly an "honorary position."

From the bloggers Metsmerized Online is concerned the work-in-progress Duda is the Mets' longest-tenured outfielder and most experienced, too. … Faith and Fear unspools its annual "In Mets-moriam" reel to remember, Oscars-style, those players who have left the organization during the past year. … At Mets Police, Mike V's Countdown to Opening Day continues with 2008: Shea Stadium's last home opener, when $35 got you in the upper deck.

BIRTHDAYS: Ed Lynch, who went on to become general manager of the Chicago Cubs, turns 57.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Do you believe the Mets’ money woes are behind them?

Please use the comments section to weigh in

Wright: Who needs Upton or Bourn?

February, 18, 2013

Associated Press
David Wright said it's more than OK that Justin Upton and Michael Bourn landed elsewhere.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Who needs Justin Upton or Michael Bourn?

Maybe he’s drinking the Kool-Aid, but David Wright suggested as much after Monday’s first full-squad workout.

Wright said the organization made the right call in not considering parting with Zack Wheeler or Matt Harvey in a potential trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for Upton, who eventually landed with the rival Atlanta Braves. Wright said he prefers seeing what Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker can offer in the outfield anyway.

“I grew up with Justin. This is no knock on Justin. He’s a great player,” Wright said. “But I’ve seen a couple of bullpens from Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

“There’s a lot of teams that wanted Justin Upton. There’s a lot of teams that wanted Michael Bourn. What makes me more excited is how Nieuwy responds, how den Dekker responds -- these guys that now have the opportunity to go win a job and prove themselves.

“I’m almost excited to really not get those guys, to really give these young guys an opportunity to see what they’re made of, to develop, to win that job. Maybe that’s my optimistic whatever, but I like looking at things glass half-full. And I like the opportunity those guys are going to get, because I think there’s a lot of athleticism out there in the outfield that we have. Not a lot of household names. A lot of people probably don’t know much about some of these guys. But they’re baseball players, they’re baseball rats. Just from what I’ve seen so far, they’re eager, anxious and hungry.”

Morning briefing: Show fans the money

February, 14, 2013

FIRST PITCH: Fred Wilpon lit up Twitter with his address to media on Wednesday at the Mets’ spring-training complex.

Wilpon, 76, said his family is free and clear of past financial woes and Sandy Alderson will have the latitude to restore payroll to Omar Minaya-era levels (as much as $140 million to $150 million) if the market dictates it and Alderson believes it is wise.

Wilpon downplayed the impact of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme on the recent payroll swoon, suggesting the streamlining had a lot to do with the organization needing to be lean so that bank debt could be paid off.

Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post says talk is cheap. Spend and prove it. Writes Davidoff:

We will believe the Mets are once again a big-market team only when we see it. And if we don’t see it, then we will be free to question once more whether Wilpon should be running one of baseball’s jewel franchises …

Next November’s free-agent class likely will include a pair of current Yankees, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, as well as outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury. We know the outfielders would fit the Mets quite well, and though Daniel Murphy has become a modest asset, his presence shouldn’t block a Cano pursuit.

All four of these players will be on the wrong side of 30 by the time they enter the market. So there will be risk attached. Nevertheless, the Mets owe it to themselves and to their fans to seriously engage in this arena. For real. No conditional discussions. Bona fide, big-time, market-appropriate offers.

Read more on Wilpon’s interview in the Journal, Star-Ledger, Post, Newsday, Daily News, Record, Times and

And please join me for a 2 p.m. ET Mets chat here.

Thursday’s news reports:

Frank Francisco was unable to properly rehab from December surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow because of family circumstances. Francisco told Mike Kerwick in the Record that a grandfather died, his father had a health issue and the reliever’s son was born prematurely with complications, although the newborn’s situation has improved.

Francisco will be unable to throw a ball for two weeks. Terry Collins phoned Parnell on Tuesday night to inform him to be prepared to be the closer to open the season. Collins said Parnell may close Opening Day even if Francisco is on the active roster to start the season. Read more in the Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Post and

Adam Rubin
Jenrry Mejia's entry into the United States has been flagged for review.

