In November, 2008, following a media tour, I left Citi Field thinking it was very sterile, cold, ‘cookie cutter,’ and much too similar to PNC and Citizen’s Bank Park.

This is no longer the case. 

Citi Field will have its own unique feel, and Mets fans are going to love it.

The organization continues to trumpet the words cozy and intimate.

However, I felt the opposite; and in a good way.

There will be a strong feeling of community in Citi Field, mark my words – more than was ever the case in Shea Stadium.

There are endless spots to hang out with friends, fans and family, grab a hot dog, grab a beer, watch the game, and walk around experiencing different angles and elements, with ease, and lots of freedom to move about, yet always feeling connected to the game and the team, which is unlike any ballpark I have been to.  In fact, there are large, flat-panel monitors that can be easily be seen throughout the Promenades, so at any given moment you can look up, and catch a highlight or score from the ‘850 screens,’ and keep moving.

I always got lost in Shea Stadium.  I attended 163 games in that building, yet even on the last day, I got lost trying to get from the Upper Deck to Field Level, because I kept using the wrong ramp.

In Citi Field, it is a breeze to get from right field to left field, or to get from the Promenade to the Field Level – all the while, should you need to, you can suddenly stop off, regardless of your ticket level, lean on any railing, and watch the on-field action.

That said, when you do stop and settle in your seat, the team is correct, Citi Field suddenly takes on a more intimate, cozy feeling.

Speaking of seats and angles, a) the seats are all slightly angled to face the field, which, until you actually sit and experience it, is hard to convey just how awesome and comfortable this is, and b), despite it feeling rhetorical, the team is correct, even when sitting in the worst seat in the house, I felt closer to the action than had been the case in a comparable seat in Shea. 

The only concern I have will be for fans sitting behind home plate, up in Promenade Reserve, towards the back, because it appears, though you can see home plate, if there is a pass ball or a pop up behind home, the landing and railing may obstruct your view… I think.

There are plenty of bathrooms.  However, what I think will limit long lines is not the actual number, but that each level, with their respective clubs, like the Delta Club, Cesars Club, etc., all have designated facilities, and so I believe there will be less of a mad rush with everyone scrambling for the restroom at one time and waiting.  However, if you must wait, know there are big, flat-screen televisions above the door, so you can keep an eye on the game.

Speaking of the different, exclusive clubs, they are amazing, as are the suites and the press box, and the media room.

Fans who sit in a Promenade Club seat will have access to the Promenade Club, which has bistro dining, high top tables, restrooms, and a full bar and kitchen, and huge glass windows, that open, to see the field.  This area is super nice.

Yes, we can still bring in sandwiches and food from home, to eat in our seats while watching the game.  However, the ballpark will offer all sorts of food, including Taste of the City from Danny Meyer, which will include a Shake Shack and Blue Smoke, in addition to a Taqueria.  There will also be Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, Crinkle Cut French Fries, Corn Dogs, Premio Sausage and Peppers, a Subway, Dunkin' Donuts with hot and iced coffee, your standard peanuts, pretzels, popcorn and Cracker Jacks, Carvel ice cream, Mama's of Corona, and Cascarino's Pizza, among other things.

The old Home Run Apple from Shea Stadium is on display beyond right field, behind the bullpens, in what is called the Bullpen Plaza, which is accessible to fans who enter the ballpark through the Right Bullpen gate from 126th Street.  I think it’s interesting too that, after so many years of going to this area for baseball games, 126th Street is about to be more relevant and will become a big part of the fan’s lexicon.

Also, the bullpens are protected by black chain-link fencing, and fans can see through it to watch – or heckle, I would think, since the visitor’s pen is closest to the entrance, while the home pen is below the stands and closer to the field, where fans in their seats can look down on who is warming up.

Next to the bullpens, on the ground level, behind the right field wall, is the Mo Zone Party Suite, sponsored by Modells.  It’s tremendous, and I cannot wait to try and organize a MetsBlog.com Get-Together for this space.  There are high-tables, a bar and food service, all in one spot.  I believe this will essentially replace what was the picnic area at Shea, though it services only 150 people.

Gigantic, black-and-white, Mets murals are hanging outside, also viewable from the inside, over the left-field entrance.

Beyond center field is a wide-open space, behind the massive scoreboard, where you will find Beer Island, Shake Shack, and other restaurants, including a kiddie field, with the same dimensions as the main field, but about 90 percent smaller, where ‘kids of all ages’ can rent the space and play wiffle ball with their face on a mini scoreboard.  The concession stand here, which will be the Shack Shake, features the electronic skyline from the top of Shea Stadium’s scoreboard.  This made me nostalgic.

