New York Mets: Paul DePodesta
FIRST PITCH: It’s a tripleheader for the Mets on Thursday.
The Mets send a pair of squads to Kissimmee, Fla., to face the Houston Astros. At 10 a.m. in a “B” game, Logan Verrett, Vic Black, Jack Leathersich and Erik Goeddel are scheduled to pitch.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of action crammed into three innings in a structured intrasquad game on a back field at the Mets’ complex, which will not be open to the public. Now at 10 a.m., Bartolo Colon, Jonathon Niese and Bobby Parnell have their first game action of spring training.
Colon was slowed early in camp by a calf issue. Niese had to be dispatched to New York for an MRI of his shoulder (which came back not alarming). Parnell, returning deliberately from herniated-disk surgery anyway, has a lingering quadriceps issue, too. This will be his first game-type action since last July 30.
The batters, primarily minor leaguers, should also include David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and maybe Ruben Tejada.
Terry Collins kept Wright and Murphy out of the first week of Grapefruit League games to ease them into action and guard against injury. Each should make his first official spring-training start Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals in Port St. Lucie. Davis (calves) and Tejada (hamstring) both have been dealing with injuries.
Lucas Duda (hamstring) is not ready to participate, Collins added.
Thursday’s news reports:
• The Mets were swept in split-squad games, losing in Viera, 11-5, to the Washington Nationals and losing, 5-2, in 10 innings in Port St. Lucie to the Miami Marlins. Jenrry Mejia -- who may get bullpen consideration late in camp, but who for now is eyeing the fifth-starter role -- allowed one unearned run in two innings against the Nats. Cory Mazzoni was tagged for seven runs in the eighth in that loss. Facing Miami’s Jose Fernandez and Washington’s Gio Gonzalez, the Mets went scoreless for a combined 5 1/3 innings against the aces. Gonzalez Germen allowed three 10th-inning runs after Matt den Dekker’s sacrifice fly tied the score in the bottom of the ninth.
Read more on Mejia in the Star-Ledger, Daily News, Record and Newsday.
• Collins understands he could use a backup shortstop with some offensive capability, so the manager wondered aloud if Wilmer Flores could serve in that role. Still, it seems very tentatively more like that Anthony Seratelli gets that nod over Flores or Omar Quintanilla, at least with the roster as presently constituted.
Anthony DiComo at MLB.com profiles Seratelli’s long route to the Mets, including the emotional loss of his father in 2011 in an auto accident.
Read more on Seratelli in the Star-Ledger.
• Collins is considering batting his pitcher eighth on occasion. Columnist Joel Sherman tackles that topic in the Post. Sherman also suggests that Juan Lagares will make the team at least as a bench player, although the columnist asserts there ought to be consideration to sending Lagares to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, a friend of Stephen Drew labeled it “very slim” to Sherman that the free-agent shortstop lands with the Mets.
• Murphy tells the Daily News about the conflict between the team’s offensive philosophy and his own mindset: “I struggle with thinking that a walk is a win. I struggle with that, because I look at a walk as, ‘I didn’t get a hit.’ And so what I’m trying to really, really learn is that 0-for-2 with two walks, that is a win. But I don’t always view it like that.”
• After pitching a perfect ninth inning at Tradition Field against the Marlins on Wednesday, Jose Valverde told Mike Puma in the Post about trying to make the club: “For me, every year I try to compete like a minor-league guy -- always. All my life, what I’ve done in spring training is like I’ve never played in the big leagues. The first day in Arizona, Houston, Detroit and now with the Mets, that was my mindset all the time -- ‘It’s my first spring training.’”
• Parking prices are rising at Citi Field, Mets Police reports. After charging $20 last season, the new posted rates for cars are $22 for the regular season, $25 for the postseason, $30 for special events and $22 for the U.S. Open.
• Matt Harvey will earn a base salary of $547,000 in 2014 -- $47,000 above the MLB minimum -- plus another $60,000 in bonuses, according to the Associated Press.
• Columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post asks original Generation K member Jason Isringhausen about the Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard trio. “Three guys coming up, there’s a lot of expectation,” Izzy, a guest instructor with the Cardinals, told Kernan. “But, with us, there were a lot of injuries. So hopefully these kids stay injury-free and they are able to pitch for 20 years. That would be great. That’s what everybody wants. The reality is you got to take care of these kids.’’
• Read more on the plan for Mets players returning to Grapefruit League play from injuries in the Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal questions whether Duda’s fractured wrist during the 2012-13 offseason impacted his performance a year ago.
• Frank Viola’s son Frank III, who has tried to revive his career as a knuckleball pitcher, has signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays after a successful tryout, the former Cy Young winner tweeted. The younger Viola, a right-hander, is 29 years old.
• Tim Rohan in the Times profiles Mets farmhand L.J. Mazzilli, the son of Lee Mazzilli. L.J. was assigned No. 13 in minor-league camp, which his father wore from 1986 through ’89 with the Mets. L.J. has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so he needs to be extra vigilant concentrating in the field, Rohan writes.
• Matz is profiled in the Post. The Long Island native is expected to open the season in Class A St. Lucie’s rotation, with a potential jump to Double-A Binghamton for the second half.
• Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue interviews Paul DePodesta.
• The Binghamton Mets will host a “Welcome Home” dinner for the Double-A club on April 2 at the DoubleTree in Binghamton. Tickets for the event/autograph session are $25. Call 607-723-METS or purchase at the NYSEG Stadium ticket office.
• From the bloggers … The Eddie Kranepool Society addresses WOR’s Mets radio booth still being in flux. … Faith and Fear hears spring training is the cure for the common winter. … John Delcos at Mets Report wonders why there are so many tight muscles in camp.
BIRTHDAYS: No player to appear for the Mets was born on this date, but Shaquille O’Neal, Tom Arnold, Alan Greenspan and Michelangelo celebrate birthdays today.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
FIRST PITCH: The Mets host the Miami Marlins at 1:10 p.m. Saturday (PIX11) as Grapefruit League play continues at Tradition Field.
Fifth-starter candidate John Lannan makes his Mets debut, opposite right-hander Kevin Slowey. Vic Black, Scott Rice, Kyle Farnsworth, Josh Edgin, Ryan Reid, John Church, Steven Matz and Cory Mazzoni also are scheduled to pitch for the Mets.
Saturday’s news reports:
In a positive start for both first basemen, Ike Davis belted a two-run homer and Lucas Duda had a broken-bat ground-rule double and was robbed of another hit Friday against the Washington Nationals. Pitching prospects Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero tossed two perfect innings apiece, although the Mets lost, 5-4, in the ninth on a run-scoring triple against Jeff Walters. Chris Young started in left field and led off and went 1-for-2 with a strikeout in his Mets debut. Ex-Yankee Curtis Granderson went 0-for-2. Wilfredo Tovar suffered a right-hamstring injury in the seventh, but downplayed the severity.
On Montero and deGrom, Paul DePodesta told Kristie Ackert in the Daily News: “You look at the Cardinals and the Rangers in the last couple of years, they have had to bring their young pitchers up to the bullpen, because that is where there is room for them. We want to be in that type of situation, where we are bringing guys up to the bullpen in the big leagues. Maybe they are starters who will transition back to being starters later, or maybe they won’t because they have become so valuable in their role in the bullpen.” Read more on Montero and deGrom at MLB.com.
Read more on Davis and Duda in the Times, Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.
Read a recap of the Grapefruit League opener in the Star-Ledger.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post says the Mets remind him of the Harold Ramis-penned movie “Groundhog Day.” Writes Sherman:
I was thinking of that film Friday as I entered Mets camp for what was their first spring game, but with a sense already of been there, done that. After all, there was the Flaw Firm of Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda in the starting lineup beginning, what is it, Year 4 of “they need to show us what they’ve got” portion of the program? Quite frankly, none of it has been as amusing as Bill Murray.
Plus there was that never-ending backstory playing out yet again in which the Mets are selling hard that they are better than the perception offered by their competitors, the public, the media and the odds-makers.
