Jul 08

Even If De Grom Stays, Mets Have Plenty Of Issues

Lifeless. That’s pretty much the only way to describe what’s going on with the Mets, now 16 games below .500.  The count is now 14 consecutive series the Mets haven’t won after today’s 9-0 drubbing at the hands of Tampa Bay.

That’s eight times they’ve been shutout this lost season.

And yet, the Mets – who will be sellers at the trade deadline – insist if they keep Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard they will be competitive next season. Of course, that’s contingent on Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce returning healthy and productive.

NIMMO:  A bright spot in lost season.  (Getty)

NIMMO: A bright spot in a  lost season. (Getty)

Let’s assume that happens, and they also keep Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, who continue to develop, they still have monumental holes, especially if they deal Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera.

Here’s how they’ll starting nine will look like:

CATCHER: Devin Mesaroco has been one of the few positives this season since coming over from Cincinnati in the Matt Harvey trade. Kevin Plawecki has played well as a reserve, but he’s never going to be a full-time starter. Ditto for Travis d’Arnaud, who is again on the disabled list.

FIRST BASE: What does it say about Dominic Smith that he started today in left field? Since Adrian Gonzalez left, Wilmer Flores has been getting more playing time, but this is an opportunity that has come too late.

SECOND BASE: They are trying to move Cabrera, who should have value to a contender. If they are successful, they can play Flores at second. Of course, they are also looking to move Flores, which shouldn’t result in Tear Gate II.

SHORTSTOP: Do you remember all the angst when they didn’t bring up Amed Rosario? Of course, you do. He’s playing, but for all his defensive prowess he hasn’t shown much. And, many of the mistakes are mental which no team should tolerate. Rosario is getting time, but isn’t making the most of it, either in the field or at the plate. Here’s a guy with incredible speed, but you rarely see his draw walks and attempt to steal. For a team that lacks offense, that’s a huge mistake. Rosario needs to improve his plate discipline and learn to hit the ball on the ground. He’s shown nothing that leads me to believe he’s a long-time answer.

THIRD BASE: Todd Frazier was a good idea for a contender, but the Mets are far from that label. He’s been hurt and having a miserable season. What’s worse, is he’s signed for next year, too. Maybe they can get something for Frazier, if not they can always try again in 2019.

LEFT FIELD: Currently, the Mets have no idea when Cespedes will come off the disabled list. He’s starting to run in Florida, but we’ve been down that road before. There are times when I start to think the Mets might see David Wright again before Cespedes. There’s no telling how Cespedes will respond physically once he comes back. But, he has two more years after this year, and that’s not encouraging. Smith started in left today, but that’s no answer. Michael Conforto can play left, but started in right to give Jose Bautista got the day off.

CENTER FIELD: Brandon Nimmo won the job after Cespedes was injured and has been one of the Mets most pleasant surprises. Next season will be interesting if Cespedes and Bruce are back healthy, and Conforto and Nimmo are also there. Somebody will have to go, and it won’t be Cespedes.

RIGHT FIELD: Bruce is on the disabled list with a strained hip flexor, and has two more years on his contract. The Mets could try to trade him again, but will Bruce show anything in the next three weeks? It’s doubtful. Bautista has played well enough to open the eyes of a contender, but that doesn’t do anything to help next year’s logjam.

ROTATION: DeGrom and Syndergaard aren’t going anywhere any time soon. But, if the Mets are in similar straits next year, perhaps we’ll hear trade talks again. Then, maybe the Mets will not resist. The problem is the Mets are under the illusion they can compete next year. The sooner they get a realistic appraisal of their team the better off they’ll be. The last thing they need is to hold on to deGrom and Syndergaard for the next three years and don’t get any better. If that happens, all their chips will be gone.

BULLPEN: Jeurys Familia could be the first to be traded, which puts the Mets in the position to look for a closer in 2019. The obvious first choice would be AJ Ramos, who is on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. The next option could be to convert Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo or Wheeler into that role. Any of the other relievers you can have.

MANAGER: By rights, Mickey Callaway should come back. Callaway has a lot to learn, but it’s not fair to fire a manager after one year. The problems the Mets are having has little to do with Callaway’s in-game decisions. It’s because former GM Sandy Alderson did not give him enough talent, and he, along with John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya over-estimated how good their team is. It will be interesting how much leeway Jeff Wilpon gives the trio in making trades. If Wilpon goes outside the organization for a general manager it stands to reason he’ll want to hire his own manager.

