New York Mets: Scott Kazmir

Morning Briefing: Seven hits!

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
7:17
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: Seven hits!

The Mets’ string of games producing four hits or fewer ended at five straight on Tuesday -- tied for the longest streak in the majors since 1900.

The Amazin’s streak of facing aces will continue.

Zack Wheeler (8-8, 3.49 ERA) opposes former Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija (5-9, 2.96) in the finale of an abbreviated series in Oakland at 3:35 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Wheeler is 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA in his past nine starts.

Wednesday’s news reports:

Dillon Gee walked light-hitting No. 9 batter Eric Sogard with two outs in the fourth ahead of a three-run triple by Coco Crisp and Scott Kazmir and the A’s went on to beat the Mets, 6-2, Tuesday. Gee is now 0-5 with a 5.71 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.


Ben Margot/Associated PressDillon Gee had a costly walk to Eric Sogard in a four-run fourth by the A's.


“I lost command of my breaking ball there for a couple of innings and it really hurt me,” Gee told reporters postgame.

Josh Reddick added a two-run homer in the eighth against Gonzalez Germen, who was called up while Bartolo Colon is on bereavement leave.

Travis d'Arnaud homered, but it was another quiet hitting day by the Mets, who had Daniel Murphy resting and Curtis Granderson in the No. 2 hole as part of Terry Collins’ lineup shakeup.

Oakland snapped a five-game losing streak.

The Mets (59-68) are nine games under .500 for the first time since July 7.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Newsday and at MLB.com.

Jacob deGrom faced batters during a throwing session Tuesday in Oakland and has been declared ready to return from the disabled list on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. With deGrom poised to be activated, Rafael Montero could get bullpen action Wednesday against the A’s. The Mets won’t need to make a roster move until Saturday to clear space for deGrom. And if Colon isn’t activated until Sunday, Germen could go first. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and at MLB.com.

Jenrry Mejia “has expressed dismay to confidants in recent days about the fact he has been used lately in several non-save situations, but before the Mets faced the Athletics on Tuesday said he’s on the same wavelength with manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen,” Mike Puma writes in the Post.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis was unavailable Tuesday because of a stiff neck.

• Danny Muno had a three-run homer as part of a three-hit night as Las Vegas beat Omaha, 10-4. Michael Fulmer allowed six runs in 3 1/3 innings in his Double-A debut as Binghamton was shut out at Erie, 7-0. Victor Cruzado homered and drove in four runs in Savannah’s 11-3 win against Rome. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal contrasts the Mets and A’s, who have similar payrolls and disparate success. Writes Diamond:

As previously reported by the Journal, teams throughout history with a $100 million player taking up more than 20% of the payroll have a cumulative winning percentage of .455.

The A's don't have that problem. Their highest-paid player on opening day, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, was due $10.5 million this year, which represented around 12.8% of the payroll. Their three highest-paid players -- Cespedes, reliever Jim Johnson and starter Scott Kazmir -- made up 35.8% of the payroll. (Cespedes was traded to Boston for [Jon] Lester last month.)

• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger chronicles Kazimr’s path from prominence to independent ball and back to prominence.

• Marc Carig in Newsday speaks with Lucas Duda about his success at the plate.

From the bloggers …Blogging Mets wonders when and why run differential became so important.

BIRTHDAYS: St. Lucie reliever Robby Coles turns 23. ... Cory Sullivan is 35. ... Lance Broadway is 31.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: What lineup change would you most like to see to inject some life in the offense?

Series preview: Mets at A's

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
9:35
AM ET

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets draw a pair of aces when they face Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija in Oakland.
METS (59-67, fourth place/NL East) vs. OAKLAND ATHLETICS (73-51, second place/AL West)

Tuesday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-5, 3.69) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (13-5, 2.78), 10:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (8-8, 3.49) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-9, 2.96), 3:35 p.m. ET

A’s short hops

• Oakland enters the series on a season-high five-game skid and losers of seven of eight. The A’s were swept by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field last weekend. Oakland, still comfortably in a playoff position, dropped a half-game behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West as a result. On Saturday, the A’s lost sole possession of first place in the division for the first time since April 28. They had been alone atop the standings for 106 consecutive days.

Jon Lester, acquired from the Boston Red Sox on July 31 along with outfielder Jonny Gomes, had been 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA since the trade until allowing four runs (three earned) in six-plus innings on Sunday to suffer his first loss since June 7.


Ed Zurga/Associated PressThe A's have lost a season-high five straight games.


• Since the trade of Yoenis Cespedes in the Lester deal, Brandon Moss has started 10 games, Gomes has started four games and Sam Fuld has started three games in left field. Fuld was acquired at the trade deadline from the Minnesota Twins for left-hander Tommy Milone.

Coco Crisp is batting .118 (9-for-76) with no homers in his past 21 games (20 starts). Fellow center fielder Craig Gentry, who remains on the disabled list with a broken right hand, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Monday, serving as the designated hitter.

• Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija along with Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs on July 5 for highly regarded shortstop prospect Addison Russell as well as Dan Straily (who hit David Wright with the pitch Saturday in his Cubs debut), Billy McKinney and a player to be named. Samardzija is 3-2 with a 3.21 ERA in eight starts since the deal. He is under A’s control through the 2015 season.

Scott Kazmir's 13 wins match his career high, also produced in 2007 with Tampa Bay. Kazmir’s 2.78 ERA ranks eighth in the AL. He allowed a season-high seven runs in three innings against the Mets at Citi Field on June 24, including three homers.

Stephen Vogt is hitting .355 (11-for-31) with three homers and eight RBIs in his past nine games (eight starts), while manning first base. He previously had been mired in an 0-for-21 drought. Vogt is one of three catchers on the A’s, but has not appeared behind the plate since July 7 because of a bone bruise in his right foot. He is unlikely to catch again this season.

• Shortstop Jed Lowrie landed on the disabled list Thursday with a hairline fracture to his right index finger. Call-up Andy Parrino and Eric Sogard have shared duty at the position in Lowrie’s absence.

• Oakland has outscored opponents by 161 runs. That’s the most in the majors by a wide margin. The Washington Nationals are second at plus-93. The A’s franchise record is plus-239, in 2001.

• Left-hander Fernando Abad has stranded all 23 inherited runners this season. That’s the most in the majors among relievers who have not allowed an inherited runner to score in 2014.

Morning Briefing: On the road again

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
5:57
AM ET
NEW YORK

FIRST PITCH: After a two-game homestand, the Mets return to the road.

