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Yorvit Torrealba Smacks Umpire in the Head in Venezuelan Winter League

Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba won’t be having a very merry Christmas after smacking a home-plate umpire in the face during a Venezuelan Winter League loss on Friday night.

Torrealba, a member of the Leones del Caracas squad, lost his cool in the eighth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Caribes de Anzoategui.

The big-league veteran had worked a 2-0 count against right-hander Alex Serrano in his third at-bat of the game before two consecutive pitches were called strikes, much to Torrealba’s dislike.The catcher then struck out swinging on the fifth pitch down below the knees, prompting his tirade.

The 33-year-old immediately spun around and got in Dario Rivero Jr.’s face, yelling at the ump as he calmly rung him up. Rivero put his hands on his hips and didn’t appear to say anything back to Torrealba, who then pushed Rivero in the facemask with his open right hand.

A suspension of some kind is obviously coming Torrealba’s way, although the severity of the punishment is unknown.

Whatever the outcome, the Leones will probably not miss him. He was batting just .246 with a homer, two doubles and three RBI in 17 games in the Caribbean this offseason. He had singled and grounded out back to the mound in his previous two at-bats on Friday night before the ejection.

In 113 Major League Baseball games this season, Torrealba—who was born in Caracas—batted .273 with seven homers and 37 RBI.

Caracas fell to five games below .500 with the defeat, which left them seventh in the eight-team division.

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Zack Wheeler: Top New York Mets Prospect to Make Debut Monday

The New York Mets‘ new No. 1 prospect Zack Wheeler will make his Mets debut Monday night for Class A Advanced St. Lucie when the Florida State League affiliate wraps up a three-game series on the road against the Dunedin Blue Jays.

Wheeler was the top pitcher in the San Francisco Giants organization and came to the Mets in the deal that sent outfielder Carlos Beltran to the West Coast and will be on a tight leash. But he is expected to draw a lot of attention when he takes the mound for the first time.

Assuming Wheeler pitches every fifth day over the course of the regular season, the 21-year-old will make a total of six starts. Mets VP Paul DePodesta told reporters on a conference call Friday that Wheeler, who tossed 88 innings with San Jose, will throw about 30 more innings in St. Lucie.

With that in mind, don’t expect the right-hander to go deep into many games, especially considering St. Lucie will also likely give Wheeler at least one start in the FSL playoffs, which start on Sept. 6. The Mets stamped their ticket to the postseason by winning the North Division first half crown with a four-game lead over the Fort Myers Miracle.

It will be interesting to see whether the Mets make any adjustments to Wheeler’s pitching motion and mechanics over the next month.

When he started out with the Giants, pitching coaches within the organization made changes to his delivery and slowed his motion. Now, the 6’4″, 185-pound stud has gone back to his old high school motion, mainly a high leg kick with a more fluid arm action.

According to ESPN, DePodesta said the Mets won’t “go in there and immediately start changing things.” He said he’ll let him do what feels comfortable and then reevaluate things based on the results.

On Friday, Wheeler threw a 32-pitch bullpen session in front of the Mets Minor League pitching coordinator, Rick Tomlin, who was reportedly happy with the pitcher’s curveball. He described it as “like hell, right from out of the chute,” the New York Daily News reported.

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Reviewing Brad Holt, Matt Harvey and Other New York Mets Prospects’ First Week

The New York Mets do not have the best farm system in the world. It’s not the best in the National League, or even the best in the NL East, but there is talent there if you dig deep enough.’s preseason list of top 50 prospects does not feature a single Met, and most of the players throughout New York’s four minor league affiliates who have started pretty well in 2011 are not going to make an impact at Citi Field any time soon.

Still, it’s great to see Matt Harvey make his debut, and it’s nice to hear that Brad Holt is regaining his confidence.

Generally speaking, the Mets‘ affiliates have started slowly. At 10-2, only St. Lucie has started off well, with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons (4-7), Double-A Binghamton Mets (4-6) and Class A Savannah Sand Gnats (5-6) all below .500.

