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Friday Applesauce

Day one of the NCAA Tournament saw a few close calls, but only one real "upset." Here are some links to peruse at while you find a way to lament that your bracket is already ruined:

Around Port St. Lucie

The Mets pounded the hapless Astros 12-1 yesterday. Mike Pelfrey looked terrific, giving up one run in six innings.  David Lennon of Newsday says Big Pelf has added a "Maddux sinker" which starts inside on lefties and breaks over the plate. Anyone who's seen Greg Maddux pitch can picture it. 

Nick Evans was the hitting star, going 3-5 with two doubles and a home run. He's now slugging .615 this spring and is making it tough for Omar Minaya to leave him at AAA to start the season. The problem is, bench spots are hard to come by, with Ramon Castro, Alex Cora, and Fernando Tatis stone-cold locks, and Marlon Anderson likely to make it. That would probably leave one spot between Evans, Bobby Kielty, Jeremy Reed, and Cory Sullivan. Evans will see playing time at the big league level this season regardless of where he starts out.

David Wright's toe injury should not be an issue. 

The Mets face the Orioles today at 1:05, with Oliver Perez starting. The game will not be on TV.

Here's a strange story about a miscommunication between Omar Minaya and rehabbing Billy Wagner. Imagine an effective Wagner returning in August or September?

Alex Nelson at Mets Geek profiles former Mets announcer Lindsey Nelson. It's a lengthy but worthwhile read, and recommended reading for anyone casting a vote in Nelson vs. Ron Darling next Tuesday.

Gerry Fraley at the Sporting News provides us with a lesson in Awful Sportswriting 101. His premise is that Hanley Ramirez's enthusiasm about hitting 3rd makes him some kind of leader willing to shoulder more responsibility, while Jose Reyes's statement that he'll hit wherever he's put in the lineup is a sign of immaturity and weakness. To all sportswriters out there still pushing this tired story: we get it. We get that you think Jose Reyes is immature and celebrates too much, etc. But don't you think that he's being a good teammate and avoiding controversy simply by saying he'll do whatever's good for the team? Try coming up with an original story Gerry. 

Around the NL East

Even in silence, Phillies fans are already whining about Frank the Closer's celebrations. Because their own closer is a choir boy after he closes a game. If Frank does his job and helps the Mets make the playoffs, he can celebrate all he wants.

Matt Stairs might be the odd man out in the Phillies reserve outfielder competition.   

Federal Baseball looks at the past Nationals Opening Day starters. One is competing for a job with the Mets, one is currently unsigned, and one retired from baseball by age 30.

Joel Sherman profiles the Braves, who are much improved from last season. I really wish the Mets could have acquired Javier Vazquez somehow.

Around MLB

Playoff Odds simulated the 2009 season, and see the Mets as an 89 win team. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Scott Kazmir got knocked around a bit yesterday vs. the Cardinals, although he was pitching with the flu. 

Evan Longoria to the rescue. The Rays 3B will join injury-depleted Team USA this weekend in the World Baseball Classic. 

Jake Peavy is disappointed in U.S. fans' interest in the WBC. It's not known if U.S. fans are equally disappointed in Peavy's six runs allowed over two IP vs. Puerto Rico last week.

Happy Friday, and let's go Big East.