NEWS & VIEWS: Spring Training Roundup — Johan’s Health, Wheeler’s Chances, Hoffman’s Heart, the Odds on Stanton, Flores’ Bat, and Mike Carp Remembered



Dan Warthen got his first look — his first look! — at Zack Wheeler the other day. So did a bunch of other players. On Saturday, a lot of fans saw him, too. The collective response was, “Wow.”   And now we’re hearing that Johan Santana needs to build arm strength before he can pitch . . . in a Spring Training game. I thought that was how these guys built arm strength? Mets officials are talking like flight attendants on the tarmac, telling the passengers “there might be a slight delay,” but veteran fans have to be thinking: this might take some time, and he may never return to being an effective pitcher. I’m pessimistic.


Santana was a known injury risk going into spring training. I advocated signing Marcum, but with eyes wide open that he could come up lame. Gee is coming off an arm injury. So, if Wheeler is not in the cards, what is “Plan B”? I guess Meija? After that I suppose it would be a Hefner, Laffey, McHugh death match. None of them are exciting, but none of them are Jose Lima either. Slowly but surely, the starting pitching depth is improving.


For now, I think officials will downplay it, hand out packages of salted peanuts, and use Collin McHugh, most likely, for Santana’s spot when the team heads north. Remember in ’84 when Davey Johnson insisted on bringing 19-year-old Dwight Gooden to Flushing?


Yes. And we know that is not going to happen with Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson, that is not the dynamic. That doesn’t mean Collins wants Wheeler sent down, don’t forget he was bringing up Wheeler’s name for a call-up last year. Then Alderson found Collins and told him to never say that again. But we just discussed Wheeler the other day, I’ll hold any further thoughts on him for a few more weeks into spring.


Fair enough, I’ve clearly stated my view that Wheeler is “ready” —  by which I mean, ready to take the next step in his development, at Citi Field, not “ready” as final product — but we can beat that horse later on. Oh, hey, we did manage to dodge a medical bullet the other day. After an irregular EKG showed up on Jamie Hoffman’s initial physical, he was dispatched to the Big Apple for further tests. Turns out he’s fine, whew. Said Hoffman, “I’m alive and the ticker works.” So he’s got a heartbeat, check. Breathing, check. That makes him a strong candidate for a place in the 2013 Mets outfield.


Yes, my first reaction here was to toss off a quick joke, but I will not, as Feliciano had a more negative result. Instead I will include a wish that Pedro proves to be healthy.


Thanks, now I feel like a creep. Moving right along, it sure feels like the Marlins will eventually entertain offers for Giancarlo Stanton. Is this the guy you’d go all in for? It’d be expensive.


stantonLook at his age and what he has already done. The guy should continue to improve as a hitter. And there is no logical reason that a properly run Mets team could not have him under contract for a long time. But wouldn’t talks begin with Harvey and/or Wheeler? Frankly the safe move would be to deal one of them for Stanton. Stanton is the proven commodity. This may surprise you, but I would not do it. I’ve made it this far I can make it to the end of the movie with these two guys. My gut tells me they are the real deal, two aces. No card in the deck can beat that.

Now if something can be done where Harvey and Wheeler remain Mets, then that is different. But I can’t see that from the Marlins side.


Sean Fennessey had a darkly comic take on the Mets outfield. He concludes: “Baseball is experiencing its biggest financial boom ever, getting fat on the blubber of exclusive-rights TV deals. But this is not that life for the Mets. Instead, they will test the limits of terrible. Because no one can stop a rich man from breaking his toy.”


Yes, I did see that. I agree with the overall theme. But I’ve been there, done that, I’ll shut up.

Hey, I want to bring up a positive note. DePodesta mentioned that he thinksWilmer Flores can play a solid second base. I’m with you Paul. Flores’ bat could translate to All-Star at that position. I’m excited by this idea. Right-handed bat, Jimmy, right-handed bat.


Toby Hyde keeps saying Flores isn’t a good candidate for second base, that he’s got heavy feet, but can he possibly be more leaden than Murphy? I brought this up in January  about Murphy, now that he’s arbitration eligible and earning raises, that he could easily price himself out of a job with the Mets. We are too left-handed.


Anything else on your mind? I know I haven’t heard any Jose Valverde rumors in a few hours.


I noticed on Rotoworld the other day that the #1 search for the past week had been Mike Carp. Yeah, that Mike Carp, the ex-Met who tore up Binghamton in 2006. I’m guessing a lot of Red Sox fans will be disappointed. Carp was involved in that crazy, 2008 three-team deal that brought us a J.J. Putz with a broken wing. Don’t feel bad, we only gave up 7 players in that deal: Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Joe Smith, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Maikel Cleto, and Ezequiel Carrera. That Omar, he had flair. I guess the lesson in that is when you are bound and determined to fix the bullpen — it’s an annual rite of passage with this club — GM’s can be tempted to do a lot of desperate things.



Wait a minute there, Jimmy, we did not only get Putz in that deal. We also received Jeremy Reed and Sean Green! How soon you forget. But in all that human trafficking, you look today and the prize in the pinata was Jason Vargas. Another example that when a guy is left handed, his chance for success improves tenfold.

What arm do you throw with again?


Southpaw from Long Island, buddy. Just like Frank Viola!

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  1. Alan K says:

    I’m not terribly optimistic about Santana, either.If Marcum can’t hold up physically, Wheeler may very well be here ahead of schedule. If the likes Hefner, Laffey, McHugh wind up getting a significant number of starts, things can get ugly quickly

  2. Alan, I am making an effort not to be goaded into any Wheeler-Should-Be-NYC discussions. Not yet, anyway. But, “Hello?!” There’s a lot of time for things to sort themselves out. If Santana is only delayed, then bringing up Zack doesn’t make much sense under those circumstances. But I’m beginning to have serious doubts about Johan’s health, much less his ability to WIN GAMES.

    I no longer see the financial benefit of keeping Wheeler down at AAA. He’ll sell tickets, create fan excitement, improve ratings, give us hope. Moreover, there’s no pressure this year, he’s not joining a pennant race. Was Seaver ready in ’67? What does “ready” mean anyway? Ready for what? To be perfect, a finished product? Let the next phase of learning happen at the major league level.

    Was Ron Darling ready at age 23 in ’84? Was Niese ready at age 23 in 2010?

    He’s already the most talented pitcher on the staff — if we let him make the staff. I don’t subscribe to the theory that these guys are china dolls that need to sit on a shelf. Nor do I automatically assume that time in the PCL is more to his overall benefit that time in the MLB. I don’t want Zack Wheeler to hang out in Vegas and throw 100 IPs down there. I want him pitching for us. Because I believe he’s “ready” to win games. And lose games, too. By all reports, he’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s ready to learn and grow here, in the bigs, where he belongs.

    See what you did to me?

  3. Today in an article I got to read how this season the Mets expect to lose more money and more fans — they anticipate declining attendance, fading fan interest — and we’re on the verge of getting exactly HALF the attendance the team enjoyed in 2008.

    Anybody out there have any interest in seeing Zack Wheeler pitch?

  4. Toby Hyde has a new report on Wilmer Flores’ play at 2B, here:

    Ultimately, I think we’re all sort of watching and holding our breath.

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