Spring Training Notes

After the first week of spring training games, a few random notes …

Andres Torres had some big hits, including a triple, and is running the bases aggressively. On the one hand, great to see. On the other hand, save some of that for the real season, huh? I know it’s dumb but there’s a theory that a player can spend himself in the spring. If Torres can come out like gangbusters during the first week of the season the way he’s doing it down in Port St. Lucie, it will go a long way toward entering the hearts of Mets fans.

Jordany Valdespin, for the third straight spring, looks like he has MLB talent. But he still has a cocky swagger that doesn’t quite match his talent level.

R.A. Dickey looks great. I didn’t expect anything less.

Johan Santana threw 29 pitches, 17 for strikes, in his first outing since 2010. It didn’t seem like that many pitches as he got some quick outs. But when he wasn’t getting quick outs, he was struggling to keep his fastball below the batter’s chest level. That’s partially due to rust but also a result of all the long tossing he’s doing as well as a symptom of the mechanical flaw that caused his shoulder injury in the first place. It was hard to see on TV with the naked eye but it looks like he still has the same hesitation and arm action that puts tremendous stress on his elbow, and indirectly the shoulder. His velocity was better than I expected – consistently 87-88 MPH while touching 90. But was the gun dialed up?

Interesting to see Maikel Cleto make an appearance. Remember when he was one of the 17 men traded for Jeremy Reed (and J.J. Putz)? Seems the Mets didn’t miss him much, though that 96 MPH heat is intriguing. While we’re on the subject of that trade, Jason Vargas spun four scoreless frames for Seattle.

Adam Loewen is a big man with a big swing and big power. However he also has multiple holes in that long swing. My guess is he’ll be a viable power-hitting pinch hitter, and will hit more than a few mistakes over the fence, but will likely only hit around .210 with a ton of strikeouts. That might not be so awful if his main role is as a pinch-hitter and he can deliver a few late-inning bombs. Think: the last two years of Matt Stairs‘ career.

Vinny Rottino could be this year’s Chris Carter, in terms of a “nobody” who makes the team and becomes a fan favorite off the bench.

Mike Baxter may be the corner-outfield version of Cory Sullivan / Jeremy Reed.

Lucas May can play the infield? Do we care? I’m not seeing any reason to put him in the lineup ahead of Ike Davis or David Wright, even on a getaway day 12 noon stArt Ballgame.

Matt Den Dekker is hard not to like, right?

Jose Ceda can throw really hard, and he’s really large. He’s like a tall version of Rich Garces.

The Marlins hats are awful.

I want someone to explain to me the logic of using a DH in spring training games between two NL teams. Why can’t pitchers hit? Why can’t they bunt? Maybe because hitting by pitchers is viewed and treated as non-essential. Yet, everyone will be screaming when a pitcher can’t lay down a bunt in the regular season, or when his swing resembles a reality TV housewife swinging at a pinata with a blindfold on. In the non-adulterated version of baseball, pitchers hit; therefore, put them in the batter’s box in spring training games to get the live, game-action reps they need to prepare for the season. Bunting against a 58-year-old coach tossing BP is much different from bunting against a MLB pitcher throwing 90+ MPH and mixing in breaking pitches. After the disgraceful bunting we saw from Mets pitchers in 2011, shame on Terry Collins for not putting his hurlers in there this March.

What have you seen thus far? Post your notes in the comments.

11-12 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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