Tag: freddy garcia

Freddy Garcia May Retire

Adam Rubin is reporting that Freddy Garcia is NOT the solution for the Mets’ starting rotation, and, he is leaning toward retirement.

Garcia has a 8.18 ERA with the AAA Buffalo Bisons, and is struggling to keep his fastball in the 80s. Last night he gave up six runs in the fifth inning, including a grand slam by former Brave Ryan Langerhans.

Speaking to the Buffalo News, Garcia said:

“Maybe I want to try it one more time,” he told the newspaper. “If I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to be feeling right now, I don’t know. I have to make a decision what I’m going to do. I don’t know yet. Hopefully next time I’ll feel better. I want to wait for tomorrow and see how I feel. I’m working really hard to try to get right but my shoulder doesn’t respond. I’m going to try my best and work hard. If not, I guess I’ll go home. I don’t know. That’s it, man.”


Mets 25-Man Roster Set

With Opening Day only four days away, the Mets’ 25-man roster is set. Few, if any, surprises dot the list, though at least one individual may have been slighted.

Here are your 2009 New York Mets:

Pitching Staff

Johan Santana
Mike Pelfrey
Oliver Perez
John Maine
* Livan Hernandez


Francisco Rodriguez
Joseph Jason Putz
Sean Green
Pedro Feliciano
Bobby Parnell
Brian Stokes
Darren O’Day


Brian Schneider
Ramon Castro


1B Carlos Delgado
2B Luis Castillo
3B David Wright
SS Jose Reyes
UTL Alex Cora


Carlos Beltran
Ryan Church
Danny Murphy
Jeremy Reed
Fernando Tatis (UTL)
Marlon Anderson (1B / 2B)
* Nick Evans (1B)

(* – Livan Hernandez will join the roster on April 11th, presumably to replace Nick Evans)


There wasn’t any competition for the starting lineup positions, and four of the five rotation spots were earmarked, so much of the above is unsurprising. Livan Hernandez took hold of the fifth starter’s spot in the first week of spring training and never let go.

So the real mystery — if there was any — came in regard to the bullpen and the bench. Darren O’Day was a Rule 5 pick, and pitched well enough to earn a spot. I think he’ll be a sleeper coming out of the ‘pen. Brian Stokes was fairly effective in the spring, and was helped by the fact that most of the ST invites brought in to compete for bullpen spots were underwhelming at best. Stokes also is out of options, and likely would have been plucked by another team if waived. Similarly, Sean Green pitched well in March and was more or less a lock, as was Pedro Feliciano and the two closers. The only surprise is Bobby Parnell, who impressed by touching 97 MPH on the radar gun and posting a 2.19 ERA. I’m a little skeptical on carrying Parnell, due to the 9 walks he gave up in only 12 innings, and the long fly balls that resulted when his fastball veered chest high over the middle of the plate. Personally, I would’ve preferred to see Nelson Figueroa on the staff as a long man, especially after his excellent performance in the WBC. Apparently, facing some of the best hitters in the world in a playoff-like competition does not weigh as heavily as pitching against AA hitters in a spring training atmosphere. Go figure.

As for the bench, we knew that Alex Cora’s $2M contract guaranteed a spot, and Ramon Castro was similarly set. Marlon Anderson was also retained for financial reasons, though also out of respect, I surmise, because he didn’t hit very well. I’m OK with that, as I’m a huge fan of Marlon and believe he is a good clubhouse presence. But if he needs to hit to stick around — this situation is eerily similar to that of Julio Franco in 2007.

Tatis was a no-brainer for the bench after Dan Murphy was named the starting leftfielder. He’s an ideal guy to have around for his versatility and occasional pop. Reed was the best of the dozen or so light-hitting, defensive-minded, Endy Chavez replacements. I like Reed quite a bit and wonder why he’s not the one starting in LF, after hitting a blistering .418 with a .500 OBP in the spring. Talk all you want about Danny Murphy, but from what I saw, Jeremy Reed was the most impressive all-around outfield candidate in camp.

