Jul 27

What’s Wrong With Matz?

When will Steven Matz’s current troubles develop into a reason for physical concern from the Mets? Over his last four starts, Matz has a staggering 14.18 ERA, but worse, hasn’t worked longer than five innings. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span.

MATZ: What is wrong? (AP)

MATZ: What is wrong? (AP)

Speaking of numbers, he spent the first two months of the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. This after pitching the first four months of last year with a bone spur in his elbow, and spending the last two months of the season on the disabled list with a shoulder tightness.

Perhaps the Mets pushed him last season or this year, that’s highly plausible and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball.

It is fast, but straight. A pitcher needs movement, location and velocity to be successful, with the last being the least important.

“The ball is down the middle,’’ Collins said. “You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut. We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz seemed to have a decent curveball, and previously said throwing the slider stings his elbow.

Matz said, “I feel good and healthy out there, so there is really no excuses for my pitching.’’ You can plug that same quote next to Matt Harvey’s name, or Noah Syndergaards, or Zack Wheeler’s.

Of course, both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson have also said similar things.

I suggested something could be wrong after Matz’s last start. Now, I am convinced. The point is four straight stinkers from a pitcher usually signifies something isn’t right with the arm. The only question is: When will the Mets admit it?

The only question is: When will the Mets admit it?

ON DECK:  The latest Mets’ trade rumors.

Jul 25

Trading For De Grom Wouldn’t Really Benefit A Contender

Just like you, I would be curious to learn what the Mets could get for Jacob deGrom. He’s won eight straight after beating the Padres last night, posting a 1.61 ERA in that stretch.

Also important considering the Mets’ bullpen issues is he routinely works into the seventh inning or deeper [doing so in seven of his last eight starts].

DE GROM: Untouchable. (AP)

DE GROM: Untouchable. (AP)

With a 12-3 record his value to the Mets is clear, especially with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler on the disabled list.

The Houston Astros are salivating over deGrom, but other teams would love to add him for the stretch drive. Also making him attractive is his one-year, $4.05-million contract. He’s arbitration eligible and will be a free agent in 2021.

A smart team would trade for him and sign him to a long-term deal. Of all the pitchers in the Mets’ vaunted rotation, he’s the one worthy of getting a long-term contract.

With Clayton Kershaw sidelined for up to six weeks, if deGrom continues this roll he could merit Cy Young consideration. His performance in the 2015 postseason against the Dodgers says he can rise on the big stage.

Who wouldn’t want deGrom?

But, what would be the price? I’m thinking up to four major-league ready players, including at least one starting pitcher. That seems reasonable from the Mets’ perspective.

DeGrom should command a big package, and with the Mets saying they will compete for the playoffs next year, they want major-league ready talent in return. The problem from the other team’s perspective is they are already a contender and losing four key pieces could derail their plans.

Would Houston, or any team, benefit from adding deGrom at the expense of gutting a contender? If the Mets were really interested in trading him this is something better fitted for the off-season. In doing so, if Syndergaard, Harvey and Wheeler return this year, the Mets would have a better idea on next year’s staff.

Frankly, I would sign deGrom long-term and build around him. I know GM Sandy Alderson won’t say it, but he should say: “The price is four starters. Wow me. Otherwise, deGrom is off limits.’’

DeGrom is a keeper. He’s the only one of five I wouldn’t trade.

“[DeGrom] loves to be out there and loves to compete, and with his stuff and his command, he’s going to win a lot of games,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

Hopefully, it will be with the Mets.

Jul 24

Today’s Question: Will Cespedes Ever Hit Another Homer?

It has been a month, 80 at-bats since Yoenis Cespedes hit his last home run. Of course, inquiring minds want to know if he will ever hit another homer. More importantly, Cespedes is probably wondering the same.

CESPEDES: Feeling the pressure. (AP)

CESPEDES: Feeling the pressure. (AP)

Hitters are like that, especially hitters who take pride in being “the man.” Cespedes will be paid $110 million over four years to be “the man,” and believe me, this stretch is killing him. If he’s anything like any other player I’ve covered over the past 20 years, this is eating him up.

But, he’s too good for this to continue much longer.

If Bartolo Colon can hit a home run, so can Cespedes, even if it is by accident. He hit several long fly balls during the home stand, just missed a few. And, he hit several balls hard, so it isn’t like he forgot how to hit.

In watching him, and talking to several scouts I still keep in touch with, the problem seems to be with his legs. The stride, the torque, just isn’t there, caused by his hamstring and quad problems. He’s swinging too much with his arms and lunging at pitches trying to pull too much.

Eventually, Cespedes will run into a pitch and crush it, and when that happens the homers will come in bunches and the feelings of frustration will disappear. He said the other day that he’s working hard. Perhaps, he’s working too hard. Getting away from home, where the pressures are obvious could clear his mind.

Cespedes understands much is expected of him and with the Mets in sell mode he has to be thinking “if I were hitting we would be winning and they wouldn’t trade anybody.”

He’s only human, after all.

Jul 23

Mets Wrap: Back In Sell Mode?

Had the Mets won six out of every ten games all year, this might have turned out to be an enjoyable, if not a memorable season. It remains to be seen – although it is unlikely – if going 6-4 on this homestand will be enough to change GM Sandy Alderson’s definition of “exceedingly well.’’

MONTERO: Coming together for him? (AP)

MONTERO: Coming together for him? (AP)

That’s the rate Alderson said the Mets had to play at in their homestand coming out of the All-Star break to shift out of sell mode.

