By Steven Inman
The New York Mets have used only one left-hander in their bullpen the past couple of seasons and it usually costs them dearly. In 2013 the only lefty in the Mets pen that could be relied upon was LHP Scott Rice. With this, it’s no coincidence that the Mets have had one of the worst bullpens in baseball the past couple of years. This season the Mets only expect to have one lefty in their pen with Scott Rice as their only real left-handed option left in camp.
Remember the team optioned LHP Josh Edgin to minor-league camp earlier this week.
The team could go with minor-league signing John Lannan but he has never been a reliever before. The team should go out on the trade market and acquire LHP Joe Thatcher. Thatcher, 32, is a very good left handed specialist. He has had very strong years for the Padres but has fallen out of favor in Arizona after being acquired by the snakes at the 2013 Trade Deadline for Ian Kennedy. Thatcher in 2013 went 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 72 games. Make no mistake about it, Thatcher is a lefty specialist. While he did make 72 appearances last season, he did that in just 39.1 innings.
There were rumblings that the Diamondbacks had interest in moving Thatcher. That seemed to magnify when the team signed former Met Oliver Perez to a two-year deal to be their primary lefty reliever earlier this week.
Thatcher would be a perfect fit to go with Scott Rice. Also Thatcher is making just $2.4 million, a fair rate for one of the MLB’s better left-handed specialists. Thatcher has also had a very strong spring to date. The Mets should certainly look into this.
Have a question for BrokeMets? With Opening Day around the corner, Steven Inman is happy to answer any questions you may have about the Mets, the N.L. East or the rest of baseball. Just leave it in the comment section under this post. Steven answers every baseball question and if the question is good enough, it could be turned into the next post on BrokeMets.com.
By Steven Inman
Most naysayers believe the Mets are making a mistake by trying to build their franchise back up with young pitching. They refer to Generation K, a trio of young pitchers who never made it in New York. Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson all came up through the Mets system as top prospects with blazing fastballs. Although it sounds very similar to the trio of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard it doesn’t appear that history is due to repeat itself.
Isringhausen was the only pitcher of the trio to make it in the big leagues, and he did it for the most part as a closer in Oakland and St. Louis. Harvey and Wheeler have already had more success in their young careers than the trio from the 90’s did with the Mets.
The difference that I see between the three pitchers of 2014 and Generation K is Harvey, Wheeler and Syndergaard all seem to throw much more free and easy than most young pitchers. Harvey and Syndergaard seem to throw 97mph without putting much stress on their arms. Wheeler when his mechanics are right, has the easiest delivery of the three.
Also in the past 20 years due to video, scouting has gotten much more accurate. A much higher percent of top prospects are making it to the big leagues and establishing themselves as the cream of the crop in Major League Baseball. When Generation K came out, for the most part scouts really didn’t have the technology to look at a kid’s delivery and say “he’s not going to hold up for 200 innings” Now we do and those kids are quickly switched to the bullpen for the most part.
Also 20 years ago guys were throwing 130-135 pitches in the minor leagues regularly. In 2014 pretty much every pitching prospect is on some kind of pitch limit per game, and innings limit for a season.
Teams have learned from the Generation K’s of the world and have put some work in to protect their young pitchers to give themselves a better chance of holding up long-term.
Two of the three pitchers from Generation K blowing out their arms within the span of a year is just unlikely and not likely to happen again this time. Harvey undergoing Tommy John surgery is a pretty simple process and he should come back just as good as before as long as he doesn’t rush his rehab.
Wheeler and Harvey already look like the real deal and Mets coaches in spring training can’t stop raving about Noah Syndergaard. Mets fans, fear not Sandy Alderson is building this team the right way and the Mets have a very bright future.
By Steven Inman
Despite being just 26 years old, Kirk Nieuwenhuis has become the forgotten man with the Mets. The man Mets fans call “Captain Kirk” got off to a great start to his big league career with the Mets in 2012 but pitchers soon figured him out. He can’t handle the high fastball or the breaking ball in the dirt. He has not learned to lay off those pitches and it has caused him to badly struggle in 2013. In 108 plate appearances in the big leagues last year Nieuwenhuis hit just .189 with three homers.
Obviously Nieuwenhuis is not going to do any damage on pitches near his eyes or by his feet so he must learn to lay off those pitches or he will be out of major league baseball before long.
