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Kevin Long breaks down Mets hitters

New Mets hitting coach Kevin Long spoke at length this morning, offering his take on several Mets hitters. Read the story on Mets.com, but also check out these bonus takes:

20150228_084340On Curtis Granderson: “When I’ve seen Curtis — and I’ve seen him at a very high level — he’s able to get on base. He’s able to drive the ball. And certainly the top of the order, those guys are going to get more at-bats throughout the year. Let’s say he hits sixth. He’d probably lose 70, 80 at-bats to the guy who hits leadoff. So do you want your best hitters and the guys who get on base the most? Certainly you do. There’s some other options, so that’s not etched in stone, but we’ll say how this plays out. Terry’s ultimately is going to have the final say-so on that. But Curtis has done it before. He’s capable of doing it. So we’ll just see how it plays out.

“Obviously we’ve worked on a few things, and we’re going back to the blueprint of when he was with the Yankees. There are a couple minor things that we’re working on. One is getting his hands into a consistent position, and just getting him to feel the consistency he had, the shortness to the ball, obviously the compact swing that he had, the explosiveness — it’s all in there. It’s just a matter of going back, kind of going through the video, getting together, trying some things in the cages and seeing if we can gain on it. And I think we have. I think he feels good about his work that he’s done in the offseason, and now coming into Spring Training — it’s not that we’re gaining momentum anymore, it’s more about staying where he’s at now.

On Juan Lagares: “Juan’s talented. I’ve noticed that and I’m excited about this player. He’s got a nice demeanor about him. He’s confident. Obviously he’s going to have to hone in on the strike zone and kind of take these chases and these swings out of the zone, and be able to lay off some pitches, and determine what’s a pitch that he can do damage to. And if he can’t, certainly laying off is going to do what? It’s going to increase his on-base percentage. I think with Juan, it’s more about, ‘Can we maximize his ability to get on base?’ So he’s got some work to do.

“There’s drills you can do. There’s a lot of vision stuff. And I’ll use Robinson Cano as an example because he’s the guy who sticks out, but we really paid attention to what he was swinging at, talking about his ‘A’ swing, talking about doing damage to the ball, talking to him about, ‘Today, you swung at seven pitches out of the zone. Let’s see if we can get that number down to four a day.’ And then all of the sudden, the four turns into two.’ Instead of trying to get there all at once, you gradually get there. So we’ll do strike zone stuff where we’ll say, ‘Okay, let’s just swing at pitches middle-away. Anything in, take it, instead of trying to cover the whole strike zone and expand it.’ You can do that early and you can do that in plus counts, and a lot of times that we’ll help as well.

“He’s got a good swing and he’s always had the ability to get hits. He finds a way. I think he hit .285, which the Major League average is .250, so he’s 35 points up there. What we’re looking at is, ‘What is his on-base?’ It’s probably .315, .320. If we can get that number up to .350, .360, you’ve gain on it quite a bit.”

On David Wright: “He’s a tough one for me to kind of give you an honest evaluation of. I wasn’t here. I didn’t live it. I didn’t see it. I couldn’t see his face. I didn’t know what kind of workload he was able to do or not able to do. So in David’s case, certainly I can tell you that if I’ve got a shoulder issue and I need to get extension, at some point it’s going to pinch. And it’s going to hurt. So if you saw him cutting off his swing and not getting through baseballs or not driving the ball, you can put two and two together and say they probably had something to do with it.”

On Travis d’Arnaud: “It’s funny because when I looked at Travis and I looked at him early on, it was almost like the competitiveness was out of him. The athlete, he was thinking too much. He wasn’t trusting his ability, and probably what had gotten him to the big leagues. Maybe he didn’t know if he could compete at this level. I think when he went back to Triple-A, he said, “You know what, I’m going to go back to the way I hit.’ And one of those things was getting on the plate. Getting on the plate certainly helped him a great deal. I could see his confidence level rise, I could see his swing start to come together, and really I’ve done very little with Travis — almost nothing, other than keep his confidence level up and his spirits up, and let him know that what you did last year when you came back was enough, and it was terrific.”

On Lucas Duda: “He’s well aware that he needs to work. And all lefty-on-lefty stuff is, or righty-on-righty stuff, it’s angles. So we’ll get different angles and we’ll get the ball coming from this angle a lot more than this angle. Obviously he’s had some success [against right-handed pitchers]. He’s had some success [against lefties] in the Minor Leagues. So it’s here. He can do it. When he’s able to swing, we’ll get back to doing some lefty-on-lefty stuff, and see if we can’t get him a little bit more consistent there. Obviously we’re talking about a 30-home run guy. There’s not many of those in the Major Leagues. So the more that we can get Lucas in the lineup, the better off we’ll be.