Here are some highlights, news and notes from the first full week of the MiLB season.


Fernando Martinez

Well, it didn’t take F-Mart long to land himself on the DL did it? He made it four games.

Martinez, an outfield prospect, went on the seven-day disabled list with Triple-A Buffalo on Friday because of a tight right hamstring. He was 4-for-5 with a double in the Bisons’ opener on April 7, but was 1-for-11 with a walk and four strikeouts over the next three games.

He has all the promise in the world, and that’s what makes it so frustrating. reports that the 22-year-old has never played in more than 90 games in any of his five professional seasons because of knee, lower back and hamstring problems.


Sam Honeck

When you’re looking at the Sand Gnats, Honeck stands out above the rest. The 23-year-old first baseman leads all Mets affiliates with a .500 batting average, and he has hit safely in nine of his first 10 games.

He has six multi-hit games already, and he had six extra-base hits in the last series with Greenville to power the team to four consecutive wins.

His 11 RBI are almost twice as many as any other Mets minor leaguer, and it’s good to see the left-hander hitting southpaws (.667) in addition to right-handers (.448).

The former 11th-rounder was a midseason All-Star for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the Short Season New York Penn League two years ago, and early signs are pointing toward a great year in the Sally League.

2011 represents his first full year in Class A Advanced Savannah, and with his leg apparently back to full strength, he could flourish against full-season competition.

Zach Lutz

Lutz, a former fifth-round draft pick, gets his first real crack at Triple-A in 2011.

He hit .287 with 19 homers and 55 RBI across four levels with the Mets’ Gulf Coast team, St. Lucie, Binghamton and Buffalo in ’10, and he showed enough promise to start this season in the International League.

A decent contact hitter with a little pop and below-average speed, the third baseman is off to a hot start.

Predominantly hitting fifth in Buffalo, Lutz has a six-game hit streak for the 4-7 Bisons, and he’s one of only a few Mets there swinging the bat well through the first week-and-a-half.

Seventeen homers in 225 at-bats with Binghamton a year ago show the kind of numbers he could put up in the top two levels of the minors, but he’s much more suited to the Eastern League than he is the National League East.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Nieuwenhuis has played in all 11 of the Bisons’ games so far, posting a .324 average and team-high seven runs.

He has played a couple games in the No. 2 hole, but he’s been used much more frequently in the mid-to-lower half of the lineup, particularly fifth and sixth. This has impacted his RBI numbers (just three so far), as has a lack of hitting in general from the meat of the order.

The center fielder has more of a prospect tag than some of the other players in this list, but he has a lot to prove in his first full year with Buffalo.

He made 30 appearances with the Bisons in 2010 after hitting .289 with 16 homers as an Eastern League midseason All-Star in Binghamton, but be cautious of his hot start.

He projects as maybe a .260 Triple-A hitter this year, and his ceiling right now is dictated by his long swing and affinity for striking out.

Drafted in the third round of the 2008 draft, Nieuwenhuis could reach the majors in late 2012 or early 2013.

Matt Harvey

Seventh overall draft pick Matt Harvey has arrived in pro ball, bad moustache and all.

Luckily for the former Tar Heel right-hander, we’re more concerned with his mechanics and breaking ball than we are with his facial hair.

It’s safe to say that Harvey has taken to the Florida State League like a duck to water.

He’s 3-0 in his first three starts with St. Lucie, sports a perfect ERA and has allowed just one unearned run in 16 innings. In addition, he was more than three times as many strikeouts (20) as walks (six) and opponents are hitting just .179 against him.

He scattered five hits while walking two and fanning nine in his pro debut on April 7 against Class A Advanced Palm Beach. He followed that up with a nice encore start against Fort Myers where he surrendered three hits over six innings, striking out eight.

When I spoke with him last week, he told me that he had so much adrenaline going, that he was too quick to the mound and that he was almost reaching to the plate. The result was very flat pitches with little life. Once he calmed down, he was much sharper.

