Jun 02

Nimmo Needs Play, Even After Cespedes Returns

The Mets appear to have found something during what is fast becoming a lost season. Ignored for bigger names, Brandon Nimmo has gotten the opportunity young players covet – and is making the most of it.

With Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares injured – the latter is lost for the season – Nimmo is getting the regular at-bats that lefty-righty devotees denied him.

NIMMO: Needs to play. (SNY)

NIMMO: Needs to play. (SNY)

That must continue.

Nimmo entered Saturday’s game having homered in two straight games and getting at least two hits in four consecutive games.

“He’s been great,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He’s doing the job on both sides of the baseball. I feel like he’s playing good defense. He’s obviously swinging the bat well, and taking his walks, things like that. He’s a young player that’s blossoming in front of us, and I think that he’s making a case for himself.”

The numbers support Callaway.

Nimmo had nine hits through May 3, but with Cespedes out, he has 11 extra-base hits, and nine RBI in his past 11 games (hitting leadoff), for a .390 average and .927 slugging percentage. Five of those extra-base hits have been homers. On May 22, Nimmo was batting a pedestrian .244. Today he’s up to .294. It’s all because he’s getting a chance.

“The more playing time that I’ve gotten has helped me get in a good rhythm, and make good adjustments,” Nimmo said. “It might be the biggest thing. I haven’t done anything drastically different. That’s the biggest thing right there.”

More than his production is Nimmo’s passion and enthusiasm. It’s infectious. Nimmo plays every game as if it is his first … or last. How many times in these few weeks have you wondered, “what if everybody played like Nimmo?” Cespedes certainly doesn’t have Nimmo’s passion.

However, even with the emergence of Nimmo, the Mets are still pining for Cespedes. Both GM Sandy Alderson and Callaway spoke of the need for him to get back, and also the amount of money they are paying him. Cespedes will make $29 million this year and next, and $29.5 million in 2020.

“It’s been big,’’ Callaway said. “We count on his offense. We’ve paid him a lot of money to come out there and produce, and we don’t have him right, so it’s been tough.’’

What the Mets should have learned last month is even when Cespedes returns, Nimmo, who makes $555,968 this year, needs to play. The bench and minor leagues should be something said in past tense about him.

 

Jun 01

Mets Lose Another; Callaway Calls Team Meeting

Mets manager Mickey Callaway said he didn’t believe in team meetings, but called one after Friday’s sloppy 7-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs to fall under .500 for the first time this season.

The headline was the bullpen that gave up five runs and allowed two inherited runners to score, but Callaway said the Mets haven’t been giving themselves a chance to win.

“We’re not snake bitten,’’ an excited Callaway said. “We’re not playing the game the right way. It’s a big snowball effect when you’re not playing the game the right way.’’

It was long overdue. Callaway has been even-keel, and his message was short and sweet.

“He said, `Keep your head up and come in here and do the right thing,’’ said Jay Bruce. “No one cares if you have injuries, you have to play the game the right way, do the little things and expect to come in here and win.’’

Callaway mentioned outfielders Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo overthrowing the cut-off man; failure to taking the extra base and advance runners, and pitchers issuing leadoff walks.

“He’s right,” Conforto said. “It’s something I’ve been working on. I just didn’t do it. This is something I can control. … This is a wake-up call that we needed. … It’s not about bad luck. It’s about playing better baseball.”

After starting the season at 11-1, the Mets are now 27-28, and losers of seven of their last ten games. They are 12-15 at Citi Field, and lucky to be one game under .500 considering they have a minus-23 run differential overall.

BRUCE HURTING:: Another day, another Met is hurting. Bruce left tonight’s game with tightness in his lower back. Bruce is also slowed with plantar fasciitis, and you have to wonder whether that brought on the sore back.

Bruce said he felt something prior to the game, but was unable to play through it.

The Mets already have outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares on the disabled list, so it would hurt to lose Bruce, but if he’s hurting he’s not doing them any good and should go on the DL. Bruce is hitting .228 with three homers and 15 RBI.

Callaway said Bruce should be available for Saturday.

The Mets added Jose Bautista, who has played well, and Nimmo is making the most of his opportunity. His OPS is over 1.000, and he hit a two-run homer in tonight’s 7-4 loss.

ROTATION WOES: Noah Syndergaard remains on the DL with a strained ligament in his right index finger and his not expected to be activated prior to next weekend’s series against the Yankees.

Zack Wheeler started tonight and pitched well, giving up just two runs [inherited runners that the bullpen allowed to score].

Jacob deGrom will start Saturday and Steven Matz Sunday.

Either Seth Lugo or Jason Vargas will start Tuesday against Baltimore. Whoever doesn’t start Tuesday – or Wheeler – could start Wednesday.

GSELLMAN SITS: Once again the Mets bullpen imploded, and surprisingly Robert Gsellman wasn’t used considering he didn’t pitch Thursday. Callaway said Gsellman, who had been pitching a lot lately, was scheduled to be off.

