Cutnpaste: – Willie Harris, Jenrry Mejia, Stephen Strasburg, Oliver Perez, Lineup

Willie Harris:

Willie Harris is still trying to make a team. It’s at the very core of his ethos, starting with the way he arrives in the clubhouse each morning, the way he watches the game on the bench each day, the way he plays when he’s summoned to enter a game. Harris, a 32-year-old Mets outfielder/second baseman, has been a regular on a major-league roster for five of the past nine seasons. But he has not been a regular in a starting lineup, leading to the mind-swirling reality of trying to make the roster in the spring.


Jenrry Mejia:
Jenry Meija RHP (Mets) 4.28 – The Mets rushed him, then didn’t know whether to put him in relief or the rotation. Met’s fans can only hope that didn’t mess with his confindence. He appears to be on a more conventional path to achieve some success with his mid-90s fastball before exposing it to major leaguers.


Stephen Strasburg:
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg continues to make progress following Tommy John surgery last September. He is now throwing 90 feet on flat ground and his arm strength is slowly coming back. The next time he throws on flat ground, Strasburg hopes to throw 15 feet further than before. There is no timetable as to when Strasburg will throw off the mound. Once he is healthy and ready to pitch in the Major Leagues, Strasburg wants to be the ace of Washington’s staff. Before he hurt his elbow in August, Strasburg was clearly Washington’s best starter. In 12 games, Strasburg was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. There is a possibility he could return to action sometime in September.¬ebook_id=16949042&vkey=notebook_was&c_id=was&partnerId=rss_was


Oliver Perez:
Wondering why the Mets have not already released Perez? Several prominent voices in the organization have been itching for weeks to cut the pitcher, sources say, and would likely have had their way had Perez not managed two scoreless innings in his first start on March 3. In a meeting last Wednesday, Warthen argued that Perez was worth looking at in the bullpen. He won the debate, and the tryout will last for as long as the pitcher throws strikes and collects outs.

By name recognition only, this lineup on paper would appear to be very strong. Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes and David Wright. Wow. But then you dig in. Outside of David Wright, I don’t believe any of them can be counted on for a full season. When healthy, Reyes is an absolute spark plug at the top of the lineup. Jason Bay couldn’t stay healthy last year, and even when he has been in a Mets uniform he hasn’t been all that good. And what can they expect out of Beltran is anyone’s guess, although I do expect him to have a bounce back year. Ike Davis looked pretty good as a rookie at 1B, but Luis Castillo is well below average at 2nd base. The defense Angel Pagan brings cannot be overlooked, but he isn’t much of a hitter. I do think this lineup has some pieces that could score some runs, but the lack of depth will mean staying healthy is an absolute must.


I May Be Wrong, But… Oliver Perez, Buffalo, Bobby Valentine, Carlos Beltran, Zach Lutz, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jenrry Mejia

1. Oliver Perez will be cut on Wednesday morning.


2. This is the time of the year I normally project out the minor league rosters. I’m going to pass on that right now because the Mets are still signing players and it’s pretty hard to tell who’s going to be around. All the minor leaguers will be in the house by this weekend and things will start to make more sense.


In addition, there are a handful of players that are currently playing with the parent team. I don’t expect any major surprise promotions here and the Mets utility squad will most probably consist of recent free agent signees.
That being said…

AAA- Buffalo


This should be a really good team.

Rotation wise, it looks like Jenrry Mejia, Josh Stinson, Boof Bonzer, Robert Carson, and Dylan Owen.

The pen is currently undetermined, but look for Roy Merritt Jose De La Torre, and Manny Alvarez to head up things, while Ricky Brooks might close.

An infield of Lucas Duda, Reese Havens, Ruben Tejada, and Zach Lutz is pretty hot. You might also see Nick Evans back here and Jordany Valdespin will sub.


Two outfield slots are taken by Fernando Martinez and Kirk Nieuwenhuis and, if Evans returns to 1B, and Duda goes back to the outfield… this is quite the lineup.