On Sunday, Harvey gave the St. Lucie Mets their ninth straight win with five innings of two-hit ball. The only run came on a two-out passed ball in the first inning.

The Mets aren’t going to rush Harvey, but he’s not going to stay in St. Lucie, the team with the best record in the minor leagues, all year. Expect him to see time in Binghamton later in 2011.

Cory Vaughn

21-year-old Vaughn will be a big league outfielder one day, but for now he’s tasked with helping the Savannah Sand Gnats.

An All-Star with Wally Backman’s Brooklyn Cyclones last year, Vaughn batted .307 with 14 homers, 56 RBI and 12 steals down on Coney Island.

Now in High-A ball, the San Diego State product is looking to build his resume further.

His .286 average with the Sand Gnats is second on the team only to red hot Honeck, and his six RBI in 10 games is tied for the second-most among all Mets minor leaguers.

He won’t hit .321 against right-handers all year, but the fact that he has only seven at-bats against lefties will help even things out as the sample size increases.

He hit his first homer of the year Friday night at home to Greenville, and he has driven in at least one run in each of the last three games. He’s also been hit three times already, with pitchers apparently wary about leaving anything middle-in.

It doesn’t really matter right now if he’s hitting fourth or fifth, but he could project as a No. 2 guy further down the line. More important, perhaps, is the fact that he’s already played all three outfield positions and adds versatility to the organization’s depth.


Jenrry Mejia

Mejia had his first taste of the Majors—albeit an 0-4 record—in 2010, and he understandably can’t wait until he gets a second shot at it.

The road to Citi Field goes through Buffalo once again for the 21-year-old right-hander, who had a cursory stop there last year after pitching beautifully in six Eastern League starts in Binghamton.

With two appearances under his belt so far in 2011, Mejia has already tripled his Triple-A experience, and now it’s just a matter of time until the big club implodes sufficiently to warrant a call-up. Judging from those games in Atlanta and at home against Colorado, it may not be too long.

Mejia struck out five over six three-hit innings in his season debut on April 8 in Syracuse and went 6.2 innings in his second scoreless start of the year at home to the SWB Yankees.

He’s scheduled to pitch tonight or tomorrow night, so it might be interesting to see if he cruises for a third time in a row.

Brad Holt

Holt told last week that pitching is fun once again. That’s a good sign, of course, but I’m going to wait a little longer before I get too excited.

Listen, I like Holt, I do, but two scoreless starts does not a star make. It doesn’t ease my worries too much, either.

He scattered three hits for Binghamton against Akron in his debut, and he threw seven great innings (four hits, one walk, five strikeouts) against New Hampshire last time out on Sunday.

The former first-rounder has a solid skill set when he’s on, but when his command deserts him, he really is a wreck. Imagine the golfers’ yips coming into play when you’re going through your windup, unsure where a mid-90s fastball will end up.

When he’s good, he’s great. When he’s bad, well…I’ll let the 3-14 record and 8.34 ERA from 12 months ago speak for itself.

The optimist and fan in me hopes that Holt has turned the corner. The realist in me says to wait until he can put it together for a full season at Double-A.

This is Holt’s fourth year in pro ball and third time facing Eastern League batters. It’s time to put up or shut up, I’m afraid.


Jason Bay and Ronny Paulino

This pair of major leaguers were down in Port St. Lucie last week on rehab assignments.

Bay went 1-for-5 with a walk in his brief stint in Florida. He didn’t have to exert himself too much in the field, and the most in-game running came when he went first-to-third on a ground ball to right. He’s expected to rejoin the team in New York this week against the Astros.

Paulino has played for St. Lucie in each of the last four games. He snapped an 0-for-9 slump with a single Monday against Fort Myers and hasn’t looked anywhere near ready in terms of going back to the majors.

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New York Mets Opening Day: 2011 Is About Hope, Pride and a New Identity

It’s been 179 days since the Mets slumped off the field on a chilly New York afternoon in Flushing; 179 days since Oliver Perez walked in the eventual winning run in the 14th inning against Washington; 179 days since the club fell to its 83rd and final loss of 2010.

