Mar 08

Syndergaard’s Command Off; Bruce Homers In Win

They might have tuned in to see Tim Tebow, but the Mets most worth watching were Noah Syndergaard and Jay Bruce.

Making his second start of the spring, the Mets’ Opening Day starter again had command issues despite throwing 2.1 innings. Throwing mostly fastballs and change-ups, Syndergaard threw 47 pitches to get those seven outs – six pitches per out – which isn’t going to get it done on most days in the regular season.

BRUCE: Has big day. (AP)

BRUCE: Has big day. (AP)

Meanwhile, Bruce, the player Sandy Alderson most wants to trade, had a big day with a two-run homer, RBI double and run-saving diving catch in right field in Wednesday’s 8-7 victory over Boston.

Syndergaard didn’t give up any runs, but that wasn’t the story.

“I threw about 85 percent,” Syndergaard said. “I pulled it back a bit to work on my mechanics. I wanted to close my shoulder on my way to the plate.”

In the regular season, Syndergaard’s pitch count put him on pace to throw 4.2 innings, which is not what he has in mind.

Syndergaard said he gained 17 pounds of muscle in the offseason – disputed by manager Terry Collins – for the purpose of being strong enough to work longer in games. However, what Syndergaard doesn’t realize is what kept him from going deeper into games isn’t a matter of losing strength, but losing command and running up his pitch count.

Syndergaard touched 100 mph. several times and threw mostly in the high 90s – frankly, I don’t see where he dialed it back – but pitching isn’t about velocity. A pitcher relies on location, movement of his pitches and velocity, with velocity the least important.

METS NOVELTY: With the Mets sending a large contingent to the World Baseball Classic and playing a split-squad game, they were in need of bodies and that opened the way for Tebow’s chance to play – as a designated hitter.

Tebow struck out in his first at-bat on four pitches, grounded into a double play in his second to drive in a run and produce a standing ovation, and was hit by a pitch in his third.

Feb 24

Plenty Of Good Things Today For Mets

Sure, it would be great for the Mets to win them all in spring training. Of course, it won’t happen, but what is the importance of winning in the spring? For the Mets, who reached the playoffs the last two seasons, they’ve already established a winning mentality.

So, what then are the early objectives, and did they accomplish any of them in this afternoon’s 3-2 victory over Boston at Fort Myers?

Spring victories matter in the sense if it gets the Mets acclimated to what it takes to develop a winning attitude, and that means doing the things necessary to win, such as playing the game the right way. For hitters, that’s being selective and getting in a groove. Stats aren’t important, but feeling comfortable at the plate and getting off to a good start are something to strive for.

For hitters, that’s being selective and getting in a groove. Stats aren’t important, but feeling comfortable at the plate and getting off to a good start are something to strive for. As for pitchers, it is refining command, sharpening breaking balls and building up strength.

A lof of good things happened today, many of them on the pitching end. Mets’ pitchers took a combined no-hitter into the seventh inning. Seth Lugo, Marcus Molina and Rafael Montero each threw two scoreless innings, and Hansel Robles worked a perfect ninth.

Offensively, Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud each had two hits, with the former hitting a home run.

 

Jan 16

Let’s Hedge Raves About Mets’ Rotation

Many of the baseball preview magazines are already on the newsstands, with more than a few suggesting the Mets have one of the sports’ top rotations. However, they omit one word in the description, that being “potentially.”

The Cubs, Giants, Boston, Cleveland are all right there. So are the Nationals. The Mets? Well, if healthy, their group can throw as hard as anybody, but throwing hard isn’t the issue. Four potential starters will be coming off surgery, with a fifth, Noah Syndergaard, gutting through the second half of the season with bone spurs in his elbow.

Matt Harvey (shoulder) had seasons cut short by the knife in 2013 and 2016 and missed all of 2014; Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz each had elbow surgery; Zack Wheeler hasn’t pitched in two years; and, they did not bring back Bartolo Colon. The Mets clearly have health issues, which is why they aren’t listening to calls for Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, knowing they might need them this summer, either as a starter or in a relief role.

Harvey, deGrom and Matz each have had surgery twice, and Wheeler’s surgery hasn’t worked out. We can’t assume the four recovering from surgery will pitch without incident in 2017, nor are there any guarantees all four will bounce back. That’s banking on a lot of things working out positively, including nothing happening with Syndergaard.

