Nov 10

Mets Should Go With Smith At First

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Mets’ need for a first baseman and where Dominic Smith fits into their plans. By any numerical system – conventional statistics or analytics – Smith did not have a good debut with the Mets last summer.

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

Smith, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, exceeded his rookie status in 49 games and 167 at-bats last season. He hit .198 with a .262 on-base percentage and .658 OPS. However, those are just numbers, just like his 49 strikeouts (matching the number of games played) and only 14 walks. However, of his 33 hits, nine were homers.

All this has led to columns about the Mets going after Eric Hosmer or reuniting with Jay Bruce – cue singer: “To dream, the impossible dream.’’ – or maybe Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind.

Smith will earn the major league minimum of $507,500.

Of all the names mentioned, Washington’s Lind, who earned $500,000 last season, is the one most likely to fit into GM Sandy Alderson’s budget. However, Lind has a lifetime .272 average with 200 homers, including 14 last year, so the Mets shouldn’t be so eager to celebrate – or write any checks.

At 34, Lind is probably looking at his last contract. That he also played in 25 games in the outfield last year could work to the Mets’ advantage. His age means he’ll be more likely to accept a one-year deal.

At 31, Santana, who hit 23 homers with 79 RBI for Cleveland, earned $12 million last year. He’ll be looking for at least a three-year deal. He’s too expensive.

At 30, Morrison, would be a great addition. He hit 38 homers with 85 RBI, but would want significantly more than the $2.5 million he made last year with Tampa Bay. Morrison is reported to be interested in Kansas City as the Royals will lose Hosmer.

As for Bruce, it is reported he wants $90 million over five years, but has a lower estimated landing price of $40 million over three years.

Either way, that’s too rich for Alderson’s blood.

All the names linked to the Mets are predicated on them being as competitive as Alderson believes. If they really are – and I’ve heard of nobody other than Alderson who thinks that way – then go for it.

The Mets won 70 games last year and one NL Scout thinks they’ll be lucky to win 80 in 2017, which won’t do it.

“They have too many holes,’’ the scout said. “Even if all their pitching issues work out for them, they just don’t have enough to contend. They need a second baseman and third baseman, and who knows how Amed Rosario will pan out over a full year? There’s also questions at catcher and first base, plus there are concerns about the health of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.’’

With a reported $30 million Alderson has to spend, and a large part of that will go in arbitration cases (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores.

So, where does that leave us with Smith?

I don’t think the Mets will be as good as Alderson thinks, but you already knew that, being the negative SOB that I am. If the Mets were a player away and money wasn’t an issue, I’d say go for it.

But, they aren’t.

The Mets will be lucky to finish .500, so why not go with Smith and Flores? Let’s give Smith at least to the All-Star break to see what he has, or platoon him with Flores.

In what figures to be another losing season, let’s see if they can find a nugget in Smith. It’s a better option than throwing a lot of money at a player who won’t turn things around and will be gone in a couple of years.

Oct 12

ALDS Highlight Many Differences Between Mets And Yankees

With Cleveland – and with it, Jay Bruce – eliminated from the playoffs, I’m guessing the worst possible World Series scenario for Mets fans would be the Yankees against the Nationals.

Mets fans clearly hate the Yankees for reasons we can all understand and embrace, and which was reinforced by their ALDS win over the Indians and define the differences of the franchises:

NO QUIT MENTALITY: After losing the first two games to Cleveland, the Yankees rallied to win the next three. Yes, 2015 was a magical year, but outside of that season that’s a characteristic we haven’t often seen from the Mets. We certainly didn’t see it in 2017.

FRONT OFFICE AGGRESSIVENESS: Despite already exceeding expectations at the deadline, Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn’t rest on the presumption it was already a successful season. The Yankees might have gotten by not doing anything at the deadline, but Cashman brought in third baseman Todd Frazier, and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Cashman also added Sonny Gray, although the early returns haven’t been good. You don’t need to be reminded what Mets GM Sandy Alderson did.

SUPPORTING THE MANAGER: Yankees manager Joe Girardi had an awful time in Game 2, but his team rallied behind him and he said “they had my back.’’ Nobody can say the Mets had Terry Collins’ back, especially Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey and all those unnamed sources in the Newsday article.

THE BULLPEN: The difference in the Yankees’ bullpen compared to that of the Mets is roughly the same separation of that between Ohio State and Rutgers. The Yankees might have the best pen remaining in the playoffs and could translate into another title.

YOUNG STUDS: Michael Conforto is the best the Mets have to offer, while Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are unproven. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ farm system has produced Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. Judge struck out 16 times in 24 plate appearances against the Indians, but I’m willing to bet he’ll be much better against the Astros.

STARTING PITCHING: Can we officially dismiss the notion the Mets have the best rotation – young or otherwise – in baseball? The Mets don’t even have the best rotation in New York, although I’m taking Jacob deGrom before any Big Apple pitcher.

REPLACING ICONS: Not long after Derek Jeter retired the Yankees made the aggressive trade for Didi Gregorius, who homered twice against Corey Kluber in Game 5. Meanwhile, David Wright has played in only 75 games over the past three years. The Mets’ contingency plan is Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera.

VETERAN PRESENCE: They are called the Baby Bombers, but the Yankees might not be here without Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and C.C. Sabathia. The Mets’ veterans? Well, Wright is recovering from surgery and the other vets were dealt at the deadline for a handful of non-descript pitching prospects.