Jenrry Mejia’s visa issue is the caused by the U.S. consulate in the Dominican Republic wanting to verify his age and identity. Alderson said he believed the scrutiny was random, not out of suspicion about Mejia. A major league source unaffiliated with the organization concurred that Mejia was not flagged over any specific concern. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Newsday and

• Alderson said the attainable fifth-year vesting option Michael Bourn received from the Cleveland Indians was something the Mets were unwilling to match. Read more in the Star-Ledger and

• The amount the Wilpons will owe the trustee in the Bernard Madoff clawback lawsuit settlement is down to $86 million -- and falling.

• Alderson acknowledged the Mets can nix Johan Santana’s participation in the World Baseball Classic. That sounds like the team’s plan, although Alderson would not explicitly say that Wednesday, presumably because it is a sensitive topic, particularly to passionate baseball fans in Venezuela. Santana also would need to have his contract insured by the WBC in order to participate, which is not a slam dunk. Read more in the Star-Ledger and

R.A. Dickey gave 60 Minutes a knuckleball tutorial Wednesday, writes Wayne Coffey in the Daily News. Tyler Kepner in the Times also visits Dickey.

• Israel and Honduras will play a socccer friendly at Citi Field on June 2, a source tells

From the bloggers ... Mets Police notes the 11th pick in the draft can yield Dave Kryznel or Andrew McCutchen. … The Eddie Kranepool Society hopes Fred Wilpon is on the level, but is skeptical.

BIRTHDAYS: Catcher Kelly Stinnett, whose two stints with the Mets were separated by a decade, turns 43.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Which free agent should the flush-wish-cash Mets most aggressively pursue next offseason: Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury?

Please use the comments section to weigh in

Alderson: 5th year big issue in Bourn loss

February, 13, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As much as the draft-pick compensation issue was highlighted as an impediment to signing Michael Bourn, Sandy Alderson said Wednesday that a fifth-year vesting option based on performance offered by the Cleveland Indians also proved a stumbling block.

Adam Rubin
Sandy Alderson speaks with Terry Collins on Wednesday morning in Port St. Lucie.

"There were two issues," Alderson said. "One was the fifth-year vest, which we viewed as a fifth year in the contract at the levels we were talking about, or that they were talking about. We weren't prepared to go to five years, and they had known that for some time. The vest was a big issue for us.

"With respect to the draft pick, I think early on we felt that not only we had a good case, but also that MLB might be amenable to a reinterpretation of that rule. That turned out not to be the case later on. So there really were two issues. We didn't get to the draft-pick issue because of the vest."

A source told this week that the Mets' and Indians' guarantees to Bourn over four years -- roughly $48 million -- were basically identical.

"There's some disappointment, obviously," Alderson said. "We made a strong effort to try to sign him and weren't able to do it, which is unfortunate. But, nonetheless, we move on."

Alderson said the Mets are probably done adding outfielders at this point and need to be content with what they have. He added that he routinely monitors what becomes available during spring training. He was not predicting anything would materialize.

"Look, we're going to go into spring training with what we have once the players report and arrive," the GM said. "There's great opportunity here. In the meantime, we'll keep an eye on what's happening in this camp and happening elsewhere. But I'm certainly not going to write off the guys we have here. This is about opportunity. And you never know how someone is going to take advantage of opportunity. We've got lots of time and I'm looking forward to seeing them out there. ...

"We'll continue to talk to other clubs. But I think realistically we have to say to ourselves, 'Look, this is what we have. This is what we need to get ready. These are the players upon whom we're going to have to rely.' But every team is always looking to improve, whether spring training or not."

Morning briefing: New closer elbow room?

February, 13, 2013

US Presswire
With Frank Francisco's elbow inflamed, Bobby Parnell could open the season as the closer.


So Frank Francisco is the closer. Unless he isn’t, in which case Bobby Parnell will handle the ninth.

Got it?

Last week, Francisco drove from Miami to Port St. Lucie to toss on flat ground at the Mets’ complex and demonstrate his progress following December surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Terry Collins, who was among the audience that day, afterward pronounced Francisco the closer provided he is healthy.

Well, Francisco isn’t healthy right now.

As Mets pitchers and catchers head outdoors this morning following a Collins speech for their first official workout, Francisco will not be cleared to toss a baseball.

