Archive for March, 2010

1986 to 2010: Confidence and Determination to Caution and Trepidation

March 28, 2010

Before the start of the 1986 Mets season, then manager Davy Johnson stood in front of all his players in the clubhouse and confidently proclaimed that this would be without a doubt the year in which the New York Mets would go all the way to the World Series and win it.

Coming off of two very successfully seasons in ’84 and ’85 that virtually put the Mets back on the baseball map, fans were also beginning to see the maturation of their farm system in pitcher Dwight Gooden and slugger Darryl Strawberry emerge right before their eyes. Why wouldn’t Johnson feel compelled to profess that his ball club was the best in the business?

Eager to prove the naysayers wrong that the Mets weren’t just a bunch of overfed, immature, downright scum, they fulfilled their manager’s prophecy in dramatic fashion no less and won the whole goddamn thing.

Fast forward to this upcoming season and to present-day Mets manager, Jerry Manuel, who has also made some of his own personal predictions although none as bold as his fiery predecessor’s. Manuel, who will be starting the 2010 season under the veneer of a lame-duck year, stood in front of his players and demanded at the very least fundamental baseball. Instead of using words like achievement and redemption, Manuel spoke in terms of prevention and recovery.

With a large majority of his players returning from the disabled list, Manuel is proceeding with caution. Like any good manager, Manuel would rather have his starting shortstop Jose Reyes available for the duration of the season rather than push him for Opening Day and place his overall status in jeopardy.

Looking back on the 1986 season, the Mets had Dwight Gooden’s dominating pitching, Keith Hernandez’ consistent play both defensively and at the plate, and a lethal combination of power and speed in a young Darryl Strawberry. The Mets along with their manager, Davy Johnson, were ready for greatness.

As for Manuel, with the 2010 season on its way, the focus will be on staying healthy and deciding which reliever will be coming out of his bullpen to set up for his closer.

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Is Daniel Murphy A Shoe-In at First Base?

March 20, 2010

Shortstop Jose Reyes and centerfielder Carlos Beltran are without a doubt the most popular players on the Mets ballclub. Unfortunately for both of them, they have also had to endure the harshest criticism. Reyes has had to defend himself of late because of his inability to avoid the disabled list and Beltran has undergone two major knee surgeries within the last year that have kept him off the field more so than on.

With the current status of Reyes and Beltran in limbo, the ballclub has found itself relying on other types of players such as, Daniel Murphy, their projected first baseman for this upcoming season. Murphy has not only been heralded by the Mets organization as the de facto leader of this current wave of promising young talent coming out of their farm system but has also experienced his fair share of scrutiny equal to that of some of the Mets established veteran players. Ever since the soon-to-be-24-year-old broke out onto the scene in late 2008, he has been able to participate on the major league level in some capacity.

On Friday against the Minnesota Twins, he put up another goose egg in the hit column leaving six men on base and lowering his spring average in ten games to a disheartening .133. With those types of preseason numbers, Murphy’s critics could feel justified in their arguments that he shouldn’t simply be handed the first baseman’s job come April 5th.

In a recent article on Mets.com, Murphy stressed that he never reads any stories about himself and later added, “I can’t control that stuff.”

As depressing a .176 on-base percentage and a .233 slugging percentage may sound, Mets manager Jerry Manuel still seems pleased with Murphy’s progress thus far.

“He’s looked extremely well at first base,” Manuel said. “He’s very aggressive. We feel very, very, very comfortable and confident that he can get the job done at the Major League level and play well.”

Prospect Ike Davis will likely be starting the season at Triple-A and Mike Jacobs who was brought over to the Mets with the hopes of taking the first base man’s job away from Murphy is hitting just .200. Jacobs however has produced two home runs in twenty preseason at-bats.

That being said, Murphy may have already earned the right to begin the 2010 season as the Mets starting first base merely by default.

One Up, One Down: Mejia and Reyes Are on the Move

March 6, 2010

Jenrry Mejia, a name that has drawn a lot of attention this past week down in Port St. Lucie, Fla., is just one of the many unexpected developments to come out of Mets camp. Mejia, a twenty-year-old right hander who hails from the Dominican Republic, has been able to put a lid on his control problems, allowing his raw talents to take their proper course. Mejia has electric stuff. He throws a 96 mph fastball with a lot of movement that can make even the most talented hitters miss. In two-and-a-third innings of work on Friday, Mejia managed to strike out four of the seven batters he faced.

In addition to a high-octane fastball, he also has a changeup and what scouts are calling a decent curveball. Fortunately for Mejia, possessing a naturally cutting fastball could very well be all the juice he needs in landing a role as the Opening Day set-up man for closer Francisco Rodriguez. With Mejia as a formidable front runner for that position, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is faced with an even more difficult task if and when he decides on who will be the eighth inning guy out of the bullpen.

“What he has to do is prove that for the most part he can throw consistent strikes. If he can do that, he’s got somebody fighting for him,” Manuel said.

On a down note, shortstop Jose Reyes was scratched from his scheduled start in Friday’s split-squad matchup at Tradition Field against the Marlins. The Mets lost that game, 4-3, when Florida’s Mike Stanton crushed a 2-run HR off of Bobby Parnell in the 10th inning.

Reyes, on the other hand, was diagnosed with an imbalanced thyroid that doctors later classified as overactive. According to the NY Times, the symptoms associated with this condition include loss of weight, hyperactivity, bulging eyes, and excessive sweating.

However, Reyes has confirmed none of those symptoms. In spite of how he feels, the Mets have taken the proper precautions. Reyes will be retested in New York on Monday, delaying those results until Wednesday. Doctors have suggested that the Mets catalyst may be sidelined for up to a month as he is monitored and receives the necessary treatment.

“This is not what I want to be doing,” Reyes said. “I am disappointed.”

“I don’t know what’s going on, this is the first time I’ve ever had something like this,” he added.

“I have to be worried. I can’t do anything…I’m getting tired of it. My team is always playing without me. I want to play.”