The team takes a ton of pride in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda; but, honestly, while I can tell it will be impressive, there is still construction being done and it is difficult to get a sense of its power.  That said, it’s fairly obvious this will be an easy meet-up spot before the game. 

The fan-purchased bricks are set in to the ground in front of the Rotunda, and I can kick myself for not buying one. 

What was I thinking?

Speaking of the Rotunda, it is the only element in the ballpark that references the Dodgers, and it is a more of an homage to the player and his accomplishments than anything to do with the team he played for.  I say this because, on this site, I criticized Fred Wilpon for designing Citi Field in honor of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who he grew up cheering for.  The thing is, once you move two feet beyond the Rotunda, you are clearly in the home of the Mets – there is nothing that will make you think otherwise.  I jumped the gun, as did others.  This Ebbets-Dodgers thing is no longer a concern for me.

Above the Rotunda, behind home plate, behind the Promenade seats, is a second wide-open, uncovered, gathering spot, again, where fans can collect, eat, drink and watch the games on TV, while walking from right to left field.  This is a common theme, and, as someone who is too antsy to sit, it’s something I’m very excited about.

The view and experience from the Pepsi Porch will be unique.  Technically, some of these seats are in play, because when sitting in the seat against the railing, when I stood up and looked down, I could see the warning track.  The home run wall, technically, is beneath you, behind you, and out of view.  There will be a bleacher-crowd mentality in this space, I believe.  There is an outdoor, uncovered concession area behind the Porch seats, essentially cut off from the rest of the ballpark.  This is a cool spot.  I will be watching a lot of games from the Porch.

In short, what struck me most about the ballpark is the variety of experiences, elements and places to watch the game from.  There is something for everyone, whether you’re looking to dress nicely and go to dinner; whether you’re a family of four looking for a day in the sun; whether you are a rabid fan, looking to be with other fans, or just sit and keep score; or whether you’re like me, anxious and jumpy and looking to wander around; you could go to Citi Field 10 times and have 10 different experiences, all with the Mets and a baseball game as the common theme.

To watch MLB.com’s Tour of Citi Field, go here.

To watch my video from Citi Field, go here.

To access the 50 hi-res photos from my tour, go here.

Tags: MetsBlog

In this week's second episode, Robert Brender does his best to convince MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone that the Mets should trade Michael Conforto for Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen.

Later in the show, Cerrone and Brender discuss Monday's news and rumors from D.C., including more on Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, O's reliever Brad Brach, and if the Mets should trade with the Royals.

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New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) reacts after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)
New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) reacts after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)

The Mets will work out Jose Reyes in the outfield during Spring Training, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday at the MLB Winter Meetings.

"We didn't want to do it last year, because we didn't want him working out at multiple new positions," Alderson explained about when the Mets acquired Reyes last summer.

Tags: Jose Reyes
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Alderson answers fans' questions 00:05:56
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson answers fan-submitted questions on Mets Hot Stove.

New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson talks David Wright's health, Jose Reyes' position in the lineup and what he thinks of Travis d'Arnaud when he answers fan-submitted questions on Mets Hot Stove.

Tags: David Wright, Jose Reyes, Travis d'Arnaud
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David Wright waits during batting practice before facing the San Diego Padres. (AP)
David Wright waits during batting practice before facing the San Diego Padres. (AP)

David Wright will be the team's primary third baseman entering spring training, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday during the Winter Meetings.

According to Alderson, Wright is on track to start baseball activities during December.

Last month, Alderson told WOR 710 AM radio that, while he's hopeful that Wright will return, the Mets need to be realistic about what to expect from him in 2017.

"I think that we're very hopeful he's gonna be able to come back and be productive," Alderson said. However, "I think we have to be realistic about how many games we can expect him to perform."

Tags: David Wright
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Sep 25, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Jay Bruce (19) hits a single during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
		  (Anthony Gruppuso)
Sep 25, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Jay Bruce (19) hits a single during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

Dec 5 | 3:50 PM

The Mets have been in contact with the Orioles about a potential trade of Curtis Granderson or Jay Brucereports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Earlier today, a source told ESPN.com's Adam Rubin that the Orioles recently rejected Sandy Alderson's efforts to trade Bruce for a high-end reliever.

According to Rosenthal, the Mets may be targeting O's right-handed reliever Brad Brach, who had two saves and a 2.05 ERA (2.92 FIP), while striking out 92 batters during 74 innings last season.