Francisco has inflammation in his surgically cleaned pitching elbow.

So while no one is yet making this strong a pronouncement, the Francisco-to-the-DL-to-open-the-season watch officially is under way. And that means Parnell could be getting the ball in the ninth inning on April 1 against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field if the Mets have the lead.

Parnell has had multiple auditions as closer -- with varying results -- during his career, but his showing down the stretch last year was encouraging. He went 3-1 with a .196 opponent batting average and 0.51 ERA in his final 17 appearances of last season, which spanned 17 2/3 innings, including finishing games.

The trickle-down effect if Francisco were to start the season on the DL means a candidate such as Greg Burke could slip into the Opening Day bullpen. (See the opening roster projection here.)

Read more on Francisco/Parnell in the Post, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Daily News, and Newsday.

Meanwhile, although nearly all the position players have arrived, they officially do not have to report until Saturday. The first full-squad workout is Monday.

Wednesday’s news reports:

• Johan Santana, who swooned after his June 1 no-hitter last season, plans to get on a mound as soon as today. It will mark the first time since being shut down last year with lower-back inflammation. Santana professed his health Tuesday, after a relaxing offseason. He professed not to be thinking about whether this is his final season -- or half-season -- as a Met. Santana will start Opening Day unless there is an unexpected spring-training derailment. Read more in the Journal, Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Times, and Newsday.

• Marc Carig in Newsday looks at the outfield. Or, as Sandy Alderson refers to it, “What outfield?”

• Andrew Keh in the Times notes Collins is a lame-duck manager, who professes no concern about his contract expiring at season’s end. “I have nothing to prove to myself,” Collins said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference to kick off spring training. “I love what I do. I have a blast in what I do. I think I do a pretty good job at it.” Read more in the Star-Ledger.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Michael Bourn could have helped lame-duck Terry Collins.

• Jay Schreiber in the Times writes “there was always an air of unreality about the Mets’ pursuit of” Michael Bourn.

Writes Ken Davidoff in the Post on the Bourn topic:

It took a resolution to Bourn’s case to fully appreciate how remote the Mets’ chances were of actually adding Bourn. They needed to 1) agree on financial terms with Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras, then 2) ask Bourn to sit on the sidelines for at least two weeks and keep his fingers crossed for 3) an arbitration hearing (regarding the draft compensation off a Bourn signing) to go the Mets’ way, a result that was hardly guaranteed.

The only way Bourn would have signed off on such a long-shot game plan were if he had absolutely nowhere else to turn.

Alderson woke up Collins on Monday night to tell him the Mets did not land Bourn, writes John Harper in the Daily News. Writes Harper:

Collins ended his first day telling the Mets’ inquiring media minds he knows he has to do better than last year when he had the Mets in contention the first four months of the season only to end up losing 88 games, three more than his first season. What he didn’t say -- and presumably won’t ever say -- is that it’s not easy managing for 2013 when your boss is general managing for 2014 and beyond.

• Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman praised the Mets’ rebuilding effort. “The Mets have a tremendous amount of young talent,’’ Friedman told Kevin Kernan in the Post. “I think those guys have done a tremendous job of acquiring some high-end young players that they can grow with, and I think that [front office] is extremely good at supplementing around those guys and also having enough good young depth.

“The one thing about young players is that they have tremendous upside, but they also have tremendous downside,” Friedman cautioned, however. “There is far from certainty from these players. For us, it’s our only way of doing business. It’s not a choice. It’s a survival mechanism.”

• Mike Piazza, who is being very selective in his interviews, appeared on the MLB Network. On performance-enhancing drugs, Piazza said: “My histories of denial are documented all the way back to 1997, so I didn’t think that was news coming into it.” Watch here.

From the bloggers ... In the State of The Union of Mets Fans, Shannon from promises a Fan Fest within a year. … Since the Mets and Yankees open at home on the same day and interleague play is now throughout the season, The Eddie Kranepool Society believes they should have played each other on Opening Day. … Rising Apple notes “the grass isn’t always greener.”

BIRTHDAYS: Catcher Mike Nickeas, who went to Toronto in the R.A. Dickey deal, turns 30.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who will close on Opening Day if the Mets have a lead?

