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Slightly Used Infielder for Sale, Inquire Within

Mike SteffanosTuesday, March 14, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Funny, yesterday I finally started coming around to the thinking that maybe it was time to cut Kaz Matsui loose at any cost, and he gets a couple of hits and drives in 3 runs. I'm happy for Matsui -- who really seems to be trying hard to prove that signing him in 2004 wasn't a huge mistake for the Mets. I'm still really concerned about him -- not so much with his hitting, which will probably be okay for a second baseman, but his fielding. He's really struggled this spring, and he just doesn't show signs of really grasping the position.

He's got to come out playing at least with competence at the position or there will be a veritable sh--storm of boos constantly cascading down on him, to the detriment of the team as a whole. Mike Cameron proved to be tough enough to change those boos into cheers, but Matsui comes up short in that area, I think. He means well, and he has talent which, under different circumstances, might have made him an entertaining player -- at a lower salary and a lot less hype coming in.

It's not going to help matters if Willie Randolph continues to give the impression that Matsui is being given an unearned advantage for what supposedly is an "open" job. I believe even fans that maintain a level of benefit of the doubt towards Matsui will be turned off by the impression that Jeff Keppinger never received a fair chance.

Many people believe the Mets are using the spring as an audition for Matsui, and that he will be gone somewhere else before the season. I'm not convinced of that, and I find it hard to imagine a scenario where Kaz' sad saga has a happy ending. As a Met fan, I will continue to root for him while he's here, for the sake of the team and because I always pull for the underdog. However, I understand that at this point Kaz will have to improve his level of play beyond what he has shown, or there is no chance of him ever being accepted in New York.

Newsday: Xavier Nady
Mark Herrmann profiles Xavier Nady, who has taken an even firmer hold on the right field job with another impressive blast. Despite the fact that some are doubting his potential after 3 fairly unimpressive major league campaigns, Nady feels that hasn't touched his potential yet:

You always think back. You think about at-bats. I had 500 at-bats [one year] in A ball, a couple hundred in Triple A and the first thing I knew, I was in the big leagues. So a couple guys have told me, 'You haven't had many at-bats above the college level.' So you hope you keep experiencing it, getting closer to where you want to be. This may be the opportunity.

I've always been pretty competitive and I'm going to play hard every day. But I think this whole offseason was getting ready for a big year, having the opportunity to play in such a wonderful city.

That's probably fair. I'm one of those that have looked at what Nady has done up to this point and don't see him as a full-time big leaguer, but in fairness, he hasn't had a tremendous opportunity to prove himself. He had 2 full minor league seasons in 2001 and 2002, and he was rushed right from A-ball to Triple-A in that second year. He's played part-time in the major leagues since. Maybe he can hit right-handers better than he has shown so far. We'll find out, I guess, as Nady is running away with the job right now.

Daily News: High-Tech Rick
Peter Botte has an interesting story on pitching coach Rick Peterson's use of technology to analyze pitcher's motions. Rick Peterson informs Botte what high-tech analysis can accomplish:

I've been involved in this for a long time, since 1989, and since we've been involved in these studies, we believe we've gained a lot of knowledge that can benefit pitchers over the course of their careers.

You're getting every measurement that a pitcher goes through. You're getting stride length, knee and foot contact, ball release, hip rotation, velocity, upper torso rotation, arm angles, everything that constitutes good and bad mechanics.

...That's all it is, it's about information. How could you not want to know if there's something that could be detected that could help these guys have long and productive careers? The major factor with this is to reduce the risk of injury rather than to enhance performance.

Given the Mets track record with pitching, they could use whatever help they can get to keep their pitchers healthy.

Bergen Record: Mike Pelfrey
Steve Popper profiles the Mets wunderkind, who has really wowed everyone in camp this spring. Omar Minaya likes what he has seen so far:

He's not afraid. He is mature. We put him against the toughest competition right off the bat and he just blended in.

There's definitely a sign of youthfulness, fearlessness, but he's like a kid. He's just got a youthfulness about him that stands out. You can tell he's a kid. But his physical maturity, his overall game between the white lines, it's pretty impressive.

New York Post: 2007 Shopping Spree?
Mark Hale looks ahead to next winter, when the Mets will only have $60 million in guaranteed contracts on the books.

New York Times: The Bullpen
With Juan Padilla -- one of the few relievers the Mets had who was effective against lefties last year -- out of the picture, Ben Shpigel looks at candidates for the job.

Metscentric: Frank Thomas
Barry from Metscentric continues his look at his favorite Mets with a profile of Frank Thomas (no, not that one), who played for the Amazin's at the dawn of their existence.

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