Sherman goes on to note that Bovada, the betting site that has the Mets at 73.5 wins this season, has come within 2.5, 0.0, 0.5 and 0.5 of the Mets’ actual win total over the past four seasons.
• David Wright was voted on Twitter as the #faceofmlb, beating what one Mets staffer labeled “rickroll” candidate Eric Sogard of the Oakland Athletics in the finals. “Speech!” Bobby Parnell shouted in the clubhouse upon seeing Wright enter Friday morning. Wright then jokingly said: “First of all, I’d like to thank my parents for giving me this face.”
• Jonathon Niese returned to camp Friday after undergoing an MRI in New York and reiterated he had received good news from team doctor David Altchek. Niese suggested his concentration on strengthening the rotator cuff in his pitching arm during the offseason prompted him to neglect other shoulder muscles and caused an “imbalance” and weakness. He expects to resume tossing a baseball this weekend, although he will not yet return to the mound. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Parnell, cautiously returning from herniated-disk surgery and briefly slowed by a left quadriceps injury, plans to throw live batting practice Saturday for the first time since arriving in camp.
• The Mets are offering $5 tickets that include a Wright T-shirt for their Friday, April 4 game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Find more details here.
• WOR made its radio debut as the Mets’ flagship station Friday. “See, you found us. That wasn’t so hard, was it?” Howie Rose began the maiden broadcast by saying, Newsday’s Neil Best tweeted.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal writes that the Mets could break MLB’s all-time strikeout record this season. After all, the Mets added Granderson and Chris Young to a team that already set a franchise record with 1,384 Ks last season. The MLB record is 1,535, set by the 2013 Houston Astros. The previous record had been 1,529 by the 2010 Arizona Diamondbacks.
• The Mets had only one player exceed 502 plate appearances and qualify for the batting title last year: Daniel Murphy, with 697. It marked only the 15th time in the majors since 1900 (albeit 12th time since 2003) that a team only had one player with enough plate appearances to qualify, Michael Salfino writes in the Journal.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests Niese’s injury raises questions.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets (and Long Island Ducks) catcher Ramon Castro turns 38.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Are the Mets setting themselves up to have the season viewed as a failure no matter how successful they are because of all this unrealistic 90-win chatter?
Yes, Howie did just say "The Islanders are bringing the infield in"... just bear with him, we're almost done for the day. 5-4 Wash in 9th.— Mets Booth (@MetsBooth) February 28, 2014
Jeff Roberson/Associated PressSandy Alderson reportedly told staffers the Mets can, and should, win 90 games.
FIRST PITCH: Let the games begin!
The Mets will stage a midday intrasquad game Thursday, in advance of Friday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals. (UPDATE: The intrasquad game may be moved to 10:15 a.m. to get ahead of predicted inclement weather.)
Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia are due to start opposite each other and log two innings apiece in the intrasquad game. Also scheduled to pitch Thursday: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Jose Valverde, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia and Joel Carreño.
Terry Collins said Torres will be stretched out like a spot starter/long reliever, building up starter’s innings.
David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy will not play in the intrasquad game, according to Collins.
Thursday’s news reports:
• Sandy Alderson told staffers in an internal meeting that the Mets can win 90 games in 2014, columnist John Harper reports in the Daily News. Writes Harper:
And, according to people who were in the room, after Alderson’s decree prompted discussion about how to best maximize the Mets’ assets, owner Fred Wilpon chimed in at one point with his own pointed assessment.
“We better win 90,” he said, according to a source.
What, Matt Harvey’s elbow surgery was just a cruel practical joke of some kind, and he’s secretly preparing for Opening Day?
Otherwise the idea sounds preposterous, right? A Las Vegas sports book, Bovada, on Wednesday released its over/under proposition bets, and it put the number for the Mets at 73.5.
Bartolo Colon (calf) and Eric Young Jr. (side) also have injuries, while Matt den Dekker is briefly limited with a stomach ailment.
The Mets have planned for Niese to start on Opening Day, followed by Colon and Dillon Gee against the Nats in Game Nos. 2 and 3 of the regular season, but that is subject to those pitchers’ health.
Read columnist Kevin Kernan’s take on Niese’s injury in the Post. Read news stories in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Times, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Ruben Tejada is the shortstop “at this moment,” Collins said, but Wilmer Flores will get legitimate consideration and Seattle’s Nick Franklin is on the Mets’ radar. Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, meanwhile, says it is quiet on the trade front for his extra shortstop, whether that’s Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius.
As for any criticism about his fitness or otherwise, Tejada told Marc Carig in Newsday: “I don’t really pay attention, you know? Because I did my best in the offseason so I could come here with really good positive energy. Mentally, I’m good, so I’m not listening to anybody about that.”
Read more on Tejada in the Post, Daily News and Star-Ledger.
• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com profiles Syndergaard, who did not physically mature and get on scouts’ radar until his senior year of high school. He ultimately was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 38th overall pick in 2010.
“This wasn't a guy who was famous before the spring of his senior year,” Paul DePodesta told DiComo. “He sort of emerged on the scene. He didn’t go into the year with a whole lot of hype, and that’s probably one of the reasons why he lasted to where he did in the draft.”
Said David Walden, Syndergaard’s high school coach: “There were a bunch of scouts down here who got in a lot of trouble.”
• Bovada sets the over/under for Mets wins at 73.5. Read more in the Post.
• Sharknado 2 stars are filming at Citi Field. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal reviews the honeymoons of the five Mets who got married during the offseason -- Anthony Recker (French Polynesia), Josh Satin (Thailand), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (Hawaii), Zach Lutz (none), Wright (none).
Wright tells Diamond: “I’m very routine-based. I’ve done the same routine for 15 years of playing baseball now, so I like to stick to that routine. I'm sure we will do something in the future, but there’s nothing really planned yet. For me, getting married over the holidays, my routine starts come Jan. 1, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall behind that.”
As for the eventual honeymoon spot, Wright adds: “We travel so much during the season that the last thing I want to do during the winter is hop on a plane for a long time. There are a lot of places I’d like to go, though. I’ve never been to Europe. She did such a good job planning the wedding, she can pick where she wants to go.”
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests the Mets are not comfortable with Tejada at shortstop, no matter what they say publicly.
BIRTHDAYS: Jersey native Anthony Seratelli, in camp with the Mets, turns 31. … Former Mets (and longtime Braves) pitcher Pete Smith was born on this date in 1966.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Had a great birthday dinner tonight w/ the guys. Thanks @You_Found_Nimmo for pickin up my tab! Also thanks for all the bday shoutouts today!— Kevin Plawecki (@kplawecki26) February 27, 2014
FIRST PITCH: Position players officially are due to report Thursday, although only two Mets have not been working out at the team’s complex.
The duo not early this year: infielders Omar Quintanilla and Wilfredo Tovar.
Pitchers and catchers workouts enter Day 3 Thursday. The first official full-squad workout is Saturday.
Thursday’s news reports:
Tejada agents, incidentally, met with Mets brass Wednesday while making an annual spring-training visit to Port St. Lucie.
Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News portrays the Drew market as limited, writing:
The developments over in Tampa have certainly not helped his cause either. Despite their spending spree on other needs at catcher and the outfield, the Yankees were always lying in the weeds on Drew, ready to pounce once his market came down to a two-year deal in the $20 million range. But that was before they emptied their coffers of $155 million on Masahiro Tanaka and Derek Jeter announced this would be his final season. Now there is no way they could bring in a proven first-string shortstop to intrude on the Jeter farewell tour.
• The Baltimore Orioles remain interested in Ike Davis, the Post reported. So do the Pittsburgh Pirates. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• The collective bargaining agreement stipulates that Matt Harvey can mostly rehab in New York rather than Port St. Lucie if he desires.
• While variables exist, Paul DePodesta said a fair estimate of Noah Syndergaard’s innings limit is 30 more than last season.