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce
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Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)
Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)

Dec 5 | 3:50PM

The Mets are also in contact with the Orioles about a potential trade of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who says the Mets have interest in O's reliever Brad Brach. Adam Rubin of ESPN recently reported that the Orioles rejected the Mets' initial asking price of a high-end reliever.

Brach, 30, had two saves and a 2.05 ERA (2.92 FIP), while striking out 92 batters during 74 innings with the Orioles last season. He has thrown 288 innings during his six-year career, including five straight seasons with an ERA under 4.00.

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McCutchen (22) at bat at PNC Park (Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
McCutchen (22) at bat at PNC Park (Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Rangers, Dodgers, Nationals, Mariners and a 'mystery team' have all recently asked about trading for Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, according to reports on MLB Trade Rumors.

The Nationals have pursuing him since July, Jayson Stark of ESPN recently said to Twitter. However, in addition to the above teams, the Mets, Orioles, Blue Jays, Giants, Phillies and Cardinals have all reportedly expressed interest in acquiring a center fielder this off season.

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SNY at MLB Winter Meetings 00:19:03
Andy Martino and Steve Gelbs discuss all the up-to-date topics with the Mets and everything else in the league at the Winter Meetings.

Earlier today, also on Facebook, MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone answered questions during a Live Q&A about the overall hot stove, and what's next for the Mets >> To watch Cerrone's Q&A, click here!

Cerrone will be doing another Facebook Live Q&A for SNY tomorrow around 11 AM ET, after which Gelbs and Martino will return at 1:30 PM ET with another Winter Meetings Live from Washington, DC.

SNY will be live streaming Sandy Alderson's mid-day talk with reporters on their Facebook page each day at 3:30 PM during the Winter Meetings, which you can follow here.

Lastly, later tonight, Cerrone and co-host Robert Brender will be recording their second Winter Meetings Podcast, recapping the day and looking forward to what's on tap for Tuesday. 

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Photo: Chris McShane
Photo: Chris McShane

The Mets' top prospect for 2017 is 21-year-old SS Amed Rosario, according an organizational Top 10 list by Baseball America..

The team recently added Rosario, RHP Marcos Molina, OF Wuilmer Becerra, RHP Chris Flexen, and Nido to their 40-man roster, which will protect them from December's Rule 5 Draft.

According to TPG Mets, no other players on BA's top 10 list are eligible.

Tags: Gabriel Ynoa, Gavin Cecchini, Robert Gsellman
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Travis d'Arnaud catches at Chase Field (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Travis d'Arnaud catches at Chase Field (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

"The Mets are fully planning to go with Travis d'Arnaud as the primary catcher in 2017 and don't foresee going the external route," ESPN.com's Adam Rubin wrote late Sunday.

According to Rubin, the Mets do not intend on pursuing free-agent C Welington Castillo, who was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks this past weekend.

Tags: Kevin Plawecki, Rene Rivera, Travis d'Arnaud
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While the Mets have reportedly been trying to shop one of their outfielders for a relief pitcher, here's what the rest of the NL East has been doing at MLB's Winter Meetings...

Washington Nationals

The Nationals could be looking to make two blockbuster trades -- targeting White Sox ace Chris Sale and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchenfor whom they might be willing to part with several top prospects, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

However, Washington could end up passing on a trade and, instead, go after free-agent outfielders Dexter FowlerIan DesmondCarlos Gomez and closer Mark Melancon...

Tags: Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Matthew Cerrone
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MLB's 2016 Winter Meetings will begin today at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. The Meetings conclude Thursday morning after the Rule 5 Draft.

The buzz around the game points to more trade talk than free-agent rumors. The Mets will be among them, since multiple reports indicate they're trying to swap Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson for an upgrade in their bullpen >> To read more about their plans, click here!

Later today on SNY's Facebook page, I will be doing a Live Q&A around 11 am, followed by a Hot Stove check-in from our guys in D.C.. We'll also be Live streaming Sandy Alderson's talk with reporters at 3:30 pm, after which Rob Brender and I will post a podcast here recapping the day's events >> To follow SNY on Facebook, click here!

In the meantime, to keep you warm until rumors, updates and news begin flowing later this morning, check out the following audio and video... Happy Hot Stove!

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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

Mets INF Asdrubal Cabrera will play for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

The WBC begins on March 6 and ends with the championship on March 22.

Cabrera, 31, played through a left knee injury for the majority of the second half of last season.

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera, Noah Syndergaard
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 (Jeff Curry)
(Jeff Curry)

The Mets have avoided arbitration with C Rene Rivera, agreeing with him on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, the team announced Friday.


Today is the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Head here to see the other Mets who are eligible >> Read more!


Rivera, 33, hit .222 with a .291 OBP and .341 SLG with six HR and 26 RBI in 65 games last season.

