New York Mets: Michael Wacha Dominates Intrasquad Game

New York Mets, Michael Wacha

The New York Mets played another summer camp game to get themselves ready for their weekend exhibition series against the New York Yankees. Michael Wacha stole the show with a terrific pitching performance as he tries to assure the Mets he can fill Noah Syndergaard‘s absence.

Wacha pitched five no-hit innings, which included an extra batter in some of the innings. He struck out four batters on only 69 pitches, with the only baserunner coming on a Dominic Smith error. After the long layoff, the pitchers usually have the upper hand on the hitters. Wacha still looked sharp, his changeup strong as ever, and improved his curveball from 2019.

Any Offense?

Wilson Ramos and Ryan Cordell both added home runs in the matchup. The blue squad defeated the white squad 3-1 but also received encouraging signs just based on the players who could take the field. Jed Lowrie, Yoenis Cespedes, and Robinson Cano both played in the game and came out of it without any issues.

Cano and Cespedes also added hits for the blue team while J.D. Davis recorded the only hit for the white team. Lastly, the Mets release some of their fan cutouts that will be in the stands during the season.

New York Mets Open MCU Park for Summer Camp

The New York Mets have Monday off but made some news by opening up MCU Park in Brooklyn as an alternate summer campsite. The park usually belongs to the Brooklyn Cyclones, but without a minor league season, the field sat empty.

With the Mets increasing their player pool to 58, the alternate site was a necessity. It also limits the amount of contact between players each day if any Met has tested positive for COVID-19. The Mets have kept results of their tests silent and leave it to the players to announce it if they test positive.

New Additions 

The Mets officially added five pitchers, Matt Blackham, Stephen Gonsalves, Jordan Humphreys, Franklyn Kilome, and Thomas Szapucki, along with positions players, catcher David Rodriguez and Jake Hager.

All of the pitchers are high upside arms, which were in a spot to contribute in 2020, should the season went as planned. Blackham will become a free agent at the end of the 2020 season and is in the mix for a relief role if the Mets needed an extra arm.

With only two spots left in the 60-man player pool, those spots likely remain empty as the Mets await the status of Brad Brach and Robinson Cano. Also, any injuries or positive tests should force the Mets’ hand to add extra players.

New York Mets: Cespedes Opening Day Ready, Cano and Brach Still Out

New York Mets, Robinson Cano

We are just one week away from the New York Mets, taking the field for their first exhibition game of summer camp. The Mets are extremely encouraged with the progress of Yoenis Cespedes, but the absence of Robinson Cano and Brad Brach are growing issues for the team.

Cespedes has drawn high praise throughout summer camp, and players compared him to being on the same level he was on in 2015. He proclaimed that he will be ready for Opening Day and will be 100% the Cespedes everyone hopes he can be.

Cespedes has not played in two years but is smashing the ball during intrasquad games at Citi Field. Ideally, Cespedes plays left field more than designated hitter because over his arm and gold glove ability. With his injury history, the Mets will handle Cespedes carefully throughout the 60-game stretch. Not only is he playing for 2020, but the 34-year old is playing to earn a lucrative deal in the offseason.

Cano and Brach Missing in Action

The absence of Robinson Cano and Brad Brach are lingering problems that grow worse for the Mets each day. Neither has attended any workouts and as usual, under the Brodie Van Wagenen regime, their reasons for absence are a secret. We will not hear the reason either until the players themselves release it due to the organization’s policy during this COVID-19 shortened season.

The Mets did have one player test positive before summer camp, but they never confirmed the player. Cano was present during the first couple of days but is a mystery man now. The high priced veteran is the everyday second baseman. Brach has not been present at any workouts, but the Mets hope to see both of them soon.

New York Mets: Ryley Gilliam Added to Player Pool

Simeon Woods-Richardson

After the Los Angeles Angels claimed Jacob Rhame, the New York Mets added another young arm to their 60-man player pool. 23-year old Ryley Gilliam is the newest Met to join the team in Flushing as another insurance piece should injuries or COVID-19 take out someone on the roster.

Gilliam is a raw prospect with a live arm which the Mets drafted only two years ago. In 2018, he threw 17.1 innings at low A and pitched to a 2.08 ERA with 31 strikeouts. Gilliam moved around quite a bit last season. He pitched at high A, double-A, and triple-A.

He struggled during his time in triple-A but pitched well everywhere else. The most impressive part of Gilliam’s season was his 13 K/9 over 38.2 innings pitched. He still has not reached 100 professional innings in his career but is rising fast in the Mets farm system.

