New York Mets: Syndergaard and Diaz Opposite Spring Debuts

Wednesday’s matchup between the New York Mets and Houston Astros came with plenty of headlines. Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz made their first appearances of the Spring, and the villain Astros made their first trip to Clover Park. Syndergaard was dominant, Diaz struggled, and the Astros were booed.

Syndergaard had his good stuff working over his first two innings of work. He only allowed one hit and struck out two batters, both with his revamped slider. The slider looked brand new from 2019 with a more downward tilt and got four swings and misses on it.  Syndergaard’s velocity on his slider was in the 97-98 range as expected, with the four-seamer touching 99.

Diaz Struggles

Anxious was the word that summed up Diaz’s first outing of the Spring. He gave up three runs on two hits while striking out one over his only inning of work. The inning was no different than the ones that defined his horrible 2019. Electric stuff but inconsistent location. All three hits we hit extremely hard, and everything was center cut. The poor outing could be first outing jitters, but nothing was promising, which is an early concern.

Ryan Cordell was a late entrant into the Mets lineup but made a considerable impact, building on his strong Spring. He went 2-for-4 with a homer and a diving catch in Center Field. Cordell is 4-for-11 through his first four games. Despite being a minor league invite to camp, his strong play is giving him an outside chance at a roster spot in the future.

Thursday in Jupiter

The Mets travel to Jupiter on Thursday to take on the Miami Marlins as Rick Porcello makes his second start. He allowed a run on two hits during his first outing of the season against the same Marlins. Miami is the final undefeated team in Spring Training and hopes to make it six in a row to begin the Spring schedule.

 

Tebow’s Homer and Davis Injury Headlines New York Mets Loss to Tigers

New York Mets, Andres Gimenez

Tim Tebow playing in New York Mets Spring Training games is already a headline in itself. When Tebow homered off Detroit Tigers reliever Alex Wilson, it is a 100 percent guarantee to throw the baseball world for a loop.

Tebow showcased his opposite-field power with a no-doubt home run to left-center field. It was his first during his Spring Training career, and it was the fourth time he reached base in eight Spring plate appearances. Expectations are meager for the 32-year old former quarterback, but we still know he has a flair for the dramatic.

Wacha’s Debut

Michael Wacha made his first Spring start. He is in a battle for the fifth starter spot and was on par with Steven Matz through their respective first starts. Wacha threw two innings, allowing two walks, a hit, and struck out two batters. The outing was not anything special but is a decent way to settle into the beginning of the Spring.

Davis Injury

The other major headline came when third baseman, J.D. Davis, left the game with a left shoulder injury. He jammed the shoulder after diving and spending a moment on the ground. Davis said, “right now it feels fine,” but also said the shoulder is weak and stiff. He will have an MRI Wednesday, but the early news is there is no damage to his rotator cuff or labrum.

This is the first injury scare of the Spring, and the MRI will give a clearer timeline on Davis. Initially, the injury seems minor, and it will likely have more of an effect on his offense over his defense.

Zamora Shines and Gimenez Struggles

Daniel Zamora is a projected minor leaguer to start the season but pitched a scoreless third inning, all against righties, where the only baserunner came from an Andres Gimenez error. Gimenez is known for his slick defense but already has two errors in the Spring.

Wednesday Preview

A couple of big names will face the villainous Houston Astros on Wednesday. Noah Syndergaard makes his first start of the Spring and has already poked at Houston’s cheating scandal during the offseason and early in camp. He is not afraid about throwing up and in, but there should be no shenanigans, especially in his first outing.

Edwin Diaz will make his long-awaited debut in his quest to regain the closer role. Justin Wilson will also throw as the combination of the three pitchers will likely be the crew to start the game.

New York Mets: Wilson Ramos Strong Start to Spring Training

The strong “buffalo” that is Wilson Ramos has started Spring Training hot for the New York Mets. In Monday’s win against the Washington Nationals, he went 2-for-2 with a home run and a double. Over the first three games of Spring Training, all of Ramos’ hits have gone for extra bases.

The power is a welcomed sign for Ramos. Despite having a solid offensive season in 2019, he had his lowest slugging percentage since 2015 and the lowest average launch angle for his career. Ramos is one of the slowest baserunners in baseball, which means a ground ball for Ramos is likely an out. It makes his 2019 look even better that he still hit .288 despite the lack of power.

New Approach

Ramos retooled his swing during the offseason to create one that is quicker to the ball and produces more line drives. He should keep the ball in the air due to his lack of speed. The combination of his strength and the juiced baseballs should allow Ramos to double the 14 home runs he had last year.

Of course, the defense is the bigger concern for Ramos. He is confident in his defense so far in Spring and feels more confident behind the dish. His defense and pitch framing is what kept him off a majority of the top 10 catcher lists. Just an average defensive year would be a significant improvement and give the Mets exactly what they need from their catching position.

New York Mets: Yoenis Cespedes Moving in the Right Direction

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

The story of the high priced New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is one of the most talked-about stories throughout the beginning of Spring Training. After missing almost two years with heel injuries, Cespedes arrived at Spring Training early and is progressing well in his rehab program.

Cespedes made a lot of noise by his silence towards the media. He has decided not to speak to them at all, which continues his long-lasting battle against the press. On the field, Cespedes has been everything the Mets could ask for as he recovers from double heel surgery. The surgery is still keeping Cespedes out of the first few Spring Training games due to the Mets being extremely cautious with their slugger.