• The latest prospect list -- the top 100 in MLB, according to Baseball America -- has Syndergaard at No. 16, Travis d’Arnaud at No. 38, Rafael Montero at No. 68 and Dominic Smith at No. 92.
• DePodesta spoke with the Post about specific Mets pitching prospects …
DePodesta said: “Montero is certainly close. He spent a good chunk of last year in Triple-A -- 90 innings -- similar to what [Zack] Wheeler and Harvey had when they came up. That said, he got to Triple-A at a younger age in terms of overall experience. Harvey got there quick, too, but he had three years at North Carolina that Montero didn’t have.”
And on lefty reliever Jack Leathersich, DePodesta said: “He’s an interesting guy. I think he led all of professional baseball in strikeouts-per-nine. And it’s left-handed. There’s something there. We’ve pushed him really aggressively through the system. We’ve tried to get him to the point where he’s challenged. Through Double-A, it wasn’t happening. He was able to keep striking everybody out. Finally, in Triple-A, it was like, ‘OK, there were some things I need to do to get to the highest point.’ It’ll be interesting to see that adjustment he makes this year.”
• Fred Wilpon declined to comment Wednesday at Mets camp, perhaps putting in jeopardy his streak of annual spring-training press conferences.
• Alderson declined to clear up a report that stated he intended to remain GM another two to three years. He lightheartedly noted his contract expires this year, so it is not necessarily his call.
• Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola knows he has a huge responsibility this season.
• Fifth-starter favorite Daisuke Matsuzaka says he wanted to arrive in camp already ready to face batters. Dice-K is performing without much fanfare from the Japanese press, unlike Tanaka in Yankees camp. Read more in the Journal, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Kristie Ackert in the Daily News speaks with Jenrry Mejia as well as Dice-K.
• Like with Mejia, Terry Collins says John Lannan may get consideration for a bullpen role if he fails to become the No. 5 starter. There really is a negligible difference between lefty batters and right batters against the southpaw, though -- a .267 versus .276 career batting average against. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Mets staff is due to get a better explanation during a Thursday meeting in Jupiter regarding what is allowable and unallowable with the new rule preventing catchers from blocking the plate. Read more in the Daily News.
• The Mets will continue their weekly bowling tradition this spring training.
• Josh Satin had more than a half-dozen workouts with ex-Met Marlon Byrd during the offseason to learn to play the outfield, Mike Puma writes in the Post. Still, Satin would only be used there in a pinch in all likelihood, and probably would not see any Grapefruit League action there until later in camp when prospects such as Brandon Nimmo are dispatched to the minor-league side.
• Ken Davidoff in the Post catches up with Curtis Granderson, who discusses Jeter being a big influence on his career.
• Dillon Gee wants to log 200 innings this season. He notched a career-high 199 innings a season ago. Read a profile in the Post.
• Read a profile of outfield prospect Dustin Lawley, who led the Florida State League in homers last season.
• John Rowe discusses Eric Young Jr.’s leadoff candidacy in the Record.
• Matt Ehalt has been hired as the new Mets beat writer at the Record, succeeding Mike Kerwick, who left the industry. Ehalt, formerly of ESPNNewYork.com, starts March 2.
• From the bloggers … Shannon at Mets Police proposes a late-night show about the Mets. … John Delcos at Mets Report analyzes Alderson’s Mets tenure.
BIRTHDAYS: Shane Spencer, whose Mets tenure is most remembered for a tangle with a Big Apple Pizza deliveryman in Port St. Lucie, turns 42.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Adam RubinNoah Syndergaard concentrates during a bullpen session Wednesday in Port St. Lucie.
Syndergaard threw 124 2/3 innings in 2013, including in the Eastern League playoffs and with an inning in the Futures Game at Citi Field.
“I would say as a rough estimate, that’s fine,” DePodesta said. “A lot of it’s going to be on how he actually racks up those innings -- how efficient he is in the pitch counts, how much rest he’s getting between starts, how much side work we do with him.
“So there are a lot of other things that we factor into it. But, as a general marker, that’s roughly fair. I mean, we may go over that. We end up feeling we have to come short of that. But I’d say it’s at least a fair estimate.”
In order to conserve innings for Syndergaard for Double-A Binghamton’s playoffs last season, the top prospect was permitted only 59 pitches in a July 28 start, despite being in the midst of a one-hitter. A week later, he threw 66 pitches and was pulled from a two-hit shutout after five innings. Six days later it was 56 pitches. Then it was 66 pitches. Then Syndergaard was skipped for a start entirely.
This year, those second-half starts should come at the big-league level. So the Mets may be shaving his outings earlier in the season in order to ensure innings are left in the tank late.
Said DePodesta: “We haven’t laid it all out yet, but I think we are going to try to manage through the course of the season -- not just with him, but with some other guys this year -- so we don’t get to the position in August where we say, ‘OK, we want to be saving these guys for playoffs.’ So we may do some things in May and in June toward that end.”
That means more than capping outings at 60 pitches.
Syndergaard and others could find themselves in the bullpen at Triple-A for a turn or two of the rotation, pitching an inning on their regular day instead of a full start.
“When I was in Los Angeles, one of the things we did was that we took almost all of our starters in the minor leagues and we skipped them once or twice through the course of the summer,” DePodesta said. “But during the time they were being skipped, they would pitch out of the bullpen. Now, they may only go an inning. It would be a scheduled inning.
“The purpose behind it was, one, to manage their innings. And, two, was to actually give them experience of what it was like to warm up in the middle of the game and then come in and pitch in the bullpen. Because a lot of guys when they first get to the big leagues, that’s what they do. And a lot of them have never done it before. So at least give them that experience, and also give them a blow in the middle of the season and give them a chance to catch their breath and let their arms and their legs recover.”
Will DePodesta rule out Syndergaard temporarily in a major league bullpen later this year? That’s above his pay grade, DePodesta suggested.
“That’s not my call, ultimately,” DePodesta said. “There are certain guys that I would say we’re more open to it than others. But, again, ultimately that’s not my decision.”
DePodesta said all of the Mets’ upper-level starting prospects would be good bullpen candidates because of their solid command.
Said DePodesta: “They’re all above-average strike-throwers in terms of the guys that are here -- [Logan] Verrett, [Cory] Mazzoni, [Rafael] Montero, [Jacob] deGrom, Syndergaard.”
Paul DePodesta tells ESPNNewYork.com that the Mets likely will not add more than a handful of additional prospects. The 40-man roster currently is at 36. DePodesta did note that the Mets already added center fielder Matt den Dekker and catcher Juan Centeno late in the season, who otherwise would have been eligible.
So who gets added?
DeGrom figures to be in spring training competing for a rotation spot, although a midseason call-up appears far more likely. Walters, who set Binghamton's single-season and career saves records with 38 this past season, should be a Mets bullpen factor in 2014.
Beyond that, there do not appear to be clear-cut choices.
The most interesting debate may be left-hander Steven Matz, the Mets' top pick in 2009, out of Ward Melville High School on Long Island.
Matz's career basically stalled for two full seasons after signing because of a long recovery from Tommy John surgery. So Matz only competed at Savannah this past year, despite turning 22 early in the season.
Would another team really keep Matz on the big league roster for a full year off a season at low-A?
Remember, the object is to protect as few people are possible, so that the Mets maximize 40-man maneuverability in-season. Of course, they have to weigh the risk of losing someone, and how painful that loss would be.
Among the others eligible who would appear to merit consideration for being added to the 40-man roster: outfielder Cory Vaughn (currently in the Arizona Fall League), left-hander Chase Huchingson, left-hander Adam Kolarek, right-hander Erik Goeddel, outfielder Darrell Ceciliani, third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez and left-hander Hamilton Bennett.
There is an interesting twist with Huchingson, a reliever who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Central Arkansas in 2010. The southpaw was slapped with a 50-game suspension on Aug. 26 for a second violation involving a drug of abuse. If he were to be added to the 40-man roster, that minor league suspension would disappear -- well, at least not need to be served until Huchingson at some point ended up bounced from the 40-man roster later in his career.
