New York Mets Spring Training Nuggets: Perez, Emaus, Byrdak

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     Good day my fellow Mets fans! Just think! In less than one week from today, we’ll be discussing actual Met games that count in the standings! Though we anticipate it every year, it never gets old, nor does it ever lose its excitement. A new year, a new slate, and a new opportunity for our beloved Mets. We’ve got a new chain of command running the show now, and all of us are eager to see what kind of response the major moves upstairs have on the 2011 ballclub. And while everything might not be totally ready to go despite the dwindling amount of time towards Opening Day – like Ronny Paulino’s puzzling blood work irregularities, as well as knowing for certain whether or not Carlos Beltran will be in the lineup once Game #1 is in progress – over the last week we have learned some things that will definitely be in place once the season begins.

     First and foremost, Oliver Perez’s tenure with the Mets can officially be filed under ‘H’ for history! Yes, early this past week, the team put the erratic lefthander out of his misery and let him go. He ended up inking a minor league pact with the Washington Nationals. Imagine that? Both he and Luis Castillo ending up on two of our NL East rivals. The jury’s still out as to whether or not either guy contributes much to their new ballclubs, but still interesting all the same. But as for Perez, the writing was more or less on the wall for the one-time Sports Illustrated cover boy after that final outing of his in Port St. Lucie. Even Kevin Burkhardt pondered on the air whether or not Perez tossed his last pitch in a Met uniform. Everyone knew it was coming, and all I can say is good riddance. I have far less sympathy for Ollie than I do for Castillo, especially after he showed absolutely no interest in bettering his mechanics last season by accepting a minor league assignment. Castillo is breaking down due to his age, Ollie isn’t even 30 yet. Whatever. What’s in the past is in the past, but also the past regrettably can’t be changed. 36 million dollars over 3 years for 3 wins and a 6.81 ERA? I for one certainly am not crying over or feeling bad for Oliver Perez, and I likely never will.

     Onto some position player news now, and though nothing has been officially announced yet, it’s all but certain that Brad Emaus has won the Mets starting 2nd base job, and will break camp with the big club. Unfortunately, no one really stuck out and locked the job up over the course of the Grapefruit League schedule, and I think Emaus kind of won by default with his Rule 5 status. With him being a Rule 5 draft pick, the Mets have to keep him on the 25-man roster for the entire season or they will lose him to his former organization, the Toronto Blue Jays. To his credit however, despite getting off to an excruciatingly slow start in spring training, Emaus has more than picked up the pace over his last few Grapefruit League games. Entering play today, his spring slash line sits at a sweet .295/.404/.455 mark, which any Mets fan would accept from the black hole second base slot in a heartbeat. He’s probably unlikely to replicate such numbers during his rookie season in Queens, but Emaus is known for getting on base at a healthy clip, which should be welcomed in the Mets batting order. Scouting reports say his range at second does leave a lot to be desired, but I foresee the Mets inserting defensive whiz Chin-lung Hu late into ballgames when stellar defense is a priority. Welcome to the big leagues Brad!

     And in addition to Emaus and Hu, a lot of other players signed to affordable deals are likely on their way to Queens this season. That list includes Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, and Pedro Beato. Each man certainly has something to offer the club, and I’m real happy that the people in charge of constructing the roster have "trimmed the fat" in regards to players like Castillo and Perez, and are solely committed to putting together the best possible roster. However, there is one guy in particular I am especially happy is part of the team, and that guy is southpaw Tim Byrdak. Not only was he lights out this spring – 8.2 innings pitched, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP – but the 37-year old has been lights out his whole career when it comes to getting lefthanded batters out. He’s held them to a miniscule .202 batting average, and that will be especially handy when the Mets need to retire a tough lefty batter such as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, or Jason Heyward in a tight spot late in the ballgame. With Pedro Feliciano gone, I’m glad the Mets have found a replacement in Byrdak who’s performed well in the lefty-specialist role in the past.

     Well you know what time it is now, time to sound off! How great do you feel knowing that Perez will not hinder this club in the slightest in 2011? Do you agree with the Mets decision to make Emaus their fulltime second baseman? And finally, do you think that new lefty-specialist Byrdak will make us forget all about Feliciano when the season starts? Comment your opinions below, and thank you very much for stopping by to read! Make sure you look out during the middle of this week for the special "20 questions about the 2011 Mets" post, and enjoy this final Sunday without regular season baseball! The season is nearly here my friends!