Archive: March 17th, 2008

The Mets Are Green – After 17th

Yes, the Mets are green, but it has nothing to do with St. Paddy’s Day. Unlike previous years, the Mets did not wear green uniforms today — though they did make sure the grass was green. And no, Shawn Green has nothing to do with the story, either.

Rather, the “greenness” — or earth friendliness — of Citi Field was recently announced by the Mets, and applauded by Environmental Leader (The Executive’s Daily Green Briefing).

The main points:

The $800 million structure is being built from approximately 95 percent recycled steel to reduce energy consumption and at least 2 million pounds of recycled coal combustion products that will save more than 800 tons of carbon dioxide. The team’s administration building will feature a 15,000-square-foot “green roof,” which will reduce energy needs by retaining cool air in the summer and heat in the winter.

The new stadium will also contain low-flow plumbing features such as hands-free faucets and waterless urinals that will save more than 4 million gallons of water per year. Water conservation will also be achieved with the installation of an on-site well to be used for irrigation, as well as a 3,700-square-foot drainage bed to control the flow of storm-water runoff.

“It certainly would’ve been easier to build a new ballpark without incorporating green technology, but the Mets understand that their responsibility to New Yorkers doesn’t end with the third out in the ninth inning,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “They’ve taken the initiative to be bold, innovative and environmentally responsible. Citi Field will be one of the most environmentally friendly stadiums ever built any place. It will help us build a greener, greater New York.”

The Mets have also joined with the EPA to be part of their Energy Star program, which encourages environmental protection through energy efficiency, as well as a recycling program, which will include the Mets’ food and beverage partner, ARAMARK.

As for the fans, getting to their new cheering sections will be easier than ever. The Mets are continuing to work with the MTA and Long Island Rail Road to increase the use of mass transit to games. Bloomberg said that additional train and bus service will be added for every home game in order to encourage fans to leave their cars at home.

So Fenway will have the “Green Monster”, but the Mets will have the … er … “Green Stadium” (OK, not a great ring to that, but it’s nice anyway).

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Who’s the Third Catcher?

Robinson Cancel catching for the New York MetsSo far this spring, both new backstop Brian Schneider and backup Ramon Castro have been hampered by hamstring issues. I can tell you from first-hand experience (25+ years in fact) that this is a big problem for a catcher.

By the nature of their squatting position, catchers tend to build up extremely large, strong, powerful front thigh (quadriceps) muscles — ask my wife how hard it is for me to find pants that fit properly. As a result, it’s common for a catcher’s legs to develop an imbalance between their front and back muscles; hence, the back thighs or hamstring muscles are susceptible to injury. And as we all know, hamstring injuries have a habit of becoming chronic.

This doesn’t bode well for the Mets, who have effectively no one behind Schneider and Castro — other than Raul Casanova and Robinson Cancel. Casanova had one fabulous year (2001) as a part-timer, banging 11 homers in 191 ABs, but otherwise has been a third-stringer in a game that rarely carries such luxuries. Cancel is OK, not great, as is Gustavo Molina. All three are acceptable, but I don’t see any starting for the Mets on a regular basis.

The catching situation could cause the Mets to re-investigate a deal for Gerald Laird of the Rangers — though he’s likely unavailable — or pick up a “name” veteran. Doug Mirabelli was recently released by the Red Sox, and Javy Lopez might be considered if he doesn’t break camp with the Braves. But no, I don’t see Mike Piazza returning.

Once again, how nice would it have been to see Mike Sweeney — who is open to catching again — in a Mets uniform right about now?

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Valentin May Retire

Per John Delcos, Jose Valentin’s latest injury may end his career.

Valentin, who was coming back from a knee injury that ended his 2007 season, as well as battling shoulder tendinitis, has now been diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his neck. The injury could require surgery, knocking him out until at least June.

“I’m going to be out again for three more months, come down there and get rehab?” Valentin asked. “By that time, it’s already four months into the season. What do I have to go down there and prove? Nobody’s going to give me a contract for two months just in case somebody got hurt.”

Hat tip to Walnutz on the link.

What does anyone think about having Valentin stay with the team as a coach? Personally I think he has a managerial career in his future.

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Mets Pitching Depth Chart

There are less than two weeks left before Opening Day, and there are about 20 pitchers still in Port St. Lucie. The recent demotions of several minor league pitchers and the injury to Jason Vargas has slimmed things a bit, but there are many questions still to be answered in the next 10-12 days.

This is the way the pitching staff looks as of now:

Starters

1. Johan Santana
2. Pedro Martinez
3. John Maine
4. Oliver Perez
5. Orlando Hernandez / Mike Pelfrey

Relievers

6. Billy Wagner
7. Aaron Heilman
8. Pedro Feliciano
9. Matt Wise
10. Scott Schoeneweis
11. Jorge Sosa
12. Steven Register
13. Duaner Sanchez
14. Joe Smith
15. Ricardo Rincon
16. Nelson Figueroa
17. Brian Stokes
18. Nate Field
19. Joselo Diaz
20. Tony Armas, Jr.

