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Jordany Valdespin: New York Mets Future at Second Base?

Despite their extra-innings tie, it was great to see some New York Mets baseball today.

The Mets came from behind to tie the Atlanta Braves, 5-5, in their opening spring training game at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie.

While the scores mean next to nothing in spring training, it’s the performance of players on the cusp that really makes a difference.

Some of today’s positives include Fernando Martinez’s two-run homer in the fifth, Chin-Lung Hu’s perfectly executed hit-and-run in the ninth and Willie Harris’ opposite field two-run homer in the tenth.

However, one of the things that might get overlooked in this game was the performance of 23-year old second baseman Jordany Valdespin.

Valdespin ripped an RBI double in the ninth inning to tie the game, and he also showed great range on a few plays at second base.

With all the hype over who will play second base this season, Valdespin’s name has taken a back seat. He likely isn’t in the competition for this season, but he could be one of the possible long term solutions.

Then again, so could Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy, Reese Havens or a player currently outside the organization.

Valdespin hit .289 with six home runs and 13 stolen bases in 65 games for the High Single-A St. Lucie Mets.

He is said to have a fiery personality and has clashed with his managers on several occasions.

He will need to put together a full season of productive baseball and controlling his attitude to get any consideration for a full-time gig at some point in the future.

Just based on the limited sample from today, Valdespin has all the tools to be an all-around second baseman: good speed, good range, good arm, good swing and even a little pop.

It’s too early to deem him the future at second base, but a good year in the minors, coupled with inconsistent play from whoever plays second base this year, may propel Valdespin into the conversation.

At the very least, a good year from Valdespin may open another team’s eyes to his talent. The Mets could then use him as a trade chip, assuming they are content with who is playing second base.

Valdespin will be someone the organization will keep a close eye in the minors this season. He should start at Double-A, with Justin Turner likely to get the majority of the playing time at Buffalo.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

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Terry Collins, New York Mets: Disciples of the Moneyball Theory

On this date in 1934, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Casey Stengel to a two-year deal to be their manager.

Today, 77 years later, Terry Collins will look to the example set by Stengel in running a baseball team. Though they Mets were downright terrible during Stengel’s tenure, the fire and energy he brought as the first Mets manager rang true with the players.

Early reports have described Collins as “loud,” which is a great sign for the Mets. The last three managers, Art Howe, Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel, were more soft spoken in trying to get their points across. Half the time, did we even know what Manuel was saying?

The Mets have some players in need of a jolt, and Collins will be the one to provide that jolt. If the player doesn’t respond, Collins will look for someone who will.

I just started reading Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, and it has been a terrific read thus far.

For those unfamiliar, Lewis chronicles the Oakland A’s front office tactics in using as little money as possible to field a winning team.

The strategy worked out very well in the early 2000s. Before current A’s general manager Billy Beane took over, Sandy Alderson was calling the shots.

Alderson came in as a graduate from Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. He began the wave of “nerds” that didn’t know much about baseball but could use their knowledge to build a winning team.

Alderson placed the highest value in on-base percentage. Some baseball people look only at BA, HR and RBI, but Alderson believed that OBP was the key to scoring runs.

And he was right. You can’t score runs if you don’t have guys on base, unless of course you hit a ton of solo home runs, which is unlikely to win ballgames.

Alderson was notorious for finding a manager who would subscribe to his theory. He once threatened the A’s Double-A manager that he would be fired if his team didn’t start drawing more walks, thus improving their OBP.

Tony LaRussa was Oakland’s manager when Alderson took over, so you could only imagine the clash that occurred. LaRussa refused to buy into the new style of baseball, forcing Alderson to look elsewhere.

Sure enough, Art Howe was named the A’s manager, serving as Alderson’s puppet.

“Art Howe was hired to implement the ideas of the front office, not his own,” said Alderson.

That leads me back to Terry Collins. Obviously, Alderson believes Collins will support the theory or else he wouldn’t have been hired.

The Mets are in a similar situation as the A’s were: a team with a high payroll that wasn’t getting value out of their players. Before Alderson took over, the A’s had one of the highest payrolls in league with players like Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson leading the way.

In the mid-1990s, the A’s new owners forced Alderson to cut the payroll, which is uncannily similar to the Wilpons’ situation. Maybe no money schemes were involved, but Alderson still had to do a lot with a little.

So the new goal for the Mets will be for Alderson to bring in players with value and have Collins utilize those players to reach their full potential. Only time will tell if this plan works.

After reading some of the book, I’m starting to buy into this theory as well. As the famous proverb states, “If it happened before then it can happen again.”

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Players Likely To Be Traded Before July’s Deadline

Though spring training is underway for the 30 MLB teams, general managers will still be pondering potential trades that can either give their team an extra boost or shed some payroll heading into the offseason.