Any Progress is Good Progress

Cespedes surgery is very similar to the career-damaging one Troy Tulowitzki received. He is moving well on his repaired legs, but the Mets have not ramped things up in the same way they have done with the rest of their players. It seems the defense will be the hardest part of Cespedes finding his way back to the field. The Mets can put him in any Spring Training games if he cannot move at 100 percent.

If there is rust in Cespedes’ swing, it has not been evident yet. After flinging his bat, Todd Frazier style, on his first swing, he has been good since. Cespedes’ at-bats have included a homer, double off Rick Porcello, and a hard line drive off Jacob deGrom. The best part of his game has always been his bat, which seems ready for game action.

The Mets are fine with easing Cespedes back because of their surplus of outfielders. His expectation is likely to regain his role in left field, but the longer he cannot play, the easier it is for J.D. Davis to continue playing over Cespedes.

New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles to Play at Naval Academy

The New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles will make history on March 24 when they play at the U.S. Naval Academy for the first time in 35 years. The matchup will be the last each team plays before each team starts their season.

These games come after the Washington Nationals play the Boston Red Sox in 2017, but the Orioles stopped future games from taking place. The territory belonged to the Orioles, according to the MLB Constitution. Both teams plan to tour the base and get to know some of the Midshipmen.

Exclusive Event

The game will be unique because of its exclusiveness that only allows Midshipmen and U.S. Navy members to attend. The game overall is the 13th ever played at the academy, and it is the first time for the Mets. It will be a quick turnaround for the Mets as they go from playing the worst team in 2019 to the defending champion Nationals on Opening Day two days later.

Safe to say they will not be lucky enough to see Jacob deGrom pitch, but they will get a chance to watch the star-studded Mets take the field up, close and personal. Pete Alonso is one of the major supporters of the military, and he will enjoy the trip as much as anyone on the roster. It would be no surprise if he had something up his sleeve for the Midshipmen.

New York Mets: Luis Rojas Quickly Earning Respect

Luis Rojas has no easy job as he quickly stepped into the role of manager for the New York Mets. After the Carlos Beltran regime suddenly died within the first 100 days, Rojas is the man in charge. The rookie manager has impressed those inside and out of the organization through the first couple weeks of Spring Training.

Rojas spoke to the entire team for the first time on Monday. He asked the players to show how many of them played for him in the minor leagues. About three-quarters of the players put their hands up, which showed how close of a relationship Rojas has with the organization. Rojas spent eight seasons managing throughout the Mets minor league system before earing the quality control job in 2019.

New Role, New Rojas

His responsibility as the new manager is daunting, especially with the pressure to win in 2020. Rojas spoke to the players along with dozens of executives, which included team owner Fred Wilpon. With Mickey Callaway in charge, Rojas was reserved and quiet on the bench. As a manager, he brings confidence and energy that lacked when the inexperienced Callaway was in charge.

Rojas also has respect from the veterans in the clubhouse, including Wilson Ramos and Dellin Betances. Beltran would have commanded the same respect, but there is a certain trust players have in someone when they have gone through the trenches with them. Rojas has worked himself from the bottom and made it to the big leagues. He has not managed a game yet and already has more credibility than Mickey Callaway ever had during his two years with the Mets.

Rojas comes from a baseball family and carries plenty of managing experience and success in the minor leagues. The Mets may have found themselves a diamond in the rough after the Beltran fiasco.

New York Mets: Yoenis Cespedes Participating in Baseball Activities

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

It has been almost two years since Yoenis Cespedes last major league game, but the New York Mets high priced outfielder is working his way back to the field. He is active at the Mets Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie, participating in running drills and taking batting practice.

Cespedes is recovering from multiple fractures in his right ankle from stepping in a hole avoiding a wild boar. The injury resulted in his salary for the 2020 season dropping just over $15 million. After signing his four year/$110 million contract, he only managed to play 119 games so far.

Contract Year

Cespedes production did not waiver when he played, but the issue has always been keeping him on the field. At age-34, any consistency in his production and health should net him interest for the 2021 season. Most of the interested teams will likely be from the American League.

Cespedes has very high expectations for himself, stating, “I’m ready, and I’m gonna go out with a bang this year, and I’m not just gonna hit 40 home runs….I’ll be out there for 140-plus games.” Even getting into the neighboorhood of 40 would give the Mets a very dangerous offense in their outfield.

General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen says the team has no timetable for his return. It has not been clear if the Mets expect him to participate in any Spring Training games. He seems to be moving well, but it will be smart for the Mets to take things one step at a time with the often injured Cespedes.

 

 

New York Mets Spring Training Facility Gets a New Name

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

Port St. Lucie has been the long time Spring Training home of the New York Mets and will undergo its fifth name change. First Data Field will become Clover Park by the time the Mets report to camp next month.

The name change is due to Fiserv and their Clover platform purchasing First Data in 2019. The facility has been the Spring Training home to the New York Mets and home field for the St. Lucie Mets since 1988. Throughout the last 30 years the GCL Mets have spent multiple seasons playing their home games at Clover Park.

Changes Through the Years

The park’s original name of Thomas J. White Stadium came from the man who helped bring the Mets to St. Lucie. The name lasted until 2004 when it became Tradition Park from 2004-2009. Digital Domain Park was the name from 2010-2012, until Tradition Park came back for the seasons between 2012-2016. First Data claimed the naming rights from 2017-2020.

The park is undergoing renovations for this upcoming Spring Training as new concessions, clubhouses and additional seating are being installed. There are very high expectations for the 2020 Mets and it will all start in less than a month in St. Lucie.