Apr 17

Looking At The Mets’ Fast Start

No, I can’t do it when it comes to the New York Mets. I can’t look at 7-3 and just say, “hey, that’s great.” I certainly can’t say they’ll keep this pace, because playing .700 ball would be incredible. Nobody plays .700 ball. Now that the Mets are playing at that clip, I am thinking a lot better than .500.

Isn’t everybody?

But, I’m like the man grilling over coals. I can’t resist poking at them. It’s part of my nature, and also why I became a journalist. I am wonder why. That’s what I do.

So here are my thoughts on this terrific start, and yes, I do hope they’ll prove me wrong and keep it up. I want to see them play in October. I’ve covered a lot of playoff and World Series games, but the Mets in 2006 were positively electric. I’d love to see that again.

Here’s to the fast start and some of the reasons why:

* Matt Harvey: He’s had two starts, one great and the other not so much. He’s still throwing too many pitches for six innings, but it is easy to see the Mets have something special when he goes to the mound and the team has an aura when he pitches. That might be the best thing he brings to the table.

* Bartolo Colon: He’s had two outings and proven he still has something to give. When it comes to counting pitches, I hope they’d do with Colon the way they do Harvey. If they can keep him strong for the season it could bear fruit in September.

* Jacob deGrom: One of my favorites. He has great stuff and has also shown an ability to pitch out of trouble. Rookie of the Year last season. What’s his ceiling this year?

* Jon Niese and Dillon Gee: Neither has been stellar, but they did work into the fifth which minimizes the use of the bullpen. That can’t be underestimated.

* The bullpen: Forget Jenrry Mejia and I think the Mets will when his suspension is lifted. But, Jeurys Familia has been terrific as has the lefty relievers we all thought would be a problem. I’ve been critical of GM Sandy Alderson, but kudos for fixing the left bullpen hole at the end of spring training. They won’t get back Josh Edgin, but things could be better when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black return.

* Travis d’Arnaud: Is doing it at both sides of the plate. And, he’s showing some pop. Defensively, the pitchers like him, he’s blocking the plate better and shows a strong arm.

* David Wright: His fast start before hurting his hamstring had a calming influence. They haven’t lost since he’s been out, but that’s coincidence. Another positive is Eric Campbell has played well since replacing Wright.

* Lucas Duda: No, this wasn’t written by order of importance. For some reason I always lead with pitching. However, Duda is having a terrific start and is shows the ability to hit lefties. His stroke is short and compact, and he’s showing plate presence and patience. If he continues like this there’s no telling what he can do.

Wilmer Flores: Yes, Flores. He didn’t have a good start, but he’s not letting it bother him. They don’t win last night without his homer. And, kudos to Terry Collins here. It could have been easy to panic and pull Flores, but he stayed the course. Good job by Collins.

Juan Lagares: He’s not hitting leadoff, and perhaps the early confusion lead to his slow start at the plate. But, it hasn’t affected his defense and he’s starting to improve at the plate. A less tougher player might have let the lineup change bother him. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Lagares.

Curtis Granderson: He’s not hitting, but has a high on-base percentage with all his walks. If Granderson weren’t getting on base there would be a problem.

Michael Cuddyer: Has been a steady and consistent presence in the middle of the order. So far, a good signing. And, a lot of people other than Wright like him.

Other good signs: They are winning close games and won two of three in Washington. Winning in the division is a great indicator and they’ll continue to get those opportunities the rest of the month. … Atlanta has cooled and Washington has sputtered and has significant bullpen problems. April is a great opportunity to make a strong, early statement and that’s what they are doing.

Of course, I could ask for more. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. But, I couldn’t ask for a better start.

 

 

 

Apr 16

Mets Game Wrap: Offense Sparks Mets

All season we’ve heard about the Mets’ weak offense, especially with them not having David Wright.

Dillon Gee, who worked through the fifth inning for a major league leading 48 straight starts, wasn’t effective, but was picked up the heretofore struggling Mets’ offense, lead by Wilmer Flores, who clubbed a three-run homer; Lucas Duda, who had three hits including two doubles; and Michael Cuddyer, who drove in two runs with a pair of hits.

The results haven’t continually been there despite the Mets (7-3) winning their fifth straight game, something they haven’t done since 2013. They’ve also scored at least six runs in three straight games.

The Mets utilized the combination of patience and aggressiveness at the plate, notably Duda, who is 4-for-8 against lefties and tonight had his third straight multi-extra base hit game.

At 7-3, the Mets moved into first place in the NL East. It’s early, but it’s sweet nonetheless.