Players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time:
• If they were 18 or younger on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft upcoming, or
• If they were 19 or older on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is fourth Rule 5 draft upcoming.
That very roughly translates to players drafted out of college in 2010, and anyone else who signed in 2009.
FIRST PITCH: Don’t look now, but the Mets are about to face a not-quite-dead-yet team.
The Washington Nationals (68-65) have won eight of their past nine games and have moved to within 6½ games of the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild-card spot.
Dillon Gee (9-9, 3.69 ERA) opposes right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (15-7, 3.32) in today’s 7:05 p.m. series opener at Nationals Park.
Zack Wheeler faces Dan Haren on Saturday, while Jonathon Niese faces Ross Ohlendorf in Sunday’s series finale.
Friday’s news reports:
Wright described the Grade 2 tear as having a six-week recovery time. He was cautioned by Philadelphia Phillies infielder Michael Young to avoid overtaxing the muscle as he works back.
Wright added that he believes the Mets will add talent this offseason. “With the money we have coming off the books this year, I expect us to go out there and make this team better,” he said. “Whether it’s through free agency, whether it’s through trades, I still believe in vision that Sandy [Alderson] has.”
Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• The Mets completed their trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, announcing the acquisition of hard-throwing right-hander Vic Black after completing the waiver process. The Mets are expected to take advantage of a 72-hour reporting window to delay Black’s arrival until Sunday, the day rosters expand. Black will report directly to the majors. Read more in Newsday.
• Alderson emailed a letter to season ticket holders, addressing 2014.
• Anthony DiComo at MLB.com has a Q&A with Wheeler.
• Carlos Torres returned to the rotation and took a scoreless effort into the seventh as the Mets split a four-game series with the Phillies with an 11-3 win Thursday afternoon. Daniel Murphy matched a career high with four hits and drove in two runs. Anthony Recker, on his 30th birthday and in his first start since John Buck was traded, belted a two-run homer. Matt den Dekker went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and a steal in his major league debut.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Terry Collins essentially said he would be unable to drop Daisuke Matsuzaka from the rotation if he wanted because alternatives are lacking. The Mets may use Chris Schwinden, or another minor leaguer, as a sixth starter in September.
• Jacob deGrom is due to be added to the 40-man roster this winter, but the organization is not planning to give him a call-up. DeGrom departed his Wednesday outing with Las Vegas after two innings with shoulder tightness, but Paul DePodesta minimized the issue.
• Jorge Arangure in the Times delves into the Mets’ having two players with surnames beginning with lower-case Ds -- den Dekker and Travis d’Arnaud. The Mets will establish a new major league record next season assuming deGrom joins them in 2014. Writes Arangure:
As for the origin of his last name, d’Arnaud said that his great-great grandfather acquired it when he was adopted by a family of French origin.
A more formal explanation comes from Marcel den-Dikken, a linguistics professor at the City University of New York. “The ‘d’ is the truncated form of the preposition ‘de’ ‘of,’ he wrote in an e-mail. “So d’Arnaud is historically a name associating its bearer with a particular geographical location.”
As for den Dekker, his name is of Dutch origin and roughly translates to “the roofer.” He said his family traces its roots to Indonesia, which was long a Dutch colony, and from there to the Netherlands. Den Dekker’s father, Gerrit, was born in the Netherlands and later boarded a ship with his 10 brothers and sisters that took them to New York. Eventually, Matt den Dekker said, the family settled in San Diego.
• Read more on Murphy in the Journal.
• Dustin Lawley launched his first Triple-A homer as Las Vegas beat Colorado Springs, 10-7. Newly acquired Dilson Herrera drove in the tiebreaking run and reached base three times in his organization debut as Savannah beat Rome, 5-3. Kingsport, playoff-bound for the first time since 1996, clinched its division’s title with a 9-1 win against Bluefield. Brooklyn maintained a half-game division lead with a 2-1 win against Staten Island. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Binghamton first baseman Allan Dysktra and closer Jeff Walters have been named to the Eastern League’s end-of-season All-Star team. Savannah pitcher Gabriel Ynoa, who notched his 15th win Thursday, was named the South Atlantic’s top pitcher, while Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola was recognized on the all-league coaching staff.
BIRTHDAYS: Newest ex-Met Marlon Byrd turns 36. … The late Tug McGraw was born on this date in 1944.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Having relocated to New York, they then acquired Dykstra at the end of spring training two years ago in a change-of-scenery deal with San Diego for reliever Eddie Kunz, the Mets’ top pick (42nd overall) in 2007.
The 26-year-old first baseman is hitting .316 with 12 homers and 52 RBIs and has a .478 on-base percentage through 68 games. He will join B-Mets teammates Cesar Puello, Josh Rodriguez, Logan Verrett and Jeff Walters at the July 10 Eastern League All-Star Game in New Britain, Conn.
Asked if he feels back on the radar, Dykstra said: “I can’t personally say that. I hope that’s true. I’m having a great year. Personally, my confidence is back. I feel like I did when I got drafted, where I know what I’m doing with my swing. It’s not really up to me to decide if I’m back on the radar or not.”
Dykstra grew up a Padres fan in San Diego. He even attended the 1998 World Series in which his hometown team was swept by the Yankees.
When the March 29, 2011 trade occurred, though, Dykstra welcomed the change of scenery to jumpstart his career. Dykstra acknowledged he had been outplayed by a trio of other first-base farmhands with the Padres -- Nate Freiman (now a major leaguer with the A’s), Cody Decker and Matt Clark.
“When I got traded, I think it was more a fresh start,” Dykstra said. “I kind of felt like I was getting a little lost with the Padres. It wasn’t even really their fault. There were a bunch of guys they had playing first base -- a couple of them are in the big leagues now -- that were just outplaying me. I kind of got lost in the shuffle, and I wasn’t putting up the numbers that they thought I could and that I knew I could put up. Getting traded really opened a new opportunity for me.”
The lefty-hitting, righty-throwing Dykstra genuinely is looking forward to the Eastern League All-Star Game, even though the selection comes in his third year in the league. His 2012 season was stalled for a couple of months earlier in the year by a fractured left wrist, which he suffered reaching into the runner for a throw from pitcher Darin Gorski.
“This All-Star Game is awesome. It’s the first in my minor league career,” Dykstra said. “I’m really excited about attending this one. I just hope after that I will move up. That’s out of my control.”
Something will have to give with Dykstra soon if the Mets have any plans for him. He is eligible to be a minor league free agent after the season if he is not added to the 40-man roster.
“I would like to continue playing baseball hopefully with the Mets,” Dykstra said. “And if not, it’s just the way the game works. On a personal level, I would love Las Vegas and being close to my family. I’ve been on the East Coast playing for the last couple of years.”
As for the question he is most often asked: No, he is not related to Lenny Dykstra.
“Oh, man. My whole life I’ve been asked that a bunch,” the B-Met said. “I’m from California. Lenny Dykstra is from California. The first year I got traded over here, with Wally [Backman] being my manager, because Wally and Lenny were good friends and teammates, I think that was the most I’ve ever been asked. [Teammate] Mark Cohoon was telling me I think he gets it more than I do from people in the stands getting curious [while he is charting other starting pitchers]. I almost wanted to put it on the scoreboard to clarify and save some people some questions.”
Average: Jayce Boyd, St. Lucie, .366; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, .331; Kevin Plawecki, St. Lucie, .320; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, .320; Jhoan Urena, GCL Mets, .320; Jeff Diehl, Kingsport, .319; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, .316; Josh Satin, Vegas, .305; Jorge Rivero, Brooklyn, .302; Josh Rodriguez, Binghamton, .300.
Homers: Dustin Lawley, St. Lucie, 16; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 15; Travis Taijeron, Binghamton, 15; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 12.
RBI: Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 64; Dustin Lawley, St. Lucie, 60; Jayce Boyd, St. Lucie, 57; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 55.