The Amazin’s open a four-game series at Pittsburgh, with Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1, 2.68 ERA) opposing right-hander Vance Worley (1-0, 1.98) at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at PNC Park. The Mets also make a stop at Atlanta during the trip.

Juan Lagares, who had been on the disabled list with a strained intercostal muscle on his right side, will be activated for the series opener.

The Mets optioned lightly used Wilmer Flores (.225, 1 HR, 7 RBIs) to Triple-A Las Vegas to clear the roster spot. That means Ruben Tejada will be leaned on heavily at shortstop, since the Mets do not have a bona fine backup on the major league roster.

Eric Campbell has played only two pro games at shortstop -- both this season with Vegas. David Wright fancies himself a shortstop and can be used there in a pinch, but it would be hard to foresee him ever getting a start there. (Jacob deGrom, who has a .333 average, played shortstop in college at Stetson.)

The Mets will now have seven active outfielders, if you’re liberal in your counting: Curtis Granderson, Lagares, Chris Young, Eric Young Jr., Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Bobby Abreu and, at least in terms of capabilities, Campbell.

Meanwhile, the Mets will again get to catch up with Ike Davis this weekend. Davis is hitting .254 with four homers and 19 RBIs and has a .360 on-base percentage in 58 games since the trade for Zack Thornton and player-to-be-named Blake Taylor, a left-hander who made his organization debut with four scoreless innings in the Gulf Coast League on Tuesday.

Thursday’s news reports:

• On the heels of his first complete game, Zack Wheeler had his shortest career start. Wheeler allowed a career-high six earned runs in two innings and the Mets had a three-game winning streak snapped with an 8-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics.


Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsZack Wheeler had his shortest career start Wednesday.


Wheeler thought A’s baserunners had been relaying the location of his pitches to batters. The bigger issue: his fastball “leaking” over the plate.

Down by eight runs, Lucas Duda had a pinch-hit three-run homer, for his first extra-base hit against a southpaw this season. Chris Young added a two-run homer, for his first third homer in two games, calming talk of his potential release.

Wright’s streak of consecutive games with an RBI ended at a career-high-matching seven.

Columnist Anthony Rieber in Newsday suggests Wheeler more resembles A.J. Burnett than Matt Harvey, and Wright apparently doesn’t disagree. Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News also dissects Wheeler’s outing.

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

• Read more on Lagares’ activation and Flores’ demotion in the Star-Ledger, Record and Newsday.

• Catcher Kevin Plawecki, a supplemental first-round pick in 2012 out of Purdue, has been promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He will represent the Mets in the Futures Game in Minneapolis alongside Noah Syndergaard.

• First baseman Matt Clark asked for and was granted his release by the organization from Double-A Binghamton. Clark, 27, signed with the Mets late in the offseason after slugging 25 homers in Japan in 2013. He was hitting .297 with 10 homers and a team-high 46 RBIs with the B-Mets, but was poised to lose playing time with younger players the priority.

• The Mets announced the signings of six additional draft picks, although most had been known and/or already appeared in minor league games: right-hander Gabriel Llanes (15th round), outfielder Raphael Ramirez (18th), outfielder Tucker Tharp (30th), left-hander Kurtis Horne (31st), outfielder Arnaldo Berrios (39th) and Dale Burdick (40th). Berrios is a product of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. The Mets have signed 26 of their 39 picks.

• Andrew Beaton in the Journal tries to decode what a positive run differential and losing record means.

• The Mets will be conservative with Wheeler’s innings, Terry Collins indicated. Still, Wheeler logged 168 2/3 innings in 2013. So approaching 200 innings, if he’s capable, would not seem outlandish. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

John Lannan, who had not pitched in a game since being outrighted by the Mets in mid-April, allowed five runs on one hit and four walks and recorded only one out in a start for Class A St. Lucie at Fort Myers on Wednesday. Octavio Acosta allowed a solo homer but no other hits in six innings as Brooklyn beat Aberdeen, 5-1. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Harvey expects to throw off a mound for the first time in mid-July. Read more in the Post.

Scott Kazmir feels sympathy for Victor Zambrano. "It’s unfortunate how that went down with Victor Zambrano because I’m sure he’s a great guy," Kazmir told Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger. "He didn’t deserve all that. It was something where maybe he -- I don’t know. I don’t know what happened with the injury or anything like that, but if he would have done fine, if he would have done good with the Mets, maybe we wouldn’t even be talking about this trade. It’s just one of those things.”

BIRTHDAYS: Derek Jeter, the other captain in New York, turns 40. ... Double-A Binghamton reliever Hamilton Bennett is 26. ... Former pitcher Jason Middlebrook is 39. ... Ex-infielder Luis Hernandez is 30.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who should play shortstop if Ruben Tejada has a day off?

Series preview: Mets vs. A's

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
1:35
PM ET

Getty Images/Associated PressThe Mets are due to face left-handers Scott Kazmir and Brad Mills during a two-game series against Oakland.
METS (35-41, fourth place/NL East) vs. OAKLAND ATHLETICS (47-29, first place/AL West)

Tuesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (7-5, 3.88) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (9-2, 2.08), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-7, 3.93) vs. LHP Brad Mills (0-0, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. ET

A’s short hops

Sonny Gray (7-3, 2.91 ERA) had been lined up to face the Mets in the series opener, but will have his start pushed back to Saturday at Miami to conserve the 24-year-old ace’s innings. He has tossed a team-high 99 innings this season.

As a result, Scott Kazmir moves up to Tuesday to oppose Bartolo Colon. After a successful 2013 season with Cleveland, Kazmir signed a two-year, $22 million deal with Oakland to replace Colon, who signed the two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets.

The ex-Mets farmhand Kazmir, 30, will be pitching in Queens for the first time since the notorious July 30, 2004, trade that sent him to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano. Kazmir struck out 12 Mets in six scoreless innings in his first meeting against his original club last September in Cleveland.

Kazmir is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA and .184 opponent batting average in his past five starts. Overall, his 2.08 ERA leads the American League, narrowly ahead of runner-up Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees (2.11). Kazmir’s average fastball velocity is 90.8 mph this season, down from 92.5 mph a year ago with the Indians, but significantly higher than his 86.5 mph with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011, when he was dumped and his career appeared done.

Kazmir told ESPNNewYork.com last year about facing the Mets for the first time: “I guess you can say there will always be something there from it being the team that drafted me. 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.

“When I was there, it was a completely different staff, front office, players and everything. Plus, I never really got to the big leagues with the Mets. It’s nice to see the guys that I got drafted with and stuff like that, but it just seems like I’ve already turned the page.”

