Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Batch of Mets Who Didn't Make the Cut

The following Mets were assigned to minor league camp Friday:

Outfielder Fernando Martinez, shortstop Ruben Tejada, third baseman Zach Lutz, infielder Jordany Valdespin, right-handed pitchers Armando Rodriguez, Josh Stinson, Manny Alvarez, Tobi Stoner, and John Lujan, centerfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and catcher Kai Gronauer.

None of these are all that shocking. I don't believe Fernando Martinez is ready to take over right field should Carlos Beltran not be ready for opening day, and the Mets are most likely preparing Tejada at shortstop in the event that Jose Reyes leaves the team.

The crop is now down to 45 players. Expect more cuts soon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Igarashi Optimistic About Family's Safety Despite Lack of Communication

On Friday morning, most of us woke up to see that Japan had been devastated by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, followed by a tsunami.

The pictures and video that rolled in throughout the course of the day left many of us amazed and horrified.

Mets relief pitcher, Ryota Igarashi, found out about the earthquake and tsunami around 2 a.m. While his wife and daughters are with him here in the United States, the rest of his family is in Japan, 200 miles away from the earthquakes epicenter.

According to Marty Noble, despite not having been able to make contact with his family by midday, Igarashi believes his family is okay because of their distance from the epicenter.

"All the lines are shut down. You cannot get through, so there's no way to get in touch directly with family," Igarashi said, "but the likelihood they are okay is very high based on where they live. There were tremors there, up to about 5.0 on the Richter scale."

Fans can sometimes forget that there are bigger things out there than baseball. Today was just a reminder of how small a baseball game is in the grand scheme of things. 

To donate to the Red Cross for disaster relief, you may text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Salvation Army is also collecting $10 donations. Text the words "Quake" or "Japan" to 80888. Donations can also be made by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Whoa, We're Half Way There"

According to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger, Oliver Perez is no longer in the running for the starting rotation.

All that's left is for him to stink it up enough in the bullpen before the Mets finally release him.

He will be given a few chances in the bullpen, fighting for the role of lefty specialist, before the team makes their final decision. His first appearance will be Saturday against Atlanta.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Time for a Certain Someone To Call It A Day

And that someone is Carlos Beltran.

According to Joel Sherman, Beltran will be shut down for the next five days due to tendinitis in his left knee. That's right. The left knee. The knee everyone assumed was healthy.

Andy Martino of the Daily News reported that the team is not concerned and they believe he will be ready for opening day.

Really? He can't even make it through Spring Training and they think he'll be okay by opening day.

He was the designated hitter for one game so far this Spring, and managed to get on base once. That's it. Then he reported he was sore, which is not really a surprise when you're getting back into shape.

This leads me to my second grievance.

Spring Training is no longer the time to get in shape for the season. Players are now entering camp IN shape and ready to play. Spring Training is now the time for players to be working on their skills.

I do not see how Beltran will be healthy by opening day. He can't run. Would it be nice if he was, sure, but it's not going to happen.

Some may argue that he needs more time. To that I say, no. He's had time, and now it's up.

Some may argue that he has been hitting well in the cage. To that I say, do you not follow baseball? Once you hit the ball, it's kind of required that you run.

It's time to move on, Carlos. Your time as a high-priced, elite outfielder, has passed.

How he thinks any other team will be interested in taking on an aging outfielder, who is struggling to recover from one surgically repaired knee and another knee that now has tendinitis, is beyond me.

I'll be interested to see how Scott Boras works his magic on this one.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Give Isringhausen a Chance

Jason Isringhausen's Spring Training has been, in a word, perfect. Well...almost. He's walked two, and hit a batter, but has yet to give up a hit out of the bullpen.

Granted a good Spring Training can mean very little, just as a bad Spring Training doesn't mean much once the season starts.

But Isringhausen has been good. Real good, and he's making a pretty solid case for making the opening day roster.

In Monday's game against the Tigers, he pitched a scoreless inning, his third of the Spring, giving up one walk. He is scheduled to pitch tomorrow as well. It will be his first back-to-back outing.

