Mets morning briefing 2.22.12

Terry Collins will address his pitchers and catchers at a 9 a.m. meeting today, before the Mets' first official workout. The manager will save his 'A' material for the full-squad meeting, after position players officially report Saturday. Read a preview of Collins' upcoming remarks here. "The crux of the message is pretty obvious -- and that is, we're better than people think we are," Collins said.

Wednesday's news reports:

Johan Santana threw his second bullpen session of spring training on Tuesday, this time 30 pitches. He is slated to pitch in the Grapefruit League opener on March 5, which lines him up for the April 5 regular-season opener against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Watch Santana discuss his session and footage of him pitching here. Read more in the Times, Star-Ledger, Post, Daily News, Record and Newsday.

Brian Costa in The Wall Street Journal wonders whether Collins is on track to be a Joe Maddon type, or whether he is more of a transitional manager, such as Jim Riggleman turned out to be with the Washington Nationals. "Generally speaking, you'll hire a manager to get you through a transition and then as you're going through that, you'll make that evaluation as to whether they can help you get to that next level," former Mets GM Jim Duquette told Costa. "Sometimes it's not the same person."

Writes columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post about Collins' optimism about contending:

If that sounds pie-eyed -- many Mets fans will sign up right now, today, for 80 wins -- maybe it is. Again: We saw the man’s work last year. His own owner had given up the ghost at 5-13, had started poking fun at his own players in the pages of a glossy magazine, and Collins guided them to wins in 50 of their next 88 games, a mark which isn’t just representative, it translates to 92-70 over a full season. Most of those games played without his corner infielders, with his left fielder mired in a slump, with a starting rotation that was hit-or-miss just about every day, a closer with one foot out the door and a center fielder with two.

Read more from Collins' state-of-the-team address to reporters in the Star-Ledger, Post, Record, Daily News and Newsday.

• Former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels pleaded guilty Tuesday in Queens Criminal Court to possessing nearly $2.3 million in Mets merchandise and memorabilia without the consent of the organization. He avoided jail time as part of the deal with Queens district attorney Richard A. Brown.

Noted Noah Rosenberg in the Times:

But Samuels’s lawyer, Michael F. Bachner, stressed after the court appearance that the charges Samuels had pleaded guilty to pointed to possession of only $50,000 in stolen property -- not the $2.3 million for which Samuels had initially been charged. He said Samuels "was always adamant that the charges for which he was indicted were false," and that he had pleaded guilty, in part, to avoid a trial. "At the end of the day, a nonjail-sentence disposition was something that we felt was appropriate in the case," Bachner added.

Read more in Newsday, the Post and Daily News.

Mookie Wilson, who was not retained as first base coach, will remain with the organization. He will be a roving minor league instructor as well as be an ambassador for the Mets at charity and sponsor functions. Read more in Newsday.

• Shortstop Ruben Tejada has a visa issue and was due to meet with U.S. embassy officials in his native Panama on Wednesday, GM Sandy Alderson said. Alderson still believed Tejada would report on time. A Mets spokesman told reporters Tejada expected to fly to Florida on Saturday. Read more in Newsday.

• A Mets spokesman said a sizable contigent will attend Gary Carter's funeral on Friday evening in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. That includes Wally Backman, Sid Fernandez, Keith Hernandez, Howard Johnson, Roger McDowell, Bobby Ojeda, Darryl Strawberry, Rusty Staub, Tim Teufel and Wilson, plus current players Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Josh Thole and David Wright. Alderson, Collins and assistant GM John Ricco also plan to attend.

• A judge upheld the Mets' right to prevent a kosher hot dog vendor from selling the product at Citi Field during the Sabbath, the Post reports. Writes Mitchel Maddux:

Internal memos showed that team officials felt that Sabbath hot-dog sales did not cut the mustard under Jewish law and feared offending observant Jews. The controversy has been going on for a while. ... In 2009, Citi Field’s inaugural season, the Mets and Kosher Sports signed a pact that did not specifically address the issue -- and the company set up shop in the stadium. But soon the Mets ordered the firm not to open its hot-dog stands during Friday night and Saturday day games -- when sales are especially good. The company did as the team demanded, but also filed suit, pointing out that its contract did not specifically prohibit Sabbath sales. And it claimed the Mets did not notify it of the prohibition until after it signed the 10-year contract.

TRIVIA: Gary Carter's No. 8 has not been in circulation for the Mets since 2002. Who wore it that season?

(Tuesday's answer: Darryl Strawberry has the franchise record for strikeouts as a Mets hitter with 960, but Wright should catch Straw this season. Wright has 897 career Ks.)