Jul 22

Mets Wrap: Cespedes Lets Down Mets

For somebody who professes his love for Mets fans and New York City, Yoenis Cespedes sure has a funny way of showing it.

CESPEDES: What was he thinking?  (AP)

CESPEDES: What was he thinking? (AP)

What else can you conclude after Cespedes’ comments to The San Francisco Chronicle that pledged his loyalty to the Oakland Athletics and their manager Bob Melvin, at the expense of the team that will pay him $110 million over four years and Terry Collins, the manager who has consistently had his back?

Whether it be apologizing for Cespedes not hustling or playing golf when he was injured and should have been rehabbing, Collins always supported his left fielder.

Cespedes said he wanted to end his career with Oakland, the team he started for in 2012.

“I don’t know how many years I’m going to play, but I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland,’’ Cespedes said. “I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but that’s my goal. I still love the A’s. They were the first team to give me an opportunity to play in the big leagues. I love Oakland all the time.’’

Cespedes said his comments were a “misrepresentation,’’ and blamed the reporter.

Cespedes can claim innocence all he wants, but he’s been around long enough to know what’s going on and how to handle such questioning.

And, as much as he respects Melvin, he has to be smart enough to know that if he calls “the best manager for me so far … I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin.’’

Is Cespedes that naïve to think that wasn’t going to get back to Collins?

Cespedes has been all about damage control since, saying, “this is my home, this is my team, nothing has changed.’’

And, regarding Collins, Cespedes said: “With respect to the comments I made about their manager, he’s a great manager, that does not take away from my relationship with Terry.”

Whatever Cespedes’ relationship is with Collins these days, it would be a lot better if he had more than 22 RBI.

FLORES DOES IT AGAIN: Wilmer Flores was waiting on a fastball, and when he got it he completely erased a five-run deficit with a home run in ninth inning to give the Mets a 6-5 victory tonight over the Athletics.

“I was looking for a fastball. I have to be ready for that,’’ Flores said of his approach facing reliever Simon Castro.

The Mets fell behind 5-0 but clawed back into the game with a four-run sixth that began with a double by Flores.

WHEELER TORCHED: Zack Wheeler continued his troubles, giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks with six strikeouts in five innings.

Wheeler gave up two homers, including to Matt Joyce on the game’s second pitch. He has now given up 17 homers.

Wheeler hasn’t won a game since May 20, nine starts ago.

TRADE CHIPS: Asdrubal Cabrera started at third base for the first time this season and had two hits. The Mets want to showcase Cabrera at third. … Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer, his 25th of the season. … Lucas Duda tied the game with a pinch-hit single in the eighth. … Addison Reed has drawn interest from the Dodgers and Yankees.

 

Jul 21

Here’s Hoping Flores Gets Traded

It was two years ago next week when Wilmer Flores carved out a niche in Mets lore when he openly wept on the field after hearing a report he had been traded. Flores endeared himself to Mets fans everywhere that night because he showed the fans he was a player who genuinely wanted to play here.

How could you not cheer for a guy like that? How can you not cheer for a guy who showed such human emotions?

FLORES: The night he became a Mets' icon.  (AP)

FLORES: The night he became a Mets’ icon. (AP)

The trade to Milwaukee fell through and he remained in Queens, but his situation only briefly changed for the better regarding playing time. Off the field, there was still a shameful lack of respect from GM Sandy Alderson, who made him a butt of jokes on his stand up tour, and manager Terry Collins, who never trusted him enough to give him a position full-time.

However, in those moments when he did play – when Lucas Duda and David Wright were injured – Flores showed streaky power. He did so again yesterday with a pinch-hit homer in the win over St. Louis.

I always liked Flores, even before the tears, and openly advocated the Mets work him into a regular playing rotation. Now, I want the Mets to trade him. To Boston. To Houston. To Milwaukee, again. To any team where he’ll get a chance to play.

The Mets will soon move out Asdrubal Cabrera to make room for, and keep him away from, Amed Rosario. And, maybe they’ll trade Duda to make room for Dominic Smith. Neil Walker will soon be coming off the disabled list, and a midseason slump cost Flores his at-bats in favor of T.J. Rivera.

