Aug 16

Mets Matters: Syndergaard Begins Long Road Back

If there’s one date in which the Mets’ season went into the toilet it is April 30 when Noah Syndergaard tore his right lat muscle in a game at Washington.

mets mattersSyndergaard threw in the bullpen for the first time since, throwing 20 pitches Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. There will be at least two other bullpens, then batting practice before getting a rehab assignment. It is quite possible the minor league season will be over before Syndergaard gets the opportunity to throw in a rehab game.

Syndergaard will still lift weights in the offseason, but said he plans to incorporate more flexibility exercises.

“I’m still going to lift heavy and be strong,’’ Syndergaard recently told reporters. “We’re still professional athletes here. We’ve still got to be strong and durable. I’m just going to be more smart about it. … I expect to be the same guy in terms of velocity.’’

LUGO TO DL; GSELLMAN STARTS: Seth Lugo is back on the disabled list with a partially torn elbow ligament and shoulder impingement. He will be replaced tonight by Robert Gsellman, who has been on the DL since June 28 with a strained left hamstring.

The Mets believe Lugo hurt his shoulder compensating for his elbow.

“That always concerns me that you’ve changed your delivery to compensate if you’ve got a bad elbow, and then all of a sudden your shoulder [hurts],’’ Collins said. “And I know one thing, I don’t like to hear shoulder problems. Those scare me more than anything.’’

Lugo was 5-3 with a 4.85 ERA in 11 starts and one relief appearance, but 0-1 with a 7.31 ERA in his last three appearances. Lugo believes his elbow is fine, and that surgery isn’t an option for either his shoulder or elbow.

“The doctors said this is an inoperable situation,’’ Lugo said. “Rest is just going to make it better. Surgery’s not even a thought.’’

ABOUT TIME: The Mets requested unconditional release waivers on reliever Fernando Salas, who has a 6.00 ERA in 48 appearances this season. Salas was designated for assignment last week, and barring the unlikely scenario at team claims him, the Mets will be on the hook for the balance of his $3 million salary.

The Mets should also DFA Hansel Robles, who doesn’t fit into their plans for 2018.

METS ACQUIRE OUTFIELDER: Travis Snider, formerly of Toronto and Pittsburgh, was purchased from Texas for cash. Snider, 29, was Baseball America’s sixth-ranked prospect in 2009.

Unless Curtis Granderson is traded, don’t expect to see Snider until the rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

PITCHING REHABS: Closer Jeurys Familia will make his first rehab appearance today. He is recovering from arterial surgery, May 12, to remove a blood clot in his right shoulder. … Matt Harvey will make his second rehab start today for Class A Brooklyn.

 

 

Jul 27

Mets Do As Well As Can Be Expected In Duda Trade

Since they weren’t going to bring back Lucas Duda anyway, the Mets did about as well as could be expected in today’s trade to Tampa Bay for Triple-A pitching prospect Drew Smith.

Duda had been linked to the Yankees and Seattle, and with the Rays, he has a chance to make the playoffs for a third straight season.

DUDA: Traded to Rays. (AP)

DUDA: Traded to Rays. (AP)

It wasn’t too long ago that the Mets chose Duda over Ike Davis, both high-strikeout first basemen with plenty of power. Duda ranks seventh on the Mets all-time homer list with 125. While it is unfair, Duda’s Mets’ legacy will be his wild throw to the plate in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.

“I’m excited to join the Rays. They’re in the hunt,’’ Duda told reporters in San Diego. “Kind of mixed emotions. There are guys here I’ve grown pretty close to, and [the Mets] are a first-class organization. I was very proud to be a New York Met, and I’m gonna be very proud to be on the Tampa Bay Rays.’’

With his power, Duda would fit in well with the Rays, who have the DH in the American League. He is hitting .246 with 17 homers and 37 RBI.

Trading Duda opens the door for Dominic Smith’s promotion to the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas, but until he gets here they have other options, namely Jay Bruce, who is in the lineup tonight in San Diego, T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores and even Neil Walker. Playing Bruce at first also enables the Mets to play Curtis Granderson in center, until they trade him.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Dom,’’ the ever classy Duda said. “I hope he becomes a 10-year All-Star.’’