Brad Mills, 29, made his A’s debut Friday against Boston. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks and threw 94 pitches in four innings. He had been 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts) for Triple-A Nashville in the Milwaukee Brewers organization this season before Oakland purchased his contract for $1. Mills took over in the rotation for Drew Pomeranz, who punched a chair after a poor start and fractured his right hand.


Otto Greule Jr./Getty ImagesJosh Reddick is returning from the disabled list to face the Mets.


• Right fielder Josh Reddick (.214, 4 HR, 22 RBIs) will return from the disabled list for Tuesday’s series opener. He already had a rehab assignment for a hyperextended right knee.

Kyle Blanks departed Sunday’s game with a left calf strain and will be placed on the DL. Blanks has been platooning with Brandon Moss at first base. The righty-hitting Blanks, 27, was acquired from the San Diego Padres on May 15 for Jake Goebbert and player-to-be-named Ronald Herrera. He is hitting .333 (15-for-45) with two homers and seven RBIs since the trade.

• Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson leads by more than one million votes over Texas’ Adrian Beltre in the latest American League All-Star balloting at third base. Yoenis Cespedes has climbed to fourth among outfielders, while No. 2 Derek Norris now trails leader Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles by 365,920 votes at catcher.

Cespedes leads the majors with nine outfield assists.

Oakland carries three catchers. Norris was struck in the head on a backswing by Boston’s Jonathan Herrera. He reportedly passed a concussion test, but has been struck multiple times before.

• A’s manager Bob Melvin and bench coach Chip Hale were among the serious candidates for the Mets managerial job that went to Terry Collins. Melvin said he is definitely interested in seeing the ex-A’s pitcher Colon bat. “We may walk Bartolo intentionally a couple of times just to get him on the basepaths, see him run around a little bit,” Melvin joked to Bay Area media.

• Oakland leads the majors in runs scored (389), on-base percentage (.336), ERA (3.02) and opponent batting average (.228).

• The A’s are the lone major league team not to use a rookie this season.

• Left-hander Sean Doolittle has not allowed a run in his past 22 appearances. The 24 1/3 scoreless innings streak is the longest active streak in the AL. He is the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 45 while issuing no more than one walk to begin a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Former Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis has appeared in five games in relief since being claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on May 18.

• Shortstop Jed Lowrie is hitting .117 (7-for-60) with seven walks and 16 strikeouts in his past 15 games.

Morning Briefing: A day to exhale

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
5:40
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets exhale Monday with a day off before opening a brief two-game homestand against the American League West-leading Oakland Athletics (47-29).

The Mets originally lined up to draw Sonny Gray in Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. opener. Instead, the A’s will delay the 24-year-old Gray’s next start until Saturday in Miami to conserve his innings.

So Scott Kazmir will pitch for the first time in Queens on Tuesday, opposite Bartolo Colon. Kazmir was signed by Oakland for two years, $22 million after Colon departed for a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets.

Zack Wheeler now faces left-hander Brad Mills on Wednesday. The Mets then head out again for a trip to Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

Monday’s news reports:

• Seven Mets starters had multi-hit games and Jonathon Niese, with unaccustomed run support, won his first game in a month as the Mets beat the Marlins, 11-5, on Sunday. The Mets, who even pulled off a successful suicide squeeze on Niese’s bunt, won three of four games in the series.

Mets players have been celebrating hits by waving towels in the dugout. And the practice has been picking up steam. The team had a season-high-matching 17 hits Sunday.

“We started thinking about it, and it popped right from my memory of the Bulls and their three-peat championship -- Cliff Levingston or Stacey King out there waving a towel all the time,” Curtis Granderson told reporters postgame. “It just popped in my head, and we’ll do that when we get a hit. We started doing it and then a couple other guys did it and now we just needed the guy on the base to do it back. Then it got a little bigger. Now we’ve seen the guys in the bullpen doing it and some of the fans in the stands are doing it.”

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

• The San Diego Padres fired GM Josh Byrnes, and elevated Omar Minaya to an interim position helping lead the baseball-operations department. Read the news story at ESPN.com.

Juan Lagares is due to play with Double-A Binghamton on Monday as his rehab assignment continues. Lagares is expected to be activated later this week.

Travis d'Arnaud, who is expected to be promoted during the Oakland series, struck out as a pinch hitter and Zack Thornton surrendered two runs in the 11th as Las Vegas lost to Memphis, 7-5. Eudy Pina and L.J. Mazzilli had two doubles apiece as St. Lucie beat Jupiter, 10-6, in a rain-shortened game. Brandon Brosher and Ivan Wilson homered in Kingsport’s 5-2 win against Bluefield. Gaither Burmgardner tossed four scoreless relief innings to earn a save as Brooklyn beat Aberdeen, 2-1. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• A team insider told ESPNNewYork.com that team officials were still weighing which catcher -- Anthony Recker or Taylor Teagarden -- would be dropped once d’Arnaud is promoted. Read more in the Daily News.

• Zach Braziller in the Post reviews Nelson Cruz’s accomplishments since the Mets did not sign him this offseason.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear advises taking things one game, one inning and one pitch at a time.

BIRTHDAYS: Right-hander Juan Castillo, who made his only two major league starts for the Mets, was born in Venezuela, on this date in 1970.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Have you forgiven the Mets for trading Scott Kazmir?

Morning Briefing: Kaz in Queens looms

June, 22, 2014
Jun 22
5:45
AM ET

Ben Margot/Associated PressScott Kazmir is coming to town this week with the Oakland Athletics.
MIAMI

FIRST PITCH: The Mets will not be home for long, but they will get to head to NYC for a few days after completing a series at Marlins Park on Sunday at 1:10 p.m.

Jonathon Niese (3-4, 2.67 ERA) opposes rookie right-hander/New Jersey native Anthony DeSclafani (1-1, 5.60).

The Mets are off Monday, then host the Oakland Athletics in a two-game series.

Scott Kazmir will pitch in Queens on Wednesday for the first time since he infamously was traded away by the Mets on July 30, 2004. He will be opposite Zack Wheeler.

Those two pitchers actually lined up last September in Cleveland, in Kazmir’s first-ever matchup against the Mets. Kazmir tossed six scoreless innings that day, striking out 12 in an 8-1 win by the Indians.

After the two-game series against the A’s at Citi Field, the Mets ship out to Pittsburgh and Atlanta to complete a stretch in which they will have played 25 of 33 on the road.

Sunday’s news reports:

• In his eighth major league start, rookie Jacob deGrom finally earned his first career win. DeGrom tossed seven scoreless innings and combined with Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia as the Mets shut out the Marlins, 4-0. David Wright went 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs scored. Lucas Duda added a two-run homer in the ninth.

