Jun 11

June 11, Mets’ Lineup At Milwaukee

The Mets will try to make it four straight this afternoon in Milwaukee behind Logan Verrett. The Mets were beyond fortunate to win last night, 2-1 in 11 innings, mostly because the Brewers had a mind cramp in the field.
Matt Harvey had his third straight strong start and Yoenis Cespedes homered to overcome the Mets’ horrendous situational hitting, going 1-for-12 with RISP and stranding 11.
Here’s the order:
Curtis Granderson – RF: Has 11 homers but only 18 RBI. If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know about his production, then try this one: 3-for-35 (.086) with RISP.
Michael Conforto – LF: He was supposed to be the No. 3 hitter, but is now batting second. Of his 29 RBI, 13 have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead.
Cespedes – CF: His slump is over as he’s 7-for-15 in his last three games. Hit his 16th homer Friday.
Neil Walker – 2B: Has 13 homers with 25 RBI and batting .297 with RISP. Makes you think he’ll be walking this winter.
James Loney – 1B: Filled the void left by Lucas Duda‘s injury. Has hit better (.286 RISP) than people expected.
Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Was the No. 2 when David Wright went down, but that seems by the boards, too. Lifetime .300 hitter vs. Brewers.
Wilmer Flores – 3B: Is batting .500 (13-26) since taking over at third base. Has seven hits in the last three games.
Rene Rivera – C: Was reported to be Harvey’s catcher, but didn’t play Friday. Turns out it didn’t matter. Mets are 9-5 when he starts.
Verrett – RHP: Took a loss, May 14 at Colorado, in his last start. It’s like he’s pitching against the Mets when there’s RISP.  Hitters batting .167 with RISP against him.
May 22

Mets’ First Base Options Without Duda

UPDATED TO INCLUDE CONFORTO CORRECTION

Didn’t the Mets learn anything dealing with David Wright‘s back issue? Apparently not, as there still hasn’t been a decision how to deal with Lucas Duda‘s back problems that might be a disk. Despite sweeping the Brewers, the Mets’ offense continues to sputter and I’m guessing they’ll make a DL move before the Washington series.

It is a huge mistake if they don’t.

DUDA: What will they do if they don't have him? (AP)

DUDA: What will they do if they don’t have him? (AP)

Duda did not play the last two games and has been abysmal in May, going 7-for-41 with only one RBI and 11 strikeouts in his last 13 games. With three games against the Nationals, they’ll need every bit of offense they can get.

“It’s pretty concerning,” manager Terry Collins told reporters Sunday. “He tried to go out the last two games and play and it was still bothering him.”

Back problems which Wright can attest to linger and Duda won’t get much better, if at all, before Monday’s game. That’s why I’m thinking they’ll DL him. Assuming that’s the case and this drags on, what are the Mets’ possible first-base options?

STATUS QUO: In the short term they can continue to use Eric Campbell until Wilmer Flores comes off the DL at the end of the week. Campbell has played well in spots replacing Duda and before that, Wright. However, as was the case last year when Wright went down, Campbell’s flaws get exposed over time. The same could apply to Flores, whose playing time is greatly reduced this year and how he’ll take to first base is unknown.

Considering their history this is the path of least resistance and the course I imagine the Mets first taking.

Another bench option could be Alejandro De Aza, but there’s the issue of his experience at the position.

CONFORTO: It is totally outside the box thinking to tinker with Michael Conforto. It’s a risk to take a player unproven at a position and move him during the season. First base is not as easy as people think as Conforto will have to learn to hold runners, field bunts and become proficient with cutoffs and relays. Plus grounders will come at him a lot faster than they do in the outfield.

Mickey Mantle and Carl Yastrzemski moved at the end of their careers, but with the advantage of knowing they’d switch and had a spring training to learn the position. A plus is it could improve the outfield defense by moving Yoenis Cespedes to left – where he won a Gold Glove – and playing Juan Lagares in center, where he also won a Gold Glove.