EXTRA INNINGS: Kevin Plawecki will start at first base Saturday. … Callaway is hoping for Todd Frazier and/or Cespedes to come off the disabled list for the Yankees series. … Jose Lobaton was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, giving the Mets three catchers. That’s not a lot of flexibility for an already weak and thin bench. … Reliever Anthony Swarzak is expected to be recalled Tuesday.

May 30

They Are The Mets, So Things Can Always Get Worse

They are the Mets, so when it comes to injuries, of course, things can get worse. Expect it. The team that began the season boasting about its pitching depth is now scrounging for healthy arms. Forget productive arms for now, the Mets just need somebody to get the ball across the plate.

Strikes would be nice, but manager Mickey Callaway will take what he can get for now.

MATZ: Will he go on the DL? (AP)

MATZ: Will he go on the DL? (AP)

On Tuesday, Noah Syndergaard went on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his right index finger. Later that day, Steven Matz left at the start of the fourth inning with a bone bruise to his left middle finger.

This came after he doubled in the top of the inning.

X-Rays were negative, but an MRI today could determine if he joins Syndergaard on the DL.

“When I was standing on second base [the finger] was starting to throb a little bit out there,’’ Matz said after the Mets lost 7-6 loss in Atlanta. “I threw a couple of [warmup] pitches and felt it.”

Matz said the pain in the knuckle.

Jason Vargas will start in place of Syndergaard tonight, and Seth Lugo will get the start Thursday against the Cubs at Citi Field.

Currently, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Vargas are the only projected starters still in the rotation. Vargas, who will start on three-days rest, is pitching as if he were injured with a 1-3 record and 10.62 ERA in five starts.

“He won’t be that limited,” Callaway said. “We will really just have to see how he does and gets through the game fatigue-wise.”

Injuries helped derail the Mets last season, and are threatening to do so again this year. The Mets were fortunate to have deGrom miss only one start because of a hyperextended elbow. Not so lucky are Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier, Wilmer Flores, Anthony Swarzak, Juan Lagares, AJ Ramos, Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud.

Asdrubal Cabrera is also playing with a sore knee.

May 23

Mets Blow DeGrom’s Stellar Start

Rule Number One: The Mets can’t afford to blow stellar starts from Jacob deGrom. DeGrom, quite simply is the best the Mets have to offer, and when he gives up four hits in seven shutout innings, they have to win the game.

It doesn’t get more fundamental than needing to win with your best, especially against the last-place Marlins. They lost because of another blown save from Jeurys Familia, but more importantly, the continued lack of production from their listless offense. Just six hits won’t get it done.

Neither does going 0-for-5 with RISP and stranding seven.

Wednesday’s 2-1 loss was the Mets’ 16th out of 21 in which they scored two or fewer runs.

After sweeping Arizona over the weekend, the Mets scored just four runs in the three games against the Marlins.

Dykstra Arrested: Will Lenny Dykstra will ever learn? Dykstra was arrested Wednesday in New Jersey after he allegedly threatened to kill his Uber driver while carrying drugs.

The driver fled his car and told officers he picked up Dykstra in Linden, and when the former Met wanted to change the destination, the driver refused and Dykstra allegedly put a gun to his head and threatened to kill him.

Police couldn’t locate a weapon, but recovered cocaine, MDMA and marijuana.

Since his career ended, Dykstra has had a myriad of problems, including being sentenced to three years in prison for grand theft auto in 2012. He also declared bankruptcy and admitted to using steroids.

May 22

Adding Bautista Could Mean End For Reyes

If there’s an indictment of the Mets’ cupboard farm system, it is this: They’ve agreed to terms with former six-time All-Star Jose Bautista, who was cast off by the Braves two days ago.

With Juan Lagares (toe injury and out for the season) and Yoenis Cespedes (strained right hip flexor), and an outfield full of lefty hitters, the Mets will be taking a flier of Bautista, who was hitting .143 with two homers and 12 games for the Braves.

BAUTISTA: Another bat added. (AP)

BAUTISTA: Another bat added. (AP)

Over his 15-year career, Bautista is a career .249 hitter, but with 333 homers and 923 RBI. He’s best known, however, for flipping his bat in the playoffs and his brawl with Rangers infielder Rougned Odur (he was cold-cocked in the brawl).

Although signed to as an outfielder, Bautista was playing third base for Atlanta. The signing could mean the end of Jose Reyes second tenure with the Mets. Reyes was in the Mets’ lineup for tonight’s game against Miami, but his playing time has been limited lately.

Reyes, who enters tonight’s game in a 2-for-22 slump, hears the whispers he could be DFA’s soon.

“The only thing I can control is to continue to work,’’ Reyes said. “Last year, I went through a similar situation, but it was a little bit different because last year I had the opportunity to play a little bit more. I can just do my work and routine and try to put my swing together. … It’s not a surprise to because I haven’t been playing too much. That’s nothing new. Whatever happens, happens.’’

Recently-promoted Infield prospect Luis Guillorme started at third base Monday. With the Mets opting to carry 13 pitchers and four role players, Guillorme could be sent down the Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Bautista.

However, if the Mets continue to carry 13 pitchers it stands to reason they could swap out Bautista for Reyes.