Showing posts with label spring training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring training. Show all posts

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mets News: Mets will get to play Astros and Blue Jays in Spring Training

Mets News:

The Mets are on the verge of getting a pair of new spring-training neighbors.

The Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays plan to move into a new facility to be built in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Astros owner Jim Crane told the Houston Chronicle.

That is about a 45-minute drive from the Mets' home in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

It gives the Mets two additional teams within proximity, varying the opponents from a steady dose of seeing the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves in recent years.

The Mets had needed to make two-hour-plus bus trips to face non-division opponents as teams in recent years left the Atlantic side of the state, including the Los Angeles Dodgers moving to Arizona and the Baltimore Orioles leaving Fort Lauderdale for Sarasota.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Could Jordany Valdespin Be the Answer at 2B?

Despite their extra-innings tie, it was great to see some New York Mets baseball today.

The Mets came from behind to tie the Atlanta Braves, 5-5, in their opening spring training game at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie.

While the scores really mean nothing in spring training, it's the performance of players on the cusp that really makes a difference.

Some of today's positives include Fernando Martinez's two-run homer in the fifth, Chin-Lung Hu's perfectly executed hit-and-run in the ninth and Willie Harris' opposite field two-run homer in the tenth.

However, one of the things that might get overlooked in this game was the performance of 23-year old second baseman Jordany Valdespin.

Valdespin ripped an RBI double in the ninth inning to tie the game. He also showed great range on a few plays at second base.

With all the hype over who will play second base this season, Valdespin's name has taken a back seat. He likely isn't in the competition for this season, but he could be one of the possible long-term solutions.

Then again, so could Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy, Reese Havens or a player currently outside the organization.

Valdespin hit .289 with six home runs and 13 stolen bases in 65 games for the High Single-A St. Lucie Mets.

He is said to have a fiery personality and has clashed with his managers on several occasions.

He will need to put together a full season of productive baseball and controlling his attitude to get any consideration for a full-time gig at some point in the future.

Just based on the limited sample from today, Valdespin has all the tools to be an all-around second baseman: good speed, good range, good arm, good swing and even a little pop.

It's too early to deem him the future at second base, but a good year in the minors, coupled with inconsistent play from whoever plays second base this year, may propel Valdespin into the conversation.

At the very least, a good year from Valdespin may open another team's eyes to his talent. The Mets could then use him as a trade chip, assuming they are content with who is playing second base.

Valdespin will be someone the organization will keep a close eye in the minors this season. He should start at Double-A, with Justin Turner likely to get the majority of the playing time at Buffalo.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"If" Could Hold the Keys for Mets, Or Not

"IF" - A noun or conjunction: an uncertain possibility, a supposition, in case that, granting or supposing that.

The word “if” will hold much significance for the 2011 New York Mets.

Let’s start with the positives:
  • If Chris Young returns to his mid-2000s form and if R.A. Dickey pitches similarly to last year, the Mets will not be severely affected by the loss of Johan Santana.
  • If Jason Bay remembers how to hit, the Mets will have a consistent run producer in the middle of the order.
  • If Jose Reyes remains focused on baseball, the Mets will have the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game setting the table.
  • If Carlos Beltran stays healthy and plays to his potential, David Wright will receive plenty of protection in the batting order.
  • If K-Rod puts his demons behind him, the Mets will have a shut-down closer available in tight games.
  • If the Mets rid themselves of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, two younger players with more upside will be able to contribute to the roster.
  • If the second base situation is figured out early in spring training, that player can gain the confidence and experience needed to produce every day.
  • If Ike Davis and Josh Thole continue to develop, the Mets will have a strong batting order throughout.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

What to Watch for during Spring Training

Spring training is less than two weeks ago.

Though the New York Mets offseason has been mired by a lack of finances and now the money schemes of the owners, there is still much to look forward to this upcoming season.

If a few things fall into place simultaneously, who knows what we will be saying about this team in a few months?

They have talent and now appear to finally have some leadership.

Here are the 10 biggest developments to keep your eye on during spring training for the Mets.

10) Can the Mets Put the Madoff Scandal behind Them?

Earlier this week, Commissioner Bud Selig met with the Mets brass to discuss the team’s finances. There have been rumors that the Mets would like to complete a partial sale of the team by June.

Now reports have surfaced that the only reason Sandy Alderson took the GM job was due to pressure by Selig. Selig saw Alderson as the savior of the Mets.

Regardless of this off-the-field drama, there is one way to take the attention off these matters: win baseball games.

The Madoff scandal may have hurt the team’s finances, but they still have pieces to compete.

9) What Should the Mets Do with Their Young Talent?

While the Mets did not have a prospect in the top-50, they still have some young pieces that can contribute on the Major League level.

It looks like Jenrry Mejia will be starting the season in the minors as well as Ruben Tejada.

The real question marks surround Lucas Duda and Nick Evans. Both saw some time late last season and hit pretty well.

The Mets brought in Scott Hairston and Willie Harris to compete for the final two bench spots, so the best course of action may be to allow Duda and Evans to play every day in Buffalo and be prepared if a major injury occurs to a starter.

Fernando Martinez needs to prove he can stay healthy before being considered for the big club.

8) How Will the Players Coming Off Injuries Rebound?

Carlos Beltran missed the entire first half last year and struggled big time at the plate when he returned.

Jason Bay was having a mediocre season at best until suffering a concussion by crashing into the outfield wall in Los Angeles.

Jose Reyes was limited early in the season due to a thyroid condition.

New acquisition Chris Young started only four games last year and just 36 over the last three seasons.

These are all talented players and huge keys to the Mets’ success this year. They need to stay healthy and contribute for the team to make some noise.

7) What Will Be Dillon Gee’s Role?

