Apr 12

It Will Take Pitching To Continue This Ride

There has been a lot to like about the Mets’ start, specifically their 10-1 record. I never expected this. Nobody did. But, it is early in the season. There are a lot of games left to be played.

As much as many of you would like to, it’s too early to bury the Yankees. It’s also too early to be thinking about anything past this weekend’s series against the Brewers.

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to go longer. (SNY)

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to go longer. (SNY)

A lot can happen between now and October, and it all won’t go as smoothly as they have over the past two weeks. There are slumps, and injuries, and the Washington Nationals taking off.

All that stuff will take place, or it might not. It is possible all that went right will continue to go right.

The Mets will go as far as their pitching takes them and so far it has been good, but only Zack Wheeler on Wednesday, is the only one to pitch seven full innings. That needs to change to save the bullpen. All of their starters have run into that one terrible inning when they throw between 20 and 30 pitches, and that includes Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Syndergaard went overboard lifting weights because he wanted to be strong to last longer in games. It took a partially-torn lat muscle to convince Syndergaard that was the wrong approach. The ability to last longer in games stems from improved command. Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland have done a terrific job as evidenced by 117 strikeouts and only 36 walks, and a 1.10 staff WHIP. If that trend continues the Mets should be in good shape.

As for Syndergaard, he has thrown 267 pitches in his three starts, that’s 89 pitches per start, which is way too many if he is to last more than six innings.

DeGrom has worked six innings twice, but Matt Harvey and Steven Matz have not worked past the fifth.

The bullpen,  notably Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, have picked up the slack. The rest of the bullpen, including Hansel Robles, has been exceptional.

However, the innings can accumulate, and it is up to the starters, to work the sixth and into the seventh.

That is how this ride will to continue.

Jan 26

Small-Market Brewers Shame Mets

The Milwaukee Brewers have long been regarded as a small-market franchise while the Mets play in the country’s largest market. Yet, events over the past 24 hours paint the two franchises with different brushes: The Brewers as a team that wants to win while the Mets continue to take the cheap way out and give their fans no reason to come out this summer.

In a span of less than two hours last night the Brewers engineered a trade for outfielder Christian Yelich, a budding superstar, and then signed outfielder Lorenzo Cain to the largest free-agent contract of the winter.

Either of those moves separately would have improved the Mets, who yesterday signed Jose Reyes for $2 million to play a utility infield role if they sign either Todd Frazier or Neil Walker or Eduardo Nunez.  Any of those three combined with Reyes won’t substantially elevate the Mets to contending status.

As of now, the Mets can only be projected to finish ahead of Derek Jeter’s dumpster fire in Miami, who had scuttled their team to save money. In addition to the revenue the Marlins will make from the television networks, they will get another $50 million from the sale of MLB Advanced Media.

So, what Jeter is doing is what George Steinbrenner always hated – and something he always accused the Mets of doing – which is pocket the money derived from the networks and revenue sharing and not put it back into improving the team.

The Brewers ponied up four prospects for Yelich and $80 million over five years for Cain, prices that would force GM Sandy Alderson hang up the phone.

 

 

Nov 28

A Neil Walker Reunion Not A Good Idea

It was a good idea when the Mets first acquired Neil Walker, although I would have preferred they kept Daniel Murphy. A reunion is not a good idea despite the Mets’ crying need for a second baseman.

WALKER: Pass on seconds. (AP)

WALKER: Pass on seconds. (AP)

When the Mets dealt Walker to the Brewers, it was after he accepted a $17.2-million qualifying offer. Walker accepted the offer after negotiations with the Mets broke down. One can reasonably conclude Walker might have hard feelings toward the Mets.

To come back to the Mets expect Walker to want at least two years. Considering his back issues, that’s not a gamble worth taking.

It makes sense if the Mets were expected to contend next summer, but do you really expect them to make up the 22 games they need to get back to .500?

That’s an incredible jump I don’t expect them to make. If the Mets were a serious contender, I’d rather they go after Jason Kipnis or Dee Gordon, or even Ian Kinsler, as has been speculated. Kinsler, 35, has two years left on his contract with Detroit, that will pay him $22 million. The money is doable, but should the Mets commit to a middle infielder at his age?

If age weren’t a consideration, how about Chase Utley, who is 38 but made only $2 million last year. Utley to the Mets would be a delicious sense of irony

Kipnis and Gordon would cost too much both in terms of prospects and/or money, so I don’t see the Mets going that route.

