IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING by Tom Brennan
It Happens Every Spring…well, that gets 2 Pinocchios, because although they call it Spring Training, most of Spring Training happens during the winter season, as we’ve only recently leapt into spring.
The season starts very soon, and when you cut away the spring baloney, the regular season is all about wins and losses: win enough, and the playoffs are your reward.
Spring training is all about getting ready for the season, checking out prospects, bringing key guys along at the right speed so that when the regular season gun sounds, they're ready to play ball, go to war, and stuff like that. Wins and losses in Spring Training are nice but a low priority.
So the Mets haven't won all that many so far this spring. So their record looks like a bad hockey team in January, what with the 5 ties and many losses. So what? Still it is interesting to see how guys (thru Wednesday) have done, who's done well, not so well, and so here are some highlights:
FLIP THE CHART AND HOW ARE WE DOING, DONALD? “WE’RE DOING SO WELL, SO WELL”: Flip it, and the Mets would be 2nd in homers and 3rd in hitting. Actually, not flipping, the Mets are 28th in batting average (.256), and 29th in homers (12), but who’s counting? It doesn’t count, right? Right? RIGHT?? Hey, last year, the Mets’ hitters tore it up in Spring Training, then went comatose for 4 months. I’m expecting the reverse to happen this season. The Mets have better hitters than what was on the field in April 2015.
LOWER HITTING PROSPECTS ARE TEARING IT UP: The soon-to-be-great Amed Rosario and other household names (in their own households) - Jonathan Johnson, Jeff McNeil, John Mora, Raywilly Gomez, Derrick Gibson and Kevin Kaczmarski - combined to go 15 for 30 with just 1 K: "Hey, yo, Mick, this big league stuff ain't so tough! It ain’t so bad!"
CONTACT ABOUNDS: Not only are those guys not striking out, C Johnny Monell and OF Alejandro de Aza have also made more contact than contact paper…89 plate appearances, 8 strikeouts. Sweet. The fact that the 2 of them have gotten on base 40 times is also smile-inducing. BTW, happy recent 30th birthday, Mr. Monell.
Also, Dominic Smith has hit just .207, but only fanned twice in 30 trips, which is quite impressive. Even Travis Taijeron (.333/.405/.556) “only” fanned 11 times in 41 plate appearances, which he’ll take any time.
GETTING ON BASE: Three guys trying to impress (Eric Campbell, Travis Taijeron, and Matt Reynolds) have combined for a .400 OBP…Reynolds the least of the 3, but spurting upwards of late.
REGULARS DOING WELL WITH THE STICK: Messrs. de Aza (,372), Cespedes (.357), Flores (.302), Lagares (.318) are all in the .300 club. Grandy close, at .295. Nolan Arenado is hitting .580, but who's counting?
SPUTTERING REGULARS: Duda and d'Arnaud slumming around .180. The D Boys fittingly both deservedly get D grades so far. Walker hitting in the low 2's but gaining speed – I like the glove.
DEAD BALL ERA IS BACK: Many teams have over 30 homers – 18 of them, in fact. The Mets, as noted, have walloped 12. The White Sox barely eke ahead of the Mets with 48 homers - well, OK, that means they've quadrupled the Mets’ output. Thank the Lord above for re-signing Cespedes, as the Mets' homer pace is likely to really pick up as the regular boppers play with increasing regularity.
REMEMBER US? David Wright and Asdrubal Cabrera have seen little of the batters’ box, but that thankfully has started to change, as both are needed to be healthy and productive. Both combined are a paltry 7 for 36, but Wright's homer to right on Sunday was vintage DW.
TEAM ERA of 5.05. 5.05!!! Before vomiting, many teams are worse, including San Diego at a ghastly 6.95, and even the highly respected Jints tossing at 6.87. WAZZUP? The Mets' ugly ERA has them only as low as 20th – but also consider the following:
AWFUL, AND BANISHED: Pimental, Carlyle, Alvarez, Wheeler, Bradford, Sewald, Walters, Below, Montero, and Lara allowed a combined 45 earned runs in 30 innings. That's a 13.50 ERA. C’mon! See ya later (or in Carlyle’s case, never again). The rest of the team pitchers’ combined ERA is a much more respectable 3.82, so don’t freak over the 5.05 team ERA. Even 3.82 is most likely far above what it will be in the regular season.
101: Noah Syndergaard's speed gun reading the other day. I'm sure we'll see plenty of 100+ from Thor, and nothing indicates a less than stellar season awaits. Cy Young?
SPEEDING UP: deGrom has been picking up velocity, but he seems to be simply great at any velocity. Cy Young?
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR? Steve Matz struggled his first few outings, but looked great Sunday. I have a feeling that "looked great" will be frequently associated with his name this year. I loved the curve ball action on Sunday, which was far from a finished product a few years ago. Cy Young?
BOO BOO BETTER: Harvey was good enough, until his last awful start, then a doctor's visit, and phew! Bladder infection (which will make you feel like total crap and pitch the same way) and a clot – antibiotics and a few days of healing and we'll have our Dark Knight back. Oh, yeah, baby! Cy Young?
LIVIN' LARGE: Colon may be portly and effective when he turns 100. He was fine his last 2 outings, but a LOT of long fly balls. But he led the squad with 20 Ks. Hopefully, he will delight, baffle, and amaze again in 2016. But, Bartolo, hitless in 2 spring ABs? Ahh, saving the hits for the regular season, I get it.
LESS THAN BULLISH BULLPEN: Shaky so far, let's be frank, but I smile thinking of our top 4 pen guys being Familia, Reed, Bastardo, and Robles, with Edgin edgin' closer to returning. Far better quality going in than the pen was at the start of 2015.
Oh, and Seth Lugo, who will start in AAA, did nicely (5 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 5 K) in his limited opportunities, and deserves a special mention when so many other minor league types struggled.
Thus ends my last update before Opening Day. Let’s Go Mets!