May 10

Collins Gives No Confidence Vote To Conforto

Looking at the Mets’ lineup for Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but notice a glaring mistake. Perhaps it was just an oversight on manager Terry Collins’ part, but I’m not thrilled with Michael Conforto batting sixth, protected between the red hot Wilmer Flores (.170, one homer and two RBI) and the sizzling Kevin Plawecki (.229, one homer and three RBI).

CONFORTO: Bad move dropping him. (AP)

CONFORTO: Bad move dropping him. (AP)

The Mets touted Conforto as the team’s No. 3 hitter of the future when Collins moved him there in mid-April. The move, where he hit ahead of Yoenis Cespedes, jumpstarted the Mets’ offense and sparked their surge in the standings.

The Mets are 16-5 isince moving Conforto to third, which includes losing the first two games on this trip. Unquestionably, Conforto is on a significant slide, going 3-for-29 (.103) over his last eight games. Basically, that’s a bad week.

Although the Mets are facing a left-hander in Alex Wood, it should be noted he’s 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA. The message indicated a lack of confidence by Collins in Conforto, but the manager’s words flat out shout it loud.

Lefties are batting .367 this year against Wood, but the manager doesn’t think that’s relevant. Collins said batting Conforto sixth wouldn’t create pressure to perform, but he’s mistaken. There’s more pressure now.

Collins made a big deal saying Cespedes’ presence helped Conforto, but if you buy that logic, you must also accept he’s getting next to no protection between Flores and Plawecki. In addition, what must Conforto be thinking about this demotion?

As far as his reasoning for moving Conforto, Collins told reporters today: “I’d like to leave him in the three-hole if I thought he could do some damage.”

That’s another way of saying he doesn’t think he can do any damage against a pitcher with an ERA just under six. How’s that for a pat on the back?

No, I don’t like this decision. Confidence is essential in the development of a hitter, and this move screams Collins has doubts. When Collins moved Conforto, I wrote how important it was for him to stay with him during slumps. At least the first one.

If Conforto is to become the No. 3 hitter the Mets expect of him, he’ll have to endure dry stretches. So, what does Collins do? He bails at the first sign of a problem. Collins said Conforto will bat third against right-handers, but said nothing about lefties. You have to assume he won’t hit third against Clayton Kershaw.

It has only been eight games. Let Conforto work his way out of this, the same way he’s given a long leash to Matt Harvey.

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May 10

May 10, Mets’ Lineup At Dodgers

The Mets behind Jacob deGrom will be going after their fourth straight victory tonight in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. After dropping the first two games on this road trip in San Diego the Mets seem to be back on their game.

Here’s the Mets’ batting order tonight against Alex Wood.

Juan Lagares – RF: Curtis Granderson, who hit the first pitch of Monday’s game for a homer, is on the bench. Lagares is 0-for-7 on this trip.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Is hitting .300 on the trip and .333 on the road this season. Defensively, has committed one error in 117 chances, sixth among ML shortstops.

David Wright – 3B: Is a .340 lifetime hitter against the Dodgers, including the playoffs. Of his three homers, two put the Mets in the lead.

Yoenis Cespedes – CF: Is hitting .303 with five homers and 21 RBI with RISP. Has three homers on this trip.

Wilmer Flores – 2B: Is a .403 lifetime hitter against Los Angeles, including .464 at Dodger Stadium. Hitless in ten at-bats with RISP.

Michael Conforto – LF: Did not play Monday. Is 2-for-14 on the trip. Three of his five homers have put the Mets in the lead. Is batting .333 with RISP.

Kevin Plawecki – C: Is batting .357 (5-for-14) on this trip, which began the day after Terry Collins called him out in the press for not hitting.

Eric Campbell – 1B: Replaces Lucas Duda tonight. Made his first Opening Day roster as the result of hitting .292 with a .433 on-base percentage in spring training.

DeGrom – RHP: Is coming off his first loss of the season, May 5, in San Diego. Cruised through seven scoreless innings against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS and gutted his way through six innings in Game 5.

