Sep 15

How Can You Not Be Happy For Bruce?

I channel surfed during Mets-Cubs last night to Indians-Royals. I love that history is being made in Cleveland, my hometown, and was especially happy to see Jay Bruce drove in the game-winner. After what he went through last season, and how he rebounded this year, how can you not cheer for a guy like that?

BRUCE: Happy for him. (AP)

                        BRUCE: Happy for him. (AP)

Meanwhile, the Mets remain rudderless, with no viable veteran presence.

Unless the money is so overwhelming, why would Bruce want to come back to the Mets? Seriously, if I’m Bruce, I know I already have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life. If the Indians make a viable offer, I’d stay in Cleveland rather than come back to the toxic atmosphere permeating around the Mets.

We can assume manager Terry Collins won’t be coming back, and with him will likely go the coaching staff. What will be constant is probably GM Sandy Alderson and his penny-pinching ways.

We can assume Michael Conforto won’t be ready for Opening Day, and possibly the same applies to Yoenis Cespedes. Alderson is already on record saying don’t expect an increase in salary, so Bruce would probably get a low-ball offer, and if he’s crazy enough to take it, he won’t be getting much help.

Why would he put himself through that again?

Alderson says he expects the Mets to compete next season, predicated of course, on their young pitching. But, Jacob deGrom is the ace, but with only 14 wins. Matt Harveys rehab is three starts – one good; two bad – and after losing to the Cubs Wednesday he said there’s been nothing positive. It sounds like he defeated mentally.

As far as Noah Syndergaard is concerned, I’m happy he’s dating a supermodel, but his rehab has stalled. He’s playing catch now, but nobody can say for sure when he’ll get in a game. So, like Harvey, Syndergaard is a question. So are Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz. Seth Lugo, hammered last night and Robert Gsellman, torched in the series opener, regressed to where they’ll go into spring training with no defined roles.

Catcher, the entire infield save shortstop, and at least one outfield position are up for grabs next season. So, I ask you, unless Alderson blows him away with an offer – and we know that won’t happen – why would Bruce even think of coming back here?

 

Sep 15

Mr Met: Entertaining and Delighting Fans Since 1963

mr_met

Tell the unknowing that a guy with a giant baseball head, cartoonish nose, and goofy wide smile is one of the most beloved characters in sports history and you’re bound to get a reaction of disbelief.

But such a claim holds true for Mr. Met, the long time mascot of the New York Mets.

The simple truth is that Mr. Met is sure to make you smile whether you’re a diehard Mets fan, a casual fan, or are just human with a charitable nature.

As an early pioneer of team mascots, the humble beginnings of the Mr. Met character date back a full decade or more before most MLB teams adopted costumed characters to amuse fans.  While it’s quite expected these days to see mascots engaging with fans at the ballpark, they all owe a debt to the groundbreaking Mr. Met.

He originally existed in animated form when he graced the cover of the Mets programs, scorecards, and yearbooks during the 1963 season.  Several artists, including acclaimed comic book illustrator Al Avison, contributed to the concept and design of Mr. Met.

The team moved stadiums from the Polo Grounds to Shea Stadium in 1964, an occasion enhanced by the debut of Mr. Met as a live mascot.

Mr. Met graced Mets games and promotional material until 1976, when he was phased out of appearance.  Presumably, he retired and was playing golf in Florida, although this has never been confirmed.

Passionate fan appeal sparked the Mets to reintroduce Mr. Met in 1994, and he has been rightfully entertaining the masses at Shea Stadium and Citi Field ever since.

In addition to being a fixture at the ballpark on his own, Mr. Met is a devoted husband, occasionally bringing his lovely wife Mrs. Met along to the games.

Mr. Met’s unwavering support for the Amazin’s through thick and thin is an inspiration to every fan, especially in down seasons like the current. The crosstown fans might peruse the lines on BetStars any given day and see the Yankees as 4/6 favorites over the Twins.  As the Mets faithful, we haven’t had that luxury often in 2017.

So while he has always worn the hat of his favorite baseball team, Mr. Met has worn many figurative hats throughout his career.  Off the field, he has been a cheerleader, a fundraiser, a marketer, and even a hired wedding guest.

Of course, Mr. Met is a man of giving back to communities.  He has appeared at numerous charity events over the years.  Everywhere Mr. Met goes he’s met with smiles and hugs, and the inevitable questions about his baseball head and toothless grin.

Beyond his role as the stellar ambassador of the Mets organization, Mr. Met is a savvy advertiser for anyone who will call him up for a commercial.  He has appeared in several spots for ESPN in their fan favorite This is SportsCenter ad campaign, as well lending his red stitched face to Sony PlayStation and MTA New York City Transit.

Mr. Met played himself in a 2016 episode of the CBS sitcom The Odd Couple.  Not that he could possibly be anyone else.