“Using the whole field certainly will get that average where it needs to be. But Lucas, if I’m not mistaken, I think he has power to all fields. Certainly we’ve seen more to the pull side, and most hitters are going to have more power to the pull side, but this something that Lucas has done in the past. He’s been able to drive the ball to all fields. So I’m sure some of our attention will go to that, and we’ll see if maybe we can get that average to elevate just a little bit.”

On Bartolo Colon: “Bartolo’s got some work to do [laughing]. He’s not too vested in putting that much time into getting his swing where it needs to be. He said he had two hits last year, and I said, ‘How about four hits this year?’ And he said, ‘How about three?’ That’s where we’re at with Bartolo.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Report from Port St. Lucie, Feb. 21

Date: Feb. 21
Days until Opening Day: 44
Temperature in Port St. Lucie, Fla.: 68 degrees
Temperature in Flushing, N.Y.: 28 degrees

Picture of the Day: Matt Harvey participates in pitchers’ fielding practice as Jacob deGrom and Josh Edgin look on.

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Quote of the Day: “My life has changed a lot in a year.” –RHP Jacob deGrom, who went from Triple-A depth last spring to reigning National League Rookie of the Year.

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Report from Port St. Lucie, Feb. 20

Date: Feb. 20
Days until Opening Day: 45

Picture of the Day: Jon Niese throws a bullpen session as pitching coach Dan Warthen looks on.

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Story of the Day: Alderson reprises lofty expectations for 2015 Mets

Quote of the Day: “If you don’t make the playoffs, you’re disappointed.” –General manager Sandy Alderson

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Report From Port St. Lucie: Feb. 19, 2015

Date: Feb. 19
Days until Opening Day: 46
Temperature in Port St. Lucie, Fla.: 55 degrees
Temperature in Flushing, N.Y.: 21 degrees

Picture of the Day: Mets president Saul Katz (center) and principal owner Fred Wilpon (right) chat with pitching coach Dan Warthen.

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Story of the Day: Mets pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training

Quote of the Day: “I have not been near 92 yet. I’ll let you know how 92 goes.” –Left-handed pitcher Josh Edgin, when asked if he could challenge Pedro Feliciano’s club record 92 appearances in 2010.

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Matt Harvey: “In the end, maybe my surgery was the best thing to happen to me”

Two days after reporting to Spring Training, Matt Harvey has posted a revealing essay on Derek Jeter’s “Players’ Tribunal” site. The essay details his 2013 offseason trip to Laos and subsequent rehab from Tommy John surgery.

harveyarrives2-16Harvey writes:

Every morning for the first few weeks after surgery, all I could do were arm curls with five-pound weights. It was an eye-opening experience — realizing that one year you can pitch in an All-Star Game in front of your home crowd and then a few months later all you can do is curl five-pounders.

But being away was good for me. It gave me time to do some soul searching. Just like in New York, I walked around a lot to clear my head. Being alone in a country and not speaking the language turned out to be a good temporary escape. For the first time in a long time, I was in a place where nobody recognized me. In New York, occasionally people will say hello to me on the street. (Other times, even hometown fans have a hard time recognizing me, like I had fun showing in this video I did for Jimmy Fallon.) In Laos, I was invisible and that was fine. I remember talking to a street vendor and having a funny “conversation” — we had to use hand gestures — but when I asked to take a photo with her, she refused. To her, I was just an American weirdo with one arm in a sling and the other arm making crazy hand signals. I couldn’t blame her. We waved goodbye and I went on my way.

You can read Harvey’s entire entry here.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

How many miles do the Mets log in a year?

I stumbled across this site today and found it quite interesting: a cartographic look at how many miles teams travel in a season.

metstravelThe Baseball Savant map piqued my interest due to the Mets’ sheer volume of travel last season, playing Interleague series in Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle, in addition to their usual trips out west to Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. It turns out the Mets traveled 35,781 miles over the course of the summer, not including Spring Training hops to Las Vegas and Montreal.

What I found most interesting, however, was something I long suspected but had never seen in numbers: teams in the AL West are at a clear logistical disadvantage each year, traveling thousands of miles more than others just to play their divisional rivals. And teams in the Central fly less than anyone, with cross-country flights exceedingly rare.

That doesn’t mean you should feel bad even for the Mariners, who flew 51,540 miles last year and are due to lead the league again this summer. All teams travel on charters, meaning they breeze through airport security, the planes wait for them and they never have to make connections. But over a 162-game season, which wears players down enough as is, it’s worth noting how much those extra miles add up.

