Yesterday we took a short trip down memory lane and my first impression of John Maine. I wrote proudly about sizing up some big league talent and enjoying John’s too brief Met career. Well, I am not a major league scout, and as proof of that and in the interest of equal disclosure, let me tell a quick story from 1996.
I was able to manuever my vacation that year so that I could spend a couple of days in Port St. Lucie that winter. It was early in Spring Training and pitchers and catchers had reported but not all of the position players. However, there was one position player who was in camp already, that had my full attention. I was watching a future superstar.
The player had excellent speed and played a flawless outfield. But you knew you were watching a star when you saw this man hit. Every swing looked perfect, when his bat made contact, the sound was different than from everyone else, it was explosive. It was exciting to see the Mets next big superstar — Jay Payton. When I came home to New York, I spread the news, Jay Payton was going to be a big star! Now,Jay had some solid years in the majors, but I turned out to be off, way off. And for sure, it wasn’t the first or the last time.
But despite the previous disclaimer I wanted to have some fun today and give some quick first impressions of potential 2013 Mets players I have never seen before. For a lot of us, this is another rite of spring. No prospects today. I’m going to keep to guys just trying to make the 25-man roster.
- Andrew Brown. With Scott Hairston gone we could really use a right-handed bat with some pop. This role looks like Brown’s job to lose. My first impression of Brown is that he might lose it anyway. On a team saddled with Lucas Duda, Brown is another plodder. That bat looks slow to me also, slider speed. If you can’t handle a major league fastball, you can’t be a good pinch hitter. If Brown can’t pinch hit, he needs to get cut.
- Collin Cowgill. During a sadly quiet offseason, Cowgill began getting some advance billing. The word on the street was being passed around that Collin ‘plays the game right’. So far I am pleasantly surprised here. Not that he has hit, it is early, can’t get excited about that, but he has shown the aforementioned hustle and good baseball smarts. He also has looked better defensively in center field than I expected. No Jay Payton, probably not a guy you want starting, but in a weak outfield maybe he can hold down the fort.
- Brandon Hicks. What can I say? I had low expectations and Hicks has not met them. Hicks makes Turner look nimble in the field. This is the type of guy that if he is in your camp, it’s a sign that you have a bad team.
- Greg Burke. I have always had a soft spot for right-handed pitchers with funky deliveries. I still remember Ted Abernathy killing the Mets (yes, I know if you are under 50 years old you just said “who?”, but I have provided a link). So I am immediately impressed with Burke. Warning, I was impressed with Sean Green for the same reason.
The phrase small sample size has become popular for a reason, and all I have taken is a tiny sample. A bite. But maybe we have a few useful guys in Cowgill and Burke; and as they cost us little to nothing perhaps that would be a little something small to cheer about.