Apr 23

Don’t Think We’ll See Mejia Again

Resiliency is a characteristic of a championship caliber team, and so far it defines the 2015 New York Mets.

To date, they have lost for the season Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin to elbow injuries, and Jenrry Mejia to a drug suspension. They are also without David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell.

A little more than two weeks in and the Mets are on their second catcher and third closer.

There have been a lot of key figures to the Mets’ climb to the top of the NL East, but arguably one of their most important has been Jeurys Familia, who took the closer role from Mejia and by extension, Parnell.

The Mets’ bullpen is minus Parnell, Black, Edgin and Mejia, which are four of the seven they had counted on. Imagine where they might be today without Familia’s seven saves.

When Parnell does return, manager Terry Collins said he won’t immediately return to closing duties, and chances are Mejia will never wear a Mets’ uniform again.

If Mejia’s 80-game suspension isn’t enough to act as a deterrent for those players that choose to find an illegal edge, then perhaps this might be – not only is Mejia suspended, but his career could be over. At least, his one in Flushing.

Apr 19

Mets’ Mettle To Be Tested Again

Playoff-caliber teams must overcome adversity and the New York Mets will be tested again.

It was a bad day all around for the Mets despite winning their eighth straight game today, 7-6 over Miami. They not only had bad luck with injuries to Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins, but also a dose of bad managing.

Let’s start with the bad luck.

D'ARNAUD: Fractured arm. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Fractured arm. (AP)

It began in the seventh inning when the lefty reliever, Blevins, took a line drive off the bat of Dee Gordon and sustained a fractured left arm. He will be out indefinitely. In the bottom of the inning, Travis d’Arnaud – who was off to a sizzling start – fractured his right hand when he was struck by a fastball from A.J. Ramos. He is also out indefinitely.

As for the bad managing, Matt Harvey was sick, but Terry Collins started him anyway. With his innings carefully monitored this season, here was a perfect opportunity to preserve some of those innings. They gave away a freebie that doesn’t come around often.

If nothing else, Harvey had a 7-1 lead after the fifth. So, why pitch him into the seventh? That made no sense. Collins rested the hot Michael Cuddyer citing the big picture. Why didn’t he apply the same logic with Harvey?

So, where do the Mets go from here?

They have two other lefty relievers in Sean Gilmartin and Alex Torres, but lefty hitters were 0-for-14 against Blevins (who recovered to get Gordon with a glove-hand flip). Hansel Robles will be brought up to replace Blevins. As for d’Arnaud, who is hitting .317 and had two hits before leaving the game, he will be replaced by prospect Kevin Plawecki, who is off to a slow start at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Injuries have already hit the Mets hard, with Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin lost for the season after Tommy John surgery, and David Wright, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell on the disabled list. Wright is resuming activity, but Black had a setback in a rehab assignment.

The injuries tarnished the Mets’ 10-3 sterling silver start – Detroit is the only other team with double-digit victories – but what is important now is how they respond.

Sometimes, season-defining tests come early.

 

 

Apr 07

Mets’ Mejia Goes On DL; Bullpen In Flux

Who didn’t see this one coming for the Mets?

When Jenrry Mejia ran from the bullpen to the dugout – without stopping at the mound – at the start of the ninth inning Monday, there was no way that could have been good news.

MEJIA: Goes on DL. (AP)

MEJIA: Goes on DL. (AP)

It wasn’t, as a MRI and X-rays showed inflammation at the back of his right elbow, which landed him on the disabled list today (back-dated to Sunday). Replacing Mejia on the roster will be reliever Erik Goeddel, which keeps the pen at eight.

The Mets’ bullpen is in a state of flux, with Jeurys Familia assuming the closer role and Carlos Torres taking over as the eighth-inning set-up reliever. Game situations could dictate otherwise, but prospect Rafael Montero could get the seventh inning.

Montero, who failed to make the team as a starter, will get more work as the seventh-inning reliever than in long relief. That’s a positive decision by manager Terry Collins. Also positive is to go with Familia as the closer than use a closer-by-committee tactic. That rarely works and all too often leaves the relievers confused about their roles.

It has been a miserable spring for the Mets’ bullpen with Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, Vic Black and now Mejia on the disabled list. All but Black have had Tommy John surgery.

The Mets expect Parnell back by the end of the month, but there’s no timetable for Black.