Please use the comments section to weigh in

Terry Collins gives state-of-Mets address

February, 12, 2013

Adam Rubin
Terry Collins offered his state-of-the-team address Tuesday afternoon at Tradition Field.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins gave his state-of-the-Mets press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Here are the highlights:

Pedro Feliciano has a leg up to join Josh Edgin as the second lefty in the bullpen if Feliciano shows anything like he did his last tenure with the Mets. Otherwise, southpaw Scott Rice would get a strong look. Robert Carson and Aaron Laffey (who can handle multiple innings) would be other considerations.

• Because Lucas Duda is virtually locked into left field and right field could be manned at least part time by an unaccomplished outfielder too (Zach Lutz, Justin Turner, etc.), a center fielder who can cover a ton of ground is the priority. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill look like the likely platoon, but Marlon Byrd and Jamie Hoffmann will get looks in spring training as well in center field.

Collins said one goal of Turner’s outfield exposure is to get him more at-bats. “He can hit,” the manager said.

As for Lutz, Collins said no one is a bigger home-run threat in the Mets’ minor league system.

Collins said Hoffmann is an under-the-radar consideration, who can “really run.” Hoffmann hit .254 with 11 homers in 366 at-bats with Triple-A Norfolk last season, but Collins said Hoffmann was negatively affected for much of the year by a virus he contracted while playing winter ball the previous offseason.

On Duda, Collins said: “Outside of [Giancarlo] Mike Stanton, this guy is the biggest, strongest guy in the league.” Collins told Duda if he can hit .275, he’ll run into 35 homers.

Ruben Tejada is a candidate to lead off. A platoon of Mike Baxter and Cowgill in the No. 1 spot is also a plausible scenario.

Collins said he would not have any stolen base goals for Tejada. The priority merely would be to get on base. Collins said Tejada’s knack for having 12-, 13- and 14-pitch at-bats would be ideal for a leadoff hitter because it would let the batters behind him see an opposing pitcher’s entire arsenal.

Zack Wheeler is ticketed for Triple-A unless an injury or something else unforeseeable dislodges one of the five intended starting pitchers. If there were an injury, Wheeler along with Jeremy Hefner, Jenrry Mejia and Laffey would get the most consideration to plug the spot.

• Collins is unsure when Mejia’s visa issue will be resolved and he will report.

• Collins wants the team’s baserunners to do a better job going first to third this season.

Jordany Valdespin had a strong winter ball that pleased Collins, including walking at a good rate during the latter half, which the organization wanted to see.

• Collins minimized the importance of Michael Bourn landing with the Cleveland Indians, not the Mets, saying he’s solely concerned with the players in camp.

• The Mets’ team-building weekly bowling event for players and staff will return this spring training.

• With the departure of R.A. Dickey, Collins said the starting staff needs to absorb about 60 extra innings to avoid overtaxing the bullpen. Collins said it is time for Jonathon Niese to step up and absorb much of Dickey’s lost innings.

Matt Harvey will not be on an innings cont. Because Harvey tossed 170 innings last season, he can be allowed to reach roughly 205 innings this season without issue.

• Collins said he is unconcerned about being in the final year of a contract. He noted Hall of Famer Walter Alston managed 23 years as a lame duck.

Morning briefing: Mets Bourn-free

February, 12, 2013

Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY Sports
Michael Bourn is headed to the Cleveland Indians.

FIRST PITCH: The amazing thing about the Michael Bourn saga?

The Mets (74-88) would have had a protected pick at No. 10 -- even with the Pittsburgh Pirates getting that extra pick -- and seemingly would have landed Bourn had the Mets finished the 2012 season with one more loss. Instead, Toronto (73-89) would have been bumped from the top 10 and lost the protection of its top pick.

Chalk up another reason why the Mets should have traded Scott Hairston at last year’s trading deadline.

The bottom line: The prolonged debate about whether the Mets should have surrendered the 11th overall pick in the draft to sign the free-agent center fielder is over. They won’t. Nor will they land Bourn.

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire
Scott Boras landed Michael Bourn a four-year, $48 million deal with Cleveland.

