Browsing Archive March, 2010

Update: Carlos Monasterios

Some of you may remember the very brief career of Carlos Monasterios as a Met.

At the conclusion of the winter meetings this past December, Monasterios was chosen by the Mets in the Rule 5 draft. However, the choice was actually made by the Dodgers, who had given the Mets cash considerations for the right to choose and keep Monasterios.

You might be wondering what’s going on with Monasterios out in Arizona. According to most reports, the sinkerballing Venezuelan has impressed the Dodgers’ staff, and in fact is pegged as some to be their leading candidate for the #5 spot in the LA rotation.

“He has a nice presence,” manager Joe Torre said. “He’s very aggressive. I like what I see.”

Torre didn’t rule out the fifth starter role for Monasterios, even though management usually prefers veterans.

“He hasn’t done anything wrong,” Torre said. “We have four starters that, to me, our fifth spot, just go out and pitch, you know what I mean? We’re not asking him to carry any load, but just give us a chance to win.”

Monasterios is currently ahead of veterans Eric Stults, Ramon Ortiz, and Russ Ortiz for the fifth spot in the Dodgers rotation.

The 24-year-old didn’t pick up a baseball until he was 17 years old, and was one of the key prospects in the trade that sent Bobby Abreu from Philadelphia to the Yankees. He relies on a hard sinker that sits in the low 90, an average slider, and a change-up that has impressed LA pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.

“It’s a huge pitch, when you have that confidence and command,” Honeycutt said. “He’s interesting. Very interesting.”

Of course, the Mets have no need for a #5 starter — their entire staff outside of Johan Santana consists of #5 starters. And it could be argued that the Mets would not have drafted Monasterios had the Dodgers not purchased their pick.

A waste of time, that Rule 5 Draft. Its purpose is to provide pie-in-the-sky hopes for desperate, perennial cellar-dwelling teams like the Dodgers. I mean, it’s not like a team can add a Johan Santana via the Rule 5 Draft or anything.

Oh wait …

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Mike Jacobs Catching Again?

According to Adam Rubin of the NY Daily News:

Yes, that was Mike Jacobs this morning, with a bag of catching equipment in front of his locker. Jacobs looks like he’s the leading candidate for the final bench spot with the Mets, and the organization has asked him to catch on a limited basis in order to increase his versatility. So Jacobs, who caught in the minors with the Mets before being converted to first base in 2005, is planning to catch Tobi Stoner’s bullpen session before today’s Mets-Twins game.

“It’s like riding a bike,” Jacobs told the Daily News.

Jacobs ordered his own Rawlings glove, which he was considering using for the session. But because it’s not broken in, he may settle for a Chris Coste extra instead.

Bottom line: Jacobs won’t be more than an emergency catcher in a major-league game. And when was the last time you saw the Mets use an emergency catcher?

“I don’t think this is a Brandon Inge situation where I’m going to be catching once or twice a week,” Jacobs said.

For the record, Jacobs also caught a bullpen session last year with Kansas City. He had not been asked to do that in his three previous years with the Marlins.

You know my stance on the matter — Mike Jacobs should be behind the plate again, specifically to increase his value.

If Jacobs can return to be barely adequate behind the dish, he suddenly is a no-brainer for the 25-man roster and I’d even consider — at least for a moment — a “Brandon Inge situation”.

On the one hand, I do understand and support the immeasurable value of a catcher’s defensive impact on a game. On the other hand, I don’t see any of the current Mets catching candidates as being SO impactful behind the plate that it overwhelms their woeful offensive skills; there’s not a Charlie O’Brien among them. It might not be so bad to have a Mike Piazza-like defender with Mike Jacobs-like offense catching once a week.

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How the Mets Opening Day Lineup is Like Thriller

I woke up in a cold sweat from a nightmare … I heard the Mets 2010 Opening Day lineup, announced by Vincent Price:

Angel Pagan CF
Luis Castillo 2B
David Wright 3B
Jason Bay LF
Daniel Murphy 1B (… darkness falls across the land)
Jeff Francoeur RF (… creatures crawl in search of blood)
Henry Blanco C (… the foulest stench is in the air)
Alex Cora SS (… grizzly ghouls from every tomb)
Johan Santana P (… body starts to shiver)

eeeeeeeeeeek !!!!!!!!

OK … the first four spots aren’t scary; they’re perfectly acceptable in fact. But beyond Bay in the cleanup spot things do get a bit creepy, don’t you agree?

Murphy in the five-hole is disturbing, unless you are of the ilk that the “serious” young man will continue to develop as a hitter, and particularly as a power hitter. If you have faith that Murphy will turn into someone who hits .285 with 20+ homers, then OK, maybe the lineup is not so scary for you yet. And perhaps you also believe that Francoeur will return to his 2006-2007 form. You know what, I’ll give you both those possibilities; let’s pretend that Murphy and Francoeur will be surprisingly effective offensively in 2010.