 

Apr 16

Why I Admire Dillon Gee

There is a likable quality to the Mets’ Dillon Gee, one that wants you pull for him to do well. He doesn’t have the obvious skill set as say, Matt Harvey. He also doesn’t have the obvious, sometimes, in-your-face demeanor of Harvey.

However, Harvey is whom the public fawns over and Gee is taken for granted. Gee is what is good about sports, but on a different level. This is not to disparage Harvey, but Gee is the underdog who made good. Perhaps, overachieved. He’s the guy the Mets went out of their way this winter to attempt to trade, even though they had pitching issues that required an arm of Gee’s success.

How successful?

Gee is coming off a bad start in his season debut, but even so he has gone at least five innings in 47 straight starts, which is the longest active streak in the major leagues. Longer than Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner.

Gee is a consummate professional. He works and trains hard. He puts team ahead of himself. He shows up when it is his turn to pitch and does his job. He pitches with guile and grit. He’s what they call “blue collar.”

He’s what we want to admire in our professional athletes, and why I pull for him to do well. And, you could do a lot worse for athletes you want to emulate or idolize.

And, that’s whether or not he lasts five innings in his next start.

 

 

Apr 15

Mets Put Wright On DL; Bench Still Thin

The names changed but the numbers remained the same for the New York Mets, who placed David Wright on the 15-day disabled list today with a strained right hamstring and recalled Eric Campbell. Wright underwent a MRI this morning, took a cortisone injection and will be idle for the next two days.

WRIGHT: Goes on DL. (AP)

WRIGHT: Goes on DL. (AP)

It was the prudent course, especially since Wright has a history of trying to play through injuries. Wright is as tough as they come, but this time he knew he couldn’t continue after being injured stealing second base in the eighth inning Tuesday night.

“A couple of feet before the bag I just felt my hamstring grab,” Wright said. “I thought it might be something that I could stretch out a little bit. But then I took a couple of secondary leads and just realized that if the ball was put in play I wouldn’t have been able to do anything positive, that’s for sure. It took a couple of pitches, and it didn’t get any better. That’s when I thought I’d rather say something and hopefully catch this thing before I make the same mistake I made a couple of years ago, when I tried to play through it and made it worse.

“Anytime you feel something like that, you hope that it goes away. And this just didn’t go away.”

The Mets got away from playing Anthony Recker at third base. There wasn’t a ball hit to him, but the inept Phillies didn’t try to bunt except for one half-hearted attempt. Dumb baseball on their part, but lucky for Mets.

The Mets had no other choice but disable Wright because their other options were weak. Moving Lucas Duda left first base exposed. Moving Daniel Murphy left a hole at second. Using a pitcher would have been a horrible idea.

OK, the Mets got away with it last night, but foolishly they will keep eight in the bullpen and still be left with a thin bench. They were lucky the game didn’t go long, or Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t injured, or somebody else wasn’t hurt.

They foolishly insist on playing with a thin bench. I don’t think that’s a good idea, but then again, I didn’t invent baseball.

 

Apr 15

No Fooling Around; Put Wright On DL

They wouldn’t be the New York Mets if they didn’t have adversity. First they opened the season without three key relievers. Then they lose Zack Wheeler to injury and Jenrry Mejia to stupidity.

WRIGHT: Facing DL with hamstring pull. (AP)

WRIGHT: Facing DL with hamstring pull. (AP)

Now they face losing David Wright indefinitely with a pulled right hamstring. Wright is undergoing a MRI this morning and Eric Campbell has already been flown in. Wright will go to the disabled list, but with this type of injury, for how long is anybody’s guess.

They’ve played fast and loose with injuries – including to Wright before – but they can’t afford to screw around this time. Wright needs to go on the DL, and even admitted as such.

Several times Wright – by his own admission – foolishly tried to play through an injury. He tried to test it last night, but left the field quickly.

“`I knew it was something bad,” said manager Terry Collins, who added normally would wrap it up and play the next day.

Not this time and Wright knows it.

In a concession to age and experience, not to mention leadership, Wright said: “The last thing I want to do is go out there and do what I did a couple of years ago, where I feel something, you don’t say anything, you try to play through it and you end up missing a significant amount of time rather than something that’s relatively shorter.”

Wright’s injury exposed the Mets’ thin bench as back-up catcher Anthony Recker played first base.

The Mets also considered using Lucas Duda, but that would have left Recker playing first. They could have also used Daniel Murphy. They had other options, but none of them good.

It was a close game and they were lucky nothing happened. They are obviously exposed and it came close to biting them last night.

GM Sandy Alderson might not like it, but he must put together a conventional roster.