Mets Video Diary: Wheels Up

Robert Brender of SNY.tv follows Zack Wheeler‘s day at Mets camp, highlighted by the right-handed hurler’s bullpen session…

Photos and initial thoughts after Day 1 in Mets camp

cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com


Today was my first day in Mets camp. It’s always difficult to get my bearings, since it’s kind of like jumping head first in to a river. It takes at least a day to find the current, settle down and know what to look for. I expect my second day to be more productive. That said, here are a few random moments I was able to shoot…


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The orange hats and wild beards all over camp are distracting. It doesn’t look like a typical camp, at least given the team we’ve watched the last few seasons. It doesn’t matter either way. It’s just a visual difference that is very, very noticeable…


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Terry Collins looks like he’s usual self, flipping between the guy holding court, making players laugh with stories, and the guy staring everyone down, quick to point out when a star rookie makes a mistake or pushing a veteran to hustle. I always end up with lots of photos like this, with him marching or locked in on the field. I want to ask him this year what is going through his mind when he peers out at the field like this.


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Every time I saw them, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz were standing next to one another…


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This is the first time I’ve seen Fred Wilpon sign an autograph. He spent most of the day alone, going field to field, watching and taking in practice, occasionally having a side chat with a reporter or player looking in to introduce themselves.


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The similar – and different – stories of Parnell and Mejia

cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com


The first time I ever talked with Bobby Parnell, he was being jerked around by the team, who were undecided on using him as a starter or reliever going in to 2010. He was a quiet, country kid, with a live arm but little command, trying to figure out his way on a team that would end up returning him to Triple-A.

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Now, he not only has command of his fastball, but he seems to have command of his personality. He looks totally different. It’s not just the crazy-long beard or the always-on sunglasses. His body language is different too. He has a slow drawl when he speaks, and similar slow drawl when he walks. He knows his role. He knows his potential. And, more importantly, the young relievers in camp know his role and potential as well. He is a bit menacing, which I assume is the look he’s going for, especially if he returns to being the team’s closer. He looks like a totally different person than he was five years ago…

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Similarly, but in a totally different way, is Jerry Mejia. 

The first time I met Mejia, it was in 2010, the year Darryl Strawberry said he could be the next Mariano Rivera. Mejia always had big-time confidence. But, then he was a rookie, he was more quiet, in the back seat, finding his way either as a starter or reliever (much like Parnell). He didn’t say much, hair tight, eyes down, doing his best to just get through his limited talks with reporters.

Today, his hair is as big as his personality.

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He’s often smiling, making loud jokes and keeping his teammates in good sprits. Like Parnell, he looks like a totally different person than he was five years ago.

I find these two men very interesting. They both have a similar story, they have evolved into totally different personalities from when they debuted and they both have their eye on the same important job.

Terry Collins spoke to the media on Monday at Tradition Field and said…

1) Matt Reynolds will get a lot of playing time at shortstop this spring, as will Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores.

2) Juan Lagares will likely bat leadoff for the Mets.

3) Lucas Duda will play first base against lefties, but there will be days when Michael Cuddyer or John Mayberry Jr. play first base.

4) Collins will use Rule 5 pick LHP Sean Gilmartin early and often to get a good look at what kind of pitcher he is.

5) LHP Scott Rice, LHP Jack Leathersich and RHP Erik Goeddel also have a shot at the last bullpen spot.


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Eric Campbell is working hard to be a catcher

cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com


This morning, I watched coach Bob Geren put in work with utility infielder Eric Campbell, who is trying to add catcher to his toolbox. They seemed to spending time on all aspects, from receiving to foot work to throwing out base runners. I have to say, he looked pretty good back there, considering his lack of experience…

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He’s serious. This isn’t just a spring training experiment. The man even has his own glove and gear, whereas guys just trying out something new will often borrow equipment for this time of year.

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Of course, despite Campbell’s effort, it didn’t stop him from being ripped and goofed on by teammates walking by, yelling, “Hey, isn’t that guy a third baseman,” and, “Tell him to take the cement blocks off his feet, it’s easier that way.” Campbell smiled, waved them on and went back to work…

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Cuddyer says Tulo would be a great fit on the Mets

Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki would be a nice fit on the Mets, Michael Cuddyer said of his former teammate, while talking to reporters in St. Lucie on Monday.

“I think he could be a fit here for sure. There is absolutely no question in my mind that he could be a fit here,” Cuddyer said on Monday. “Whether or not [the Rockies] eventually trade him, I don’t know. Nobody in baseball has a player like Tulo except for the Colorado Rockies, so in my opinion you never let a guy like that go.

“He’s an unbelivable ballplayer,” Cuddyer said.

Here’s what else we learned from Cuddyer talk with reporters on Monday…

1) Cuddyer said liked what he saw from the Mets when the Rockies played them last season. He said he liked the potential he saw in the team.