Jun 11

Timing Of Gonzalez Release Is Bizarre

Not that Adrian Gonzalez was going to turn their season around, but the timing of the Mets releasing the 36-year-old first baseman after Sunday night’s game – even with three strikeouts – seems a little odd.

For a team in desperate need of offense, why would you release a player who is third in RBI with 26, especially with the leader Asdrubal Cabrera leaving Sunday’s game with an apparent hamstring injury and the second-ranked player in Yoenis Cespedes suffering a setback in his rehab and is out indefinitely?

GONZALEZ: Gone already. (AP)

GONZALEZ: Gone already. (AP)

Bringing up Dominic Smith, who wasn’t impressive in his trial last season, doesn’t appear to be the answer, especially when the Mets are also throwing out the idea of trying Jay Bruce and Jose Bautista at first base.

Smith, who was injured and missed most of spring training because of a strained quad muscle, never had the opportunity to compete with Gonzalez and learn from the All-Star.

As is often the case with GM Sandy Alderson, the announcement was made after the media availability to Gonzalez was over and reporters didn’t have a chance to speak with him.

The Mets will also bring up Ty Kelly with Smith and for the second time in a month, catcher Jose Lobaton was designated for assignment.

As far as Cespedes goes, there’s no timetable for his return any longer. Cespedes played in a rehab game Friday with Double-A Binghamton without incident and sustained a setback Saturday. He’s now in Port St. Lucie working with the Mets’ rehabilitation staff.

“We had been excited about the prospect of getting him back in a few days,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “But we can’t let these injuries stop us from doing what we need to do. We have other Major League players who can step up and get the job done, and that’s what we need to do.

“As this continues to move forward, and it continues to drag on, there has to be a level of understanding that it’s maybe something you battle throughout the rest of your career.

“But I don’t think we’re at that point yet. The goal is still to get him to where he can be out there and feel normal.’’

Cespedes missed 81 games last season and has already missed 24 with more games coming off the schedule on a daily basis.

Apr 27

Fast Start Has Saved Mets

We always knew this day would come, Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who was hired in large part for his optimism, will now be forced to put into practice. Once 11-1, the Mets limp into San Diego tonight with a 15-8 record, having lost their last three series and their closer Jeurys Familia having blown three of his last five save opportunities.

Still, Callaway doesn’t appear flustered.

MATZ: Struggling.. (AP)

                             MATZ: Struggling. (AP)

“It would be frustrating if we weren’t where we’re at in the standings,” Callaway said after Thursday’s 4-3 extra-innings loss in St. Louis. “We’re still in a pretty good spot. What has happened the last week, or week and a half or whatever is not going to continue to happen. It’s just not going to happen.”

Keep a good thought, Mickey.

On a positive note, the best way to stop a fall is with your best pitcher and that’s Jacob deGrom.

On the flip side, the Mets are developing a staggering list of negatives, primarily with their pitching, considered to be their team strength entering the season.

Matt Harvey, 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA, is already out of the rotation, and Steven Matz (1-2, 4.98) and Zack Wheeler (1-1, 4.24) haven’t pitched well enough to stay in.

Closer Familia is floundering and AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins have done nothing worthy of replacing him.

Should the Mets opt to promote Robert Gsellman and/or Seth Lugo from the bullpen to the rotation, that would consequently weaken the pen.

Offensively, the Mets are down to their third and fourth catchers and combined they are hitting less than .125.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .203. Yoenis Cespedes hit a 463-foot homer in St. Louis and is on pace to hit 34 homers. Big deal, he’s also on pace to strikeout 277 times. Not even his projected 155 RBI can make up for that many wasted at-bats.

 

Apr 11

Mets Wrap: Wheeler Sterling In First Start

The most important thing to take away about the Mets from tonight’s victory in Miami isn’t that it was their eighth straight, but how well Zack Wheeler pitched in his first start of the season.

If I were into bandwagon hopping, I would say if Wheeler continues to bring it as he did in beating the Marlins, 4-1, to extend the best start in franchise history to 10-1.

WHEELER: Solid debut. (AP)

WHEELER: Solid debut. (AP)

Wheeler, who hasn’t pitched for the Mets in two years, gave up one run on two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings. It is the longest a Mets’ starter has gone this young season.

“I thought he did a really good job of staying ahead,’’ said manager Mickey Callaway. “He pitched with a lot of confidence.’’

Wheeler, who had a spring training ERA north of eight, gave up a first-inning homer to Miguel Rojas in the first, was in complete control after that and retired the last 16 batters he faced.