Steals: Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 18; Alonzo Harris, Binghamton, 16; Darrell Ceciliani, Binghamton, 16; Stefan Sabol, Savannah, 12; Danny Muno, Binghamton, 10.
ERA: Carlos Gomez, Kingsport, 0.00; Rob Whalen, Kingsport, 0.79; Rainy Lara, St. Lucie, 1.79; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 2.44; Robert Gsellman, Brooklyn, 2.45; Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 2.89; Michael Fulmer, GCL Mets, 3.00; Noah Syndergaard, Binghamton, 3.01; Luis Cessa, Savannah, 3.14; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 3.14.
Wins: Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 9; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 8; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 8; Erik Goeddel, Binghamton, 7; Rafael Montero, Vegas, 7.
Saves: Jeff Walters, Binghamton, 21; Bret Mitchell, St. Lucie, 10; T.J. Chism, St. Lucie, 9; Beck Wheeler, Savannah, 6; Hamilton Bennett, St. Lucie, 6.
Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Vegas, 96; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 87; Rainy Lara, St. Lucie, 84; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 82; Noah Syndergaaard, Binghamton, 80.
• Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are expected to start opposite each other in the July 12 Futures Game at Citi Field. Of course, it helps that Mookie Wilson (USA) and Edgardo Alfonzo (World) will manage the squads. 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo also will be part of the game after being voted in by fans.
• Wilmer Flores will represent Las Vegas and the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A All-Star Game, which will be held July 17 at Reno. Flores went 5-for-6 Tuesday to up his average to .320 with 10 homers and a league-leading 64 RBIs.
• Puello, the B-Mets outfielder, had a sizzling June. He hit .441 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 17 games during the month. Puello currently has a 0.996 OPS for the season -- having just dipped under 1.000. Matt Wieters (2008) and Pedro Alvarez (’09) are the only players younger than 23 in the Eastern League since ’06 who had an OPS of at least 1.000 for a season while getting 250 plate appearances, according to the Mets.
• Walters, a seventh-round pick in 2010 from the University of Georgia, converted his 21st save in 23 chances Tuesday. He is the first B-Met to reach the 20-save plateau since Kunz had 27 in 2008. The Binghamton saves record is 28, by Jerrod Riggan in 2000.
• Ruben Tejada, technically on a rehab assignment, joined Las Vegas on Tuesday. He had a pinch-hit RBI double in his debut and should start for the first time for the 51s today.
• Terry Collins recently received a call from a friend in scouting offering a complimentary review of Double-A right-hander Cory Mazzoni, a second-round pick in 2011 from NC State. The scout projected Mazzoni (4-2, 4.04 ERA) as a reliever because he relies on two pitches -- a slider and sinker -- and throws 94 mph.
• Mike Baxter left Las Vegas to be with his wife in New York on paternity leave. Baxter is hitting .217 with two homers and three RBIs in 16 games with the 51s since a demotion from the major league club.
• Jacob deGrom, who opened the season in St. Lucie and has risen two levels, continues to shine for Las Vegas. Through three Pacific Coast League starts, the 25-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA.
• First-round pick Dominic Smith is hitting .200 (5-for-25) with two RBIs and two walks through seven Gulf Coast League games.
• Kyle Johnson, the 23-year-old outfielder acquired from the Angels for Collin Cowgill, fits the profile the Mets seek. He has a career .400 on-base percentage and nearly has as many walks (49) and strikeouts (62) through 431 professional plate appearances. Johnson also has 37 steals in 42 attempts in 105 games since leaving Washington State University as a 25th-round pick.
• The Mets signed 25th-round pick Brandon Brosher, a high school first baseman from Florida, for a reported $167,500. They have signed 25 of 41 draft picks. DePodesta said the Mets are “probably done” signing draft picks, but have another 10 days in case something changes.
"We're optimistic, but we'll see," DePodesta told ESPNNewYork.com.
The Mets handed out a franchise-record international signing bonus of $1.75 million to Dominican shortstop Amed Rosario last July.
Rosario, now 17, is hitting .205 through 10 games at Kingsport this season.
USA TODAY SportsThe reinforcements arrive at Citi Field today (l to r): Josh Satin, Collin Cowgill and Josh Edgin.
Paul DePodesta insists the farm system is on the right track.
“Savannah is tied for the best record in the South Atlantic League. Binghamton has the best record in the Eastern League,” DePodesta said. “Overall, I believe we have the second-best record in all of baseball, though this can change daily among the top three organizations, as we're all close together. All four of our full-season teams are over .500, which only two or three other organizations can claim.
“On an in individual basis, Rainy Lara was leading the SAL in ERA before being promoted to PSL. Travis Taijeron was third in the FSL in OPS before being promoted to Binghamton, where in two games he’s gone 5-for-9 with two homers and six RBIs. Allan Dykstra and Cesar Puello are currently first and second in OPS in the Eastern League. Rafael Montero is third in the EL in ERA and has just 10 walks against 72 strikeouts.”
So remember that when the Mets face the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals the next three days at Citi Field, beginning with Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.36 ERA) against phenom Michael Wacha (0-0, 5.40) at 7:10 tonight.
Josh Satin, Collin Cowgill and Josh Edgin all rejoin the Mets for the series.
Read the series preview here.
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Sandy Alderson, while at first stating it was Terry Collins’ decision, left the strong impression Daniel Murphy would slide to first base while Ike Davis “figures out his swing” in Triple-A. That would allow Jordany Valdespin to get at least a brief look as a regular second baseman. Satin is the alternative. Shifting Lucas Duda from left field to first base would be a last resort. Read more in the Record.
"It may be two weeks. It could be a month. I don't know," Backman told Anthony Rieber in Newsday about the duration of Davis’ demotion. "He's coming here for us to fix him, and we're going try to fix him. I think there's a lot more mental than there is physical. When I sit him down and talk to him, we're going to try to attack that. Try to clear his head from everything. He was getting, from what I heard, lots of different people giving him a lot of different information. So basically, mentally, he's totally [messed] up. …
"We've watched hours and hours of tape on him back when he first went to the big leagues from the minor leagues. He's made so many changes. I think personally it's been too many changes. Try to get him back to what he did to get to the big leagues. We're going to work with him on a daily basis. It's going to be one-on-one work with me, him and George. Nobody else is out there. We're going to let him really try to figure it out."
Said Greer, who coached Davis in the minors, to Rieber: "We're just going to go from ground zero. He'll tell me how he feels, and I'll tell him what I see, and because we have worked together in the past, we'll come hopefully to a happy medium where he can start feeling good about himself."
Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record suggests fixing Davis could make Backman even more desirable as the Mets’ next manager. Writes Klapisch:
What could Backman know that Terry Collins and his coaching staff don’t? That’s where this experiment becomes interesting, because Backman has prided himself on managing the game -- as a former player -- from the inside. That’s how he separates himself from Collins.
Say what you want about Backman’s past transgressions, including arrests for DUI and a domestic dispute. They are permanent scars on his résumé. But if you’re going to judge Backman for what happened in the early 2000s, then you also must consider his track record since 2010, steadily working his way up the Mets’ system without controversy. This season has been the ultimate test for Backman, who’s been chaperoning young men whose free time is spent in Sin City. It’s a recipe for disaster for any team, and yet Backman’s players have stayed out of trouble on The Strip.
Read more on fixing Davis in the Times and Post.
It was Alderson’s best guesstimate that the Mets are committed to roughly $55 million next year with raises on long-term deals for David Wright and Jonathon Niese, and increases for arbitration eligible players likely to be retained including Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell and -- depending how you calculate it -- the buyout on Santana and deferrals to Bay.
He believes the team will have a 2014 payroll between $90 million and $100 million. So that is $35 million-$45 million to spend. Which sounds like improvement, but keep in mind that would rank the Mets 15th this year -- exactly the midpoint -- in payroll. And should a team in New York with dedicated fans, a still relatively new stadium and its own network be 15th in payroll?