 

May 10

Mets Wrap: Another RBI, Another Brain Cramp By Cespedes

It is not piling on to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for getting doubled off second base to end the third inning Monday night in Los Angeles.

The play cost the Mets a run – Wright would have scored after tagging up – and consequently the game. The Mets came away lucky by beating the Dodgers, 4-2, but Cespedes shouldn’t come away blameless.

Manager Terry Collins called out Kevin Plawecki for not hitting. To be consistent, he needs to tell Cespedes to wake up.

Cespedes has all the tools – he has 11 homers already and is batting .303 with a .384 on-base percentage – but his hustle and concentration lapses are maddening to watch.

You can forgive a bad throw. You can forgive a dropped fly ball, unless, of course, when you hot dog it and try to make a one-handed catch.

But, you can’t forgive a brain cramp. You can’t forgive being lazy, which is what Ron Darling called him. However, Cespedes may have redeemed himself when he backed up Juan Lagares in the eighth when the latter dropped a fly ball.

I don’t expect perfection for $27.5 million, but I do expect him to think about what he’s doing in the field.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #31   Record: 20-11   Streak: W 3

Standings: First, NL East

Runs: 137     Average per game: 4.4    Times scoring 3 runs or less: 12

SUMMARY:  Once again the Mets took an early lead – 3-0 after three innings – on homers by Curtis Granderson and Plawecki, and Cespedes’ RBI single, and Steven Matz made it stand up to improve his record to 5-1 this year and 9-1 overall in 12 career starts. Matz also helped his cause with a RBI double in the sixth.

KEY MOMENT:  After the Dodgers pulled within 3-2 on Trayce Thompson’s two-run homer in the fourth, Matz regrouped to strike out Howie Kendrick with the tying run on third.

THUMBS UP: Granderson homered to lead off the game. It’s the 37th game-opening homer of his career. … Plawecki hit a solo homer in the second, his first of the season. … Love that Collins had the hit-and-run on with Matz in the fourth. Didn’t work, but it was a good call. … Flores stole second in the fourth, but not without cutting his nose. … Matz gave up two runs in six innings with five strikeouts. … Cespedes leads the NL with 31 RBI. … Jim Henderson came back from being 2-0 in the count to strike out Yasiel Puig in the eighth. Henderson then got Thompson out on a pop up to end the inning. … Three hitless innings from the bullpen.

THUMBS DOWN: Cespedes being doubled off second in the third. … Matz throwing 98 pitches in six innings. As long as the Mets keep pulling their starters around 100 pitches, it is fair game to call them out on this. … Lagares’ error in the eighth. … Sunday’s hero, Antonio Bastardo, had a rocky eighth, hurt by Lagares’ error.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Chase Utley not in the starting lineup, which isn’t a surprise against the left Matz. … Bartolo Colon was named Co-NL Player of the Week with the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist. Remember him? … Did you know Mets’ pitchers have hit Utley 28 times with pitches?

QUOTEBOOK: [The issue of retaliation] was brought up. What happened, happened. We won the series; let’s not get anybody hurt,” – Collins on retaliation against Utley.

BY THE NUMBERS: 24-5: Mets’ scoring vs. opponents in the first inning.

NEXT FOR METS:  Jacob deGrom (3-1, 1.99) vs. Alex Wood (1-3, 5.18). Wednesday: Noah Syndergaard (2-2, 2.58) vs. RHP Kenta Maeds (3-1, 1.66). Thursday: Bartolo Colon (3-1, 2.82) vs. Kershaw (4-1, 2.02).

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May 09

May 9, Mets’ Lineup At Dodgers

A show of hands please, who hasn’t been waiting for this game? The Mets in Los Angeles to play Chase Utley. Only natural, of course. Personally, as I wrote earlier, I don’t think anything will happen.

Let sleeping dogs lie. Utley has always been a thorn in the Mets’ side, so why do anything to wake him up?