July’s MLB trade deadline is months away, but a handful of players already qualify to be on the move before the deadline hits.

The 2012 free agent class will feature some marquee names, many of whom are unlikely to sign with their current teams.

Therefore, these players may be rentals for a late postseason push.

Here are 10 players likely to be traded at some point during the 2011 MLB season.

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New York Mets: The Power of "If" and the 2011 Season


A noun or conjunction: an uncertain possibility, a supposition, in case that, granting or supposing that.

The word “if” will hold much significance for the 2011 New York Mets.

Let’s start with the positives.

If Chris Young returns to his mid-2000’s form and if R.A. Dickey pitches similarly to last year, the Mets will not be severely affected by the loss of Johan Santana.

If Jason Bay remembers how to hit, the Mets will have a consistent run producer in the middle of the order.

If Jose Reyes remains focused on baseball, the Mets will have the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game setting the table.

If Carlos Beltran stays healthy and plays to his potential, David Wright will receive plenty of protection in the batting order.

If K-Rod puts his demons behind him, the Mets will have a shut-down closer available in tight games.

If the Mets rid themselves of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, two younger players with more upside will be able to contribute to the roster.

If the second base situation is figured out early in spring training, that player can gain the confidence and experience needed to produce every day.

If Ike Davis and Josh Thole continue to develop, the Mets will have a strong batting order throughout.

If the Mets can get off to a hot start, the Madoff scandal may be moved to the back burner—slightly.

If Terry Collins establishes himself as a leader, the Mets will respond with good hustle and plenty of heart on the field.

The problem with the word “if” is that there could be a negative side to plausible outcomes. Here’s what could happen is the above statements turn bad.

If Chris Young struggles coming off his injury and if R.A. Dickey proves last year was an anomaly, the Mets will have plenty of holes in their starting staff, especially without Johan Santana.

If Jason Bay continues his lack of production, the Mets will once again lack a consistent middle of the order threat.

If Jose Reyes loses focus, his abilities would be wasted.

If Carlos Beltran struggles offensively, David Wright would not see as many pitches to hit.

If K-Rod lets his demons haunt him, the ninth inning will be a wild adventure.

If the Mets decide to stick with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, they would be wasting roster spots on guys who have lost their ability to produce.

If the Mets drag out the second base competition, the winner won’t be able to settle into the role and just go out there and play.

If Ike Davis and Josh Thole regress, the Mets will have a weak bottom half of the order and rely too much on the top for runs.

If the Mets get off to a poor start, all we will hear about is the Madoff scandal and how it has affected the Mets.

If Terry Collins does not establish himself as the new order in Mets baseball, he will lose control of the team just like Jerry Manuel did.

So, there you have it.

If things go right, the Mets may be the surprise team in the NL. However, if things go poorly, the Mets may find themselves in the cellar of the NL East.

I know it may sound basic, but it pretty much is. The team has some pieces that can make them a competitive team, but the success of the team will hinge upon if everything clicks at the same time.

Here’s to wishful thinking on the positive side of “if.”

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

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New York Mets’ Brad Emaus: Does He Deserve the Preseason Hype?

I love when MLB analysts, bloggers and fans release their picks for a team’s projected lineup heading into the season.

In many cases, educated baseball fans arrive somewhere in the “ballpark” (no pun intended) of what the Opening Day lineup will look like.

Since Terry Collins has given everyone a preview of at least two-thirds of the order, there really is no guessing game associated with what the lineup will be this year.

As of now, the batting order should resemble the following:

1. Jose Reyes, SS

2. Angel Pagan, RF/CF

3. David Wright, 3B

4. Carlos Beltran, CF/RF

5. Jason Bay, LF

6. Ike Davis, 1B

From here, it looks like Josh Thole will do the bulk of the catching and will assume one of the final two spots in the order.

That, of course, leaves second base.

As I have begun reading other fans’ lineup predictions, many have already slated Brad Emaus into the starting second baseman’s role.

Granted, many have not, but I still feel I should be asking why so many fans have a pre-spring training love fest for Emaus.

I’ll start with the positives.

Emaus has put up solid numbers the last few seasons in Toronto’s minor league system. Last year, he hit .290 with 15 HR, 75 RBI, 32 2B and even 13 SB in 125 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

Ike Davis and Josh Thole are left-handed, so the right-handed hitting Emaus could split up the lefties and provide a little punch at the bottom of the order. As shown in this clip, Emaus has a fluid stroke with a Fred McGriff-like over the top finish.

Emaus also showed a great eye at the plate, drawing a walk in almost 15 percent of his at-bats.

Seems like a good fit, right?

Well, before we all start jumping on the Brad Emaus bandwagon like some fans have, let’s consider a few things.

