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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

 

Yankees Hot Stove: Players to Watch

By Brett Malamud

The Yankees have signed Andrew Miller and have traded for Didi Gregorius, but they’re not done yet. Here’s the players that I think Yankees fans should keep an eye on. What should they do? Let us know in the comments.
-Chase Headley, 3B, Free Agent
Signing Headley is important for the Yankees. It was reported that the Yankees and the San Francisco Giants, who lost Pablo Sandoval to Boston, are the teams interested in Headley. Unless of course the Yankees want A-Rod at third base (HA).
The Yankees must look at bringing back Chase Headley (Via NY Post)

The Yankees must look at bringing back Chase Headley (Via NY Post)

-Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati Reds (Requires a trade)
If I were Brian Cashman, I’d call to inquire about acquiring Chapman. The 26 year old Cuban fireballer would be a perfect addition to the bullpen, and could very well take over the closer role in the Bronx. Imagine Miller, Betances, and Chapman closing out games for the Yankees. Currently, the Marlins are the only other team being speculated as a destination for Chapman.
-Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Philadelphia Phillies (Requires a trade)
The Yankees were linked to Papelbon late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. It would definitely be interesting to see a former Red Sox closer pitching for the Yankees.
-Sergio Romo, RP, Free Agent
Interesting option here. Wednesday morning, reports surfaced that the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Yankees were the interested teams. I don’t think he’d be the closer if the Yankees signed him. He’d likely setup Betances.
-Max Scherzer, SP, Free Agent
The big fish. Scherzer would immediately impact the Yankees. The Bombers had injuries to the rotation all year, and adding Scherzer would fix the need for another starter.
-Brandon McCarthy, SP, Free Agent
Reports are that McCarthy will probably wind up with a three year deal. This would be a cheaper option than Scherzer.
-Tyler Clippard/Jerry Blevins, RP, Washington Nationals (Requires a trade)
Wednesday morning, it was reported that the Nationals were getting offers for Clippard and Blevins. The teams that were making offers were not mentioned though. Could the Yankees be interested?

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Lester to Decide Soon

By Alex Horowitz

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, free agent starting pitcher Jon Lester has narrowed down his potential destinations to either the San Francisco Giants or Chicago Cubs. A decision is expected to be made no later than Tuesday.

 

Lester would instantly join the top of the rotation for either team, but he’d especially be a significant upgrade in the Windy City. The Cubs currently lack a true ace, so Lester would need to carry Chicago’s young pitching staff.

 

In San Francisco, Lester would most likely slide into the #2 spot in the rotation, behind reigning World Series MVP and 2014 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Madison Bumgarner. It wouldn’t be a far move for him, either, as he played across the bay in Oakland for the second half of last season.

 

Jon Lester is expected to decide his final destination within the next 48 hours

Jon Lester is expected to decide his final destination within the next 48 hours

Between Boston and Oakland in 2014, Lester compiled a 16-11 record with a very formidable 2.46 earned run average. He was the starting pitcher in Oakland’s eventual loss to Kansas City in the AL Wild Card game, and received a no decision despite allowing 6 earned runs in 7.1 innings.

 

Lester’s contract will be one of the more expensive ones of this free agent class. According to several reports, a contract seems to be in the range of $140 million for 6 years, although those in Lester’s camp are quietly pushing for a deal in the $150 million / 7 year range (via MLB Trade Rumors).


Alex Horowitz is a senior at Briarcliff High School and is an aspiring sports writer. As a lifelong sports fan, he has rooted for the New York Knicks, New York Mets, and Detroit Lions. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhorowitz3

 

Sox Open Their Wallets, Sign Hanley and Panda

By Brett Malamud

The Red Sox broke the bank on Monday when multiple news outlets reported that the team came to terms with shortstop Hanley Ramirez on a four-year, $88 million deal with a fifth year option for an additional $22 million. Ramirez now heads back to the team that drafted him, before Boston traded him and four other players to the Marlins for a three player package highlighted by pitcher Josh Beckett.

The Red Sox inked a pair of left side infielders (Via AP)

The Red Sox inked a pair of left side infielders (Via AP)

Earlier in the offseason, it was reported that the 30-year-old Ramirez would be the Red Sox’s backup plan, had they failed to sign third baseman Pablo Sandoval. However, Monday afternoon brought an important announcement from Sandoval’s agent.

The man they call the Kung Fu Panda is expected to ink a deal with the Red Sox worth at least $90 million over five years. Sandoval’s agent informed the San Francisco Giants that the switch hitting slugger had chosen to play for Boston. Sandoval was believed to have been choosing between San Francisco, Boston, and the San Diego Padres.

Ramirez isn’t expected to play shortstop for Boston due to the presence of the 22-year-old Xander Bogaerts. The Red Sox wouldn’t replace Bogaerts, would they? It would be more likely to see Sandoval at third and Ramirez in the outfield. With six other potential outfielders, the signing could lead to the Red Sox dealing one of their current outfielders in a trade. Many will speculate that the odd man out will be the recently acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, simply because of his value. Cespedes will be a free agent at the end of the 2015 season, so he seems like a likely candidate. At the end of the day, the Red Sox improved and that’s what matters most to the fans of Boston. They’re sure to make some noise this season.


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

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

Yes, We Can.

Was put up on Twitter during the seventh inning by Dabuzzza founder Brett Malamud. Jeter hit a walkoff in the ninth.