He hit 89-90 MPH with his fastball in the game, and he also incorporated his curveball for the first time this Spring. Eventually he plans to work on his change-up.

Isringhausen told Anthony DiComo of, ""Everything can end on one pitch. Everybody knows that. That's just the way baseball is. ... You just throw every day and hope for the best."

Nobody knows that better than Isringhausen, who was plagued with injuries during his first stint with the Mets. Since his first tour, he's had season-ending elbow surgery in 2008 when he was with the Cardinals, and strained his elbow again in 2009 when he was with the Rays which resulted in Tommy John surgery. 

He's gone from being a member of Generation K, to a two-time All-Star, to almost being knocked out of baseball due to injuries.

Nobody needs to tell Isringhausen that it could all be over in the blink of an eye. He also knows that this could be his final shot before entering retirement.

Much like last year was R.A. Dickey's comeback, breakthrough, year, this could be Isringhausen's.

He may be older, and he may not be hitting 96 MPH on the radar gun like he used to, but he hasn't lost his desire to play the game, nor has he apparently lost his talent on the mound.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Paulino's Absence Means Good Things For Nickeas

Mike Nickeas
This might be Mike Nickeas' best chance of making the big league club, and it's all thanks to the United States Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Ronnie Paulino, the catcher whom the Mets signed this offseason, has been absent from camp since Spring Training began due to Visa issues stemming from 50-game drug suspension when he was with the Marlins.

Paulino has said that he will not be able to get to camp until next week at the earliest.

He was signed to be a back up to starting catcher, Josh Thole. The problem with this, however, is that Paulino hasn't been around to catch anybody.

What does this mean for Nickeas? It means this is his time to show management and everyone else that he belongs.

He doesn't have much power, but he does have patience at the plate which will serve him well. He's also a pretty decent catcher.

He's also been around since day one this Spring. He's been there to catch the different pitchers. He's also been able to create a rapport with them. This is something Paulino has yet to do, for obvious reasons.

If Paulino ever does make it out of the Dominican Republic, he has to sit out the first eight games of the regular season to complete his suspension.

This is only good news for Nickeas.

A Few Things I Learned at Spring Training

Spring Training is a totally different experience for a fan compared to the regular season. You can get up close and personal with players, get autographs, take great pictures, and get really good seats for cheap. Here are a few of my observations while watching the Mets take on the Cardinals and Marlins.
  • Oliver Perez sucks.
  • When some fans finally get the attention of the player they want an autograph from, they feel the need to tell that player their whole life story. Guess what, all you Chatty Cathy's, he doesn't want to hear it and neither do we, so get your autograph and keep the line moving.
  • Chris Young is tall. I mean, REALLY tall. I know he's 6' 10", but to actually see the guy in person, it was like watching the jolly green giant pitch out there.
  • I don't believe Daniel Murphy should be playing second base. He looks incredibly stiff out there. Watching him take ground balls, and turning double plays in warm-ups before the game, he's not very smooth. There has to be a better option. 
  • Oliver Perez still sucks.
  • For those who don't know, once a player is pulled from the game after four or five innings, their day is not over. It's then time for them to head to a back field to do sprints. At Friday's game against the Marlins, players did their sprints along the warning track while the game was still going on.
  • Despite paying for seats, you can move to wherever you want. I had seats right behind home plate for the Marlins game. It was behind the net, extremely crowded, and filled with a couple of vocal fans. So, I decided to move my seat a few rows up along the first base line right next to the Mets bullpen. I was able to get a good look at everyone warming up. It was a much more enjoyable experience. It was also one that I knew would NEVER happen at Citi Field.
Pat Misch warming up in the bullpen.
Sorry for the quality of the photo. My camera died and had to take this picture with my phone.

The whole experience was great. It's going to be tough paying $60 for seats where I need binoculars to see the field once the regular season starts, after paying $20 in Spring Training and sitting right next to players.