Feb 22

Mets Must Make Decision On Wheeler

Zack Wheeler gets the ball tomorrow against the Braves in their exhibition opener. He’ll get roughly 30 pitches or two innings.

It’s one of five appearances he’ll get this spring to prove his elbow is sound enough for him to make the Mets’ rotation. There’s also been talk about trying him out of the bullpen, or him staying back.

WHEELER: Rotation or bullpen? (AP)

WHEELER: Rotation or bullpen? (AP)

Frankly, I’m intrigued by the possibility of him working out of the pen. I’m aware of the concern over the up-and-down nature of a reliever being an injury risk, just as the probability of breaking down after pitching on consecutive days.

The biggest chance for injury is if the Mets plan for him to start then switch direction and try him out of the pen. Or, do the opposite in working him in the bullpen during spring training then switching gears during the season.

This is what happened with Jenrry Mejia, who bounced around from the rotation to the pen and back again, only to blow out his arm.

It’s too simplistic to say, “Well, he’s a pitcher, just throw the damn ball.’’

There have been plenty of pitchers to go from the rotation to star in the bullpen. Dave Righetti, Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz all made the transition and starred. Smoltz even went back to the rotation, but the key was it wasn’t done during the season.

I don’t know what the Mets will decide to do with Wheeler, but whatever they do, for this year at least they can’t deviate. Make the decision and stick with it, even if he opens the season in the minors. If they decide to pitch him out of the bullpen, then send him to the minors, he must pitch in relief at Las Vegas.

I’m intrigued by the idea of Wheeler pitching out of the pen. He has a live fastball – his out pitch – and from starting he has a secondary pitch. If he can control his command issues, he could be an effective reliever.

He gets into trouble facing a lineup the third time through when his pitch count rises so maybe being a closer would suit him.

Plus, are you all that convinced Jeurys Familia is a great closer. Both he and AJ Ramos will be free agents in 2019, so it would be beneficial to prepare for them leaving.

Unlike Sandy Alderson, I don’t see the Mets competing this year, so getting some answers would be a good thing.

 

Dec 21

Mets Extend Alderson To More Of The Same

Mets fans got an early Christmas present yesterday in their stocking late yesterday afternoon. It was a lump of coal with the announcement GM Sandy Alderson’s extension, speculated to be two years in a year-to-year format.

ALDERSON: Expect more of the same. (AP)

ALDERSON: Expect more of the same. (AP)

That means next winter’s free-agent market – with Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw highlighting the most prominent class in years – will presumably not include the Mets as shoppers.

They aren’t even expected to retain their own marquee free agent Matt Harvey.

That means Mets fans can expect their team’s biggest free-agent ventures will be more along the lines of pursuing veterans well past their prime, such as first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Alderson’s Mets’ zenith came in 2015 when everything fell together after the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes and the team caught fire and reached the World Series.

Cespedes was re-signed that winter to a $110-million, four-year package that has financially crippled the Mets since. Alderson then cast off Daniel Murphy, the post-season hero who became an All-Star with Washington.

The Mets reached the postseason again in 2016, but were bounced in the wild-card game by San Francisco. The Giants, like the Mets, have fallen onto hard times, but San Francisco just traded for All-Star Evan Longoria while New York is debating on Gonzalez, whom they’ll get for a song with the Braves picking up the bulk of his contract.

The Mets will be on the hook for the major league minimum of $545,000, with the Braves paying the balance of his $22.4 million contract.

But, the major-league minimum – with Alderson operating the franchise as the Wilpon’s wish – is what the Mets are about these days.

Nov 26

Who Is The Mets’ True Rival

It was rivalry weekend in college football, and while watching Ohio State-Michigan, I couldn’t help but wonder about the Mets’ greatest rivalry. From Day One, there hasn’t been one team that cause Mets’ fans blood to boil over the decades.

A rival is one where the teams compete for the common prize year after year. Often there is bad blood and geography often plays a role. Sometimes there’s a historical event that triggers the rivalry.

The Yankees and Red Sox are a prime example, with the tensions ignited by Boston selling Babe Ruth to New York. Although the Yankees dominated for decades, there was the element of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. In fact, the two superstars were briefly traded for each other in 1947 during a drinking binge between the two owners one night at Toots Shore’s saloon in Manhattan, but was called off the following morning when Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey called the Yankees’ Dan Topping and backed out.

Yawkey did say he’d go ahead with the if the Yankees threw in their rookie left fielder: Yogi Berra.

New York consistently beat out the Red Sox until the Yankees’ historic collapse in the 2004 ALCS. The rivalry still sizzles today, as does Dodgers-Giants and Cardinals-Cubs.

