Is there anything better than the first innings of baseball each year?
From the depths of the chilly and mundane
sports period that runs from the last minutes of the Super Bowl until the first minutes of Spring Training that are littered with Sports Center highlights that can only be described as downright boring, comes the dawn of the baseball season.
With one swoop, the sports landscape becomes dominated with baseball -— as it should be.
This year I had the chance to fulfill a childhood dream and make my way down to Port St. Lucie to see firsthand the optimistic brand of baseball that only Spring Training can provide. In short, it was brilliant.
Not only was I mere feet from some of my favorite Mets players, but I was able to see a glimpse into the future of not only this upcoming season, but beyond.
As the Mets took on the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition match, I was able to see players like Lucas Duda and Ike Davis continue their impressive springs, while also being able to see just how awful Mike Pelfrey really is.
First off, I think Duda is quickly becoming one of my most anticipated players to watch this season. The kid possesses such raw power that it is hard not to imagine what a full season in the majors will allow him to produce. The home run he crushed in the game was unbelievable, as his swing makes it seem effortless.
If Duda is able to play like he did last season, I see no reason not to expect 20 or more home runs from the right fielder, and should find himself a permanent home as the Mets’ No. 5 hitter.
Davis also had an impressive game and left me with no reservations over the fact he will bounce back from last year’s injury that shelved him for all but 36 games. His opposite field home run in the first inning was a thing of beauty, which I expect him to continue into the regular season.
Between Duda and Davis, the Mets have two players with gushing power potential to compliment David Wright’s swing in the middle of the order. The Mets starting pitching has been solid so far this spring (minus Pelfrey) and if that continues, the middle of their order will be the key for a competitive season.
Finally, I had the misfortune of watching Pelfrey start for the Mets. In classic ‘Big Pelf’ fashion, he dazzled in the first two innings by throwing hard sinkers and confusing Cardinal hitters. However, after that the wheels fell off, much like fans have grown accustomed to.
Four runs, a hit batter and a trip to the mound later, Pelfrey had unraveled into his seemingly normal self, ultimately giving up the lead the Mets offense had given to him.
If Pelfrey can have a strong first half — or at the very least a serviceable one — the Mets might be able to unload him at the trade deadline come July 31. The return package would not be overly sweet, but at this point Pelfrey might be doing more harm than good in Queens.