Aug 01

Of The New Guys, Who Stays?

Unquestionably, the Mets are a better team today than a week ago. They added depth with Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe; strengthened their bullpen with Tyler Clippard; and gave their offense a tremendous boost with Yoenis Cespedes.

Do they have enough now – remember, they can always add more in August with waiver deals – to overtake Washington? Yes, they are good enough to not only compete, but to win.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Short stay in NY. (AP)

The NL East is theirs for the taking.

They are also better because they get to keep Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. Regardless of whatever else Flores does in his Mets career, he permanently carved out a space in franchise lore.

Flores gave us a rare peak into the personal, emotional life of a professional athlete. He showed up these guys are human beings and capable of hurting with something other than a sprained ankle. Flores showed us frustration and anguish, and although you are young and rich, you can also feel the sting of rejection and embarrassment.

The whole country saw his tears Wednesday night before it fell through. Then, it saw him enjoy raw exhilaration with his game-winning homer Friday night?

Just wondering, but did his feet ever touch the ground? Yes, there are times when reality trumps fantasy.

So, I figure Flores will stay for a while, and be joined by Wheeler a year from now. But, what of the others? Let’s handicap the four acquisitions as to who they could keep next year?

CESPEDES: He’s the big prize, of course, at 29. But, he’s also going to want a monster contract. The Mets are his fourth team, which has to tell you something. If he turns out to be a good soldier with no incidents, then maybe, but I think the Mets will balk at his asking price, which would have to be a package of over $100 million. LEAVES

CLIPPARD: With Jenrry Mejia out and Jeurys Familia struggling in the second half it wouldn’t be surprising if he muscles into a closer role. He won’t be cheap, but he’s probably worth considering. STAYS

JOHNSON: I don’t know what will happen with Flores or David Wright, but Johnson is a reliable, versatile bench player. He’ll have some value, but don’t be surprised if they dumpster dive. LEAVES

URIBE: He’s already made a positive mark, but he’ll be 37 in March and I believe the Mets will seek younger options, including Dilson Herrera. LEAVES


The Mets picked quality this week and got to hold onto Flores and Wheeler. The latter contacted Alderson after the deal fell through and asked to be traded.

We’ll see next July, but for now the Mets have done well, and Flores continues to walk on air.

Jul 31

Alderson Rallies At Deadline

After arguably one of the most frustrating 48-hour periods in franchise history, Mets GM Sandy Alderson rallied at the trade deadline by securing slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit for pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

The deal came on the heels of a trade Wednesday for Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez that culminated with Mets infielder Wilmer Flores – who, along with Zack Wheeler, was going to the Brewers – breaking down in tears while taking his position in the field. The next day, the Mets blew a six-run lead while losing to San Diego.

So, with the trade deadline ticking down, Alderson went for broke and came up with an enigma of a player who could be exactly what the Mets need – if his head is screwed on correctly – before he becomes a free agent after the season.

“We’re going for it,” Alderson said. “He’s a very dynamic player. We think he’s going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived.”

Cespedes had been linked to the Mets before, and Alderson is right, he can be a dynamic player. However, at 29, the Mets will be his fourth team. That’s a lot and raises questions, in particular: What’s wrong with him that somebody with that much talent can’t find a home?

Cespedes is hitting .293 with 18 homers and 62 RBI, that would put him at the top of the Mets’ leaderboards.

Alderson has taken considerable criticism, including from me, about his inactivity, and I was especially vocal after the Gomez deal fell through. Numerous reports said it was financial, with the Mets wanting the Brewers to eat part of Gomez’s salary, which was highly plausible considering the Mets’ and Alderson’s reputation. However, today Alderson said it was concern about Gomez’s healthy, although the Houston Astros had no such problems. But, in fairness to the Mets, different medical staffs can have varying opinions.

Although I have concerns with Cespedes, he might not be here next season for it to become an issue. What’s important is that waiting for the Mets to act like a contender, they are doing just that – good for them.