At this time last year the Mets plan was for Kirk to be the Mets righty piece of a centerfield platoon. Now he is in danger of losing his spot on the Mets 40-man roster.
Nieuwenhuis is a great athlete. He can run, he is a terrific fielder, he has power but if he doesn’t hit for better contact he will become a journeymen, bouncing from team to team. Nieuwenhuis hit just .248 in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League in 2013.
Nieuwenhuis has gotten off to a solid start this spring, hitting .400 but there has been virtually no talk about the lefty making the team as an extra outfielder so far.
Will Nieuwenhuis make it as a major leaguer in 2014?
By Steven Inman
Terry Collins announced that 3B David Wright and 2B Daniel Murphy will make their 2014 grapefruit league debuts Friday. The plan has been to keep the two of them out the first week of spring action to avoid getting oblique injuries like last year. Collins believes that the injuries occurred from working too hard early on in camp last year.
Wright and Murphy will be counted on heavily this season as they were last season. Although the two will get some help from incoming free agent Curtis Granderson, the Mets lineup still looks below average.
Collins wanted to give Granderson the first week of the spring off too but the veteran insisted on being out there after missing so much time last season to the disabled list.
By Steven Inman
With games officially underway in Port St. Lucie it is now time to project the Mets 2014 25-man roster. We did this last year and had some success at it so I figure we should try it again. Even though it looks like the Mets didn’t make a lot of changes this offseason, the 25-man roster will look completely different with the exception of the infield.
Infielders: This is the only spot that the Mets didn’t change at all this winter with an external player. However the infield could be changed at some point. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will continue to compete for the first base job. The loser will likely be on the bench, barring a trade. The Mets could still make a move at shortstop but for now, Ruben Tejada will be the starter. Travis d’Arnaud is the only change in the infield. A lot is expected from the young catcher.
- David Wright 3B
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- Ruben Tejada SS
- Ike Davis/ Lucas Duda 1B
- Travis d’Arnaud C
Outfielders: The Mets are unlikely to carry an outfielder on Opening Day that spent Opening Day 2013 with the team. It is a completely revamped outfield. The Mets spent most of their offseason budget on addressing their outfield. All four outfielders should play a lot.
- Curtis Granderson OF
- Chris Young OF
- Eric Young Jr. OF
- Juan Lagares OF
Starting Pitchers: Without Matt Harvey, this starting rotation is still pretty crowded. The Mets 5th starter spot will likely come down to John Lannan and Dice-K. Jenrry Mejia has been getting consideration for a long relief role. The Mets don’t seem to know what to do with Mejia. As of right now I would bet Dice-K is the Mets fifth starter. This is the order the Mets are expected to go the first time through the order.
- Jon Niese LHP
- Bartolo Colon RHP
- Dillon Gee RHP
- Zack Wheeler RHP
- Dice-K RHP
Bullpen: This bullpen has the potential to be really good with a lot of young guys but also has the potential to be as bad as it was last year. With very little experience we really don’t know what to expect. The bullpen could change a lot between now and Opening Day. Also keep in mind that Carlos Torres is out of options which makes him near a lock to make the team.
- Bobby Parnell RHP
- Vic Black RHP
- Jose Valverde RHP
- Scott Rice LHP
- Jeurys Familia RHP
- Carlos Torres RHP
- Jenrry Mejia RHP
Bench: Other than Anthony Recker the Mets bench will look completely different on Opening Day than it did a year ago. I don’t believe the Mets are done making moves and are still in the hunt for a middle infielder, whether as a starter over Tejada or as a backup.
- Josh Satin 1B/3B
- Anthony Recker C
- Lucas Duda 1B/DH
- Middle Infielder (Not on Mets yet)
By Steven Inman
In 2012 it was Matt Harvey, 2013 was Zack Wheeler and 2014 looks to be the year for the arrival of Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard dazzled in his first spring start for the Mets. He went two scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two in a 6-2 Mets victory.
Syndergaard said he was a little nervous since he is in his first big league camp making his first start but the Braves were very impressed with the young Syndergaard. “I didn’t know anything about the kid coming into today. But I sure won’t forget his name now.” Ryan Doumit, who had the only hit vs. Syndergaard said about the young right-hander.
