Two Guys Talking: 8 Mets We’re Especially Excited to See This Spring

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Jimmy:

Even polar bears and Stephen Drew agree: this has been the dreariest winter. I can’t remember a February when I needed the game more. Enough with the house-bound blues, it’s time for that true harbinger of spring. Move over, robin red breast, baseball’s nearly here.

Of course, we’ve learned to temper our expectations. Like Vegas, what happens in St. Lucie often stays in St. Lucie (see: Cowgill, ’13). Mostly, I’m excited to see the young players. Some of these guys I’ve only caught once or twice in minor league games, a few I’ve briefly glimpsed on television or youtube, and some I’ve never watched at all.

What do you say, Mike? Came we come up with a list of players we’re most eager to watch?

Mike:

Right now I would watch these guys doing stretching exercises. That would still beat the Biathlon. So yes, let’s go.

Jimmy:

ny_e_syndergard01jr_200Well, I’ll start with the obvious: NOAH SYNDERGAARD.

It’s amazing how far this guy has come in our estimation since the R.A. Dickey trade. Travis d’Arnaud appeared to be the big prize, but some writers were on this early, hinting that Syndergaard might turn out to be the better player. It’s amazing the Blue Jays let him get away.

Mike:

When it comes to Noah, I can’t get excited. I know I’m in the minority. It’s nothing against Syndergaard himself or the caliber of prospect. But this team has not made the playoffs since 2006. My interest is in players who have a chance to be on the roster in April and help the Mets win. I’m sick of hearing about the future. Syndergaard would be more intriguing to me if we were already a good team. I can’t waste my energy on the future, not when current improvement is this urgent. It is a foregone conclusion he will not be at Citi Field for a while. I don’t see anything intriguing about foregone conclusions.

I am excited to see RAFAEL MONTERO.

rafael+montero+mets+citi+field-2Montero has never gotten the hype that Harvey, Wheeler, and now Syndergaard have gotten. But he has now climbed the entire ladder of our minor league system with nothing but success.

Jimmy:

I’m confused over Montero. The buzz isn’t there from inside the organization. He appears to be another guy they don’t want to call up until at least May. With a bullpen full of question marks, he’d be an interesting arm — and a strike-thrower. I watched him get lit up in a game last Spring Training, 94 MPH isn’t what it used to be. And that’s a fact! Guys are throwing much harder across the board these days, to the point where the advantage might go to the soft-tosser.

Wilmer-FloresWhat about WILMER FLORES? Did you hear, he’s been exercising?! The joke is that everybody’s been doing it. I’ve got a 14-year-old who has been taking strength-and-agility classes for the past year, really grueling workouts. It’s become so pervasive even the Mets are doing it. We saw Wilmer late last year, but the ankle injury sapped him of his game like kryptonite. At least, I hope that wasn’t the real guy in September. I believe in the bat. I’m curious to see him on the field.

Mike:

Flores is very high on my list of guys I want to see this spring. And I think it is important that he plays a lot in spring training. It is hard to learn a lot about how guys will hit from spring training, but you can easily figure out if a guy can field. I’m hoping to see Flores all over the infield. It’s the perfect time to experiment.

Jimmy:

Terry did a horrible job getting him on the field last Spring. Let’s hope he does better this time around. Jenrry Mejia was very, very impressive late last season. I’ve said it before, if he’s healthy, I’d be crushed if they keep him down at AAA.

imageAny thoughts on TRAVIS D’ARNAUD?

Mike:

It’s funny with d’Arnaud. A year ago there was so much hype, and now his name hardly comes up. For me he is a huge story. The free agents signed will, at best, allow the offense to match last year’s putrid production. That means we need either Tejada, Ike, Duda, or d’Arnaud to break through to create improvement. When you look at that list, it becomes clear how important d’Arnaud is to the team’s success in 2014. We need another right-handed bat, and it’s not going to be Ruben Tejada.

Jimmy:

This team has needed a RH-bat since the day we signed Jason Bay. I hope Travis becomes a 5/6 hitter. He’s the real floating radical in this year’s experiment. If Travis produces, the lineup gets a lot better. But if he’s slotted in the 7-spot, and the coaches are begging him to take pitches, it could be tough sledding. I really wish we had a decent backup so he can get those essential days off. Terry Collins rarely gave John Buck a rest last April and May. Just looked it up: Anthony Recker had 12 ABs in April, 13 ABs in May. Buck, not coincidentally, hit .167 in June.

One thing we've learned: He's got a beautiful smile.

CHRIS YOUNG, of course, is the other potential difference-maker. I’ve followed his career, but can’t say I have a real read on his demeanor. A veteran guy impacts the clubhouse and the tone of a team in such a big way. In what might be his biggest gamble of the off-season, Sandy Alderson handed Young $7.5 million and promised him regular ABs.

Mike:

It will be interesting to see where they play him this spring. If it is center he has a tough defensive act to follow. Young comes with a good defensive reputation, but I’ve rarely seen the guy play. I’m eager to see his range and arm.

Jimmy:

502195Well, I think Lagares has been set up to fail. The bullpen is particularly up in the air. I’m very interested in seeing more of VIC BLACK and JEURYS FAMILIA.

Mike:

Good teams need power arms in the bullpen. Familia looked like he could provide late-inning help early last year until he went down with an elbow injury. Like fielding, health is easily established in spring training. If Familia is ready, there is a need for his services.

Jimmy:

And if there are growing pains, so be it. Regarding Black, he threw 13 impressive innings in September, a time of year for the Mets which is not unlike Spring Training. There will be much more pressure to perform this time around.

There’s another guy, CURTIS GRANDERSON, who should be worth a look. He’s got a charming personality — we should enjoy him — and I don’t think there’s much in his game that will matter this Spring. But just his presence on the field, in the lineup, in the dugout, I’m going to be curious to see how that plays out.

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Mike:

Expect to see a lot of Curtis, who is poised to be heavily marketed. Granderson seems excited about that, and it could end up being a good thing for David Wright. David has enough to do on the field, having a wingman with the media is useful all by itself.

Granderson just seems like the definition of a good fit with the Mets, and I am looking forward to seeing him in uniform.

Jimmy:

Play ball — because enough’s enough!

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6 comments

  1. Eraff says:

    It’s a really nice early spring preview of interesting young players.

    My list starts with the usual BIG INTEREST guys—Thor, Montero…. beyond those guys, the Near Level/New Starter guys— Flores and d’Arnaud. I’m not sure of the other Young Names who will be in MLB camp—–and who may be in the St.Lucie Complex in MILB Prep—certainly Fullmer and Nimmo would be interesting—guys who are 2 years from a sniff.

    One other name…. Puello. A 22 year old who DESTROYED the Eastern League is a major prospect…. certainly not a Perfect one.

  2. As we wrote this, and realized it was running long, we kept a lot of players off the list. We honestly could have written the same piece with 8 other names. Seeing Mejia pitch, once again, will be fascinating. Guys like Matz, Muno, Leathersich, all the potential bullpen arms. This is the eight we came up with, but mostly my intention was to write something forward-looking and hopeful. You know, embrace the idea of new beginnings. I don’t expect to see much of Puelo or Nimmo.

  3. I’m interested to watch Bartolo Colon try and swing a bat and, perhaps, run the bases (if the Mets let him.)

  4. W.k. kortas says:

    So if Colon pulls a hammy “running” the bases, does the club’s insurance cover that or does that become a Medicare case?

  5. RAFF says:

    Bobby Parnell- Cmon….

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