Spring training may determine what the Mets plan to do with Dillon Gee.

Gee showed some promise in five starts in September, going 2-2 with a sub-3.00 ERA.

All of a sudden, the Mets rotation went from empty to overcrowded. Chris Capuano has pitched out of the bullpen before, so if the Mets feel Gee is ready, he would slide into the fifth spot with Capuano assuming long reliever responsibilities.

Gee is a great insurance plan to have, but it seems that the Mets will start the season with a rotation consisting of Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Chris Young and Chris Capuano.

6) How Will the Team Respond To No Johan Santana?

Santana had elbow surgery and hasn’t even begun throwing. Optimistically, he should rejoin the Mets after the All-Star break.

Though he is aging, he is still a bona fide ace in this league and leaves a huge hole atop of the Mets rotation.

Mike Pelfrey will attempt to fill that void, but it will have to be a group effort by all the starters.

One pitcher cannot pick up the slack of a Santana-type ace, so everyone will have to carry their weight.

5) What Will the Bullpen Look Like?

If you thought the Mets had a ton of options for the starting rotation, there are even more for the bullpen.

In no particular order, Bobby Parnell, Francisco Rodriguez, D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Taylor Tankersley, Tim Byrdak, Blaine Boyer, Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Pat Misch, Boof Bonser, Ryota Igarashi and (dare I say) Oliver Perez will be competing for seven spots.

That might only be six spots depending on the Dillon Gee/Chris Capuano situation.

Parnell, Rodriguez and Carrasco are guaranteed spots. Buchholz and Byrdak appear to be early favorites, but everything else is a crapshoot.

Spring training will determine who heads north.

4) How Will the Team Accept K-Rod?

As of now, K-Rod isn’t even on the 40-man roster, but he will have to be activated after spring training.

He claims to be healthy and ready to get back in action.

His season was cut short last year by that ugly incident, so it will be interesting to see how his teammates and the fans respond to him.

Everyone deserves a second chance. He was having a good season before the fight, so he hopefully has a little something left in the tank entering his contract year.

Based on the roster, the Mets will likely be involved in many close games, so it is imperative to have a strong closer for late in the game.

3) Who Will Play Center Field?

Angel Pagan “spread his wings” last year to the tune of a .290 BA and 37 SB. More importantly, he played a stellar center field defense for the first half of the season.

When incumbent Carlos Beltran returned, he immediately assumed center field duties despite his injured knee.

Pagan shifted to right for the remainder of the year.

If Beltran is healthy and shows he still has some mobility, it is his job to lose. Pagan has more experience in right, not only after last season, but also since he has been a fourth outfielder most of his career.

Terry Collins has said that he wants this dilemma solved early on during spring training so the two players can get comfortable in their respective positions.

2) Who Will Start at Second Base?

The Mets have plenty of in-house candidates to take over the second base position.

Luis Castillo is still around, and it looks like the Mets will be 100 percent sure he cannot play the position before handing it over.

Castillo has been in a steady physical decline during his entire tenure with the Mets. He did hit .302 in 2009, but he regressed so much last year that it seems the Mets are ready to go in a different direction.

Daniel Murphy looks like the favorite. He did not play last year due to an injury he suffered while playing second base. He has the bat, so if his defense can come around, he is a sound option.

Rule-5 pick Brad Emaus and Justin Turner will also get a look for the spot or even the utility infielder’s role.

1) How Will the Team Respond to Terry Collins?

Terry Collins joins the long list of men to take the helm of the New York Mets.

Many of the younger players are familiar with him since Collins served as a Minor League instructor last season.

He is known for his passion and intensity which can really wake up some of these Mets players in need of a jolt.

He doesn’t appear afraid to approach a player to get his point across.

While the games don’t count in spring training, it will be important for Collins to rattle off a few wins to build his team’s confidence.

Some analysts think that a change of regime was exactly what the Mets needed to turn things around.

The new regime is there, so let’s see how the team responds in spring training.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I'm Fed Up with Talk of the Wilpons

Boy, I can't wait for this season to get started.

This offseason has been filled with a negative feel, whether it be the fact that the Mets have no money to spend, the signing of "mediocre" free agents, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo's presence on the team, and now the hoopla surrounding the Wilpons' money scheme.

I have tried to overlook the negative and focus on the positive. Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins seem to have a plan moving forward. The team agreed to contracts with Pagan, Pelfrey and Dickey. I like the moves that roll the dice a little such as the signings of Chris Young and Chris Capuano. There's just two weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie.

I don't mind enduring the reports of the Wilpon scandal for two more weeks. But once the first player arrives at the Tradition Field complex, I hope the focus turns to the upcoming season rather than off the field problems.

Unfortunately, the last few seasons have been a mish-mosh of poor play on the field coupled with ugly off the field incidents.

From the collapse of 2007 to the Beltran surgery fiasco to K-Rod's actions to Charlie Samuels' betting and now back to the Madoff scandal, it has overshadowed what the Mets are trying to do. The team is trying to put a championship caliber ball club on the field for the loyal fans that support the team.

Naturally, this is much easier said than done and has taken longer than most fans would have hoped for. But a fast start to this season could quell much of the negative attention surrounding the team. And that starts when pitchers and catchers report.

The leadership is there, the talent is there, but now the results must be there.

Everyone seems to be looking ahead to next year when the team will have $60 million coming off the books. The expectations are that Alderson will bring in a few big time free agents to change the atmosphere.

But until this team is out of contention (and that sure as heck isn't in spring training), we loyal fans should rally behind our team, regardless of their off field issues.

It's amazing how quickly fans forget about problematic issues when their team performs well, and hopefully that winds up being the case for the 2011 Mets.

Originally featured at Mets Merized Online.
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