“I think it is unlikely to go from $55 million to $150 million,” Alderson said. “Do I think we can get there? We would have to outperform our payroll, so we can increase attendance and increase payroll consistently over time. Overall, I agree with you [that a Met payroll should be near the highest], but I think we will get on a progression toward something. We will basically spend [on 2014 payroll] almost as much as we currently have committed next year, so that is a doubling.
“It [the lowered payroll] is not because [of ownership financial problems]. It is because they have been burned by the big, long contacts, so we are not prepared to go from zero to 60 [mph] in 3.5 seconds, which I can’t argue with. But if we have enough young pitching, then $100 million will be enough to be competitive because we can use the money on position players, which is our problem right now.”
Howard Megdal at Capital New York is skeptical the Mets will spend this offseason, even with a ton of money coming off the books. That is, the Mets won’t spend unless debt holder J.P. Morgan Chase signs off, according to Megdal.
“My past two starts, I haven’t been happy with my command, especially my last start,” Wheeler told Dan Martin in the Post. “In the fifth inning I started to leave a lot of balls up. It happens. You just need to find the command and feel more comfortable with your mechanics.”
Wheeler grew up 30 miles from Turner Field, but does not think there will be added pressure facing the Braves. “Everybody thinks it’s going to put a lot more pressure on me,” Wheeler told Andy Martino in the Daily News. “It’s actually probably going to ease me a little bit. I’ll get to sleep in my own bed and just be around my family and stuff, so it’s going to be nice.”
Read more in Newsday and the Star-Ledger.
• Alderson is now in player-evaluation mode, writes Kristie Ackert in the Daily News.
• Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News about Alderson’s analysis of his players:
Most noteworthy, Alderson said he doesn’t consider either Ruben Tejada or Lucas Duda to be “core’’ players around which to build. On the other hand he does think of Ike Davis that way -- of course, that’s assuming someone can eliminate all the herky-jerky hand movement in a swing that has now landed the first baseman in Triple-A Las Vegas.
So let’s see: that leaves Wright at third base, maybe Daniel Murphy at second, though Alderson wasn’t asked specifically about him as a core player. And for that matter, the GM indicated he’d like to see Murphy take over temporarily for Davis at first base so the Mets can evaluate whether Jordany Valdespin has a future at second base.
Read more on Alderson in Newsday.
• Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud has shed the protective boot on his left foot, but will not be permitted to run for a couple of weeks. Read more in the Post.
• Puello has been named Eastern League Player of the Week. After posting consecutive complete games during which he allowed a combined one run and five hits, Las Vegas right-hander Carlos Torres has been named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week.
• Andrew Brown homered twice and Wilmer Flores also homered but Las Vegas lost to Tacoma, 10-7. T.J. Rivera had two hits and two RBIs in St. Lucie’s 9-4 win against Clearwater. Read the full minor league recap here.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report asks if the Mets waited too long to demote Davis. … The Eddie Kranepool Society writes that Alderson finally makes some moves, but wonders if those were the right ones. ... Mets Police suggests the Mets need to get more out of Mr. Met.
BIRTHDAYS: Jose Reyes turns 30.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: What is the best way for the Mets to fill first base during Ike Davis’ demotion?
At the graduation of my students. the sacrifice was worth it. pic.twitter.com/5v4kj3TXzU— Carlos Beltran (@carlosbeltran15) June 10, 2013
FIRST PITCH: Happy anniversary?
One year ago today, Johan Santana tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history, against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field.
Now, Santana is in Fort Myers, Fla., in the early phases of recovery from a second shoulder surgery to repair the anterior capsule.
Mike Baxter's grab, which resulted in a separated shoulder, save Johan Santana's no-hitter one year ago today.
“If you would have taken him out, I promise you not only would the fans have been in an uproar, but the players would have too,” Josh Thole, now in Triple-A with the Toronto Blue Jays, told Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News. “I feel like David Wright would have gone up to him and said, ‘Skip, run him back out there. We’re going to take a chance here.’ ’’
Anyway, one year later, Collin McHugh subs for Jonathon Niese (shoulder tendinitis) on the mound today at 4:10 p.m. at what undoubtedly will be a much less buzz-filled Marlins Park. McHugh opposes rookie Jose Fernandez (2-3, 3.78 ERA).
Saturday’s news reports:
• Collins acknowledged Zack Wheeler was bypassed for the spot start in large part because it would have been impossible for observers to accept Wheeler returning to Triple-A if the outing against the Marlins had been successful. Read more in the Journal.
• Shaun Marcum took a scoreless effort into the seventh inning before allowing four runs and the Mets had a five-game winning streak snapped with a 5-1 loss to the Marlins on Friday night. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Newsday, Record and MLB.com.
• Collins said there was no post-Yankees series letdown.
Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia both had setbacks.
• Marc Carig in Newsday discusses Ike Davis’ potentially flawed swing, which includes a pronounced hand drop as the ball is being released by the pitcher. "I've always wanted to stop my hands from dropping," Davis told Carig. "But I've always swung like that. Obviously, it's not something that you want all the time, but I mean, Barry Bonds dropped his hands. A lot of people did and had success. It's just the way I've swung my whole life with my hands. It's tough to stop that."
• Read no-hitter reflections in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Times, Journal, Record and Newsday.
• Andrew Goldman in the Times has a Q&A with Dwight Gooden. Among the exhanges:
Matt Harvey, the Mets’ pitching phenom, is compared with you a lot. Do you agree with Bobby Valentine that he could be the best pitcher ever to wear a Mets uniform?
Dwight Gooden wasn't always thrilled with Darryl Strawberry.
In 1995, you and your former teammate Darryl Strawberry shared the cover of Sports Illustrated for an article called “The Dead End Kids,” about your drug use after the Mets’ 1986 season. Did you resent how the two of you were always grouped together?
“The media made it seem like we were closer than we really were. You had two young, very successful black players -- he was Rookie of the Year ’83, I was ’84. But I was actually closer with Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Mookie Wilson. In 2010, Darryl really crossed the line, calling my family and saying a lot of negative things about me, stuff that wasn’t true. I always considered him a friend. The things he was doing really do not fit the definition of a friend.”
• Jamie Hoffmann belted a grand slam and finished with five RBIs as Las Vegas beat Reno, 6-0. Read the full minor league recap here.
• Mike Puma in the Post gives his “confidential” breakdown of May and a look at the month ahead.
• David Lennon in Newsday looks at the Ivy League path to an MLB front office. Paul DePodesta and Adam Fisher from the Mets' front office did their undergraduate work at Harvard. Writes Lennon:
The Los Angeles Times dubbed him "Google Boy'' -- a derisive nickname meant to suggest DePodesta's over-reliance on computer-generated info -- and he was fired after the Dodgers went 71-91 in 2005. DePodesta lost his job, but remained a hero for the sabermetric crowd, which has only multiplied since then, especially in the college ranks.
The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, which describes itself as a "student-run organization dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management,'' could be churning out the next army of DePodestas if they didn't sound so uninterested in baseball. It's not that the sport has necessarily fallen out of favor with the numbers-obsessed. There's just not a lot of groundbreaking debate that can be done by laptop-toting amateurs on such well-worn terrain.
"There's kind of a glut. The market is pretty saturated at this point,'' said Andrew Mooney, a Harvard junior and co-president of the HSAC. "It's getting to the point where if you want to say anything new about baseball, you need to access the type of tracking equipment that the organizations are using. I think the opportunities that people in our club are most excited about now are in basketball and football, where this industry is still kind of in its infancy.''
• Michael Powell in the Times reflects on being a Mets fan this week.
• Is Lucas Duda too passive at the plate? Tim Marchman addresses that topic in the Journal.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report believes Terry Collins indirectly threw his team under the bus. … Faith and Fear in Flushing considers the concept of "relevance," as it applies to the Mets and their fans.