Jul 30

Alderson Has Considerable Apologizing To Do

Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins were quick to blame social media for Wednesday’s trade that fell through which would have sent Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. Alderson said he apologized to the visibly upset Flores for how things transpired, which makes me wonder if he has any intent to apologize to his manager, his players and Mets fans for what could be the very real possibility of blowing a chance at the playoffs.

ALDERSON: Blows Gomez trade. (AP)

ALDERSON: Blows Gomez trade. (AP)

Gomez would have been a terrific addition, one which would have filled four voids: right-handed power bat; leadoff hitter; speed; and center fielder.

The names were agreed upon, but as often is the case with Alderson, no trade was made because he wanted to win the deal.

Several reports surfaced as to why the deal fizzled. First, there was concern by the Brewers over Wheeler’s elbow. Then, there was a reported issue of Gomez’s hip. Then it was Gomez’s abductor muscle. (Apparently Gomez’s health wasn’t an issue to the Houston Astros, who swooped in like a big-market franchise to finalize a trade with Milwaukee today).

Then, reports out of Milwaukee surfaced – and befitting the Mets’ reputation it is totally believable – Alderson wanted a draft pick, which the Brewers nixed. Then, the Mets wanted Milwaukee to eat some of Gomez’s salary, which would have amounted to roughly $12 million for a year-and-a-half. That much for a two-time All-Star who has won a Gold Glove and has hit over 20 homers with over 30 steals is a bargain.

The Mets should be ashamed for trying to put the financial screws to the Brewers. Only, because Alderson wanted to win the trade, instead he got nothing and there are only a few hours left.

Not only did they blow this trade, but looked terrible in hanging Flores out to dry. Everybody saw Flores break down, but this could have been avoided had Alderson had an open dialogue with Collins. After the game, Collins said he kept Flores in the game because he never got word from Alderson to pull him. Collins said he didn’t know what was going on, and Flores learned from yells from the crowd and comments from his teammates.

However, once again Alderson kept his manager in the dark, which further leads to the disconnect between the two. As with the batting order coming out of spring training (with Curtis Granderson hitting first), the six-man rotation fiasco, and of course, the lack of a plan regarding Matt Harvey‘s innings, there doesn’t appear much communication between Alderson and Collins.

This time, Alderson’s penchant for ignoring his manager not only embarrassed Flores, but may have lead to a botched trade that could keep the Mets out of the playoffs.

Yeah, Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager, according to his biographer – needs to apologize to a lot more people than just Flores.

It is shameful what happened.

Jul 29

Deal With Brewers Falls Through

The Mets had every right to keep Wilmer Flores in the game during tonight’s loss to San Diego. After all, said GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, they were trying to win a game. However, caught in the crossfire was an emotional Flores, who received a standing ovation from the Citi Field crowd, which also thought there was a trade sending the young infielder Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee for two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez.

FLORES: Remains a Met - for now. (Getty)

FLORES: Remains a Met – for now. (Getty)

With the advent of social media, and fans watching the game on television from the luxury suites and listening to the game on the radio, most everybody at Citi Field believed the Mets were on the verge of a major trade.

But, it never happened, and Alderson would not say why the deal fell through.

“There is no trade,” Alderson said. “A trade has not. and will not transpire. … Unfortunately, social media got ahead of the facts.  What was reported has not transpired. We could have pulled him and contributed to the speculation.”

Collins eventually pulled the emotional Flores, who was followed into the Mets’ clubhouse by captain David Wright.

“During the game I heard I was getting traded and I got emotional,” Flores said. “Then I heard I wasn’t traded. … I was sad. I wanted to be a Met forever.”

Gomez, originally a Met, but traded to Minnesota in the Johan Santana trade, would have immediately filled voids as a right-handed power bat and as a leadoff hitter.

Alderson has steadfastly insisted he would not trade from their core of young starters in the current rotation – Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz (on the DL) – which left Wheeler available.

It would be a good deal for the Mets because Gomez, a two-time NL All-Star, fills two offensive needs, while Wheeler won’t pitch until next July. Meanwhile, Flores never took to shortstop, but showed promise at second base. Flores got off to a good start offensively, but slumped over the past two months.


