NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 01: Head Trainer Ray Ramirez walks Mike Baxter #23 of the New York Mets back to the dugout after being injured crashing into the wall during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at CitiField on June 1, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Mike Baxter is making his return with the Mets after separating his collarbone on June 1st preserving Johan Santana’s no-hitter. He’ll re-join the team in San Francisco starting tomorrow at 10:15pm. It’ll certainly be a triumphant return for the Queens native. I wish he had been able to play his first game at Citi Field. The crowd would’ve gone crazy for him.
Unfortunately, Kirk Nieuwenhuis was exposed by opposing pitchers after having a great start with the Mets. He’s currently hitting .252 with 7 HR’s and 28 RBI’s. The problem was 98 strikeouts in 282 at-bats.
It’s possible that Baxter could play left field predominantly against right-handers with Jason Bay playing against lefties. If Bay continues to struggle and Baxter keeps hitting, Baxter may be able to get a grip on the left field job permanently.
It’s starting to become obvious that Matt Den Dekker will be playing center field for the Mets at some point this season. Let’s face it… Andres Torres and his .220/.331/.325 line is better suited as a bench player than he is in center field every day at 34 years old. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has played a solid center field but Den Dekker is better. And if Den Dekker can hit consistently like he has this season at Binghamton and now Buffalo, it’s a done deal.
This season, between Binghamton and Buffalo, Den Dekker’s line is .333/.393/.562 in 249 at-bats. If he can play an outstanding center field, as he normally does, and make a contribution offensively at the big league level there’s no reason for him to remain in the minors. The Mets have several offensive black holes on their roster and Torres is one of them.
Check out the video below of Den Dekker’s first homer for Buffalo and ninth of the season last night in their 8-3 home loss to Pawtucket.
MLB Fan Cave comes out with some decent videos and this one is pretty good with Yankees pitcher Cody Eppley and Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenheis riding the 4 train together to Yankee Stadium. It’s pretty funny to see people’s reactions to them riding, in uniform, on the train.
Nieuwenhuis has been solid both offensively and defensively for the Mets so far this season. And he’s come up with some clutch hits too. I’m glad to see that the Mets kept him on the roster even though Jason Bay came off the disabled list this week. I think Nieuwenhuis should be starting in center field regularly with Andres Torres coming off the bench or late in games for defense.
The Mets had a great opening day with Johan Santana looking good for five innings of shutout ball. The pre-game ceremony celebrating the life of Hall of Famer Gary Carter was bittersweet, bringing back some great memories of the 80’s teams. But things went awry in the seventh inning when Andres Torres left the game with a calf strain and immediately went on the disabled list.
The problem is that center field is a position that the Mets are extremely thin at. The most likely scenario is that Kirk Nieuwenhuis joins the big league team. He missed a lot of time at Buffalo last year with a shoulder injury. And he’s been working out at Port St. Lucie instead of going to Buffalo with the rest of the team. If healthy, he’s the best option to play center field for a couple of weeks until Torres gets back. Maybe he’ll shine and take over the job and not give it back to Torres.
Scott Hairston is the backup center fielder. But he’s definitely not an everyday center fielder. He could fill in for a game or two here or there but he’s shaky in the outfield. You don’t want him out there everyday for two weeks.
On Friday the Mets announced that they added seven minor league players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. The players that they added were pitchers Robert Carson and Jeurys Familia, second baseman Reese Havens, and outfielders Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Cesar Puello.
Prior to this move the Mets removed Nick Evans and Jason Pridie from the 40-man roster. Both players elected for free agency and Pridie signed a minor league deal with the Oakland A’s.
As the Mets continue to trim their budget, we should see some of these prospects getting a look in spring training for spots on the 25-man roster. Havens especially deserves a shot at the second base job despite his injury history. He’s probably the best second baseman in the organization right now. Also expect Nieuwenhuis to get a look at the center or right field positions in the spring. He’s coming off season ending shoulder surgery but should be ready to go in February.
Here’s a promotional video from the B-Mets for their three Eastern League All-Stars Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Nickeas, and Josh Stinson. All three are having really good seasons, especially Nieuwenhuis. He may even see some time with the big club in September if he keeps it up. Check out their stats at the B-Mets site.
I’m working on a post of five prospects that could make an impact at the Major League level in 2010. These players are the prospects that you should be paying attention to this year as the Mets of the future. Enjoy:
1. Reese Havens, SS/2B (age 23)
Reese Havens, in my opinion, is really one of the more underrated prospects in the Mets system. While there may be questions of where he will wind up (SS or 2B), he has a strong skill set for a middle infielder: power and plate discipline. Havens is coming off of a solid campaign in the Florida State League in which he put up a batting line of .247/.361/.422 while smacking 14 HR and driving in 52 runs. He has had a bit of an issue with staying healthy so that is going to be quite important for him in 2010, but he is easily one of the top candidates to have a real breakout year next season.