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Five Things to Watch at Mets Camp This Spring

By Dan Lagnado

  1. The returns

Everybody in Mets world knows about the imminent return of Matt Harvey. In fact, he’s progressing very nicely and is scheduled to face hitters for the first time on Thursday. Sandy Alderson said that Harvey’s workload this spring will be 90-95% of what it would be on any other year and he has not ruled out Harvey pitching 200 innings this year. But Harvey is not the only Mets pitcher to be coming back from Tommy John surgery. Closer Bobby Parnell also went under the knife after getting injured on Opening Day of 2014. He is expected to make his return by the end of April, giving the Mets a potentially dominant bullpen with the ability to strike out the world. Harvey and Parnell, two hard throwing pitchers in positions of maximum importance (ace and closer), are ready to help pitch the Mets back into contention.

Matt Harvey is back and is ready to make 2015 a year to remember for the Mets (Via AP)

Matt Harvey is back and is ready to make 2015 a year to remember for the Mets (Via AP)

  1. Dillon Gee moving to the bullpen

With the return of Harvey as mentioned above, the Mets are faced with a unique problem: too many starting pitchers. With Harvey as the headliner, the Mets have six quality starters (Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee) as well as at least two more waiting in the wings in Noah Syndergaard and Stephen Matz. As a result of this, Gee appears to be headed to the bullpen. This will require an adjustment for the 28-year-old Gee, who has served as a starter for his entire career. It is likely he will serve as a long reliever, so that the Mets can keep him stretched out for when Harvey needs to skip an outing to rest his elbow (or barring any injury to another starter). That said, he will need to be ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice and his adjustment to life in the ‘pen will be noteworthy.

  1. Shortstop

Some people may be surprised I made it this far without mentioning the biggest hole in the lineup in the Mets lineup. Wilmer Flores is currently penciled in as the starter with Ruben Tejada to be the backup. While the situation is extremely likely, neither of these assumptions is set in stone. The team has said that prospect Matt Reynolds will see a good deal of time at shortstop during Spring Training. While Reynolds may not be ready this season (he spent only half a year in Triple-A), the team may feel much more comfortable with the position going forward if he impresses them in spring training. He won’t be starting on Opening Day but Tejada may find himself looking over his shoulder at Reynolds.

  1. Eric Campbell as a catcher

This is a weird one. Eric Campbell served as a utility infielder/outfielder/bench player for the Mets last season after Josh Satin couldn’t get the job done. He reported to Port St. Lucie this spring with the intention of adding catcher to his increasing positional repertoire. At this point, it isn’t clear whether or not this is for the sole purpose of fulfilling the role of “emergency catcher” or if Campbell is using this to earn more playing time as a potentially regular backup to Travis d’Arnaud. If he does opt to make the positional change more serious, he could open a roster spot for another player. If Campbell serves as backup to d’Arnaud and utility defender, the Mets would not need Anthony Recker and instead could opt to carry a player like Dilson Herrera or Matt den Dekker, who each earned a cup of coffee with the Mets in 2014, but will likely will be left off the Opening Day roster in 2015.

  1. Left-handed reliever competition

The Mets have expressed interest in trying to carry a second left-handed reliever to complement Josh Edgin. However, with Gee in the bullpen and Parnell returning, they are somewhat short on space. That said, I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson and believe that they find a way to bring two lefties to D.C. for Opening Day. The leading candidate is Sean Gilmartin, the team’s Rule-5 draft pick this offseason. I give him the edge primarily because of his Rule-5 status, which dictates that if he is not on the active roster, he is sent back to the team the Mets took him from. Additionally, he does have experience as a starter, indicating that he can be more than just a simple lefty specialist. Also competing for this job will be Dario Alvarez, who was promoted towards the end of last season but saw only limited time, Jack Leathersich, a prospect who also attended Spring Training last season and Scott Rice, lefty specialist from 2013, who suffered an injury last season in the minors following his demotion. Rice has the most major league experience of the four but there are questions regarding his health and effectiveness.

There you have it. Five important things to watch as the Mets begin the first official workouts of Spring Training 2015. Each will be key for a team that hopes to return to relevance and competitiveness this year. Only time will tell whether the current pieces are enough. Fight through the cold Mets fans, only 42 days until baseball is back.


Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

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2015 Major League Baseball Predictions

With 40 days until Opening Day, take a look at our season predictions:

(*) = 1st Wild Card Team
(**) = 2nd Wild Card Team

American League East:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Boston Red Sox Boston Red Sox
2 Toronto Blue Jays Baltimore Orioles
3 New York Yankees Toronto Blue Jays
4 Tampa Bay Rays Tampa Bay Rays
5 Baltimore Orioles New York Yankees

 

American League Central:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Cleveland Indians Cleveland Indians
2 Detroit Tigers* Kansas City Royals**
3 Kansas City Royals Chicago White Sox
4 Chicago White Sox Detroit Tigers
5 Minnesota Twins Minnesota Twins

 

American League West:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Seattle Mariners Seattle Mariners
2 Oakland Athletics** Los Angeles Angels*
3 Los Angeles Angels Houston Astros
4 Houston Astros Oakland Athletics
5 Texas Rangers Texas Rangers

 

National League East:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 Washington Nationals Washington Nationals
2 New York Mets New York Mets**
3 Miami Marlins Miami Marlins
4 Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves
5 Philadelphia Phillies Philadelphia Phillies

 

National League Central:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
2 Pittsburgh Pirates* Pittsburgh Pirates*
3 Chicago Cubs Chicago Cubs
4 Milwaukee Brewers Cincinnati Reds
5 Cincinnati Reds Milwaukee Brewers

 

National League West:

Place Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
1 San Diego Padres San Francisco Giants
2 San Francisco Giants** San Diego Padres
3 Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers
4 Arizona Diamondbacks Arizona Diamondbacks
5 Colorado Rockies Colorado Rockies
With some added big bats, the Red Sox are ready to head back to October baseball (Via WBZ-TV

With some added big bats, the Red Sox are ready to head back to October baseball (Via WBZ-TV

Playoffs:

Game Brett Malamud’s Pick Alex Horowitz’s Pick
ALCS Red Sox defeat Mariners Red Sox defeat Indians
NLCS Nationals defeat Cardinals Cardinals defeat Nationals
World Series Nationals defeat Red Sox Cardinals defeat Red Sox

 

Positives of the 2014 Mets Season

By Dan Lagnado

It was another losing season for the New York Mets, but one with a few more positives than there were in years past. So, I’m going boost everyone’s expectations, on a realistic level, for 2015.

Here were the biggest positives of 2014:

  1. Lucas Duda proved he can start everyday

It’s safe to say at this point that the Mets won the Ike Davis trade. We haven’t even seen either of the players they got back play in major leagues yet. But the trade’s edge is clear and Lucas Duda is the reason. Thirty home runs, good for third in the NL, 92 RBI, more than enough to lead the team, and Duda did all that while hitting a respectable .253 on the season. Davis couldn’t even settle into a full time role for the needy Pittsburgh Pirates.

  1. Daniel Murphy continued his solid play

By far the most consistent player on the roster for the last three seasons, Murphy continued to prove how valuable he is. He upped his power numbers from last season while still hitting an impressive .293 this season. While it remains to be seen if he is still on the roster come opening day, if he is, he just about guarantees production from the #2 hole in the lineup.

  1. Emergence of young players

Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Travis d’Arnaud are the four names that stick out to me as having truly arrived this season. deGrom and Familia may well have been the team’s two rookies of the year, with deGrom having a real chance for the big award as well. Familia proved to be a lockdown reliever late in the game working mainly in the eighth inning, but also picking up a save spot every now and then. Mejia showed that he’s capable of being put into clutch positions and succeeding in them. He converted 28 saves in his first chance at being a closer. d’Arnaud was a slow starter but really got it together after his demotion. He ended the year with 13 home runs, third on the team, and got his batting average up to .243 before the season ended. It’s also possible to include on this list, Wilmer Flores. He showed that he is capable of playing the position of a competent shortstop and certainly will provide more than Ruben Tejada would. The only question is whether he can hit for average and get on base more. I think Flores has the inside track to be at least a backup middle infielder, if not the starting shortstop, if the team doesn’t sign a free agent. Additionally, Dilson Herrera was fairly impressive in his handful of games while Murphy was sidelined.

Travis d'Arnaud and the Mets have a bright future ahead of them (Via NYDN)

Travis d’Arnaud and the Mets have a bright future ahead of them (Via NYDN)

  1. The bullpen got it together

This was an area that the Mets have not been able to figure out in recent years. At the beginning of this season it was Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth and Bobby Parnell who were supposed to fill the late inning roles. Parnell was out since opening day for Tommy John surgery and Valverde and Farnsworth both found themselves released soon enough. As a result, Mejia, Familia and Vic Black locked down the late inning roles, with Carlos Torres as everyman, Josh Edgin and Dana Eveland handling the lefties with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Buddy Carlyle and Gonzalez Germen filling roles as they popped up as a result of injury, demotion or release.

It was a less than impressive season for the Amazin’s but the future is bright and if the ball bounces the right way, 2015 could be the year. With Matt Harvey’s return, and some potential trade chips, many people believe that this team can compete with the Nationals for the division.


Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

Belief In Queens?