A noteworthy career of entertaining and delighting fans across the world doesn’t go unrecognized.  The Mascot Hall of Fame inducted Mr. Met in 2007, where he joined the Phillie Phantic of the Philadelphia Phillies to became only the second MLB mascot honored by the organization.  In 2012, Forbes magazine heralded Mr. Met as number one on a list of America’s favorite sports mascots.

Mr. Met has enlivened Mets fans and beyond for more than 50 years. In that time, multiple generations have grown up enjoying his jovial personality and zany antics at the ballpark.  We tip our caps to you, Mr. Met.  May you keep us young at heart for another 50 years.

Sep 12

Forecasting 2018 Mets’ Position Battles

Including tonight’s game at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, the Mets have 19 games remaining in this lost season. That’s not nearly enough time for GM Sandy Alderson to get answers to his most pressing questions heading into next season.

The following are thumbnail sketches to each potential position battle:

DE GROM: Only sure thing. (AP)

                    DE GROM: Only sure thing. (AP)

ROTATION: The Mets enter next season with health concerns for each starter, with the possible exception of Jacob deGrom. Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard are rehabbing after spending most of the season on the disabled list. Harvey has made two rehab starts on the major league level – one bad and the last one encouraging – and could make three more. Syndergaard was scratched from his most recent rehab start, but played catch today.

Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler remain on the DL and will report to spring training as questions. What else is new?

Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo have not pitched to last season’s levels, but have shown glimpses of being viable commodities, but next year – barring the acquisition of a veteran arm capable of going 180 innings – one, or both, could enter the rotation, with the other going to the bullpen. Of course, wanting 180 innings and paying for a starter capable of that workload are two different things.

Rafael Montero has been a surprise and worthy of entering spring training competing for a rotation spot.

BULLPEN: The Mets have spots locked in for Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins. I’m thinking either Lugo or Gsellman will get a long-relief role, with possibly Montero also getting a spot.

Paul Sewald, Erik Goeddel, Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker, Jacob Rhame, Chasen Bradford and Jamie Callahan likely won’t win a roster spot in the remaining games, but could make enough of an impression to where Alderson to write any of them into his plans for spring training.

Familia will go in as the favorite to close again, but that’s based on his resume over his current performance since coming off the DL.

CATCHING: Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki go in competing for the starter role. Plawecki has been especially impressive since his promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas.

The Mets have been patient, almost to a fault, with d’Arnaud, who hasn’t made the most of his opportunity. Plawecki has been more impressive in his limited window, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he won the job next March.

I don’t envision the Mets signing a veteran – like a Rene Rivera – and believe both d’Arnaud and Plawecki will make the 2018 Opening Day roster,

FIRST BASE: The plan was for Dominic Smith to win the job, but he hasn’t hit enough to make anybody believe he has this mastered. I’m not worried about Smith hitting for power, but simply raise his on-base percentage. As of now, who can’t see Smith platooning with Wilmer Flores?

I can’t see Flores winning the job outright – the Mets won’t commit to him – or for them sign a veteran this winter. Hopefully, Smith will show enough with his bat over the next 19 games to limit Alderson’s agita.

SECOND BASE: It’s wide open. Given that the Mets won’t make a free-agent splash, my first inclination is to think they will pick up Asdrubal Cabrera’s option and he’ll go in as the starter.

Flores, Jose Reyes or Gavin Cecchini, could also compete or win a roster spot as a reserve.

T.J. Rivera will undergo Tommy John surgery, but likely won’t be ready for the start of the season. Rivera can also play first and third.

SHORTSTOP: Amed Rosario has made more of his opportunity than Smith has of his. This isn’t to say Rosario is a given, but you have to like the odds of him going into next year as the starter.

Currently, Reyes seems a good bet to make next year’s roster as a utility infielder, capable of playing second, shortstop and third base.

THIRD BASE: Ideally, David Wright will make a comeback, but nobody is counting on that happening. Wright underwent rotator cuff surgery, but the Mets aren’t counting on him returning, let alone, for Opening Day.

Flores, who is out for the remainder of the season following surgery to repair a broken nose. Depending on what happens with Smith, he could go in as the starter for next season.

Rivera, Cabrera and Reyes could all see significant time at third base.

LEFT FIELD: Yoenis Cespedes is out for the season with a strained right hamstring. He played in only 81 games this year – half a season – and considering he also missed significant time in 2016, his durability must be questioned.

First, Michael Conforto, and then Brandon Nimmo, replaced Cespedes, who isn’t a given to come out of spring training healthy. If he doesn’t, figure Nimmo to start in left.

CENTER FIELD: Unquestionably, Juan Lagares is the best defender, but his offense is a question. Actually, Lagares has hit better than expected, so I wouldn’t be reluctant to start him in 2018.

