Aug 15

Mets Bullpen Is Achilles Heel

There have been some really great closers – Mariano Rivera and Dennis Eckersley, to name two – but what complemented them was the depth of their bullpens. Both the Yankees and Athletics were championship deep.

The Mets have faith in Jeurys Familia as their closer and Tyler Clippard in a set-up role. However, as evidenced by Bobby Parnell Friday night and future ex-Met Jenrry Mejia, depth is a problem.

PARNELL: Reliability a concern. (AP)

PARNELL: Reliability a concern. (AP)

For the most part, I’ve liked what Hansel Robles has done. At one time Carlos Torres was considered reliable. Not anymore. And, Sean Gilmartin and Eric O’Flaherty aren’t quite a comforting cup of hot cocoa on a winter’s night.

Familia has had implosion moments and it must be remembered this is the first time he will pitch under playoff-type pressure.

The bullpen has an Achilles Heel quality about it, so if GM Sandy Alderson has a chance to snag somebody off the waiver-wire scrap heap he would be wise to do so. Waiting for Jerry Blevins to return isn’t a sound strategy.

The Mets have a nice lead, but one capable of evaporating with a bad week by the bullpen. You might recall September of 2007.

The bullpen is a significant question moving forward. The Mets would be wise to act now rather than lament later.


Aug 14

Wise Choice Is To Rest Duda For Pirates Series

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda will miss a fourth straight game tonight against Pittsburgh with a lumbar strain. Duda hit in the cage this afternoon and told reporters: “It feels better. I took some swings today and ran a bit. It’s moving in the right direction, that’s for sure.”

For now the plan is to rest tonight and Sunday against left-hander Jeff Locke. With the Mets off Monday, manager Terry Collins is looking at Tuesday against the Orioles. As of now, Saturday is a possibility, but the prudent decision should be to keep him out that game also for two reasons: 1) the extra day couldn’t hurt, and 2) if the Mets do decide on the DL they can back date his time.

Pittsburgh is an important series, but not as much as keeping Duda healthy. The Mets are playing well and have a 4.5-game lead on Washington. This is no time to be foolish with a key player.


Aug 13

Mets Need To Be Smart With Duda

That the Mets are playing well gives them some leeway when it comes to dealing with Lucas Duda’s sore back. That they aren’t running away with the division means they must be concerned. The 3.5-game lead the Mets had heading into today’s game could vanish in less than a week.

DUDA: Be smart with him. (AP)

DUDA: Be smart with him. (AP)

What the Mets can’t afford is to wait until the rosters expand Sept. 1 before deciding temporarily shutting down Duda. As much as manager Terry Collins wants Duda in the lineup this weekend against Pittsburgh, it is more important to play this thing smart.

Duda was given some medication and there’s a 24-hour window before the Mets know if it will take effect.

“The trainers and doctors feel that in another 24 hours they’ll have a better determination of if it’s going to work and how he’s going to feel,’’ Collins told reporters.

“He doesn’t feel much better today than he did yesterday. The one thing I’m not going to do is aggravate it to the point where it bothers his swing.’’

Somehow, the Mets have survived playing shorthanded this summer, but can’t keep defying the odds. If Duda is unable to play Friday against the Pirates, the prudent decision might be to shut him down on the disabled list so he’ll be available for the stretch drive.

The Mets haven’t always handled injuries wisely and forcing Duda when he’s not ready and possibly further injuring himself to where they won’t have him at the most important part of what is becoming a magical season would be foolish.


Aug 12

Contend And They Will Come?

For years we heard complaints as long as the Wilpons put out a mediocre product on the field there was no reason for fans to come out to Citi Field. In fact, there were pockets of protesters calling for boycotts of the Mets because the Wilpons weren’t putting out a representative team on the field.

Well, the Mets are winning – with Jacob deGrom‘s shutout of the Rockies tonight they are now ten games over .500 – but they aren’t coming. I’m not here to sell tickets for the Mets, but c’mon people, deGrom shuts out the Rockies tonight and Matt Harvey shut them out last night, but where’s the love?

Only 27,000 tonight and 25,000 last night isn’t much. Actually, for a first-place team it is barely anything. While attendance usually spikes the year after a team wins, there are plenty of tickets available. Your team is playing winning, exciting baseball; it is in first place; it’s summer in New York; and the selection of your seats figure to be better now then next year at this time.

The complaints for not supporting the Mets previously were fair, but fair is fair. Although they took their time doing so, the Mets did make several moves to improve themselves. Yes, there have been a limited amount of home games, and the Rockies aren’t the greatest draw, and hopefully the last two nights have been an aberration, but your ball club is in a pennant race and it is the best time to be a fan of the Mets.

You demanded, and rightfully so, of the Wilpons to put up or shut up. Well, now it’s time to support your team at the ball park. It’s a fun team to watch and they deserve it.



Aug 11

Five Questions If The Mets Are To Contend

The Mets answered one of the most important questions if they are to contend, which is whether they would add to their roster. The additions of Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson energized this team. They created further sparks when Travis d’Arnaud was activated from the disabled list and now the pending return of David Wright.

However, there are more questions to be answered, with these being the most pertinent:

QUESTION: How will they handle the pressure?

ANSWER: There’s a minimum of postseason experience on this roster, and Wright still hasn’t returned. Uribe and Johnson have been there before, but not Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores or Juan Lagares. Eventually they will be faced with a critical situation, one they have yet to encounter.

QUESTION: How will the young arms hold up?

ANSWER: Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have been stellar, but as the season progresses they will surpass career highs in innings pitched. None of them have pitched meaningful games in September.

QUESTION: How good will Wright be when he returns?

ANSWER: Nobody can say, but if he’s his former self considerable pressure will be alleviated down the lineup. The Mets will need another RBI bat in the middle of their order down the stretch.

QUESTION: Will the bullpen hold up?

ANSWER: This is all new for Jeurys Familia, but Clippard has playoff experience. It will be interesting to see if manager Terry Collins has a shorts leash when it comes to his bullpen.

QUESTION: Will they stay healthy?

ANSWER: We’re waiting on Wright, but Duda missed Tuesday’s game. Lagares has had a sore are all year and runners are taking liberties off him on the bases. Fortunately, Harvey has so far responded coming off Tommy John surgery.