By Jack Allen
Going into the 2014 season, New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson expected 90 wins coming from his ball club. As a fan, your mindset is very different. Since 2008 (The last winning season for the Mets) the Mets have struggled. They have made few strides and have had some, but extremely memorable glorious moments. First, the inaugural season at Citi Field in 2009, Johan Santana throwing their first no-hitter, and some great young starting pitching such as Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Jeremy Hefner.

In 2009 the Mets finished 70-92. In 2010 they finished 79-83, 2011 they finished 77-85, in 2012 they finished 74-88 and the same in 2013. So if you’re a fan you might expect the team to get to .500, maybe clinch a wild card playoff birth. 90 wins might seem like a stretch. On July 2nd, the Mets were sitting at 37-48. Since then they’ve gone 12-7. Putting them at 49-55 giving them a realistic chance for a possible wild card birth. They currently sit 7.0 games back in the wild card to their division rival Atlanta Braves. With plenty of baseball to be played (58 games), the Mets having small margin for error. They turn to Jacob deGrom today to go for the series split in Milwaukee to close out a ten game road trip


 

Jack Allen is a writer for dabuzzza.com. He is a fan of the New York Mets, New York Islanders, New York Knicks, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Queens Park Rangers, and West Virginia Mountaineer football and basketball. His favorite athletes are David Wright, John Tavares, Geno Smith, Allen Iverson and Charlie Austin. He is a very passionate and determined fan. You can follow him on twitter @JackAllen99.

Two Top Mets Prospects To Debut Against Yankees

By Dan Lagnado

The Mets have decided that the time is right to begin bringing up their top young pitchers. Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom will start the two Subway Series games at Citi Field. Montero was recalled and Jenrry Mejia pushed to the bullpen when Gonzalez Germen was placed on the DL with a virus. deGrom was supposed to make his debut out of the bullpen but in a surprising twist, the Mets placed Dillon Gee on the disabled list as well, creating an opening for deGrom in the rotation. These decisions are both aggressive and surprising.

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In years past, the Mets have lasted into later in the season before calling up their top pitcher. This was the case in both 2012 and 2013 when the team was handling Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler very carefully. In addition to potential innings limits, the delayed call-ups also delayed free agency for the player by a year. With both Montero and deGrom coming up in mid-May it is likely that they will both face arbitration a year early.

These moves, along with the promotions of Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell show that the Mets want to be competitive this year. This is another stark difference from the past few years. There was no reason to rush Harvey or Wheeler to the bigs because there was nothing to play for. So despite the team’s struggles (though the permanent struggles didn’t set in until later in the year) were not as big of a deal. The Mets have been planning for the future for a long time and the facts are that the future is almost here.

Despite the arrivals of Montero and deGrom, don’t expect to see the biggest gun around Queens just yet. With the arrivals of two young pitchers, the need for arms has been filled. That means Noah Syndergaard is destined for a few more months in Las Vegas. Of course his arrival could be accelerated if an injury occurs, even then it is unlikely as the Mets have both Mejia and Daisuke Matsuzaka who are capable of starting in an emergency.

When Gee and Germen return from the DL, the Mets will have a decision to make. Two players will need to be removed from the roster if to make room for Montero and deGrom. The likely targets will be the struggling veterans in the bullpen: Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth. They earned an extra two weeks in Queens but only time will tell what Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson choose to do.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

MLB Staff Picks

The smell of peanuts and cracker jacks is in the air. After 152 days since the Red Sox walked off the field as champions, baseball is back. Our picks are in for this year’s fall classic. Here they are:

Writer

Pick

Brett Malamud

 I’m taking the Yankees over the Dodgers. Both teams have proven this offseason that they want to win now. The Yankees unloaded after missing the playoffs by opening their checkbook and spending close to $500 million. The additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka immediately make the Yankees a legitimate threat. But don’t think they’re the only team spending the big bucks. The Dodgers passed the Yankees for the MLB’s highest payroll, ending the Yankees 15 year streak, by spending $235 million this season. All and all I’d say Derek Jeter better start spreading the news that his final season will end with a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Sam Breiter

 As an extremely optimistic Mets fan with nothing but the highest expectations, I’m always going to take my team. So along with my Mets, I’m taking the rival Yankees. The Mets have young talent in there rotation, and a growing lineup. They may make a huge move by the deadline, and Zach Wheeler will suprise people this year. Yankees, because they spent money this offseason and are clearly doing anything to win a year after missing the playoffs

Dan Lagnado

 In the NL I’ll take the Dodgers and in the AL I’ll take Detroit. Dodgers win a six game series behind Kershaw and Greinke who each win two games

Josh Halilej

 Tigers over Cardinals. Lots of solid pitching between the two of them. I think Justin Verlander comes back big this year and comes out as the Tigers’ #1 with Rick Porcello having an awesome year too finishing ahead of Max Scherzer in the pitching rotation. The Cards are going to need Yadier Molina to manage the pitching staff well, but they just don’t have the overall offensive firepower that Detroit does with the addition of Ian Kinsler. Watch out for the Rangers though if they can have someone aside from Yu Darvish step up in their rotation.