 

Apr 07

Sleeping On The Mets: A Lot Of Good, Some Bad In DC

After sleeping on it, there was a lot to like about the Mets’ win yesterday in Washington. Of course, it’s only one game so don’t read too much into anything. After all, does anybody really expect Lucas Duda to drive in 324 runs? Personally, I’d take a third of that.

Even so, here’s what I took from the Mets beating the Nationals, 3-1:

MEJIA: Could be a big loss. (AP)

MEJIA: Could be a big loss. (AP)

THE GOOD

* They won a close game, on the road, against a division opponent that dominated them last season. Yesterday was the type of game the Mets would often lose to the Nationals.

* Bartolo Colon gave up one run in six innings to quell the chatter he shouldn’t have started. I understand giving the young kids a chance, but Colon can still bring it and his age shouldn’t be used against him. The game could have gotten away from the Mets in the first when the Nationals put two on with no outs, but Colon slammed the door. He also pitched out of trouble in the sixth.

* I flat out loved what the bullpen did with three scoreless innings. They overcame losing Jenrry Mejia to get out of the ninth. It won’t be like this every night, but it was fun to watch. Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres didn’t have great springs, but were sharp. I also liked Jerry Blevins putting down Bryce Harper.

* All too often in recent seasons the Mets failed to capitalize on opportunities, but yesterday took advantage of two Ian Desmond errors to score their three runs. That’s what winning teams do.

* Duda, who missed most of spring training with a strained intercostal muscle, drove in two runs. Duda is benefitting from Kevin Long. His plate patience is good and his stroke on the two-run single was short and compact.

* Travis d’Arnaud‘s triple. There’s a lot of pressure on him to show something at the plate.

* Daniel Murphy committed a throwing error, but moved around all right and didn’t seem bothered by his pulled right hamstring.

THE BAD

* Mejia couldn’t come out for the ninth because of soreness in his throwing elbow and was placed on the disabled list today. He’s already had one Tommy John surgery. Since Bobby Parnell isn’t ready to come off the disabled list, the immediate fallout should have Familia assuming the closer role.

LINGERING ISSUES

* Yes, they won, but I still don’t care for the line-up. Juan Lagares spent most of spring training at the top of the order and it must be confusing for him to be dropped down. I don’t like Collins’ response of protecting him from the top of Washington’s rotation as it gives a message of negativity. But, they won and Curtis Granderson drew two walks leading off so I don’t expect them to change tomorrow. I also don’t like David Wright batting second, something he hadn’t done since 2010.

ON DECK: Mejia goes on disabled list.

Apr 02

Harvey Is Ready, But Are Mets?

Matt Harvey is ready. Now, what about the rest of the Mets?

Harvey, who’ll start the season’s third game in Washington, threw four scoreless innings today in a 0-0 tie with St. Louis today, and he immediately pronounced himself ready.

“I’m ready to go,” Harvey told reporters. “All the work has been put in, and it is time to just let all that loose.”

Harvey did not walk a hitter and threw 41 of 56 pitches for strikes.

“You hear stories of guys who have trouble with command coming back,” Harvey said. “That was something that I really worked on. Obviously you never know until you start facing hitters and get into a game.”

Harvey is the first of a long list of questions I posed at the start of spring training. As the Mets are in Texas to play the Rangers this weekend before heading to Washington, let’s re-visit those questions:

Q: How healthy is Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. Today was part of the good news. The Mets are thinking 30 starts and 190 innings. He’ll be on a 90-pitch count for the Nationals.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed, not to mention a new four-year contract. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson could hit second if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready, otherwise he should be in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season, but he has had a good spring. Wright is the centerpiece of the offense. If he’s on his game, the offense could be as potent as it was in Florida.

Q: Wil Dillon Gee be traded?

A: Unbelievably, the Mets are still interested in trying to trade him. They wanted too much when they dangled him during the winter. They finally broke down this week and slotted him into the rotation.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores had a solid spring and nobody is talking about replacing him. He needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor start.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets will keep Rule 5 lefty Sean Gilmartin, along with lefty acquisitions Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres. Filling out the bullpen is long-man Carlos Torres and Rafael Montero.

Q: Any injuries?

A: They wouldn’t be the Mets without injuries. Zack Wheeler and Edgin are lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle, but enters the season in good shape. Granderson was hit on the leg with a pitch today and it is questionable for Opening Day. The Mets are adamant Murphy will not start the season on the disabled list. No doubt, that’s a gamble.