Dillon Gee Opens Season for Mets

In case you don’t know already, Dillon Gee will be the starting pitcher today, Opening Day, for the New York Mets.

Gee will be the 23rd Opening Day starter in Mets history. Did he deserve the Opening Day nod?
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13-14 Offseason

Dice-K to AAA

The New York Mets have made their final cuts before Opening Day. Jenrry Mejia makes the roster — and the rotation — while Daisuke Matsuzaka does not.
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13-14 Offseason

If Ruben Tejada is the Answer, What was the Question?

I wonder if Ruben Tejada did a little dance when news of Wilmer Flores’ demotion to AAA was announced. I’ll bet Omar Quintanilla was happy as well. Barring a trade (yeah right), Tejada and Q will be respectively, the Mets’ opening day shortstop and understudy. Also demoted with Flores was Kirk Nieuwenhuis, meaning both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are coming north as well. Not announced, but somewhat likely is that Juan Lagares, probably the best position player the Mets system has produced since David Wright, will rot away on the bench while Chris Young, the Mets Seven Million Dollar Mistake, patrols Centerfield.

After a winter of essentially discussing the re-arranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic, the Mets are trotting out a 25-man roster containing 21 players who received significant playing time during last year’s 74 win season. The Tejada saga is particularly galling. After openly criticizing him to agents and in the press, they then make it public that they had him shipped off to a Michigan fat camp in the dead of winter. He came to Spring Training a mental wreck and until recently, he had more errors than hits. Apparently, no one in the inner circle thought this through, since the alternatives are a 31-year old minor leaguer or a veteran journeyman with a negative WAR for his career. It seems unfair to subject Tejada to what is coming. My sense is that he was never much more than a utility player that the league has adjusted to. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him booed out of New York and playing in an independent league in a few years. Meanwhile Flores, who the Mets signed as a 16-year old shortstop phenom, was labeled by scouts as lacking the range to be successful at that position. So he started an odyssey around the infield that lasted a few years. Now, he is sent down to Las Vegas for a crash course at, wait for it… shortstop. Mind boggling.

At the risk of sounding proletarian, I am not comfortable rooting for players to fail. As the father of a Little Leaguer who aspires to being more, I have witnessed the hard work, sacrifice and struggle that it takes to be a successful baseball player. What is easier to root against are the “suits,” those behind the scenes (and sometimes not behind the scenes) types who control the direction of the team. And when one of those suits is a blue-eyed child of fortune, it becomes even easier.

I would have guessed that the level of anxiety among the Mets’ brain trust would have risen to somewhere in the vicinity of panic by now. The offense, bullpen and bench look terrible. The sole young gun in the rotation has been shaky and the top lefty has had two injury scares. All of this is on GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons. Every player on the roster is one of their guys. All of the excuses are gone: there are no more Omar Minaya-era contracts to moan about and no new injuries that have derailed their best laid plans. Instead, Alderson makes a crazy comment about winning 90 games.

As one of this board’s resident iconoclasts, I do tend to be cynical about the Mets, so my expectation is that by Memorial Day, the wheels will already have come off the wagon. What I find more discouraging is when their GM makes a ridiculous statement about 90 wins this year (was he including Spring Training and “B” Squad games in that total?) and it barely makes a ripple. Either the fanbase is as delusional as Alderson and the Wilpons or maybe to paraphrase Alderson’s infamous quip from last year: “What fanbase?”

Last place seems much more probable than a 90-win season. A bad start (also likely) could raise the national ridicule of the Mets to early 1990’s levels. That might be the best thing about the 2014 season. As fans, we lack the power to impact the results on the field, so I think the empty seats and the scorn of the hyenas in the press corps will be the best measure of revenge we can get. Alderson and the Wilpons deserve every bit of it.

13-14 Offseason

Will Mets Roll with Dice-K?

The Mets have until noon today (Tuesday) to either inform Daisuke Matsuzaka that he’s made the 25-man roster, or pay him $100,000 to go to the minors.

Based on his spring performance, one would think Dice-K will make the club. But if so, what will the Mets do with Jenrry Mejia?
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13-14 Offseason

How Pitchers Can Avoid Tommy John Surgery

Yesterday on the SNY broadcast of the spring training split-squad game between the Mets and Nationals, Ron Darling gave his take on Tommy John surgery, suggesting that “everyone is different” in regard to recovery, and while all pitchers get the same prescription for rehab, that doesn’t mean they’ll all heal exactly the same, because everyone’s “makeup” is different.

No offense to Darling, but at least two things must be considered. First, while every pitcher gets the same rehabilitation prescription after undergoing Tommy John surgery, not all pitchers follow the program (this is often the fault of the teams). Second, while everyone’s DNA is different, so are their pitching deliveries — and some are more dangerous than others. A human being can’t change his DNA, but he CAN change his mechanics. Unfortunately, very few — if any — pitchers make the necessary corrections to their mechanics to avoid harming themselves again.

And therein lies the problem: pitchers — and the teams they pitch for — rarely consider what CAUSED the elbow injury in the first place. It’s chalked up to “bad luck” or some other random, mystical force. Can you imagine what this world would be like today if we took that approach to everything that went wrong in life? Oh wait — we DID do that, about a thousand years ago. We blamed bad weather, famine, plagues, floods, and just about every other negative happening on one god or another. Then, at some point in human history, we discovered — and developed — something called SCIENCE. It’s an amazing thing, this “science” concept — it’s able to explain things, such as why lightning strikes, or why it snows, or why pitchers destroy their elbows.