The Cuts

The demotion of Figueroa — and subsequent longer looks at schlubs such as Fernando Nieve and Elmer Dessens — was deplorable. What more did Figgy have to do this spring? If it weren’t such a wide open competition, it would be somewhat understandable. In 7 2/3 high-pressure innings, Figueroa gave up zero runs, struck out 6, and posted a 0.68 WHIP. The Mets are in need of a flexible guy in the bullpen — one who can handle both long and short duties — and Figgy fits the bill. Strange.

Tony Armas, Jr. was cut after pitching one scoreless inning. I thought for sure he would be assigned to AAA Buffalo; perhaps he eventually will.

Jose Valentin was also released, which was sad. If not for the guaranteed contract given to Cora, he might have had a chance. Like Armas, he may eventually be assigned to a minor league club — my guess is that the team will discuss with him a player-coach position in Buffalo, or a straight coaching job at a lower level.

Similarly, Andy Green was demoted quickly, despite invigorating an otherwise boring spring with heightened enthusiasm and hitting like crazy. He reminded me of Joe McEwing, during Superjoe’s heyday.

Freddy Garcia wasn’t in shape, and pitched poorly, but I believe and hope he builds himself up in the minors, as I have a funny feeling he’ll be needed at some point.

What happened to Eddie Kunz? Not a peep about him all spring.

Final Thoughts

No huge surprises, as the Mets’ roster was fairly set due to financial commitments. There is a concern that Pedro Feliciano is the only lefty coming out of the bullpen, but the LOOGYs brought in ranged from awful to ordinary, and it doesn’t make sense to carry a lefty for the sake of carrying a lefty.

On paper, the roster looks fairly solid up and down. Let the games begin.


Freddy Garcia Accepts Demotion

The New York Mets have assigned Freddy Garcia to minor league camp, and he’s accepted the decision.

The righthander has been struggling with the velocity and command of his fastball, and has been lit up by every team he’s faced this spring — including college hitters in a brutal 1/3 inning against the University of Michigan (oops, that was Tim Redding … they all look the same to me in the boxscore!).

Mets Assistant GM John Ricco said that Garcia could stay in Port St. Lucie at the end of spring training, or be sent to Buffalo.

While it’s too bad that Freddy hasn’t yet worked out, this remains a no-risk gamble for the Mets. As long as Garcia is not on the 40-man roster, he is paid only a minor league salary. If he builds himself back up and can find his way to the 40-man, then he’s owed $1.5M. I still believe he can be useful as a back-end starter if he can get his velocity up to the high 80s.

This announcement pretty much solidifies Livan Hernandez as the Mets’ #5 starter to begin the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Livan finished the season as the team’s #3.


Jon Niese Sent Down

The Mets have sent Jon Niese to minor league camp, effectively removing him from the competition for the fifth starter’s role.

The lefthander pitched eight innings this spring, allowing six runs on six hits — including two homeruns — and a startling seven walks. He did strike out seven.

Whether it was nerves, lack of preparation, or skillset, Jonathan Niese did little to suggest that he’s ready to pitch at the MLB level. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to help the Mets at some point this year, it simply means he needs more time to develop. Since we in the NYC area didn’t get to see much of Niese on TV, it’s hard to evaluate his performance. Looking strictly at the numbers, the walks are the biggest concern — spring training or no spring training, you can’t succeed walking more than one batter per inning.

The move will not only allow Niese to develop at his own pace, and away from the microscope, but will also give Livan Hernandez and Freddy Garcia more reps in game situations.

Some folks may ask why Niese’s poor numbers earn him a demotion, while Garcia’s equally awful stats allow him to stay with the big club. A few reasons, beginning with the fact that Garcia has succeeded in MLB before, while Niese has yet to do so. Secondly, Garcia is coming off an injury, and there is speculation (hope?) that he is not yet showing himself at 100%. Niese, on the other hand, is completely healthy, and what he shows today is pretty close to what he’ll show a month from now — at least, from a physical standpoint / velocity range. Additionally, if Niese is NOT throwing at 100% right now, the Mets may not think that velocity is what will help him reach the next level. They may believe his issue has more to do with command and consistency. In contrast, Garcia’s career is almost completely dependent on whether he can get his fastball close to 90 MPH, because he has shown good command of the rest of repertoire.

