Jeremy Heit's Blog
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Hold up

Kaz Matsui's back.. issue?
The Mets said they were not concerned yesterday about Kaz Matsui's troublesome back. Neither was the second baseman, who missed his third consecutive game with back stiffness and was idled for a fourth straight day.

...Matsui said the discomfort is coming from places both higher and a bit lower than the pain he experienced last season when he was shut down from mid-August until the final week of the season. That injury was eventually diagnosed as a slightly herniated disk.

An MRI performed in Japan immediately before Matsui reported for spring training showed that the condition had improved but had not disappeared completely.
Ugh. And this also, even if he ends up being fine by the start of the regular season, does not help with his transition to 2B.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Tidbits of Information

Spring Training bench battles and Adam Rubin has the info...
After Randolph indicated that Andres Galarraga had slim chances of making the team, the Big Cat homered on back-to-back days over the weekend, raising his average to .192. That doesn't figure to protect Galarraga, whose roster spot probably will go to an extra pitcher. That need is more pressing with Kaz Ishii replacing innings-eater Steve Trachsel in the rotation. Miguel Cairo, Chris Woodward, Marlon Anderson and Eric Valent - who all figure to make the team - have played a combined 47 games at first, enough coverage in the event Doug Mientkiewicz is not available. Still, the Mets could use a righty bat with pop off the bench like an in-his-prime Galarraga would provide
This is sad for Andres and while the Mets could go the first two weeks without having to use Ishii to start (therefore not needing 7 guys in the 'pen) , after that it will get tougher and while the bench bat would be nice, going with 7 pitchers might be the better choice.

On the lefties in the 'pen...
Felix Heredia's $2 million contract (and the extra million shipped to the Yankees to cover Mike Stanton's $4 million salary) means he's a near-lock. South Korean Dae-Sung Koo (4.05 ERA this spring), who has a split contract that means he can be sent to Triple-A Norfolk at reduced cost, doesn't have the same assurance. Though Koo turned in two scoreless innings Saturday, he has been outpitched by Mike Matthews (1.13 ERA) this spring. Matthews went 2-1 with a 6.30 ERA in 35 appearances for the Reds last season, so he figures to get the ticket to Flushing.
The first part always seemed to obvious to me... Felix Heredia is going to make this team. The second part... not so much. I didn't know Koo had an AAA option in his contract, which makes the move possible. Of course, this requires the Mets to add another lefty to the 40 man roster and I would have liked to seen Koo, but... we'll see.

On the right side...
After Braden Looper and Mike DeJean, there are no locks for the other three spots, though Heath Bell (no earned runs in eight innings) seems the safest bet. Matt Ginter - who hasn't allowed an earned run in 11 innings, and who likely would be lost on waivers if he didn't make the team - helped his chances of claiming a spot with four scoreless innings Sunday against the Orioles. That could leave Roberto Hernandez (five scoreless innings) and Scott Strickland (3.00 ERA) going head-to-head for the final spot, with Manny Aybar (2.35 ERA) seemingly lagging.
Well, this is very good news for all of us Heath Bell fans. This is also good news for Matt Ginter fans like me. I surely expect he'll get a shot at Ishii's rotation spot by the middle of May. As for the final spot, is Strickland truly isn't healthy, I guess I couldn't blame them for handing the last spot to Hernandez, though I'd like to keep one of Heilman or Seo in the organization.

On the OF situation...
Anderson, still listed on Randolph's board as an infielder, and Valent look like the victors over Kerry Robinson and Gerald Williams. Ron Calloway can be optioned to the minors. The Mets appear likely to ship Victor Diaz to Triple-A to get regular work if Mike Cameron is healthy for Opening Day.
Honestly, this one isn't a big deal to me if Victor Diaz is going to be in AAA because there isn't much difference between Robinson, Calloway and Anderson. And the fact that Anderson can play the IF is nice touch. Of course, him and Calloway will both be on the 40 man, but, that's more the fact that Calloway just shouldn't be on the 40 man...

On the non goggles backup catcher situation...
The Jason Phillips trade leaves Ramon Castro as the only in-house option as a backup catcher, even if Joe Hietpas remains in camp. Team brass plans to scour the market to see who might be available as a defensive complement to Mike Piazza. Charles Johnson, the odd man out in Colorado, already has lobbied for the job, telling the Denver Post: "I hope there is something there. I know I can help somebody."
I always heard Castro was good with the glove and I hope he gets a shot to backup Piazza because I think he has definite potential with his bat (plus, Charles Johnson... eww).

Speaking of catchers, the Daily News passes this along...
Mike Jacobs, the organization's 2003 minor-league player of the year, is being converted to a first baseman with only part-time catching duty. He started working out with the Double-A Binghamton squad yesterday.
Hmmm... it seemed to me everyone thought Jacobs was the potential successor to Mike Piazza. Unless Castro has a huge year, it won't be him and while Jesus Flores is very good (#9 prospect according to BA), he is still very young. The Mets will probably be looking for an FA catcher at the end of the year.

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