Duda will be a free agent this winter.

In Smith, 23, the Mets will add to their bullpen, which will be important especially if the Mets are successful in dealing Addison Reed. Smith was a third-round pick by Detroit in 2015 and traded to Tampa Bay in April. He has pitched for four minor league teams in the Rays’ organization and compiled a 1-2 record with a 1.60 ERA and seven saves in 31 games.

 

Jul 10

Something Not Right With Cespedes

In analyzing the Mets’ first half, manager Terry Collins said what many of us speculated all along – that Yoenis Cespedes is not playing at full strength.

Was he rushed off the disabled list following his hamstring injury? That seems to be the case as Cespedes looks stagnant at the plate with little to no leg drive, and I’ve forgotten the last time he ran full steam.

CESPEDES: Something isn't right.  (AP)

CESPEDES: Something isn’t right. (AP)

“He is just not getting the barrel to the ball,’’ Collins said. “I can’t explain it. I think it tells you: You miss a lot of time, this is a hard game, especially when everybody else is in shape and you’re trying to get there.

“It tells you the importance of rehabs and all the at-bats, which you try to accumulate on the side, which he had a bunch of in Florida. I tip my hat to him, he couldn’t run, but yet he got at-bats.

“He’s just not hitting. You have to stay healthy. You cannot play this game at 75 percent. The league is too good.’’

There’s so much wrong in what Collins said. One, if Cespedes can’t run, he shouldn’t have been taking at-bats in Florida. So much of hitting is with the legs and if you’re not strong enough to run you’re not strong enough to hit.

And, if Cespedes is only at 75 percent, why isn’t he on the disabled list, or at least rested more often?

Since Cespedes isn’t talking these days, one can only guess what is going on.

I’m thinking he feels obligated to play because of the contract. He pushed himself because with all the time he missed he would feel guilty asking for time off.

Cespedes was hitting the first ten days after coming off the DL, but in his past 11 games is hitting .133 with no extra-base hits over a stretch of 46 plate appearances. Overall, he’s batting .265 with nine homers and only 19 RBI, 17 extra-base hits and only 13 walks with 27 strikeouts. His OPS has steadily declined from .942 in 2015 to .884 last year to .822 this season.

He’s certainly not living up to the $110-million contract the Mets will pay him through 2020.

Cespedes’ build is tightly wound, making him susceptible to muscle pulls and the Mets have not treated him properly. When he was initially injured in late April, instead of going on the 10-day disabled list, he missed three games, then was hurried back to play two games against Atlanta only to blow out the hamstring in the second game.

Cespedes finally went on the DL, April 28 until June 10. When he came back the Mets said they would periodically rest him, but that rest came roughly once a week, which probably wasn’t enough.

But, as the Mets were struggling, what was Cespedes to do, tell Collins he couldn’t play? And, Collins, of course, instead of being proactive, took Cespedes at his word he was fine.

Only he isn’t, and neither are the Mets.

Jul 09

Collins Expresses Hope At The Break

Today’s Mets’ buzzword is “energy.’’ Mets manager Terry Collins, in talking about his team’s poor first half, bemoaned their lack of energy.

“We have to get energy back,’’ Collins said. “We aren’t playing with energy. We have to put a streak together, starting Friday.’’

COLLINS: Still has hope. (AP)

COLLINS: Still has hope. (AP)

At the break, the Mets are eight games under .500, 12 games behind Washington in the NL East, and 10 games behind the second wild-card Colorado with six teams to jump.

The Mets have been a string of bad optics from spring training until today. But, they are still alive.

I look at a potential pennant race from two angles. One, for a team to be in a race it has to be playing .500 ball and the Mets are eight games under. Secondly, there is enough time remaining with them being 12 games behind with 12 weeks remaining. As long as they can pick up one game a week it can be done. Mathematically, they are alive, but can they make a run? Have they demonstrated any signs of turning around their season?

So far, they have not.

