Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nothing but rainbows and lollipops in Port St. Lucie

Kelvim Escobar's throwing timetable aside, the news out of the Mets spring training facility has been almost unrelentingly positive. Maybe it's just hope springing eternal, but there have been so many feel-good stories out of Port St. Lonesome that it would surpise no one if, during a fielding drill, a High School Musical-like dance routine spontaneously broke out.


Henry Blanco and Rod Barajas: Two defensive-minded backstops (Blanco caught Johan Santana in his Cy Young season in Minnesota) have been getting all kinds of love for their reputations as guys who can really help a pitching staff and whip into shape those who may need some whipping (we're looking at you, Ollie and Big Pelf). That, and they couldn't have been had any cheaper. Nice work, Omar.

Jose Reyes: Holy cow, is it great seeing him on the field again. And now that he finally has custom-made shoes from UnderArmour, we can all breathe easy. As for Reyes batting third, if he's cool with it, why not? As Eric Karabell notes on ESPN, batting third won't necessarily mean a big drop in stolen bases. Even if it did, if the offense performed better as a whole, that's what really matters. And it would deepen the lineup. Hmmmmm.

Keith Hernandez working with Daniel Murphy and others at first base: I'm really looking forward to seeing what Murphy can do this year. Getting 15 HR, 40 2B, 70-80 RBI and a .270 average is certainly in the realm of possibility, and would be great considering where he'd be hitting in a lineup after Reyes, Wright, Bay, Beltran (eventually) and probably Francouer. And you know his defense will be better. Why? Because his teacher is Keith Hernandez, that's why.

Beltran's right on target: At least that's what he's saying, but hearing that he was pain-free the day after all the junk was taken out of his knee was heartening.

Pelfrey and Perez came in to camp in shape: Big Pelf is actually Not-Quite-as-Big Pelf, having lost 20 pounds or so, and though there were some differing tweets, by all accounts Ollie looks good. Here's hoping his off-season training regimen included regular visits with someone like Dr. Melfi. Luis Castillo also reported to camp in great shape, saying he was undaunted by the constant trade rumors.

Jason Bay's one hell of a guy (and ballplayer): Signing autographs immediately upon his arrival in St. Lucie, Bay only solidified his reputation as a solid clubhouse presence, which will go nicely alongside his offensive numbers.

There was much talk in the winter about "changing the culture" of the team, and think about who's gone. Carlos Delgado, who may have had too much presence and aloofness, and Gary Sheffield, replaced by Bay, Blanco and Barajas.

Sounds like an upgrade in character, too. Then again, that may just be the Kool-Aid talking.

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