Emaus plays adequate defense, at least according to scouting reports from the minors. Some reports claim his defense isn’t good enough to play second base, and his offense is good enough to play third base.

Davis has shown some range at first base, so I’m not too worried about the second baseman’s defense, except of course in turning the double play.

One main question pops into my mind when thinking about Emaus: Why would the Blue Jays leave this guy unprotected in the Rule 5 draft?

Yes, I know, Aaron Hill is distinguishing himself as a premier second baseman in this league, but Emaus is only 24 and could have provided some insurance.

Other reports have claimed that Emaus sometimes does not give 100 percent on the field. This will be a year where every single Met on the 25-man roster will need to give 100 percent for the team to compete.

Finally, some fans have been writing off Daniel Murphy already as the starting second baseman. He may still be in the process of learning a new position, but there’s one thing certain about Murphy: No one ever questions his work ethic.

There were stories that he used to hit so much before games that he sometimes wore himself out. I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it shows the determination this guy has in getting better.

In the end, I believe both players will make roster and split time at second base. I’m not sold on a platoon just yet, but I could see each player getting ample time at the position.

I was concerned that so many fans were already penciling Emaus into the batting order before even seeing him take a swing in spring training.

I like these fans’ enthusiasm, but as has been the plan all along, several players will get the chance to duke it out at spring training.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

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New York Mets: Enough With The Wilpons

Boy, I can’t wait for this season to get started.

This offseason has been filled with a negative feel, whether it be the fact that the Mets have no money to spend, the signing of “mediocre” free agents, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo’s presence on the team, and now the hoopla surrounding the Wilpons’ money scheme.

I have tried to overlook the negative and focus on the positive. Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins seem to have a plan moving forward. The team agreed to contracts with Pagan, Pelfrey and Dickey. I like the moves that roll the dice a little such as the signings of Chris Young and Chris Capuano.
There’s just two weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie.

I don’t mind enduring the reports of the Wilpon scandal for two more weeks. But once the first player arrives at the Tradition Field complex, I hope the focus turns to the upcoming season rather than off the field problems.

Unfortunately, the last few seasons have been a mish-mosh of poor play on the field coupled with ugly off the field incidents.

From the collapse of 2007 to the Beltran surgery fiasco to K-Rod’s actions to Charlie Samuels’ betting and now back to the Madoff scandal, it has overshadowed what the Mets are trying to do. The team is trying to put a championship caliber ball club on the field for the loyal fans that support the team.

Naturally, this is much easier said than done and has taken longer than most fans would have hoped for. But a fast start to this season could quell much of the negative attention surrounding the team.
And that starts when pitchers and catchers report.

The leadership is there, the talent is there, but now the results must be there.

Everyone seems to be looking ahead to next year when the team will have $60 million coming off the books. The expectations are that Alderson will bring in a few big time free agents to change the atmosphere.

But until this team is out of contention (and that sure as heck isn’t in spring training), we loyal fans should rally behind our team, regardless of their off field issues.

It’s amazing how quickly fans forget about problematic issues when their team performs well, and hopefully that winds up being the case for the 2011 Mets.

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Los Angeles Dodgers: 10 Reasons the Dodgers Will Miss Russell Martin in 2011

After five seasons behind the dish for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Russell Martin signed a lucrative one-year contract to suit up as the catcher for the New York Yankees.

Martin became the face of the franchise over the past few seasons for the Dodgers. Though injuries plagued him in 2010, Martin still established himself as one of the top backstops in the game.

Here are 10 reasons why the Dodgers will miss Martin in 2011.

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New York Mets: 5 Players That Will Make Or Break The Mets 2011 Season

While basically every player on the 25-man roster will have to play well for the New York Mets to be competitive, five players in particular will hold major keys to the team’s success in 2011.

In no particular order, Jose Reyes, Jon Niese, Jason Bay, Ike Davis and Frankie Rodriguez will need to bring their A-game to the ballpark every night.

Of course, players like David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell, R.A. Dickey, Angel Pagan and Josh Thole will also have to contribute for the team to be successful.

However, I feel that the five I mentioned will either make or break the Mets’ season.

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Chris Young Is in for The New York Mets, But Who’s Out?

Finally, the Mets have signed Chris Young to a one-year deal. Rumors of the Mets’ interest had been circulating for much of the offseason, but the deal is now done.

So, the addition of Young begs the question: what should we expect the pitching rotation to look like?

In my last post, I gave my predictions on how the roster may be shaped, including the pitching rotation. It seems as though, at least for the fifth starter’s spot, spring training will determine the final order.

Mike Pelfrey will most likely get the Opening Day nod, followed by R.A. Dickey. The lefty Jon Niese should slot nicely behind those two. Young would then handle the fourth starter’s position.

