Jun 24

Alderson Lets Down Mets … Again

The Mets deserved to lose today not just because they gave up seven home runs and not just because they continued flounder hitting with runners in scoring position.

They lost because the man who is supposed to put them in position to win, or at least compete, completely let them down. You might even say he betrayed them.

ALDERSON: Puts Mets in no-win situation. (AP)

ALDERSON: Puts Mets in no-win situation. (AP)

I guess we might surmise using seven relief pitchers is not something the Mets want to do any time soon. They were put in that position because scheduled starter Jason Vargas was forced to the disabled list with a strained muscle jogging in the outfield 15 minutes prior to first pitch – not prior to Wednesday’s game in Denver.

That would be nearly four days ago.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway said they didn’t believe the injury was serious enough warrant going on the disabled list. Even so, you’d think if Alderson was sharp he’d have somebody from Triple-A at Citi Field just in case.

They don’t even get a pass because Las Vegas is a four-hour flight. However, Double-A Binghamton is roughly a three-hour drive.

The fact they could have done something if they wanted to. Actually, they already had a minor league starter available in Chris Flexen, today’s losing pitcher, 8-7 in 11 innings to the Dodgers, a team that has now beaten them 12 straight times.

Instead, they opted to start lefty specialist Jerry Blevins, who at 34, was making the first start of his career. Back-to-back homers to start the game was a sign of things to come.

You knew the parade of Mets’ relievers wasn’t going to work, but that wasn’t what really irked me today. That would be Callaway saying “Dominic Smith has never bunted before,’’ when asked why Smith didn’t bunt in the 10th inning with a runner on first and the Dodgers shifting with infielders on the right side.

Actually, Smith sacrificed once in 2014, but isn’t that the ultimate indictment of the Mets’ inability to develop players. Actually, a criticism of today’s players in general is the lack of fundamentals.

What’s the point then in players bunting twice in batting practice before they swing?

There’s one other example of Alderson’s malpractice, and that was Justin Turner’s game-winning home run. Turner, of course, was once let loose by Mets.

That’s not piling on,

Jun 19

Alderson In No-Win Situation

Jacob deGrom isn’t my all-time favorite Met, but he’s close. I don’t want the Mets to trade him, but if GM Sandy Alderson pulls the trigger on a deal, I would understand the reasoning. I just don’t have faith he’d get it right. I don’t have faith he’d get it right with Noah Syndergaard, either.

ALDERSON: In no win situation. (AP)

ALDERSON: In no-win situation. (AP)

There’s no doubt the Mets could get something substantial for either one, but just how much? Both are highly regarded, but to put either one – or both – on the block is sending a signal the Mets won’t be competitive for at least four years.

The Mets are an old team, and by that time it is likely Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes and probably the bullpen would be gone. Under the Alderson regime, the bullpen turns over nearly every year.

And although Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have pitched well over the path month, that’s such a small sample size to assume they become certified aces over the next four years.

The present roster has only two prospects – Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo – I’m confident will pan out. I don’t include Amed Rosario, but there’s always hope.

Given that, if Alderson keeps both deGrom and Syndergaard, there’s little to believe the Mets will have the necessary pieces to build a contender. With their history, it’s safe to believe they will not do any significant spending, and their farm system is barren, so they won’t build that way, either.

The last three games, including deGrom’s gem last night, have been fun to watch, but it’s not enough to think they’ve turned the corner, as even the 1962 Mets won three in a row.

So, whether or not deGrom is traded, will it even matter?

Mar 31

No Reason To Rush Conforto

It is both good and bad news that Michael Conforto could be activated by the Mets from the disabled list. The good news is that his rehab following shoulder surgery is ahead of schedule. The bad news, of course, is this gives GM Sandy Alderson the potential to tinker with an injury.

Alderson, who snapped, “I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ when asked last year why he didn’t force Noah Syndergaard to take an MRI, then subsequently gave the all-clear decision to start him against Washington that resulted in a torn lat muscle that scuttled last season.

Originally, the Mets and Conforto stated a May 1 return date, and April 5 beats that by over three weeks.

“That’s a decision we’ll make over the next couple of days,’’ Alderson said.

Why so soon?

Why not see what Brandon Nimmo can do over the next month? What’s the hurry?

Alderson is the man who constantly pokes at the coals on a grill. He has traditionally mishandled injuries by rushing players back. He’s done it with David Wright, Matt Harvey and Syndergaard to name a few.