Nothing the Mets have comes close.

With the Mets’ roots planted from the Dodgers and Giants, I wonder wasn’t the interest primarily about fans of the two teams coming out to Shea Stadium to see their old favorites rather than a disdain for either?

Coming into the National League in 1962 with Houston, one would have thought Mets-Astros would materialize, but the teams were so bad until the Mets came out of nowhere in 1969 to win the World Series. That was the same year Major League Baseball realigned into two divisions.

The Astros were just another stop on the schedule until they played in a dramatic NLCS in 1986, won by the Mets. But the sparks from that series turned to be dying embers.

However, Mets’ rivalries varied by the decade.

In 1969 into the early 1970s it was the Cubs. It was the Cardinals in the 1980s. There was compelling baseball played against the Barry Bonds’ Pirates in the early 1990s, but later in the decade and into the 2000s until now the Braves and Phillies created the most tension.

However, the temperature against the Braves and Phillies mostly depended on who is hot at the time. With all three playing under .500, are you really hooked when they play? The same goes for Washington. It’s been ten years since the NL East went down to the final weekend.

What about the Yankees, you ask?

The Yankees’ “rivalry’’ is a manufactured product created by interleague play. They don’t compete in the same division, just in the same city and for the back pages on the tabloids.

Interleague has run its course. It only matters against the Yankees in the World Series.

Let me ask you: When the schedule comes out which games do you circle?

Nov 20

Mets Release Partial Spring Training Schedule

The Mets released a partial spring training schedule this afternoon with 12 dates still to be filled in. This spring the Mets at a home-and-home with the Yankees, and so far four games against the champion Astros. The schedule also features games against the Braves, Cardinals and Nationals.

Feb. 23 Braves at PSL

Feb. 24 Cardinals at PSL

Feb. 25 Marlins at PSL

Feb. 26 Astros at West Palm Beach

Feb. 27 TBA

Feb. 28 Braves at Disney

Mar. 1  TBA

Mar. 2  Nationals at PSL

Mar. 2  Astros at West Palm Beach

Mar. 3  Marlins at Jupiter

Mar. 4  TBA

Mar. 5  TBA

Mar. 6 TBA

Mar. 7  Yankees at PSL

Mar. 8  Nationals at West Palm Beach

Mar. 9   Tigers at Lakeland

Mar. 10 Yankees at Tampa

Mar. 11 Astros at PSL

Mar. 12 TBA

Mar. 13 Nationals at West Palm Beach

Mar. 14  Marlins at Jupiter

Mar. 15 Marlins at PSL

Mar. 16 TBA

Mar. 17 Nationals at West Palm Beach

Mar. 18 Orioles at Sarasota

Mar. 19 Astros at West Palm Beach

Mar. 20 Cardinals at Jupiter

Mar. 21 TBA

Mar. 22 Nationals at PSL

Mar. 23 Cardinals at PSL

Mar. 24 Cardinals at Jupiter

Mar. 25 TBA

Mar. 26 TBA

Mar. 27 TBA

Mar. 28 TBA

Mar. 29 REGULAR SEASON STARTS

Sep 25

Apple Doesn’t Rise On Record-Setting Homer

The Mets established a franchise record when Travis d’Arnaud hit the team’s 219th homer in the eighth inning. So, what accompanied the record-setting moment could best be described as “typical Mets’’ when the Home Run Apple failed to rise.

That prompted the scarce crowd to chant for the Apple, which resulted in a Bronx cheer when it finally was raised.

Just curious, but could the Apple have been damaged when Daniel Murphys homer struck the casing? It would have been apropos.

The homer gave the Mets a three-run lead, which turned out to be very important as the Braves scored twice in the ninth against Jeurys Familia.

Mets starters sharp: Chris Flexen’s line of four runs in five innings, looked worse than it really was. Three of those runs came in the sixth when Josh Smoker gave up those inherited runners, which was the decisive point in the 9-2 loss in Game 1 of the doubleheader.

What I don’t understand is why manager Terry Collins waited so long to replace Flexen. Why would Collins keep Flexen in the game to load the bases, with two of the runners coming on walks?

One criticism of Collins is that he has stuck with his starters too long, forcing the bullpen to enter with little-to-no wiggle room. Collins has to have a better understanding of how long his starters would pitch. He had to know Flexen wasn’t going to make it through the sixth after the leadoff hitter reached on a single.

In the second game, Seth Lugo struck out seven and gave up two hits in six scoreless innings.

Collins said Lugo will get another appearance to make another impression before the offseason, but wouldn’t say how.

If Collins sticks to the rotation order, it would be Saturday in Philadelphia, but he hasn’t defined how he’ll use Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey.