Eduardo Escobar’s pep talk, roster cuts, and Jeff McNeil’s important camp
Eduardo Escobar recently made a motivational speech to Mets minor leaguers
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
The Mets did not play a Grapefruit League game on Monday - they instead held a light intrasquad game at Clover Park.
The Mets announced on Monday catcher Francisco Álvarez, OF Carlos Cortes, catcher Nick Meyer, RHP José Rodríguez, RHP Antonio Santos, LHP Josh Walker INF Brett Baty, OF Jake Mangum, INF Matt Reynolds and LHP Rob Zastryzny have been reassigned to minor league camp. There are 40 players left in big league camp.
The Mets will hold a pre-game ceremony to honor Johan Santana and the ten-year anniversary of his no-hitter on May 31 (story)
New Mets infielder Eduardo Escobar recently took it upon himself to give a motivational speach to the players in minor league camp (New York Post)
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets vs. Marlins
Where: Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium - Jupiter, FL
Starters: RHP Chris Bassitt vs. RHP Pablo López
When: 6:10 PM ET
Where to Watch: Not on TV - available on Marlins Radio via MLB.com
Jeff McNeil is having a positive camp, and that feels important📝
I’ve seen enough Cinderella stories in spring training over the course of my life to know stats in the Grapefruit League or Cactus League do not matter.
And they don’t. The conditions are different, there are literally no stakes for winning and losing, the crowds are smaller, and golf or fishing often awaits major league players in the fifth inning. And how many players have opened eyes in March only to quickly shut them in April.
It’s about the process, right? Even if the results aren’t there in camp, players will say the process is being executed and it will eventually translate into success.
But for a player like Jeff McNeil, who is coming off a season in which his offense regressed and both injury and controversy were sandwiched in between, a strong, or in his case, a positive camp feels more important in this case.
To be fair, McNeil had to shift gears when the Mets let hitting coach Chili Davis go early in the year, resulting in new voices and new messages for him and everyone else in the clubhouse (and obviously, the change solved nothing for the club offensively in 2021). But once McNeil began to struggle last year, he began tinkering with his swing and approach, according to Pat Ragazzo of SI.com.
And that resulted in way too many ground balls, ineffective plate appearances, and visible frustration for McNeil.
But McNeil took the off-season - which swirled with trade rumors around him - to reboot with hopes of getting back to the place he was in prior to the lost 2021 season.
"I just kind of put it behind me," he said to Ragazzo. "(I) came into spring training with a fresh mind and feeling good. I'm in a positive place."
So far this spring, McNeill is 3-for-13 with a .353 OBP. The stat line doesn’t necessarily suggest a positive result in the small sample, but he seems to have reverted to the line-to-line approach he employed that made him a .319 hitter from 2018-2020.
He believes new hitting coach Eric Chávez has helped him maintain a singular focus.
“(Chavez) has been in the same shoes as we have," McNeil told Ragazzo. "He understands how hard it is at times, so It's nice because when you're struggling a little bit, so is he.”
A lot is riding on McNeil, so a strong finish to camp while maintaining his re-found approach will be paramount to getting off to a necessary strong start. Mets manager Buck Showalter has already said McNeil will be the primary second baseman out of the gate. The Mets do have some options behind him between Robinson Canó and Luis Guillorme in theory, but McNeil is going to be the lynchpin on the right side of the infield and in the lineup as the club endeavors to build a more contact-like approach at the plate in 2022.
Even so, because of McNeil’s strong early history, he’s still a good bet to get back on the horse, bounce back, and be the impact hitter that emerged for the Mets at the end of the 2018 season. He has hit everywhere he’s been, and even the best players in the game fall off-track at times.
It’s just about trusting the process. It’s all he and the Mets can hope for.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Dodgers traded Matt Beaty to the Padres (official release)
José Ramirez has discussed a contract extension with the Guardians (Cleveland.com)
The Twins signed RHP Chris Archer to a one-year contract (official release)
After joining the Cardinals on a one-year deal future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols said will retire after the 2022 season (St. Louis Post Dispatch)