Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Training Mid-Term Report Card


I have elected not to go with the frequent spring updates so far, mostly due to other life obligations, although I fully intend to submit game by game posts come the regular season.

Spring Training is about halfway through, at least the part of Spring Training that I feel you can really put any kind of stock in, that being March. I've grouped all of the players invited to PS Lucie that are worth mentioning into categories according to grade.

HONOR ROLL: Angel Pagan--Hitting to a line of .377/.400/.528, Pagan has been the surprise star of spring so far, and has made an argument for consideration in the absence of Moises Alou.
John Maine--The Maine Man has struck out 14 batters in 13 1/3 innings pitched while only walking 3, and in the mean time dropped his spring ERA to 2.63 during a streak of 10 scoreless innings. Maine's continued growth could give the Mets a historically good 1-2-3 in the rotation. I am higher than high on him, and expect a fantastic year.
The Bullpen--There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part expected core of the 2008 bullpen has been outstanding. Wagner, Heilman, Feliciano, Wise, Schoenweis, Sanchez, Register and Sosa have combined for 55 innings and only surrendered 9 total earned runs. Of the bunch, Sanchez remains the major question mark, with only 3 IP logged to date as he works towards getting his strength back. All in all, there's a lot of depth to this pen, and it could turn out to be a major point of strength on this team.

A: Fernando Martinez--The jewel of the farm system is hitting .357 in 39 spring AB's, and while plan A would have him tuning his skills in the minors, OF injuries could see him up at the big club this year. Lest I forget, he's racked up a few web gems in the OF.
Robinson Cancel--Though he is 32 years of age, the Puerto Rican catcher only has a small chunk of one season in the majors on his resume. With Castro and Schneider both battling injuries, Cancel's .286/.400/.524 line is encouraging for some insurance.
Raul Casanova--Casanova is another name in the mix for depth at catcher, and has had a solid spring as well, hitting .294 with a homer. Not sure how much stock you can give this, as the 36 year old has never performed well at the major league level.
Argenis Reyes--25 year old OF has spent his career in the Indians farm system to this point, and performed passably well as high as AA. Hitting .481/.481/.703 in 27 spring AB's.
Pedro Martinez--Granted, Pedro has only one start (today) under his belt this spring, but in that start he went 4 innings, striking out 4, only walking 1, and giving up no runs on 4 hits. One of those hits was a broken bat single, and another an infield single. This start coupled with all of the positive reports about the kind of shape he's in gives me a lot of confidence in the greatest pitcher who ever lived, in my eyes.

B:Brady Clark--Let's throw in as many hats as we can in this OF pot, can we? The veteran has played pretty well so far, hitting just over .270 and playing a solid OF.
Johan Santana--The superstar acquisition has 4 games behind him, 2 not so good, 2 very good, at times has looked shaky and at times has looked his dominant self. He's only just really starting to throw now, and until I see him trying to win a game that counts I ain't sweatin'. His K/BB is right where it should be, as is his velocity and stamina. Johan will be Johan.
Nelson Figueroa--We like him over here at the harbor, as he's a Brooklyn native. He's given up 5 ER over 13 1/3 IP and looked very good at times. He'll add some nice insurance for the pitching staff down in AAA.

Jose Reyes--Reyes has hit only slightly under .250 so far, but has scattered in a couple XBH and his approach has looked fine. Evaluating spring training for everyday players, especially stars, is pretty tough anyhow, but is hardly relevant in until late March.
David Wright--Ditto. Not hitting much, but he's David Wright.
Mike Pelfrey--Pelf has a not so nice 5.54 ERA this spring, but to be fair 7 of his 8 allowed runs came in one rough start. Otherwise he's looked very good. His role this year is entirely contingent on El Duque.

D/F:Anderson Hernandez--Continues to prove he just can't hit Major League pitching.
Oliver Perez--Looked good a couple days ago in his most recent start, but was knocked around hard in the two starts prior. Right now OP sits with a 7.27 ERA, but he is certainly the sort of pitcher who will go through March growing pains.
Endy Chavez--Only hitting .227 so far. As always, has played well defensively.

I (for Incomplete and Injured): Carlos Delgado--The latest twist in his injury saga came today, when after roping an RBI double the other way Delgado too a broken bat to the forearm and began gushing blood. One would assume this injury isn't too bad, and in the last couple games he's seemed to be rediscovering his stroke, with two opposite field XBH.
Carlos Beltran--If I was advanced enough as a programmer, I'd have a "Beltran's health %" meter on the blog. His legs are starting to get there, though he looked ugly in CF yesterday and hasn't hit much yet.
The Catchers--Schneider has been MIA all spring almost, but is reportedly almost ready and maybe will play Wednesday. Castro hasn't played very well, but has an ongoing hammy problem.
Ryan Church and Marlon Anderson--I put them together because they have both missed significant time due to the same collision. Church has looked up and down when he's been in there, and Marlon just doesn't have enough of a sample size to discuss.
Luis Castillo--Has looked pretty decent in only a couple of games.
Damion Easley--The Sleaze hasn't really hit anything, but only has 16 AB's behind him. Hopefully he's healthy, as the only real insurance to Jose Reyes, who figures to get some more rest this season.
Ruben Gotay--Big Fly Gotay is hitting .309 this spring, but has yet to fully recover from an ankle injury. He's day-to-day.
Moises Alou--Out at least 4-6 weeks, and with Alou, the assumption always leans toward the long side of things. How this OF question will be dealt with has been the subject for a lot of speculation. Internal or External? Trade or Free Agent? My guess is Omar, Willie and Co. wait out the rest of spring, and if no one emerges as a real passable option in LF, they try to make a move then. I'd love to see Nady back, but for what? This was the one caveat with the Santana trade: if any holes open up, there's not much left to deal.

The most telling weeks of spring are the two left to come. We'll see all the regulars play a lot more, the pitchers will go deeper and actually pitch, rather than throw, more, and, knock on wood, many of the injured players will be back in action. To me the biggest story this spring has been how great the bullpen has looked, and in today's game, that is HUGE.

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