Catcher is still up for grabs. Mike Nickeas will start the season in Queens and my guess is Raul Chavez will be the opening day starter here.
On the bubble: A bunch of guys, some of which could still wind up in Binghamton. Eric Niesen, Jack Egbert, Elvin Ramirez, Eddie Kunz, Russ Adams, Josh Satin, Eric Campbell, Brahiam Maldonado, D J Wabick, Val Pasccuchi, and Jesus Feliciano… and this doesn’t even cover the new guys the Mets have signed in the past couple of months.

Far too many players.

Overall, this will easily be the best Buffalo team since they became a Mets affiliate.

Manager Tim Tuefel should enjoy his first year in Buffalo. He’s have four (Mejia, Tejada, Havens, Martinez) legitimate candidates to be starters on next years Mets’ 25-man squad… and… there might be a couple more future Mets role players (Nieuwenhuis, Duda) as well.
Scouts will be particularly watching Havens and Carson to see if they develop into the projected player they were when they were drafted.


3. It would be very bizarre having Bobby Valentine as one of the minority owners of the Mets. I can’t see this happening, even though the Wilpons need to do something soon if they intend to stay around.


What you have here would be similar to you if, let’s say, three years ago your investments were equally tied into stock futures and equity in the house you live in on the ocean out on the south shore. Then, the market goes south, you lose that shirt, and all you have left is the money invested in your white elephant that is worth less every day in this economy.


You really don’t want to sell the house, but you simply don’t have the cash funds left to keep it.


This is basically the Wilpon’s current problem. They have a wonderful business, but it isn’t what it is worth three years ago, and, according to current ticket sales, will be worth less by the end of the 2011 season.

The only light at the end of the tunnel for them is the clearing of contracts at the end of this season, which means, if ticket sales don’t return, you won’t see this kind of money invested into player salaries in the future.


Damned if you do damned if you don’t. You can’t win without quality players. You can’t have quality players without paying big bucks. And you can’t pay big bucks if you don’t sell a lot of tickets.


4. I believe that Carlos Beltran was smart to move over to right field on his own, but I think the Mets are pushing him too quick. Let the guy DH for most of ST and rehab him in April down in the minors. The important thing is for him to 100% heal and then hit the cover off the ball before the trade deadline. Beltran will not be a Met next year under any scenario and the best thing with the current money problem is to get two minimum salaried prospects for his services.


5. I think it would be best for the powers to be in baseball to sit down with the Wilpon family and convince them to sell the team. I may be on the outside looking in, but looking for another loan to cover operating expenses before your peak revenue season is about to kick in, means you already know you’re not going to take in more than you have to pay out. Moreover, it seems that the only financial relief this team has to look forward to is when the 2011 contracts run out. You don’t really think that current ownership is going to return the team’s payroll to six figures, do you? They’re cash broke.


6. Oliver Perez’s successful two innings on Thursday don’t mean squat. Sure, he left with no runs given up, but his fastball still hasn’t hit 88, no less 95. And this is a guy that just finished pitching in Mexico. You can’t say the velo will be coming when it just isn’t there anymore. I’m sure the powers to be were not happy with his… err… good outing.


7. It sure seems that players like Zach Lutz, Lucas Duda, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are getting an awful lot of innings in ST. And, Lutz even made it to first base on Thursday. Wonder why? Well, this is the time of the year that you showcase the best of what you have that you don’t want. All three of these guys are not slotted to replace David Wright, Angel Pagan, and Carlos Beltran, and whether you believe it or not, Fernando Martinez remains the top outfield slotted minor leaguer, followed now by Cesar Puello. If things go right, F-Mart will replace Beltran in RF in 2012.


8. It was interesting to watch Jenrry Mejia’s two innings on Thursday. You might not have noticed but he didn’t throw a pitch over 88mph. Believe me, that wasn’t a coincidence. The Mets obvious wanted Mejia to work on his secondary stuff, which he did very successfully. So far, he’s done everything successfully. Hmm…

Cutnpaste: – Carlos Beltran, Duke Snider, Pete Rose, Josh Thole, Oliver Perez

Carlos Beltran:

As Carlos Beltran’s time with the Mets nears its end, lots of folks are starting to discuss his place in history. His career is far from over, but given his injuries over the past few seasons and his age (33), it’s fair to say the inevitable decline is upon us. If you look at players who posted a rWAR >=25 and played greater than 70% of their games in center field in their career and then plot their career WAR Runs Batting and WAR Runs Fielding you get some perspective on where Beltran currently sits among the all time greats.