Personally, I’m glad Niese is out of the spotlight. He’s not ready for it, and needs to concentrate on honing his skills without outside pressures. With time, he’ll find his way to Flushing, eventually.


Livan Good, Freddy Not So Good

After their most recent performances, it’s nearly a given that Livan Hernandez will go north as the Mets #5 starter, while Freddy Garcia’s future will depend on whether he’s willing to begin the season in AAA.

Hernandez was sharp in his Wednesday start, and looks to be in mid-season form. His fastball is underwhelming (low 80s), but he throws strikes, gets outs, and does everything else a pitcher needs to do to win (hit, bunt, field). The Mets don’t need Livan to be an ace, they need him to take the ball every fifth day and keep the team in the game through 6-7 innings.

You have to love Livan’s attitude, as demonstrated in an SNY interview during the sixth inning of that game. He was cool as a cucumber, completely relaxed, sounding like he just came in from a day of rum drinks on the beach rather than a five-inning stint on the mound. Of course, that same personality will drive people mad if his ERA is over 7.00 and his record is 0-6 by mid-May. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.

In contrast, Freddy Garcia is not progressing quickly enough — though there were a few positive signs in his outing against the Braves. Though Garcia was again battered — 7 hits and 5 runs in two innings — his velocity was improved and his curveball continues to have good bite. The fastball was riding around 85-86, and he touched 88 several times — a significant increase from the 83-84 range of a week ago. But it remains clear that he’s going to need more time to get ready for prime time. If the Mets don’t release him, and if he accepts a minor league assignment, I believe he can work his way back to the bigs after another month to six weeks in the minors. The guy is a battler, and it appears he’ll be able to get the velocity back around the 89-90 range. If he can get it there, he can win a few games in MLB, because his curveball is already a plus pitch, his changeup is solid, and his slider can be devastating. His problem now is that all of those pitches are around the same speed, and his fastball location is too high. Another few MPH difference between the fastball and his other pitches are key to his future success.

After his dismal performances this spring, Garcia may not have a choice — it’s not like other teams will be banging down his door.

In other news, Jonathan Niese has been sent to minor-league camp. That move plus Tim Redding’s shoulder injury and Tony Armas, Jr.’s demotion would suggest that the fifth starter competition has become a two-man race — with Livan Hernandez several strides ahead.


5 Early Warning Signs from Port St. Lucie

1. Johan’s Elbow

Make no mistake — Johan Santana has a problem with his elbow and it is going to be an issue for the entire season. Santana is a throwback, a tough guy who takes the ball, sacrifices himself for the team, and pitches through pain.

I’m a former player myself, and I can tell you firsthand that badasses such as Johan and myself go to the trainer to complain about an injury only when it’s become unbearable, and only as a last resort. The fact that Johan not only went to the Mets’ training staff to bring up an issue, but that it became public knowledge, throws up a dozen red flags.

I have two conspiracy theories. One, that Johan continues to pitch with pain, but feels he needs to earn his obnoxious contract and grin and bear it. Two, that the Mets won’t send Johan for an MRI because they’re afraid it might show damage, and they’ll have to shut him down. No Johan means no chance in hell that the Mets make the postseason, which in turn means season ticket sales grind to a screeching halt in an already depressed economy, and Citi Field doesn’t enjoy a record-breaking debut.

2. John Maine’s Shoulder … and Mechanics

Maine developed scar tissue and eventually, a cyst, on his shoulder due to a minor mechanical flaw in his deliverya flaw that can be corrected. However, neither the Mets nor Maine did anything to correct the flaw, which by the way also adversely affects his command. Unless someone wakes up and tells Maine to break his hands in the middle of his body instead of behind his right hip, we’ll watch another inconsistent season of 5-inning outings and 12-pitch at-bats.

3. JJ Putz’s Fastball

When the Mets acquired Putz, the scouting report was that this was one of the top closers in all of MLB, with a “filthy” breaking ball and 95-96 MPH heat. In his first appearance as a Met in Port St. Lucie, Putz was barely able to break 89 MPH, and reached that only a few times. He had a similarly underwhelming debut for Team USA. Now, we know it can take a while for a flamethrower to build up his strength, but the fact he’s struggling to reach 90 MPH is a major concern.

