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Mets scouting Dodgers, Rockies LH relievers

The Mets have been scouting relief pitchers on the Rockies and Dodgers, including J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez and Adam Liberatore, according to LA reporter Mark Saxon (March 26).

Previous Reports

Mets officials are confident they’ll be able to acquire additional help in the bullpen if needed, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman recently reported (March 25). However, they may first wait for teams to put players on waivers the last week of March before making a move, according to beat reporter Adam Rubin (March 23). Rubin has also reported that Cardinals LH reliever Sam Freeman and Nationals LH reliever Xavier Cedeno, both of whom are out of options and unlikely to make their team’s Opening Day rosters, could be available in trade (March 14).

The Mets have also reportedly been scouting O’s LHP Brian Matusz, though they have not engaged in any trade talks, according to reporter Mike Puma (March 25).

Howell, Rodriguez and Liberatore

Howell has pitched in 402 games during his career. He was 3-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 68 games last season.

Rodriguez hasn’t been scored upon this spring through seven innings. He was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 19 games last year for the Dodgers.

Liberatore also hasn’t allowed a run in seven innings this spring. However, he has never pitched in the major leagues, despite going 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in 65 innings at Triple-A last season.

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Vic Black feels good, plans to throw bullpen session this weekend

Mets reliever Vic Black plans to throw a bullpen session this weekend now that his shoulder feels better, he told SNY.TV’s Robert Brender (March 26).

Black is close to being ready for Opening Day, pitching coach Dan Warthen said, according to NJ.com’s Mike Vorkunov (March 26).

Previous Reports

Sandy Alderson expressed concern on March 23 that Black would not be ready for the start of the season after learning the pitcher was diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis.

“I think Vic’s a question mark at this point,” Alderson added. “I’m not sure where he’ll be on Opening Day.”

Black finished anti-inflammatory medication for his shoulder March 19, after which he was cleared to pick up a baseball.

According to Black, based on what he’s done so far his spring, it will not take long for him to be ready for the team’s first game on April 6.

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Murphy did fine running, hit yesterday, hopes to play this weekend

Daniel Murphy reported no issues after running at Tradition Field on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Rubin (March 26).

Terry Collins recently said he hoped Murphy could be ready for a game this weekend, the New York Post’s Mike Puma wrote earlier this week (March 24).

Murphy has been sidelined the last week a sore right hamstring.

He reportedly hit off a tee Wednesday (March 25), and did infield drills alongside Wilmer Flores (March 25).

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Tonight’s Game: Mets at Nationals, 5:05 pm ET

The Mets (13-10) take on the Nationals (9-10) at 5:05 pm Thursday in Viera, FL, where there are thunderstorms and rain through the evening.

The game will not air on SNY, but can be heard on WOR 710 am radio.

Wilmer Flores, who missed the last few games with a bruised foot, is back in the starting lineup, batting second and playing shortstop.

Matt Bowman will start for the Mets. LHP Gio Gonzlaez will start for the Nationals.


Jon Niese had been scheduled to start Thursday’s game. However, in an effort to avoid a potential rain out, he threw 76 pitches during an intrasquad game this morning at Tradition Field.

NJ.com: Would David Wright move out of his No. 3 spot in Mets lineup?

According to research by Beyond the Boxscore’s Sky Kalkman, your team’s No. 2 hitter should be a better all-around hitter than the No. 3 batter in the order.

In that case, team reporter Mike Vorkunov explains why David Wright, not Daniel Murphy, should hit second >> Read more at NJ.com.

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The Mets are at the forefront of defensive positioning

According to Wall Street Journal reporter Jared Diamond, “thanks to their slow-footed middle infielders,” the Mets are now at the forefront of a trend sweeping baseball: the science of defensive positioning (March 26).

“Our percentage is really good on balls at us and not too far away from us,” infield coach Tim Teufel told Diamond. In other words, he added, if the Mets can get their infielders in better position before the ball is hit, “we’re going to be a lot more efficient.”

In the early days of Spring Training, Teufel talked with his infielders and introduced “defensive efficiency,” a team-created statistic designed to measure how they turn expected outs into actual outs, Diamond explains. The idea, he says, “Is to get players thinking about themselves as a collective unit working and moving in sync.”

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Maggie Wiggin, MetsBlog.com

Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy aren’t going to bobble a lot of balls, but their range is a real concern. It’s too early to get meaningful metrics on Flores, but – by some measures – Murphy has cost the team more than 30 runs at second base. That could work out to as much as a whole win each season and the Mets need every win they can get if they want to be in the race.

The system is complex, but both players are hard workers committed to improving their games in all respects and Teufel is a coach with a keen understanding of how to get the most out of his players. It’s great that they have Spring Training to get used to it. If it’s effective, I wonder if they’ll expand it to the outfield, where Michael Cuddyer has extremely poor range and Curtis Granderson is average at best.

The big question, and I don’t think any of us have enough information to know the answer, is how they’re going to tell if it’s a success. The team needs to make aggressive moves like this to make up for its shortcomings, but part of being aggressive is cutting ties with what isn’t working. But even if it fails, it’s the kind of attitude I like seeing from the front office, pushing the envelope in unexpected, but much-needed ways.

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Poll Results: The Opening Day Debate!

In a national ESPN.com poll, 53 percent of roughly 5,000 voters said they agree with the team’s decision to not start Matt Harvey on Opening Day (March 25). Similarly, in a poll on MetsBlog.com, 70 percent of roughly 4,000 voters said the same thing (March 25).

Previous Reports

It was announced Tuesday that Bartolo Colon will pitch the season’s first game for the Mets, while Jacob deGrom will start the their first game at Citi Field.

Sandy Alderson said Colon’s strong 2014 and long career earned him the right to go first, while deGrom’s NL Rookie of the Year award earned him the start at home. That said, according to ESPN’s Adam Rubin, Alderson did imply that a bump in tickets sales for Harvey‘s start the next day may have also been considered when plotting out his initial starting rotation (March 25).


In either case, Harvey said he had no issue with team’s decisions.

“I’m happy to be playing again, so whatever is decided on when I get to throw I’m going to be excited and all for it,” he said.

Brian Matusz

Thanks to Mets rumors, more teams are interested in O’s LHP Brian Matusz

There are several teams interested in trading for O’s LH reliever Brian Matusz, thanks in part to published reports connecting him to the Mets, the team’s GM, Dan Duquette, told CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman (March 25).

Previous Reports

The Mets have reportedly just scouted Matusz, they have not engaged in any trade talks, according to reporter Mike Puma (March 25). And, while they have interest, writes local reporter Roch Kubatko, the Mets would like the Orioles to pick up a portion of his 2015 money, (March 23), which Baltimore may be open to doing, according to Ken Rosenthal (March 18).


It’s very likely the Mets makes a trade to acquire a relief pitcher, but they may first wait for teams to put players on waivers the last week of March before making a move, according to beat reporter Adam Rubin (March 23). Rubin has also reported that Cardinals LH reliever Sam Freeman and Nationals LH reliever Xavier Cedeno, both of whom are out of options and unlikely to make their team’s Opening Day rosters, could be available in trade (March 14).


In the wake of losing Josh Edgin to Tommy John surgery, and no other players in camp stepping up to take the job, Terry Collins recently said it’s possible his team could enter 2015 without a left-handed reliever in the bullpen. Sandy Alderson, however, said that is unlikely to happen.