Tom Brennan - IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING
It Happens Every Spring was my favorite baseball movie, one I'd forgotten about - check it out.
Anyway, I have loved this Mets spring training so far. I am in the camp of fans who want more offense out of the Mets, and almost the entire spring, the Mets have obliged, with perhaps the best offensive showing of any Mets team ever.
When guys are hitting like that, who wants anyone to get sent to the minors?
And frankly, the Mets pitching has largely followed suit, with the exception of a few bad innings that have boosted the team ERA.
But you can't fit a size 40 roster into a size 25 shoe, so the exodus that happens every spring has started and will pick up its pace this week.
On the pitching side, favorites of mine, (Matz, Thor, Leathersich) all gone by Tuesday. BANISHED TO LAS VEGAS.
Jack Leathersich had the one atrocious outing in early spring, compounded by the following pitcher surrendering all the baserunners Jack left to inherit - which destroyed his spring ERA - so despite having 6 scoreless - and walk-less - outings thereafter, the die was cast, and off he goes to show the brass he can stop walking so many hitters, dominate his fellow lefties, and kick some AAA butt.
Steve Matz and Thor? Neither perfect, but both exciting, in their outings this spring, both capable of joining the rotation now if the Mets needed them to, but both sent packing early to remove them from the limelight and get them readier for post-Super 2 pitching in Queens in 2015. And I liked starters Matt Bowman and Tyler Pill this spring too, but both got early demotion notices, as expected.
Vic Black is a concern, so (as of Wednesday AM) that means one more hopeful may secure a spot in the pen. One would think the recent Zach Wheeler experience would make them quite cautious with Vic.
There is still a handful of pitchers (mostly of the southpaw variety) vying for the bullpen opportunity to go north. I won't make any predictions, as none of the remaining lefties has excited anyone other than close family members this spring. Sandy is watching the waiver wire very closely.
Back to those offensive juggernauts. Ten guys (Nieuwenhuis, Dekker, Castellano, Puello, Campbell, Monell, Recker, Muno, Reynolds, and Tejada) in my opinion came into camp vying for spots, and collectively have put the foot to opposing pitchers' derrieres:
In about 380 combined plate appearances, the 10 fellas have put up an All Star caliber .294/.370./.475 slash, making cut-down from 10 guys to 4 likely spots very, very difficult this spring. (Possibly up to 6, if Flores and Murphy injuries prevent them from being ready on opening day). What they do in the days ahead, up until cuts to get to 25 occur, will be worth watching.
If a Danny Muno (on base a mere 19 times in 42 plate appearances) gets the heave-ho, no one can say he did not put his best foot forward. But Muno could make the team if neither Flores nor Murphy can put their their worst feet forward out of Injuryville by opening day. When Flores heard that he was fitted with the same boot Ike wore, he immediately took it off, by the way.
Besides Muno, what about other guys vying for offensive slots?
Matt Reynolds has slacked a bit offensively of late, while Ruben the Ripper Tejada has shown he owns a bat, and really stepped up his offensive attack. So Matt may be visiting the seasoning aisle of your local Las Vegas grocer soon. Interesting days of decision lie ahead for both.
Catcher Johnny Monell has quieted a bit at the bat, and a big game on Monday from the otherwise catatonic Anthony Recker may help keep Recker in the back-up catcher slot and exile Monell to Vegas, but that is no sure thing as of this writing. I still like having a lefty hitting catcher.
Dekker and Kirk? One will stay. Both have slipped offensively in games this week, but no-options-left Kirk has hit better and likely has the edge.
Cesar Puello has not been bad (.380 on base % in 28 plate appearances) but not dazzled – will he stay? He’s out of options. His righty counterpart, Alex Castellano, has been quite decent with 5 of his 8 hits for extra bases.
But Soup Campbell may make it difficult for either to stay, although he like Dekker has the dreaded option left, so he might just see the casinos of Vegas again soon - but he’s done well (.257/.409/.600) so I am betting he stays.
Not in the list of 10: Kevin Plawecki was only an option to stay if d’Arnaud was injured – so he is certainly off for a final tune up in Vegas, and will likely return some time in 2015.
However it sorts out, this has been a really fun spring, watching the Mets hit better than perhaps any spring in their history.
Another week and a half to “play ball.” Can’t wait.