He hasn’t pitched since he threw a scoreless inning on September 16th against the Milwaukee Brewers, and Frank Francisco will remain unavailable out of the bullpen for the Mets and Terry Collins. The team’s closer underwent an MRI the other day and showed that there was no structural damage in his right elbow, and his status remains day-to-day with tendinitis.
Francisco is on the 2013 payroll, and is scheduled to make $6.5 million in the last year of a two-year/$12 million deal he signed this past winter with the team. When asked about why keeping him available to pitch in one of the team’s final nine games of the season instead of shutting him down, Collins said that since there is no structural damage in his elbow, there is “no reason” as to why he shouldn’t be able to pitch once his tendinitis calms down. I agree with Collins on his point of view, as the season winds down, it’s imperative for Francisco ( 5.53 ERA, 23 saves, 47 K’s in 42.1 IP) to pitch well and end 2012 strong, giving him something to look forward to and build on for 2013.
In a qualifying game for the World Baseball Classic, Adam Loewen helped Team Canada punch their ticket for the tournament, as they trumped Germany 11-1. Loewen went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, including a 2nd inning two-run home run. Once he lost out to Mike Baxter in Spring Training for a backup outfield spot, he was sent back down to Triple-A, where he struggled in 59 games and 207 at-bats, hitting .227/.328/.391, including 8 homers and 26 RBI. As we’ve mentioned here before, Ruben Tejada and Manny Acosta will also be playing in the qualifying rounds for Team Panama, but those games won’t be happening until November.
Justin Turner has had a solid season in a part-time role, but his extreme drop-off in at-bats from last year to this year have spurred him to decide to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. In 161 at-bats in 2012, Turner is hitting .273/.326/.373, which includes 17 RBI. That’s a stark difference from 2011, where he filled in frequently for injured players, getting 435 at-bats and hitting .260/.334/.356 and driving in 51 runs while being the best clutch hitter on the team when it came to runners in scoring position.
Fans have been waiting for Jason Bay to get cut thanks to an abysmal 2012 campaign (.155/.231/.294), and many feel he’ll get a chance in Spring Training, and if he can’t produce, he will be losing his roster spot to someone who can do his job better. Well, Adam Ruben reported that according to a team source that spoke with Mike Puma of the New York Post, there will be “zero” chance the Mets will be cutting Bay loose in the Spring, who is owed $19 million next season, including his buyout.
He basically has no trade value for other teams due to a horrible year that included two trips to the disabled list, and even if Sandy Alderson was contemplating cutting Bay before the team breaks camp next Spring, there will be no way that he will let that sentiment known now. However, Ruben made a good point in the fact that the organization has to come up with some solutions for the outfield before they can let him go. Scott Hairston may not be back, as he’s a free agent, and rumors say Andres Torres won’t be offered a contract, leaving Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who hasn’t played a full year in the Bigs yet, Lucas Duda (unless he gets traded), and Mike Baxter, who’s better in a reserve role.
I think that Bay will be cut in the Spring if he doesn’t produce (a la Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo); Alderson has already set the precedent that he doesn’t care how much money they’re making, if you don’t contribute, you’re out. With his comments on WFAN about a month ago, stating the team needs more productive players, it’s very possible he brings enough outfielders to displace Bay. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.