Jack Leathersich (BARON)

Jack Leathersich wants to make the team this spring

Mets LHP prospect Jack Leathersich is focused on making the big league club on Opening Day.

“That’s the mindset for everybody here,” he said (Rubin, Feb. 10). “I’m just going to go out there and give it my all and see what happens.”

It’s possible Leathersich or RHP prospect Jeff Walters could end up on the Opening Day roster, according to a one team official (Rubin, Feb. 7). Starting pitchers Rafael Montero and Cory Mazzoni could be considered for the big-league bullpen as well, the team official added.

Michael Baron, Contributor

The Mets are short on the left side of the bullpen, so Leathersich’s potential to dominate cannot be ignored this spring. He’s not very tall, but he throws his fastball in the low 90’s and is equally difficult for lefties and righties to pick up, which helps explain his impressive strikeout totals. Leathersich’s big issue is control and reducing his walks.

He isn’t on the 40-man roster, so Leathersich could fall victim in a numbers game to Josh Edgin. Still, there’s a lot of buzz about Leathersich and his quick rise through the system. If he can show improved command this spring, he might make it difficult for the front office to send him back to Las Vegas.

Steven Matz 3 (MLB)

Mets were happy with Steven Matz’s progress last season

The Mets were pleased to see their 2009 first-round pick, Steven Matz, return from Tommy John surgery and exceed 100 innings last year (Carig, Feb. 8).

“We were thrilled with just that alone,” Paul DePodesta said. “And then you put the results on top of it, and we were ecstatic about the year he had.”

Matz went 5-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 106 innings for Single-A Savannah, allowing 38 walks with 121 strikeouts in 21 starts.

He was added to the 40-man roster in November and will be in major league camp when pitchers and catchers report to Tradition Field next Saturday.

Matz was ranked the 20th-best prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2013, according to a list published by Baseball America.

Michael Baron, Contributor

The struggle to return from Tommy John Surgery has definitely set Matz’s career back. However, he’s still young and – if he can stay healthy – he could make an impact at the big league level by next season. He showed good command of a hard fastball with movement last season, but he still has work to do with his change-up and curveball. And, he will need to find a fourth pitch in order to make it as a starter. At this point, the most important thing for him is to stay healthy and gain experience and innings so he can refine his stuff and continue to develop in the coming season.

Read more: Finally a ray of light for Ward Melville lefty Steven Matz (Newsday)


Optimism — and questions — heading into 2014

Michael Baron, Contributor

Mets senior vice president of player development Paul DePodesta believes the organization has taken significant steps forward toward becoming a consistent contender (Carig, Feb. 8).

“Ultimately, our job as an organization is to win at the big-league level,” DePodesta said. “And that’s where these successes need to manifest themselves. But there’s a road that you have to take to get there. I think we are passing significant markers in that road. That’s exciting.”

Jeff Wilpon, Curtis Granderson, Sandy AldersonDePodesta says there is a lot of optimism around the team, which feels it has a lot to prove.

I have mixed feelings on how this winter has gone for the Mets. They have created more payroll flexibility and continued to develop and protect the farm system. But, as DePodesta said, the most important thing is to win more baseball games and it’s looking like another spring with more questions than answers.

Yes, they’ve made some good moves on paper and the Mets should soon have Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom in the fold. But, even if they sign Stephen Drew, the roster is only marginally better today than it was before Matt Harvey got hurt and before letting go of John Buck and Marlon Byrd last summer. After enduring all of these losing seasons and waiting for these bad deals to come off the books, I expected the roster to be better than this heading into 2014.

I hope I’m wrong, but there’s unquestionably more work to do and little time left to do it…

Ike Davis 17 (Baron)

Ike Davis could get 80 – 100 ABs in Spring Training

Last week, Terry Collins said he planned to give 1B Ike Davis 80 – 100 at-bats during Spring Training (Rieber, Feb. 8).

“I think it’s very, very important to try to get him in midseason form when the season starts,” Collins explained. “A lot of guys leave spring training and have 50, 60 at-bats. I might get him 80 to 100 this spring just to make sure he’s ready to go when we start.”

Last spring, Davis got 55 at bats and hit .327 with an .885 OPS. He went on to hit .205 with a .661 OPS, 9 HR and 33 RBI during the regular season.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Ike’s either going to find himself or he won’t at this point, so I’m not sure overextending him in Grapefruit League games will net the results Terry is looking for. In addition, spring at-bats don’t mean much, and too much work too early often results in an injury, something the Mets just don’t need. Besides, if Ike is going to get 80-100 at bats, they won’t be able to get an adequate look at Lucas Duda or get Josh Satin the necessary work he needs to prepare for the season.

Read more: Plan B: Mets will try to get all of Ike Davis’ bad at-bats out of the way in spring training (Newsday)

Ike Davis and Lucas Duda

Ike Davis Rumors: Pirates could still try and trade for Davis

The Prates could look to trade for Mets 1B Ike Davis, Rangers 1B Mitch Mooreland or Blue Jays 1B Adam Lind, instead of signing free-agent 1B Kendry Morales (Cafardo, Feb. 9).

Despite continued attempts to trade Davis this winter, Sandy Alderson said last month he expects Davis and Lucas Duda to compete for the starting first base job in camp (SNY, Jan. 30).

In the event the Mets don’t want Davis or Lucas Duda on the Opening Day roster, both players can still be sent to Triple-A to start 2014 since they each have an option and would not need to pass through waivers (Rubin, Jan. 21).

Stephen Drew 2 (AP)

Stephen Drew Rumors: Red Sox encouraging Drew to return, Mets remain the best bet

The Mets remain the best bet for free agent SS Stephen Drew, although he’s being encouraged by his former Boston teammates to rejoin the Red Sox (Cafardo, Feb. 9).

The Mets might be willing to offer Drew a three-year deal, but the third year has not yet become necessary, Sandy Alderson told a group of season-ticket holders Thursday at Citi Field.

However, Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, had been seeking an opt-out clause after the first year of any deal, something the Mets view as a deal breaker (Rubin, Feb. 6).

WFAN’s Mike Francesa said earlier this week that the Mets made an offer to Drew, but that was refuted by MetsBlog, the New York Post, Daily News, WEEI in Boston and SiriusXM’s Jim Bowden, all citing sources aware of the situation.

Boston reportedly made a two-year offer to Drew last week (Bowden, Feb. 3). However, according to an on-air report from MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Boston is asking Drew to be a utility infielder, while he’d likely be the starting shortstop for the Mets or Twins.

Michael Baron, Contributor

There’s been a lot of discussion on Twitter about the Mets letting Drew sign elsewhere and waiting for next year’s richer free agent shortstop class.. The problem with that is they really don’t have a proven, big league starting shortstop right now, and to go into this season with the same options as last season will likely to end with similar results. In addition, the Mets don’t have to give up a first round pick Drew today, whereas they might have to do so next year and pay more in dollars and years for another free agent shortstop.

Joel Hanrahan (AP)

Joel Hanrahan threw a light bullpen session for the Mets on Friday

Mets scouts watched free agent RHP Joel Hanrahan throw a light bullpen session in Texas on Friday (Carig, Feb. 7).

The session was intended to gauge Hanrahan’s progress in his recovery from surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon muscle, and Hanrahan’s agents intend to showcase him for multiple clubs in early March. He is expected to be fully recovered by May.

Hanrahan, 32, went 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA in only nine games for the Red Sox in 2013.

He saved 76 games for the Pirates between 2011 and 2012, allowing just 96 hits, 52 walks and nine home runs in 128 innings.