Sep 26

No Meaningful Change With Alderson In Charge

Another day, another article in The New York Post about who might manage the Mets next season. There’s a growing list of candidates now up to five whom might replace Terry Collins next year. So far, The Post is reporting the candidates are Robin Ventura, Alex Cora, current hitting coach Kevin Long, Bob Geren and Chip Hale.

ALDERSON: No meaningful change with him in control.  (AP)

ALDERSON: No meaningful change with him in control. (AP)

The report says GM Sandy Alderson could make the decision to replace Collins on Monday. If Collins falls on his sword and says he’s retiring, it would save the Mets from the awkward position of having to announce the second-winningest manager in franchise history is being fired.

It would be just like Collins to be the good soldier and spare Fred Wilpon and Alderson that embarrassment. Personally, if I’m Collins, after Sunday’s game I would say I want to continue managing the Mets. Yes, put the onus on Alderson, who has gone out of his way to undermine and humiliate Collins.

Yes, Collins should make it hard on Alderson, who, in his autobiography went out of his way to criticize his manager, who has been nothing if not loyal.

The frequent criticism of Collins has been his game management, which includes the use of the bullpen, something Alderson hasn’t improved since he was hired after the 2010 season.

Game management has to include an explanation, and the most prevalent are Collins’ options on his roster.

It really doesn’t matter who is hired to manage the Mets in 2018 and beyond, because no effective change can be made in the club’s direction as long as Alderson remains general manager, because under him are the decisions on how much to spend and on what players.

We must always remember Alderson wasn’t hired to build the Mets into a contender, but to cut payroll and save the Wilpons money. He did that this season when he gutted the team in July and August, essentially leaving them to rebuild this winter.

Alderson bullied Collins on not only building the 25-man roster, but constructing the batting order.

Alderson is big on analytics, which means he doesn’t respect old school thinking, for example, the need for speed and defense. Alderson’s tact is contradictory, for example, he places an emphasis on on-base percentage but devalues hitters taking walks.

There’s nothing wrong with some of the new-age statistics, but not at the total expense of the old-world numbers.

It is interesting to read about the Mets’ managerial candidates and wonder how the team will play next season, but you must remember there will be no meaningful change until Alderson is replaced, and Fred Wilpon won’t make that move.

Sep 25

Apple Doesn’t Rise On Record-Setting Homer

The Mets established a franchise record when Travis d’Arnaud hit the team’s 219th homer in the eighth inning. So, what accompanied the record-setting moment could best be described as “typical Mets’’ when the Home Run Apple failed to rise.

That prompted the scarce crowd to chant for the Apple, which resulted in a Bronx cheer when it finally was raised.

Just curious, but could the Apple have been damaged when Daniel Murphys homer struck the casing? It would have been apropos.

The homer gave the Mets a three-run lead, which turned out to be very important as the Braves scored twice in the ninth against Jeurys Familia.

Mets starters sharp: Chris Flexen’s line of four runs in five innings, looked worse than it really was. Three of those runs came in the sixth when Josh Smoker gave up those inherited runners, which was the decisive point in the 9-2 loss in Game 1 of the doubleheader.

What I don’t understand is why manager Terry Collins waited so long to replace Flexen. Why would Collins keep Flexen in the game to load the bases, with two of the runners coming on walks?

One criticism of Collins is that he has stuck with his starters too long, forcing the bullpen to enter with little-to-no wiggle room. Collins has to have a better understanding of how long his starters would pitch. He had to know Flexen wasn’t going to make it through the sixth after the leadoff hitter reached on a single.

In the second game, Seth Lugo struck out seven and gave up two hits in six scoreless innings.

Collins said Lugo will get another appearance to make another impression before the offseason, but wouldn’t say how.

If Collins sticks to the rotation order, it would be Saturday in Philadelphia, but he hasn’t defined how he’ll use Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey.

Sep 24

DeGrom Best Mets Have To Offer

There are two numbers that define an ace and today Jacob deGrom achieved one of them – that being 200 innings. Maybe next year he’ll get the other, which is 20 victories. Coming off surgery, deGrom is at 201.1 innings after throwing six in today’s 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.

DE GROM: Best Mets have to offer. (AP)

                      DE GROM: Best Mets have to offer. (AP)

“It’s definitely big for me,’’ deGrom said. “We’ve got plans to hopefully go to the World Series next year, and that’s something I wanted to get to, to know what it’s like to pitch that many innings in a year.’’

Twenty victories and 200-plus innings have always been the benchmark numbers that define an ace. Limiting it to the Mets, Tom Seaver won 20 games five times and reached 200 innings 16 times. Both numbers carry more weight than strikeouts, although 10 times he struck out at least 200 batters in a season.

DeGrom struck out 11 today to give him 239 on the season to go along with a 15-10 record, 3.53 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. All solid stats, but manager Terry Collins is just supporting his player when he said deGrom should be a Cy Young Award contender.