Wright has a six-game hitting streak and has driven in a run in five straight games. He is hitting .435 (10-for-23) with two homers during the mini-spurt. Mets pitchers have a 1.27 ERA in the past five games.

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

• Read more on Wright in the Daily News.


Koji Sasahara/Associated PressWould the Mets actually fork over big money for Cuban defector Yasmani Tomas? That remains to be seen.


• Will the Mets open up their wallets and pursue Cuban defector Yasmani Tomas? Writes Mike Puma in the Post:

General manager Sandy Alderson said it’s too early to say if he will pursue Cuban defector Yasmani Tomas. But Alderson clearly seems intrigued by the 23-year-old.

“A corner outfielder with power?” Alderson said, smiling.

Tomas must establish legal residency and clear hurdles with the State Department before he can sign with a club, according to Alderson.

• Terry Collins has heard that MLB will institute a must-slide rule on contested plays at the plate next season. Read more on plate collisions and the Mets’ Friday dispute in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

Juan Lagares (side muscle) played a full game in center field and went 0-for-4 in his second rehab appearance in the Gulf Coast League.

Jeremy Hefner plans to throw breaking balls off a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery as well as increase his fastball velocity to near-normal levels during a throwing session Sunday at Marlins Park. Hefner, who underwent the procedure last Aug. 28, expects to be available to pitch in the majors this season. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Kaja Whitehouse in the Post wonders if embattled Mets minority owner Steve Cohen will be forced to sell his investment in the club.

• “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” on HBO will do a segment featuring Darryl Strawberry on Tuesday at 10 p.m. The program visits Strawberry and his wife Tracy Boulware Strawberry in St. Louis.

The 52-year-old Strawberry is now an ordained minister and founder of a recovery center for substance-abuse users. He discusses losing his entire baseball earnings, drug addiction, two bouts with colon cancer and jail time.

Strawberry tells the program he became a heroin user after his playing career.

“It was like I was completely out of my mind, sittin' there for four or five days, smokin' crack,” he says. “Doesn't matter if you Darryl Strawberry or, you know, you the richest man on earth. When -- if you're addicted, it will take you to places that you could never imagine.”

Strawberry and his future wife met at a Narcotics Anonymous convention, according to the program. She had her demons in check. He did not.

“The clothes are just hanging off of his body. He's sitting in a chair and he's like part of the fabric in the chair. He looks like the walking dead,” Mrs. Strawberry now says. “He told me not to get involved with him. ‘Girl, you have no idea what you're gettin' yourself into.’ He said, ‘You stay with me and I'm gonna take you through.’

“There were several times where he would go out to use and he would call me on the phone and just say, ‘I’m done. I can't do it anymore. I can't get well. I just -- there's no hope for a person like me. I’m tryin’ everything. Nothin’s enough. Love is not enough.’ He said, ‘I’m gonna use tonight until I die.’

“I’m running out and I’m banging down crack-house doors and I’m pulling him outta places that I used to be in.”

The future Mrs. Strawberry resolved at that point to leave Florida and head to her native St. Louis. Recalling how she told her parents, she said: “I call them halfway into the drive, ‘Mom and Dad, I'm coming home.’ And they're ecstatic. They're happy. They're crying. And, ‘By the way … I’m bringing Darryl Strawberry with me.’”

• Noah Syndergaard allowed two homers and five runs in 6 2/3 innings with Las Vegas. Steven Matz allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings in his Double-A debut, but the B-Mets rallied for a 7-6 win against Bowie. Michael Fulmer was struck with a line drive on the left forearm and departed after three pitches in Game 1 of a doubleheader. St. Lucie lost the opener, but rebounded for a 2-0 win against Fort Myers in Game 2 behind Matt Koch’s 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

Champ Stuart stole the show in the 11th as Savannah beat Greenville, 7-6. Brandon Brosher had two homers in Kingsport’s 9-5 win against Danville.

Cory Mazzoni (lat) and Luis Mateo (elbow) both pitched in their first official games since suffering injuries as the GCL Mets were blanked by the GCL Nats, 8-0. Read the full minor-league recap here.

• Outfielder Luke Bonfield, the Mets’ 21st-round pick, tweeted he will attend the University of Arkansas rather than sign with the Mets. Dale Burdick, the 40th-round pick, tweeted he will sign with the Mets. Fifteenth-round pick Gabriel Llanes, a prep right-hander from California, signed entering the weekend, he tweeted.

Burdick, a high school shortstop selected in the final round, will receive a $150,000 signing bonus to lure him away from attending Mississippi State, Chip Cirillo writes in the Tennessean. Burdick told the newspaper the Mets originally offered $100,000, but decided to give him an extra $50,000 since they had the sum remaining after agreeing to the monetary terms with first-round pick Michael Conforto. An agreement with Conforto has not yet been announced.

• Lynn Worthy in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin explains how B-Mets manager Pedro Lopez will attempt to juggle his overcrowded roster with the addition of five highly regarded prospects from St. Lucie.

• The St. Lucie Mets have been awarded the 2015 Florida State League All-Star Game. It will be played on June 20 at Tradition Field.

• Terry Collins explained why umpire Gary Cederstrom laughed before ejecting the manager on June 11 at Citi Field.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear decides it could do without most of the current Mets. ... Faith and Fear also noticed the arrival of summer coincided with deGrom's arrival in the win column.

BIRTHDAYS: Former catcher Ron Hodges turns 65. ... Ex-Mets outfielder Willie Harris is 36. ... Binghamton outfielder Darrell Ceciliani, who is just returning from a concussion, is 24. ... Savannah right-hander Miller Diaz (5-1, 2.40 ERA) is 22.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Is a must-slide rule at the plate sensible in Major League Baseball?

Five offseason questions for Mets

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
9:00
AM ET
Illustration by Remie GeoffroiEven with the Mets expected to spend this offseason, the payroll figures to go down because so much is coming off the books.
NEW YORK -- GM Sandy Alderson has no shortage of work to do this offseason to reconfigure the New York Mets' roster.

Here are five questions that must be resolved:

1. Who gets dealt?

Something figures to give at first base between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, but that is not the most intriguing trade chip the Mets possess. Team insiders say the Mets also will listen on Daniel Murphy.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesThe Mets are expected to listen on offers for Daniel Murphy this offseason.
That does not mean the Mets expect to trade Murphy. It means if they get a quality offer that would address, say, a shortstop or outfield hole, they would strongly weigh making such a move.