There have been numerous times when they were on the cusp of making a move but stepped back. That trend started in April when after winning five straight, they lost 10 of 11.

They came out of that slide by winning the first two games of a three-game series in Washington and had Noah Syndergaard going in the final game. The Mets still had a chance with their ace gong.

However, that was the day Syndergaard, after refusing an MRI, tore his lat muscle and the Mets were routed 23-5. That was the singular most important moment of the first half.

From there, the Mets showed the resilience that marked their playoff pushes in the past two years. They went on to win six of eight to get back to .500 and give the perception anything was possible.

However, one of those two losses came when Matt Harvey was suspended and spot starter Adam Wilk was shelled by Miami. Syndergaard’s injury and Harvey’s suspension were two watershed moments from the first half.

However, the underlying theme of the first half was injuries, beginning with losing David Wright. Also going down were Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Juan Lagares, Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman, Harvey and Yoenis Cespedes.

Considering all that, it’s amazing they aren’t 20 games back.

“Well, pretty much the record speaks for itself,’’ said Collins. “No matter if you said, ‘Geez, we played without a lot of big pieces.’ We are not happy with where we are, certainly, so we’ve got to use this time to reassess what we’ve got to do in the second half and hopefully we start getting some of the pieces back.’’

Both the starters and bullpen have ERAs north of five, and there are no guarantees when, or if, they’ll get Syndergaard and Harvey back, and if so, how well they’ll perform. The same applies to Familia.

The Mets will be forced to decide if they’ll be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline. However, before that, they have to figure if they’ll get Syndergaard and Harvey back.

If they believe they’ll be back this season, then they have to be buyers. If they don’t, and GM Sandy Alderson has already decided his positions on Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Duda, Walker and others for 2018, then they have to be sellers.

The key players are their best offensive player, Bruce, and their closer, Reed. If either is dealt, Alderson would have surrendered on the season.

“If you want to talk about what we saw the last few months, I’ll go back to what we saw in the last 12 months,’’ Collins said when asked if the Mets had it in them. “We saw a team, last year, that when they were challenged they rose up. So, I think it’s in their DNA that they can do it again. We’ll find out.’’

The Mets open the second half with a ten-game homestand against the Rockies, Cardinals and Oakland.

Jul 03

Player Mets Avoid Playing, Conforto, Is All-Star

The first thing I thought of when I heard Michael Conforto would be the Mets’ representative in the All-Star Game was: Isn’t this the guy they don’t want to play?

The guy GM Sandy Alderson didn’t want to bring up, and manager Terry Collins doesn’t want to start, will be in Miami next week, hopefully for the first of many All-Star appearances. And, hopefully, when he rejoins the Mets, Collins will find a place for him in his outfield.

CONFORTO: Player Mets don't want to play is All-Star?

CONFORTO: Player Mets don’t want to play is All-Star?

Perhaps the Mets will clear a spot for him by trading Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, but what they do this week in Washington and St. Louis will determine whether they are buyers or sellers.

Yoenis Cespedes, foolishly re-signed by Alderson, has a no-trade clause in his four-year, $110-million contract so he isn’t going anywhere.

Conforto began the season coming off the bench, primarily as a pinch-hitter, but moved into the starting lineup when Cespedes was injured (his injury history, along with his salary and the Mets’ other needs are why I didn’t want him back).

Conforto started hitting the way he did at the end of the 2015 season and in April of 2016 before he tailed). At the time, Collins proclaimed him as the Mets’ No. 3 hitter of the future. He dropped off again this season, then sustained a bruise bone when he was struck by a pitch last week in San Francisco.

“I really didn’t think back to that,’’ Conforto told reporters of his role coming out of spring training. “Really, what I thought back to was the hard work that I’ve put in this offseason and in spring training. I always had a feeling that even if I didn’t start with the team, I knew I was going to make an impact at some point.’’

Conforto is hitting .285 with a .405 on-base percentage and .356 with 26 RBI with runners in scoring position.

“Obviously, last year was a learning experience for me and something I had to go through,’’ Conforto said. “I look at it as part of my journey. … You have to let it fuel your fire, which is definitely something it did for me.’’