Although the Mets had a four-year, $48 million offer on the table, Bourn opted for a comparable deal with the Cleveland Indians.

Agent Scott Boras was unwilling to wait for the draft-pick grievance process to take an estimated two weeks. Boras feared other offers would be off the table at that point. And if the Mets did not get the pick protected through that process and walked away, Boras would be left with little leverage anywhere.

So now, as the Mets arrive at the complex today for physicals in advance of Wednesday’s first official pitchers and catchers workout, it is becoming abundantly clear their outfield in April may be: Lucas Duda in left field, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill platooning in center field, and Mike Baxter with Marlon Byrd, Andrew Brown, Brian Bixler, Zach Lutz or Justin Turner in right field.

Jon Heyman tweets the Mets now ought to try to acquire Drew Stubbs, a trade candidate in the Indians’ overcrowded outfield. Of course, Stubbs had a .213 average and .277 on base-percentage with the Cincinnati Reds last season.

Columnist Ken Davidoff offers his opinion on the Bourn saga in the Post here. Read more in the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

Meanwhile, Terry Collins addresses the media at 12:30 p.m. today. Johan Santana, who reported Monday but did not speak with reporters, also could field questions Tuesday.

Tuesday’s news reports:

• Turner will get reps in the outfield as the Mets search for capable options.

Elsa/Getty Images
Kirk Nieuwenhuis keeps his center field job with Michael Bourn heading to Cleveland.

As for Sandy Alderson’s quip -- when the GM was asked about his outfield during the offseason and replied, “What outfield?” -- Duda told Jared Diamond in the Wall Street Journal: “What are you going to do? Do you guys want me to go yell at Sandy?” Said Nieuwenhuis: “If you let that stuff get to you, you're in the wrong sport and you're in the wrong town.”

Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger also looks at the state of the outfield. “I feel like all the guys we have here are major league caliber players," Turner told Castillo. "Just because the numbers aren’t there from years past doesn’t mean they can’t play the game and play the game hard. So I wouldn’t discredit them at all for anything they’ve done because they haven’t had the opportunity."

Read more on the outfield in the Times and at

Tim Byrdak is eyeing July 1 for a return to the majors following surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Post.

Ruben Tejada, aware of the impending snow storm, shifted his scheduled flight last Saturday from New York to Florida to Friday at 5 a.m. He worked out at the complex Monday -- a full week ahead of the position-player report date. “It’s my work, you know?” Tejada told Marc Carig in Newsday. "You have to stay doing it the right way. That’s why I came here early to work with my teammates."

Jenrry Mejia had a visa issue and is not at Mets camp.

R.A. Dickey reported to Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, Fla., writes Anthony Rieber in Newsday.

Shaun Marcum, who replaces Dickey in the rotation, is eyeing 200 innings.

“I’ve always been a big fan of his,” J.P. Ricciardi told Mike Puma in the Post. “We drafted him in the third round in Toronto -- he was a shortstop/closer in college. We ended up making him a starter and he got to the big leagues. You don’t forget the guys that compete and do well for you, and he’s been one of them. …

“You look back at [Marcum’s] numbers and he’s pitched in two hitters’ parks, Milwaukee and Toronto, plus he pitched in the American League East for a long time. So he’s got a track record behind him on top of me being able to vouch for him, so those all go hand and hand.

“He’s also a great fielder -- the guy should have won a Gold Glove. He’s going to be able to help himself with the bat. If Shaun is healthy through the year, I expect good things from him.”

Read more on Marcum at

Mike Piazza mostly avoided media during a book signing at Barnes & Noble on 5th Ave. in Manhattan on Monday. He did tell the Post regarding the Hall of Fame vote: “Definitely a little disappointed, but I was really honored [by] a lot of support, too.” Read more in the Daily News.

• Terry Collins is marveling at the early turnout at camp. “Twenty major league hitters a week early,” he noted to Andy Martino in the Daily News.

• Elena Gustines in the Times chronicles memorable Opening Days in Mets history, including April 9, 1985, when Gary Carter belted a game-winning homer in the 10th in his Mets debut.

• Lefty reliever Daniel Herrera cut his long hair and donated it to the charity Locks for Love, which provides hair to children with medical issues, Mike Kerwick writes in the Record. Herrera is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in minor league camp.