How would the Mets adjust to trading Murphy? Fans may clamor for Wilmer Flores to take over at second base, but the early insider speculation is that Eric Young Jr. most likely would handle the position.

While not labeling it a mistake to let Jose Reyes walk given the contract he received from the Miami Marlins, Mets execs recognize they have lacked a speed element since his departure. At least, they lacked a speed element until Young arrived in a June 18 trade with the Colorado Rockies for Collin McHugh.

So absent another leadoff hitter and deficient in speed throughout the lineup, Young likely is a starter somewhere on the Mets next season -- even though he may be best-suited on a top team as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

As for Duda or Davis, there are strong internal preferences about which first baseman to retain. An ESPNNewYork.com survey found seven of nine scouts preferred Duda.

But the Mets’ approach is expected to be to solicit offers on Davis and Duda and see which commands the more generous offer relative to his internal value.

While it seems likely one departs, Duda does have a minor league option remaining. So there is a scenario in which both return and Duda opens the season at Las Vegas while the Mets see whether Davis again starts the season slowly.

Regardless, there seems to be no consideration to nontendering Davis in December, despite his $3.125 million salary in 2013.

2. What’s the 2014 payroll?

Money always seems to be the question with the Mets.

And brace yourself: The payroll likely will go down from its 2013 level of roughly $95 million.

Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsJohan Santana's $31 million for this season, including a 2014 buyout, comes off the books.
Wait, wait, wait ... before you have a coronary:

Mets insiders suggest they have more than adequate flexibility to be aggressive in free agency if they choose. But, they add, it would not be “sane” after getting out from under albatross contracts to reinvest all that money in one offseason and likely get saddled with a new crop of bad contracts down the road.

Coming off the books:

Johan Santana, $31 million (including a $5.5 million buyout)
Jason Bay, $21 million (albeit $15 million deferred as much as two years)
Frank Francisco, $6.5 million
John Buck, $6 million (less what the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up for September)
Shaun Marcum, $5 million-plus (including incentives)

That’s roughly $70 million right there.

David Wright’s contract calls for a $9 million raise, and Jonathon Niese gets a $2 million raise. A handful of other players eligible for arbitration will have salary increases too.

But there is little chance those raises, plus external additions, match the amount coming off the books.

So figure the Mets’ payroll to go modestly down in 2014, even with several external additions.

3. Will the Mets sign a top-tier free agent?

As it turns out, the Mets will have a top-10 draft pick -- meaning they will not need to forfeit their first-round selection if they sign a premium free agent such as Shin-Soo Choo.

Harry How/Getty ImagesBidding for Shin-Soo Choo figures to exceed the Mets' appetite.
Still, a team insider said, with the exception of Choo, the Mets do not intend to pursue those types of free agents anyway (think outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson). So the protected/unprotected issue was wasted energy to debate.

The Mets, according to an insider, also do not intend to offer more than a Michael Bourn-type contract for Choo, which means four guaranteed years. Their reasoning: Choo is not an exceptional fielder. And his power potential is not equivalent to outfielders who have received megadeals, such as Jayson Werth (seven years, $126 million in December 2010).

So if Scott Boras can do better -- and the bet is he can, especially with Hunter Pence getting five years and $90 million to stay with the San Francisco Giants -- Choo likely is headed elsewhere.

Look for the Mets to adopt the Boston Red Sox's model from last offseason, which means spending money on five or six middle-tier free agents.

Last offseason, Boston signed:

Shane Victorino, three years, $39 million
Ryan Dempster, two years, $26.5 million
Jonny Gomes, two years, $10 million
Stephen Drew, one year, $9.5 million
David Ross, two years, $6.2 million
Mike Napoli, one year, $5 million
Koji Uehara, one year, $4.25 million.

They also acquired Joel Hanrahan in a trade.

4. Will Harvey need surgery?

The Mets and Matt Harvey clearly are on different pages about the need for Tommy John surgery.

The Mets’ press release at the time of Harvey’s announcement that he would attempt rehab and a throwing program for six to eight weeks clearly implied Harvey needed to disprove the need for surgery with that two-month program.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsMatt Harvey is not out of the woods yet as far as Tommy John surgery.
Alderson said Friday he can really count only on Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee in 2014.

So the Mets likely need to obtain one veteran starting pitcher as a hedge against Harvey missing next season. If Harvey ends up OK, that starter could compete with youngsters such as Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

The question becomes: Will the acquisition be at the Bronson Arroyo-type price? Or at the Daisuke Matsuzaka/Aaron Harang level?

(If Harvey commits to surgery within a couple of months, the Mets likely would need to be more aggressive.)

One reunion ESPNNewYork.com hears is unlikely to occur: the Mets and Scott Kazmir.

Right-hander Cory Mazzoni -- a Double-A starter this season -- could compete for a bullpen spot out of spring training but is not in the rotation consideration right now. Double-A closer Jeff Walters may be a relief factor too.

Down the road, watch for right-hander Gabriel Ynoa -- a 17-game winner at low-Class A Savannah this season -- to rise quickly through the system and threaten to crack the big league rotation.

5. Who mans shortstop?

It might be easier to answer the question: Who doesn’t man shortstop?

It remains unclear whether the Mets will go outside the organization, although that would seem the better course.

Team insiders believe that if the Mets can get above-average production from the corner outfielders they add this winter, then maybe they can go with a defensive-oriented shortstop.

The organization consensus is Omar Quintanilla cannot hit enough to be an every-day guy. And team brass believes Wilfredo Tovar needs more time in the minors for seasoning, despite the positive start to his major league career.

Terry Collins recently described the shortstop job as Ruben Tejada’s to lose among internal candidates. But that was the manager going rogue and not the organizational view.

So Tejada’s days with the Mets, at least in the majors, may be numbered.

The Mets do not view Tejada as a backup middle-infielder candidate. That is Justin Turner’s job in all likelihood in 2014.

So it likely is starter or bust for Tejada. And he is going to have to bust it to get into shape after his fractured leg heals to prove he merits the job.

The series in Metrics (Mets vs. Indians)

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
12:30
PM ET
Cleveland didn't quite rock for the Mets, as they lost two of three games to the Indians. Here's a quick snapshot of the statistical highlights.

EY delivers again
Eric Young Jr. continued a recent hot streak with the game-winning hit in the Mets' lone victory in the series on Sunday. It was his second career go-ahead hit in the ninth inning or later, both of which have come with the Mets.

Young is 15-for-40 (.375 batting average) with nine runs scored, six RBIs and five steals in his last 10 games. He’s in the midst of a stretch in which he’s been safe on 16 of his last 17 steal attempts.

