Sep 02

The Importance Of The Mets Playing Today

It’s easy to sit back outside of Houston and say “the Mets and Astros shouldn’t have played today,’’ and you could be right.

But, you’d also be wrong.

HARVEY: Ripped in return. (AP)

HARVEY: Ripped in return. (AP)

Unless you’re from that community – the way we experienced September 11 and Sandy – you can’t comprehend the impact sports has on a region. It’s almost a cliché to say sports brings a sense of normalcy to a community.

SNY told the story of a man who took six kids to the first game – only one his own – to give his neighbors a chance to dig out from their homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. It’s been said sports act as a diversion, which Mets manager Terry Collins could relate to.

“If we can bring a distraction to what the town’s going through, certainly we’re up for it. We’ve been through it before obviously in our city,’’ Collins said “We know what the feeling is like. Tough atmosphere to play in when you’re a visitor.’’

The Mets not only lost both ends of today’s day-night double-header, but did so after volunteering throughout the Houston area during Friday’s off-day.

“We did what we thought was right,’’ said Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets went where the Astros and Houston’s civic leaders thought they would help the most.

“We all wanted to help out however we could,’’ said outfielder Brandon Nimmo. “I know we only made a little dent in what could be done, but that’s the way that we felt like we could go in and just help out a little bit at a time.’’

One group helped unload a truck full of supplies. Others volunteered at shelters. Still, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the Mets’ biggest contribution was to agree to move the series from Tampa to Houston, so the Astros players could reunite with their families.

“For that,’’ Hinch said, “I’m forever grateful.”

“It takes tragedies to bring people together, and that’s what’s going on here,” said Collins. “If this helps people’s spirits … then it’s the right thing to do. We’re willing to do anything to help. … You do what you’ve got to do. When they ask you to do this for the reasons they asked, you just do it. You don’t question it. You don’t complain about it. You just do it. … We just hope we can add something to help get these people through the next several months.”

HARVEY ROCKED: The best thing one could say about Matt Harvey’s return from the disabled list was he didn’t get hurt again.

Harvey threw 70 pitches – only 45 for strikes – in two innings in which he gave up seven runs on eight hits. Despite the numbers, felt optimistic.

“I’m fully confident that within the next start, or the start after that, whatever it is, that by the end of the season I’ll be comfortable on the mound and throwing to hitters,” Harvey said. “There’s not one doubt in my mind that with health, mechanics will come, and so will success. I’ve been there before. I’ve come back from Tommy John healthy and effectively, and there’s no doubt that by the end of the season I will do the same.”

FLORES INJURED: Wilmer Flores, who hit a grand slam in the Game 1 12-8 loss, left the Game 2 4-1 loss in the fourth inning after a foul batt struck him flush in the face.

Flores sustained a broken nose and will be out indefinitely.

CONFORTO TO HAVE SURGERY: The Mets confirmed outfielder Michael Conforto will undergo surgery on his left field, making it questionable he will be ready for the start of next season. The news puts the Mets in the market for an outfielder this winter, creating speculation the team might revisit bringing back Jay Bruce.

 

Aug 31

Cabrera Remains A Met

It’s ironic the only Met not traded over the past two months was the one who asked to be dealt. Asdrubal Cabrera could still be moved, but wouldn’t be eligible for the playoffs.

Now, Cabrera can’t imagine playing anywhere else, even if it’s with a reduced role.

“I love this team,’’ Cabrera said after today’s 7-2 loss in Cincinnati. “We’ve got good talent now, young guys and they’re learning a little bit. It’s going to be a good team next year if everybody stays healthy.’’

The Mets hold an $8.5-million club option on Cabrera for 2018, and if they bring him back it will in a reserve role at second and third – with only an occasional start at shortstop.

“It’s not what I want, but I’ve got to play where the team needs me,’’ Cabrera said. “I’ll try to do my best at any position.’’

Earlier this season, when Neil Walker was on the disabled list and Jose Reyes said he was more comfortable playing shortstop than third, Cabrera balked at moving to second, and said he wanted to be traded.

“I understood his frustration in the beginning,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “This guy was the shortstop here last year when we went to the playoffs, and he played great. And all of the sudden, you’re asking [him] to move.

“I understand that. He’s a possible free agent. I get it all. He just let his emotions get the best of him. But I knew he could play anywhere.’’

 

Aug 30

Montero Shows What Fuss Has Been All About

Tonight, my friends, is what all the fuss surrounding Rafael Montero has been about. There it was, the eighth incredible inning in Cincinnati, and Montero was still dealing.

MONTERO: Wears the crown tonight. (AP)

MONTERO: Wears the crown tonight. (AP)

He worked quickly and confidently, challenging the Reds inside with his fastball, his slider, his changeup. It was art to watch Montero change speeds and hit his spots.

Above all, Montero pitched fearlessly, changing speeds and throwing his change-up off the inside corner. If he missed, the ball would tail further inside and not fade over the middle of the plate.