WRIGHT: Just because he plays one corner infield position doesn’t mean he can play the other. It should be easier for Wright because it is an infield position and he’s used to fielding hard grounders. Even so, he’d still have to learn the same nuances as Conforto.

However, if this turns into a long-term thing with Duda it would be worth exploring because Wright’s back has hindered his defense, in particular when it comes to throwing. There might come a time, and it could occur sooner than later, this move might merit serious consideration.

If Duda’s injury sidelines him the way Wright’s benched him for four months, it would be prudent for the Mets to test Wright at first as to get a handle on their options. And, as is usually the case, economics will factor into the equation.

Duda will make $6.7 million this year and is arbitration eligible after next season and be a free-agent after 2018. The Mets don’t have the financial commitment to Duda that they do with Wright to whom they owe $67 million – not including this year – through 2020.

Wright’s health will always be a question and since his retirement isn’t an imminent issue the more they know about his ability to play – or not play – first base is important.

SMITH: The Mets are counting on Dominic Smith as their long-term answer with the assumption Wright doesn’t emerge as an option. Smith, the Mets’ 2013 first-round pick, is currently at Double-A, where he’s hitting less than .280.

Yes, I know they pushed the envelope with Conforto, who brought up from Double-A, but two months later in the season. Could Smith make the jump? It’s possible, but it’s no slam dunk.

I wouldn’t be adverse to bringing up Smith for a look-see. I’m not worried about his confidence being impacted if he struggles, because if he’s as good as the Mets hope he’ll become, then he should be strong enough mentally to overcome a rough stretch.

THE TRADE MARKET: There are numerous options in the free-agent market this winter who might be available in a trade at the deadline should their teams want to make a deal for a prospect.

An intriguing possibility is to coax Adam LaRoche out of retirement – it would be a package deal with his son – but could necessitate sending something to the White Sox. That’s way outside the box, but it wouldn’t hurt to explore.

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Jul 31

Alderson Rallies At Deadline

After arguably one of the most frustrating 48-hour periods in franchise history, Mets GM Sandy Alderson rallied at the trade deadline by securing slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit for pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

The deal came on the heels of a trade Wednesday for Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez that culminated with Mets infielder Wilmer Flores – who, along with Zack Wheeler, was going to the Brewers – breaking down in tears while taking his position in the field. The next day, the Mets blew a six-run lead while losing to San Diego.

So, with the trade deadline ticking down, Alderson went for broke and came up with an enigma of a player who could be exactly what the Mets need – if his head is screwed on correctly – before he becomes a free agent after the season.

“We’re going for it,” Alderson said. “He’s a very dynamic player. We think he’s going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived.”

Cespedes had been linked to the Mets before, and Alderson is right, he can be a dynamic player. However, at 29, the Mets will be his fourth team. That’s a lot and raises questions, in particular: What’s wrong with him that somebody with that much talent can’t find a home?

Cespedes is hitting .293 with 18 homers and 62 RBI, that would put him at the top of the Mets’ leaderboards.

Alderson has taken considerable criticism, including from me, about his inactivity, and I was especially vocal after the Gomez deal fell through. Numerous reports said it was financial, with the Mets wanting the Brewers to eat part of Gomez’s salary, which was highly plausible considering the Mets’ and Alderson’s reputation. However, today Alderson said it was concern about Gomez’s healthy, although the Houston Astros had no such problems. But, in fairness to the Mets, different medical staffs can have varying opinions.

Although I have concerns with Cespedes, he might not be here next season for it to become an issue. What’s important is that waiting for the Mets to act like a contender, they are doing just that – good for them.

 

 

 

Jul 30

Alderson Has Considerable Apologizing To Do

Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins were quick to blame social media for Wednesday’s trade that fell through which would have sent Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. Alderson said he apologized to the visibly upset Flores for how things transpired, which makes me wonder if he has any intent to apologize to his manager, his players and Mets fans for what could be the very real possibility of blowing a chance at the playoffs.

ALDERSON: Blows Gomez trade. (AP)

ALDERSON: Blows Gomez trade. (AP)

Gomez would have been a terrific addition, one which would have filled four voids: right-handed power bat; leadoff hitter; speed; and center fielder.