Here’s the best part — unlike the weather, which is uncontrollable (but explainable), thanks to science, pitchers don’t have to destroy their elbows. Scientists know exactly why pitchers hurt their elbows, and why Tommy John surgery isn’t necessarily the answer for a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Sure, you can take an aspirin or Advil for your headache, but wouldn’t it be even better to prevent the headache in the first place? In most cases, it CAN be done. Similarly, pitchers don’t have to tear their UCL — and those who’ve torn it once, don’t have to tear it again.

But don’t take it from me — I’m just a hack blogging from my parents’ basement. Listen below to qualitative scientist and sport kinesiologist Angel Borrelli explain why pitchers injure their elbows, and how it can be prevented. Oh, and there’s a full follow-up on Jonathon Niese‘s shoulder and elbow injury — and you are NOT going to like what you hear.

Have a comment? A question for the next episode of The Fix? Post in the comments.

Online Baseball Radio at Blog Talk Radio with On Baseball on BlogTalkRadio
13-14 Offseason, Pitching Mechanics, The Fix

Should Mets Bat Pitcher Eighth?

From “DanB” in the comments section:

Hey Joe, I am (surprise!) tired of talking about why our shortstop position sucks. What about a good ole’ baseball post about Collins’ idea (actually LaRussa’s) of pitchers batting 8th? At first I didn’t like it because it gives the pitcher 18 more ABs per year. But then I realize a pitcher only gets two to three ABs anyway before they get pinch-hit for. It would be the pinch hitters getting 18 more ABs per year. I actually like the idea of the pinch hitters getting more ABs rather then the typical eighth place hitter, especially since it will be in the late innings. And this is before we debate whether it would give DW more RBI opportunities. Anyone?

Thoughts?
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13-14 Offseason

Jonathon Niese Not Out of the Woods

The good news, which you likely already heard: the MRI of Jonathon Niese‘s elbow came back clean — there was no sign of damage.

The bad news: that doesn’t necessarily mean that Niese will be OK, able to start Opening Day, and give the Mets 200+ innings in 2014.
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13-14 Offseason

Mets Demote Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard

In case you missed it, two of the Mets most promising pitching prospects have been reassigned to minor-league camp.

In other, somewhat unrelated news, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost named 22-year-old phenom Yordano Ventura as his team’s #3 starter.
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13-14 Offseason

How Jonathon Niese’s Delivery Can Be Fixed

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The bad news: Jonathon Niese left Sunday’s ballgame after the second inning with pain in his elbow. The good news: assuming the MRI comes out clean, the arm problems Niese has experienced this spring can be easily fixed by making minor adjustments to his pitching delivery.
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13-14 Offseason

Vic Black Struggles As Mets Tie Twins

The Mets and Twins tied 3-3 in Grapefruit League, split-squad action. There was no shootout, penalty kick, nor coin flip — just an unromantic kiss between brother and sister.
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13-14 Offseason

Braves Move Quickly To Repair Rotation

Over the last week, the Braves received the bad news that Kris Medlen damaged his UCL and Brandon Beachy was experiencing biceps tightness. They reacted quickly to create good news by signing free-agent starter Ervin Santana to a one-year, $14.1M contract.

The New York media asked Sandy Alderson if this signing affected what the Mets might do in regard to their shortstop situation. Alderson’s response:

“I’m not interpreting it in terms of ‘our situation. I don’t know that we have a situation here.”

From the standpoint of a GM speaking with the media, it was the right answer, of course. The Yankees and Red Sox might make competing moves with each other, but that’s because they’re in the same division and competing with each other for a playoff spot, while the Mets and Braves … oh, wait …

Seriously though, it wouldn’t make much sense for Alderson to publicly acknowledge that the Mets would be motivated to do something based on an opponent’s acquisition. And further, I don’t think it makes any sense for the Mets to step up their pace to improve the shortstop position just because the Braves signed a pitcher — it’s apples and oranges.

Or is it? The Braves getting weaker by potentially losing two starting pitchers would give the Mets a larger window of opportunity to advance further up the standings, wouldn’t it? So really, any response by the Mets would be more due to Medlen and Beachy being sidelined, than Santana joining Atlanta.

Even if you don’t look at it that way, I’m curious — do you agree that the Mets may not have a “situation” at shortstop? Do you think that a valid answer lies somewhere among Ruben Tejada, Wilmer Flores, Omar Quintanilla, and Wilfredo Tovar?

Again, it would be counterproductive for Alderson to say shortstop is a problem — but what’s YOUR view?

Answer in the comments.

13-14 Offseason
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Mets ST Game 12: Loss to Cardinals

Mets mount another late-inning comeback, but fall a bit short.
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13-14 Offseason

Mets Squeeze Past St. Louis in ST Game 11

The Mets rallied late to outlast the Cardinals 9-8 in Grapefruit League action.
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13-14 Offseason

Marlins Massacre Mets in ST Game 9

The Miami Marlins scored eleven runs in a laugher against the Mets. No worries — it’s spring training and the games don’t count. Further, most of the runs occurred in the later innings, when the two clubs were competing almost exclusively with players ticketed for the minor leagues come April.
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13-14 Offseason

Josh Edgin Among First Cuts from Mets Roster

Josh Edgin was one of more than a dozen players booted to Mets minor league camp. Cited was his unimpressive velocity — and we can easily illustrate the reason for his drop in MPH.
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13-14 Offseason