Even if they did, you can’t forget none of the Mets’ young studs have won more that 15 games, much less 20, or pitched more than 200 regular-season innings. The Mets’ young arms are immensely talented with loads of potential, but championships are won on proven production and not potential.

If everything breaks to the positive, it could be a sweet season reminiscent of 2015, but there are no guarantees.

 

Dec 06

Mets Aren’t In Blockbuster Mode

The Boston Red Sox are in a tough division but went all out today in trading for ace Chris Sale at the cost of four prospects.

Meanwhile, the Mets need to build their bullpen, but are trying to make a reclamation project out of Zack Wheeler and reportedly are playing hardball with Jerry Blevins on a multi-year package that won’t exceed $18 million and subsequently might not do anything until January.

SALE: Monster move. (ChicagoNow)

SALE: Monster move. (ChicagoNow)

Yankees GM Brian Cashman labeled the Red Sox the Warriors of Major League Baseball. Does that make the Mets the Knicks of baseball, or worse, the Nets?

The Nationals were poised on getting Sale. In fact, I heard a Washington Post reporter say it was all but a done deal. That was, of course, until the Red Sox swooped in and changed everything.

On Monday, another team in dire need of bullpen help – the Giants – didn’t wait for the market to take shape by having Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen sign. They made a strong play for Mark Melancon.

Sale to the Red Sox and Melancon to the Giants helps the Mets. Their manager, Terry Collins said today, “we dodged a bullet,” after learning of Boston’s blockbuster.

But, do the Mets want to survive this way? They are waiting for somebody to come along and take Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson off their hands.

What they aren’t doing is being proactive. They aren’t making things happen on their own. Yes, they brought back Yoenis Cespedes, but he was one of their own and their commitment to him is financially tying their hands.

I hear Boston and the Giants saying they want to win and they make bold moves. I hear the Mets say they want to win, but the big story with them today was Collins saying he wants to bring Tim Tebow to camp.

 

Nov 07

Encarnacion Best Bet For Mets

The free-agent shopping list is long, but who is the best fit for the Mets? With Yoenis Cespedes destined to land elsewhere – he could wait to opt out – I’m thinking Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion.

Here’s why Encarnacion makes the most sense and would work out better than bringing back Cespedes:

ENCARNACION: Best bet to replace Cespedes. (FOX)

ENCARNACION: Best bet to replace Cespedes. (FOX)

COST: Encarnacion made $10 million in each of the last two seasons and $51.7 over his career, so he’s looking for his biggest payday, but at 33, he probably could get had for three years and an option.

I’m thinking $17 million a season, but even if you make it $20 million, that’s still far less than Cespedes, who reportedly is seeking a five-year package north of $100 million.

The money saved by not keeping Cespedes could be used on Encarnacion; spent on their young pitching; keeping Neil Walker; shopping for a closer to replace Jeurys Familia; or on a myriad of other things.

In the end, Encarnacion would cost the Mets’ money, while a trade to fill the right-handed hitting void created by Cespedes will cost money and prospects.

VERSATILITY: Encarnacion can play both first and third base. When platooned with Lucas Duda, the Mets can rest David Wright – if he’s able to play – or Jose Reyes at third.

This would enable Reyes to play more shortstop, which would preserve Asdrubal Cabrera, who showed breakdown signs at the end of last season.

Conversely, Cespedes was initially brought back to play center, but that didn’t work as planned. However, Cespedes balked at center, and his refusal to play there complicated the Mets’ already over-stocked outfield. Not having Cespedes enables the Mets to play Michael Conforto.

RIGHT-HANDED POWER: Cespedes hit 30 homers in each of the last two seasons, but Encarnacion has 310 career homers, hitting 42, 39, 34, 36 and 42 over the past five years. In that span he drove in over 100 runs in four years, and 98 in the fifth year.

Encarnacion is 33 and has played at least 142 games in four of the past five years and 128 in the other. Meanwhile, Cespedes at 31 had trouble staying healthy, playing in 132 games while Encarnacion played in 160.

INTANGIBLES: Encarnacion does not have a reputation as being high-maintenance like Cespedes. … As a veteran with playoff experience, he would be a steady presence for some of the Mets’ younger players. … It’s possible I might have undervalued Encarnacion’s value, especially if Boston becomes a player to replace David Ortiz. However, I haven’t underestimated the cost of Cespedes. He’ll cost plenty, and the Mets have other areas of need.

Please follow me on Twitter