Duke Snider:
While I’m not a fan of leaders by the decade*, I found it interesting that Snider led MLB in home runs (326) and RBI (1,031) during the 1950s. You know, the decade that featured Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, and Eddie Mathews. Williams missed virtually all of the 1952 and 1953 seasons to the Korean War. Mays and Mantle were rookies in 1951, and Mays missed a large portion of ’52 and all of ’53 to the military as well. Mathews slugged 299 HR despite debuting in 1952. Many other superstars like Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, AL Kaline, and Frank Robinson didn’t make it to the majors until the mid-1950s. By the way, Snider’s teammate Gil Hodges was No. 2 in HR that decade with 310. Mathews was third, followed by Mantle (280), Musial (266), Yogi Berra (256), Mays (250), Ted Kluszewski (239), Gus Zernial (232), and Banks (228).


Pete Rose:

Court records show banned baseball star Pete Rose has filed for divorce from his wife of nearly 27 years. The 69-year-old Rose cited irreconcilable differences for the split, but his petition did not offer any additional details. A phone message left for his attorney, Joseph Mannis, was not immediately returned.


Josh Thole had already progressed beyond the estimations of many around baseball when, in the fall of 2009, he made a significant mistake. After introducing himself to the big leagues with 11 hits in his first eight games, Thole had begun to scuffle ever so slightly. And he was making his frustration plainly apparent with his body language on defense. Taking notice was Brian Schneider, a veteran catcher who, at the time, was losing at-bats to the rookie.

But Perez is only listed in that rotation competition because he asked to be considered, and Collins has been treating veterans with respect, allowing them to audition for their preferred roles. Because Perez is sitting at only 83-84 mph with his fastball and has a propensity for walks, a team insider indicated it is highly likely Perez will be released, because it is doubtful the southpaw can even serve as a lefty-on-lefty relief specialist.


Cutnpaste: – Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Aaron Heilman, Daniel Murphy, Fernando Martinez


When he did get on the mound, Perez didn’t exactly light up the radar gun or do anything that would merit any excitement about his place on the Mets. But at least for a day he was able to show he wasn’t going to depart without a fight. After a dismal first outing – not to mention a bullpen session that showed no improvement – Perez managed to navigate his way through two scoreless innings against a St. Louis Cardinals squad that brought only one regular starting player without a run, allowing two hits, no walks and not getting a strikeout.  

Jason Bay:
For Hudgens, the newly hired Mets hitting coach, perhaps none were more important to study than Jason Bay. Hudgens said he watched video of all of Bay’s plate appearances in 2010, all 401 of them. Now, the two are working together to fix a swing that so often seemed broken. After signing a four-year, $66 million contract in January 2010, Bay was a major disappointment last season. He hit just .259, with just six home runs and finished with a career-low .402 slugging percentage. A concussion in July ended his season.


Aaron Heilman:
Aaron Heilman is not kidding around when he says he wants to win a job in the starting rotation rather than the bullpen, where he’s been for the last five seasons. The D-backs right-hander tossed another three scoreless innings Wednesday afternoon at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, giving him five this spring. “Heilman was awesome,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said after his split squad’s 5-3 win over the Mariners. “He was pounding the zone. He’s certainly going for it.”¬ebook_id=16796562&vkey=notebook_ari&c_id=ari


Here in Spring Training, Murphy is in a four-way competition with Luis Castillo, Brad Emaus and Justin Turner for the starting second-base job, a gig he first began pursuing in the Minor Leagues last season. But Murphy has also logged Grapefruit League innings at third base, where he started Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals, and boasts experience both in left field and first base. If he misses out on the second-base job, Murphy could still make the team as a super sub of sorts, capable of backing up David Wright, Ike Davis and Jason Bay while providing a left-handed bat off the bench.