April brings something fresh. If not hope eternal, then hope anew.

The general consensus is that the Mets will struggle over the next six months, and that’s okay. Expectations are low, and this group of largely underachieving stars has essentially nothing to lose.

Each individual will want to justify his place on the roster, his inclusion in the lineup and the number in his contract, but if the Mets finish at .500 come October, people will probably think they’ve been as distinctly average as everyone thought they would be.

It’s fitting, then, that the Mets get their campaign underway on the road in Florida, a warm-weather state where the disappointments of the previous cold winter can be forgotten and where the rebirth of championship dreams begin in camp each spring.

Bigger R-words might be “rebranding” or “renovation.” The club has a new front office, an improved field staff and an almost entirely fresh bench. There’s a new sense of self-belief and an air of accountability. Fans will hope this combination translates into a new winning mentality.

In cutting Luis Castillo and Perez, the club signaled its intent, drawing a line in the sand and telling the world that over-inflated contracts alone won’t hold the club ransom. It’s a visual way of expressing the end of the Omar Minaya era and a not-so-subtle sign that mediocrity will not be tolerated.

It’s not a rebuilding project, but the effects could be the same.

Rather, it’s a contradiction of terms, a conundrum of what-ifs and maybes, a conundrum wrapped in an enigma.

Eleven players of New York’s 25-man roster are new members of the team, but the core of the team is still intact.

Its black sheep reliever is gone and out of the picture, but its higher-paid white knight is here, yet unavailable.

The right fielder who hit .333 in three spring games and nobody expected to be ready for Opening Day will be in the lineup, while the left fielder who hit .333 in 16 games will start the year on the DL.

At 32-17 the Mets have the best winning percentage (.653) of any team in the history of baseball on Opening Day, and that includes losses in the first eight years of the club’s formative years.

The new season starts now, and the club is on a pedestal with everyone else. If the Mets want any chance of upsetting the NL East applecart, that Opening Day trend needs to continue.

New York needs to get off to a hot start, not only to put 2010 firmly in the rear-view mirror, but to usher in that fresh era that Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and Co. have promised us.

Hope and pride should not be confused with misplaced trust and blind faith. After all, in 2011, optimism might be all Mets fans have to cling on to as they look towards the future.

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Carlos Beltran Optimistic, but It Doesn’t Hurt the New York Mets If He Can’t Go

Carlos Beltran took part in a simulated game on a back field in Port St Lucie, Florida on Thursday. He hit from both sides of the plate, ran the bases without hesitation and fielded his position with what he later described as 100 percent intensity.

He says he is optimistic about being ready for Opening Day just one week from now, and manager Terry Collins told that he can picture Beltran manning right field when they face the Marlins on April 1.

Anthony DiComo reported that the Mets will not let Beltran play in a Grapefruit League contest unless they are sure he is ready to go in seven days’ time, and he said they could still consider a retroactive trip to the DL, which would give him three more days to prepare for the current campaign.

Still, fans shouldn’t be too concerned if he needs that little extra time to get ready.

Nobody expects Beltran to stay 100 percent healthy for the entire year, and I think it’s more likely than not that Beltran will hit the DL at least once this season.

I’d rather give him the extra time to prepare now than rush him into the lineup. I don’t want to see him forcing the issue in the first series of the year, only to do himself more harm than good. The only thing worse than that would be to see him playing at 80 percent to protect himself.

He needs more at-bats and more live pitching. He needs more time to learn the subtle demands of right field. And most importantly, he needs more time to prove to management and to himself that he can still contribute at a high level.

Regardless of whether or not Beltran starts the season in the outfield, expectations have to be muted. He’s acknowledged that he’s not going to get any faster, and it’s ridiculous to think that he’ll approach anything like his 2007 or 2008 form, let alone his MVP-caliber 2006 season.

What’s Beltran’s upside this year? Maybe .290 with 16 homers, 65 RBIs and double-digit steals? Maybe 120 games or 450 at-bats?

