The Week in MetsBlog: Hunting strikes, Flores, Matz and Shea

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen compared LHP prospect Steven Matz to Clayton Kershaw. Toby Hyde later profiled Matz, and said he’s pitching well enough to justify a promotion to Double-A sooner than later >> Read more

Shea Stadium would have been 50 years old this week. MetsBlog’s Matthew Cerrone posted photos from his time shooting behind the scenes pictures of Shea during the ballpark’s final days >> See here.

The Mets call it ‘hunting strikes.’ Cerrone explained what that means >> Read more.

Chris Young was activated from the disabled list Friday. Earlier in the week, MetsBlog’s Maggie Wiggin and Michael Baron looked at how Terry Collins should adjust his batting order >> Read more.

Lastly, with Ruben Tejada struggling, Cerrone took a closer look at how Wilmer Flores is doing in Triple-A >> Read more.

Ike Davis Grand Slam 2

Mets trade Ike Davis to Pirates

The Mets traded Ike Davis to the Pirates for minor-league RHP Zack Thornton and a player to be named later.

The player to be named later will be “pretty significant,” according to Jon Heyman (CBS Sports, Apr. 18). The Mets will save around $3.14 million by trading Davis (Rubin, April 18).

Thornton, 25, was pitching in Triple-A with a 1.23 ERA and 1.091 WHIP in 7.1 innings this season. He will report to Triple-A Las Vegas for the Mets.

Davis was hitting .208 (5-for-24) with a double, home run, five RBI and four runs scored in 12 games this year.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I’m not judging this deal until it’s complete.  The buzz from Citi Field is that the player coming from the Pirates is likely a player they drafted with a top pick last June. So, they’ll need to wait a full year after the draft (June 2014) to send him to the Mets. I’m holding out hope it’s OF Austin Meadows, who everyone says has a great, balanced, advanced approach at the plate for a 19-year-old. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Thornton is said to be a nice pitcher, nothing special, not really a ‘prospect.’ He was exposed in the Rule 5 Draft last December and no team took him, so that should give an indication of his potential. To make this deal worthwhile, I expect the Mets to either use the money saved to help improve shortstop or the player being acquired later must be of real value… or both.

That said, I wish Ike the best of luck. I’ve heard too may people connected to the Mets say Davis needed a change of scenery, which is why most people assumed he would get traded before the start of the year. It didn’t happen. He lacked confidence, insiders said. Well, if that’s the case, if it all got to him, if it threw him off his game, in this market, with us on his case, media in his ear, he wasn’t going to get it back. So, I hope he finds success again, because no one ever hit 30 home runs by accident.

Lastly, good luck, Lucas Duda. It’s your gig now. There’s no looking back. Duda (against right-handed pitchers) and Josh Satin (against left-handed pitching) should combine for a slightly better-than-average first baseman. It’s time to see what they can do, full time, every day, without Ike in the mix… Good luck, gentlemen.

Listen to audio of Sandy Alderson talking about trading Ike Davis

“We’re very happy with the trade,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson said late Friday. “We’re happy for Ike, in that he’ll get an opportunity elsewhere, and it’s a situation we needed to resolve here. We’re happy with the return. This has gone on for a period of time, as everyone knows.”

Here is audio of Alderson talking about the trade, courtesy of reporter Rich Coutinho:

Listen to audio of Ike Davis talking about being traded to Pirates

“I really had a blast in New York,” Ike Davis told reporters at Citi Field after learning he had been traded to the Pirates. “I made my dreams come true, childhood dreams come true, playing in the big leagues here. But it’s just a stepping-stone. It happens to a lot of people.”

Here is audio of Davis talking to reporters at Citi Field, courtesy of reporter Rich Coutinho:

Game Recap: Braves 6, Mets 0

The Mets (8-8) got just one hit and lost to the Braves (11-5), 6-0, at Citi Field tonight >> Read the full AP recap and boxscore at SNY.TV.

Need to Know: Harang threw no-hit ball for seven innings, but was pulled after 121 pitches. Reliever Luis Avilan quickly gave up a single to David Wright for New York’s only hit of the night.

Jon Niese let up one run and four hits, while striking out seven, in six innings. The Mets trailed 1-0 when he left the game.

However, Gonzalez Germen and Scott Rice combined to give up four runs in the eighth inning, thanks in part to two-run home run by Freddie Freeman and a poor throw by Travis d’Arnaud, who let a ball sail in to left field that scored Dan Uggla.

The Mets had their three-game winning streak snapped.