“They live by 200 innings,’’ Collins said of Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. “And I think you’re going to look up in a few years and that’s going to be Jacob deGrom’s motif. You know you’re going to get 200-plus out of him, and they’re going to be quality innings.’’

DeGrom has been one of the few bright spots for the Mets this season, and is unquestionably their ace, even more than Noah Syndergaard last year and Matt Harvey for a few months in 2013 ever were. With injuries to Syndergaard and Harvey, and to Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, deGrom has had to carry more than his own weight in the rotation.

If those arms pitch at full strength next season, the Mets have a chance to be competitive, but I think deGrom might be overreaching when he’s talking World Series in 2018. One thing for certain, however, if the Mets have any hope of playing meaningful baseball next September, they’ll need a stellar season from deGrom, maybe even 20 victories.

Sep 23

What Did We Learn Tonight From Mets?

So, what did we learn tonight about the Mets’ great experiment involving Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey?

As you know, Syndergaard came off the disabled list to start, but only pitch one inning while Harvey continued his rehab in relief.

What we learned is very little has changed:

About Syndergaard: Not a damned thing. Seriously, how could we with only five pitches thrown? This had to be another Sandy Alderson decision. The deciding factor in limiting a pitcher’s workload is innings and not pitches. What can you learn with five pitches? I understand Harvey warmed up, but what would have been the harm of another ten minutes?

What tonight meant was Syndergaard is likely to get another start next weekend in Philadelphia. Maybe they’ll go with the innings in that one.

About Harvey: He gave up three runs on four pitches in four innings. The first two were scoreless, which would have been encouraging if the bullpen was his destiny, something that should be considered.

Harvey gave up two homers and has given up 20 homers in 88.2 innings.

“It’s frustrating to struggle and not know why,’’ Harvey said.

We know why … he’s just not good these days.

The Mets’ bullpen: The Mets used NINE pitchers tonight. Jeurys Familia pitched again and was very effective, but should have gone out for the tenth inning.

Lefty Josh Smoker was also effective and I liked that manager Terry Collins let him pitch to a right-handed hitter.

Daniel Murphy rocked again: Murphy hit his ninth homer off Mets’ pitching, including the game-winner in the tenth inning. He also doubled.

The defense of Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario: Smith saved Rosario a throwing error, something he’s already done for the Mets and Las Vegas. Rosario continues to pump his glove before throwing, something that already cost the Mets since he was brought up from the minors. He’s been told about his throwing already since his promotion. Makes me wonder why he wasn’t told while at Las Vegas.

 

Sep 22

What Should Be Alderson’s 2017 Regrets

“I always think of things I could have done differently.’’ – Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Today at Citi Field

Yeah, me too, Sandy. There are plenty of things I wish you had done differently when it came to building the 2017 New York Mets.

ALDERSON: Regrets for 2017. (AP)

ALDERSON: Regrets for 2017. (AP)

The following decisions are what I wish Alderson had done differently:

Extending Yoenis Cespedes’ contract.

I didn’t like it then and after how this season unfolded, I certainly don’t like it now. I wrote at the time I thought it was a mistake based on: 1) the $110 million earmarked for Cespedes over four years would be better spent on other areas considering all their holes; 2) Cespedes’ injury history, including last season with the Mets; 3) his history of failing to hustle, which has hurt them on multiple occasions this season.

Failure to be patient with Matt Harvey.

When Harvey’s velocity was down during spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said based on his thoracic surgery, he wouldn’t be full strength until the end of May. So, instead of Harvey starting the season on the disabled list, his return was pushed and he was reinjured.

Letting Noah Syndergaard call his MRI shots.

Arguably the season’s dumbest quote belonged to Alderson when his response to why he didn’t force Syndergaard to undergo an MRI, he said he couldn’t force him into the tube. Well, he should have prevented Syndergaard from pitching until he took the MRI. Syndergaard made his next start, partially tore his right lat and spent the next four months on the DL The season was effectively over that day when Syndergaard was injured. Now, he’ll start Saturday and pitch one inning.

Failure to construct a quality bullpen.

Alderson has failed to build a bullpen every offseason since he was hired and last winter was no different.

Trading Jay Bruce.

Alderson said he expects the Mets to be competitive next summer, but if that’s to be the case, it stands to reason they’ll need a left-handed bat with power. In addition to Bruce, Alderson traded Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed for a handful of middling relief prospects. It remains to be seen if any of them will be around next season.

Keeping Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith in the minors.

The season was already lost, but Rosario and Smith languished in Las Vegas. Why? The moment Duda was traded Smith should have been brought up. Ditto Rosario when Asdrubal Cabrera was injured. Just not a smart move by whom Alderson’s biographer calls the game’s smartest GM.