When New York Mets pitchers and catchers reported to spring training yesterday, one had a slightly different look. Starter Jonathon Niese had off-season nose surgery that was originally intended for cosmetic reasons, but ended up helping him to breathe more easily. If this ends up helping Niese to improve his stamina, we can thank Carlos Beltran for planting the idea in his former teammate’s head last year.
Today is the first official day of workouts, and there are two bullpen sessions that will probably attract a lot of media attention. Johan Santana is scheduled to throw again after a successful bullpen session Friday, and it’s important to see how he handles a regular throwing schedule. Prospect Jenrry Mejia, who made his debut in 2010 to mixed and fairly disappointing results, is scheduled to throw off a mound for the first time since having Tommy John surgery last year.
And while I was concerned about what the new basic agreement would do to the Mets’ ability to sign players through the amateur draft, it seems that they will be allowed to spend slightly more this year than they did in 2011. (Of course, it remains to be seen whether they are willing — or can afford to — spend the full amount allocated for their draft bonus pool.)
In other baseball news, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera implied that this would be his final season in the major leagues. Normally, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear a 42-year-old baseball player talking about retirement — but Rivera really doesn’t pitch like a 42-year-old baseball player. Is there another closer you’d rather have in 2012 than the future Hall-of-Famer? I can’t think of one.
The Oakland Athletics capped off a bizarre off-season with a supposedly low-risk, high-reward signing — they brought in former Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez on a minor league contract. While he hasn’t been an everyday player since 2008, Ramirez was productive as recently as 2010. However, he must serve a 50-game suspension before he can begin playing for the Athletics.
Ramirez will turn 40 around the time he’s eligible to play in a major league, and I just don’t know what he has left. Athletics’ GM Billy Beane’s off-season plan was either sheer brilliance, or desperation. Oakland dumped two good, relatively young starting pitchers, as well as their closer and several decent hitters for prospects, then decided to roll the dice on 26-year-old Cuban free agent Yoenis Cespedes for $36 million over four years. Now Ramirez, however he fits in on a team that’s not built to win in 2012… I wonder if Jose Canseco can finagle a tryout.
“When I signed with the Mets (in February 2011) I told myself I was going to give it another shot and see where my mind and my body were,” Buchholz told the Delaware County Daily Times. “I pretty much got through two months of the season and then at that point I said, ‘I’m over this.’ I couldn’t handle it any more mentally. It was breaking me down to the point where I didn’t like baseball. It was making me an unhappy person.
So what do you think about the possibility that this is Mariano Rivera’s last season? How about Manny Ramirez’s comeback bid in Oakland? And what are you hoping to see in Mets camp this year?