Meet the Mets
Dillon Gee looked excellent over 5.2 shutout innings and Lucas Duda cracked a home run to left field off of Stephen Strasburg, as the Mets shut out the Nationals 2-0 at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday. Gee had it all working in this outing, as he walked just one while striking out four batters. After Gee left, Frank Francisco made things a bit interesting, as he loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth but was able to work himself out of the jam. Francisco, Chuck James, Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell combined to throw 3.1 scoreless innings and Parnell worked a clean ninth with a pair of strikeouts to save it. Ruben Tejada made his return to the lineup and he and Daniel Murphy turned two double plays without issue.
The Mets travel to Jupiter to take on the Cardinals at 1:05 PM today. Johan Santana throws for the Mets and he will face off against Jake Westbrook. Unfortunately, this game will not be covered locally on television or radio. BOOOOOO!
Things were not all good for the Mets on Tuesday night, as Andres Torres left the ballgame after two innings with a strained left calf. Torres said that he thinks he should be back in a few days but in the meantime, the team is suddenly searching for a contingency plan. Unfortunately, there aren't any healthy, natural center fielders left in camp, which means they will need to get a little creative. It looks like by creative, they mean Jason Bay, Adam Loewen, Mike Baxter and even Jordany Valdespin will get reps in center field. Yikes. So, if you can play a reasonably competent center field and you've got nothing going on, get down to Port St. Lucie. The Mets could really use your help. Oh and get well quickly, Andres Torres.
Santana's start this afternoon is a really big one for him, as he is closing in on a full workload and will throw somewhere around 80 pitches. Cross your fingers, knock on wood, etc.
There's some encouraging news on the injury front, as David Wright and Scott Hairston are working out and hoping to return soon. Wright thinks he may be able to play in a Grapefruit League game as early as this weekend. Meanwhile, Hairston continues to eye Opening Day as a reasonable target and he spent Tuesday successfully working out with teammates, though he has yet to swing a bat.
There's a good chance that the Mets will roster three Canadian players this year, making it the first time this has happened since the 1991 Toronto Blue Jays did it. Outfielders Jason Bay and Adam Loewen and catcher Mike Nickeas were all born in British Columbia. So I guess we really can blame Canada!
Down on the farm, Adam Rubin's got some pictures of Wally Backman instructing, 2011 Supplemental 1st rounder Michael Fulmer pitching and 2011 8th rounder Danny Muno fielding. And in case you've been following the box scores of the team's minor league games, Toby Hyde wants to remind you that just because a player is playing at a certain level now doesn't mean that is where he will be come minor league Opening Day.
There's still plenty of fallout from the owners' settlement with the Madoff trustee on Monday. Sandy Alderson spoke about the cloud being lifted from over the team's head and how he expects the team to be run in the future. Adam Rubin has the transcript. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has uncovered two of the team's newest minority owners: Say hello to Bob Pittman, the CEO of Clear Channel Media Holdings and Kenneth Lerer, who is the manager of Lerer Ventures and a co-founder of the Huffington Post. Finally, I really love the videos from Next Media Animation and as usual, they hit it out of the park with their cartoon summary of yesterday's settlement. Who knew Mr. Met's gigantic head was filled with cash!
Around the NL East
There was bad news all around on the pitching front for the Braves on Tuesday. Atlanta fell to the Tigers 7-2, as Jair Jurrjens allowed all seven runs to score over five innings. The righty has been roughed up this spring, allowing 15 runs in 13 1/3 innings. Maybe the Braves should just release him (not serious). Atlanta's minor league pitching depth also took a hit, as top pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino will go under the knife for Tommy John surgery and miss all of 2012. Too bad--now their depth only consists of Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado...oh forget it. Now I'm just depressing myself.
Instead, let's look at a team that does not have insane depth: the Philadelphia Phillies. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco are all injured to varying degrees and now, futility man Michael Martinez has bitten the dust as well. Martinez broke a bone in his right foot when he was hit by a pitch and it's likely he opens the year on the DL, though his replacement may actually represent an upgrade offensively. Should of kept Valdez, amirite? In good news for them, it looks as if the worries about Roy Halladay's arm may have been premature. HDay1 tossed six innings and struck out five in a 4-1 victory over the Orioles.
Josh Johnson is working himself into TBSOHL, as he saw his velocity bump up to 96 MPH in his last start. Johnson allowed two runs over 4.2 innings in a 3-2 loss to the Rays. The Marlins received some good news on three players with leg injuries. Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison and Greg Dobbs have all been cleared to resume baseball activities.
Around the Majors
Andy Pettitte was impressive in his first bullpen session since re-signing with the Yankees. Over at Fangraphs, Wendy Thurm wonders how other recently retired pitchers would fare if they came out of retirement.
TRAID! The Royals found a replacement for Salvador Perez, as they acquired C Humberto Quintero and OF Jason Bourgeois from the Astros, in exchange for minor league pitcher Kevin Chapman and a player to be named later.
Cardinals 1B Lance Berkman is speaking out with regards to the Astros' move to the American League in 2013. Berkman, who played the first 12 seasons of his career in Houston, is not happy about the change and even said that Bud Selig extorted new owner Jim Crane.
The Rangers received some good news and bad news from their rotation. Derek Holland agreed to a team friendly five year extension worth $28 million to stay in Texas. Unfortunately for them, Neftali Feliz left his start with shoulder stiffness.
Third base has seen what seems to be a pretty dramatic decline in offense the past few years, to the point where an offensively diminished David Wright is still one of the more valuable players at the position. It looks as if there may be some hope in the minors for 3B and John Sickels compared the Rockies' Nolan Arenado with the Rangers' Mike Olt, who are two of the top prospects at that position.
The Padres suddenly have an incredibly stocked farm system and in the offseason, they acquired one of the top catching prospects in minors Yasmani Grandal from the Reds. The issue is, the Padres already have an emerging young catcher of their own in Nick Hundley and San Diego decided to lock him up for three years. It'll be interesting to see how long Hundley and Grandal co-exist in Petco Park but the Padres have a nice little problem on their hands there.