I'll be filling in for the News Guru for a few days, so hopefully I can live up to his high Applesauce standards. Here goes:
Around Port St. Lucie
The Mets lost 7-4 to the Braves yesterday, and Freddy Garcia was the big reason why. Looks like Freddo's days with the team are numbered, after giving up five runs in just two innings. His spring ERA is 16.71 and he hasn't looked good. On the other hand, Livan Hernandez pitched a fine game, giving up one run with three strikeouts in five innings. His spring ERA is now 3.07. Fernando Tatis cracked a home run off Braves young'n Tommy Hanson, and Jose Reyes stole a base.
The Mets take on the Astros today at at 1:10. Mike Pelfrey will be pitching.
Brian Schneider was scratched from the lineup because his knee is acting up. It doesn't seem too serious.
It appears that Jose Reyes will be batting leadoff permanently. That's fine with me, but Luis Castillo should not be batting 2nd if Reyes is 1st.
Jerry Manuel and Howard Johnson were asleep during David Wright's game winning hit in the WBC on Tuesday night. Were they really asleep or just passed out after some St. Patrick's Day revelry?
"TLC" at MetsGeek thinks the Mets should give Nelson Figueroa serious consideration for a roster spot. Figgy has looked good in the WBC and was serviceable in 45 innings last season, but it doesn't seem likely he'll be on the Opening Day roster. However, I bet he logs ~30 innings for the Mets this season, between the rotation and the bullpen. He is an easy guy to root for, and it was nice to see him do well representing his country over the last few weeks.
Also at MetsGeek, Mike Newman profiles Ryan Church, and concludes the following on Church's 2009 season: "At this point, to expect anything more than borderline average offensive production would be little more than blind faith."
David Singer of NY Sports Dog closely followed Oliver Perez's appearances for Mexico in the WBC. He noted that Ollie's motion was "more inconsistent than ever." Hopefully reuniting with Dan Warthen will get him back on track (if he was ever "on track" to begin with). The Mets probably aren't too pleased that Mexico manager Vinny Castilla let Ollie throw 85 pitches in his final start.
Around the NL East
The Nationals signed lefty reliever Joe Beimel to a 1-year, $2 million deal. Not a bad signing, but the Nats would have been better off spending their money on some starting pitching this offseason. Maybe Willie "Endy" Harris can pitch?
Long Island native John Lannan was named the Nationals Opening Day starter. I played against him in high school, and he's certainly come a long way since then. Good for him.
Hanley Ramirez has asked to be the godfather of Jose Reyes's newborn child. Hanley hates the Mets, but apparently gets along famously with Jose.
It's a "longshot" that Cole Hamels starts Opening Day for the Phillies. Brett Myers would likely get the nod.
The readers of Talking Chop want prospect Jordan Schafer to be the starting centerfielder for the Braves. Josh Anderson is the other major option.
World Baseball Classic
The United States fell to Venezuela, 10-6. David Wright went 0-4 with a walk, but Frank the Closer pitched a scoreless inning and has yet to give up a run during the tournament. Next up for the U.S. is Korea or Japan in the semifinals on Sunday.
Anyone else see Endy Chavez's fine catch to rob Derek Jeter of extra bases early in last night's game? He went 0-5 last night, but is hitting .368 for the tournament. The Mets, and I, will miss him this season.
Greenpoint Ian posted this great story in FanShots yesterday, about a United States Army soldier attending the U.S victory over Puerto Rico Tuesday night.
Rob Neyer says that signing Pedro Martinez for the $5+ million he's seeking is not a good idea. I think most rational Met fans would agree with this assessment, as he simply isn't worth more than $2-3 million guaranteed at this point.
Aaron Boone is undergoing open heart surgery. Best wishes to Tim Wakefield's nemesis.
Andruw Jones will likely be cut by the Rangers, after striking out 14 times in 31 AB's this spring. What a fall from grace it's been.
Jeremy Greenhouse at Baseball Analysts looks at the outstanding defense stat UZR, freely available at Fangraphs.
Good news for Miller High Life enthusiasts: Miller has introduced a loyalty program where customers can earn reward points by purchasing High Life, and redeem the points for baseball-themed merchandise. Some former major leaguers are participating in the program's promotion, including Ryne Sandberg, who has this to say: "Fans have known for a long time that beer and baseball go together pretty darn well."