Bring On the Youth

March 7, 2010

That’s right, I said it.  I am practically excreting optimism right now.  I would love nothing better than to see some new blood come in here and shock the world.  That sort of energy has not been felt in these parts since Jose Reyes and David Wright first hit the scene.  Sure, there have been other flashes.  Mike Jacobs in 2005 to name one.  However as we all know, that was short-lived. 

Wouldn’t it be something to see a couple of the young prospects stick with the team and create some buzz.  Come on.  Is anyone really interested in seeing Rod Barajas or Daniel Murphy?  Murph has some upside perhaps.  However, does that possible upside get anyone fired up?  I’ll tell you what might.  The Mets currently have four prospects in camp that have at least a measure of upside.  Along with that upside lies the possibility of a spark for fan excitement.  The four are obvious to most.  They are Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, Josh Thole, and Ruben Tejada. 

Now I realize that all of them are ticketed for the minors this season.  I believe this to be true regardless of how they produce this spring.  My thought is, why not throw some prospect logs on the fire and chat it up?  There is nothing wrong with conversation now is there?

Ike Davis has already turned the spotlight on himself with his power and production in the first week.  His monster grand slam the other day was a thing of beauty, and only further validates his ability.  Fernando Martinez hit a pair of home runs yesterday, and has carried over his Carribean League MVP run into spring training.  Josh Thole clearly has ability as a hitter behind the dish.  Ruben Tejada’s minor league stats also show that he has a promising future ahead.  It certainly will be nice to see this kid play in Jose Reyes’ absence this week.  I do not need to see Alex Cora.  He too lulls me to sleep.  Perhaps we might see Tejada as the opening day second baseman next year. 

Could Ruben Tejada be the opening day escond baseman in 2011?

The point is that the Mets have some position players that are actually exciting to follow this spring.  These future players certainly look more promising than some of what we have on the major league roster right now.  I for one will be pulling for them all to show their stuff this spring, even though they inevitably will all be in AAA come April.  That is alright.  It is nice to dream, isn’t it?  Here is to the 2011 New York Mets!

Around the Horn – Catcher

February 11, 2010

Oh yeah.  I have to cover catcher.  No, we did not get Bengie Molina, and I am not heartbroken over an overweight 35-year-old catcher who will begin his decline very soon.  Whoever you see playing catcher this year, they will surely bat eighth in the order, and lull you to sleep.  That much is a near certainty.

Omir Santos – It appears that Omir will receive a share of the catching at bats for the Mets in 2010.  This is based mostly on his prowess against right-handed pitching in 2009.  He struggled mightily against left-handers, however, and that is why he will sit on the bench against the majority of those pitchers.  Omir toiled in the minor leagues, mostly for the New York Yankees, for eight seasons with very mediocre numbers.  He is a bit of an enigma to Met fans as this fact, along with his age of 29 (30 in April), might surprise you.  His bat appears to have some quickness in it, and his production last year illustrated that.  I do believe that it is smart that the Mets stockpiled other players for the position, just in case adjustments are made against him by big league pitching this year.

Henry Blanco – A career .228 hitter will excite no one.  I urge anyone who is excited to check their meds.  He does however hit marginally better throughout his career against left-handers, something that could compliment Omir Santos fairly well.  This was even more exemplified last season as he hit .122 points higher against lefties over righties.  He has been around for quite some time, having been at least a part-time player for 10 of his 12 seasons.  He is known to be a fairly good defensive catcher, but at 38 years of age, it may be a reach to say that he will be a productive platoon catcher in 2010.  Also, please do not mention to me that he handles the staff well.  We heard that about Brian Schneider as well.  What a joke that was.  That is a simple way of saying that a catcher has no significant talent.

Chris Coste – Based on the uncertainty of Santos and both the age and lack of production of Blanco, the Mets signed Chris Coste to add more depth and options.  Chris had a long minor league career, much like Santos has.  In fact, his career spanned parts of 13 seasons.  He appeared to be a productive minor league hitter for the most part, rasing questions as to why he was not called up to the big leagues sooner than he was (2006).  Like Blanco, he is also more productive against right-handers, although his production is significantly higher all around.  Last season Coste seemed to drop off offensively, so perhaps the law of averages will play a role in a rebound for Coste this year.  I do believe that Blanco will have to struggle mightily for him to receive much playing time, let alone be on the active 25 man roster.

Josh Thole – We finally arrive at a player with some real measure of potential at the position, and the first left-handed hitting catcher to boot.  His minor league production improved year to year, which eventually led to his cup of coffee with the Mets last year.  It is apparent, however, that the Mets feel that they would like to see him perform in AAA for at least a portion of 2010 before anointing him their starter.  He will come to spring training, but knowing how the Mets operate, it will just be an opportunity to hang with the big boys before the inevitable minor league designation.  Let us keep in mind that he is only 23 years old after spending five seasons in the minors.

Can Josh Thole wow the Mets in spring training and make the Met catching situation less boring in 2010?

Mike Jacobs – Come on now.  This guy has about as much chance of converting back to catcher as I do of bench pressing over 200 pounds.  Trust me.  If that flew over your head, that equates to approximately zero percent.  I only mention him here because there has been some talk that he should convert back to catcher because the Mets have a need for some pop from the left side of the plate.  Why not get it from Jacobs at a position that needs an upgrade?  Wishful thinking I say.

There is nothing exciting to tell you about the Met catching situation for 2010 unless Josh Thole hits .600 in spring training.  Even then, I could see the Mets going with what they have and boring us to death once gain. I, for one, can not hold back my excitement.