Syndergaard came out throwing gas. He started off Jason Heyward with a couple of 97 mph fastballs, missed with a changeup and then finished him up with a fastball at 98. Heyward wasn’t able to make contact. Terry Collins was very impressed. “Right now,” Collins said, “he’s on track to be special.”
This is just like the spring debuts of Harvey and Wheeler. Last year all Terry Collins wanted to talk about was Wheeler and the year before was Harvey. Unfortunately the man they call “Thor” will not make the team out of Spring Training. He will go down for service time. Syndergaard also has not spent any time at Triple-A so he still could get some more work in the minors anyway. Syndergaard would come up in late June if he is deemed ready by then and if the Mets have an open spot.
Just enjoy the latest young right-hander the Mets have found and continue dreaming of him joining Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in the rotation very soon.
With the Mets first Spring Training game officially underway it is now time to see the Mets top 5 questions for Spring Training. While the Mets look improved, they still have plenty of issues for Terry Collins and company to work out.
1. Who plays first base?
Obviously the Mets expected this issue to be solved before Spring Training started. They were deep in talks to deal Ike Davis elsewhere to the point where even he was surprised that he was in Port St. Lucie. He probably has the advantage over Lucas Duda to this point but the first base job is still pretty much wide open. Josh Satin should play every day against lefties anyway at first base. Barring a trade, both players should still be on the Opening Day roster.
- What does the outfield look like?
It appears that all four of Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Chris Young and Eric Young Jr. will play a lot this season. The Mets don’t really have another outfielder that is currently pictured to make the Opening Day roster. I believe Juan Lagares deserves to play every day which would free Young Jr. to be a pinch running weapon off the bench, kind of like what the Reds did with Billy Hamilton last September. This outfield has the potential to be very special. “Runners are going to be very hesitant to take the extra base on us.” Eric Young Jr. told Kevin Burkhardt during the SNY Mets telecast Friday. While Granderson and Chris Young are expected to play every day, Young Jr. and Lagares will compete for a starting job in Spring Training. If Eric Young Jr. wins a starting job, then he would play left and Chris Young would move to center.
- Who is the Mets 5th starter?
If Jenrry Mejia is healthy he should be the Mets 5th starter. He has #2 starter upside but with his violent delivery and injury history, there is no reason to think that he can make it through a full season healthy. Dice-K and John Lannan will also compete for the job and the best performance in camp should win the 5th starters job. It is possible that one of these veteran guys end up as a long man in the Mets pen.
- How does the bullpen shape up?
Pretty much everyone in this bullpen is coming to camp with major questions. Bobby Parnell is coming off a major injury, Vic Black, who is expected to be the Mets set-up man, has less than 20 big league innings under his belt. The Mets didn’t bring in anyone on a major league deal to add to the bullpen and winded up losing LaTroy Hawkins. The Mets hope is that Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth can regain some lost velocity and they can be the bridge to Parnell. Young guys like Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin and Gonzalez Germen will be crucial for this questionable Mets bullpen.
- What do the Mets do at shortstop?
This is the one question that Terry Collins likely doesn’t have control of. Reports of Ruben Tejada still being overweight have continued to pop up throughout camp. Wilmer Flores has lost so much weight that he is now being considered for shortstop reps in spring training. Stephen Drew is still on the market somehow which should continue with no true suitor emerging. His agent Scott Boras speculates that Drew could wait until after the Drew draft so he wouldn’t be tied down to draft pick compensation. Nick Franklin has also come up in Mets trade rumors but the team is unlikely at this point to trade one of their top pitching prospects when they are unsure if he could handle shortstop on an everyday basis defensively.
Which Mets question are you most concerned about?
Interested in Fantasy Baseball, well BrokeMets is here to help. BrokeMets teamed up with FanDuel along with 31 other bloggers covering teams to uncover the secrets of how to win your fantasy league.
This is a nine part series and I highly encourage you to check out the full article if you are interested in Fantasy Baseball. The full article is attached on the bottom. Part 1 is the top player at each position. No Met finished first at his position.
Feel free to tell me how much you loved or hated my selections for top fantasy player at each position.
The Mets have gotten the results of LHP Jon Niese’s MRI and the results came back good for the Mets. According to Terry Collins, Jon Niese will be fine and has no structural damage in his shoulder. Collins said Niese’s shoulder is “very very good”.
He should resume throwing in the next few days although it is likely that Zack Wheeler will start Tuesday instead of Niese although that hasn’t been confirmed yet.