Well, it’s just spring training, but they are still games, so here are my impressions from the first exhibition game of 2010.
— First, I’m glad MLB Network carried the game, since I live in Los Angeles and don’t get SNY. And by the way, it’s really cool to roll out of bed and watch games at 10am. This way, when the game is still over, I still have most of the day to waste. During the season (I buy the MLB package), the 4pm start time is a pleasure as well. I can watch the whole game, and still go out at night. Also, it helps not to work.
— If this game is any indication, we will spend the rest of the season listening to John Mellencamp sing “This is Our Country” in those car commercials. I didn’t realize until now how little I missed those ads.
— The Mets seem to be taking that “Prevention and Recovery” motto a little too seriously. They benched most of the starters because of a rainstorm a few hours before the game. I hear during the season they may draw the line at morning dew.
— Nelson Figueroa pitched a pretty good game, getting out of a tight spot in the 2nd by striking out the side. He is being considered for the fifth starter spot, and I think that’s a mistake. Figueroa is a nice story — a local guy who is a career minor leaguer getting a chance to pitch for his boyhood team. But Figueroa is adequate at best. You know that given 30 starts, he’ll end up 10-12 with a 4.50 era. There is no upside (to use an extremely worn sports cliche) with Figueroa. At least Jon Niese can become something more than just adequate. Figueroa is all right to have around as a long reliever or down in Triple-A in case a starter goes down with injury, but relying on him every fifth day would not be a good thing.
— When are the Mets going to move Wilmer Flores to second base? Flores is one of the bright spots of the Mets farm system. He plays shortstop, but the Mets already have a shortstop, a guy named Jose Reyes. If the Mets are truly committed to Reyes past next season when his contract is up, why haven’t they move Flores to second already? What are they waiting for? Could they have plans for a future without Reyes? That’s a lot of questions.
— Speaking of Reyes, there was an interesting conversation during the broadcast about his planned switch to third in the batting order. Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling would prefer he remain in the leadoff spot, saying he is the sparkplug for the team. And they questioned whether Angel Pagan can provide the kind of spark that Reyes has. Playing devil’s advocate, Gary Cohen pointed out that Reyes petered out at the end of 2007 and 2008, and perhaps since he won’t be stealing as many bases from the third slot, he may not get as tired as the season wears on. I think it’s a good thing to try, at least until Carlos Beltran comes back. If Pagan (or whomever) can’t get the job done, then move Reyes back to the top of the order when Beltran limps back to the lineup.
— I have no idea who won the game. I had a guitar/harmonica lesson. I really don’t care about spring training games.