Five years and numerous injuries later Fernando Martinez is no longer, as Brian Costa wrote for the Wall Street Journal, a prodigy. This isn’t a surprise to me as I often questioned the praise for Martinez, who never showed the results his famous talents promised. Thus far, his best minor league season came in 2008 when he played 90 games, hit .292, with 8 homers and 43 RBI. I remember watching Martinez in Binghamton over the course of a weekend. Despite having a pleasant conversation with him in the locker room, I came away unimpressed with his play on the field. Yes, he was a great kid, unspoiled by the praise of being a top prospect, but he just didn’t appear to translate any of his tools into the game.


Stock: – Terry Collins, Jordany Valdespin, Jenrry Mejia, Ruben Tejada, Scott Hairston, Castillo, Beato, Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran

Up: – Mets Manager Terry Collins – word from the camp is that the players are really signing off on TC. This is a big change from the quiet calm of Willie Randolph, followed by the “let’s keep our distance” Jerry Manual. Collins has that fiery infectious Napoleonic personality that seems to be part of every man who stands waste high to the Chris Young’s of the world. Lots of positive energy so far, which also means guys like this can turn things loud an ugly real quick. I love it.

Up: – 2B/SS Jordany Valdespin – word from camp is that Valdespin turned heads during his infield workout along with other Mets vying for a Queens job. He simply was faster than the rest of the guys, both in getting to the ball and also getting back into position for the next ground. He has been known to get lazy on routine balls, but not so far this spring.

Up: – SP Jenrry Mejia – I talked with one of the beat guys down in Port St. Lucie and he told me that there are a lot of pitchers that look good right now, but everyone is talking about Mejia. Other Met ballplayers were literally stopping what they were doing and walking over to watch Mejia throw on the back field mounds. My contact said he was easily sitting at 94-95.

Up: – SS/2B Ruben Tejada – you always have to appreciate a ballplayer that takes the off-season serious, and Ruben has. No one has ever questioned his defensive skills, but his first shot at playing in Queens caused comparisons to Anderson Hernandez. So, Tejada went home and concentrated on bulking up and perfecting his swing. Word is he will never win the home run crown; however, everyone is impressed with his new dedication to improve his offensive statistics.

Up: OF Scott Hairston – Hairston is one of many that is trying to win a utility slot on the 25-man, which means you have to do two things well… not make errors and hot it over the wall. Well, you can’t have a better start that last Friday’s intra-squad game where Hairston hit two home runs. I’d say he’s leading after one.

Up: 2B Luis Castillo – Mets fans down in Port St. Lucie were taken to second base school by Luis Castillo on Saturday. He was the first to get a hit and later turned a double play that would never have happened if Daniel Murphy was playing there. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Mets do about this.

Up: RP Pedro Beato – It wasn’t that Beato did anything special in his first Met outing on Saturday, but the word around camp is everyone is thrilled with what he has brought to the team. It looks like the original Mets draft pick is going to make it to Queens after all. Good for him!

Down: P Oliver Perez – I can’t believe I’m still writing about this guy as a current Met. This is so embarrassing. The funny part is his ST ERA (18.00) is exactly what I said it would be on the day he is finally cut. Come on, Sandy… get it done.

Up: RF Carlos Beltran – with Beltran’s decision, the Mets just acquired one of the top right fielders in baseball. This is a good move for everybody. Centerfield can be left to a healthy Angel Pagan and Carlos can concentrate on healing and hitting. Good move

Cutnpaste: – Oliver Perez, Chris Young, Pat Misch, Taylor Buchholz, Duke Snider


During the final moments of Oliver Perez’s fourth-inning meltdown Sunday, the Champion Stadium loudspeakers blared “The Twilight Zone” theme. In reality, Perez was standing on the mound, but his head always seems to be in some alternate universe that defies explanation. One minute, Perez is striking out Dan Uggla with a 73-mph slider. The next, he’s walking three straight batters, the last with the bases loaded on a full-count pitch to David Ross. Perez is thoroughly unpredictable, and for that reason, it will be very difficult for the Mets to trust him in any role – starter, long reliever or specialist.;JSESSIONID=BF04A146A95D9158E84E.3074?site=newsday&view=sports_item&feed:a=newsday_5min&feed:c=sports&feed:i=1.2717759


Chris Young:

Last spring, before his shoulder betrayed him, Chris Young planned to call Curt Schilling. Young hoped to pick the brain of Schilling, the former ace, about a pitch he mastered, the split-fingered fastball. But then Young’s health intervened and his season was redirected. He never spoke with Schilling. A year later, healthy and throwing well for the Mets, he has the time to fiddle with the splitter as he competes for a position in the starting rotation.


