Jun 27

Mets Matters: Matz Hurting; Lineup At Nats

If the Mets aren’t sure whether Steven Matz should make Wednesday’s start in Washington because of elbow soreness, then maybe he shouldn’t. That’s especially necessary if the ESPN report is true he’s had elbow soreness in at least three of his last eight starts.

The most recent diagnosis, as reported by ESPN, is Matz has a bone spur.

I always react on the conservative side when it comes to pitcher’s injuries, primarily because the interests of the team and players sometimes differ. Sometimes greatly.

Matz has already had arm problems, so why push it? Noah Syndergaard has complained of elbow soreness twice already this season, including after his last start. I’m already on record saying the Mets are pushing him tonight.

No structural damage was found when Matz was examined, but he’s still saying he feels uncomfortable.

Pitchers always want to pitch, that’s in their DNA. It is to be expected. They are also not to be believed when they say they are fine.

As I’ve said before, caution is the way to go with pitcher’s arms.

NEXT STEP FOR REYES:  After Monday’s game for Class A Brooklyn, Jose Reyes‘ climb back to the majors next step will be to go to Class AA Binghamton. How long he plays there remains to be seen. Also to be determined is if he’ll remain there or go to Class AAA Las Vegas before joining the Mets.

The Mets are saying a week to ten days, which means he could rejoin the team for the second series with the Nationals at Citi Field.

TONIGHT’S LINEUP

Curtis Granderson – RF: Expect Granderson to be dropped in the order when Reyes returns. Hitting .109 (5-46) with RISP.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Is a career .257 hitter (9-35) lifetime vs. Nationals. Has six hits in six games against Washington this year.

Yoenis Cespedes – CF: Is hot again, hitting .350 (21-60) over his last 16 games. Playing with sore hip and ankle. Is batting .327 with four homers in 14 games vs. Nationals since joining Mets.

Neil Walker – 2B: Lifetime .301 hitter (43-143) vs. Washington. His 14 homers are tied for second with Detroit’s Ian Kinsler in the majors for a second baseman behind Seattle’s Robinson Cano.

James Loney – 1B: Has reached base in 21 of the 24 games he’s played with the Mets. Loney Is batting .294 (5-17) with RISP. Has more than adequately filled in for Lucas Duda.

Wilmer Flores – 3B: Is batting .308 (20-65) since replacing David Wright at third base, yet he’s the one the Mets want to replace.

Brandon Nimmo – LF: Went 0-4 with a strikeout in his debut Sunday. Was the Mets’ first-round selection in the 2011 draft.

Travis d’Arnaud – C: Is a lifetime .333 hitter (15-45) lifetime at Washington. Hit .317 in 11 rehab games after going on DL with sore rotator cuff.

Noah Syndergaard – RHP: Pitched seven scoreless innings vs. Nationals, May 17. Is 2-0 with 1.33 ERA in four starts lifetime vs. Nationals.

Jun 27

Mets Must Give Us Reason To Care

Sometimes listening to Terry Collins makes me want to scream. I know I’ve written that before, but Collins keeps making “I want to throw my shoe at the TV” type of comments. The Mets’ manager said several things over the weekend in preparation for tonight’s game in Washington that were simply puzzling. He means well, but it becoming clearer with each press briefing he can’t think on his feet.

First, after Jacob deGrom‘s start – his tenth straight without a win – Collins said he was looking forward to coming out of the break so he could set up his rotation. Well, what about setting things up now for the next two weeks, which includes seven games in two series against the Nationals. three with the Marlins and four against the Cubs?

COLLINS: Facing toughest stretch of season. (AP)

COLLINS: Facing toughest stretch of season. (AP)

I would begin by skipping Noah Syndergaard tonight in Washington because of his second complaint of soreness in his right elbow. Would I sacrifice a game in Washington to preserve Syndergaard for the second half? Damn straight I would.

After Monday’s butt whiping, the Mets are now four games behind the Nationals – who won’t have Stephen Strasburg for either series – because Washington’s seven-game losing streak kept them in the race. If the Nationals had any killer instinct they could be up by eight games or more with a chance to put away the Mets. Who knows, maybe they were waiting for the Mets to come to town to do it.

Collins told reporters Sunday in Atlanta in preparation for the Nationals series: “The worst-case scenario is: Go to the break no worse than we are sitting right now. Right after the Nats we’ve got the Cubs – arguably the best team in baseball right now. We’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to get the `A’ game going and maintain it. Right after them you’ve got the Marlins, who are playing very, very well right now. And then back come the Nationals again. I think the next 14 days are very, very important to us.”

Good for Collins; he can read a schedule. But, with |these games so important, why send the message of mediocrity? We watched the Mets pull things together and get to the World Series last year. Now their manager is talking about treading water until the break. At least that’s the perception.

Standing pat in the standings for the next two weeks and at the trade deadline aren’t acceptable for a World Series team. I don’t want Collins to panic, but a sense of urgency would be nice. The disadvantage of getting to the World Series is the expectation to go every year. That’s pressure, but also why they play.