BIRTHDAYS: Rick Baldwin, who pitched in relief for the Mets in the mid-70s, was born on this date in 1953.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Where were you when Johan Santana tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history?
Happy No-no day. Let's Go #Mets— Vince NY (@vinzska) June 1, 2013
The 23-year-old Harris, a 39th-round pick in 2007 out of McComb High in Mississippi, has opened this season with Double-A Binghamton.
Harris is a natural shortstop. The first time he played outfield came in the Mississippi Senior All-Star Game in 2007.
The Mets used him nearly exclusively at second base through 2010. Now, Harris has transitioned to nearly full time outfielder -- primarily center field, with some left field.
“It was easy, actually,” Harris said. “I didn’t have to worry or think about turning double plays. … It was an easy transition. The only thing different is making the throws. I was at second base for four years with the Mets. When I made my throws from second to first base, I had time for a nice, easy flip. When I’m in the outfield I have to make a longer throw, so my transition from throwing that short distance to stretching my arm out was the only big difference I had.
“Everything else fell right into place, like I had been playing all my life.
He added: “If anything happened, they can put me in the infield. I’m ready to play infield at any time. I still take groundballs and stuff.”
Harris’ 2007 draft class with the Mets also included Lucas Duda (seventh round), Dillon Gee (21st), Robert Carson (14th) and Zach Lutz (fifth). So his visit to Citi Field last September to be recognized as St. Lucie’s Sterling Award winner was particularly exciting because he reunited with former minor league teammates.
“I know some of them,” Harris said about the Mets. “Well, most of them, because I played with them when I first started. To see the locker room and all the facilities, it opened my eyes. It made me want to work harder to get there, make that a permanent home.”
Harris is particularly close to Carson. They grew up 45 minutes apart in Mississippi. They only faced each other once in high school, though. Their ninth-grade years, Harris lined out to center field against Carson.
“I call him my ‘little big brother,’” Harris said. “He was born a week after me. He lives 45 minutes away. We spend almost every day together. We’re really close. We work out and all that stuff. He’s like family -- basically a brother, really.”
Harris has played in Panama each of the last two winter-league seasons. He said that taught him concentration as well as how to read pitchers’ moves while attempting to steal.
“The first year, it helped me with my concentration, because it rained every day,” Harris said. “You would never know when you would be able to play. You might be getting ready for the game, and the next thing you know two hours later you had to get ready again. It was a mental learning situation for me. My mind was definitely prepared to play at any moment.”
Average: Brandon Nimmo, Savannah, .447; Jayce Boyd, Savannah, .383; Josh Satin, Vegas, .380; Juan Lagares, Vegas, .375; Kevin Plawecki, Savannah, .375; Andrew Brown, Vegas, .347; Gilbert Gomez, St. Lucie, .333; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .319; Jeff Glenn, Savannah, .310; Josh Rodriguez, Binghamton, .297.
Homers: Josh Satin, Vegas, 4; Juan Lagares, Vegas, 2; Dustin Lawley, St. Lucie, 2; Kevin Plawecki, Savannah, 2.
RBI: T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, 13; Josh Satin, Vegas, 12; Jayce Boyd, Savannah, 11; Andrew Brown, Vegas, 11; Kevin Plawecki, Savannah, 11.
Steals: Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 5; Brian Bixler, Vegas, 3; Gilbert Gomez, St. Lucie, 3; Stefan Sabol, Savannah, 3.
ERA: Collin McHugh, Vegas, 0.50; Rainy Lara, Savannah, 0.79; Luis Cessa, Savannah, 1.54; Matt Bowman, Savannah, 1.59; Rafael Montero; Binghamton, 2.16; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 2.75; Jacob deGrom, Binghamton, 3.00; Hansel Robles, St. Lucie, 3.45; Erik Goeddel, Binghamton, 3.48; Domingo Tapia, St. Lucie, 3.55.
Wins: Mark Cohoon, Binghamton, 2; Angel Cuan, St. Lucie, 2; Collin McHugh, Vegas, 2; Rafael Montero, Binghamton, 2; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 2.
Saves: Jeff Walters, Binghamton, 3; Hunter Carnevale, Savannah, 2.
Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Binghamton, 21; Zack Wheeler, Vegas, 17; Collin McHugh, Vegas, 15.
• Pedro Feliciano, who made his debut with Class A St. Lucie on Monday with a scoreless inning, does not have an out in his contract. Still, the Mets had asked Feliciano at the end of the spring training only to remain in the minors for a month.
• Injuries to Cory Mazzoni (elbow) and fill-in Luis Mateo (elbow/forearm) resulted in right-hander Jacob deGrom getting a call-up to start Wednesday’s game with Binghamton. DeGrom is a ninth-round pick out of Stetson University in 2010, where he played shortstop. DeGrom, 24, missed the 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Mateo left Monday’s B-Mets game three pitches into the fourth inning with an elbow/forearm issue. Paul DePodesta said it was too soon to determine the severity of the injury.
“He dealt with some soreness in spring training as well and was better after a little rest,” DePodesta said.
• Partly out of necessity, and also motivated by the desire to expose him to the outfield to increase his versatility, corner infielder Zach Lutz has seen plenty of action in left field with Triple-A Las Vegas. In fact, the breakdown has been nearly 50-50 between outfield and third base. This is Lutz’s last year with minor league options, so he likely will have to make next year’s squad out of spring training as a versatile righty bat for the bench or be exposed to waivers.
Wilmer Flores, on the other hand, started for the first time at third base Monday but will remain consistently a second baseman with the 51s.
• Las Vegas starting pitchers have repeatedly failed to go deep into games, taxing the bullpen and resulting in the call-up of left-hander Adam Kolarek from Binghamton to spell the overtaxed bullpen. Among 51s starters, Carlos Torres and Chris Schwinden have averaged 4 1/3 innings and Darin Gorski 3 2/3 innings a start.
• A trio of top draft picks is off to a quick start with low-A Savannah. Brandon Nimmo, the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft, leads the South Atlantic League with a .447 average. Jayce Boyd (2012 sixth round, Florida State) ranks sixth in the league at .383. Kevin Plawecki (35th overall pick in 2012, Purdue) ranks seventh at .375.
Ike Davis homered in the fourth inning Monday night.
He offered up another candidate against the Nats.
Den Dekker reached over the left-center wall to take away a homer from Washington top prospect Anthony Rendon in the seventh.
“I know he can really play center field,” Collins said. “A tremendous catch. He’s a legit defender. There’s no doubt about it.”
The issue with den Dekker will be whether he can cut down on his strikeouts. He did swing at a spinning ball in the dirt in his first at-bat Monday for K, but followed with a single in what became a three-run eighth that pulled the Mets within 5-4.
IT’S A FIRST: Travis d’Arnaud produced his first hit as a Met with a ninth-inning single against right-hander Ryan Mattheus.
SAFETY NET: Starter Collin McHugh was charged with three runs in 2 1/3 innings, although two crossed the plate when Brandon Lyon allowed a pair of inherited runners to score.
Collins said McHugh would only be a consideration for the Opening Day roster if Johan Santana or another projected starter is injured. McHugh is not a bullpen candidate.
“He is what he is,” Collins said. “He throws the ball over, changes speeds. He’s one of those pitchers who has to locate.”
HIDDEN GEMS: Left-hander Scott Rice tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings and right-hander Greg Burke had a 1-2-3 frame with two strikeouts.
Paul DePodesta called Collins early in the offseason to say he was targeting those two relievers, and DePodesta asked Collins to make recruiting calls. “A few days later they signed,” Collins said.
Burke, a dropdown righty tutored by Rick Peterson, is on the 40-man roster and should be a strong consideration for the bullpen.
Rice, who has never appeared in the majors and is not on the 40-man roster, has more of an uphill battle. Still, if Pedro Feliciano does not make the club and the Mets decide to carry two lefties, Rice probably is the most serious candidate to join Josh Edgin.
