Aug 01

Of The New Guys, Who Stays?

Unquestionably, the Mets are a better team today than a week ago. They added depth with Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe; strengthened their bullpen with Tyler Clippard; and gave their offense a tremendous boost with Yoenis Cespedes.

Do they have enough now – remember, they can always add more in August with waiver deals – to overtake Washington? Yes, they are good enough to not only compete, but to win.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Short stay in NY. (AP)

The NL East is theirs for the taking.

They are also better because they get to keep Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. Regardless of whatever else Flores does in his Mets career, he permanently carved out a space in franchise lore.

Flores gave us a rare peak into the personal, emotional life of a professional athlete. He showed up these guys are human beings and capable of hurting with something other than a sprained ankle. Flores showed us frustration and anguish, and although you are young and rich, you can also feel the sting of rejection and embarrassment.

The whole country saw his tears Wednesday night before it fell through. Then, it saw him enjoy raw exhilaration with his game-winning homer Friday night?

Just wondering, but did his feet ever touch the ground? Yes, there are times when reality trumps fantasy.

So, I figure Flores will stay for a while, and be joined by Wheeler a year from now. But, what of the others? Let’s handicap the four acquisitions as to who they could keep next year?

CESPEDES: He’s the big prize, of course, at 29. But, he’s also going to want a monster contract. The Mets are his fourth team, which has to tell you something. If he turns out to be a good soldier with no incidents, then maybe, but I think the Mets will balk at his asking price, which would have to be a package of over $100 million. LEAVES

CLIPPARD: With Jenrry Mejia out and Jeurys Familia struggling in the second half it wouldn’t be surprising if he muscles into a closer role. He won’t be cheap, but he’s probably worth considering. STAYS

JOHNSON: I don’t know what will happen with Flores or David Wright, but Johnson is a reliable, versatile bench player. He’ll have some value, but don’t be surprised if they dumpster dive. LEAVES

URIBE: He’s already made a positive mark, but he’ll be 37 in March and I believe the Mets will seek younger options, including Dilson Herrera. LEAVES

 

The Mets picked quality this week and got to hold onto Flores and Wheeler. The latter contacted Alderson after the deal fell through and asked to be traded.

We’ll see next July, but for now the Mets have done well, and Flores continues to walk on air.

Jul 31

Alderson Rallies At Deadline

After arguably one of the most frustrating 48-hour periods in franchise history, Mets GM Sandy Alderson rallied at the trade deadline by securing slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit for pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

The deal came on the heels of a trade Wednesday for Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez that culminated with Mets infielder Wilmer Flores – who, along with Zack Wheeler, was going to the Brewers – breaking down in tears while taking his position in the field. The next day, the Mets blew a six-run lead while losing to San Diego.

So, with the trade deadline ticking down, Alderson went for broke and came up with an enigma of a player who could be exactly what the Mets need – if his head is screwed on correctly – before he becomes a free agent after the season.

“We’re going for it,” Alderson said. “He’s a very dynamic player. We think he’s going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived.”

Cespedes had been linked to the Mets before, and Alderson is right, he can be a dynamic player. However, at 29, the Mets will be his fourth team. That’s a lot and raises questions, in particular: What’s wrong with him that somebody with that much talent can’t find a home?

Cespedes is hitting .293 with 18 homers and 62 RBI, that would put him at the top of the Mets’ leaderboards.

Alderson has taken considerable criticism, including from me, about his inactivity, and I was especially vocal after the Gomez deal fell through. Numerous reports said it was financial, with the Mets wanting the Brewers to eat part of Gomez’s salary, which was highly plausible considering the Mets’ and Alderson’s reputation. However, today Alderson said it was concern about Gomez’s healthy, although the Houston Astros had no such problems. But, in fairness to the Mets, different medical staffs can have varying opinions.

Although I have concerns with Cespedes, he might not be here next season for it to become an issue. What’s important is that waiting for the Mets to act like a contender, they are doing just that – good for them.

 

 

 

Jul 30

Alderson Has Considerable Apologizing To Do

Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins were quick to blame social media for Wednesday’s trade that fell through which would have sent Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. Alderson said he apologized to the visibly upset Flores for how things transpired, which makes me wonder if he has any intent to apologize to his manager, his players and Mets fans for what could be the very real possibility of blowing a chance at the playoffs.

ALDERSON: Blows Gomez trade. (AP)

ALDERSON: Blows Gomez trade. (AP)

Gomez would have been a terrific addition, one which would have filled four voids: right-handed power bat; leadoff hitter; speed; and center fielder.

The names were agreed upon, but as often is the case with Alderson, no trade was made because he wanted to win the deal.

