May 12

Mets Matters: Syndergaard Finally Gets Ball

It’s all about Noah Syndergaard’s major league debut for the Mets tonight in Chicago. Syndergaard, 22, was 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Las Vegas.

mets-matters logoMets’ fans have waited for this since the trade that brought him here from Toronto in exchange for R.A. Dickey.

“`I’m excited to see this kid pitch, because I’m a fan,” manager Terry Collins said. “But, first and foremost, I’m the manager of this team. And I think he’s good enough to win here, or he would not be out there. This is not a show. This is not a Broadway play that we’re going to throw this kid out there and see how he sings. We know how he sings.”

To help get him acclimated to his new teammates and the major league life, Syndergaard joined the Mets Saturday in Philadelphia. That might help in ordering room service, but it will do nothing in helping him deal with major league hitters.

LAGARES OUT: Center fielder Juan Lagares will not play tonight because of what the team said is a slight strain in his right arm pit.

Lagares was injured last Tuesday while making a diving catch against Baltimore. Collins said an exam revealed no breaks or blood clots.

Lagares is on a 2-for-25 slump since the injury. Kirk Nieuwenhuis will start in center. He is 3-for-27 for the season.

EXTRA INNINGS: Reliever Buddy Carlyle left Monday’s game with spasms in his lower back. … In a rehab assignment at St. Lucie, Bobby Parnell gave up three runs in a blown save. He threw two wild pitches and his fastball was clocked at 90-92 mph. … Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was cleared to begin baseball activities. … John Mayberry Jr., is on a 3-for-29 slide to begin the season, but Collins said he would continue starting him against left-handed pitching.

 

 

Apr 27

Nuggets From The Bronx; Beware A Trap Series With Miami

After sleeping on Sunday night, what can we make from the Mets losing two of three over the weekend to the Yankees? To listen to talk radio – which in cases like this is seldom good – absolutely nothing constructive.

Contrary to what you might have heard, or read, this morning, the Mets’ world is not falling apart. Also, what happens in the next three days in Miami is more important to the big picture than what occurred in the Bronx. The Yankees series is the interleague gimmick; the three games with the Marlins are within the division.

HARVEY: Bright spot this weekend. (AP)

HARVEY: Bright spot this weekend. (AP)

The lesson the Mets should take to Florida is when you pitch and play well, odds are you will win. When you don’t, odds are you will lose. Both Jacob deGrom and Jon Niese pitched poorly – and the Mets also had brain cramps on the bases and in the field Sunday – so what happened was to be expected. Even in the best of times, when the Mets play poorly they rarely will win.

“We had a bad night,” manager Terry Collins. “For the most part, they’ve played well.”

They have and don’t forget still own the best record in the sport. Here’s what I took from the weekend, which I won’t call lost because they weren’t destroyed and it is still only April:

* Citi Field is superior to the bandbox joke that is Yankee Stadium. Sure, excluding last week, it hasn’t always given the Mets a home field advantage, but it is a fairer field. And, along those lines, for all the bitching and moaning the Yankees will do when they eventually pay Alex Rodriguez over his PED-tainted home run totals, can we also look at the cheap homers from playing in that park? It staggers the imagination what Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle might have done in those dimensions.

* I like how Lucas Duda is playing and hope playing in Yankee Stadium won’t screw up his approach.

* I’ve not lost confidence in either deGrom or Niese, and expect both will come out strong in their next start.

* For those who believe I don’t like Matt Harvey, that couldn’t be further from the truth. While I don’t like some of the things he does and how the Mets are erratic in their handling of him, it doesn’t take from the belief he will be the real deal if he stays healthy. A true indicator of an ace is his ability to rally a team around him following a loss, which is exactly what he did Saturday. And, while I am in the corner of preserving his workload, I admire his competitive, bulldog nature on the mound. Hopefully, he’ll have a lot of opportunities to pitch in key games – and come up big – for the Mets.

* Am I the only one puzzled by Daniel Murphy’s fielding and mental lapses over the last five games? There are times he looks lost. It’s one thing to throw the ball away, but he’s making poor decisions.

* Kevin Plawecki does not look overmatched at the plate, or behind it, either. Still, it is early and needs time. Speaking of not being overmatched at the plate, the same applies to Wilmer Flores. And regarding his throwing error, if you carefully look at the replay you will notice how he didn’t step cleanly on the base as he began to throw. It is similar to a quarterback’s wobbly pass as he is hit.

* Before it is over the Mets will rely on their bullpen even more. Consequently, I’ve changed my opinion on Jenrry Mejia. If his head is screwed on straight, I can see the Mets using him again after his suspension, but barring an injury, Jeurys Familia will keep the closer job. That Bobby Parnell and Vic Black suffered setbacks in their rehab is concerning.

* It would have been fun to watch Juan Lagares play centerfield in the original Yankee Stadium where it was 463 feet to dead center.

* I like Michael Cuddyer more and more and see him developing into a veteran presence the Mets will rely on even when David Wright is ready to return.

Cuddyer called Sunday “ugly,” and “we’re going to go to Miami and play better.”

Let’s hope so. I’m not concerned the Mets lost two of three to the Yankees. What I am concerned about is the Miami series. Sandwiched between the Yankees and Nationals, there might be the tendency to overlook Miami, a place where the Mets haven’t played well in recent seasons. Call this a trap series.

The Marlins are playing better than when they were at Citi Field, which is why this series is more important to the big picture than last weekend. The Mets were due for a setback, but playoff caliber teams win against teams they should beat, including on the road.

It is important to play well in Florida and face Washington this weekend coming off a positive experience.

 

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.