As we inch closer to Opening Day, the Mets stars are building toward what everyone hopes will be a championship season. Yesterday two of the biggest names put on a pitching display that is likely a foreshadowing of things to come this season. Johan Santana pitched a 7-inning gem, needing only 75 pitches to shut down the Nationals . He struck out 6, walked 1, and gave up 1 run. For those worried about his health, Santana answered everyone with a loud, "I'm fine!", though it was his arm that did most of the talking. "I felt pretty good and had everything working," Santana said. "I was able to throw strikes and get ahead in the count. You're going to put yourself in a good position to throw quick innings."
As I asked Minaya, as GM of the New York Mets, doesn't he have to protect the best interests of his team above all else? I'm not saying that the Mets need to keep everyone in camp. But why not cap the number at a more reasonable figure. And if the Mets know that Perez needs constant maintenance, is it outrageous for someone to speak up and say, "Maybe we should hang onto Ollie to make sure he's ready for the season. After all, we just paid $36 million for the guy, and rolling the dice with our No. 3 starter might not be a good idea." Anyway, this is pretty much Minaya's bottom line on the subject: "I just don't believe in denying a player the opportunity to represent his country," Minaya said. "I could never stand in the way of that. That's something that's very special. We're all committed to it. Oliver Perez is the best pitcher in Mexico right now. How can you tell a player, the best pitcher in the country, that he can't participate?"
Livan Hernandez should be the fifth starter, but Jerry Manuel wouldn't annoit the veteran to the position when asked today despite there being no real opposition. Even former Astros starter Fernando Nieve has been working strictly as a reliever. This could be simply Jerry being Jerry but it has lead some to speculate that the Mets are either considering a trade or bringing in Pedro. With rosters being slimmed there are players available but no one has been linked to the Mets as of yet, the Rays are rumored to be looking to move a starter ( source MLBTR). I think Pedro is as long a shot now as he was at the end of the season but his name will cont. to surface until he's signed elsewhere or officially retires.....
Jonathan Malo has been in the Mets system since 2005; last season, he played for Binghamton. In 99 games he hit .261, his best average in four seasons of Minor League ball. He also had an OPS of .695, a fielding average at second base of .991, and can play third base. According to his scouting report on Scout.com, Malo has good quickness, a good enough arm to make all the throws, "is a very reliable person on the basepaths," and though he lacks power, he has a good eye at the plate. The bottom line: Malo's an intelligent utility player with an excellent attitude who deserves a chance to play for the Mets.
I am not trying to neglect the Mets but just have forgotten to write about them. The Mets defeated the Florida Marlins yesterday 5-4. After the game Jerry Manuel still wouldn't commit to anyone as the fifth starter even though we assume its Livan Hernandez, he said he likes the kid Gee. It appears Jose Reyes will be the leadoff hitter followed by Luis Castillo, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado. I think this is the right choice, if you hit Castillo 8th it would hurt him I believe. He has looked good this spring so maybe the Mets will actually get something out of him.
David Newhan, on being released by the Astros:
Kind of the only way that Coop's really communicated is through (the media)," Newhan said as he boxed his belonging at Osceola County Stadium. "It's just unfortunate. They've talked about needing a shortstop the whole time, but I wish I would have gotten a chance to at least screw that up. I never really got that opportunity. He told me I would, but the next day talking to (reporters) was like, 'You're like seventh on the list.' The way they communicated they made it clear I wasn't going to fit here and the guys they have in Triple-A, they have to play. I understand that."
Ramona Shelburne of the Los Angeles Daily News writes that Doug Mientkiewicz "seems to have played himself into contention for a spot on the Dodgers' Opening Day roster." Just a month ago, Mientkiewicz was pondering retirement. Now he's being viewed as an ideal left-handed pinch hitting option for a squad with legitimate playoff aspirations. "Doug's certainly got our attention," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Friday. "I told him, `If somebody else sees you and you and you get an opportunity to play someplace else that's fine.' But he just won't let up. As Yogi (Berra) would say, he's trying to make himself necessary." Mientkiewicz is hitting .300/.371/.700 this spring with two home runs and 11 RBI in 30 at-bats. Plus, he has one of the wildest player portraits on all of MLB.com.