May 24

Mets At Crossroads

After his Mets were swept out of Pittsburgh, manager Terry Collins insisted his team was not at a “critical juncture,’’ in the season – which I said they were several days ago – and wasn’t “dead in the water.’’

COLLINS: What's he really thinking? (AP)

COLLINS: What’s he really thinking? (AP)

It’s still May and they are 2.5 games behind Washington – after being ahead by eight – so dead might be stretching things. However, “critical juncture,’’ still applies after scoring four runs while hitting .211 with 36 strikeouts in the Pirates’ series.

Truth is, the Mets are closer to third place than first. They are also closer to being the team they are now than the one that won 11 straight games. Not too long ago, the Mets’ run-differential was plus-25. Today it is minus-one. Instead of being ten games over .500, they are only three.

Collins can talk all he wants about not panicking, not quitting and, of course, that his team plays hard. “Effort isn’t a problem,’’ Collins said this afternoon.

Talent, however, or lack of it, is the problem.

They were outscored by a composite 21-4 score by the Pirates, with their two best pitchers losing. Matt Harvey had the worst outing of his career Saturday, just a few hours after the team said David Wright would remain on the disabled list.

This team isn’t hitting; the pitching has struggled; the defense has been poor; and there’s no consistency in the batting order. Compounding matters, they don’t have imminent help coming from the minor leagues and aren’t close to making a trade.

Collins has been in this business for a long time. He knows when a team is playing well and when it isn’t. He’s not about to admit it publicly this is a critical time for the Mets.

But, he’s a smart guy. He knows it is.

He also knows the team the Mets have now is the one that will have to turn things around.

May 23

Will We See Wright Again This Year?

At the beginning of spring training I wrote the position player the Mets could least afford to lose was third baseman David Wright. We can now assume that to be the case with reports out Pittsburgh are Wright’s lower-back pain has resurfaced and he’s been shut down again.

The 32-year-old Wright went on the disabled list April 15 with a pulled right hamstring, and the initial projection was he’d be out two weeks. Of course, we know how such projections have been in the past. Wright now has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and they are first prescribing rest followed by strengthening his core. As far as we know, surgery has not yet been discussed, but that can be a future option.

WRIGHT: Return delayed and uncertain. (AP)

WRIGHT: Return delayed and uncertain. (AP)

The back pain began as Wright’s hamstring healed. The Mets are now saying he will be out for at least another week, but how do they really know that will be what it takes?

Wright’s importance to the Mets comes in his, 1) production at the plate, 2) steadying influence in the field and in the clubhouse, and 3) what he represents to the stability of the franchise and the sense things will be all right.

And, naturally, with Wright gone comes the whispers the Mets made a poor decision when they signed him through the 2020 season, including $20 million through 2018. Undeniably, Wright’s contract will preclude the Mets from diving deep into the free-agent market, and their dollars will be spent on retaining their young pitching.

You might recall Wright was out for two months in 2011 with a stress fracture in his lower back, an injury the Mets’ medical staff said he has not had a reoccurrence. However, what is reoccurring is Wright’s inability to stay in the lineup as he has averaged 126 games a year from 2011 through 2014, and will be lucky to reach that this season.

Extenuating circumstances involved prompted the Mets to offer Wright such a large contract. We can argue whether they were right or wrong all day, but this much is certain: The Mets’ offense is in trouble and they have to be preparing for the idea we might not see Wright again this year.

May 23

May 23, Mets’ Lineup At Pittsburgh

Here’s today’s Mets’ lineup against Pittsburgh:

 

May 22

Six-Man Rotation Could Be Good For Mets, Pending Harvey’s Approval

The New York Mets are again making noise about going with a six-man rotation when Dillon Gee is activated from the disabled list. Doing so would allow them to not choose between Gee and Noah Syndergaard, Friday’s starter in Pittsburgh.

The Mets considered this before Gee was injured, but rejected it, in large part because it would have meant Matt Harvey pitching with more rest than in a normal five-man rotation.

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

However, as often is the case with the Mets, they don’t have a definitive plan. They didn’t when it came to naming a format to regulate Harvey’s innings; settling on a batting order; and determining a leadoff hitter.

I don’t have a problem with a six-man rotation, if it is implemented properly, meaning – stick with it.

The negative is less starts for Harvey and Jacob deGrom, but the flip side is they could be stronger when they do pitch.

Another positive is less starts – and more rest – for Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese. Another positive is that if Gee pitches well, which he has this year at times and in his rehab, it enables the Mets to showcase him for a possible trade by the July 31 deadline. If they do this, they can go back to the more conventional five-man rotation.

But, what if it works? What if the extra rest and extra pitcher improves the team? Remember, at one time a four-man rotation was the norm. The Mets really have nothing to lose by this, especially since it could give them an idea of what might happen next summer when they have Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz.

However, for it to work, two things must happen, 1) the Mets must give it time to develop, and 2) the starters must be on board with the change.

If one starter, and of course I’m talking about Harvey because he’s been known to make noise when he doesn’t like things.

It will be interesting to see if the Mets sacrifice the chance to better the team to appease one player.

 

 

 

 

May 22

Here’s Your Chance To Meet Dwight Gooden

Every time Matt Harvey goes to the mound for the Mets, he does so with Dwight Gooden and Tom Seaver-sized expectations. However, he has a long way to go to match the buzz Doc Gooden brought to the Mets, and New York City, during the 1980s.

GOODEN: Meet Doc next week.

GOODEN: Meet Doc next week.

With an electric, sizzling fastball and biting breaking ball, posting a “K’’ after each Gooden strikeout became a ritual at Shea Stadium. It was a must-see event at Shea Stadium whenever Gooden started, and a Mets’ victory became expected and he usually delivered.

We knew Gooden was different when he struck out 276 hitters in just 218 innings while posting a 17-9 record with a 2.60 ERA in his 1984 rookie season. However, the following year different morphed into special when he posted the unreal numbers of 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and 16 complete games spanning 276.2 innings. He struck out 268 that year and walked only 69.

In 1986, he was 17-6, but made the National League All-Star team for the third straight season (he made it four times), but helped deliver a World Series title to the Mets.

Those were exciting times in New York, and you can relive them with Gooden next Thursday, May 28, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., at Resorts World Casino. General admission is $40 for the event, which includes a Q & A session. A VIP ticket for $100 will entitle you to a meet-and-greet with Gooden where you can obtain autographs.

Regardless of your ticket purchase, you will have a chance to win Mets memorabilia.

New York Mets Report will be feature Gooden next week in an exclusive interview.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER TICKETS