Who then?

The cheapest options are Asdrubal Cabrera, or Jose Reyes, or T.J. Rivera in a platoon with Wilmer Flores.

Aug 12

Walker Is Latest Former Met

The last time the Mets nearly traded an infielder to Milwaukee produced the iconic snapshot of Wilmer Flores crying at his shortstop position. There was no such image tonight with the breaking news the Mets had traded Neil Walker to the Brewers for a player to be named later.

Tonight’s optic was a video of Walker leaving the Mets’ clubhouse in a golf cart, presumably to the team hotel to pack before flying to Milwaukee to join a pennant race.

WALKER: Another good one is gone. (AP)

                               WALKER: Another good one is gone. (AP)

By the time the Mets lost to the Phillies, 3-1, the deal had not yet been announced.

Despite playing with significant injuries – and undergoing back surgery last offseason – Walker was a consummate professional, just as Jay Bruce was, and exceeded his run production expectations since acquiring him after the 2015 season from Pittsburgh.

Walker, acquired when the Mets didn’t re-sign Daniel Murphy after his historic 2015 postseason, hit 23 homers last year in an injury-shortened 2016. After not drawing interest in the free-agent market, Walker signed a $17.2-million qualifying offer last winter.

At one point this season the Mets said they’d consider bringing back Walker, but such talk quickly died on the vine as their season slipped away.

With a glut of infielders, there was no way the Mets would bring him back, and since players-to-be-named are mostly bottom-tier prospects at best, this was nothing more than a salary dump, even with them picking up a portion of the remaining $4.7 million left on Walker’s contract.

The Mets were close to trading Walker to the Yankees at the July 31 deadline, but the latter backed out reportedly concerned with his medical records. In addition to his back surgery in the winter, Walker missed six weeks this season with a hamstring injury.

A season that began with such optimism continued to unravel for the Mets. A team many thought could return to the World Series, has rid itself of Walker, Bruce, Addison Reed and Lucas Duda, in addition to losing for long periods on the disabled list of David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud and Jeurys Familia.

Jun 01

Mets Wrap: Flores Needs To Play

I’m tired of Terry Collins saying Wilmer Flores has worked hard to stay ready, and whenever he gets an opportunity he produces for the Mets.

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

If so, then why isn’t he playing every day?

Several times I laid out a format where he could play at least four games a week – playing one game at each infield position – which Collins has no interest in trying. If not this, then at least start him over Jose Reyes, whose time with the Mets should be nearing an end after their 2-1 loss today to the Brewers.

Flores homered leading off the eighth today, after a blistering May in which he hit .379, third best in the Major Leagues. He started 14 games for the month and had nine multi-hit games.

“I’m seeing the pitches and getting good swings,” Flores said.

Conversely, Reyes has only eight multi-hit games all season. He’s currently on a 0-for-15 slide, and is hitting .193 with a .266 on-base percentage.

It’s clear Reyes isn’t giving the Mets anything, while Flores has provided some punch whenever he gets a chance.

With the Mets six games under .500 and fading, what do they have to lose?

WHEELER START WASTED: Zack Wheeler gave up 10 hits with two walks in 6.1 innings, throwing 102 pitches. However, three double-plays (4-5-6) gave him the opportunity to pitch into the seventh.

“He really did pitch good,” Collins said. “He got out of some jams. He’s back. He’s fine as we continue on.”

I love how Wheeler works out of trouble, but I’m not wild about his high pitch counts, especially since he’s on an innings count.

“All I can ask is for me being healthy,” Wheeler told reporters of his expectations.

His innings limit has been reported at 110, and he’s currently at 55.2.

EXTRA INNINGS: The loss dropped the Mets ten games behind the Nationals. … Fernando Salas did a solid job in relief of Jerry Blevins with five strikeouts in two innings. … Collins was ejected for arguing an interference call of when a ball boy got in the way of Flores’ attempt to catch a foul ball. Initially, the call was ruled an out, but was overturned (correctly so).

UP NEXT: The Pirates are in Friday for the start of a three-game series. Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman and Tyler Pill will start for the Mets.

Harvey is coming off a 7-2 victory in Pittsburgh, May 28, in which he gave up one run in six innings with only two walks in a 102-pitch effort.

In 46 career starts at Citi Field, Harvey is 16-13 with a 2.73 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates.