Trump-Obama Photo Critique

By Ethan Marshall

The New York Times article examines President Trump’s recent claims that Former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump’s phones in Trump Tower last year.  The pacing of the story varies in that it starts with providing background information on the issue discussed in the article.  The article then provides quotes and reactions from Trump and his associates, as well as, Obama’s associates.  The article then goes over the process it would take for the president to even be allowed to wiretap someone, as well as, the restrictions the president faces in doing this.  Next,  the article goes over Trump and his cabinet’s connections with Russia over the past two years.  In addition, the article mentions where Trump may have gotten this idea, citing a recent Breitbart article, which made these claims without any evidence, and a conservative radio host expressing this conspiracy theory.

The first photo is a wide shot of Obama and Trump sitting across the aisle from each other during Trump’s inauguration.  The photo displays the rift between the president and his predecessor.  The photo reflects the distrust the two have with each other.  The positions in which Obama and Trump are located and facing also reflects the political state of the country, with Obama on and looking to the left, and Trump on and looking to the right.  The caption works with the image to tell the story in that the two had a rocky relationship before Trump took office.  While the two seemed to get along after Trump took over as president, Trump’s bitterness towards Obama has seemed to return with his allegation of Obama spying on him last year.

The other image is a creative shot of Trump Tower in New York City.  The image is taken from a distance from the floor, in order to display the sign of the tower, as well as, the armed security guarding it.  The photo supports the caption in that it provides the location in which President Trump claims his predecessor wiretapped him (without any evidence).  The fact that the image is taken from the floor makes the security and the building look intimidating to whoever looks at the image.

 

Live Tweet of Islanders vs. Rangers 2/16/17

By Ethan Marshall

Twitter handle: Piazzafan1000

Who’s at First?

By Ethan Marshall

 

With Mets first baseman Lucas Duda dealing with back and hip issues, now is the time for the Mets to test out some of their other players at first base.  While there is no reason to think right now that Duda won’t be healthy by opening day, the Mets will need to have a backup plan at first in case Duda gets hurt, remains hurt, or struggles.  It is worth noting that Duda missed most of last season due to a stress fracture in his back.

The leading candidates to take over first base for Duda are Neil Walker and Jay Bruce.  Both players have been taking reps at the position this spring.  While Walker moving to first base provides flexibility around the infield, allowing for Reyes and Wright to be in the lineup at the same time, it makes way more sense for the Mets to move Bruce to first base.  With Bruce playing first base, Michael Conforto would be able to fit in at right field, solving the logjam the Mets face in their outfield.  Additionally, Wilmer Flores would still see plenty of playing time at first base against lefties if the Mets were to go with Bruce at first base.

Duda’s injury couldn’t have come at a better time.  Since it’s still very early in spring training, Bruce and Walker have plenty of time to get acclimated to the first base position. Even if Duda is healthy again before the end of spring training, the Mets would have should something happen to Duda.

Another first base option could be David Wright.  Wright is still trying to get his arm strength back.  Moving Wright to first base would allow for Reyes to play third while also sparing Wright from having to throw across the diamond.  While this seems practical, it isn’t really necessary for the Mets to have another right-handed hitting first baseman.  The Mets want Flores in the lineup against lefties.  Last season against lefties, Flores hit .340, with a .319 on-base-percentage, .710 slugging percentage, and 11 homers.

 

 

 

 

Mets’ Fab Four Won’t Pitch in a Game Until March 5th: By Ethan Marshall

The Mets have and will continue to be cautious in the workload of their young starting rotation.  Terry Collins told reporters today that Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz won’t be appearing in a spring training game until as early as March 5th, and that Zack Wheeler could be seeing action in the Grapefruit League as early as March 8th.  In an effort to keep them healthy, the Mets’ starting rotation has been kept to a lighter workload so far this spring.