Conforto said, “I’m pretty close,’’ but that’s a player itching to get back and not a doctor. He’s already playing in minor league rehab games.

I’m not a doctor, either, but as a student of Mets’ history, I’ve seen too many players rushed back from injuries and know this has the potential to end badly.

There’s nothing to be gained by bringing Conforto back next week, but plenty to lose.

Feb 23

Callaway Benches Smith; Shows Who Is Boss

Today wasn’t just a milestone day for new Mets manager Mickey Callaway simply because it was his first game, it was in that he firmly established who is in charge.

From the moment he was introduced, Callaway stressed accountability and responsibility.

It wasn’t always that way under Terry Collins, who, in all fairness, didn’t get support from GM Sandy Alderson. Obviously, Alderson wouldn’t undercut Callaway over Dominic Smith, but it was encouraging to see the rookie manager pull the prospect from the starting lineup after he showed up late to a team meeting.

Callaway doesn’t have many rules, but being on time is one of them. It’s not all that hard to show up on time, and it is head scratching for someone trying to make the roster being late for the first game of the year.

Players supposed to show up for an 8:45 a.m., meeting and Smith was late. Maybe he overslept, maybe he got stuck in traffic, maybe he didn’t set his alarm properly. Whatever the reason, it didn’t fly with Callaway, nor should it.

Smith is a professional, and while he might have a lot to learn about playing the game, he should already know how to set an alarm clock.

Perhaps it would have been more impressive if it was Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard – all who tested the limits under Collins – but Callaway wouldn’t wilt in his first disciplinary test.

Good for him.

To his credit, Smith made no excuses, was contrite and admitted he was wrong.

“I shouldn’t be cutting it close like that,’’ Smith told reporters. “I’m a professional. This is my job. This is my career. It’s my livelihood. I felt like I definitely let them down today.

“He asked me what I thought the decision should be and I agreed with him. That’s the only way it should be. They shouldn’t give me a pass or whatever. They shouldn’t give anybody a pass. That’s what he’s been preaching since Day 1 – accountability. You got to be accountable for yourself, your actions.’’

Yes, it was only a Triple-A prospect. It wasn’t Cespedes, who is erratic in his hustle and blew off treatment of a quad injury to play golf; it wasn’t Harvey, who blew off a game last year nursing a hangover; and it wasn’t Syndergaard, who refused to take an MRI and subsequently tore a lat muscle last April which basically cost the Mets their season.

Some might ask why this is a big deal, that what difference does a few minutes make.

It’s because being late shows a lack of discipline. It shows a lack of respect for the rules and your teammates. It’s because little things can grow into bad habits that can cost a team games if left unchecked.

Basically, it’s learning how to win, something the Mets don’t know how to do.

Feb 14

Alderson Wrong Again: Mets Do Need More Pitching

Of all of baseball’s many clichés, “you can never have too much pitching,’’ which Mets GM Sandy Alderson, whom his biographer claims in one of the smartest men in the game, refuted today.

DE GROM: Leads rotation loaded with questions. (AP)

DE GROM: Leads rotation loaded with questions. (AP)

Alderson told reporters today in Port St. Lucie: “Notwithstanding many opinions to the contrary, I’m not convinced we need more pitching.’’

There aren’t many things I agree with Alderson on recently, and this certainly isn’t one of them.’’

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Every possible pitcher in the rotation and that includes Jacob deGrom early in his career has undergone some type of surgery or been placed on the disabled list.
  • Noah Syndergaard missed nearly five months last year with a torn lat muscle, and only pitched two innings after coming back from the disabled list. He reported to spring training in good shape, but we don’t know how he’ll respond to a full camp much less a full season.
  • Matt Harvey has worked only one injury-free season since 2012 and twice had season-ending surgery.
  • Lefty Steven Matz has been to the DL four times since his major league debut in 2015.
  • Zack Wheeler has started 17 games in three years.
  • Seth Lugo is trying to rebound from a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament.
  • Robert Gsellman sustained a torn left hamstring last year and had trouble with his mechanics.

 

That’s seven possible starters and doesn’t include Rafael Montero, who has consistently labored with his command.

Jake Arrieta is the top free agent remaining, but we’d be spinning our wheels to think that will happen, and Alderson is already on record as saying the front office doesn’t want to forfeit a compensatory draft pick and a half-million dollars of international bonus pool space.

So, given the current status of the Mets’ pool of potential starters, how can Alderson responsibly say he doesn’t see how they don’t need more pitching.