By Mike Steffanos
One of the emerging stories from spring training seems to be the Mets determination to start the season with Kaz Matsui at second base. For reasons of his own, the only other candidate that Willie Randolph seemed inclined to give a fair shot to was the departed Brett Boone. The fact that Anderson Hernandez is playing a lot of shortstop while Jose Reyes competes in the WBC supposedly is working against him. Jeff Keppinger just can't seem to get even an honest chance to win the job. Maybe the Mets should think about cutting this kid loose and letting him catch on with someone that would give him a real shot.
If the Mets are trying to build Matsui up with what they are doing, in the hopes they could find someone willing to take him off their hands (along with at least some of his salary) I think they're dreaming. He's done nothing this spring to enhance his value, and time is running out. Realistic thinking is needed here. It might be time to take a huge deep breath, swallow hard, and give serious thought to cutting Matsui loose. Chalk it all up to an expensive lesson in overhyping a player that has done nothing in MLB to earn it.
I'm not one that has a big chip on his shoulder about Matsui. I had no problem with an open competition for second base, and if Kaz wins the job legit that's fine. The problem is that Matsui still looks lost both at the plate and in the field. Mets fans aren't going to be patient with him. Even if Matsui was playing really well, he would face a long uphill battle for acceptance with the fans. As it stands now, unless Matsui has a huge turnaround in his level of play over the next couple of weeks, beginning the year with him as the starting second baseman is lunacy.
New York Times: No respect for Keppinger
Pat Borzi reports on the strange saga that Jeff Keppinger is living this spring. He's outplaying Kaz Matsui in what is supposed to be an open competition for the second base job, but manager Willie Randolph has this to say about him:
Keppinger really wasn't in the mix. Keppinger was kind of a long shot, and he's still kind of a long shot, but he's there.
Who can blame Keppinger if he sounds somewhat down on his chances with the Mets:
I had a friend who was watching a telecast, and they put Willie on the headphones during the game, and he pretty much said the same thing. Whatever. I don't know. They don't really say much to me. When they put me in to play, I play. When they send me, I go.
It's not a surprise. I figured that would be kind of the way it would go. That's all right. I get in there, I do what I can, and hopefully somebody takes notice.
Bergen Record: Trachsel's back
Steve Popper reports on Steve Trachsel one year after his back surgery.
Mets.com: The fundamentals
Marty Noble offers a story on the attention to detail the Mets are implementing for the farm hands -- in this case specifically pitching prospects learning to properly cover first. This quote from pitching instructor Rick Waits says it all:
You can't always make the plays perfectly in the game. But you can make sure you practice perfectly. And we are.
Stuff like this can seem small, but it's the kind of thing that separates successful organizations from the pack.
Newsday: Benson misses New York
Mark Herrmann reports on Kris Benson, who is "disappointed" about missing out on the excitement of what the Mets might accomplish this season.
Mets.com: Doing it Wright
Marty Noble talks about David Wright's improving defense at third base.