OWNERSHIP: George is gone, but the Steinbrenner family is far more aggressive than Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Not even close.

If they were in the same division, the Mets would be 20 games behind the Yankees. That means Alderson has a lot of work ahead of him.

Oct 02

How About Collins Overseeing Mets’ Minor League System?

GM Sandy Alderson said Terry Collins is best suited to work in player development. If that is the case, and Alderson is telling the truth that he believes Collins has a lot to offer and he wants to continue working with him, then there is one role for him, and that is to oversee the minor league system with the goal of implementing a “Mets Way.’’

Both Alderson and Collins suggested a need for such a program in recent weeks. Collins did in a roundabout way several weeks ago when commenting about Amed Rosario’s habit of tapping his glove with the ball before throwing to first. That habit cost the Mets a game and Collins wondered why it wasn’t addressed in Las Vegas.

Alderson more conceded the need for such an instructor when he noted several of the Mets’ rookies came to New York with a multitude of bad habits.

Rosario’s habit and Dominic Smith’s brain cramps are just two of the most prevalent. There are others, beginning with pitchers’ inability to throw strikes, and including hitters’ plate discipline, atrocious base running and defensive fundamentals, such as hitting the cutoff man.

Situational hitting and improving on-base percentage also must be improved.

The idea is to teach, beginning with the rookie leagues the same things are expected from the major leaguers.

That way there are no surprises.

However, for this to work Alderson must first implement organizational philosophies on offense and pitching. The pitchers have to be taught to throw inside, the way Rafael Montero was when he was on his hot streak.

Too many of the Mets’ hitters are preoccupied with hitting home runs. Sure, home runs are great, but consider this, the Mets tied Milwaukee for the NL lead with 224 homers, but neither are in the playoffs.

Sep 23

What Did We Learn Tonight From Mets?

So, what did we learn tonight about the Mets’ great experiment involving Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey?

As you know, Syndergaard came off the disabled list to start, but only pitch one inning while Harvey continued his rehab in relief.

What we learned is very little has changed:

About Syndergaard: Not a damned thing. Seriously, how could we with only five pitches thrown? This had to be another Sandy Alderson decision. The deciding factor in limiting a pitcher’s workload is innings and not pitches. What can you learn with five pitches? I understand Harvey warmed up, but what would have been the harm of another ten minutes?

What tonight meant was Syndergaard is likely to get another start next weekend in Philadelphia. Maybe they’ll go with the innings in that one.

About Harvey: He gave up three runs on four pitches in four innings. The first two were scoreless, which would have been encouraging if the bullpen was his destiny, something that should be considered.

Harvey gave up two homers and has given up 20 homers in 88.2 innings.

“It’s frustrating to struggle and not know why,’’ Harvey said.

We know why … he’s just not good these days.

The Mets’ bullpen: The Mets used NINE pitchers tonight. Jeurys Familia pitched again and was very effective, but should have gone out for the tenth inning.

Lefty Josh Smoker was also effective and I liked that manager Terry Collins let him pitch to a right-handed hitter.

Daniel Murphy rocked again: Murphy hit his ninth homer off Mets’ pitching, including the game-winner in the tenth inning. He also doubled.

The defense of Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario: Smith saved Rosario a throwing error, something he’s already done for the Mets and Las Vegas. Rosario continues to pump his glove before throwing, something that already cost the Mets since he was brought up from the minors. He’s been told about his throwing already since his promotion. Makes me wonder why he wasn’t told while at Las Vegas.

 

Sep 17

Gsellman Has Positive Audition For 2018

Today, he was the good Robert Gsellman. The Mets will take every start what they got from Gsellman – one unearned run in seven innings – but unfortunately for both parties, he has only provided glimpses of today’s production every other start at best.

“Just trying to finish strong for these guys so we can have some good momentum heading into next spring,’’ Gsellman told reporters after the Mets’ 5-1 victory over the Braves. “Just trying to keep it rolling.’’

GSELLMAN: Makes 2018 statement. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Makes 2018 statement. (AP)

Gsellman, like Seth Lugo, came up at midseason in 2016 and joined an injury-ravaged rotation to pitch the Mets into the playoffs. However, because of the combination of injuries and poor performance, neither have pitched to expectations, or even to where they have defined roles heading into spring training.

Gsellman should get another two starts, and if he duplicates today’s production, he would have to be considered for a rotation spot. In addition to his line, Gsellman did two things that were positive. The first was going seven innings because length defines a starter.

The second, and this was the most important thing I took from the game, came in the seventh after a pair of Amed Rosario errors, when he pitched out of it with only one run against him. When a starter can limit damage him that late in the game when he’s getting tired, that’s about as positive as you can get.

“I thought I worked well out of it,” Gsellman said. “I tried to pick up Rosario. We all make mistakes.”

As of now, Jacob deGrom, who beat the Braves Saturday, is the only given in next season’s rotation. Noah Syndergaard’s rehab took another step backward and the Mets don’t know if he’ll get into a game this season. Matt Harvey has been hit hard in his rehab games. Harvey lost two of his three starts this month with a 12.19 ERA and 20 hits allowed.

Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler won’t pitch again until next spring. Rafael Montero took the loss, but pitched well Friday against the Braves.

So, in looking at next year, deGrom is the only answered question. Gsellman and Montero pitched well this weekend to make their cases for next season, but nothing definitive.