Jun 27

Mets Lose Game And Gsellman

One of the more puzzling aspects of the Mets has been the regression of Robert Gsellman. The Mets might not have made the playoffs last season if not for Gsellman. He hasn’t pitched well this year and left tonight’s game after three innings with a hamstring injury.

“It’s a hamstring, so it will be a little while,’’ manager Terry Collins said when asked about how long Gsellman might be out.

GSELLMAN: Has strained hammy. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Has strained hammy. (AP)

Gsellman, who entered the game having given up 15 runs in his previous two starts, gave up three runs in the first inning and was replaced by Paul Sewald, who pitched three scoreless innings in relief. Sewald, of course, won’t be available Wednesday night.

There’s no telling how long Gsellman will be out, but the disabled list isn’t out of the question. If Gsellman goes on the disabled list, he’ll be sixth Mets starter to be disabled this season, joining Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler.

When you add David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda, it’s amazing they are only eight games under .500 this year.

“It’s a little frustrating to see them keep going down,’’ Collins said.

GRANDERSON’S VALUE SPIKING: Whatever Curtis Granderson’s trade value is, it probably is as high as it is going to be.

Granderson hit his third leadoff homer in this road trip, and the 21st as a Met to extend his franchise record.

Granderson can play each of the outfield positions and would fit in well for a contender either as a spot starter or off the bench.

CONFORTO DOESN’T PLAY: Michael Conforto did not play because of a bruised left wrist after being hit by a pitch Sunday in San Francisco.

Collins hoped Conforto would be available to pinch-hit, but had difficulty holding the bat.

“At this stage, I don’t know how long he’ll be out,’’ Collins said.

Jun 24

Mets Should Honor Cabrera’s Demand And Move On

So much for Asdrubal Cabrera being the ultimate team player. That boat pretty much sailed when he told Mets manager Terry Collins that he wanted to be traded because he was unhappy about being moved to second.

Actually, the boat might have started leaving the harbor when he told Collins he didn’t want to play third.

CABRERA: Time to move on. (AP)

CABRERA: Time to move on. (AP)

Cabrera is a major league player who has previously played second base and if his manager wants him to play second base he should play it, and if he had a problem with the request he should address it in private and not on TV.

He has to be smarter.

Moaning about moving to a new position is one thing, but attempting to blackmail the Mets that he’d move if they pick up his extension is another.

Very tacky, and if the Mets were smart they’d acquiesce to Cabrera’s emotional demands and move on. His range is shot, he’s been hampered by injuries, and he’s not hitting … it is time to move on.

Collins’ request wasn’t outrageous, but it was misplaced. Late June isn’t time to experiment. Cabrera shouldn’t be at second, if anything, to get his bat in the line-up everyday Wilmer Flores should get that chance. If not Flores, then T.Y. Rivera, instead.

Cabrera had a nice run with the Mets, but it’s time for a chance at shortstop. And, Jose Reyes isn’t the answer, either.

Jun 19

Rivera And Flores Need To Play Fulltime

I don’t care where they play him, but T.J. Rivera needs to start every day. The same goes for Wilmer Flores. It doesn’t matter that neither fit into the Mets’ long-term plans heading into the season.

Manager Terry Collins said “those who hit will play,’’ and both are hitting and deserve to start, and the struggling Mets need to put their best offensive foot forward, especially against Clayton Kershaw.

RIVERA: Needs to play. (AP)

RIVERA: Needs to play. (AP)

Rivera, who had a career-high four hits Sunday, is batting second – between Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes – which theoretically should provide RBI opportunities for Cespedes and Jay Bruce.

Rivera is hitting .474 (9-for-19) since being recalled last Tuesday. The minor league batting champion hit .333 in 105 at-bats for the Mets last season and is hitting .289 this year in 117 at-bats.

That’s worthy of the chance to play full time.

“Right now, he’s one of the keys,’’ Collins said. “You got to put him in the lineup. This guy’s gonna get hits.’’

Rivera played first when he was with the Mets earlier this season when Lucas Duda was injured. He’s at third tonight.

“I just try to keep a positive mentality no matter what happens, whether it’s being sent down or not playing that day,’’ Rivera said. “I’m always looking forward to an opportunity to play. It’s not easier, but you get a little more comfortable in your at-bats, you see more [pitching] and it’s easier to react to things. The opportunity’s nice, and I’m just trying to help contribute in any way possible.’’

With Rivera at third, Flores is at first. Flores is the Mets’ leading hitter against Kershaw going 3-for-9 while Duda (1-for-11) is on the bench.

The rap on Flores has been his defense, but that’s mostly based on his play at shortstop. He’s had some yips at third, but he’s played generally well at first and hasn’t been too bad at second.

However, his best position is batter, where he’s hitting .296, with six homers and 20 RBI. He’s a lifetime .396 hitter (21-for-53) against the Dodgers. In 39 games since May 1, Flores is batting .331 (42-for-127), with eight doubles, four homers and 17 RBI.

When Cespedes was down, Flores has been the Mets’ best right-handed hitting threat.

When Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker get off the disabled list, somebody’s at-bats will dwindle, but whatever Collins does he needs to find at-bats for Rivera and Flores.

If they’re still hitting, Collins would be putting his best team on the field.

Here’s the rest of the lineup for tonight:

Conforto – CF

Rivera – 3B

Céspedes – LF

Bruce – RF

Flores – 1B

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Jose Reyes – SS

Gavin Cecchini – 2B

Zack Wheeler – RHP

 

Jun 18

DeGrom Carries Mets Again

With his father and son watching, Jacob deGrom had one of those dream games when he smacked his first career home run and dominated the Washington Nationals. The win prevented the Mets from being swept and temporarily stopped what could be a free fall.