That has to be considered his ceiling, but if he’s only out for a short period of time, then there’s certainly others who can step in. Jerry Hairston has some pop and he could quite easily platoon with the Mets’ other offseason acquisition, Willie Harris, someone most people consider to be much more suited as a bench player or late-game replacement.

Harris is tied for the club lead with three homers this spring, while Hairston is batting .383 with two longballs, five doubles and a triple. I don’t see either guy holding down the full-time job, but you don’t lose too much of what Beltran would bring with a combination of the two.

Hairston can hold his own at the dish and Harris has things covered in the field and on the basepaths.

Less likely but arguably more useful would have been to go with a younger guy. The club is going to have to give serious consideration to 2012 sooner or later, and while I agree that both Fernando Martinez and Lucas Duda need more seasoning in Buffalo, an extra stint with the big club wouldn’t hurt their progress too much.

Martinez ripped up spring training and showed good plate discipline before he was sent to minor league camp and Lucas Duda, with versatility across the outfield, has seen more at-bats than any other outfield prospect this year.

I have no problem that neither one will make the opening day roster, but the option is certainly there, if not right now, then early on in the season.

Pagan has had back problems this week and Bay obviously missed a big chunk of time at the end of last season after that nasty collision with the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium. There will be opportunities for Martinez and Duda in the outfield at some point this year, even if Beltran gets the all-clear for April 1.

I hope Beltran will have a clean bill of health this season, but I’m not that naive to think it’s even close to a given. Considering that the outfielder turns 34 next month and has already seen the best years of his career come and go, his absence against Florida next week isn’t that much of a game-changer.

I wish him all the best and I know what he brings to the lineup, but his inclusion, or lack thereof, is nowhere near as big as it once was.

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New York Mets 2011 Preview: Handicapping a No-No and 19 Other Single-Game Feats

Will the New York Mets toss a no-hitter in 2011? No? How about slugging a walk-off grand slam, a steal of home, a triple play or back-to-back-to-back homers?

Spring training games got underway this weekend and that means that Opening Day is just a month away.

With that in mind, here are 20 single-game accomplishments up for grabs in 2011.

Some, like a complete game or a multi-home run outing, are sure bets. Others, like hitting for the cycle are less likely, but still very much possible.

In this slideshow I have handicapped 20 feats, showing the last time it happened and who is most likely to re-write the record books this season.

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New York Mets Spring Training: Weekend Recap, Pitcher Updates and Lineup Battles

The New York Mets got their spring training schedule under way this weekend with an intra-squad game Friday, a home-and-home series with Atlanta and a split-squad game with the University of Michigan Wolverines.

Chris Young made his case for a spot in the starting rotation and Pedro Beato and Dillon Gee both turned in solid performances on the mound. Oliver Perez was his usual wild self and further inched his way out of the club.

Jordany Valdespin, Chin-lung Hu and Mike Nickeas all showed promising signs, and Willie Harris proved he isn’t just a Met killer.

Here’s a look at a recap from the opening weekend, an update on the starting pitcher and bullpen positions up for grabs and a look ahead to the pitchers likely to feature in the upcoming games today and tomorrow.

It’s less focused on David Wright, Jose Reyes and Jason Bay and more about the players who are fighting for roles in 2011.

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David Wright: On Track To Become the New York Mets’ Greatest Hitter Ever

David Wright is well on his way to becoming one of the best hitters the New York Mets have ever seen.

He has already set a number of franchise records, and he may have another eight or nine years ahead of him.

Wright’s contract with the club goes through the 2012 season with a $16 million club option for ’13. The six-year, $55-million contract he signed back in 2007 is one of the better financial moves the team has made in the past decade.

Assuming he signs an extension, he will have spent his peak years with the club.

However, while his longevity will ultimately define the legacy he leaves in the Big Apple, it could be the next few seasons that establish him as the greatest Mets hitter of all time.

Fan favorite Mike Piazza earned his reputation during eight good years at Shea Stadium, and Darryl Strawberry was a seven-time All-Star and key component of the 1986 championship team.