Alderson said Conforto was more than just a viable defender, but his recovery from shoulder surgery will keep him off the Opening Day roster, so that’s a moot point.

RIGHT FIELD: As much as I like the idea of bringing back Jay Bruce, I don’t see the Mets shelling out the bucks it would take to sign him.

With Conforto and Cespedes seriously injured, signing a power bat is imperative, but do you really expect Alderson to write some serious checks?

Personally, it might be a stretch to think they’ll spend enough to bring back Nori Aoki.

Assuming Cespedes is ready for the start of the season, Nimmo will likely open the year in right field.

Once Conforto is ready, I see him taking over in right.

Sep 10

Mets Matters: DeGrom Improves

I didn’t really expect the Mets to skip Jacob deGroms start today, but it wouldn’t have killed them if they had done so. DeGrom rebounded from going 3.2 innings in his last start to post his tenth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. DeGrom came away with a no-decision in the Mets’ 10-5 loss to Cincinnati.

DeGrom will likely make four more starts before calling it a winter. He has accumulated 188.1 innings, so barring something unforeseen he should reach his goal of 200.

DE GROM: Better. (AP)

DE GROM: Better. (AP)

“Jake’s our guy and we ride him. We kind of push him, let him go a little deeper than others,” manager Terry Collins said. “We think when we send him out there we’re going to be in the game.”

Today was just deGrom’s sixth no-decision of the season, a testimony to his ability to work long into games. Since pitch counts dominate most pitching conversations these days, it’s rather remarkable deGrom’s low this year was 69 in a June 6 loss at Texas.

My point in skipping deGrom is that with him coming off surgery, I don’t think it’s worth taking a risk with his arm. So much has gone wrong this season, that why take the chance?

DISTURBING TREND: There have been numerous statistics that have defined this season for the Mets, and today revealed another that showed a lack of a killer instinct. The Mets not only had their 18th blown save of the season, but it went deeper than that. The Mets had a chance today to complete a weekend series sweep, but for the sixth time failed to put away the opposition on a Sunday.

SMITH HAS WORK TO DO: Despite hitting his fifth homer, rookie Dominic Smith has struggled to the point where nothing is assured for him for next season.

A .210 batting average with a .257 on-base percentage illustrate holes in his offensive profile that must be improved. Currently, I would be reluctant to simply gift the first base job to Smith right now.

NOAH SCRATCHED: Noah Syndergaard’s rehab today was delayed because of “general soreness.’’ It’s possible he could throw Tuesday in Chicago.

“We aren’t going to push him, first of all. We’ll go at his pace and how he feels,’’ Collins said. “[Saturday] night he said he was feeling a little sore from the outing the other day and wanted to throw a bullpen and we just said, ‘No, until you feel better we’re not going to do that.’ So, we’ll wait.’’

Syndergaard threw 36 pitches in Brooklyn Thursday, throwing 36 pitches.

Sep 08

Reyes Making Pitch For 2018

REYES: Auditioning for 2018. (AP)

REYES: Auditioning for 2018. (AP)

I never thought I’d write this, but it looks as if Jose Reyes is earning himself a spot on the Mets’ 2018 roster. After a miserable start, Reyes rediscovered his stroke in the second half, which culminated in two homers in tonight’s 5-1 victory over Cincinnati.

“He’s somebody who really loves to play,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “And, yes, I can see him playing a lot somewhere next year.’’

That could be with the Mets if he opts to take less, but Reyes has never been one to leave money on the table and there’s no reason to believe he will start now.

Reyes struggled hitting less than .200 for much of the season, but is up to .238 now, but with still a paltry .307 on-base percentage. He broke .200 for good, June 30, against Philadelphia.

In addition to his hot hitting since mid-June, Reyes also endeared himself to the Mets by taking Amed Rosario under his wing.

LUGO GOES SIX: Seth Lugo struck out four and gave up four hits in six scoreless innings, easily his best start of the season. Lugo threw 84 pitches, nine more than Collins set his limit at 75.

Lugo (6-4) began the season on the disabled list with an elbow injury, but still doesn’t have a spot on next year’s staff: starter or reliever?

Prior to the game, Collins said injuries sapped Lugo’s strength when he faced a lineup for the third time.

NHL COMES TO CITI FIELD: Finally. Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon said he’s made repeated overtures to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to have Citi Field host the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. That will come to pass this New Year’s Day when the Rangers and Buffalo Sabres face off.

“Our clubs love participating in these games,’’ Bettman said. “Our fans love attending them, and iconic venues like Citi Field are anxious to host them.’’

Said Wilpon: “Having two great franchises from the state is something that we’re really excited about,’’ Wilpon said. “I’ve bothered, badgered, pleaded with Commissioner Bettman for years to have this event here. Thank you for finally allowing us to host it.’’