(The Mets, for what it’s worth, are scheduled to fly 30,289 miles this year, not including a spring jaunt to Texas. That’s 13th in the league.)

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In photos: Mets equipment truck leaves for Port St. Lucie

Nine days until pitchers and catchers. The surest sign? The equipment truck rumbled out of Citi Field early this afternoon (photos courtesy of the Mets):

TRUCK_LEV7334TRUCK_MET5340Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Travis d’Arnaud leads host of Mets number-changers

Several prominent Mets will have new uniform numbers when camp opens later this month. The list, with old numbers in parentheses:

metspitcherspopupdrillCatcher Travis d’Arnaud – 7 (15)
Bench coach Bob Geren – 15 (7)
Catcher Kevin Plawecki – 22 (72)
First baseman Brandon Allen – 30 (60)
Pitcher Noah Syndergaard – 34 (55)
Pitcher Buddy Carlyle – 43 (44)
Pitcher Cory Mazzoni – 47 (75)
Pitcher Jack Leathersich – 51 (81)
Infielder Danny Muno – 74 (64)

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Mets to install newer, bigger scoreboard at Citi

This, edited down from the Mets:

The Mets announced today they are installing a new Daktronics high definition Citi Field centerfield video board that is 62% larger than the original screen. The new board, set to debut on Opening Day, April 13, will measure 5,670 square feet (Up from 3,500 square feet).

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The installation puts the Mets in the top 10 largest displays in professional baseball and makes Citi Field one of the few baseball venues to feature more than one video capable LED display in the seating bowl. The installation brings the total square footage of all displays in the Mets’ super-system to more than 17,000 square feet. The previous total square footage was 13,500, and replacing older technology is providing a total of 7,000 square feet of new video display technology.

“As we look forward to a great season on the field in 2015, these significantly bigger and higher resolution video boards are state-of-the-art in size and LED technology and re-inforce our commitment to provide our fans a superior experience when attending games at Citi Field,” said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.

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Projecting the Mets’ Opening Day roster, Jan. 8

Six weeks remain between now and Spring Training, though if you believe Sandy Alderson, not much is going to change with the Mets between then and now. So it seems like a fine time to make our first roster projection of the year.

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Without further ado:

Lineup:
CF Juan Lagares
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
1B Lucas Duda
RF Michael Cuddyer
LF Curtis Granderson

C  Travis d’Arnaud

SS Wilmer Flores

Barring injury, I don’t envision anything changing here between now and Opening Day. The Mets aren’t likely to bring in a new shortstop, and manager Terry Collins has already talked extensively about wanting Lagares to lead off. Even if the Mets face a left-hander on Opening Day (they won’t), these are probably the eight names you’ll see. It sounds like Cuddyer is a good bet to play right, shifting Granderson to left.

Bench:
C Anthony Recker
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
OF John Mayberry, Jr.

INF Ruben Tejada
INF Eric Campbell

Again, not much up for debate here. Recker and Nieuwenhuis are out of options, giving them huge advantages heading into camp. Tejada and Mayberry are veterans and close to locks. Campbell’s case is the weakest of the five, but his ability to play third base makes him all but a shoo-in as well. If Flores were not starting at shortstop, it would be a different story.

Rotation:
RHP Matt Harvey

RHP Jacob deGrom
RHP Zack Wheeler
LHP Jon Niese
RHP Bartolo Colon

I’m not entirely convinced Harvey will be the Opening Day starter, though Collins may need to pry the ball out of his hand if not. This rotation assumes that the Mets will trade Dillon Gee between now and Opening Day.

Bullpen:
RHP Jenrry Mejia (CL)
RHP Jeurys Familia

RHP Vic Black
RHP Carlos Torres
LHP Josh Edgin
LHP Sean Gilmartin
RHP Rafael Montero

If for some reason the Mets do not trade Gee, he probably goes here instead of Montero. I’m projecting Gilmartin, a Rule 5 pick, to make the team over Scott Rice, Dario Alvarez, Jack Leathersich and whomever else the Mets bring into camp. But really, that spot is completely up for grabs, and a right-hander could ultimately claim it. I’m also projecting Bobby Parnell to begin the season on the disabled list, which does not require much of a leap of faith.

In the running:
C Johnny Monell*, INF Brandon Allen*, INF Dilson Herrera, INF Wilfredo Tovar, OF Alex Castellanos*, OF Matt den Dekker, OF Cesar Puello, RHP Buddy Carlyle*, RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Erik Goeddel, RHP Cory Mazzoni, RHP Bobby Parnell, RHP Noah Syndergaard, LHP Dario Alvarez, LHP Jack Leathersich, LHP Steven Matz.

*Denotes non-roster invitee

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