“I was trying to go out there and give up a chance to win,’’ Wheeler said. “I was able to pound the zone and have command of my fastball for the most part. It was very satisfying.’’

We can presume Wheeler will get at least another start with Jason Vargas on the disabled list.

PLAWECKI GETS HIS BREAK:  Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The Mets recalled catcher Tomas Nido from Binghamton (AA), who was activated for tonight’s game.

The ten days enables the Mets time to evaluate the injury, including the possibility of Tommy John surgery. If that happens, d’Arnaud could be transferred to the 60-day disabled list, and former Washington National Jose Lobaton would be promoted to the Mets. That decision could be reached as soon as Friday.

“That’s a long road if he goes the surgery route,’’ Callaway said. “Anytime anybody has to go through that, that’s tough.’’

Callaway had a sense something was wrong with d’Arnaud’s arm from watching try to throw runners out at second – unsuccessfully.

Plawecki was struck on the left hand by a pitch and sustained a deep bruise. X-Rays were negative.

GONZALEZ DOES IT AGAIN: Veteran Adrian Gonzalez, who hit a grand slam in Washington, drove in the game-winning runs with a two-run, pinch-hit single in the eighth inning.

Gonzalez, who made the Opening Day roster in large part because of Dominic Smith’s leg injury, is hitting .298 with a .406 on-base percentage. Gonzalez’s two-run single gave the Mets their sixth-come-from-behind victory of the season.

“When we’re down, we know how to get the job done,’’ Callaway said. “You can feel the energy in the dugout.’’

 

Mar 29

Syndergaard, Small Ball Offense Get Season Off To Good Start

New Mets’ manager Mickey Callaway has to know they all won’t be this fun – or this easy. Everything fell into place for the Mets this afternoon in a 9-4 victory over St. Louis, just the way it should be on Opening Day.

“It feels great,’’ Callaway said. “What a ballpark. All of us, the coaches, were sitting there going, man, this is something special. This is a different place than most.’’

SYNDERGAARD: Ten strikeouts in opener. (SNY)

SYNDERGAARD: Ten strikeouts. (SNY)

A day that began with the sad news of the death of franchise icon Rusty Staub began with everything breaking right for the Mets, who lost their first eight Opening Days, but have gone 37-12 on the season’s first game since.

At 37-20 (.649) they have the highest Opening Day winning percentage in the Major Leagues. So much went right for the Mets today, beginning with Noah Syndergaard, who struck out ten and didn’t strike out a hitter for the seventh time in his career, second only to Tom Seaver in club history.

Despite the numbers, Syndergaard wasn’t happy with giving up four runs on six hits in four innings.

“I thought it was a great team win. A lot of fun,’’ Syndergaard said. “Kind of kicking myself in the butt for allowing that (Jose) Martinez guy to get a little too comfortable, but that won’t happen again. … I didn’t have command. In the last game (of) the spring I was comfortable, so I don’t know what happened.”

Syndergaard had thrown a manageable 52 pitches entering the fifth inning, but finished with 85, which is too many for a starter who wants to pitch deep into games.

Twice the Mets gave Syndergaard a lead he gave up, something else he vowed to improve on.

Complementing Syndergaard was an offense that proved power isn’t the only way to win.

“I just wanted to make sure the guys were in a good position to succeed,’’ Callaway said of his batting order featuring Syndergaard batting eighth, Amed Rosario ninth, Brandon Nimmo leading off and Yoenis Cespedes second. “We wanted to just make sure that we thought everything out when we set that lineup. We’ll try and do that every single time.’’

Callaway’s thinking was to stack the Mets’ speed – Rosario and Nimmo – in front of Cespedes.

“It made sense,’’ Callaway said. “It’s not as much about the pitcher as it is who’s hitting at the top of our lineup, and who’s going to hit ninth for us. It’s not going to be something that happens every game.’’

Rosario responded with two hits, including a two-run single and Nimmo reached base four times on two walks and two hits.

“It was a blast,’’ Nimmo said. “I was anxious to get into this game. Whatever they give you, take it. I think that’s the mentality of this team right now.’’

Mets’ hitters struck out eight times, but more importantly, drew nine walks. They also went 5-for-15 with RISP and drove in six runs with two outs.

Coming through were Cespedes (three RBI on two singles); Jay Bruce (RBI single), Kevin Plawecki (two hits and an RBI) and Adrian Gonzalez (two hits and two walks).

“I put our lineup against anyone,’’ said Bruce spouting Opening Day confidence. “We have veteran guys. We have young guys with so much talent.’’

And, today it panned out.