And, Flores? He’ll get moved to the bench where we won’t see him for ten more days. Collins never gave Flores a chance to work his way out of his slump; he wouldn’t work Flores into a rotation when all the infielders were coming off some kind of injury; he’ll bury him again.

Ken Davidoff, the talented baseball columnist for The New York Post, quoted a baseball scout on Flores and Rivera: “I like them more as fringe everyday players. Maybe guys you plug in for two weeks, or maybe even two months. But I wouldn’t be comfortable with them in a six-month situation for the full season.’’

That’s understandable because Flores has never been given more than a month to play. He tore things up earlier this season, then, like all players eventually do, tailed off. Hey, even Aaron Judge has cooled.

That’s the essence of a full baseball season. There will be stretches where everything falls in and others where even scorched balls are caught. His defense has never been good, but couldn’t that because he’s never been given a fulltime position? That’s the same way it was with Daniel Murphy.

Nobody knows what Flores can do for a full season because he’s never gotten the chance. Collins and Alderson put him in position where he’s always looking over his shoulder.

Flores can play adequately anywhere in the infield and has shown he can hit right-handed pitching. He can tear up lefties.

Flores was a valuable piece in the playoff runs of 2015 and 2016, and surely, can help a contender. Boston is in desperate need of a third baseman and the Yankees can still use a first baseman.

Flores can help either, but the hope here is he is traded by the deadline to a team that appreciates his value and will let him play.

Give him 550 at-bats before you tell me he can’t play.

 

Jul 20

Looking At Trade Assets Duda And Cabrera

The Yankees’ acquisition of Todd Frazier hasn’t completely torpedoed their chances of trading for Mets’ first baseman Lucas Duda.

It’s not a great chance, but still possible.

DUDA: Has trade value. (AP)

DUDA: Has trade value. (AP)

Duda homered in this afternoon’s 3-2 victory over St. Louis. He has three homers and three doubles with six RBI in the seven games since the All-Star break. He has value.

The Yankees would have been a perfect fit for Duda, who would have formed a powerful platoon with Greg Bird when the latter comes off the disabled list. Duda heard all the rumors.

“It’s basically just noise,’’ Duda told reporters. “Nothing happened yet. I’m still a Met. You can’t concern yourself with rumors or speculations. Come here ready to play every day, and have fun.’’

Duda has 17 homers and 36 RBI despite spending three weeks on the disabled list with a hyperextended left elbow. Although Duda is currently ranked seventh on the Mets’ all-time list with 124 homers, because of injuries he never developed into the player the Mets envisioned.

Currently, the Mets envision another first baseman of their future in Dominic Smith. Although Smith is unproven, don’t expect the Mets to bring back Duda – who will make $7.25 million this year – as insurance.

Insurance will be something any team landing Asdrubal Cabrera will get. The Mets will have Cabrera taking grounders at third base not with the idea of playing him there, but the intent of enhancing his trade value.

With Neil Walker due off the disabled list next week and Amed Rosario expected to be promoted after the trade deadline, where will Cabrera play? Assuming he is not traded.

“We’ve got to start to use a little bit of the versatility that those guys bring,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “And they’re all on board with it. Like Cabby said, ‘I’ll play wherever you need me to play.’ ’’

Cabrera has played well since he was moved to second last month. At the time, Cabrera said he wanted to be traded. He also said he’d move if the Mets picked up his $8.5-million option. It wasn’t the first time he made such a demand. He chirped the same thing when the Mets contemplated moving him to third so Jose Reyes could play shortstop.

However, with the Mets fading out of playoff contention, and Cabrera reading the tea leaves about his future, he realized versatility would enhance his value in the free-agent market.

“I know he said what he said in San Francisco,’’ Collins said. “One thing we try to get him to understand is that right now, there’s probably a larger market for a third baseman than there is for a second baseman at this particular point.

“So it would behoove him to have that option. Even though he hasn’t played over there, this guy’s hands are good enough that he can play anywhere.’’

