New York Mets

Mets notes From spring's first pitch in Florida

On Monday, the Mets improved to 2-1 to start Spring Training thanks to five scoreless innings from Max KranickTyler Stuart and Sean Reid-Foley and a third-inning grand slam by Trayce ThompsonPete Alonso and Luisangel Acuna each had two hits. I know this from reading the box score, but this game has no video because it wasn't broadcast. It wasn't broadcast because not everyone has the free time to watch all the available videos with backdrops of clear skies and bright sunshine, mainly because, eventually, you have to look back outside your actual window and feel the cold just beyond it.

Not everyone wants to watch grown men playing a kid's game in the sun with smiles on their faces, but these exhibition games remind me that the regular season is coming soon. That warm spring skies are right around the corner, and it's OK to think positively, regardless of whether your top starter will be lucky enough to start his season in June. It was positive to watch the man tasked with filling the void Kodai Senga's shoulder injury creates and that's Tylor Megill

I watched him start the spring season against St. Louis on Saturday and give up a run in two innings pitched. But I saw how a hit-by-pitch, passed ball, and groundout look much better in person than in the box score. I also watched Big Drip throw his fastball at 96 MPH with ease, a good sign for someone who seemingly tried to overpower batters in the past. Megill didn't use his American Spork during the short outing but threw a cutter at 93, then a change-up at 91 to close the frame. Control of those three pitches alone makes him serviceable. Adding off-speed offerings with movement could make Megill the arm out of nowhere like Jacob deGrom so many years ago. 

Here are some other optimistic thoughts watching what will have my attention for the next 7-8 months...

Luke Voit looks like a linebacker at the plate. He also represents the better quality of backups likely to live in the minors under President of Baseball Operations (POBO) David Stearns' first run at rebuilding the Mets' roster. Ji-Man Choi is another aged left-handed bat looking to make the team and take the trip up north. I don't think DJ Stewart is in jeopardy of losing his spot on the team because it's another outfield option. But if someone goes down for ten days, there's quality waiting. 

Stearns was in the SNY/WPIX booth with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling on Sunday and discussed getting familiar with the organization. In an earlier press conference, he said it would likely take a full year to get acquainted with everything from the pro teams to the minor leagues and the coaching staff that led those players. One of those people would be the Mets' new manager, Carlos Mendoza, and the Mets' POBO spoke well of the man he just hired.

“We enjoyed the conversation and that’s so much a part of [this] relationship,” Stearns said. “You just got to enjoy talking to each other and talking about the game and working through problems.”

Jose Butto pitched well and could be this season’s version of Trevor Williams from 2022, serving as a 6th starter/bulk innings eater on the MLB roster. The 25-year-old isn’t afraid to use his 94-mph fastball in the zone to stay out of bad counts. He also used a sinker picked up last season to keep Houston scoreless over his two innings. Francisco Alvarez hit an opposite-field home run for his first of the spring to put the Mets ahead in their 3-1 win over Houston Sunday.

“He used it a lot today and I think that pitch can help him in doing better than last year,” said Alvarez to the New York Post.

His potential is either downgraded or forgotten when prognosticators discuss the upcoming Mets' season. The graph for the first four months of his major league career goes up and down like a roller coaster. During all that was happening at the plate, the rookie catcher connected with a veteran pitching staff and earned their trust. Alvarez's overall defense was much better than expected, so it's not too much to expect him to be a quality bat toward the back end of the lineup. 

Part of becoming a big leaguer is the press requirements. Reporters at your locker before and after everything is only the beginning. In New York, that means in-game dugout interviews with Cohen and Darling. Mark Vientos was first this spring, and it was joyful to see water being squirted as he tried to answer questions. Vientos admitted that "(Brett) Baty is messing with me," as Cohen called the last action of the inning and moved to commercial. That's the normalcy I've been longing for all winter, and that's the truth.

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