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State of the Jets Offense

Listen in tomorrow, April 1st at 2:00PM as Rick Laughland and Daniel Feuerstein discuss the state of the Jets offense and what key free agent targets and draft prospects can be impact players in 2011.

Mets Spring Training


Darrell Ceciliani is fresh off an outstanding 2010 campaign with the Brooklyn Cyclones hitting for a stellar .341 average with 21 stolen bases and 12 triples in 68 games. Cecliani is hopeful that last year’s performance will serve as the impetus to another productive and injury-free season.

“I had a great year last year,” noted Ceciliani. “I feel good coming into this year. I kind of knew what to expect going into to last year, so that helped. I stayed healthy all year and that was a big part of my successes. As long as I can stay on the field, I can produce and help the team as much as possible.”

Ceciliani has adjusted nicely to the daily grinds and rigors of spring training by completing a strict offseason regimen. The 20 year old worked with the Mets training staff on strength, endurance and agility drills aimed at taking his batting and baserunning to another level.

“My offseason was a big part of getting ready for the season,” noted Ceciliani. “It helped me to get mentally and physically prepared. I’ve hit the weights pretty hard, along with the agility and speed stations. I think you really have to work hard. It’s tough to push yourself in the offseason but you have to find a way. My trainer made sure I was there doing all baseball exercises, agility and ladder drills.”

Ceciliani took part in the Mets STEP Camp (an early program before spring training begins) to help acclimate young players to an offseason routine. The young outfielder noted that the camp’s lessons extended beyond the baseball diamond, with instructors emphasizing off the field conduct and professionalism.

“The STEP camp was a lot of meetings about life in general,” Ceciliani said. “How to treat the New York media. How to act as a person off the field. Not getting in any trouble. We got on the field a couple weeks early and we got ahead of the game, to get physically ready.”
Ceciliani appears eager to improve his overall repertoire; honing his skills through an unrivaled work ethic and zeal for the game. The young outfielder is driven and motivated to build on his strengths and improve on his weaknesses as he looks to jumpstart his career.

“I’m trying to work on every part of my game,” noted Ceciliani. “I’m not too close to where I want to be. So I’m going to work hard on everything. I think the two biggest things are bunting and baserunning. Getting good jumps and making fielders adjust to my speed game is critical. Those are the two biggest things I’m going to push for this year.”

Notes from Batting Practice

Fernando Martineztook batting practice on and off for about an hour and a half. He was hitting soft line drives to the outfield consistently but was not able to drive the ball to the gaps. Martinez drifted through some of the batting drills and appeared disinterested at times.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit the ball with authority fitting his billing as one of the Mets’ top prospects. In batting practice he hit six straight home runs, tearing the cover off the ball. J.P. Riccardi, special assistant to General Manager Sandy Aldersen, was in attendance and appeared impressed by Nieuwenhuis’ stroke and pop. Kirk hit for about an hour in total with each proceeding round better than the last. Nieuwenhuis smacked towering balls to right field with more than a few sailing over the fence. He was no question the stand out player at camp today.

Jordany Valdespin was nothing short of horrendous in batting practice, pounding pitch after pitch down into the infield dirt. Wally Backman came to throw batting practice and he seemed discouraged by Valdespin’s effort. Valdespin did not have the focus at the plate that he showed four days ago when he hit a three run home run against Florida.

Kai Graneur did some cage work where his instructor had him work on moving his hands quicker to the ball and shortening his stroke. He hit some searing line drives back up the box that the instructors seemed to applaud. His technique and focus were on the mark.

Ruben Tejeda worked on his bunting. Tejeda had his fair share of great bunts that with his speed would have been base hits. Ruben is a light hitter and even in batting practice had trouble driving the ball to the outfield. He hit mostly sharp ground balls down to first base, but his bunting was coming along nicely.

Man in the Middle

The Jets trimmed down this offseason shedding 360 pound nose tackle Kris Jenkins whose left knee has suffered ACL tears two consecutive years. New York’s man in the middle worked feverishly the past two offseasons battling back from season ending knee injuries and intends to play again in 2011. It remains to be seen whether Jenkins will play with Gang Green or elsewhere this upcoming season.

Jenkins, who was due 3.75 million in the fourth year of his five year deal, was cut by New York March 1st. The Jets have reached the AFC title game the past two seasons with the “Samoan Sensation” holding down the interior of the defensive line. That man, Sione Pouha, is in the last year of his four year contract that he signed following his selection in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft. Pouha had been stalwart in the absence of Jenkins, forcing the Jets to decide whether to sign Pouha to a long term deal thereby allowing Jenkins to resume his career in another city.

General Manager Mike Tanennbaum will have to prioritize the Jets 17 free agents while staying mindful of the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, which may change the salary cap system. With attractive defensive tackles: Pat Williams, Gerard Warren and Barry Cofield hitting free agency, Mr. T may opt to trade Pouha in exchange for an edge pass rusher or nickel cornerback along with a combination of draft picks. The Jets have a bevy of options at the nose tackle position with Mr. Tannenbaum seeking to balance frugal spending with offseason upgrades to help the Jets realize their championship dreams.

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