If the season carried on, as usual, Gilliam would have been an excellent triple-A season away from potentially making it to the big leagues. He is currently on the bottom of the depth chart, but his stuff plays well enough to open some eyes for 2021 is he does not play with the Mets this season.

New York Mets Add Three Pitchers to 60-Man Camp

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

As week two of New York Mets summer camp starts up, they will have three new members to their workouts. The three pitchers are right-handers Jordan Humphreys and Matt Blackham and lefty Stephen Gonsalves.

Humphreys was a high upside prospect pitched well through rookie and A-ball, but Tommy John Surgery derailed him in 2018. He only threw two innings in rookie ball in his 2019 return. Humphreys impressed in the Arizona Fall League with only one run allowed in 11.2 innings. The Mets put him on the 40-man roster before 2020. He is not overpowering, but his career 1.6 BB/9 is very impressive and just turned 24.

Major League Ready?

While Humphreys still seems a couple of steps away from the big leagues, Matt Blackham could contribute this year. He is a slender 5′ 10″ and listed at 150 pounds but has carried strikeout stuff throughout the minors. During his minor league career, he has a 2.38 ERA and 12.1 K/9. At age 27, Blackham could fit into the long line of late-blooming Mets at the big league level.

Gonsalves is the only addition with major league experience in his career. Highly touted throughout the minors, he had a career ERA under three before his 2018 call-up. Gonsalves had a 6.57 ERA, and constant injuries during his Minnesota Twins tenure caused them to put him on waivers. On Wednesday, he turned 26-years old, and the Mets hope he can rekindle his prospect talent.

All three pitchers come to the Mets as insurance should injuries or COVID-19 cause players to drop the same way it has throughout the NBA and NHL. The Mets have good luck so far with keeping their players healthy and engaged, but things can easily turn south quickly. With the expanded 30-man rosters to start the season, a stellar spring gives these pitches a chance to join a strong Mets bullpen.

New York Mets: Jed Lowrie to Fully Participate in Camp

After a long year and a half, Jed Lowrie can finally participate in all baseball activities. The 36-year old only appeared in nine games for the New York Mets in 2019 and could not spend any time in the field. Most of the time, we have seen Lowrie with the Mets, he wears leg braces reminiscent of Forrest Gump’s.

Lowrie went through a series of different workouts on Sunday, and Mets manager Luis Rojas gave him the thumbs up to move on without the leg brace. This is the first time in 2020 that he goes through baseball activities without the 3/4 brace. Rojas says the Mets will be very cautious going forward due to the extensive injuries Lowrie suffered.

Anything is Better Than Nothing

Lowrie signed a two-year/$20 million deal before 2019. Combining a “kinetic chain” of leg injuries along with his contract and the Mets had someone who was untradable during the offseason. Lowrie gives the Mets value as their only switch hitter and someone who plays all four positions in the infield.

Even if Lowrie is fully healthy for opening day, Andres Gimenez or Eduardo Nunez likely join him on the roster as insurance plans. Gimenez sticks if they need him long term, and Nunez stays if they needed him for 1-2 weeks. The last time Lowrie was fully healthy, he made his first All-Star team, and they would be happy to get even 75% of that contribution in 2020.

 

New York Mets: A Training Camp Unlike Any Other

The New York Mets are in the opening stages of their Summer Camp at Citi Field, but it looks more like a shelter in an apocalypse movie. There are masks, hand sanitizers, and every one social distancing from each other.

A usually crowded batting cage is empty, there are marked off sections in the outfield, and the baseballs go through a thorough cleaning after use. Each player and media member also went through screening, and aerobics moved to a well-ventilated room. This is the new normal for baseball in 2020, and even Wilson Ramos said, “It’s hard right now to be here.”

Get Used to It

Because of COVID-19 running rough shot throughout Florida, the Mets have to make something out of every inch of Citi Field. This forces the Mets to have longer days since they are down six fields from their Port St. Lucie complex. They put an extra pitching mound in right-center field, the right field party area is the aerobics room/third weight room, and the exclusive bunting station is down the third base dugout.

There are hand sanitizing dispensers by every station, and conversations were long distance. Reporters are only allowed in the press box, and the stands are empty, which leaves no one to eavesdrop on any discussions. The feeling seemed more like a long ride in an elevator. Music low and everyone keeping from distant from each other.

It is weird to get used to, but at least baseball is beginning to return.