Whether competing for a pennant, a wild card, or just trying to reach .500, a team needs a stud pitcher.

DEGROM: Hits and pitches Mets to win. (AP)

DEGROM: Hits and pitches Mets to win. (AP)

Sandy Koufax once told me that if you’re going to win you need a pitcher who is 12 games over .500,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “You have to have that kind of guy. Jake is here to win.”

DeGrom has pitched back-to-back stellar starts after back-to-back stinkers in which he gave up 15 runs. DeGrom followed up his complete-game against the Cubs by going eight innings today, giving up one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

He’s given up one earned run in 17 innings after solving his mechanical issue of flying open and throwing across his body.

“I was able to keep my front side close,’’ was how deGrom explained what’s been working for him. “I was able to locate [my change-up] on both sides of the plate.’’

At 6-3, I don’t know if deGrom will finish 12 games over .500, but he’s pitching like an ace. Some pitchers when they struggle can’t turn it around, but deGrom seemingly has fixed his problems.

That’s what aces do.

With the Mets heading on a brutal trip to Los Angeles (four games), San Francisco (three) and Miami (three) represent ten games that could define their season.

DeGrom’s win comes before the Mets face Clayton Kershaw Monday to start a four-game series against the Dodgers. This has the potential to be an ugly week, and stopping losing streaks is also the definition of an ace.

CESPEDES RESTS: Twice Saturday Yoenis Cespedes legged out infield hits and went from first to third on singles. He also scored on a sacrifice fly and made running catch down the line on a fly ball. That proves his hamstring didn’t bother him yesterday, but it’s the day after that is important.

“I’m more concerned with fatigue and some of the other things that have happened in the past,’’ Collins said.

When they brought Cespedes off the disabled list, they did so with a plan. And, for once they stuck with their plan.

Too many times the Mets abandoned a plan with a player and he later was reinjured.

A struggling team like the Mets needs all the help it can get, but they did the right thing this time.

A SPOT FOR REYES: With Asdrubal Cabrera expected off the disabled list shortly, we’ll be seeing less and less of Jose Reyes at shortstop. And, as long as T.J. Rivera keeps hitting – four more hits today – he should play third base – or someplace, every day.

“He keeps getting hits,’’ Collins said. “He has to play.’’

Conversely, Reyes went 0-for-5 today to see his batting average drop to .193 and his on-base percentage to .269.

For now, Wilmer Flores must stay at second and Rivera on third. So, when Cabrera returns, Reyes has to go to the bench.

EXTRA INNINGS: With a ninth-inning double, Daniel Murphy has reached base in each of the 29 games he’s played against his former team. Murphy is batting .391 with ten doubles, eight homers and 29 RBI vs. Mets. … With the win the Mets are now 1-6 vs. Washington at Citi Field. …  Michael Conforto showed breakout signs with two hits and two RBI.

UP NEXT: The Mets begin a season-defining stretch of playing 16 of their next 19 games on the road tomorrow night in Los Angeles when Zack Wheeler starts against Kershaw.

Jun 17

Looking At Assets Mets Could Trade

The Mets didn’t go to the playoffs in each of the last two years by accident. They have some good players, several of whom could be welcomed by a contender.

After today’s 7-4 loss to the Nationals, the Mets are 11.5 games behind Washington, so regardless of the calendar, we might as well look at them as sellers at the deadline.

GSELLMAN: Could be valuable trade asset. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Could be valuable trade asset. (AP)

If they are so inclined, the Mets could have a fire sale for the ages.

When I look at today’s roster, I’m seeing four untouchables: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz.

Everybody else can be had. Here’s who could be available:

PITCHERS

Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have value and are currently in the rotation in large part because of injuries. They saved the Mets late last season and could have value to a contender.

Matt Harvey is currently on the disabled list but should be off before the deadline. His value is currently low, but a forward-looking team might take a nibble. However, trade talks for Harvey could grow in earnest if he stays healthy and fast forward to next summer.

A team simply looking for arms might shop in the Mets’ bullpen. The one who could draw considerable interest if they make him available is Addison Reed. Closers are valuable and Reed has proven himself under pressure. Let’s hope if they trade him it is to an American League team.

CATCHERS

For a team looking for a catcher, Rene Rivera or Travis d’Arnaud could draw interest.  The Mets can afford to trade either because they have Kevin Plawecki at Triple-A Las Vegas. For that matter, Plawecki could make for a backup.

INFIELDERS

Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera should be off the disabled list long before the trade deadline. If they are healthy they could help another team the way they did the Mets.

Both could be free agents after the season so they would be nothing more than a rental.

The Mets tried to trade him once, so would it be surprising if they tried to deal Wilmer Flores again? And, he’s a lot better than he was in 2015 so the return could worthwhile.

Jose Reyes has a manageable contract, but he’s not playing well. Would a change of scenery help? It’s worth a shot.

Lucas Duda, who is currently healthy, has the potential to bring back something in a trade. With Dominic Smith on the rise, the Mets might as well test the market for him.

OUTFIELDERS

Isn’t it ironic that GM Sandy Alderson desperately tried to trade Jay Bruce in the offseason, and he’s currently the most productive Met? Actually, they would be foolish to trade him because of Cespedes’ fragility, but he can bring back the most in a trade.

Curtis Granderson has been hot since May 1, but his overall miserable numbers are attributable to his slow April. But, Granderson brings a presence any contender would find valuable.

Should the Mets go the fire sale route it would mean finding a spot for Conforto and leaving him there. It means bringing up Smith and Amed Rosario. If they keep him, it means finding a spot for Flores.

It would mean starting over.