That still doesn’t make up for the frightening final third of the lineup.

It seems completely plausible that Henry Blanco will be Santana’s “personal catcher” in 2010, given that Santana specifically recommended his fellow countryman to the Mets brass during the winter. And you can’t argue the point that Blanco is a strong defensive catcher who pitchers enjoy working with. But can an NL lineup compete with three automatic outs at the bottom of the order?

Maybe you are ultra optimistic, and believe that Blanco – Cora – Santana will hit better than .220 combined. Glad you are resting peacefully, and not being terrorized by the THRILLER!

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AHern Exiled Again

For the second time in two years, the Mets have sent Anderson Hernandez packing.

AHern was placed on waivers this week and claimed by the Cleveland Indians.

This move perplexes me from both sides. The Mets have a sudden issue in the middle infield, due to Jose Reyes’ indefinite thyroid condition. With Hernandez gone, the Mets have only two players in the organization with more than 5 games’ MLB experience at shortstop: Russ Adams and Alex Cora (oh, sorry, I forgot about Jolbert Cabrera … though, I wouldn’t consider him a shortstop any more than I’d consider Mike Jacobs a catcher).

What the Indians want with Hernandez is also a bit quizzical; they have veteran Mark Grudzielanek and AHern clone Luis Rodriguez fighting for the backup 2B spot — though I suppose neither is impressing Cleveland’s brain trust if they cleared a spot for Hernandez.

I don’t think Anderson Hernandez had much of a future with the Mets, and I think his value is as a defensive-minded second baseman — a luxury few rosters can afford in the 21st century. But after seeing that revolving door at shortstop last year — the one that ultimately moved the Mets to reacquire AHern — it seems strange he’d be let go.

Ramon Martinez better not change his phone number.

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Elijah Dukes Available

The Washington Nationals have released eternal enigma Elijah Dukes.

The remarkably talented outfielder was penciled in as the Opening Day rightfielder. According to GM Mike Rizzo, the move was NOT made due to a behaviorial issue.

From the Washington Post:

General Manager Mike Rizzo called Dukes’s release “a performance-based decision” and that “no singular incident” led to the decision. But Rizzo also implied that Dukes’s presence in the clubhouse adversely affected the Nationals, saying they “will be a more cohesive group” without him.

“The clubhouse will be more united,” Rizzo said. “We’ll have a better feel around the ballclub. We’ll gain just by that alone.”

I will be the first to say that the Mets do not need any potential headaches. I will also say that Dukes is beginning to look like another Milton Bradley: an outfielder seemingly oozing with talent, but one who may never fully realize his potential due to the simple fact that his on-field performance does not outweight his off-field issues.

Many people inside the Nats organization (including teammates) assert that the 25-year-old Dukes has matured drastically since arriving in Washington, DC in December 2007. However, his athletic skill has not translated into results; he hit only .250 with a .729 OPS and played poor defense in over 100 games in 2009.

I’m sure there are a few Mets fans out there who are interested in Dukes, so please voice your opinion in the comments.

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Does Figgy Deserve a Spot?

Spring training “competitions” are usually nonsense, no matter what message is spewed by the team’s management (this is in regard to all clubs, not just the Mets). Management has predetermined thoughts about the lineup and most of the spots on the 25-man roster, and so spring training is used to support their “prevaluations” made long before pitchers and catchers report.

For example, is first base really an open competition? Both Ike Davis and Chris Carter are hitting the snot out of the ball, but we all know that — barring injury — Dan Murphy is the Opening Day first baseman. Why? Because Murphy proved satisfactory to the upper levels of Mets management based on his 2009 performance — if he wasn’t, we would be watching Adam LaRoche in a Mets uniform right now. (Note I stated “satisfactory” according to Mets management, rather than my or the popular opinion.)

Similarly, Angel Pagan would have to seriously falter — and Gary Matthews, Jr. put on a Roy Hobbs demonstration — to lose his grip on centerfield. Yes, Pagan’s mental issues were frustrating, but after what he did in the batter’s box from July through September, you can’t not put him in centerfield come April.

But another individual who seemed to “earn” a spot on the roster based 2009 was Nelson Figueroa.

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See the Suds Sink

If you haven’t yet seen, Kerel Cooper produced a 7-part series of preseason evaluations, videotaped on location at McFadden’s in NYC and featuring Dave Doyle of Mets Report and yours truly. You can see the entire series by clicking here or see each episode separately by clicking on the below links.

Should you choose to watch the videos in chronological order, you will see the mysterious sinking level of suds in the bottom left corner of the screen. Not sure how that happened … must have been the ghost of McFadden’s.

1. Grading the Offseason

2. Catchers, Castillo, and Murphy

3. Jose Reyes & David Wright

4. Outfield

5. Pitching

6. Prospects

7. 2010 Predictions

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