Several reports surfaced as to why the deal fizzled. First, there was concern by the Brewers over Wheeler’s elbow. Then, there was a reported issue of Gomez’s hip. Then it was Gomez’s abductor muscle. (Apparently Gomez’s health wasn’t an issue to the Houston Astros, who swooped in like a big-market franchise to finalize a trade with Milwaukee today).

Then, reports out of Milwaukee surfaced – and befitting the Mets’ reputation it is totally believable – Alderson wanted a draft pick, which the Brewers nixed. Then, the Mets wanted Milwaukee to eat some of Gomez’s salary, which would have amounted to roughly $12 million for a year-and-a-half. That much for a two-time All-Star who has won a Gold Glove and has hit over 20 homers with over 30 steals is a bargain.

The Mets should be ashamed for trying to put the financial screws to the Brewers. Only, because Alderson wanted to win the trade, instead he got nothing and there are only a few hours left.

Not only did they blow this trade, but looked terrible in hanging Flores out to dry. Everybody saw Flores break down, but this could have been avoided had Alderson had an open dialogue with Collins. After the game, Collins said he kept Flores in the game because he never got word from Alderson to pull him. Collins said he didn’t know what was going on, and Flores learned from yells from the crowd and comments from his teammates.

However, once again Alderson kept his manager in the dark, which further leads to the disconnect between the two. As with the batting order coming out of spring training (with Curtis Granderson hitting first), the six-man rotation fiasco, and of course, the lack of a plan regarding Matt Harvey‘s innings, there doesn’t appear much communication between Alderson and Collins.

This time, Alderson’s penchant for ignoring his manager not only embarrassed Flores, but may have lead to a botched trade that could keep the Mets out of the playoffs.

Yeah, Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager, according to his biographer – needs to apologize to a lot more people than just Flores.

It is shameful what happened.

Jul 29

Deal With Brewers Falls Through

The Mets had every right to keep Wilmer Flores in the game during tonight’s loss to San Diego. After all, said GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, they were trying to win a game. However, caught in the crossfire was an emotional Flores, who received a standing ovation from the Citi Field crowd, which also thought there was a trade sending the young infielder Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee for two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez.

FLORES: Remains a Met - for now. (Getty)

FLORES: Remains a Met – for now. (Getty)

With the advent of social media, and fans watching the game on television from the luxury suites and listening to the game on the radio, most everybody at Citi Field believed the Mets were on the verge of a major trade.

But, it never happened, and Alderson would not say why the deal fell through.

“There is no trade,” Alderson said. “A trade has not. and will not transpire. … Unfortunately, social media got ahead of the facts.  What was reported has not transpired. We could have pulled him and contributed to the speculation.”

Collins eventually pulled the emotional Flores, who was followed into the Mets’ clubhouse by captain David Wright.

“During the game I heard I was getting traded and I got emotional,” Flores said. “Then I heard I wasn’t traded. … I was sad. I wanted to be a Met forever.”

Gomez, originally a Met, but traded to Minnesota in the Johan Santana trade, would have immediately filled voids as a right-handed power bat and as a leadoff hitter.

Alderson has steadfastly insisted he would not trade from their core of young starters in the current rotation – Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz (on the DL) – which left Wheeler available.

It would be a good deal for the Mets because Gomez, a two-time NL All-Star, fills two offensive needs, while Wheeler won’t pitch until next July. Meanwhile, Flores never took to shortstop, but showed promise at second base. Flores got off to a good start offensively, but slumped over the past two months.

 

Jul 29

End In Sight For Mets’ Colon

Another game, another Bartolo Colon torching leaving the Mets with a few questions.

How long can the Mets go with Colon getting ripped every fifth game? Since they can’t trade him now, can they swap him out for Dillon Gee? Will they wait this out until Steven Matz is ready to come off the disabled list?

COLON: Ripped again. (AP)

COLON: Ripped again. (AP)

Colon at 42, hasn’t won since June 12, which was seven starts ago. Colon was hit for six runs in the first three innings tonight. He’s given up 17 runs over his last four starts, which included a stellar one-run performance in eight innings, suggesting there are games in which the magic is still there.

Colon opened the season with an 8-3 sprint out of the game through May 31 and there were whispers of him making the All-Star team. He’s now 9-10 and that seems like a totally non-plausible thought.

My first thought is to ride with Colon until Matz is ready because the way Gee has pitched, he and Colon are basically one of the same.

The Mets signed Colon to eat innings when Matt Harvey missed last season and to offer a veteran presence to their young rotation. In that regard, Colon has given the Mets their money’s worth but it is clear he doesn’t have it any more.

The Mets tried to deal him last winter but there were no takers. Now, it wouldn’t be surprising if GM Sandy Alderson heard muffled sounds of laughter on the other end of the line when he’s on the phone with other general managers.

It was fun while it lasted with Colon, but the good times are over.