Jul 19

Mets Wrap: DeGrom Shows Why Teams Want Him

One can certainly see why the Houston Astros, or any other team for that matter, would be interested in Jacob deGrom. The Mets’ ace struggled with his mechanics early, but settled down to do what aces do, which is carry their team.

Manager Terry Collins said deGrom was flying open and rushing his delivery during a 25-pitch first inning.

DE GROM: Ace. (AP)

DE GROM: Ace. (AP)

“He was very uncomfortable in the first inning,’’ Collins said. “He is who he is and late in the game he was still in there.’’

DeGrom said after the first inning he was more tuned into pitching to contact to preserve his pitch count.

“I noticed early on that I didn’t have my best stuff,’’ deGrom said. “I felt fine physically, but I didn’t have a good feel. I felt like I was rushing things.’’

With their season slipping away, deGrom picked up the Mets and willed them to a 7-3 victory over the Cardinals. In doing so, he won his seventh straight game. And, it not an appeal of a foul tip had gone against the Mets, deGrom would have pitched his seventh straight game of at least seven innings.

As the trade deadline rapidly approaches, there have been reports of the Astros’ interest. GM Sandy Alderson didn’t exactly call deGrom an “untouchable,’’ but did say he would have to be blown away.

As well as he should be.

DeGrom hears the rumors.

“I guess it is a good thing if people want you, but my job is to win here,’’ he said.

DeGrom gave up one run in 6.2 innings in breaking the Mets’ three-game losing streak, one that put them 15 games behind Washington at the start of the game. Just imagine where the Mets would be without deGrom, now 11-3 with a 3.37 ERA.

DeGrom has certainly been sharper, but what makes him so special is what he did tonight without his best stuff. He struck out only three, but more importantly walked only one while giving up seven hits.

“We knew when he first got here that he was going to be special,’’ said Collins.

So, if the Mets want to trade deGrom, I’m all for it – in nine or ten years.

HOW TRADE CHIPS FARED: Addison Reed converted his 16th save opportunity in 18 chances. … Lefty specialist Jerry Blevins gave up two hits and a walk with the three hitters he faced. … Jay Bruce had a hit in five at-bats. … Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits and Jose Reyes had two hits. … Lucas Duda doubled in a run.

CESPEDES HAS GOOD NIGHT: Yoenis Cespedes showed breakout signs with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored after flipping with Bruce in the order; Bruce moving up to third and Cespedes hitting cleanup.

 

Jul 18

Mets Wrap: Will Mets Talk Trade With Yankees?

Multiple reports have the Yankees reaching out to the Mets inquiring about first baseman Lucas Duda and reliever Addison Reed. With both Duda and Reed in their walk years, and the Mets not expected to break the bank on either, they might as well see what the Yankees will offer.

MONTERO: Defense lets him down. (AP)

MONTERO: Defense lets him down. (AP)

Since the Mets and Yankees rarely do business with each other, I  wouldn’t expect this one to materialize, but why not? If the White Sox can trade Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs, then why can’t the Mets deal with the Yankees? Both teams are paranoid about making a trade that would help the other and consequently be embarrassed.

We know the Yankees won’t be afraid to pursue a trade, especially with the Red Sox reportedly going after Todd Frazier and David Robertson. Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s reputation is that of trying to fleece the other team. Will that force the Yankees to walk away?

Duda, 31, is hitting .248 with 16 home runs and 34 RBI in 66 games this season. Reed, 28, has a 2.47 ERA and is 15-for-17 in save opportunities in 42 games.

DEFENSE LETS DOWN METS, MONTERO: The Mets committed three errors tonight accounting for three unearned runs to victimize Rafael Montero, who fell behind 4-0 after two innings, yet hung on to pitch another four innings.

It’s the second time he overcame a rough start to work deep into a game.

“After the second inning he could have let up, but didn’t,” said manager Terry Collins.

As for his team’s porous defense, Collins said: “In this league, you can’t give away outs or it will catch up to you. This is the major leagues and you have to make plays.”