HOW THEY SCORED: The Mets’ three-run eighth included an RBI double by Zach Lutz and a two-run single by Juan Lagares against left-hander Patrick McCoy.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets put their undefeated record on the line on Day 2 of the Grapefruit League season with a pair of games Sunday.
A day after Zack Wheeler's appearance, it's Matt Harvey's turn today.
Meanwhile, back at Tradition Field, devout Ohio State fan Jonathon Niese as well as Dillon Gee pitch against Fred Wilpon’s alma mater, the University of Michigan. The Wolverines won two of three games from Fordham this weekend at the Mets’ complex.
Gee will pitch in his first game since undergoing emergency surgery during last year’s All-Star break to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder. He already was throwing off the mound in September at Citi Field before shutting things down for the offseason, so Gee said he has zero concerns about this start.
“I feel great,” Gee said. “I feel normal. I’m not worried about it at all.”
Sunday’s news reports:
• Pedro Feliciano returned to camp Saturday after an examination at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Feliciano said he has an irregular heartbeat and small “hole” in the exterior of the heart. Feliciano will wear a heart monitor and is not yet cleared to resume baseball activities. Collins said the issue potentially is serious. Sandy Alderson plans to address the issue further with media this morning. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Daily News, Post, Record and MLB.com.
• Outfielder Jamie Hoffmann also returned to camp after his initial physical required a follow-up exam in New York. Hoffmann said he was diagnosed with a non-alarming heart condition 10 years ago that routinely gets flagged when he switches teams.
• Zack Wheeler wowed in his Grapefruit League debut, limiting the Washington Nationals to one hit and one walk while striking out two in two scoreless innings. Collins nonetheless reiterated that Wheeler is ticketed for the minors to open the season, regardless of Johan Santana’s situation.
“He’s very similar to Doc,” Wally Backman told columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post, referring to Dwight Gooden. “I think Doc’s breaking ball was a little bit bigger, but this kid has got, to me, real high expectations.”
Said Joe McIlvaine, a scout for the Mariners who once drafted Dwight Gooden: “Easy gas. Wheeler is very similar to [Stephen] Strasburg. He threw about as hard. He’s the same type of breaking ball. The same type of elongated body. Strasburg is a little bit stronger, but he’s a little bit older. The only differential I would say at this point is that [Wheeler’s] control is not as good as Strasburg’s. That’s the biggest difference, and that’s why he is still in the minor leagues.”
Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with man-of-few-words Wheeler. The exchange includes:
Q: Tell me about the day you were traded to the Mets.
A: I rolled out of bed, saw it on Twitter. I went downstairs, it was on ESPN.
Read more on Wheeler’s Grapefruit League debut in the Star-Ledger, Times, Post, Newsday, Daily News and MLB.com.
• Also in the 5-2 win against the Nats, Ruben Tejada belted a two-run homer against Strasburg, Shaun Marcum surrendered three runs in two innings and Collin Cowgill delivered a game-deciding RBI double. Read more in Newsday.
• David Wright will get three more Grapefruit League starts before departing Saturday for the World Baseball Classic, Collins said. Read more in Newsday.
• The Mets signed 29-year-old first baseman Rhyne Hughes to a minor league deal. Justin Turner played with Hughes in the Baltimore Orioles organization and said the lefty hitter has power to all fields when on his game. Hughes’ career got sidetracked when the Orioles tried to expose him to right field and made him a part-time player, according to Turner.
Jason Bay homered in his first plate appearance as a Mariner.
• Andrew Keh in the Times looks at the tradition of baseball players having offseason jobs. Collin McHugh works during the winter with a company that does fundraising for schools.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News contrasts John Buck with predecessor Josh Thole. “Josh just didn’t have a feel for calling a game,” a Mets person told Harper. “We needed somebody that was going to help make our young pitchers better.”
Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger has a Q&A with Buck about his Glove Guardian company.
• Should the Mets instruct Travis d’Arnaud to do swipe tags instead of blocking the plate in order to protect the young catcher? Mark Hale asks Paul DePodesta in the Post. “I’d say it’s to be determined,” DePodesta said.
• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News is critical of Wright’s agents over other clients being tied to a South Florida clinic.
• Minor league field coordinator Dicky Scott notes in the Star-Ledger that the plan is to keep prospect Wilmer Flores in the infield. “A lot of guys go to the outfield because they can really run – they’re great defenders -- and with other guys it’s because they don’t like fielding groundballs,” Scott told the newspaper. “We have a guy who has good hands, who can play multiple positions. I think we’re going to stick with that.”
• Mike Kerwick in the Record profiles pitching coach Dan Warthen, including his influence on a young Erik Hanson.
• From the bloggers ... With 1986 nearly three decades in the past, Shannon from Mets Police wonders when the Mets become one of those teams that never wins. … Mets Merized looks at center-field prospect Matt den Dekker.
BIRTHDAYS: Hall of Famer Eddie Murray turns 57.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Please use the comments section to weigh in
Regardless, it’s indisputable that the system has benefited from the trades of Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey, which combined to yield Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and Wuilmer Becerra.
So what is the state of the farm?
Paul DePodesta reviewed the state of the farm system with ESPNNewYork.com.
“We never get caught up in the rankings, because ultimately, it's about producing quality big leaguers. There are no rings awarded for the best ranking, and guys like Tejada and Gee were never ranked terribly high anyway.
“That said, we're very pleased with where our system is right now. Thanks to both our scouts and our development people, this is the most talented and deepest group of pitching prospects that I've been a part of in the past 20 years, and I've been fortunate to have been around some good ones. Our teams finished first in the league in ERA, WHIP and K/BB ratio -- a good trifecta -- in the Florida State League, the South Atlantic League, and the New York Penn League, and we did that with six-man rotations at each spot. Further, those staffs didn't include guys like Wheeler, Familia, Mejia, Harvey, etc. The best part, in my mind, is that our guys aren't just touch/feel guys who are old for their league and are good performers. Rather, these guys have stuff, command and performance. Of course, not all of them will make it, but we have enough of a mass to believe that some of them should.
“Admittedly, our position players are behind our pitchers -- our pitchers led all of minor league baseball in ERA -- but we think we added some key guys in last year's draft, and some of our international players continue making progress. There are some position players we're very excited about. But, collectively, it's not as deep as the pitching.
“All in all, more than a dozen of our players who haven't appeared in any top-10 list have been asked about this winter in major league trades, so other teams out there certainly like our depth. Then you add in the players we have acquired via trade, and we feel the system is close to reaching the level of being a true feeder system for the major league team.”
It is true that the new collective bargaining agreement has slowed the restocking of the system. The Mets originally aimed to go over slot in the draft and be more aggressive internationally, but the new rules that cap spending largely prevent that.
“Certainly the new CBA caused us to reevaluate the mechanics of what we do, but it didn't change our approach, which has been to find and acquire the best players possible, regardless of high school or college, domestic or international, or big-dollar or small-dollar demands,” DePodesta said. “We continue to focus on the talent. Signing a guy like German Rosario this year was a perfect example of that. We felt he was the best prospect on the board internationally, and we paid top dollar to acquire him ($1.7 million). Sure, we'd like to sign even more guys, but we're happy with what we were able to acquire this past year under the new restrictions.”
Final Butler 50 Seton Hall 51 Final South Florida 68 Rutgers 72 Final Fordham 70 George Mason 67
2:30 PM ET St. John's Providence 12:00 PM ET Seton Hall 3 Villanova 3:00 PM ET Rutgers 5 Louisville 2:30 PM ET Fordham Dayton
8:00 PM ET NY Rangers Winnipeg 7:00 PM ET San Jose NY Islanders 7:30 PM ET New Jersey Florida
12:00 PM ET Milwaukee New York 7:00 PM ET Brooklyn Washington
7:00 PM ET Buffalo NY Islanders 7:00 PM ET New Jersey Tampa Bay
1:05 PM ET Yankees Orioles 9:05 PM ET Marlins Yankees 1:10 PM ET Twins Mets 4:05 PM ET Mets Cubs