The Mets are 36-34 in Young’s 70 games played (28-43 without him). Estimates on his value to the team using advanced stats vary from 0.9 Wins Above Replacement (via Baseball-Reference.com) to 2.0 Wins Above Replacement (via Fangraphs.com), though both are big fans of his baserunning.

In fact, for the season Young rates third in the majors in Fangraphs’ baserunning metric (Ultimate Baserunning Rating or UBR), contributing 8.6 runs, 8.2 of which have come with the Mets. He has the highest UBR in the game (3.8) over the last 30 days.

LaTroy’s late life
LaTroy Hawkins picked up his eighth save in nine tries since taking over the closer’s role when Bobby Parnell went on the disabled list. He’s been credited with a scoreless outing in 16 of his last 18 appearances.

If it seems like Hawkins has had a little extra life on his fastball the last two times out (in Cleveland and Atlanta), that would seem to be so. His last 14 heaters have averaged nearly 95 mph. For the season, Hawkins’ fastball averages 92.5 mph.

Kazmir the Magnificent
Scott Kazmir pitched brilliantly against the Mets in the series opener, striking out 12 and walking none over six scoreless innings.

He’s the first pitcher to have at least 12 strikeouts and no walks against the Mets since John Smoltz had a 15-strikeout game against them in April, 2005 (Willie Randolph’s first managerial win).

Kazmir was the sixth pitcher to hit those benchmarks without allowing a run, the only one of the six to be left-handed.

Kazmir hit 95 mph on the radar gun 17 times, the second-most he’s done so in a game this season. The Mets were helpless against those pitches, getting one hit against them and striking out seven times.

Standings Watch
The Mets finished this series 64-77, their winning percentage of .454 ranking eighth-worst in baseball. This is important because if the Mets finish in the bottom 10 of the standings, their first-round draft pick would not be taken away if they signed a top-level free agent (one whose team extended him a qualifying offer).

It’s going to be a very tight “race” for one of those bottom 10 spots, as there are 14 teams with a legit chance to finish that low. The Mets “lead” over the teams with the 11th- and 12th-best records is slim, just one game over the Phillies and 1 1/2 games over the Rockies.

Morning Briefing: The day after ...

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
5:41
AM ET
FIRST PITCH: And now the rest of the series …

Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.66 ERA) opposes Cleveland Indians right-hander Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54) at 6:05 tonight at Progressive Field.

Then it’s Daisuke Matsuzaka on Sunday.

Saturday’s news reports:

Scott Kazmir struck out 12 and walked none in six scoreless innings in his first meeting against his original organization and the Indians beat the Mets, 8-1, Friday night. Zack Wheeler struggled with his control and walked five in five innings. Wheeler allowed three runs (two earned). Former Mets reliever Joe Smith also faced the Amazin’s for the first time in his career. Smith tossed a scoreless eighth to preserve a three-run lead at that point.

Kazmir downplayed facing the Mets as a motivation.

“The front office, the players, everybody is different over there now,” he said, via the Akron Beaon Journal. “It might be different if I was pitching against guys I knew and played with.”

He added: "It's great it was against the team that drafted me, but that definitely wasn't crossing through my mind when I was out there on the mound. We're playing for a playoff spot right now. That's the one thing I'm thinking about when I go out to the mound."

Indians manager Terry Francona told the Beacon Journal about Kazmir facing the Mets: “I think he was a little jazzed up. However guys do it, as long as they’re not breaking any laws, whatever they use for motivation, I’ll take it.”

Cleveland moved to within two games of a wild-card spot.


Courtesy of New York MetsScott Rice requires surgery for a sports hernia.


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

• Left-hander Scott Rice, the major league leader in relief appearances, will undergo season-ending surgery for a sports hernia next week. Rice made his major league debut this season at age 31, after toiling in the minors and independent ball since 1999. The issue had bothered him since mid-June. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• The Mets promoted ex-Yankees left-hander Sean Henn to take Rice’s spot. Until signing with the Mets in early April, Henn had been home in Texas, figuring his career was over. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Behind seven scoreless innings from Long Island native Steven Matz, Savannah advanced to the South Atlantic championship series with a 5-0 win against Augusta. Binghamton was swept by the Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League playoffs and eliminated. Cory Wade recorded the final five outs and Las Vegas forced Game 4 of its Pacific Coast League series with a 3-2 win against Salt Lake. Read the full minor league recap here.

Read more on Binghamton’s elimination, and the ejections of Danny Muno, Wilfredo Tovar and manager Pedro Lopez, in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.

Frank Francisco tossed a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts as Binghamton was eliminated. Stay tuned for what is next regarding the portly ex-closer. Mets insiders privately have doubted Sandy Alderson would allow Francisco to return to the major league team before the season’s end.

• Former Mets farmhand Yusmeiro Petit came within one out of a perfect game for the San Francisco Giants against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Eric Chavez ended the big with a two-out, two-strike hit in the ninth. The pitchers who have thrown no-hitters after playing for the Mets at the major league level and then departing: Nolan Ryan (seven), Tom Seaver, Mike Scott, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Hideo Nomo and Philip Humber. Petit became the 12th pitcher to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

BIRTHDAYS: Jason Isringhausen, who taught Bobby Parnell the knuckle-curve, turns 41. … Former reliever Brian Stokes is 34. .. David Newhan turns 40.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets pursue Scott Kazmir and/or Joe Smith as free agents this offseason?

Rapid Reaction: Indians 8, Mets 1

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
10:04
PM ET
Scott Kazmir had downplayed the significance of his matchup with the Mets, but the organization's 2002 first-round pick rose to the occasion on Friday.

Kazmir, in his first-ever matchup against the Mets nine years after getting traded away for Victor Zambrano, struck out 12 in six scoreless innings. He outdueled current phenom Zack Wheeler as the Cleveland Indians beat the Mets, 8-1, at Progressive Field.

Kazmir's final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K.


David Richard/USA TODAY SportsScott Kazmir struck out 12 in six scoreless innings.


It marked the sixth time a starter registered a double-digit strikeout performance against the Mets this season. Kazmir joined Chris Sale (13), Max Scherzer (11), Tim Lincecum (11), Shelby Miller (10) and Mike Minor (10).

Meanwhile, Wheeler matched a career high by issuing five walks. He suffered his first road loss this season. Wheeler allowed three runs (two earned) while requiring 92 pitches to navigate five innings. He had a streak of five straight quality starts snapped. Wheeler had been 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA in eight starts away from Citi Field.