Both players transformed the team, more so in the case of Piazza, is the best offensive catcher ever, and one destined for Cooperstown.

He was a feared slugger in a way that Wright is not, but the third baseman has started to show Piazza’s sense of leadership, which is sorely missing from the current team.

Wright has always said the right things and, while that alone obviously isn’t enough, he is now leading by example, showing teammates that a losing attitude is not acceptable.

By contrast, Gary Carter had four solid years in the mid-to-late ’80s and a World Series ring to his name, but arrived from Montreal a few years too late to spend his prime years with the organization.

Similarly, Keith Hernandez, while one of the best defensive first basemen of his era, only had four full seasons with the Mets and was arguably a better offensive player in St. Louis.

Both Piazza and Straw are ahead of Wright now for different reasons, but Wright will soon be alongside them. With Johan Santana on the DL for at least the first half of the season, now is the time for Wright to step up more than ever.

He almost certainly isn’t going to win a World Series in the next three years, and there’s no guarantee that he gets a ring even if he stays at Citi Field for the next decade.

Still, should a championship, or the lack of one, detract from his contributions to the franchise?

Can Wright be considered one of the greatest without one?

I think he can. And will.

Willie McCovey, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb and Tony Gwynn are among the greatest players that ever lived—do you know how many world titles they have between them? Zero.

While Wright isn’t in the conversation with any of these players, they show that you don’t need a ring to validate your performance. It helps, naturally, but it’s not a prerequisite for the Hall of Fame or any GOAT discussions.

Statistically, Wright has only a few peers in Mets history. Soon he could stand alone. A few things to remember:

  • Wright already has more doubles than any Met and will be the all-time franchise leader in runs, RBI and extra bases and total bases by the end of the coming season.
  • He’s already led the team in RBI on five separate occasions—more than any other player—and there’s a great chance that number will be eight when his current contract is up.
  • He will have more hits than any other Met in history by 2012 and, assuming he stays healthy, will be second only to the longest-tenured Met Ed Kranepool in games played by the following year.
  • Wright is currently 83 home runs off Strawberry’s all-time Mets record (252) and, if he keeps up his career pace, will add 81 over the next three years (Strawberry’s mark, which has already stood for 20 years, will be in serious doubt in the coming years).
  • Add in the fact that his .305 batting average is a franchise-high and that he’ll also likely be fifth all time in steals by the end of this year, and you have one of the most complete all-around productive players in Mets history.

If he comes close to replicating his 2007 numbers, he’ll be golden.

Lifetime, Wright is hitting .343 with 464 RBI, 108 homers, 90 steals and 439 runs when the Mets win.

In losses, he hits 81 points fewer with 200 RBI, 61 home runs, 48 steals and 200 runs. He’s every bit as valuable to this team as Strawberry was in the mid ’80s, and Piazza was at the start of the 21st century.

Unlike the group that Straw joined and Piazza inherited, though, Wright does not have a team built for instant success. Don’t confuse payroll with talent and prospects.

He has already proven himself to be a natural leader in the clubhouse, on the field and in the community, and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the greatest ever hitter in the team’s history. 

I hate the cliched term “face of the franchise,” but if the Mets do have any periods of extended success over the next decade, be sure that Wright will be at the heart of it.

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New York Mets’ Affiliate Offers Christina Aguilera National Anthem Redemption

Who said the New York Mets don’t know how to have a little fun?

In one of the funnier and more frivolous moves this offseason, the Mets‘ Class A Short-Season affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones have invited Super Bowl scapegoat Christina Aguilera to have a National Anthem do-over at MCU Park this season.

Aguilera, who butchered the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner last weekend, has an offer on the table from Cyclones GM Steve Cohen to come down to Coney Island and take part in the pre-game festivities.

According to the Cyclones, they will even hand the global megastar a set of lyrics, to avoid further embarrassment.

