Aug 11

Liking how Collins handled Niese

After winning the first two games of this series, coming away with a split is definitely disappointing. It’s not as if the Mets had a realistic chance to catch the Braves for the wild-card, but after losing seven of their last 10 they are now 10.5 games behind Atlanta.

NIESE: Keeps on growing.

After another one-run loss this afternoon (that’s 18 on the season), they are headed to Arizona and San Diego, where it won’t be easy. The Mets are at their point of the season where the goals are fundamental, such as finishing above .500 and making value judgments on the future.

With the latter, I liked how Terry Collins handled Jonathan Niese this afternoon. Collins gave Niese 122 pitches worth of rope and stuck with him in the eighth when most managers would have been seduced by the pitch count and gone the conventional route.

Most managers would have yanked Niese after Cameron Maybin’s leadoff single, and definitely after the stolen base. Then, after an intentional walk and double steal, Jerry Manuel might have been on his second reliever.

With runners on second and third, Collins gave Niese a strong vote of confidence and allowed him to pitch to Aaron Cunningham. Perhaps it was a vote of non-confidence in the bullpen, but this was important to Niese’s development.

Cunningham grounded a ball to Ruben Tejada, who, instead of getting in front of the ball, tried to one-hand it. The ball went off the heel of his glove and Niese was on his way to becoming the hard-luck loser.

Even so, Niese got the ground ball he needed, indirectly rewarding Collins’ confidence.

A couple of years ago teams called the Mets asking for Niese and they wisely eschewed. It was one of Omar Minaya’s better decisions.

Niese still has a way to go, but this was definitely something to build on.

 

 

Aug 06

Reyes coming to Earth?

Jose Reyes said he’s 100 percent, but he’s not really. He’s not been the player he was before going on the disabled list with a hamstring, and while he’s still had a good year, he once again served reminder of the dangers of giving him a long-term contract in the neighborhood of seven years.

REYES: Vulnerabilities showing.

The offensive rap on Reyes has always been giving away too many at-bats at the plate and falling back into bad habits, such as pulling off the ball and adopting an uppercut swing.

What were line drives and crisp ground balls have turned into weak fly balls and pop ups. He’s taking a 2-for-13 slide into tonight’s game against the Braves, including nine fly ball outs.

Reyes has had had a marvelous season and somebody will give him a payday this winter. If not the Mets, then somebody.

However, two things have surfaced to warrant caution in anybody dealing with Reyes, with the first being his propensity to injury and breaking down.

He hasn’t played in 150 games since 2008, and since 2003 has only logged at least 150 games four times. From 2005 through 2008, Reyes had at least 56 stolen bases.

For a player who makes his living with his legs, there are breakdown signs for the 28-year-old Reyes.

With his health always a concern, so is his performance. Players will always have slides and slumps, but there are still holes in Reyes’ game that indicate Carl Crawford money of $142 million over seven years – which Fred Wilpon said he would not get – will be unattainable.

After three years of leading the NL in stolen bases, he has 32 now, his most in four years. His on-base percentage on .376 is the highest of his career, but how much is that playing for the contract? His career .339 on-base is more representative of his capabilities, and that’s not worthy of Crawford money. I don’t know if it is worth more than a $100,000 million package.

He’s never walked more than 77 times in his career and has only drawn 29 this summer. His career strikeouts-to-walks ratio is 498 to 319.

Reyes is a good player having a good season, but as the last few weeks have shown, there are vulnerabilities in his game that say Wilpon might have been right all along.

 

Jul 27

REPORT: Beltran to Giants.

Although the Mets haven’t confirmed it, several media outlets are reporting the team agreed to a deal with San Francisco for outfielder Carlos Beltran in exchange for top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler.

In addition, the Mets will pay $4 million of the roughly $6.5 million remaining on Beltran’s contract.

Calls to the Mets and Beltran’s agent, Scott Boras, have not been returned.

Beltran has been held out of the lineup for tonight’s game at Cincinnati, and manager Terry Collins expects the deal to be finalized by tomorrow. Beltran has 24 hours to approve the trade. Beltran has not reported to the Mets’ clubhouse in Cincinnati.

With Beltran in the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract – and with his contract not allowing arbitration and subsequently compensatory draft picks – it was a formality coming out of spring training Beltran would be dealt.

Five teams – the Giants, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston and Texas – emerged as the favorites, but Boras said the determining factor was which team has the best chance to win.

It had been speculated with catcher Brian McCann’s injury last night Atlanta might sweeten its offer, but the Braves held firm on not wanting to part with their pitching prospects.

Likewise, Alderson held his ground on demanding a top pitching prospect, which defines Wheeler, 21, who throws a fastball in the mid-90s with a fall-off-the-table curveball and a change-up with movement.

Some scouting reports have Wheeler three years away – he’s currently in Single A – but that’s to be expected for such a young prospect.

In the end, Alderson made the best possible deal considering his limitations. Beltran was going to walk at the end of the year and the Mets would not get any compensation.

 

Jul 27

McCann injury could open way to Beltran deal to Braves.

The latest has the Mets closest to working out a deal involving Carlos Beltran to San Francisco or Texas, with Philadelphia and Boston lagging behind. But, that’s now and four days remain.

McCANN: Injury could shift Braves' priorities.

The Braves have been adamant about not giving up their prime pitching prospects, notably Mike Minor or Julio Teheran.

However, out of necessity, their thinking might have changed with last night’s 19-inning victory over Pittsburgh when they lost catcher Brian McCann indefinitely with an oblique strain. These are tricky injuries, as Mets’ fans are aware of with Jose Reyes. Two weeks on the DL could easily become three or four.

With Chipper Jones’ knee ailing, and Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth not hitting, the Braves are in desperate need of a power bat, which might cause them to reconsider at least Minor.

The Braves sought offense even before McCann’s injury, and now their needs are more pressing. They are the frontrunners for the wild-card and have enough pitching to win in the playoffs. But, they need to get there first, and that will take some runs.

Publicly, the Braves are saying they aren’t close with the Mets on Beltran, but privately it is another matter.

Beltran’s agent is Scott Boras and so far he has not made any indication of wanting to make a deal contingent on a contract extension, so this will mean nothing more than a rental.

 

Jul 27

Today in Mets’ History: Trio of homers pound Braves.

One characteristic of the 1986 Mets was their explosiveness. Not only did they dominate with pitching and the ability to manufacture runs, but they could take over a game with one big inning.

On this day in 1986, that inning was the third when the Mets broke through for five runs on consecutive homers from Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry and Kevin Mitchell en route to a 5-1 victory at Atlanta.

Rick Aguilera gave up eight hits in the complete-game effort.

With the victory the Mets moved to 64-30 as they ran away with the NL East.

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