Jan 13

Top Ten Reasons Why Mets Can Return To World Series

As they are presently constructed, can the Mets return to the World Series? Why, of course. They are the defending National League champions, and while they haven’t gotten the big bopper they wanted, they still bring a formidable team to spring training.

Here are ten reasons why the Mets, if they stay healthy, can have another October:

1. They learned from 2015:

As Kansas City proved last season following their 2014 Series loss to San Francisco, a team can learn from defeat. From manager Terry Collins on down, the Mets will be better for the experience. They know what it takes to get there and you can’t buy what those five games against the Royals gave them. Not to mention the series against Chicago and Los Angeles.

HARVEY: I'm betting on 20 (Getty)

HARVEY: I’m betting on 20 (Getty)

2. The experience of Game 5:

Believe me on this, Matt Harvey is seething over Game 5. I’m not buying the Mets have the best rotation in the game until one of those wonder kids win 20 games. You’ll read it here first, but I think this is the year Harvey wins 20. I’m guessing he’s more than motivated, and with the restrictions from Tommy John surgery behind him, this could be a special year.

3. A full year with that rotation:

I don’t know if there will be innings restrictions on Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz – or Zack Wheeler when he comes off the disabled list. What I do know is if these guys are as special as advertised, I’m betting they learned from 2015. And, don’t forget, the Mets will have Matz and Syndergaard for a full season.

4. A full year from The Captain:

Assuming David Wright is healthy, and there’s no reason to figure otherwise, the Mets will have him for the full summer. He missed over four months last year, and missed them at a time when the offense struggled. Will he return to All-Star status? That might be a reach, but if he’s healthy and consistent, the Mets will be better.

5. The closer must have learned something:

Jeurys Familia had a breakout year, but didn’t have the smoothest postseason. He could have the potential to consistently save 40 games. That’s precious production. Personally, I’m glad he blew that Series game. Mariano Rivera said the best thing to happen in his career is when Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar Jr., homered off him in the 1997 playoffs. Rivera went on to become the game’s greatest closer.

6. They have a deeper bullpen:

Former closer Jenrry Mejia, when he comes off his suspension, will provide depth. They’ll also have Addison Reed for a full season, and hopefully a healthy Josh Edgin. And, once Wheeler returns, Bartolo Colon will go to the bullpen, where he excelled in the postseason. Hopefully, Hansel Robles will do some maturing. Lefty Jerry Blevins is back from missing last year with a broken. Logan Verrett provides depth, and can even spot start. The most intriguing spring training project with be Rafael Montero.

7. A better keystone combination:

The Mets’ defense up the middle is better with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrerra and second baseman Neil Walker. Offensively, replacing Daniel Murphy with Walker is a wash. Cabrerra is on a par with Wilmer Flores at the plate and is an upgrade in the field. Flores will add depth on the bench and give Collins more opportunities to rest Wright.

8. Left-handed power:

I never liked Curtis Granderson leading off, but love his ability to draw walks. He also hit 26 homers, but would he have more RBI if he batted in the middle of the order? It’s more than possible. Lucas Duda hit 27 homers last year after 30 in 2014. Why does it seem they all came in the same week? He still strikes out too much (138), but had a good on-base percentage (.352). Duda’s numbers should improve with more playing time (only 471 at-bats in 135 games). More consistency would be better, but I’ll take the 27 homers any way I can get them.

9. They have deeper catching:

Kevin Plawecki is here to stay, but could he force Travis d’Arnaud out of town? That will be interesting situation that could play itself out. d’Arnaud showed offensive promise when he came off the disabled list, but his inability to throw out base runners in the playoffs proved to be a glaring weakness. Having Plawecki around for an entire season will give Collins a chance to platoon him, especially against teams that like to run.

10. The kid in left:

Or, should I say that “budding star” in left? I’m among the many who are high on Micheal Conforto. Hopefully, Collins won’t fall into the trap of sitting him against lefties. He needs to play against everybody. If he’s the real deal, the Mets have something special.

 

Jan 12

Collins Learns And Moves On From Game 5

Mets manager Terry Collins allowed himself three days to stew on his decision to let Matt Harvey pitch – and kick away – the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. Undoubtedly, he’ll relive that decision when spring training begins in little over a month.

COLLINS: Trusted Harvey. (AP)

COLLINS: Trusted Harvey. (AP)

In the MLB Network documentary, “Terry Collins: A Life In Baseball,” which airs Tuesday night, he said: “I had my bad three days. You’ve got to move on.”

I never thought Collins should have let Harvey stay in, thinking he went away from his principles. But, it was Collins’ decision, not mine, and he has to live with what happened. We have no way of knowing what would have happened had Jeurys Familia entered the game. It isn’t a slam dunk Familia would have saved the game. Afterall, he already blew a save in the Series.