2) “Quite a few teams” expressed interest in Cuddyer, and he was close to accepting the Rockies qualifying offer, until the Mets sent a deal his way.

3) He’s not worried about moving away from Coors Field, as long as he keeps the same approach that works for him. “I don’t see it being a problem at all,” he said.


SNY announces Spring Training TV schedule

SNY announced their Spring Training TV schedule on Monday. The network will broadcast 15 games this spring, beginning on March 6 at 1 p.m.

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“SNY’s Emmy Award-winning broadcast team featuring Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen – widely recognized as the best broadcast team in all of baseball – will make its 2015 debut Friday, March 6th at 1:10 p.m. as the Mets host the Detroit Tigers in the network’s spring training opener,” the network said in a release. “Coverage begins with a special edition of Mets Pre-Game at 12:30pm as new studio analyst Nelson Figueroa makes his first appearance alongside host Gary Apple. Following first pitch, former contributor Steve Gelbs will debut in his fulltime role as Mets Field Reporter.”

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The Mets have a confidence problem

cerrone avatarMatthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com


The Mets are getting hammered by hosts and callers this morning on MLB Network Radio.

It’s only going to get worse when outside media and other team’s fans get wind of the team-issued t-shirt that reads, “Take the damn thing,” alluding to the pennant (Brender, Feb. 23).

Similarly, Terry Collins is now MLB’s version of Rex Ryan, because he’s “making guarantees,” as one caller put it, talking tall about getting to the playoffs.

This past weekend, when asked if the Mets were a playoff team, Collins said, “Absolutely.”

“We’ve been sitting around for four years saying to be patient,” Collins added. “It’s time for guys to step up and play the way they’re expected to play.”

Matt Harvey, David Wright and others have all talked about how their goal is to get to October. For what it’s worth, I’ve heard the team’s players are not huge fans of these sort of shirts, or bold statements, because they know it puts a target on their backs from teams around the league. I mean, it’s not like the Nationals need any additional reason to beat the Mets. Frankly, they did a pretty good job of that over the last few years, and that was before any bold talk.

In the opinion of MLB Network Radio host Steve Phillips, based on his experience working for the Mets, these sort of statements are a coordinated effort by the team’s media, marketing and communications department.

According to Phillips, the team often agrees on a message they want to push in Spring Training. It’s possible the manager is let in on it, from which players may pick up on it as well, but the front office is almost always involved from the start of the process.

“I’m hearing it differently out of Mets camp than I am with other teams,” Phillips said, who says the Mets are making definitive proclamations they may struggle to meet.

Instead, Phillips said he would prefer the team talk about the process, the skill level, and maybe their goals, as opposed to the end result. Because, if that result isn’t met, “people pay with their jobs.”

Do I believe the Mets are capable of making the playoffs? I do. It’s not going to be easy, but I think it’s a possibility… as it is for basically eight of the other 15 teams in the National League. It’s also possible that words from Terry, Sandy Alderson and their players are being conflated and twisted because it’s more fun that way for fans and media.

That doesn’t matter, though. What matters is how people are interpreting what is being said. And, if the league now believes the Mets are predicting pennants and guaranteeing success, even if they’re not, it’s too late. This has officially become the year of expectations. Have fun, Mets…

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Red Sox to sign Yoan Moncada

The Boston Red Sox will sign 19-year-old Cuban SS Yoan Moncada to a deal worth around $30 million (Sanchez, Feb. 23).

Moncada was expected to get at a $30 million offer, which, depending on the team’s status, could double due to MLB’s International draft rules >> Read more at MetsBlog.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently said the team was unlikely to sign Moncada due to the International bonus pool.

“We’ve seen him, we like him, I doubt that we’ll be in on him,” Alderson said. “More importantly, it would also limit us over the next two years from signing another Amed Rosario out of the Dominican Republic.”

Rosario, 19, was signed out of the Dominican Republic two years ago for $2 million, the largest signing bonus in the team’s history (MLBTR, Oct. 2012). Rosario has the tools to be an All-Star one day, according to ESPN prospect expert Keith Law (ESPN.com, Feb. 1).


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Matt Harvey threw his slider, will face live batters Thursday or Friday

Matt Harvey said Sunday that he expects to throw live batting practice either Thursday or Friday, marking the first time he’s thrown to live hitters since Tommy John surgery.

“I think the main thing is just really focusing on timing, honestly,” Harvey said. “We’re still a couple weeks away from game situations, so really getting a hitter in there is getting a view of somebody in the box, getting used to that.”

Harvey threw his slider and other off-speed pitches for the first time since surgery during a bullpen session on Sunday.

“I saw him throw one curveball and it was stinking dynamite,” manager Terry Collins said.


Read more about Harvey in the New York Post, Daily NewsBergen Record and Newsday