Marc Carig/Newsday –
Michael Cuddyer dazzled about a dozen schoolchildren Thursday during a visit to Citi Field. Displaying the sleight of hand that he has perfected since he was a boy, the new Mets outfielder unleashed an array of card tricks that left his pint-size audience stunned.
Perhaps the Mets will need some of that magic, too, now that the Nationals have ascended to World Series favorites with the addition of pitcher Max Scherzer.
But with some impressive pitching of their own, Cuddyer believes the Mets already have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the Nationals for supremacy in the NL East.
Andy Martino/NY Daily News –
You spend enough years around David Wright, and you see a clear pattern emerge: The captain is happier, and often better, when sharing the clubhouse with a gregarious, media-friendly second in command.
And for Wright, happiness means sleeping better, gripping the bat a little more loosely, granting fewer exhausting interviews — basically just lightening up, which the third baseman has many times admitted is hard to do. This is a guy who places heavy pressure on himself to save the Mets, and needs help easing the burden.
It was once Jeff Francoeur who ran the clubhouse card games, and split the postgame media scrums with Wright.
Now Wright’s longtime buddy Michael Cuddyer has rolled into town as the team’s lone major acquisition, and is poised to play a vital role. The season relies on Wright returning to health and All-Star form. Having an old friend around, and one who happens to be a people person, will be a relief.
Bill Baer – Hardball Talk
Hold on to your hats, folks, because you’re never going to believe this one: reliever Gonzalez Germen has been claimed off waivers. This time, he’ll be going from the Rangers to the Cubs, per ESPN’s Adam Rubin.
In case you’ve not been following Germen-related news this off-season, here’s a synopsis:
Through December 14: Germen gainfully employed by the Mets
December 15: Mets designate Germen for assignment
December 19: Yankees acquire Germen from the Mets for cash considerations
January 13: Yankees designate Germen for assignment
January 20: Rangers acquire Germen from the Yankees for cash considerations
January 21: Rangers designate Germen for assignment (to make room for Carlos Corporan on the 40-man roster)
January 23: Cubs claim Germen off waivers from the Rangers
In a little over a month, Germen has been with four organizations and counting. He may not want to sign a lease in Chicago until the dust settles.
Germen, 27, has a career 4.31 ERA and a 64/30 K/BB ratio in 64 2/3 innings in the big leagues.
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., by Feb. 19, it's time to continue dissecting the Mets' 2015 roster. This is the third of a six-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at the projected starters and backups heading into the season. Next up: corner infielders. Think back a year to the Mets' corner-infield situation. Third baseman David Wright was essentially a sure thing, coming off an injury-shortened season, but still one of his best ever. First base was a mess, with Ike Davis the favorite for a job that ultimately went to Lucas Duda.
A year later, first base appears set, even if Duda has improvements to make. Third base is the one with questions, foremost among them Wright's ability to stay healthy.
Tim Kurkjian –
The Chicago Cubs were playing a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The date doesn't matter; it could have been any time from 1953 to 1971. Ernie Banks, the always ebullient, always energetic slugger who famously told us, "Let's play two," popped his head out of the Cubs dugout, looked first at the bright blue sky and then at the big crowd, and said, "Let's play three!"
That was Ernie Banks. One game in a day wasn't enough, and when there were two, he wanted three. No one, but no one, loved playing the game more than Ernie Banks. And not many played it better, especially as a young man when he changed, at least for a few years, the way baseball looked at the position of shortstop. He is a Hall of Famer, one of only 26 players who have hit at least 500 home runs (he finished his 19-year career with 512). And he is, in every way, on and off the field, Mr. Cub.