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’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.

tom seaver jimmy qualls

Tom Seaver talks with WFAN about statue in his honor

Tom Seaver says the Mets have never approached him about naming or erecting a statue or monument in his honor at Citi Field, he told WFAN’s Boomer and Carton show on Friday.

The show’s co-host, Boomer Esiason, has been calling for the Mets to commission a Seaver statue, similar to the Stan Musial statue in St. Louis and the Willie Mays statue in San Francisco.

“I understand that I’m part of the history of the game of baseball, it is going to be what it is,” Seaver said, when asked about his legacy. “The wonderful thing are the memories that I have about the game, and I loved it.”

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Personally, I’m not in favor of building statues of athletes, because you just never know where that person’s personal legacy will end up. It’s nothing against the specific player. It’s just that I’m a fan of the team first, players second. Seaver was awesome, no question. He was amazing. He’s a legend. But, he was a member of the Mets. He isn’t bigger than the team, despite what he did for them on and off field. His number is retired, not his name, alongside with other members of the organization. He is all over the ballpark’s museum, alongside other members of the organization. And, most important, his name is in the history books and the memories of fans that will talk about his legacy forever. That said, I totally understand why some fans, like Esiason, want the statue. I’m not against it. I’m proud of Seaver. I’m just not in to putting people on pedestals, because you never know if they might fall down…

Chris Young

What’s on Tap: Niese faces Braves at 7:10 p.m.

The Mets begin a 10-game homestand against the Braves at Citi Field on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET

Jon Niese gets the start for the Mets, opposed by Aaron Harang for the Braves.

The Mets will activate Chris Young from the 15-day disabled list before the game. Andrew Brown or Kirk Nieuwenhuis are expected to be demoted to make room on the roster for Young.

Curtis Granderson, who was injured running into the outfield wall on Monday in Arizona, is expected to return to the starting lineup.

The game will air on SNY and can be heard on WOR 710 AM radio.

Later in the day, Rafael Montero will make his fourth start of the season for Triple-A Las Vegas.


Mets attended Joel Hanrahan’s showcase

11:44 pm: Teams are already discussing potential deals with free-agent pitcher Joel Hanrahan (Cafardo, April 17).

8:45 pm: The Mets were among the 18-20 teams who watched Hanrahan throw during a showcase on Thursday (Heyman, April 17), during which his velocity was between 87-93 mph.

April 15: The Mets will watch free-agent relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan throw a showcase this week for teams with interest in signing him (Puma, Apr. 11) Ackert, Apr. 15).

The Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox and Rays, among others, are also likely to attend (Crasnick, Apr. 11).

The Mets were intrigued by Hanrahan after watching him throw a bullpen session during the offseason (Daily News, April 7).

Hanrahan, 32, underwent Tommy John and flexor tendon surgery last May. He entered last season with 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings during the previous five years. He had been hitting 90-92 mph during his rehab toward the end of last summer (Rosenthal (FoxSports) Mar. 14).

Ryan Madson, Kevin Gregg and Octavio Dotel are also available on the free-agent market.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

The Mets are not the only team in need of an extra arm or two in the bullpen, so competition will be stiff, despite Hanrahan being at least a month or so away from pitching in the big leagues. The same can be said for Madson. I have no idea what’s going on with Gregg and Dotel. But, in either case, these guys are not going to help tomorrow. Similarly, it’s going to be at least a few weeks before we know from Triple-A what some of the young starting pitchers can do from the bullpen. So, adding Vic Black and Josh Edgin may end up being the best option, if for no other reason than they’re on the 40-man roster and it will let Sandy Alderson mix up the dynamic and roles without risking start dates or forcing roster moves.

Minor League Q&A: Triple-A RHP Vic Black talks switching mechanics

The Mets had been counting on RHP Vic Black to be a key piece of their bullpen in 2014. However, after walking 10 batters and allowing 13 hits in 9.1 innings during Spring Training, he was demoted and started his with Triple-A Las Vegas.

According to Black, he widened his stance and dropped his hands during his delivery, which quickly got him back to a high 90s fastball, he told MetsBlog’s Robert Brender >> Read more of Brender’s Q&A with Black at Mets Minor League Blog.

Shea Stadium opened 50 years ago today

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Shea Stadium would have turned 50 years old today.

Here is a photo gallery of images I took toward the end of 2008, when the team allowed me to wander the ballpark for an hour. I went through the dugout, beyond the bullpens, out next to Apple, on the warning track and any place I could get to in the team they gave me. It was a great, surreal, sad day. I miss Shea…