My depth chart could be off, but I think it’s close. At this point, yes I believe Register, Sosa, The Show, and Wise are all ahead of Duaner, and I think that Dirty may end up hanging back in PSL for a few extra weeks to get his velocity and command back. There’s no point in rushing him when there are so many other arms to rely on in the interim. It makes sense to let Sanchez get himself completely healthy, give him innings in the warm Florida sun, and bring him up in May.

Most likely, Armas, Diaz, Field, and possibly Stokes will be reassigned in the next few days. The fate of Figueroa and Rincon rest with the Mets decisions on The Show and Sosa. Hopefully, the Mets can move Show because Rincon’s velocity, ability to change speeds, and command are all clearly better.

As suggested by Adam Rubin, Sosa may stick around because of his starting experience — and the fact he was stretched out for three innings on Sunday would lead us to believe that the Mets are already thinking that way.

Though, Nelson Figueroa has been almost exclusively a starter in his career, and he, along with Pelfrey and Armas, provide adequate depth in the likely event that El Duque can’t begin the season. Remember, also, that a fifth starter won’t be needed for at least the first two weeks of April — possibly longer depending on the weather. Let’s not completely dismiss the idea of packaging one or both of Sosa and The Show for a decent starter with options — someone like Danny Meyer or Gustavo Chacin. The Blue Jays in particular are desperate for relief help since learning that setup reliever Casey Janssen would be out for the season (though he was auditioning for the fifth starter spot).

Register has been impressive, and I’d be surprised if the Mets offered him back to the Rockies at the end of the month. That’s bad news for Joe Smith, who has options and would appear to be the odd man out in every scenario. But then again, that’s good news for the Mets bullpen — if they don’t have room for one of their top hurlers from the first half of 2007, then they’ll have a fairly solid relief corps.

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Trade with the Yankees?

Trades between the Mets and Yankees don’t happen too often; the last ones were the export of Mike Stanton for Felix Heredia (ouch) and before then, Armando Benitez for Anderson Garcia and Jason Anderson (ho hum).

This spring, it appears that the Mets have some players the Yankees could use, and vice-versa.

In particular, the Mets have a LOOGY named Scott Schoeneweis available, and the Yankees’ best candidates for lefthanded relief roles are Kei Igawa and Billy Traber. So for those of you wondering who would possibly interested in The Show, you need only look across town. Unless, of course, you think either Igawa or Traber are better options for the Bronx Bombers.

On the other hand, the Yankees have about fourteen people trying out for first base — and the Mets can use a backup first sacker. OK, maybe not 14, but it sure seems that way. Specifically, Morgan Ensberg has looked good, and I’m not sure he’s going to make the Yanks’ 25-man roster. Ensberg might be nice insurance behind Carlos Delgado, and he’s a strong veteran bat off the bench. Although his best days are gone, Ensberg still does a nice job of taking pitches and has occasional pop. And what would you expect to get in return for Scott Schoeneweis, anyway?

The Yankees also have Jason Lane in camp. Lane is another RH hitter who can play all three outfield positions, and has played a bit of first base. Personally, I prefer Ensberg, but Lane’s versatility is valuable.

For those paying attention, I had zero interest in either of these former Astros over the winter. However, with the questions swirling around Delgado and Alou, coupled with the need to dump Schoeneweis on someone, I wouldn’t mind either of them coming to Shea.

Thoughts?

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Goodbye to Ruddy Lugo

Ruddy Lugo pitching for the MetsIf you hadn’t heard, Ruddy Lugo was reassigned to minor league camp. This wasn’t a tremendous surprise, since he wasn’t showing great command in his outings, and had seemingly fallen behind Nelson Figueroa, Steven Register, Joe Smith, and Joselo Diaz (at minimum).

In addition, Carlos Muniz and Willie Collazo were reassigned, further culling the bullpen competition.

Meanwhile, Figueroa continues to impress and may have an outside shot at the long relief job — particularly since Tony Armas, Jr. just arrived in camp over the weekend and has little chance of earning an MLB spot in the last dozen days of spring training. Though, Figgy still has to fight off Brian Stokes and Nate Field, and the Mets have to decide what they’re going to do with Register, Jorge Sosa, Scott Schoeneweis, and Ricardo Rincon. If The Show can be moved, Rincon — who has looked better — should remain as the LOOGY. Similarly, if Sosa is traded, then Register and/or Joe Smith would probably win jobs — or Figgy could get the last spot.

We’ll know in less than two weeks.

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Armas In, Vargas Out

Jason Vargas pitching for the MetsAccording to Adam Rubin, Tony Armas Jr. has finally worked out his visa issues and reported to Mets training camp. Better late than never … next time try MasterCard, Tony.

However, Jason Vargas may be out for three months … or not. The mysterious hip injury that Vargas may have caught from Carlos Delgado could require surgery that would sideline him for a minimum of three months. He was getting a second opinion in Colorado over the weekend; we’ll update you when we get the news.

With Vargas apparently out, El Duque still a question mark, and Armas reporting with only two weeks left of spring training, it would appear that Mike Pelfrey is almost a cinch to make the 25-man roster.

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