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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mets News and Notes: Johnson, Santana's Awkward Stat, Gee, Alderson on WFAN, Mejia, Nieuwenhuis

Mets News and Notes:

Catcher Rob Johnson was suppose to be demoted to Triple-A Buffalo  instead he landed on the major league DL with a torn ligament in his left thumb.Johnson will not require surgery, but he is being prescribed six weeks off, which essentially makes the injury season-ending.

Before Shutting down Johan Santana, he allowed six earned runs or more in each of his last five starts, a franchise record. His 4.85 ERA for the season becomes the highest for a left-handed starter in franchise history, topping the 4.63 ERA posted by Glendon Rusch in 2001. ESPN Stats & Information notes that while all of Santana’s pitches were less intimidating after throwing the no-hitter, the biggest decline in effectiveness came from the changeup. Batters hit .143 against the changeup through the June 1 outing, then .304 in the next 10 starts. 

Dillon Gee plans to travel to St. Louis today. With six weeks having passed since his surgery to repair a damaged artery in his pitching shoulder, Gee expects to undergo an angiogram on Friday and be cleared to begin tossing a baseball. Gee does not expect to return this season.

Alderson, appearing on WFAN, insisted he did not have a precise payroll for next season dictated from ownership yet, although a source has told ESPN NY the figure is expected to be close to this season's total. The GM did say this year's payroll would fall just less than $100 million when the entire season's spending is included.

"Obviously I'm fully aware we've got a lot of money tied up in two or three players," Alderson said, referring to 2013. "We've got some guys we'd like to keep here -- David Wright being one, R.A. Dickey being another. We've got some guys that are going to be eligible for arbitration for the first time. So we've done some calculations as to, OK, if we have 'X' amount of money, this is what we can do. 'Y' amount of money, this is what we can do."

Asked about making a big free agent signing during the upcoming offseason, Alderson instead suggested trades are a more likely route to improve the team for 2013.

"For the purpose of this discussion, let's assume the payroll is the same," Alderson said. "I don't expect the same team on the field. Look, we've watched this team for two years. We've gotten similar results the two years. There are some positives. ... We need to get better, and not incrementally. ...

"Now, there are a couple of guys we like. Lucas Duda is somebody that's still in our plans when he comes back up here. Look, when he was sent down, he was at a point where his offense was just not carrying his defense, and we just had to make a decision at that point that we couldn't live with the defense at the level of his production. But I expect that he'll be back. ... I think we will probably try him in left field. There are lots of left fielders with a lot of offense that aren't the greatest defensively. ...

"So we need an infusion of players -- productive players, players who are going to hit for power. There are only two or three ways to acquire those. I'd say the more likely avenue for us would be trades. Let's be honest: So if we're going to get a right-handed power hitter or a left-handed power hitter, what's it going to cost us? Maybe $10 million to $12 million a year. If you look at [Michael] Cuddyer and [Jason] Kubel and guys like that, [Josh] Willingham, those are not five-tool players, but they're very productive players. Is that a possibility for next year? I wouldn't rule it out at this point. Again, I don't think we know what our budget is going to be. I haven't had those conversations. And my job right now is to set up a series of possibilities -- high, low, medium. ...

"The positive aspect of our player-development system is we have a lot of pitching. We have a lot of pitching at Triple-A. We have pitching up and down the system. We have four or five guys at Brooklyn that have been lights out all season. So we definitely have trade chips. We have players that we can trade if we decided that is the way to go. So I think we have assets. I don't know what kind of cash assets we'll have. That's to be determined. But I think our system is in a much better position today to make trades than it was two years ago, even a year ago."

Alderson took responsibility for the bullpen's lackluster performance this season, since that is where he used his available dollars last offseason. The GM suggested Zack Wheeler optimally is on a 2013 track comparable to Harvey's this season -- begin next season in Triple-A, then debut during the season as the need arises.

Jenrry Mejia allowed one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out six in six innings in Triple-A Buffalo's 2-1, 12-inning loss against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis will not require surgery on the partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot. But, after an examination, team doctors have determined Nieuwenhuis will not return this season. Nieuwenhuis struck out 98 times in 282 at-bats in 2012. That's the fewest at-bats per strikeout in a season in franchise history for someone with that at-bat total (2.88). Actually, Duda's 2012 rate (one strikeout every 3.27 at-bats) ranks second. The old record: Dave Kingman, who struck out every 3.28 at-bats in 1975 -- albeit while slugging 36 homers. 

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