A press release published on the team’s website says: “Each year, it seems like someone makes a mistake and because it happens in the Super Bowl, the whole world is buzzing about it the next day.  This year’s victim is four-time Grammy Award Winner and Staten Island, NY native Christina Aguilera whose slip-up during the Star-Spangled Banner has everyone talking.

“With that in mind, the Brooklyn Cyclones have offered Christina Aguilera the opportunity to perform the National Anthem at MCU Park this summer. The team will even provide her a copy of the lyrics to prevent another mishap from occurring.”

Cohen said of the proposal: “We’ve all made mistakes. But when most of us make mistakes, it’s not in front of 100 million people watching in every corner of the world. When a player makes a mistake, they usually don’t get a shot at redemption, but with a singer, that’s a different story.”

I absolutely love the Brooklyn Cyclones jumping on this gimmick. It’s stupid and random, but it made me laugh. What’s even funnier is the fact that Aguilera is from Staten Island, home of Brooklyn’s closest New York-Penn League rival Yankees.

The minor leagues are as much about fun as baseball, especially the lower you go down the farm system. The Cyclones continually churn out great stories as promotions as much as they have on-field success.

Their Ike Davis bobblelegs giveaway and ‘Jersey? Sure!’ themed night were both fan favorites in 2010 and each promotion was voted the second best of its kind in the minors in MiLB’s year-end vote.

With a bunch of other jersey giveaways, as well as the new Angel Pagan bobblehead promotion set for June 20, the Cyclones’ PR team seem to be right on track again. Who knows, you might even catch Aguilera redeeming herself. 


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Fantasy Baseball Projections: Do New York Mets Batters Have Value in 2011?

Spring Training is right around the corner and that means that your fantasy baseball draft can’t be too far away either.

The New York Mets are not seen as legitimate contenders in the National League, but that doesn’t mean that its players won’t be able to help you dominate your opposition this season.

Let’s take a look at which Mets batters could play a role in 2011.


David Wright

Whether you’re playing in a mixed league or an NL-only league, Wright will likely be a first-round pick. He’ll probably go toward the end of the first round in a 12-team league, but Mock Draft Central is reporting that he’s gone anywhere from fifth to 16th in the past week.

Either way, there’s only a small window to pick him up. If you have any of the first four picks in the draft, you probably won’t get Wright. He’s not worth picking ahead of Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera or Troy Tulowitzki. If you’re in a mixed league then Evan Longoria should be your priority at third base.

By the time your second pick comes around, Wright will be off the board.

If you are picking in or around the No. 7 spot, Wright will be an interesting proposition. The next viable options at the hot corner are A-Rod or Ryan Zimmerman.

All three players are key men on their respective teams, and all three are likely to get anything from 500 at-bats upwards. Wright has the least power of the three, and even though he’s a lock for 20 homers, what he gives up in power he makes up for in speed. A .290 average, 100 RBIs, 20 steals and 85 runs is a pretty good prediction for Wright.

If you want to tick a lot of boxes in one go, Wright is worth the investment. If you miss out on him, don’t worry. There are several other options available, it just may mean you have to hunt for more speed later on.


Jose Reyes

Reyes presents both opportunities and threats on draft day. He’s a long way behind Tulowitzki and Ramirez, but well ahead of the rest of the shortstop field with the exception of Jimmy Rollins.

I’ve seen Reyes slip to the end of the third round in Yahoo! drafts this week, in which case he represents quite a steal, but the fact is that he’s more likely to go in the early to mid stages of the second.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether he is worth the risk? If you have tempered expectations for Reyes, then 30-plus steals and double-digit homers and triples isn’t too much of a reach. If you think he’s going to stay healthy the whole year, you can add 20 to 30 percent to these numbers, but that is a massive risk.

As most experienced fantasy players will know, risk is the one thing that you want to avoid in the first few rounds.

If you grabbed a speedy outfielder like Carl Crawford, Ichiro or Jacoby Ellsbury in the first round you can probably pass on Reyes because you will already be ahead of the field in terms of speed. If not, only consider Reyes if you’re sure of the health of his wheels or if he drops too far.