Pat Misch:
Manager Terry Collins indicated an awareness of MLB’s preference to have teams play a reasonable number of regulars in away games and also to have enough pitching in away games so that ties can be avoided. The Mets adhered to both directives Sunday, starting Angel Pagan, Ike Davis and Josh Thole — regulars all — and having Chris Young as their starting pitcher. Pat Misch pitched in relief. Though Collins made a point of saying Misch still is a candidate to start, he also noted that Misch’s pitch repertoire and resilient arm make him well-suited for relief work. Misch’s preference is to be a big league pitcher, regardless of role.¬ebook_id=16756404&vkey=notebook_nym&c_id=nym&partnerId=rss_nym


Taylor Buchholz:
Taylor Buchholz is currently dealing with hamstring tightness, but doesn’t expect to miss any time. At least it’s not his arm, right? Buchholz, 29, has made just nine major league appearances since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2009. The good news is that he tossed two scoreless innings and notched three strikeouts in the Mets’ Grapefruit League opener Saturday against the Braves. If healthy, he should crack this bullpen.


The Duke:
Born in 1926, which made him more or less five years older than Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, Edwin Donald Snider was the first of the trio to arrive on the major league scene, and the first to depart, but in his heyday, he was the centerpiece of a lineup that dominated the National League. Snider was the top slugger and typical number three hitter in a lineup that included fellow future Hall of Famers Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Pee Wee Reese, the anchor of a team that won five pennants from 1949 through 1956—and could have added two more had it not been for losses on the final days of the 1950 and 1951 seasons.


Cutnpaste: – Chipper on the Mets, Bobby Valentine, Oliver Perez, Aaron Heilman, Luis Castillo

Chipper on the Mets:

“The Mets have talent,” Jones said. “They’ve got guys over there who can swing the bat. They’ve got good young arms. If they hang around until Johan gets back, who knows what can happen? This is a very competitive division, night in and night out, one that certainly rivals the A.L. East.”


Bobby Valentine:

A vocal portion of the New York Mets fan base wanted the organization to hire Bobby Valentine as manager last offseason. That did not happen, but that does not mean Valentine will not be back roaming Citi Field. Valentine has spoken with serious financial backers about lining up a bid to buy at least a portion of the Mets, a baseball official told “I’’ve talked to a number of people interested in purchasing part of the New York Mets, but I’m not formally with any group that is actively pursuing this venture,” Valentine said Sunday night


Oliver Perez:
The $36 million lefthander’s 2011 Grapefruit League debut presented a compelling argument against that possibility. Despite all his work in the Mexican winter league, his early arrival at spring training and earnest commitment to improvement, Perez could not get his fastball over 86 mph – according to the stadium radar gun, he reached that velocity once – and regularly resided at 84 mph while once again struggling to find the strike zone. A three-run fourth for the Braves included a bases-loaded walk, and ended in a baserunning bailout when Joe Mather stumbled into a two-out rundown.


Aaron Heilman:
Aaron Heilman worked a pair of scoreless innings Saturday in his start versus the Rockies. Heilman was promised a chance to start by the Diamondbacks. He’ll have to outpitch two from the group of Zach Duke, Armando Galarraga and Barry Enright this spring in order to have a chance, and even then, Arizona might prefer to keep him in the pen. He did get off to a nice start today, and it didn’t hurt his case that Duke gave up one run and five hits in two innings after taking over in the third. Still, no one is going to be making judgments based on the first week of spring training games.


Luis Castillo:
There is still a long way to go, and it’s an uphill battle for both Castillo and Oliver Perez to win jobs with the team, but honestly, I want them to succeed, because at the end of the day, they’re members of the team, so if they can find their way again and perform, that will translate into success for this team, which is ultimately all I care about.