The Mets held their annual Christmas luncheon for school kids in the NY area yesterday at Citi Field, with second baseman Daniel Murphy again donning the famous red outfit as Santa Claus, and his rather tall “elf” assistant this year was young hurler Zack Wheeler.
Santa Murphy later told the media he was pleased with the additions to the team, and he can’t wait to get down to Port St. Lucie to begin the 2014 campaign.
“Oh, yeah, we’re definitely better as a team right now than we were at the end of the season,” Santa proclaimed, “with the additions of C.Y. (Chris Young), (Curtis) Granderson, and (Bartolo) Colon. We’ve got three centerfielders now out there to patrol the outfield, so that’s going to improve our defense (in referencing Juan Lagares in the mix) and if we need another, there’s E.Y. (Eric Young, Jr.) who also can play centerfield and is good with the glove.”
Murphy admitted he kept eyes on the recent Winter Meetings in Orlando (“24/7”), and kept in touch with his agents to see if there were trade rumors involving his name, but appeared not overly concerned after some reassurances.
“I definitely want to stay in New York,” Murphy stated. “With our young pitching as a strength, we’ve got a chance to do something, and that’s all you can ask for.”
His goals for 2014 include trying to get on base more and improve his average, certainly as do all ballplayers desire, and he plans to get to spring training early in order to get a head start on baseball activities. It helps that his younger brother, Jonathan, is a prospect in the Twins organization, so they get ample opportunities in the offseason to work out together.
One of Murphy’s all-time best Christmas presents will be slightly delayed this year, as his wife will be giving birth on app. April 15th. “Can’t wait.”
Wheeler also kept an eye on the Winter Meetings, “Not every minute, but if something happened, twitter blew up my phone and I knew what was going on.”
Zack’s twitter account is: @wheelerpro45
The 23-year old righthander, who went 7-5/3.42 in his rookie campaign after being summoned last June, threw exactly 100 innings in 17 big league games, all starts, (an additional 68.2 innings out in Las Vegas), and racked up 84 Ks, with 46 walks.
His goals include the usual as well: “Throw more strikes, get ahead of hitters, but I think I have a better idea of what it takes to get hitters out.”
Santa Murphy handed out wrapped gifts to several hundred youngsters. You can fool some of the kids some of the time, but not all of the kids all of the time.
“Some of them might have known who I was, and some knew I might have been an impostor, and some had a feeling I was filling in, and told me what to tell the real Santa when I talk to him.”
Mets GM Sandy Alderson did his Christmas shopping at the Winter Meetings, and after all the gifts had been handed out to the kids, noted that it might take some time before Mets fans see another present under the tree.
“You can compare the offseason to a marathon. If you haven’t run a marathon, you might not know what it’s going to feel like after five miles. But if you’re already run a marathon, then you already know what it’s going to feel like after, say 21 miles. We’ve run them before, and although the anxiety level can go up from time to time, we know there’s going to be an opportunity to do something. And if someone comes off the board, you have to say to yourself if it’s time to move on something, or if there’s flexibility. You’re constantly re-assessing everything.”
Alderson gave Mets fans presents in the form of new outfielders Chris Young, Curtis Granderson, and pitcher Bartolo Colon, but he admitted there’s still some work to do, especially in the bullpen.
“Taking Bobby Parnell out of the equation for a moment, there’s not a lot of experience out there. So that is an issue. We have time to address that, and we’ll see what’s available to us via trade or free agency.”
Alderson also has his eyes on another starter…possibly.
“We don’t want to depress the opportunities for our young pitchers, but if we bring in a veteran, it is with the understanding that if he wins the competition in the spring, then that’s who we’ll go with, and the young player will go down. If not, then we have the opportunity to go with one of our younger guys.”
Merry Christmas, everyone.