Kazmir wasn't the only ex-Met to face his former team for the first time. Reliever Joe Smith, traded away in the three-team deal that brought J.J. Putz and Sean Green to Queens during the 2008-09 offseason, tossed a scoreless eighth to preserve a 4-1 lead.

Nick Swisher produced a grand slam against Tim Byrdak in the bottom half of the eighth.

Deep thoughts: Justin Turner hit his first homer of the season, a solo shot in the seventh against reliever Cody Allen to pull the Mets within 4-1. It was Turner’s first homer in 181 at-bats, since last Sept. 25. The longest homer drought on the Mets belongs to Omar Quintanilla, who has gone 246 at-bats since his last homer.

Streaking: Juan Lagares extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Daniel Murphy extended his streak to 10 games.

Hurting: Wilmer Flores' ankle buckled and he grimaced during his first at-bat, but he completed the game. Flores had been out of the starting lineup for four of the past five games, and clearly is playing through discomfort that also restricts his mobility. He is 1-for-his-last-23.

Golden Sombrero: Andrew Brown struck out four times. The Mets K'd 15 times as a team.

What's next: Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.66 ERA) opposes right-hander Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54) at 6:05 p.m. ET Saturday.

Morning Briefing: Wally outta here?

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
8:26
AM ET
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 ESPNNewYork.com. “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.

Fangraphs.com 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?

Nine years later, Kazmir finally faces Mets

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
1:46
PM ET
Left-hander Scott Kazmir has produced two All-Star seasons, but this year with the Cleveland Indians may just be more meaningful.

After nearly two full seasons out of Major League Baseball, during which he spent a stretch with the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League, the 29-year-old Kazmir is back in the big leagues and productive.

Now, Kazmir -- a first-round pick by the Mets in 2002 -- faces his original organization for the first time Friday night, as the Indians and Mets meet in an interleague series in Cleveland.

“Of course the All-Star seasons were very special. This one stands alone just for how far I came throughout the last couple of years,” Kazmir said. “It’s something I’m very proud of.”


Paul Sancya/Associated PressScott Kazmir faces the Mets on Friday for the first time in his career.


In the series opener, Kazmir opposes Zack Wheeler -- the one-time Mets phenom versus the current Mets phenom.

Kazmir was dealt away by the Mets in what originally appeared would be one of the worst trades in organization history.

Kazmir’s career detour since the two All-Star appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays has lessened the sting. But if you want to get a rise out of a Mets fan, you can often still elicit a reaction by mentioning trading Kazmir and Jose Diaz to the Rays on July 30, 2004 for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.

The Mets went for the impulsive move of trading away their Double-A phenom because they were six games behind the Atlanta Braves entering a three-game series at Turner Field. They simultaneously acquired Kris Benson from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Before Zambrano ever pitched in a game for his new ballclub, though, Atlanta had swept the Mets, who fell hopelessly out of the division race.

Then-Mets GM Jim Duquette quietly advocated getting the trade annulled because Zambrano arrived with a balky elbow, but ownership nixed pursuing that route as to not rock the boat with the commissioner’s office.

Kazmir, having spent his career entirely in the American League, has never faced the Mets.

The closest he came was in 2009, when the Rays visited Citi Field. Kazmir did not return from a month-long disabled list stint until the following week.

“I guess you can say there will always be something there from it being the team that drafted me,” Kazmir said about facing his original club. “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.

“When I was there, it was a completely different staff, front office, players and everything. Plus, I never really got to the big leagues with the Mets. It’s nice to see the guys that I got drafted with and stuff like that, but it just seems like I’ve already turned the page.”

Did Kazmir ever monitor Zambrano’s unremarkable Mets career, which included a 10-14 record and 4.42 ERA over 2 seasons?

“I didn’t really try to concern myself about it too much,” Kazmir said. “I’m 20 years old in the big leagues. I’ve got enough to worry about. I was just concentrating on what I had to do.”

Because Kazmir was traded while in Double-A, he said the Mets influences on his career have been limited. His minor league teammates included David Wright and Angel Pagan for the latter part of the 2003 season with Class A St. Lucie.

“Going to my first big league spring training was a huge experience for me, even though it was a short stint,” Kazmir said “Being able to talk to [John] Franco and Tom Glavine and all of those Hall of Fame pitchers, to just be in the same room or do drills with them and stuff like that, that was a great experience -- just to see how they handled themselves.”

Kazmir is 7-7 with a 4.36 ERA in 24 starts for the Indians this season. He received a $1 million base salary, with the opportunity to earn $1.75 million in performance-based incentives.

He believes his mechanics slowly drifted out of whack, prompting the Angels to eventually release him on June 15, 2011, after he posted a 17.02 ERA in five Triple-A starts. His fastball averages 92.4 mph this season, comparable to his days with the Rays, and a full 5.9 mph more than his average fastball velocity in his lone major league appearance with the Angels two years ago.

As for returning to the majors after a nearly two-year absence that included the detour to the Atlantic League, Kazmir said: “There was never really a doubt for me. I always stayed confident the whole time. I went to independent ball knowing there were going to be bumps along the way. I felt like it was the right decision to get out there and get some innings, see some live hitters and to be able to just get my feet wet again after being out for so long.”

Morning Briefing: Zack-Kazmir line up

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
8:23
AM ET

Getty ImagesFormer top prospect Scott Kazmir faces current phenom Zack Wheeler on Friday in Cleveland.
ATLANTA

FIRST PITCH: Scott Kazmir once was the ace-in-waiting for the Mets, the organization’s top prospect, on the verge of a promising major league career.

Or, the Zack Wheeler of a decade ago.

Then, with the Mets entering a series at Turner Field and trailing the first-place Atlanta Braves by six games, team officials startled baseball by dealing a 20-year-old Kazmir to Tampa Bay on July 30, 2004 for Victor Zambrano.

Of course, the Mets proceeded to get swept by the Braves that series, with Zambrano unavailable to pitch because of a balky elbow.

While Zambrano ended up 10-14 with a 4.42 ERA over three seasons as a Met, Kazmir became a two-time All-Star.

The only thing that salvaged the trade becoming historically bad is injuries to Kazmir, who ended up pitching last year in independent ball with the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Now, worlds are set to collide, as the 29-year-old Kazmir lines up to face the 23-year-old Wheeler on Friday night in Cleveland. It will mark Kazmir’s first time ever facing his original organization.

Wheeler had no idea Kazmir ever was a top Mets prospect. He does now.

Of course, the Mets first continue a series in Atlanta, where that Kazmir trade (as well as one with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kris Benson) went down nearly simultaneously nine years ago.

Carlos Torres (3-2, 2.77 ERA) opposes right-hander Kris Medlen (11-12, 3.58) at 7:10 tonight.

