Dec 28

Top Six Mets’ Storylines For 2016

The season didn’t turn out the way for the Mets the way many hoped. Too many injuries and too few hits with runners in scoring position will do that to a team. There were numerous storylines from this summer, but I’ve narrowed it down to five. I’m sure you have others, but these are mine:

SYNDERGAARD: Pitched big in WC Game. (FOX)

SYNDERGAARD: Pitched big in WC Game. (FOX)

Mets lose wild-card heartbreaker: San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner and the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard were brilliant in one of the most well-pitched games in Wild-Card history. Syndergaard threw seven scoreless and Bumgarner went nine in the Giants’ 3-0 victory won by Conor Gillaspie three-run homer in the ninth.

The loss prevented a playoff rematch between the Mets and Cubs, and of course, kept them from returning to the World Series.

Injuries derail rotation: The highly-anticipated return of Zack Wheeler to the rotation in July and switch of Bartolo Colon to the bullpen never materialized. One by one they went down until three more went down with surgery: Matt Harvey (shoulder), Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz (elbows).

Syndergaard was also hindered with an elbow spur. Injuries always produce opportunities, and this time Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman took advantage.

Piazza enters Hall of Fame: Catcher Mike Piazza was clearly the summer’s feel-good moment with his induction into the Hall of Fame. While there have been many players with links to the Mets that are in Cooperstown, Piazza and Tom Seaver are the only ones who went in as Mets.

Wright’s back limits him to 38 games: For the second straight summer, David Wright’s injured back scuttled his season that put his career in jeopardy.

Wright is progressing on schedule, but we’ll not know about him until spring training.

Cespedes and Walker power offense: Bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and signing Neil Walker were the Mets’ two biggest off-season moves last winter, and together they combined for over 50 homers.

The Mets will bring both back for next year (Cespedes is signed for four years), which just about completes their off-season shopping.

Mets trade for Bruce: With injuries sapping the Mets’ offense – including those to Cespedes and Walker – GM Sandy Alderson pulled the trigger and traded for Reds outfielder Jay Bruce.

Bruce struggled for most of the second half, but finished with a strong ten-day to close the season. Alderson made a big thing of having Bruce as insurance if they couldn’t bring back Cespedes, and if they could they would deal him.

Well, they signed Cespedes to a four-year, $110-million package, then turned around to find no interest in Bruce and might not be able to deal him until spring training, if at all.

Dec 27

Familia Awaits Suspension Verdict

Since his assault charge was dropped, Jeurys Familia has been working out and throwing live batting practice in the Dominican Republic.

FAMILIA: Waiting on suspension verdict. (AP)

FAMILIA: Waiting on suspension verdict. (AP)

However, Familia awaits word from MLB on a possible suspension. I can’t help but think if Familia were not facing a suspension, he wouldn’t be playing in a winter league and instead be easing his way into spring training.

Being realistic, Familia can’t help thinking he’ll skate on this, even though his fiancé opted not to press charges. The scratches and bruises on her body just didn’t get there.

Based on previous cases – Aroldis Chapman sat for 30 games and shots were fired then and Jose Reyes sat for 52 games and his wife also declined to press charges, so that’s a moot point – MLB will certainly impose some sanctions.

Clearly, spousal complaints matter little in these cases.

The Mets and Familia can’t be thinking he’ll get less than 30 games. So, Familia is doing the smart thing and getting work in now before the hammer comes down. But, what are the Mets doing?

They’ve already said set-up reliever Addison Reed will step in as the closer and the Mets signed several non-descript middle relievers.

Considering what Chapman and Andrew Miller did in the World Series – when they were required to work multiple innings, unless they sign or trade for an established (read: expensive) middle reliever, their best bet will be to go with Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman in the set-up role.

It’s the path of least resistance – and least investment – so figure that’s how the Mets will proceed.

 

Dec 26

Don’t Count On Bruce Trade Before Spring Training

Since the Mets aren’t likely to trade either Jay Bruce and/or Curtis Granderson before they reduce payroll, the wait could drag into spring training.

Perhaps, they won’t be dealt at all unless they can swing a one-for-one trade for a reliever or somehow include one in a package deal. Either one would somehow entail convincing a team to take on at least Bruce’s $13-million contract (Granderson’s pact is for $15 million).

The odds on that are small, so bet on spring training.

A more likely scenario has both Bruce and Granderson on the Opening Day roster with a clogged drain of a situation in the outfield. In that case, I don’t see much chance of Bruce getting many quality at-bats, and with that, his trade value would be plummeting.

With payroll is a criterion for a deal, that’s a disturbing thought if you’re thinking the Mets might have to make a trade in July.

But, everything is good for the Mets because they have Yoenis Cespedes back and all it cost them was $110 million.

Dec 25

Merry Christmas My Friends; Say A Prayer For Mel

Greetings all. My only baseball thoughts are simple. I am saddened by the news Mel Stottlemyre, the former pitching coach for the Mets and Yankees is not doing very well, and I pray for his recovery. I got to know Mel when I covered the Yankees and he was always gracious and a gentleman.

Mel was a pitching coach for the 1986 Mets, and if it were in my power I would wish for you to enjoy another season like that one.

I hope your day was one of peace and joy.

Merry Christmas my friends.

Dec 22

Mets’ Pitching Concerns Hinders McCutchen Trade Possibility

When it comes to trades involving the Mets – whether made or speculated – entails a great deal of reading between the lines. So it goes with this ember in the Hot Stove boiler involving Andrew McCutchen with the Pirates.

McCUTCHEN: Not happening. (AP)

McCUTCHEN: Not happening. (AP)

Sure, I can throw a lot of crap against the wall like I’ve read on other sites about the Mets giving the Pirates Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, and while those are all names that could get it done, it won’t happen.

We all know GM Sandy Alderson is reluctant to dip into his glut of young pitching, but this time it isn’t a matter of being afraid of pulling the trigger, but rather trying to protect the Mets’ pennant hopes for 2017.

I’ve suggested using Gsellman and Lugo for work in the bullpen as well as a protection for their young starters, of which four are coming off surgery: Matt Harvey had season-ending surgery twice in the past three years; Jacob deGrom has had two surgeries; Matz has a problem staying on the field; and Zack Wheeler hasn’t pitched in two years.

Then there’s Noah Syndergaard, who had trouble with a bone spur in his elbow in the second half, so we don’t know how that will be.

With Bartolo Colon gone and five potential starters with health concerns, you can appreciate Alderson wanting a security blanket.

But, Alderson’s apprehension goes deeper. You can also read into this the Mets really don’t know what to expect from their young rotation, and likely won’t until spring training. By that time, they might have to find ways to get Gsellman and/or Lugo innings before Opening Day.

It also tells you Alderson might be concerned the Mets’ window of opportunity is closing faster than he’d hoped.

He’s probably right on that: there’s a question about catching this year, so they’ll be shopping there next winter; they could be without Lucas Duda, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera; nobody knows about David Wright; and the Mets might not have Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson.

Alderson is hoping the pitching can hold up and he can get enough hitting from Yoenis Cespedes and what could be a patchwork offense to carry them into October.

Sure, I’d like for them to get McCutchen, but you could see this coming. Trading for McCutchen, or making any kind of deal of that magnitude, pretty much went by the boards after they went all out for Cespedes and ended up with a glut logjam in center field.