Each of the young starters dealt with injuries in 2016 following their run into the 2015 World Series.  Harvey was very ineffective before he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, requiring season-ending surgery.  deGrom experienced fatigue early in the season, with his fastball velocity decreasing from the mid-to-upper-90s to the lower 90s. deGrom would catch the injury bug in September when he required elbow surgery to move the ulnar collateral ligament.  Matz was diagnosed with a large bone spur in his pitching arm early last season.  He attempted to pitch through it, but was eventually shut down in September after missing about a month due to a shoulder impingement.  Wheeler hasn’t pitched in a major league game since September of 2014.  After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, Wheeler suffered a series of setbacks in his rehab in 2016, before being shut down.  Syndergaard was the only one from the young staff able to make it through the season, though he did so with a small bone spur in his pitching arm.  There is also worry that Syndergaard may one day require Tommy John surgery.  He is the only one of this young and dynamic rotation to have never had the surgery.

The Mets understand that they need to be conservative in how they use their starters this spring.  They need to make sure the rotation is healthy and fresh, but not rusty.  The Mets’ 2015 pennant-winning run likely contributed to at least some of the injuries on the starting core.  With a whole offseason to recuperate, the Mets are optimistic that their rotation can stay intact this year and possibly lead them back to the World Series.  There is no need to rush these pitchers into games.  They don’t need to be throwing every single workout day.  2017 would mark the first time that all five of the Mets’ prized pitchers would be healthy and active at the same time.

Walking Away: By Ethan Marshall

The Mets and Neil Walker can’t seem to reach an agreement over a contract extension.  Yesterday, Mike Puma of The New York Post reported that the extension talks are “probably dead.”  Before Walker accepted the Mets’ $17.2 million qualifying offer, it was being reported by multiple sources that the sides were talking about a possible 3-year contract worth a little over $40 million.  According to Marc Carig of Newsday, the extension talks “hit a snag” when the Mets wanted to restructure Walker’s 2017 salary of $17.2 million.

While the speculation sounds accurate, it also goes against Sandy Alderson’s statement Sunday concerning where the Mets’ payroll stands.  Alderson told reporters, “We’re all in here,” going on to say that money isn’t too much of a factor at this point for the team, which currently has a payroll around $150 million.  “I think it’s a credit to ownership that our payroll is as high as it is now, given where we’ve been as recently as two years ago and where our budget might have been.  But we’ve had the fortune here recently of being able to take advantage of opportunities, or not have to make moves on the basis primarily of payroll.  So from that standpoint, we should all be pleased,” Alderson said.

Alderson has flip-flopped on the team’s payroll already over the offseason.  Early in the offseason, Alderson said he wanted to trade Jay Bruce as a means of lowering the team’s payroll and allowing him to sign some relievers.  Not only has Alderson held onto Bruce and his $13 million, but he’s also added relievers Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins, adding around $9.5 million to the payroll.

While the extension talks between Walker and the Mets may be dead for now, Marc Carig of Newsday reports that “A source said the parties are seeking a resolution before the beginning of the regular season, when contract talks could become a distraction.”  This revelation still hints at the possibility of the two sides reaching an agreement later this spring.

If the Mets are unable to sign Walker to an extension, they may end up turning to top prospect Gavin Cecchini as their second baseman of the future.  While Cecchini has consistently shown the ability to hit, his defense has often been an issue.  Last season in Triple-A Las Vegas, he hit .325, with a .390 on-base percentage and .448 slugging percentage, earning him a September call-up to the Mets.  However, the shortsop also committed 33 errors last season, posting a fielding percentage of .931.  Perhaps a switch to the second base position can help him to improve his defensive ability.  Assuming the Mets organization moves him to second base in order to make room for star prospect Amed Rosario, maybe Tim Teufel can work with Cecchini in the same way he worked with Daniel Murphy in teaching him to play second base better.  If the Mets are able to reach an agreement with Walker on an extension, third base could be a good position for Cecchini to work on.