May 09

Tejada Makes Most Of Opportunity

Mets manager Terry Collins was rewarded with Saturday night’s decision to go with Ruben Tejada over Wilmer Flores at shortstop. It will be interesting to see how long Collins rides the hot hand after Tejada’s play in the 3-2 victory over Philadelphia.

Last weekend, Collins went with Tejada in consecutive games after a string of Flores’ errors. At the time I wondered if the Mets were greasing the skids for benching Flores full time. Tonight, with Jon Niese, who throws a lot of groundballs on the mound, Collins went with the better glove and the thought returned.

This time, Tejada did something to warrant staying in the lineup with two hits and starting a key double play that literally saved the game for the Mets. What Tejada did was give the Mets – for one game, at least – the type of shortstop play they expected of him when he assumed the job after Jose Reyes’ departure.

Tejada doubled lead to off the fifth and scored on an error, but in the eighth is when he earned his money. The Phillies loaded the bases with one out when Carlos Ruiz ripped a hard grounder Tejada backhanded to start an inning-ending and game-saving 6-4-3 double play.

“[Ruiz] hit the ball very hard,’’ Tejada said. “We had to, no matter what, had to make that play.’’

Considering Flores’ defensive problems, one had to think he wouldn’t have made that play and the Phillies could have at least tied the game.

The Mets’ hadn’t been happy with Tejada’s work ethic the past few years and some thought he might not have made the roster coming out of spring training, but that appears to have changed.

“It’s the hardest I’ve seen him work,’’ Collins said. “He’s kept himself ready to play. Here’s a guy who wants to get back in there.’’

Collins plans to start Tejada Sunday at second base and you wonder how much of a chance he will get.

 

May 08

Harvey Goes For Sixth Straight Against Phillies

By its simplest definition, a pitching ace must show up big when his team needs him most, which is what the Mets want tonight from Matt Harvey in Philadelphia.

Harvey (5-0, 2.41), who beat the Nationals and Yankees in his last two starts, will be trying to become the first pitcher in the majors to reach six victories this season. The last Mets starter to open a season at 5-0 was Pedro Martinez in 2006. The club record is 7-0 by Frank Viola in 1990.

He is 6-0 lifetime against the Philles, whom he beat April 14, 6-5 at Citi Field. If you recall, that was the game Harvey threw behind Chase Utley and plunked in the back. Utley is having a miserable season, batting .103, but is 6-for-15 lifetime against Harvey. Utley sat out the Phillies’ last two games but is in the lineup tonight.

The Mets are coming off a 5-1 win Wednesday over Baltimore, their second straight after losing seven of their previous ten games.

May 07

Reading The Murphy Tea Leaves

The thing that stands out about the recent Daniel Murphy trade rumors is the lack of denials from the New York Mets. None. Sure, scouts look at players all the time and we shouldn’t be surprised San Francisco was in over the weekend to look at Murphy. It stands to reason considering the Giants have a Pablo Sandoval size hole at third base.

It is no coincidence Murphy was moved to third to be showcased when Dilson Herrera was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas.

MURPHY: Sliding on out of here? (AP)

MURPHY: Sliding on out of here? (AP)

It also comes as no surprise the Mets have made no overtures to extend Murphy’s contract. And, they have had plenty of time.

It all makes sense, except for one thing: The Mets are playing winning baseball and Murphy, although not hitting well, does have a pile of RBI since he was moved into a run-producing slot in the batting order.

So, what happens in the next couple of weeks when David Wright comes off the disabled list? Especially if Herrera is hitting?

Who can’t see the Mets trying to unload Murphy?

But, if theMets accept token players, minor league scraps, if you will, while having their best season in six years, if should tell you a lot about GM Sandy Alderson and what management really considers as a priority.

My guess is winning isn’t ranked first.

May 06

Rushing Wright Would Be Wrong

The Mets would be wrong to rush David Wright off the disabled list. Manager Terry Collins said Wright’s pulled right hamstring is making gradual progress, and the projection is he could get into a minor league rehab game this weekend and activated next week.

“He’s starting to speed things up, which is a good sign,” Collins told reporters at Citi Field.

WRIGHT: Take it easy. (AP)

WRIGHT: Take it easy. (AP)

Sounds good, but haven’t we heard similar projections from the Mets over the years, and this includes on Wright?

Thank you, but no.

I would rather wait and see Wright the following week if it means having him intact for the remainder of the season. Hamstrings are an extremely tricky and unpredictable injury. Wright not only has to stretch out the hamstring, but test it running, with start-and-stop moves and changing directions while running.

The conventional wisdom on hamstring injuries is – and remember when this first happened the prognosis was a tight hamstring – whatever the original timeframe simply add a week.

Sure, I would like to see Wright out next week. Hell, I wanted to see him a week ago. But, what I don’t want is to see him hurt again.

No need to rush.

May 05

Let’s Knock It Off With Mets And Tulowitzki

One more time: Troy Tulowitzki won’t be coming to the Mets? Not now, and probably not ever. The recent two-game benching of Wilmer Flores brought the predictable “the Mets need to get Tulowitzki” columns and calls on the call-in shows.

They could have gotten Tulowitzki a long time ago if they caved to the Rockies’ demands for either Steven Matz or Noah Syndergaard, and another prospect. There would also be the matter of being willing to pay the $115-plus million remaining on Tulowitzki’s contract. And, on more thing, the Mets would have to be willing to gamble with his recent injury history.

TULOWITZKI: Get off Fantasy Island. (AP)

TULOWITZKI: Get off Fantasy Island. (AP)

We all know the Mets’ thinking on giving up their young pitching; paying huge salaries and trading for players with tainted backgrounds.

With Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and possibly Jon Niese probably not coming back next year, and Zack Wheeler not being ready until June if not later, it stands to reason the Mets will need Syndergaard or Matz. They aren’t going anywhere.

Also, the Mets remain out front with their desires to cut salary evidenced by trade speculation surrounding Gee and Daniel Murphy. They certainly aren’t going to take on Tulowitzki’s contract.

The talented columnist Ken Davidoff mentioned Tulowitzki in a column today, but was upfront saying the Mets could get him if they wanted to cave. I’m thinking he mentioned him to citing the obvious as opposed to really believing they should go after him.

He also mentioned several other shortstops they could get, but only after paying a hefty price, including Alexei Ramirez (White Sox), Asdrubal Cabrera (Tampa Bay), Starlin Castro (Cubs) and Jimmy Rollins (Dodgers).

Cabrera and Rollins play for teams that could compete, so you have to wonder why they would want to deal them. Any of those four would be pricey.

My preference is to give Flores the opportunity to prove he can play. His defense has been atrocious and directly responsible for one loss at least, and possibly, two. I’m not convinced he can’t turn it around and hope he gets the chance.

Will he make it?

I honestly don’t know, but neither does anybody else, either, including the Mets.

What I do know is the Mets will regret it if they get fleeced in trades for any of these guys, especially Tulowitzki.