To be honest, slotting in the rotation really doesn’t matter except for the first few games. On Opening Day, your ace will take on the other team’s ace. By the second week or so, your ace may be taking on the opponent’s third or fourth starter.

Anyway, that leaves one spot open in the rotation. When the Mets signed Chris Capuano, they were believed to have slated in the long reliever’s role. He only started nine games last season for Milwaukee, being mostly used as a reliever.

Then there’s Dillon Gee, who showed flashes of potential in his five starts late last season. Gee throws strikes and pitches to contact. He’s not going to overpower anyone, but who exactly on the Mets, maybe besides Pelfrey at times, will?

It looks like the battle for this spot will occur in spring training. That being said, I’m sure there will be some parameters set.

If Gee wins the fifth starter’s role outright, Capuano should still have a spot in the bullpen, especially since he signed a guaranteed contract. He would see time as a long man and possibly even a situational lefty depending on the fate of Taylor Tankersley and Mike O’Conner.

However, if Capuano wins the fifth starter battle, I would hope Gee slides into the rotation at Buffalo since he still has options. Gee is not a reliever and should be allowed to develop more at AAA. He is also not the talent that Jenrry Mejia was last season, which forced the Mets turn him into a reliever in order to fill a bullpen spot.

My guess would be that Capuano wins the job based on reputation. He won 18 games back in 2005 and hopefully has a little something left in the tank.

When Johan Santan comes back, Capuano’s versatility will allow him to pitch out of the bullpen unless he really pitches lights out as a starter.

I can only hope that the Mets are in the situation come mid July that they are having a difficult decision in who moves to the bullpen to make room for Johan. If that’s the case, all five starters will be pitching well enough to retain a spot. A six man rotation would be a possibility, especially since three of the starters would be injury prone.

It’s always nice to have an insurance plan, and with the signing of Young, Gee will suffice.

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New York Mets: And Now We Wait

With the signing of Willie Harris to take over as the team’s fourth outfielder and the high possibility of a Chris Young signing soon, it seems as though the Mets have addressed all of their needs heading into the season.

Granted, there are still position battles to be won (second base, bullpen and bench spots) as well as a ton of question marks.

Unless the Mets plan on adding another bullpen arm (maybe a loogy), Sandy Alderson has assembled the pieces of this complex puzzle.

It will now be up to Terry Collins to arrange those piece into a working entity. While there may not be anymore major additions, there certainly might be some addition by subtraction.

I’m sure you guessed it: Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. I’m curious as to what either of these players will have to do during spring training to make the club. Perez won’t magically be able to throw strikes, and Castillo won’t be stealing second and third base after laying down a bunt single.

If they show they are competent and might be able to contribute in some capacity, will the Mets take the gamble with them or would it be wise to eat their contracts and start fresh with younger talent?

And more importantly, will our core players be able to stay healthy and produce? The talent is undoubtedly there, but can it click all at once?

These questions and more should hopefully be answered during spring training and in the early part of the season. We have a month until pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie so I’m sure there will be tons of speculation and hype concerning position battles and injury updates.

I will list my projected 25-man roster at this point. Naturally, I am not the one making these decisions, but I tried to put together the most realistic roster that will give this team a shot at winning.

While the team may not look as good on paper as some of the Mets’ teams from a few years ago, we should not write them off until we see them play for a few months. Teams can get hot, and hopefully the new management can inspire these players to play to their full potential. I know I’m am optimist, but that’s the type of attitude that could lead to success in 2011.

Without further ado, here is my roster. I would love to hear other opinions and analysis. Please feel free to offer alternatives and provide your own explanation.

Note: I did not include Perez or Castillo since I feel this team is better without them.


1. Jose Reyes SS

2. Angel Pagan RF (for now)

3. David Wright 3B

4. Carlos Beltran CF (for now)

5. Jason Bay LF (ahead of Davis due to speed)

6. Ike Davis 1B

7. Daniel Murphy 2B

8. Josh Thole C (I’m a little worried about the three straight lefties in the order)


C: Ronny Paulino (Mike Nickeas or Raul Chavez for first eight games)

INF: Brad Emaus

INF: Chin-lung Hu

OF: Willie Harris

OF: Nick Evans

Starting Rotation

1. Mike Pelfrey

2. R.A. Dickey

3. Jon Niese

4. Chris Young (assuming he signs)

5. Dillon Gee (but what happens when Johan returns?)


CL: Frankie Rodriguez

SU: Bobby Parnell

SU: Taylor Buchholz

LhR: Taylor Tankersley

Mid: D.J. Carrasco

Long: Chris Capuano (might be starting depending on Young)

Final spot: Manny Acosta, Pat Misch, or Pedro Beato (Beato has more upside and is a Rule 5 pick)

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