Mar 31

Mets Wrap: Small Ball Prevails Again

The Mets hit a couple of homers, but that is the least important thing to take out of their 6-2 victory today over the Cardinals. Instead, focus on how they made things happen on the bases; how Jacob deGrom was effective despite not having his best stuff; and how Mickey Callaway will handle his stressed bullpen tomorrow.

DE GROM: Grinds it out. (AP)

DE GROM: Grinds it out. (AP)

Small ball prevails again: Callaway stressed base running in spring training and the Mets kept the pressure on all day. In the first, Jay Bruce scored from first on Todd Frazier’s two-run double, with Frazier taking third on the throw home. … Then, in the seventh, even more impressive than his homer, was Yoenis Cespedes tagging and taking third on Frazier’s shallow sacrifice fly.

There seems something different about the Mets’ offense. It’s refreshing to see their hustle and patience at the plate.

Of course, it has only been two games.

DeGrom grinds it out: Throwing 101 pitches in 5.2 innings is indicative of deGrom not having his best stuff, in particular, his change-up was off.

“I felt good early on,’’ deGrom said. “But, I thought I was flying open a little bit and it was tough to grip the ball. There are days when you have your best stuff and days you don’t. That’s when you have to bear down.’’

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who hit the Mets’ first homer of the season, said deGrom reached another level as evidenced by seven strikeouts.

“He didn’t have his best stuff,’’ d’Arnaud said. “But, he went out and made the pitches when he had to.’’

Not all peachy: These being the Mets, of course, there’s always a glitch. Today it was Anthony Swarzak straining his left oblique muscle, which forced Jeurys Familia to get a four-out save.

Swarzak’s answer as to the severity of the injury illustrated how new he is to the Mets: “I’m not a doctor, so I really don’t know.  We’ll see what happens. Hopefully, this is just a little scare.’’

GM Sandy Alderson never answered an injury-related question in that manner.

It’s likely Swarzak will miss several games – it would be wise not to pitch him in the chilly weather – but could end up on the disabled list.

It will be interesting to see what Callaway does Sunday if faced with a save situation. Familia threw 30 pitches today, but Callaway said early in camp he wasn’t married to having a designated closer.

Given that don’t be surprised if AJ Ramos gets the ball in the ninth.

Feb 01

It’s Truck Day

The equipment truck left for Port St. Lucie this afternoon with the bats and balls, and of course, the hopes of Mets’ fans everywhere. Spring training is the best time of year because it is when dreams are born.

GM Sandy Alderson was there to say goodbye and address the smattering of fans, many of them who consider the truck a seasonal rite of passage.

“It’s been a slow offseason,’’ Alderson told the small group of fans. “But I want to put that in context because that has been true across all of baseball. In fact, the Mets have really been as active as anybody.’’

Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes are returning to a team that finished 22 games below .500, and along with them Anthony Swarzak and an over-the-hill Adrian Gonzalez.

Unless the Mets’ young and battered pitching staff return healthy and live up to expectations, it’s hard to fathom those four additions lifting Mickey Callaway’s team to contending status. That likely won’t happen even if they add Todd Frazier or Eduardo Nunez or even a reunion with Neil Walker.

The Mets’ payroll is currently $137 million with little wiggle room.

Even if the Mets were to sign Mike Moustakas – which Alderson dismissed – that’s not nearly enough to put them over the top.

A big-ticket free-agent would cost the Mets draft-choice compensation and the loss of international pool money, something Alderson said is essential in “improving what is now a less-than-robust farm system.’’

Building from within is the most reliable and cost-effective way of building a team. The Mets tried that with their young pitching but have been derailed because of injuries.

The other ways of building are through trades and free-agency and Alderson has already said the latter is out. Quite frankly, the Mets have very few tradable assets other than their young – and most injured – pitching.

Are they willing to go there?

Dec 14

How Big A Step Back Did Mets Take Last Summer?

In many circles, the Mets were favorites to reach the World Series in 2017, and by most accounts, injuries derailed those aspirations. They finished manager Terry Collins’ last season as manager 22 games below .500 after scuttling their roster at the deadline.

That seems to be a lot of ground to make up even after adding depth to their bullpen with the free-agent signing of Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal.

Several reviews of the Mets’ Winter Meetings’ needs mention a set-up reliever, and outfielder/first baseman and second baseman as to what is on GM Sandy Alderson’s shopping list, and cite Addison Reed, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker by name.

The Mets traded all three last summer for a group of relievers that might not make the Opening Day roster.

Surely, if the Mets kept all three, and still added Swarzak, they might still be regarded as a serious contender, even with the health questions surrounding Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes.

The best chance to re-sign a free agent is to make sure he doesn’t leave in the first place, but that requires an ability to spend. Whether they bring back Bruce, all three, or stun us and sign a name player, it will cost money. The bottom line is the Mets have to spend it if they are going to win. That is the idea, isn’t it?