We’ll watch Syndergaard tonight with crossed fingers and the hope we won’t get Antonio Bastardo. I don’t trust the bullpen now, with even Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia giving me pause. The offense is beyond awful. No homers, no wins. Manufacturing runs and playing fundamental baseball seem beyond their comprehension. There were more than a few times in June when they didn’t hustle.

As far as their `A’ game, we haven’t seen it since the end of April. Nothing has been reported as to what Collins has said to his team behind closed doors. Evidently he hasn’t read the riot act or we would have heard about it. Somebody always talks.

Yes, there are injuries, but championship caliber teams overcome them. Otherwise, they are just excuses. There were holes in the batting order even before David Wright and Lucas Duda were hurt and Michael Conforto was sent down. Hopefully, there will be more stability when Jose Reyes is activated and Curtis Granderson can hit lower in the order. But, whether Granderson bats first, second, third or fourth, will it really matter if he doesn’t hit?

The remaining two weeks could determine whether Citi Field experiences October. You and I both know the Mets won’t run the table from until the All-Star break, but I want more than 7-7, for which Collins – at least publicly – seems willing to settle.

I want a sense of urgency. I want hustle and heaven forbid, their hitters to manufacture runs. I know Collins cares, but dammit, show some fire. Kick your players in the ass, because they need it. And, that includes Yoenis Cespedes. If your “star” can get away dogging it, it’s a license for everybody else to drop it down a gear.

Playing .500 for the next two weeks or the rest of the summer isn’t acceptable. It’s like going to school hoping for a `C’ grade. It’s average, which is the worst of the best or best of the worst. Being average gives us little reason to care.

Damn, I want to care about this team again.

Jun 26

Mets Not Good Enough To Not Hustle

The Mets are a good team, but let’s be clear, they aren’t so good to where they can get away not hustling. Reports are manager Terry Collins gave Alejandro De Aza “an earful,” as The New York Post so eloquently put it for his inexcusable play Saturday night.

De Aza failed to get down a bunt, which is bad enough but compounded his failure by not hustling, and the play was subsequently turned into a double play in the tenth inning.

DE AZA: Not good enough to skate. (AP)

DE AZA: Not good enough to skate. (AP)

“I’ve seen [De Aza] play, and the one thing he is known for is how hard he plays,” Collins told reporters. “But it goes to show you — everybody gets frustrated when they don’t do the job.”

I don’t want to hear it.

Doing your job is to hustle even when you screw up. Getting frustrated is not a viable reason, but an excuse. Not buying it, and I don’t want to hear anything from De Aza saying he thought the ball was caught.

The bottom line is he wasn’t thinking. Or, maybe he could have been thinking since the Mets are a team built on power his mistake would be erased by the long ball. Could that idea have been planted into De Aza’s head by Collins, who says the Mets are a team built on the home run and we don’t bunt, or steal, or hit-and-run?

What I haven’t heard is whether Collins gave Yoenis Cespedes an earful for not hustling in consecutive games and getting caught on the bases. He won’t because Cespedes is supposedly a big star and big stars in all sports are given a long leash when is comes to not hustling.

On Friday, Cespedes was picked off first when he didn’t dive trying to get back to the bag and twisted his ankle. Last night, he was thrown out at second standing up. Go figure. The FOX announcers suggested Cespedes didn’t slide because of his ankle, which is unbelievably lame on several counts.

First, slide headfirst which is what everybody does these days. Second, if his ankle is so bad he shouldn’t have played. They could have delayed sending Michael Conforto down for a day. Or they could have played Matt Reynolds as they did earlier in the week. Or Kelly Johnson, who cleaned up for De Aza with a pinch-hit homer in the 11th inning.

Players play hurt all the time, but if the pain prevents him from doing his job, perhaps he shouldn’t be in the lineup and spend a couple of weeks on the disabled list on the mend. Cespedes’ sore hip was an explanation for why he didn’t slide earlier this year.

Speculation is De Aza will be gone when Jose Reyes is brought up. That’s a logical assumption. Also logical to conclude is Cespedes will be gone after this season when he opts out. Maybe that went into Collins’ thinking for not airing out his center fielder.

Whatever the reasons for not hustling by either player and Collins presumably letting Cespedes skate, they aren’t good enough.

And, the Mets aren’t good enough to get away with not hustling.

Jun 25

Striking Similarities Between This Year And Last For Mets

The similarities between this year and last are striking and the struggling Mets can only hope the results will be the same, which would be a long jaunt into October. Last year on this date, the Mets were floundering at 37-37 and 3.5 games behind the also struggling Washington Nationals.

CESPEDES: Bad on the bases.  (Getty)

CESPEDES: Bad on the bases. (Getty)

The Mets entered Saturday’s game in Atlanta with a better record (39-33) and closer to the Nationals (three games behind) than last season, yet there is a growing sense of urgency. Things would be a lot worse if the Nationals haven’t lost seven straight games.