Post-Game Reaction from Matthew Cerrone: “Freddie Freeman really is becoming the new Chipper Jones. He’s been killing the Mets. … Harang looked incredible. It’s worth noting he was pretty good for the Mets his last few starts last season. He’s been a steady pitcher his entire career, and that doesn’t seem to be changing, at least not tonight. … The silver lining tonight is Niese, who looks totally fine. He had a bizarre spring full of MRIs and trips to New York and a start on the DL, but he’s looked very strong in three starts this season. He had a nice pace tonight, he threw strikes and appears to be healthy. … The bad news is whatever keeps this team from playing well at home. It’s a mystery, but it’s got to be something. I used to think it was bad luck, but I just don’t know any more.”

What’s Next: The Mets continue their three-game series with the Braves at 7:10 pm ET at Citi Field when Ervin Santana (1-0, 0.64 ERA) takes on Bartolo Colon (1-2, 6.00 ERA).

Tonight’s Game: Braves at Mets, 7 p.m. on SNY

The Braves come to Citi Field for the start of a three-game series against the Mets at 7 p.m.

The game will air on SNY and you can follow online with SNY GameDay.

Jon Niese will start for the Mets, while Aaron Harang pitched for Atlanta.

Mets Braves
1. Eric Young Jr. – LF 1. Andrelton Simmons – SS
2. Daniel Murphy – 2B 2. B.J. Upton – CF
3. David Wright – 3B 3. Freddie Freeman – 1B
4. Curtis Granderson – RF 4. Justin Upton – LF
5. Chris Young – CF 5. Evan Gattis – C
6. Lucas Duda – 1B 6. Dan Uggla – 2B
7. Travis d’Arnaud – C 7. Chris Johnson – 3B
8. Ruben Tejada – SS 8. Ryan Doumit – RF
9. Jon Niese – LHP 9. Aaron Harang – RHP

Eric Young Jr measures his lead

Sound Smart: 5 things to know before tonight’s Mets-Braves game

1) The Mets are 3-2 in series this year, including 1-1 at home.

2) Eric Young Jr. has scored at least one run in seven of his last eight games, during which the Mets are 5-3. He had all nine of his stolen bases on the last road trip.

3) Jason Heyward is batting .375 with two doubles, two HR and eight RBI in 24 at bats against Mets starter Jon Niese. However, Daniel Murphy is 6-for-14 and David Wright is 11-for-24 against Braves starter Aaron Harang.

4) The Mets lead the National League with a .991 fielding percentage.

5) The Mets have scored first 10 times this season. However, they are 4-6 when when they score the first run of the game. They are 4-1 when the opposition scores first.

New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in Florida

Steven Matz is pitching well enough to justify a promotion

In a Q&A with MetsBlog’s Robert Brender, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen recently compared Mets Single-A LHP prospect Steven Matz to Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw >> Listen to the Q&A here.

“I hate to make those comparisons, but I just did. It’s so easy, so explosive coming out of his hand. He’s exciting to me,” Warthen said.

In two starts with Single-A St. Lucie this season, Matz is 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA, during which he has struck out 11 batters in 11 innings.

Toby Hyde, Contributor

Matz is well on his way to pitching for Double-A Binghamton for most of this summer. His promotion might even come in the month of May if the B-Mets have a rotation opening. Generally, top pitching prospects under Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta have made at least eight starts in advanced Single-A before moving on. … So, if there’s a need in Double-A, Matz could move soon >> Read more of this profile of Matz at Mets Minor League Blog.


Wally Backman challenged Noah Syndergaard to be more aggressive

Team officials were disappointed in Noah Syndergaard‘s approach on the mound during his first two starts for Triple-A Las Vegas, writes reporter Mike Puma (NY Post, Apr. 18).

“Backman told him to be more aggressive and asked him who he wants to become,” a person with knowledge of the conversation told Puma. “Does he want to become a middle-of-the-road starter or top-of-the-line starter?”

Syndergaard pitched five innings and allowed two runs on five hits Monday, improving to 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts in Triple-A this season.

This past off season, Syndergaard was named the league’s third-best right-handed pitching prospect on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect List.

He is expected to stay with Triple-A Las Vegas until June.

Links to Read: In case you missed it…

Mark Berman took time to chronicle Mets uniforms by using Topps baseball cards from every decade >> See more at Blogging Mets

Jose Valverde can still help the Mets, even if he’s struggling, according to Mark Koehler >> Read more at Mets 360.

Matthew Callan looks back to this week during the 1999 season, when the Mets dealt with frigid temps and Sammy The Bear Beanie Baby Day >> Read more at Amazin Avenue.