Tuesday’s news reports:

Daisuke Matsuzaka surrendered six runs in three innings and the Mets lost to the Braves, 13-5, on Labor Day at Turner Field. Afterward, Terry Collins pledged Dice-K would make another start, Sunday at Cleveland. Still, it is worth noting that Aaron Harang made his organization debut Monday, allowing a two-run homer but no other damage in four innings with Triple-A Las Vegas. And Dice-K continuing is more of a front-office decision than Collins’ to make.

Harang logically would be an alternative to Matsuzaka, although Collins noted the Mets will need a sixth starter, including for a Sept. 14 doubleheader against the Miami Marlins.

Also in Monday’s game against the Braves, Tim Byrdak tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his first major league appearance since Aug. 1, 2012. And newly acquired reliever Vic Black inherited a bases-loaded jam and escaped by coaxing a flyout to right field from Andrelton Simmons.

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

Ike Davis said his goodbyes Monday, figuring he would be headed home to Phoenix for the remainder of the season after traveling to New York today and undergoing an MRI on his right oblique strain.

Josh Satin plans to learn how to play the outfield this offseason, and hold Marlon Byrd to a vow to teach him. “I’ve got a promise from Marlon Byrd that after I’m done with my wedding in November that he would train me on how to be an outfielder,” Satin told Mike Puma in the Post. “Now that he’s gone, let’s see if he lives up to that. I’m going to be all over him, calling him every day to work with me, because that’s a big key. Being able to fill in out there will definitely help me.”

• Read more on Harang in the Daily News and Star-Ledger.

• Read more on Byrdak in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Brooklyn was eliminated from postseason contention with its fourth straight loss. Greeneville beat Kingsport, 7-2, to set up a winner-take-all Game 3 tonight in that Appalachian League playoff series. Read the full minor league recap here.

• The Mets held their fantasy football draft on Monday night.

Midway through the draft, Satin tweeted about a team he shares with Justin Turner: “so far team turner and satin has rice, mjd, Andre Johnson, colston, Hakeem nicks, and Colin kaepernick.”

David Aardsma tweeted: “My Mets draft so far... P. manning, A. Morris, Daryl Richardson, b. green-Ellis, Aj green, d. Bowe, James jones, v. Davis”

And Dillon Gee tweeted about the team he co-owns with Scott Rice: “Team #GEEsusRice so far: Doug Martin,Demarco Murray, Brandon Marshall,jordy Nelson,Boldin,Stafford and Greg Olsen!! #FantasyFootball”

• ESPN named Juan Lagares its defensive player of the month for August.

From the bloggers ... As Dice-K labored, Faith and Fear in Flushing let its mind wander to other Mets Septembers.

BIRTHDAYS: Ced Landrum was born on this date in 1963.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Would you prefer Aaron Harang start Sunday at Cleveland?

Morning briefing: K-Rod wants reunion

March, 7, 2013
3/07/13
6:32
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey gets the Grapefruit League start today as the Mets face the Miami Marlins at 1:10 p.m. at Tradition Field. Greg Burke and Brandon Lyon also are scheduled to pitch.

The Marlins are scheduled to start right-hander Ricky Nolasco.

Thursday’s news reports:


Courtesy of New York Mets
Johan Santana is aiming to enter Grapefruit League play next Thursday.


Johan Santana is due to appear in a Grapefruit League game next Thursday against the Detroit Tigers in Port St. Lucie. Santana threw off a mound, while Zack Wheeler (oblique) long-tossed Wednesday. Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said Santana is “very sad” about being unable to represent his country in the World Baseball Classic. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Newsday, Journal, Post, Record, Daily News and MLB.com.

• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post writes about the Mets about to bridge two eras, with Santana fading and Wheeler about to ascend. “What’s not to be excited about?” special assistant J.P. Ricciardi told Sherman about Wheeler. “He’s got great stuff. He has a great arm. He is a nice kid. And he has a good work ethic. If you aren’t going to get excited about him, who are you going to get excited about?”

Jenrry Mejia, who was flagged for a thyroid issue in his initial physical, is scheduled to travel back from New York to Port St. Lucie this morning.

Miguel Cabrera led a juggernaut offense with two homers and Jonathon Niese tossed 2 1/3 innings as Venezuela beat the Mets, 14-10, in an exhibition game Wednesday at Tradition Field. Read more at MLB.com.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News discusses the importance of Niese to the franchise.

Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, not Ike Davis, was tabbed to replace injured Mark Teixeira on Team USA’s WBC roster. Joe Torre acknowledged considering Davis but suggested Hosmer already being in Arizona, where Team USA opens play against Mexico on Friday, was a major factor.

“There were a couple of issues,” Torre told David Lennon in Newsday. “We were looking for a left-hander, and Ike is certainly someone we talked about. We talked about Ryan Howard. But where we were, if we could stay in Arizona -- only because of how close we were to the end and he wouldn’t be able to get here for [Wednesday’s exhibition] game and stuff -- it just worked out perfect. He’s here.”

Read more in the Record.

• Although it is unlikely to materialize, Francisco Rodriguez said he would like to rejoin the Mets. K-Rod, who is pitching for Venezuela in the WBC, remains a free agent. Read more in the Star-Ledger, Post, Times, Newsday, Daily News and MLB.com.

David Wright went 2-for-4 with an RBI and played five innings at third base in Team USA’s WBC tune-up against the Colorado Rockies.

Marlon Byrd and Jordany Valdespin both got looks in center field during Wednesday’s game against Venezuela.

• Kevin Kernan in the Post checks in with Scott Kazmir at Cleveland Indians camp.

From the bloggers Faith and Fear in Flushing celebrates the prospective return of Pedro Feliciano, suggesting the wrong Mets icon's image is gracing the spring-training caps this year. … Mets Police reports the Amazin’s have a .684 winning percentage in games in which Dan Twohig has attended and kept score, dating to 1980.
BIRTHDAYS: Jeff Kent turns 45. … Right-hander Mauro Gozzo turns 47.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Whom should Joe Torre have chosen to replace Mark Teixeira on Team USA’s roster: Ike Davis, Paul Konerko, Ryan Howard or Eric Hosmer?

Kazmir to pitch on Long Island

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
11:45
AM ET
WASHINGTON -- Former Mets phenom Scott Kazmir, who is trying to make a comeback in the independent Atlantic League, is due to start for the Sugar Land Skeeters at the Long Island Ducks on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

Kazmir has made two starts so far on his comeback bid, and has allowed eight runs on eight hits and two walks in two innings.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.289 9 57 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187