He threw out 30 percent of would-be base-stealers.

Tags: Rene Rivera
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Steven Matz joins Mets Hot Stove 00:04:08
Steven Matz joins Steve Gelbs on Mets Hot Stove to examine his injury history and moving forward with his career.

Mets LHP Steven Matz has been cleared by the Mets and team doctors to proceed with his normal offseason routine, he told WOR radio Thursday.

"The doctors said, 'You're good to go,'" he told WOR's Pete McCarthy.

Matz had surgery in late September to remove a large bone spur from his pitching elbow. He ended his season early due to a rotator cuff impingement, which Sandy Alderson said in November did not require surgery. Instead, Matz received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left shoulder.

Tags: Steven Matz
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Apr 20, 2016; Duda (21), Cabrera (13), Wright (5) and Walker (20) during a pitching change (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)
Apr 20, 2016; Duda (21), Cabrera (13), Wright (5) and Walker (20) during a pitching change (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

After years of injuries and ineffectiveness leading to a middle-infield-merry-go-round, the Mets find themselves entering the 2017 season with a stable tandem of shortstop and second base. Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are both coming off strong performances in 2016 and - ideally - they will provide a stable presence to an infield with question marks in the corners.

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Mets Hot Stove: Matt Harvey 00:04:12
The Mets Hot Stove panel discusses Matt Harvey's injury rehab and their expectations from the right-handed hurler in 2017.

In July, 2016, Mets RHP Matt Harvey had season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, which was done to restore feeling in his pitching arm and fingers.

According to former Mets GM and SNY analyst Jim Duquette, Harvey is not yet throwing off a mound, but he's feeling strong, on schedule with his post-surgery, off-season throwing program and will be 100% ready for spring training.

"He's had a great deal of time to work out and focus on his body and strength. We expect him to come back and be the Matt Harvey of old," his agent, Scott Boras, told reporters in early November at MLB's GM Meetings. "He's throwing free and easy and he's strong."

Tags: Matt Harvey, Matthew Cerrone
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 (Steve Mitchell)
(Steve Mitchell)

Mets pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL on Feb. 12, the team announced Thursday.

Position players are required to report by Feb. 17.

Earlier this month, the Mets today their official 2017 Spring Training Grapefruit League schedule, which begins Friday, February 24 against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, FL

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Mets relievers Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed (Credit: USA Today Sports Images)
Mets relievers Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed (Credit: USA Today Sports Images)

Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said this offseason that he'd like to add at least one reliever to his bullpen before the start of spring training.

"There are some questions in the bullpen that we are going to have to answer, either internally or from external sources," he reiterated during Wednesday's press conference to announce the signing of Yoenis Cespedes.

Alderson said in early November that he has no interest in signing free-agent closers Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon or Kenley Jansen, who similarly have little interest in the Mets because Jeurys Familia is already the team's closer.

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New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) during spring training at Tradition Field. (Brad Barr)
New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) during spring training at Tradition Field. (Brad Barr)

The Mets have discussed using RHP Zack Wheeler in the bullpen to start the season, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo.

Wheeler, who had Tommy John surgery during March, 2015, was shut down in early September after being examined by Dr. James Andrew and diagnosed with a mild flexor strain in his pitching arm.

Wheeler went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA for the Mets in 2014. In addition to the flexor strain, his return to action was also delayed in 2016 after having an undissolved stitch surgically removed. He also had an anti-inflammatory injection to treat nerve pain...

Tags: Zack Wheeler
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 (Rick Osentoski)
(Rick Osentoski)

The Mets have trade RHP Logan Verrett to the Orioles for cash considerations, the team announced.

The trade frees up a 40-man roster spot for recently re-signed OF Yoenis Cespedes.

Verrett, 26, had a 5.20 ERA and 1.56 WHIP while striking out 66 batters in 91 2/3 innings (12 starts, 23 relief appearances) for the Mets last season.

He had a 3.03 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 38 2/3 innings for the Mets in 2015.

Tags: Logan Verrett

Sandy Alderson (left) talks with Wilpon at Citi Field (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandy Alderson (left) talks with Wilpon at Citi Field (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

According to multiple sources and reports, the Mets want to keep their Opening Day payroll around $140 million, which would leave money in reserve for mid-season acquisitions.

However, their current projected payroll already sits around $145 million when including upcoming raises, players under contract and after bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker.

At the same time, the Mets will likely save on part of Jeurys Familia's estimated $8.5 million salary, because they don't have to pay him during a potential suspension. Also, trading away Jay Bruce's $13 million would free up additional money.

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