Seth Schuster

 Red Sox over Dodgers. Only a little bit of bias plays into this one…Both are great teams with amazing young talent. With the recent resurgence of John Lackey, John Lester, a healthy Clay Buchholz, and a young and very talented Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox will be the 2014 World Series Champions. With the leadership of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Napoli, look for the Sox to make a push for the repeat.

Ben Ozur

 Rays vs Dodgers. There’s no explanation for why the Rays are good every year, but the undeniable fact is that they are. However nobody is on the Dodgers level in terms of overall talent. Despite multiple holes including infield depth and major league ready pitchers in the minors, their superstar talent everywhere else will cover that up.

Ryan Gillman

 Dodgers over Tigers. The Dodgers are armed with a wealth of talent and the largest payroll in history. Anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.

Sam  Iryami

 Nationals vs Tigers. Nationals win. The Nationals have the best pitching rotation in baseball with the front four being Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister. Pitching wins games. Although the Tigers have a great all around team, the team is full of veterans. However, they are definitely a contender for the World Series because of their many stars such as Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and Max Scherzer. Both teams have unbelievable pitching and hitting, but I have the Nationals taking home the trophy in this one.

Zach Pokorny

 Dodgers vs Angels, but I’d pick the Angels because Mike Trout is amazing
Derek Jeter has one last season in his hall of fame career and will make the most of it (Via Sabo News)

Derek Jeter has one last season in his hall of fame career and will make the most of it (Via Sabo News)

We hope everyone enjoys Opening Day and stays locked in to Dabuzzza here and on our twitter page this MLB season. We know we will.

The Eventual Impact of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard

By Dan Lagnado

By now it is no secret that the Mets have significant depth when it comes to starting pitching. As it shapes up now, the projected rotation to start the season will consist of Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and either Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan (most likely). Matt Harvey has announced via Twitter (@MattHarvey33) that he intends to pitch in 2014. Jeremy Hefner will also be returning from Tommy John Surgery this summer. And we all know that Montero and Syndergaard will be added to the rotation this season as well.

That gives the Mets five more starters than they need. So the question is who’s low on the totem pole and ends up wearing a different jersey in 2015 and who stays to take on other roles?

Let’s assume that Harvey returns to his typical self, following his rehab. He clearly stays in the rotation as the ace. If Wheeler’s development goes as it should and he improves in his first full pro season he will also remain in the rotation. Jon Niese was given a 5-year extension in 2012 and so will be under contract for 3 more seasons. I don’t see him going anywhere as long as he stays mostly healthy. Bartolo Colon was just given a 2-year contract this past offseason. At age 40+ there’s no guarantee he chooses to stay for the second year but if he continues to pitch as he has of late, I can’t see him choosing to retire. Syndergaard and Montero are both considered highly touted prospects. Syndergaard gets more of the hype but Montero will be called up sooner. The rumors are that Syndergaard is untouchable so he’ll be with the team. What does this mean for Rafael Montero? I don’t see the Mets parting with such a big talent. He can easily take Colon’s starting spot when that contract expires or if someone is moved. Jeremy Hefner has shown the ability to come out of the bullpen and pitch well so he might be moved there when he returns. Matsusaka and Lannan most likely will not be sticking around. One of them will either agree to go the minors to start the year or void their contract and the other will be either sent down or released when Montero is called up. Dillon Gee is an interesting case. He pitched pretty well last season and if he pitches as well this year he could be trade bait around the deadline. The Mets could certainly get a decent prospect in a position of need for Gee and there are always teams looking for quality starting pitching. Jenrry Mejia could also be used as a piece in a trade. He is competing for the 5th starter sport this spring and has shown that he has a lively arm. He’s also still a young, raw talent despite previous arm troubles.

So what are we looking at for 2015? The starting rotation could looks something like this:

  • Matt Harvey
  • Zack Wheeler
  • Bartolo Colon
  • Jon Niese
  • Noah Syndergaard/Rafael Montero

I can understand some of you might ask, “would the Mets consider trading Niese as well? He’s more of a proven major league talent maybe you could get more for him”. Well it’s possible of course, but in my opinion it’s important to have a lefty in your starting rotation, especially because of how often the Mets have to deal with Ryan Howard, Freddie Freeman and Adam LaRoche.

So there you have it. This is what the Mets must do with an extreme excess of starting pitching in an organization that is just about ready to compete in a top-heavy division.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995