Jul 16

Dozen Questions Facing Mets In Second Half

The New York Mets vowed to be competitive this season, and when the second half begins tomorrow in St. Louis they still have a chance to play for October.

Seriously, it could happen depending how the following dozen questions are answered:

HARVEY: A lot expected of him. (AP)

HARVEY: A lot expected of him. (AP)

1. Question: Will they get off to a hot start in the second half?

Answer: The Mets open the second half at St. Louis and Washington, and at home to Los Angeles. The combined record of those three teams is 155-111 (.583). They are five games over .500, and by August they could be making strides in either direction. How fast they get out of the gate will have Alderson thinking whether the Mets are in the hunt or are done for the year.

2. Question: Will GM Sandy Alderson do anything to bring in a veteran bat?

Answer: If Alderson believes the Mets are in it, what will he do? Alderson has repeatedly said the trade market is slim. We know the Mets won’t get Todd Frazier or Troy Tulowitzki. They simply don’t want to part with their young pitching; and in the case of Tulowitzki, they don’t want to take on salary; and with Frazier, they don’t want a rental. The Mets will probably, if they do anything at all, attempt to bolster their bench. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is on that bench, and who doesn’t believe Alderson isn’t thinking his three-homer game in the first-half finale has him thinking the Mets’ offensive problems could be over. Trust me, they are not.

3. Question: If Alderson gets frisky, who will get traded?

Answer: We know it won’t be Noah Syndergaard, whom teams covet. We also know Alderson wanted to deal Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon over the winter. We also know Daniel Murphy likely won’t be back next year, so in Alderson’s ideal world he’d want to get something for Murphy. However, with David Wright’s return iffy at best, the Mets need him to play third base. Niese and Bartolo could conceivably be traded, but not if the Mets are a contender.

4. Question: Who gets hurt?

Answer: It is anybody’s guess, and considering the Mets have already had over a dozen players this season on the disabled list and there’s no telling who might be next. Steven Matz will be out until probably September, and nobody knows when David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud will be activated from the disabled list.

5. Question: Will Matt Harvey pitch like an ace?

Answer: He hasn’t so far with an 8-6 first-half record. Attempts have been made to monitor his innings, but at this rate he’ll finish with over 200, which would make October dicey if they are lucky to get so far.

6. Question: What will become of the six-man rotation?

Answer: The Mets aren’t saying yet, which is par for the course considering they didn’t have a plan entering the season. Should the opt for the six-man rotation, the sixth starter will be either Logan Verrett or Dillon Gee.

7. Question: Will the young stud pitchers keep it up?

Answer: Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have been brilliant. Last year’s Rookie of the Year, deGrom, is an All-Star and Syndergaard is pitching as if he could be this year’s Rookie of Year.

8. Question: Will Lucas Duda awaken?

Answer: Two homers heading into the break were positive signs. However, he’s hit 12 overall and on pace for 22 homers and 69 RBI, which won’t get it done.

9. Question: Will Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson come close to expectations?

Answer: So far they haven’t with a combined 20 homers and 58 RBI. Either would be fortunate to have those numbers at the end of the year.

10. Question: Will Juan Lagares come close to playing up to his contract?

Answer: He’s hitting .256 with three homers and 25 RBI, and a paltry .284 on-base percentage. He has 60 strikeouts and only ten walks. He hasn’t been red hot in the field, either, with balls getting hit over his head that weren’t before, and not being able to throw consistently. So far, the first season of his four-year deal hasn’t been good.

11. Question: Will Wilmer Flores show enough at second base so that it will become his position?

Answer: The Mets didn’t want to go this route, but since they are in contention had no choice. He made some progress at shortstop, but not enough.

12. Question: Going under the assumption they won’t add a shortstop, how well will Ruben Tejada play?

Answer: He’s done all right defensively, but his offense remains weak with a .237 average and .316 on-base percentage. On a poor offensive team, he could be the weakest link.