Here’s the Mets’ batting order:

Curtis Granderson – RF: Has 36 game-opening homers, including 12 for the Mets, second behind Jose Reyes with 16.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Batting .339 on the road. Went 5-for-16 in San Diego, including a pair of RBI singles Sunday.

David Wright – 3B: Is a career .345 hitter against the Dodgers. Reached base five times {three walks and two hits) Saturday. Has three homers.

Yoenis Cespedes – LF: Has 11 homers in the Mets’ first 30 games, tying Carlos Delgado (2006) and Dave Kingman (1982) for second-most in the first 30 games. Kingman holds the club record with 14 in 1976.

Lucas Duda – 1B: Is hitting .190 (4-for-21) with RISP. Has seven hits in his last 11 games, but three of them are homers.

Juan Lagares – CF: Get the start tonight with Michael Conforto sitting against left-hander Scott Kazmir.

Wilmer Flores – 2B: Starts tonight over Neil Walker, who is nursing a 0-for-20 slide and a bruised shin. Flores is 2-for-20 on the road.

Kevin Plawecki – C: Had four hits in the San Diego series. Coincidentally, that’s when manager Terry Collins said he needed to hit more.

Steven Matz – LHP: Matz is 1-1 lifetime against the Dodgers. Leads rookies with a 4-1 record. Hasn’t given up a run in 13.2 innings.

COMMENTS:  Maybe Conforto needs a rest, but how can he be tired? Is Kazmir that good where Conforto shouldn’t get a chance against him. I can see sitting him against Clayton Kershaw, but not Kazmir. … Cespedes hit three homers in San Diego. … Not expecting to see Addison Reed out of the bullpen tonight.

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May 09

Going After Utley A Bad Idea

The dumbest thing the Mets can do during their four-game series against the Dodgers – starting tonight in LA – is to go after Chase Utley with a beanball. Whether it be at his head, ribs, butt or knee, there’s no reason to start something that has already been finished.

It wouldn’t be smart even if Ruben Tejada was still on the Mets. He’s not, so what’s the purpose.

UTLEY-TEJADA: Let's move on. (AP)

UTLEY-TEJADA: Let’s move on. (AP)

MLB overreacted last October during the playoffs, which was substantiated when the suspension was dropped on appeal.

We can debate all we want on whether it was a dirty play. I’m saying it wasn’t, because: 1) Daniel Murphy did not make a good throw; 2) Tejada turned into the path of the runner, and 3) Utley was within close proximity of the bag, at least according to the rules in place. (See photo).

Also, it has always been an umpire’s discretion to eject a player if he deemed the play dirty. This did not happen and MLB behavior czar Joe Torre came down with the suspension to avoid Mets fans going ballistic when the NLDS moved to New York.

Was it aggressive? Yes. Was it dirty? Debateable. Is it worth it for the Mets to retaliate and possibly get a player injured or suspended? No.

The issue will be brought up tonight and I’m betting the over/under on the times SNY shows the play to be at least 12. That would be three times per game.

Suppose Steven Matz, or Matt Harvey, or Noah Syndergaard hit Utley and a brawl ensued. Why risk one of them being injured to prove a questionable point in protecting a player no longer on the team?

And, pitchers aren’t the only ones you could be injured. Cal Ripken nearly had his consecutive games streak snapped when the Orioles were involved in a brawl with Seattle. As it was, Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina took a few bruises.

Of course, it would be fascinating to see Yoenis Cespedes against Yassiel Puig in a WWE cage death match event. But, I digress.

The Dodgers aren’t playing good right now, so why wake them up? It could only hurt the Mets in the long run. Plus, the Mets and Dodgers could meet again in the playoffs. Why give the Dodgers ammunition to use in the future?

I felt bad Tejada didn’t get to play in the World Series. and that was his last play as a Met. However, the Mets didn’t think highly enough about him to keep him on the roster. Tejada is gone, demoted to a trivia question in Mets lore.

It’s over and time to move on.

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