Sunday, February 27, 2011

What Matters To Me During Spring Training

The offseason is gone and Spring Training games have already begun.  These games are mere exhibitions and for most players the stats don't matter.  However, for some players they mean everything.  I generally don't care about how a player does in Spring Training but this year I seem to care more than I have previously.  The Mets have more position battles and players looking to rebound from injuries so there is more to watch.

For example, players like David Wright and Ike Davis have guaranteed spots in the lineup so if they struggle during the exhibition games it doesn't mean much, but for Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus, and Luis Castillo, they are competing to play 2nd base.  A .230 batting average in Spring Training could change Murphy's career while it would do little to Wright's.

I'm also paying attention to Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan.  Last year Angel proved to be a more than adequate center fielder while Beltran came back from injury a few steps short.  Carlos still has a little while before he plays in a game but when he does, his defense will be important to watch.  He plays a shallow center field and that hurt him at the end of last year.  If he doesn't have all his speed I wonder if he'll move back a bit.

The main pitching stat I'm following is the ERA of Oliver Perez.  Yes, I simply want that number to get higher.  As much as I try to be optimistic about the possibility of him making the team, the more I'm reminded that he wouldn't just go to the minors last year to get himself together.  I could be watching the bullpen battle or the starting pitchers but bullpens tend to come together in mysterious ways, heck - last year Raul Valdes made the team after pitching in the Mexican League, and so many starting pitchers are needed throughout the season that I'm sure they'll all get a chance at some point.

Not all preseasons are equal.  Players have to earn the right to use Spring Training as the time to ease back into things.  Position battles are one of the few reasons Spring Training stats mean anything at all.  The Mets have a few so we should be amused for about another week before we want real games.

Let's Go Mets!

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