Manager Terry Collins believes Alderson has already made up his mind.

“I can tell you that’s the belief in the clubhouse, but I don’t know if that’s the feeling from the outside,’’ Collins said, while not naming Alderson. “Going 6-4 might not be good enough. Eight and two would be good enough.’’

Once again, the Mets failed to complete a sweep on a home Sunday, losing 3-2 today, as Oakland won on the strength of three solo homers. The Mets remain the major’s only team not to win a three-game home series. They begin a 10-game trip tomorrow to San Diego, Seattle and Colorado that will take them through the non-waiver trade deadline.

The Mets regrouped in each of the last two seasons to reach the playoffs. Their odds are longer this year.

“Next week will be hard,’’ Collins said. “Again, I will do the best I can to keep their mind on the game. …

“I’ve pushed and pushed and pushed to let them know, you gotta go play. If you’re building up your hopes that maybe you’re gonna get traded to a first-place club or something, they’ve got to realize that stuff’s completely out of their control, and a lot of things can change at the last minute.’’

Jay Bruce knows what Collins is talking about. He lived through it last year before Cincinnati traded him to the Mets.

“Obviously, the fact that this could be the last home game for a lot of us here is something that’s a bit odd, but nothing happens until it happens and we don’t know for sure and we’ll just see how it goes,’’ Bruce said. “We don’t need to be reminded [about what Alderson said]. We know what situation we are in.’’

Bruce is one of several Mets whose next trip to Citi Field will be that as a visitor. Asdrubal Cabrera, Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Jose Reyes are some of the others.

MONTERO PITCHES WELL: The Mets would take three runs in seven innings every time from Rafael Montero.

“He did a nice job again today,’’ Collins said. “We didn’t have many opportunities, but he gave us every chance to get back and win the game.’’

The only trouble is Montero gave up three of his five homers this year today. Two came on hanging sliders.

“I think I need to keep the ball a little bit lower,’’ Montero said. “That’s really where I got into some trouble and there was damage done against me. Those home runs, when they occurred, that’s because I kept the ball too high.’’

Montero has worked into the sixth inning or later in his last four starts. The Mets might not reach the playoffs this year, but they might have found another starter.

CESPEDES’ WOES CONTINUE: Yoenis Cespedes, who went 0-for-5 Saturday, did not start, but flied out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

Since June 24, Cespedes has two doubles, no homers and just three RBI.

He hasn’t homered in 80 at-bats.

UP NEXT: Jacob deGrom (11-3, 3.37) has won seven straight starts. He has a 1.51 ERA in that span with 50 strikeouts and ten walks. LHP Clayton Richard (5-10, 5.35) will start for San Diego.

Jul 22

Mets Wrap: Cespedes Lets Down Mets

For somebody who professes his love for Mets fans and New York City, Yoenis Cespedes sure has a funny way of showing it.

CESPEDES: What was he thinking?  (AP)

CESPEDES: What was he thinking? (AP)

What else can you conclude after Cespedes’ comments to The San Francisco Chronicle that pledged his loyalty to the Oakland Athletics and their manager Bob Melvin, at the expense of the team that will pay him $110 million over four years and Terry Collins, the manager who has consistently had his back?

Whether it be apologizing for Cespedes not hustling or playing golf when he was injured and should have been rehabbing, Collins always supported his left fielder.

Cespedes said he wanted to end his career with Oakland, the team he started for in 2012.

“I don’t know how many years I’m going to play, but I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland,’’ Cespedes said. “I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but that’s my goal. I still love the A’s. They were the first team to give me an opportunity to play in the big leagues. I love Oakland all the time.’’

Cespedes said his comments were a “misrepresentation,’’ and blamed the reporter.

Cespedes can claim innocence all he wants, but he’s been around long enough to know what’s going on and how to handle such questioning.

And, as much as he respects Melvin, he has to be smart enough to know that if he calls “the best manager for me so far … I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin.’’

Is Cespedes that naïve to think that wasn’t going to get back to Collins?

Cespedes has been all about damage control since, saying, “this is my home, this is my team, nothing has changed.’’

And, regarding Collins, Cespedes said: “With respect to the comments I made about their manager, he’s a great manager, that does not take away from my relationship with Terry.”

Whatever Cespedes’ relationship is with Collins these days, it would be a lot better if he had more than 22 RBI.

FLORES DOES IT AGAIN: Wilmer Flores was waiting on a fastball, and when he got it he completely erased a five-run deficit with a home run in ninth inning to give the Mets a 6-5 victory tonight over the Athletics.

“I was looking for a fastball. I have to be ready for that,’’ Flores said of his approach facing reliever Simon Castro.

The Mets fell behind 5-0 but clawed back into the game with a four-run sixth that began with a double by Flores.

WHEELER TORCHED: Zack Wheeler continued his troubles, giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks with six strikeouts in five innings.

Wheeler gave up two homers, including to Matt Joyce on the game’s second pitch. He has now given up 17 homers.

Wheeler hasn’t won a game since May 20, nine starts ago.

TRADE CHIPS: Asdrubal Cabrera started at third base for the first time this season and had two hits. The Mets want to showcase Cabrera at third. … Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer, his 25th of the season. … Lucas Duda tied the game with a pinch-hit single in the eighth. … Addison Reed has drawn interest from the Dodgers and Yankees.