A few notes …
Putz, of course, did not play for the Mets but rather for Team USA in the WBC. Putz was called on to close out a 6-5 ballgame against Canada, and notched his first save in a nail-biter of a ninth inning. The good news for Mets fans is that Putz was humming his fastball at 94 MPH. So, the worries about velocity which we pointed out previously can be put to rest.
Gee looked much more comfortable and relaxed in comparison to his ST debut a few days ago. He exuded confidence, and though he definitely was not picking around the plate in the same way he was against the Cardinals, he also wasn’t throwing as many strikes as expected, going full count to several hitters in his two-inning stint.
Murphy has been an on-base machine, is driving the ball to the outfield gaps, is heady on the bases, and is improving in the field. Ron Darling compared him to Dave Magadan, which to me is a very astute comparison. However I’m not sure I agree with Darling’s assumption that Murphy will hit with more power, since I’m not seeing the bat speed necessary for 40 doubles and 20+ HRs. I still like my own comparison of Murphy to Mike Hargrove — and if Murphy can equal Hargrove’s career, he’ll have a very nice MLB career.
Kielty blistered the ball in his first two at-bats, and hustled all over the place. He has a long, tough road toward a spot on the 25-man roster, but he won’t fail due to lack of effort.
I love Nick Evans, I really do. He reminds me of a guy I’d expect to see on the ’69 Mets, with his short-cropped haircut and “regular joe” looks. He’s been hitting to the opposite field like its his job, which is good and bad. It’s good because any hitter who hits the other way is a good hitter. It’s bad because Nick’s ticket to the big leagues is hitting for power, meaning homeruns, and generally speaking, that requires pulling the ball. If Evans had above-average MLB speed, and played a position other than first base, I might not be so concerned. But right now he projects as a guy who will hit around .275 with about 15 HR and 25-30 doubles. Those would be strong numbers for a first baseman in 1969, but not quite enough for an everyday job 40 years later.
For 17 years old, he looks impressive. He’s a tall, lanky kid with a remarkably short stroke. In his first frew at-bats, he was too aggressive to make any kind of judgment, but he torched a double down the line in the 7th inning — which surprised me, because his open stance and excessive distance from home plate made me guess that he didn’t like inside pitches. The general consensus of the Mets’ staff is that he compares to fellow Venezuelan Miquel Cabrera, which is an astounding statement. Who knows? Seventeen is young, so there’s a lot of projection. If it’s any help, Cabrera received MVP votes after half a year in the bigs as a 20-year-old — so we may find out quickly whether those comparisons hold water.
Darren O’Day was brought in to face Ryan Zimmerman in a pseudo-regular season situation, and he walked Zimmerman on four pitches. However, he seemed to pitch better as he continued along in his two-inning outing, which suggests that maybe he wasn’t properly warmed up when he came into the game. In any case, I’m not yet sold on O’Day, who seems to have issues spotting the ball around the strike zone. I think his head moves around too much during his motion; if he could keep his head still, he’d probably throw more strikes.
Sean Green still doesn’t strike me as being an upgrade over Joe Smith, and I’m not even sure he’s Smith’s equal. His sinker starts at a high spot in the strike zone — about belly-button-high — and doesn’t drop much. And, I’ve yet to see a “punch-out” pitch from him, which means he’ll have to exclusively rely on ground balls for outs.
Roydrick Merritt reminds me of a lefthanded Cecilio Guante. His sidearm delivery may fool lefty hitters some day — IF he can generate just a few more MPH on that fastball, which currently sits around 88. However, it’s very tough for a sidewinder to increase velocity, because they are fighting gravity.
Casey Fossum may be the ultimate enigma. He throws nasty breaking curveballs at three different speeds — 63, 73, and 83 MPH — and he can get his fastball as high as 91. Yet, he’s incredibly hittable. His fastball is fairly straight and flat, and he rides it a little too high in the zone. He tries to make up for that by cutting it, but the result is usually a ball far out of the zone. If this guy can ever figure out what to do with his stuff, he should be successful. But it doesn’t look like that’s happening this spring.
Valerio de los Santos does not look particularly special. His lefthandedness is the only thing keeping him in camp.
Is it me, or is every backup catcher in camp hefty ? Not that there’s anything wrong with being hefty, it just seems like there’s a specific type in mind. Personally, and from experience, I’ve always preferred catchers who were lean, nimble, and athletic, with quick feet. But what do I know?