Even had Familia saved the game, the Royals would have had a 3-2 Series lead with Games 6 and 7 in Kansas City. There were no guarantees.

“I don’t know what would have happened, after [Game 5],” Collins said on the show. “But, in my mind , we should’ve made the change. … I trusted this young man. I think the world of him . I still do. We made it. It didn’t work. You’ve got to move forward from it.”

Collins has spent his entire life around baseball, and knows everything is a learning experience. Collins went against what he thought was best and trusted his player.

Here’s hoping he learned from that and will become a better manager for it.

 

Jan 11

Not Collins’ Job To Motivate Mets

As a longtime follower, reporter and blogger about the Mets, I read just about everything I can about the team. Some of it makes sense, some of it does not. I read something today – over a month before the start of spring training – that made me wonder it is with some people.

The author wrote how he couldn’t wait for spring training to see how Terry Collins would motivate the Mets.

Huh?

A major league manager only singularly motivates his players. There is no rah-rah speeches. These guys are professional athletes who are beyond having a manager or coach light a fire under them. Frankly, if you’re a professional athlete and need a manager for motivation you’re not long for the sport. These guys, who all make the minimum of $500-thousand, motivate themselves.

Collectively, this team surprised a lot of people to reach the World Series. All of them should be stinging over what happened to them. Perhaps, the player with the most heat is Matt Harvey over the ninth inning of Game 5.

I’m guessing he’s done a slow burn all winter. At least I hope so.

Jan 08

How Cespedes Can Fall Back To Mets

I’ve written several times I don’t think the Mets should go after Yoenis Cespedes. I still don’t if he’s holding at the reported price of $150 million over six years. If he won’t budge from those numbers, there’s no reason for the Mets to consider him.

However, there is a way for Cespedes to return, and that’s for the Mets to do nothing and let the market come back to them. That’s right, let everybody else get plucked up. Neither Alex Gordon or Daniel Murphy got what they hoped and Cespedes was over-pricing himself anyway.

The longer the offseason drags on and the market dwindles – and the Mets don’t acquire a center fielder – then the odds should increase the team could reconsider Cespedes. However, it shouldn’t be for more than a $100 million.

The market is about timing and this is no different. I believe the Mets should be more aggressive in certain areas, but jumping in for Cespedes isn’t one of them. If the market comes back to them in a big way, then he’s worth a shot.

 

 

 

Jan 06

Writers Do Right By Piazza

Finally. The Baseball Writers Association of America did right today by putting slugging catcher Mike Piazza into the Hall of Fame along with Ken Griffey. As far as I’m concerned my colleagues also got it right by keeping PED cheaters Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa out. I also think the writers whiffed with Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Mike Mussina.

Piazza, who fell 28 votes shy last year, received 365 votes for 83 percent of those cast to go in as history’s top home run hitting catcher and is arguably one of the top three of all time at the position along with Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra.

PIAZZA and SEAVER: The Mets' best. (AP)

PIAZZA and SEAVER: The Mets’ best. (AP)

“It’s the first time in a long time I’ve been speechless,” Piazza told the MLB Network. “Nothing can prepare you when you do get that call. It’s just something you can’t describe. …To be in an institution such as the Hall of Fame, is an amazing honor.”

Not surprisingly, Piazza mentioned his home run against Atlanta following 9-11 as a milestone memory.

“Obviously, a lot of people remember the home run in the first game after 9/11,” Piazza said. “When I think back now I start to get emotional. … From the first day in New York to the great teams we had in the late-90s, early 2000s was just very special.”

While the post 9-11 homer was clearly emotional, another memory came during the 2000 season when the Yankees’ Clemens beaned him, and then during the World Series – perhaps in a fit of Roid Rage – threw part of Piazza’s broken bat at him.

Piazza fell short in his previous three chances on the ballot because of the suspicion of PED use. But, other than a few busy-body writers talking about his back acne, Piazza never failed a drug test, did not appear on the Mitchell Report findings and never had another player accusing him on the record.

The same could not be said about Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and Sosa.

Because there was never any doubt he played cleanly, it was speculated Griffey would become the first unanimous selection, but inexplicably there were three writers who did not vote for Griffey. Presumably, their twisted line of thinking was there should not be a unanimous selection.

Normally I defend my colleagues, but not this time. While I don’t agree with those who vote for the PED users, there is no defending their logic. They got it right with Piazza, but these three voters hurt the BBWAA. Even so, Griffey went in with the highest percent of the vote to pass Seaver.

What remains for Piazza is the decision as to what cap he’ll go in with – the Hall says it should be where the player “made his biggest mark,” and that probably will be the Dodgers, and when the Mets will retire his number.

There should be not a matter of “if” Piazza’s No. 31 will be honored.