Jason Bay

After Wright and Reyes, no Mets player is likely to be leaving the draft board for at least the next eight or nine rounds. According to early mock draft reports, Bay will be the first New York outfielder to get snatched up, despite a below-par 2010 that caused a lot of fans to question his value to the club.

Early indications show that Bay will go around No. 140 in the draft, around the 12th round in a 12-team league.

By this point of the draft, average draft position (ADP) isn’t as important as the group that a player is being selected. With that in mind, there’s very little difference in taking someone ranked 132 as opposed to someone 142.

Bay may slip in your draft on account of his performance last year and the ridiculous dimensions of the Citi Field outfield. Should that happen, Bay will be the 35th to 40th outfielder taken overall, meaning he will most likely be a third outfielder on your team.

The three-time All-Star hit just six homers and plated 47 runs in 95 games last year, so what can you expect from him in 2011?

I’ve seen projections as good as 23 home runs and 92 RBIs and I’ve seen them as low as 17 and 66. Both scenarios assume he’s going to be fully fit, and right now there’s no reason to suspect that is untrue.

Either way, Bay won’t hit for a great average (maybe something around the .260-.265 mark) and he won’t be swiping too many more bases than last year.

You’ll have a pretty strong feel for your starting lineup at this stage of the draft, and that should dictate whether you take a gamble on Bay.

If you need speed and can afford to take a hit in the BA department, maybe Drew Stubbs is a better bet. If you want more of a sure thing in the power sweepstakes, Vernon Wells could still be available. If it is batting average you desperately need, maybe Nick Markakis could fill the void.

Bay isn’t a bad choice in this spot, and it’s fair to say he stacks up pretty well with other outfielders being taken in the 12th round.

Ryan Ludwick will put up similar production numbers without the speed and Jason Kubel may be lucky to see 100 games. If you don’t expect 2009 numbers from Bay, you might be pleasantly surprised.


Ike Davis

Despite a great rookie year in NY, Davis is still going undrafted in one in every eight fantasy leagues.

Davis is seen as a 20th-round pick at the minute, between the likes of James Loney and Gabby Sanchez. To be honest, any one of the three would be virtually interchangeable in your team, especially considering you’re only going to be starting him once or twice a week.

Almost half the teams will have their starting second baseman by the end of the second round. Davis is only going to have real value if someone chooses him to be their starter. That will mean that half the teams will also have to have drafted a backup first baseman by the time you grab your first. That’s unlikely.

He will be an adequate backup, but his true value will only be realized if your first choice goes down injured. If you’re looking for a utility bat, Adam Lind serves the role much better.


Carlos Beltran

I won’t be taking a gamble on Beltran, but there’s a good chance that someone will. He’s being drafted in 84 percent of 12-team mixed leagues and some owners out there will take a flier on him and stash him on the bench in case he turns a corner.

If he stays healthy, he’ll be in the everyday lineup and if New York do manage to score runs this year, he’ll have a prime spot in the lineup to do some damage. His knee is an obvious risk and playing time has to be taken into account, but he could be worth a pick in deeper leagues.

You could do a lot worse than 16 homers and 75 RBIs from your 22nd-rounder. If he goes down hurt or downright stinks it up, he’s an easy guy to cut because there is so much depth at the position.


Angel Pagan

Pagan earned his starting job for 2011 and he won the support and respect of a lot of fans for his on-field growth last season. Still, a team-oriented player does not always make a great fantasy acquisition, and unfortunately for Mets fans, that is where Pagan fits in.

There’s no reason to believe he will improve on his 2010 numbers, and if that’s the case you’re buying into a little-pop contact hitter with above-average wheels.

Pagan is going undrafted in 20 percent of leagues this week. In the ones where he is being drafted, he’s going around the 24th round. His .295 average and seven or eight homers just doesn’t get it done for me, especially when we’ve already seen the limit of his upside.

I’d much rather go with Raul Ibanez, take the 15-point batting average hit and run off with 20 or more homers and 90 RBIs.

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