"Mets 2" defeated "Mets 1" by a score of 4-1 today, in the Mets' intra-squad game at Citi Field. I don't know what I was thinking when I predicted Mets 1 to prevail.

The biggest cause for excitement, for the Mets faithful? Jose Reyes, hitting third for Mets 2, walloped the first pitch he saw (from pitcher Tobi Stoner) for a triple into the rightfield corner. He didn't run at full-blast, midseason speed, but he definitely hustled to get to third. He seemed fired up.

Cause for optimism number two? Jon Niese kicked off the game by striking out Angel Pagan, Alex Cora and Jason Pridie with his overhand curveball, and then he pitched a scoreless second. Niese was running behind when he first threw off a mound, back in Mets mini-camp, but he is now up to full speed and will start Friday's Grapefruit League game (split-squad) at the Cardinals.

It's clear that, if all goes well from a health and performance perspective this spring for the Mets, Niese will be the team's fifth starter, and Fernando Nieve will be in the bullpen mix.

Hisanori Takhashi relieved Niese in the third. First impression? Eh. He did strike out four batters, three swinging, so that's something. Pridie crushed a homer to rightfield off of him, and Pagan and Mike Jacobs tallied hard singles.

--I wouldn't get too worked up over this story concerning Luis Castillo and Emilio Bonifacio, which I first discovered on Twitter. It's commonplace for opposing players to work together over the offseason. From the team's vantage point, it beats not having the player work out at all. It's even pretty standard for teams' coaches to work with players from other clubs.

--Alex Rodriguez said today that he has been contacted by federal authorities concerning his connection to Dr. Anthony Galea. It seems unlikely that this would lead to any sort of trouble and/or discipline for A-Rod, yet the situation does present another challenge to his ambition to stay focused on baseball.

--In a new book, "The Bill James Gold Mine 2010," James - the godfather of statistical analysis - offers his rankings of the top young talent in the game, by both player and team. Here are his top 20 players, with their ages in parentheses:

1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle (23)
2. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee (25)
3. Hanley Ramirez, Florida (25)
4. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee (25)
5. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco (22)
6. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco (25)
7. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay (23)
8. Justin Upton, Arizona (21)
9. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit (26)
10. Nick Markakis, Baltimore (25)
11. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (24)
12. Dustin Pedroia, Boston (25)
13. Zack Greinke, Kansas City (25)
14. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington (24)
15. David Wright, New York Mets (26)
16. Joe Mauer, Minnesota (26)
17. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (24)
18. Adam Lind, Toronto (25)
19. Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta (23)
20. Mark Reynolds, Arizona (25)

And here is how James and his staff rank the teams' "Young Talent Inventory," with last year's rankings in parentheses:

1. Tampa Bay Rays (3)
2. Colorado Rockies (8)
3. Minnesota Twins (1)
4. Arizona Diamondbacks (2)
5. Boston Red Sox (10)
6. San Francisco Giants (22)
7. New York Yankees (29)
8. Texas Rangers (19)
9. Chicago White Sox (25)
10. Florida Marlins (4)
11. Los Angeles Dodgers (13)
12. Philadelphia Phillies (20)
13. Atlanta Braves (9)
14. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (11)
15. Kansas City Royals (5)
16. New York Mets (16)
17. Chicago Cubs (26)
18. Seattle Mariners (18)
19. Milwaukee Brewers (6)
20. Baltimore Orioles (24)
21. Oakland A’s (12)
22. Toronto Blue Jays (28)
23. Washington Nationals (23)
24. St. Louis Cardinals (14)
25. Pittsburgh Pirates (17)
26. Cleveland Indians (7)
27. Cincinnati Reds (15)
28. Detroit Tigers (27)
29. San Diego Padres (21)
30. Houston Astros (30)



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