Last summer GM Sandy Alderson was under pressure to revive the Mets’ listless offense, which was without David Wright, by making a trade – that turned out to be for Yoenis Cespedes – and bringing up Michael Conforto.

This year, with Wright again on the disabled list, the Mets hope to jumpstart their stagnant offense by bringing back Jose Reyes – which nobody expects will have an impact similar to Cespedes – and bringing up Brandon Nimmo and sending down Conforto.

When Conforto came up last year, he made an immediate positive impression, which didn’t go away until May of this year. Manager Terry Collins said when he saw Conforto had a “deer in the headlights” look Friday night, he knew it was time to make a move. The numbers screamed the same with an average of .107 over his last 25 games.

“I think in talking with the coaching staff and the manager, we just felt that, look, this is counterproductive and what we need to do is get him to Las Vegas, get his swing back, and then hopefully get him back here within a relatively short period of time,” Alderson told reporters.

What does that mean?

As much as I want to see what Nimmo can do, I don’t like the idea of him going back down right away, because we all know he’s not here to ride the bench. I’m also not crazy about the Mets’ thinking as to Nimmo’s future. He played center at Vegas, and although Cespedes is a Gold Glove Award winning left field, Nimmo will play left and Cespedes will stay in center.

Nimmo, after traveling most of the night – which only reinforces the notion the Mets need their Triple-A team to be closer – was on the bench tonight and is expected to start Sunday.

Speaking of playing out of position, Reyes is expected to play third and possibly some center, where he’s never played before on this level. At one time Reyes was a prolific base stealer who was stellar at shortstop. Those days are gone.

“Do we expect him to win the National League battle title this year the way he did in 2011? No,” Alderson said. “Has he lost a step maybe? Is he the premier shortstop that he once was? It doesn’t really matter – he’s not going to play shortstop. So we’ve taken all of those things into account. We think he can help us. You know, from a motivational standpoint, I don’t think we would be able to find a player who is more determined, more highly motivated to perform than Jose is today.”

The motivation comes in Reyes’ desire to save his career after a domestic violence incident that landed him a 50-game suspension.

“He understands the mistake he made and has taken responsibility for it,” Alderson said. “But at the same time, he doesn’t deserve to be ostracized.”

While Reyes isn’t the same player he once was, it’s a safe bet he’s still better on the bases than Cespedes, who was picked off first Friday night without diving back which resulted in a twisted ankle. And Saturday he dogged it and was thrown out at second going in standing up.

Both were mind cramps, which is also similar to 2015. However, if Cespedes gets the benefit of doubt and was injured and couldn’t slide, he shouldn’t have been in the lineup.

That’s on Collins and Alderson.

 

Jun 24

Mets Fans Must Remember He’s Not Reyes Of Old

By game time Saturday, expect the Mets to have re-signed Jose Reyes, who was placed on outright release waivers by the Rockies on Thursday. Some team could sign Reyes before the Saturday’s 1 p.m., deadline, but doing so would put it on the hook for the $39 million owed him. We can safely assume the Mets wouldn’t be that team.

REYES: On verge of coming back. (AP)

REYES: On verge of coming back. (AP)

The Mets plan to use Reyes at third and possibly give him some time in the outfield, manager Terry Collins told reporters in Atlanta.

“We took Matt Reynolds and put him out there with no experience at all,” Collins said of using Reynolds in the outfield on Wednesday. “This guy is as good an athlete as certainly Matt is. He’s got the arm. He’s got the foot speed for it. These are just things we’re tossing around.”

The Mets will likely use Reyes in the leadoff role and drop Curtis Granderson to the middle of the order where he’d hit back-to-back with Yoenis Cespedes. The idea is to put speed at the top of the order, although Reyes isn’t the base stealer he used to be.

Of course, he would back up Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop when he needs a day off. Of course, before Reyes plays anywhere, he might go to Triple-A Las Vegas since he hasn’t played in a game since June 12.

In speaking about Reyes, Collins spoke in the past tense.

“He was a great player,” Collins said. “I haven’t seen him in recent years, but he did a lot of things. He was a good hitter. He could fly. He’s got a great arm. He played very good shortstop. He brought a lot to the party.

“One of the things that probably caught my imagination was his joy of playing in New York. He loved it. That’s why he moved there. He loved being there. He loved playing in New York. It’s a tough place, because you’re going to have some bad times and some bad days. …  In my time around him, he was a joy to be around. I just hope if it works out that he’s that same guy.”

Well, he’s not, and that’s something Mets’ fans should understand. In his prime, Reyes was a batting champion and a prolific base stealer. He’s not that player any more, but he hasn’t lost all his skills. He can still fill a void and help a team like the Mets who are in need of an of an offensive jumpstart.

Reyes can help, but we should be guarded in our thinking of how much.