Sorry I’ve been lax the past week, just been bogged down with a bunch of other things. But as we close in on Opening Day and the final cuts around the majors, let’s take a quick look at some of the top prospects whose fates have been decided.
Starting with the Mets, top prospect Fernando Martinez was sent down last week despite a strong spring. Certainly the right move, as he needs more time, but it was nice to see the kid not look overmatched (.343/.373/.426). Even with the Alou injury, it makes no sense to have this kid at Shea at this point. It was nice to see the front office not panic or rush him for P.R. sake.
Tied to the Mets, Carlos Gomez seems set to be the Twins’ opening day center fielder after a solid spring performance (.286, 10 SB). Phil Humber was sent down despite a good spring as well (14 IP, 1.29 ERA, 9 H, 9:3 K:BB ratio).
The Reds sent baseball’s top prospect, Jay Bruce, down as well. Bruce had hoped to earn the center field spot but suffered an early-spring quad injury that derailed him a bit. He’ll start in AAA, and everyone is saying all the right things. I don’t have a problem so much with Bruce going down to AAA to get regular at bats, as I do that the guy who will be taking those at bats at the big league level is Corey Patterson, who ***** like a governor’s call girl. Manager Dusty Baker loves Patterson, which means an overextended stay at AAA for Bruce in all likelihood.
On Bruce’s heels (both as the top prospect and on the bus down to the minors) is Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria. Though he hit only .262, he walked 10 times to 7 strikeouts, giving him a .407 OBP and a .595 SLG for the spring. When your options are Willy Aybar and Joel Guzman, this move makes no sense for any other reason than to delay Longoria’s arbitration/free agency. I know the Rays aren’t winning the division or making the playoffs, but with everyone and their brother touting this team as a "surprise" this year, why **** that energy from the team and send down the phenom? Part of me understands their logic, but the other part of me hates the move.
Cameron Maybin, the centerpiece in the Marlins’ Miguel Cabrera trade with the Tigers, was sent down as well. His 3 homers were nice, but he hit .190 for the spring with 15 strikeouts in 42 at bats. For that performance they could sign Rob Deer and delay Maybin’s service time clock.
Back later with some Mets focused items.
Big outing (as big as a spring outing can be, anyway) for Pedro Martinez today, who came through his first real game situation of the spring with flying colors. Four scoreless innings, four strikeouts, four hits and a walk.
I’ve seen reports this was nothing great by Pedro, not what you would expect from him so close to Opening Day. That’s silly.
Look, Pedro is not going to party like it’s 1999 again. Those days are gone. But I watched this guy make the Braves look silly two years ago without breaking 86 on the radar gun. The man is simply remarkable. He does it more with guile than power now, but he’s a brilliant tactician, if it makes sense to use that in baseball.
He may not hit 95 on the radar anymore, but if he’s dealing in 90-92 on a regular basis (and since he’s hitting 90 now there’s no reason to think he won’t be once he’s gotten a bit more work), he’s still going to be a force and I would match him and Santana against any top 2 in baseball.
There’s a lot on Pedro as far as this team goes. That’s risky, given his injury history. But I have a feeling Pedro likes it this way, that it’s on him. The great ones, after all, always want the ball.
With the injury bug having bit the Mets hard this spring (well, some are recovering from offseason surgeries, but even so), it’s been a running joke that one of the few healthy players has been old and brittle Moises Alou. That changed today.
Alou was sent back to New York for an MRI after tweaking his groin. It turns out the tweak is a hernia, and Moises is now on the shelf for 4-6 weeks.
It’s a month until the season, and Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo made strides in workouts today, according to WFAN’s Ed Coleman. But this whole injury problem has gotten a bit ridiculous.
More to write later…
David Wright has been annointed the leader of this team, and deservedly so. Billy Wagner is the big mouth, which gives him a certain leadership position that may not really be warranted. Pedro is Pedro, whose resume gives him whatever leadership role he decides to take. And Johan Santana, seemingly a good guy looking to lead by example, will be fine if he does just that.
But a funny thing has happened here in February, and if it holds course could be a great sign of things to come: Carlos Beltran seems to be trying to take a leadership position on this team.
It was two years ago that Beltran had to be verbally thrown out of the dugout by Julio Franco to acknowledge the crowd after a big early season home run because he was so disenchanted with how the fans had treated him. He was quiet, aloof and disconnected. Not a bad guy, but his personality recalled Kevin McReynolds (an underrated player who was never really appreciated here because he didn’t sell himself and didn’t speak).
Beltran was better with the media last season, but his core personality was still very reserved. He’s quiet, thoughtful and keeps to himself. He answers when spoken to, but he won’t stir the pot. Fair enough.
I don’t like trash talk, and I don’t like guys who run off at the mouth. I don’t watch the NBA and I’ve been turned off from football because these things are incessant there. But, as I noted in a previous post, I gave Beltran a bit of slack when he pointedly told Jimmy Rollins "We’re the team the beat." Beltran doesn’t do this, I thought. I didn’t love it, but at the same time a part of me appreciated it because it was Beltran. A fire in his belly, perhaps, that many have said he lacks. And for that reason, Beltran’s declaration was accepted.
But a piece here on MLB.com the other day brought a new spin to Beltran’s comments. It was noted that he has taken the newly acquired Brian Schneider under his wing this spring, trying to work on the light-hitting catcher’s approach, sharing the wisdom of a 40-homer MVP candidate.
Suddenly, Beltran’s comment to Rollins seems more than a declaration to the Phillies, but a declaration to the Mets: I’m ready to lead.
Intangibles are overrated, and often even fabricated. But I think to minimize to potential impact of Beltran assuming a leadership position at Shea this season is to overlook a significant positive in this case.
Look for more examples of this is the next few weeks and early season. It could be nothing.
But it could mean a lot.
July 30, 2004. The date makes a Mets fan vomit a little in the mouth. Yes, it is the day the Mets dealt young, promising prospect Scott Kazmir to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the 10-minute fix Victor Zambrano. In one shot, the Mets set themselves up for ridicule only a World Series ring would eliminate.
Sure, the blow seems muted now, with Johan Santana on board. Still, Mets fans can’t help but wonder what the rotation of Santana, Pedro, Kazmir, Maine and Perez would bring.
I bring this up today because, as I’m sure many of you know by now, Kazmir missed his spring start today because of elbow soreness, and will undergo an MRI. There were some in the Mets organization who felt Kazmir’s delivery and slight frame would ultimately lead to arm trouble (which, if true, makes you wonder why we drafted him in the first place). The young lefty says he didn’t feel a pop (ironically, as Zambrano did when he ran off the mound in May 2006 having blown out his own elbow while pitching for the Mets).
The hope here is that Kazmir’s injury is nothing and he resumes what’s begun as an excellent career (35-29, 3.64 for a horrible Tampa Bay franchise) in short order. Maybe the Mets will get their chance to right the wrong when he’s a free agent after 2010.
And if The Jacket, Rick Peterson, is telling anyone "I told you so," he should be ashamed of himself.
For those who care, Zambrano is in camp with the Rockies.