Mets manager Terry Collins: “If we play up to expectations… we’ll be playing in October.”

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It’s been a while since the Mets were in a position to hurl pre-season smack talk. Carlos Beltran was the last to fire a volley before the 2008 season to then-Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who had the previous season declared the Phillies the “team to beat”. Beltran said, “So this year, to Jimmy Rollins, we are the team to beat.” Obviously, things didn’t go as planned. The Mets haven’t been to the post-season since losing the 2006 NLCS to the Cardinals.

Mets manager Terry Collins delivered the closest thing to pre-season smack talk as the Mets have had in a while, saying that if the Mets play up to expectations, “we’ll be playing in October.” Via ESPN’s Adam Rubin:

Regardless, he indicated Saturday that he believes the Mets are a playoff team.

“Absolutely,” Collins said. “We’ve got to go play. But when you look at the back of the baseball cards on the 25 guys or 27 guys we think have legitimate chances, they’re pretty impressive. The addition of Michael Cuddyer, the addition of John Mayberry on that bench, the rotation — just because we haven’t been a playoff team in the past doesn’t mean we don’t have good pitching. We have very, very good pitching. So we should match up against a lot of teams.

“Now we’ve just got to go play. It’s all about execution. As we’ve seen in the past, there are teams that were world champs and the next year they’re in last place. And there are teams that were in last place that the next year they’re in the playoffs. If we play up to expectations and what we think are the caliber of players we have, we’ll be playing in October.”

Though the Nationals have gotten better with the additions of Max Scherzer, Yunel Escobar, and Casey Janssen, the NL East isn’t exactly strong, so an argument can be made that the Mets are the second-best team in the division going into spring training. During the off-season, the Mets brought in Michael Cuddyer, one of few transactions made to bolster a roster that went 79-83 in 2014.

Phillies sign Drew Storen and Bud Norris to minor league deals

Drew Storen
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.

Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.

Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.

The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.