“He established inside and pitched off of that,’’ said catcher Kevin Plawecki. “He’s throwing effectively inside. That’s why he’s had so much success lately.’’

Montero is 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA over his last four starts, but so importantly, averaged 6.2 innings. That length has gone a long way toward earning the trust from manager Terry Collins.

“He got easy outs,’’ Collins said. “He had a lot of 1, 2, 3-pitch outs. He probably thinks he has a home in the rotation, and he should feel that way.’’

The last time the Mets farmed out Montero, Collins told him he needed to throw strikes if he was to have a future with the Mets.

Montero took that to heart.

“When I was sent down, I said to myself, `I can’t go back there. I have to make changes.’ ’’

Montero took a one-hit, shutout into the ninth. He retired the first Red – Billy Hamilton on a grounder to second. Phillip Ervin singled to center, but Collins chose to give Montero one more batter, Zack Cozart, who promptly doubled.

Joey Votto was intentionally walked to load the bases, and put the winning run on base.

Enter AJ Ramos, who struck out Adam Duvall and Scooter Gennett to end the game and give the Mets their most significant victory in months.

And to Montero, the most significant victory of his short and tumultuous career.

Aug 30

Reyes Auditioning For Next Year

Nothing is ever black or white when it comes to the Mets. There’s always an aura of mystery, of speculation with every issue. Take Jose Reyes playing left field – for the first time in his major league career – last night in Cincinnati. While it is true the Mets are playing shorthanded following season-ending injuries to Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, preceded by the season-scuttling trades of Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson.

It’s great to talk about a player’s versatility and willingness to play a different position, but that usually comes with roster decisions coming out of spring training. Reyes is earning extra credit for taking Amed Rosario under his wing and demonstrating a willingness to be a team player. Not long ago he wasn’t so agreeable about playing third base, remember?

REYES: Trying to enhance value. (AP)

REYES: Trying to enhance value. (AP)

Things changed because this is a different Mets’ team than the one in June when their season was strained, but hope remained. At the time, Reyes was competing for playing time and a 2018 contract.

However, with the future already here regarding Rosario, and the outfield cupboard thin with the Conforto and Cespedes injuries, Reyes’ ability to play the outfield is being revisited. The Mets have few minor league outfield options, with their primary choices are to hope for the best physically from Conforto and Cespedes.

Conforto had his second opinion examination today on his left shoulder and we should know more tomorrow regarding surgery. As far as Cespedes is concerned, his vow to re-evaluate his conditioning program has to be taken at face value, meaning we’ll see next year. Presumably, the Mets are being cautious about projections for Conforto and Cespedes. Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo will be factors, but there could be a need for Reyes in the outfield.

We can assume the Mets won’t be big spenders, so I won’t get too excited about bringing Bruce back.

Reyes didn’t distinguish himself last night but will get more opportunities as the season winds down.

“We’ve got to find out, and get him out there,” Collins said. “He’s anxious to try it. I think as we move forward, it’s something we’ve got to take a look at.”

Reyes wants to come back – there’s a comfort to him playing with the Mets – but his value would be further enhanced if he proves he can play the outfield.

“I feel like a lot of teams this year, they use a lot of versatile players who can play a lot of positions,” Reyes said. “So that’s going to be a plus for me if I can do a very good job in the outfield. I don’t know how it’s going to be because I don’t have too much work there, but I’m still a very good athlete. I feel like I can play the position.”

 

Aug 29

Familia, Smith Lone Bright Spots In Rout

There aren’t many positives the Mets can find in a ten-run loss, but here goes: 1) Jeurys Familia was strong in his second game coming off the disabled list, and 2) struggling rookie Dominic Smith drove in two runs on a pair of hits.

FLEXEN: Apologizes for gesture> (AP)

FLEXEN: Apologizes for gesture> (AP)

Hey, I told you there wasn’t much to shout about.

Familia was the most important development with three strikeouts in 1.2 innings. Familia threw 27 pitches, many of them in the mid-to-high 90s.

Regarding next year, should Familia return healthy and Jerry Blevins is brought back, and AJ Ramos and the Mets have potentially a solid back end of the bullpen.

As far as Smith goes, he’ll get his hits. What I’m looking from him this early in his career is to not try to pull everything and to be patient at the plate.

Smith is hitting .183, but with a .206 on-base percentage, marked by only two walks over 80 at-bats.

C’MON REYES, PLAY SMART: The Mets trailed by four runs in the seventh inning and Jose Reyes was on first. So, what did he do?

He was thrown out trying to steal second.

Seriously, Jose? If you’re trying to be a mentor for Amed Rosario, don’t play like you’re brain dead.

ACCOUNTABILILTY: Mets starter Chris Flexen apologized to manager Terry Collins and Reyes after the game for when he threw up his arms after Billy Hamilton’s fly ball over Reyes’ head in the second.

“You can’ do that,’’ Flexen said.