Jonathon Niese's 2011 Allen & Ginter card

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.

Amateur draft

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.)

Around MLB

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.

Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez's 2008 Topps ALDS highlight card

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.

Taylor Buchholz

Former Mets reliever Taylor Buchholz is coaching high school baseball and spoke with his hometown newspaper over the weekend about depression.

“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?

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About Paul Hadsall

I'm the former editor of a weekly community newspaper and current contributor to Hot Stove Baseball. I've been a New York Mets fan for most of my life and I've been blogging about them, minor league baseball, baseball cards and autograph collecting since 2007. Contact me at paul@randombaseballstuff.com

8 responses

  1. MJ says:

    My guess is that Oakland will have a much better year than the Mets, when it’s all said and done. That organization is loaded with pitching and Cespedes is the real deal. As I understand the deal on Manny, his salary isn’t going to be much more than the major league minimum. Half a mil, tops. He’s a bargain at twice that. Hell, yeah, I’d do that. In a heartbeat. Manny is one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen. No matter how old he is, you just put a bat in his hands, point him to home plate, and watch the hits fly. Frankly, I think its organizational malpractice that the Mets didn’t pick him up. I guarantee they’d draw more fans with him than they will without him.

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    • Paul says:

      You really want to see a 40-year-old slugger who failed two substance tests on your team? I’ll pass.

      Manny in his prime was a great hitter. Manny in 2012? I guess we’ll find out in a few months.

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      • MJ says:

        Let’s see. Do I want a 40 year old natural hitter like Manny on my team? Or would I rather watch the Mets plug and play a 32 year old Scott Hairston and two 33 year olds–Jason Bay and Andres Torres? Hmm. That’s a tough one. Bay makes about $16 million this year and has batted around .250 with a grand total of 18 home runs since coming to the Mets. Torres will be making $2.7 million for his career batting average of .244. Hairston’s another lifetime .244 hitter and he’ll be pulling down $1.1 million. Manny Ramirez is a career .312 hitter who can still (at his worst) hit more home runs in one year than any of the other three can in two AND he’ll be making $305,000 (which isn’t even guaranteed). But you’re right. There’s no sense in signing someone who is actually a major league ballplayer at a bargain basement price. On this Mets team, any actual talent would just confuse them. As for the “substance” issues, I find it difficult to get all upset about supposed P.E.D.’s when baseball has forever turned a blind eye to amphetamines and still does and when a Steve Howe can get nine chances for actual substance abuse. Besides–and I say the same thing about Bonds–P.E.D.’s do nothing to enhance one’s batting eye. Manny is a natural hitter. And the Mets don’t have any of those on the roster right now. Not even close.

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  2. Its a great time to be in Florida for the next six weeks!

    The weather is perfect and BASEBALL IS BACK!

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  3. Ryan says:

    Weird story about Niese! But at least it’s something different to talk about over the first few days of the season.

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  4. Freddy says:

    You think Ramirez would have learned his lesson getting caught the first time.

    If 2012 is it for Rivera, hopefully he’ll go out on a high note and get a 6th ring.

    Cooperstown, NY is going to look like Times Square @ New Years Eve when Jeter and Rivera are enshrined. At least there will be no cap controversy.

    I heard hotel rooms near Cooperstown were booked 5 years in advance when Cal Ripken, Jr announced his retirement.

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