The names were agreed upon, but as often is the case with Alderson, no trade was made because he wanted to win the deal.

Several reports surfaced as to why the deal fizzled. First, there was concern by the Brewers over Wheeler’s elbow. Then, there was a reported issue of Gomez’s hip. Then it was Gomez’s abductor muscle. (Apparently Gomez’s health wasn’t an issue to the Houston Astros, who swooped in like a big-market franchise to finalize a trade with Milwaukee today).

Then, reports out of Milwaukee surfaced – and befitting the Mets’ reputation it is totally believable – Alderson wanted a draft pick, which the Brewers nixed. Then, the Mets wanted Milwaukee to eat some of Gomez’s salary, which would have amounted to roughly $12 million for a year-and-a-half. That much for a two-time All-Star who has won a Gold Glove and has hit over 20 homers with over 30 steals is a bargain.

The Mets should be ashamed for trying to put the financial screws to the Brewers. Only, because Alderson wanted to win the trade, instead he got nothing and there are only a few hours left.

Not only did they blow this trade, but looked terrible in hanging Flores out to dry. Everybody saw Flores break down, but this could have been avoided had Alderson had an open dialogue with Collins. After the game, Collins said he kept Flores in the game because he never got word from Alderson to pull him. Collins said he didn’t know what was going on, and Flores learned from yells from the crowd and comments from his teammates.

However, once again Alderson kept his manager in the dark, which further leads to the disconnect between the two. As with the batting order coming out of spring training (with Curtis Granderson hitting first), the six-man rotation fiasco, and of course, the lack of a plan regarding Matt Harvey‘s innings, there doesn’t appear much communication between Alderson and Collins.

This time, Alderson’s penchant for ignoring his manager not only embarrassed Flores, but may have lead to a botched trade that could keep the Mets out of the playoffs.

Yeah, Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager, according to his biographer – needs to apologize to a lot more people than just Flores.

It is shameful what happened.

Jun 13

Mets Can’t Count On Wright’s Return

When Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he would consider trading for strictly a third baseman, he might as well have said he’s not expecting David Wright to return any time soon, or at all this year. That is how they should handle it.

The Mets said Wright would stay in California for the next several weeks. If his rehab progresses, then it won’t be until after the All-Star break before he’ll even see minor league games. If you figure at least three weeks of games, then we’re talking into August before he’s activated.

FREESE: Available. (AP)

FREESE: Available. (AP)

By that time the trade deadline will have passed. And, of course, we have no idea of how he’ll play when he comes back, or if there will be a setback.

Alderson told Newsday he has to be open to trading for a third baseman.

“Would we consider a third baseman who can’t do anything else?’’ Alderson said. “Under the circumstances, yeah, we probably would. But we’re not just looking for any third baseman. It has to be something we think is an improvement that doesn’t cost us significantly.’’

Translation: They don’t want to pay.

The current flavor of the month is Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez, which is a bad idea on several levels. The 36-year-old Ramirez, who indicated he will retire after the season, is hitting only .211 with seven homers and 19 RBI. For that, Ramirez is being paid $14 million.

The Mets don’t want to trade a significant prospect and assume that much salary. So, unless the Brewers get bowled over by an offer, they are likely to wait this out until the end of July, figuring somebody might bite.

Milwaukee probably won’t eat a significant portion of Ramirez’s salary unless they get a decent prospect. The better the prospect, the more of Ramirez’s contract they’ll assume.

The third baseman I’m most intrigued with is the Angels’ David Freese, who will be a free agent this winter. The 32-year-old Freese is making $6.4 million, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot of money.

What the Angels want in return is uncertain, but he’s the guy I would want, and if it turns out Wright won’t come back, or is moved to the outfield next year, Freese could hang around for a few years. The problem, as it always is with the Mets, is how much they are willing to pay in terms of players and salary.

It seems they want to pay prospective free agents as if they are college students on an internship, meaning they don’t want to pay.