4. The Back End of the Rotation

Normally we wouldn’t worry too much about the #5 spot in the rotation. However, we’re looking at the possibility of chronic elbow issues from the ace, and inconsistency from #4 man John Maine — which means the back end needs to pick up the slack. So far, Freddy Garcia has looked awful, Livan Hernandez even worse, and Tim Redding has yet to take the mound due to a shoulder injury. The next men on the totem pole — Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell — are at best average prospects and have less than 20 big league innings of experience between them.

5. Jerry Manuel’s Mouth

The honeymoon is nearly over. Manuel has reigned as a media darling ever since taking over the Mets last June. However, comments and cajoling that previously were presented as “zen-like”, charming, and “a breath of fresh air” are starting — though ever so quietly — to be questioned. Manuel has always been known as engaging with the media — much to the chagrin of his players. His loose lips helped sink the ship in Chicago, as his constant calling out of players eventually created a tense and resentful clubhouse.

A similar pattern began in the initial days at Port St. Lucie, when Manuel told reporters that Daniel Murphy was a “better hitter” than Ryan Church. Even if that statement were true, it’s not the type of thing you go around boasting about. Only a week later, NY Post writer Bart Hubbuch compiled a long list of Manuel’s missteps with the media (interestingly, the post was generally ignored by the rest of the media and most Mets blogs). It’s not even mid-March yet, and Manuel’s already marred his managerial tenure with his mouth.

Go ahead, paint me the negative Nelly. But the above five issues could be pebbles in one shoe of the Mets, leaving them hobbling around on one foot through the 2009 season.


Spring Training Game 6

Freddy Garica

No doubt the NY tabloids tomorrow will say that Freddy’s slipping out of the starting rotation race. Don’t believe it. Garcia’s stats are terrible, and he gave up a couple bombs, but his stuff looked pretty good compared to his previous outing. I’m still not liking his velocity — he’s in the 82-84 range on his fastball — and he may need a few extra weeks to get strong enough to pitch at the big league level. However, his curveball still has excellent bite, and he had more command of it in this game compared to the last. He also pulled the string on several nasty changeups with good down movement (in fact, one of his changeups was mistakenly reported by Kevin Burkhardt as a curveball).

For some pitchers — particularly older ones and those coming off injury — it can take a few outings before they start to “get in the groove”. I think it’s premature to pass judgment on Garcia. If his ERA is in double digits in late March, that’s another story.

Jon Switzer

This guy is a prime example of why a lefthanded young man should consider learning how to throw a baseball. Switzer reminds me of a poor man’s Tony Fossas, which isn’t saying much. It will be nice to have an extra LOOGY stashed in AAA, if only to use in one or two series against the Phillies. He’ll provide a different, probably unscouted look, which in itself can be enough to get past many batters once or twice.

Dillon Gee

Poor kid had a tough debut. Unlike Garcia, there wasn’t anything positive to take away from Gee’s performance. His fastball was below average in velocity and he had zero command of it. He reminded me of Steve Trachsel — picking around the corners, falling behind, and then having to come into the batter’s wheelhouse. Also like Garcia, however, it may take Gee some time to get going, and I’m guessing he had some jitters. It can be unnerving for a kid to face the likes of Albert Pujols, even in a meaningless spring training game. I hope he sticks around another week or two so we can see him at his best.

Jose Valentin

I’m just thrilled to see him on the field and swinging a bat. The #99 on his back is mildly comical. It looks to me like he’s closing up a little too much from the left side, turning his hips just a bit too much during his stride, which is causing him to fly open a little too much. When he hit well in 2006, he stayed more square to the pitcher. Regardless, the odds are against him.

Marlon Anderson

Starting at first base in place of WBC-bound Carlos Delgado, Marlon was one of the few bright spots for the Mets, clubbing two doubles. OK, one of them was a routine fly ball that got caught up in the wind, but I’m pulling hard for Marlon to make this team.

Carlos Muniz

Like most of the Mets pitchers on this day, Muniz did little to help his case as far as the stat line goes. I did like some of the low, hard heaters he threw after giving up a bomb to Joe Thurston.


Mets Spring Training Game 3

I’m not counting the game against the Italians, so game three is the one the Mets played against the Cardinals.

The final score was Cardinals 9, Mets 8, but we’re not concerned with the score prior to April. Once again, we’ll focus on specific players and other errata.

Livan Hernandez

I must admit I’m personally pulling hard for “Not-Duque” to make this club, so my analysis may be rose-colored. I liked the way his fastball was sinking and was inducing ground balls. His slow curve was a little scary, though, hanging up there like a balloon. Can he get a way with it? We’ll see. He had some command issues when he got lazy with his follow-through, but otherwise was hitting his spots — something he must do to be successful.

Freddy Garcia

Can I pull for two starters to take one rotation spot? Unfortunately for Freddy, he didn’t look so hot. His fastball was flat, at a very hittable velocity, and was all over the place. His curve — important to his success — had little bite and also was hard for him to spot. To me he looks like he’s not yet as strong as he needs to be — and a 100% healthy and strong shoulder is vitally important since he doesn’t use his legs or momentum at all to power the ball. Still, I like the Mets rolling the dice on him, provided he will accept a AAA demotion to build himself back up.

Carlos Delgado

Carlos is looking great at the plate, waiting long on pitches, and keeping the hands back the way he did when he was in Toronto. He does this nearly every spring, though … will he keep this approach once April arrives? I said it last year, and I’ll say it again: Delgado is key to the Mets’ success.

David Wright

The only reason David made an error was because Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez made a point to talk about his defense and Gold Gloves. Jinxed!

Reese Havens

He didn’t play, but we were able to see him do an interview with Kevin Burkhardt. I’m very high on this kid, and think he can climb the ladder quickly if he can stay healthy. He’s an all-around ballplayer, and appears as though he’s already comfortable in front of the camera — a key to succeeding in NYC. The “step program”, though, didn’t sound particularly intriguing. Not that it needs to be.

Casey Fossum

The little lefty was effective, pitching a 1-2-3 inning in his first frame and allowing no runs and one hit over two innings. However his stuff looked ordinary and his fastball didn’t have much movement. His curveballs — he throws them at several speeds and angles — were always his forte, and I only saw him throw a handful, which were mostly the flat, low-80s, sideways, sweeping breaker (though, he did mix in one super-slow roundhouse that conjured memories of Ross Baumgartner). Hard to make an analysis on him just yet. I do like the way he uses momentum to power the baseball — very old school.

Connor Robertson

Robertson, like Fossum, was effective in the boxscore but didn’t throw enough to help make much of an evaluation. He reminded me of Jon Adkins — a below-average, straight fastball, average breaking ball. But his 1-2-3 inning consisted of about five pitches, so it’s impossible to make a judgment.

Adam Bostick

You can see why scouts have salivated over Bostick for years despite his persistently underwhelming performances. He’s big, tall, lefty, and comes from a low 3/4 angle with decent velocity, reminiscent of John Candelaria or even Ollie Perez. But his command is below average and his fastball looks like it stays on one plane (no downward movement). He’ll need to do two things to make the big leagues: concentrate on placing the fastball in one specific spot consistently and mixing it up with an average slider. Even then, his ceiling is as a LOOGY.

Albert Pujols

Keith Hernandez mentioned that “El Hombre” looked like he might have dropped a few pounds, and looked a little thinner in the face. I thought the same thing. Maybe he’s no longer taking those “B12” shots. Hmm.

Jason Motte

The Cardinals righty reminds me of a combination of Eric Gagne, Derrick Turnbow, and Keith Foulke. He throws pretty hard, and looks scary. But he only throws one pitch, so nothing to be concerned about. If he ever develops a split-fingered fastball, the Cards may have something.

Mike Shannon

Nice to hear that the Cardinals broadcaster has a fine restaurant with a great wine list. He certainly is among the worst baseball broadcasters in history — Tim McCarver and Joe Buck included (funny, all the awful announcers come from St. Louis).

Royce Ring’s Beard

Hmm … hard to figure how much his beard truly affects his performance. He’s had it now for at least two years, and he’s still not come close to the early comparisons to Randy Myers.

The Mets travel to Lakeland, Florida, to play the Tigers on Saturday at 1:10 pm. However it does not appear that the game will be televised, so instead, get your fill by posting your comments below.