• Kerwick also profiles Zack Wheeler in the Record. Wheeler talks about his time with the San Francisco Giants, when he would quiz Sergio Romo during camps. “Me and him would sit down for 30, 45 minutes, and talk about baseball -- like the mental side of it,” Wheeler told Kerwick. “He was a great guy.”

From the bloggers … In light of Monday night's developments, Faith and Fear in Flushing concludes Bourn was just an urban myth. … Shannon from scoured YouTube and located a 1969-themed Mets calypso song that would make a good addition to the Citi Field music rotation.

BIRTHDAYS: Ex-Mets right-hander Tim Redding turns 35. … Lenny Randle, who played two seasons for the Mets in the ’70s, was born in 1949.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Are you upset or relieved the Mets failed to sign Michael Bourn?

Please use the comments section to weigh in

Source: Bourn, Mets had deal structure

February, 11, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets offered Michael Bourn a near-identical contract to the four-year, $48 million deal to which he has agreed with the Cleveland Indians, a major league source told The Mets' offer did not include an option for a fifth season.

The same source believes the Mets were Bourn's first choice.

However, the Mets were unwilling to give up the 11th overall pick in the draft as a penalty for signing the free agent, which ultimately scuttled Bourn becoming a Met.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Michael Bourn is Cleveland-bound.

The Mets originally were willing to pursue an expedited grievance hearing with the Players' Association and agent Scott Boras to try to get that pick protected from being forfeited, but the hearing might have taken two weeks because arbitrators are consumed with salary arbitration hearings at the moment, souring the team's appetite to pursue that route. Under other circumstances, an expedited hearing might take only two to three days.

The Mets did have hesitation going down that grievance road given the potential time frame because if they got a favorable ruling on the 11th overall pick being protected, Boras would have had public leverage from the Mets' fan base and potentially forced the club to bid even more aggressively for Bourn.

Meanwhile, Boras ultimately did not want to go down that grievance road because had it turned out that an arbitrator ruled the pick remained unprotected and the Mets bowed out, the Indians' offer likely would have gone away by the time there was a resolution from an arbitrator -- potentially leaving Bourn without a home, or at least any remaining leverage.

"Scott did the right thing for his client," a major league source said.

As a result, it appears the Mets' outfield looks fairly concrete: Lucas Duda should be the left fielder, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill the likely platoon in center. Lefty-hitting Mike Baxter then should share right field with a righty-hitting candidate from a group that includes Marlon Byrd, Andrew Brown, Zach Lutz, Brian Bixler and Justin Turner.

How valuable is the No. 11 overall pick? Here are the players taken in that slot from 1996-2008: Adam Eaton, Chris Enochs, Josh McKinley, Ryan Christianson, Dave Krynzel, Kenny Baugh, Jeremy Hermida, Michael Aubrey, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Max Scherzer, Phillippe Aumont and Justin Smoak. Four of those picks never reached the majors. So the pressure will be on Paul DePodesta to find a Walker, McCutchen or Scherzer this June.

The Mets, for those still unfamiliar, were bounced from a protected top-10 pick because Pittsburgh failed to sign its first-round pick in 2012.

MLB, union have had preliminary Bourn talk

February, 11, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Major League Baseball and the Players' Association have engaged in preliminary talks about whether the Mets' 11th overall pick in the draft ought to be protected if they sign free agent Michael Bourn.

"Inquiring/position nature at this point in time," one source described the level of conversation.

Another source familiar with the dialogue said it had been superficial -- not the type of substantive conversation that would take place prior to some type of grievance procedure.

Sources have indicated any conversations would not be substantive until the Mets and Bourn had progressed to the point where a deal with the free agent was within reach.

The Mets have asserted the 11th overall pick in the draft ought to be protected because the intent of the rule was to protect the teams with the 10 worst records the previous season from losing their first-round pick by signing a premium free agent. MLB disputes that assertion, since the collective bargaining agreement reads that the first 10 picks in the draft are protected. The Pittsburgh Pirates leapfrogged the Mets and jumped into the top 10 because they failed to sign their 2012 first-round pick.

No deal between the Mets and Bourn is considered imminent.



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