Nov 05

Extending My Apologies To Sandy Alderson

In my coverage of the Mets, from my days as a newspaper reporter to this blog, I have been a proponent for being stand-up. I have applauded David Wright, Daniel Murphy, ,manager Terry Collins and others for accepting responsibility when things go wrong.

ALDERSON: You have reason to smile. (AP)

ALDERSON: You have reason to smile. (AP)

And, I have been critical of Matt Harvey for not always doing the same.

Given that, I must hold myself to the same standards and admit I was wrong on GM Sandy Alderson on several issues this year. Among them:

* Not having a concrete plan for Harvey as to his innings limit, or at least, not being open with it.

* For his reluctance to promote outfield prospect Michael Conforto from the minor leagues when the team was in a woeful hitting slump.

* For seemingly dragging his feet on bringing in a bat at the trade deadline. And, when the Carlos Gomez trade with Milwaukee fell through, Alderson deserves considerable credit for despite the rapidly approaching deadline, kicking the tires on Jay Bruce from Cincinnati before landing Yoenis Cespedes.

The bottom line: No Cespedes, no playoffs.

Alderson told us to be patient and rewarded us.

When the Harvey news broke, Alderson went with the flow and worked with the appropriate parties to make sure it wasn’t a lingering problem. And, well Conforto made the most with his opportunity and in addition to gaining valuable experience, helped the Mets to the World Series.

He’s expected to be a starter next season and the Mets are far ahead because they already have a book on him. In both cases, Alderson did what he was supposed to do, which was act in a manner that made the Mets better. Nobody can ask for more.

There’s no rest for him as he’ll be attending the general managers meetings next week. Next year has already begun and with it a myriad of issues, from rebuilding a bullpen, and making hard decisions on Cespedes, Murphy, the middle infield and ascertaining where things are with Wright’s back.

I’ll voice my opinion as I always do, but for now, Alderson deserves to savor this season without my two cents.

So, cheers to you Mr. Alderson for making me, and countless Mets fans, eat our words. Your instincts about this team were correct and I was wrong. You had one hell of a year.


Aug 28

High Flying Mets Due For Letdown Loss

Even after blowing another Matt Harvey start Friday night, a lot of things are breaking for the Mets these days and it is adding up to a wonderful summer. If it keeps going like this, it could be a great October.

For example:

HARVEY: Another no-decision. (Getty)

HARVEY: Another no-decision. (Getty)

* For most of his tenure as general manager, Sandy Alderson sat on his hands at the trade deadline, but this year brought in Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard.

Perhaps the most defining, at least in regard to the tweaking of the Mets, was when the Wilmer Flores-for-Carlos Gomez trade fell through and Alderson was able to get Cespedes.

In May and June, and much of July, the Mets hungered for runs. But they’ve been mashing lately, and despite falling behind by three runs and down to their last out, the Mets fought back and the game ended with the winning run on base. Still, four days after hitting a club record eight homers in Philly, they were able to do little with the 12 walks the Red Sox gave them. That can’t happen if they make the playoffs.

* Speaking of Clippard, he fell into the Mets’ hands after blockhead Jenrry Mejia‘s second drug suspension. The Mets have bullpen problems, but not having an eighth-inning set-up reliever could be devastating. Now, the problem is filling in the seventh and this is where not having Mejia hurts.

On Friday they were forced to go with Carlos Torres the day after he pitched multiple innings against the Phillies. Not wanting to extend Harvey and not comfortable with his bullpen options, the Mets had to stay with Torres. This will be an issue in the playoffs.

* After not having David Wright for nearly five months, he homered in his first at-bat, but more importantly has been able to catch up to the speed of the game defensively.

* After Harvey was skipped and given 11 days of rest, there was some wonder as how he would do Friday night against Boston, but six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts answered that question. Of course, in watching the Mets blow the game, the nagging question about monitoring innings resurfaced. If he stayed in for another inning could extra innings have been avoided?

Perhaps, but Collins made a point to emphasize that in the playoffs he would have stayed with Harvey.

So many good things have happened for the Mets lately, including losing on the same day Washington lost. The NL East isn’t a given because we’ve seen leads slip away before, but before that harrowing thought takes seed, first we must look at Friday night as a simple speed bump.

After all, Jacob deGrom is pitching Saturday.


Aug 04

What’s Future Of Lagares With Mets?

Let’s assume the Mets succeed in signing Yoenis Cespedes to a contract extension. Then factor in Michael Conforto for a spot next year – you know he won’t make the Opening Day roster as a role player.

LAGARES: Where does he fit? (AP)

LAGARES: Where does he fit? (AP)

And, with Michael Cuddyer signed for one more year and Curtis Granderson for two, what does that mean for Juan Lagares?

After his 2014 Gold Glove Award season, in an unprecedented move for them, the Mets signed Lagares to a five-year deal based primarily on defense and the hope he hits. For the most part Lagares remains an offensive liability with a propensity for striking out, a lack of plate patience and low on-base percentage.

Cespedes, Cuddyer, Granderson and Conforto all represent an offensive upside over Lagares. That the Mets attempted to deal him to Milwaukee in the botched Carlos Gomez trade speaks volumes of the regrets the Mets are having. This is even more underscored by the Mets’ willingness to try Cespedes in center field.

If the Mets sign Cespedes, we can figure them trying to deal Lagares this winter, and with it a virtual certainty he won’t last the five years of his contract.

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.

May 17

Reflecting On The Mets Last Week

At the beginning of the week, after winning two of three in Philadelphia, I wrote the Mets could snap out of their funk with consecutive series against the Cubs and Brewers. I thought they had the opportunity to stabilize their batting order and get their offense on a roll. Well, it could have happened.

SYNDERGAARD: Solid again. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Solid again. (AP)

Here’s what I took from the past week:

* Noah Syndergaard took scoreless efforts into the sixth inning today and Monday. I was impressed with how he responded from beaning Carlos Gomez. He gave up a RBI single to Ryan Braun, but limited the damage to one run. Many pitchers, veterans included, could get rattled after hitting a batter like that, but not Syndergaard.

After the game, Syndergaard said: “I’d love to stay, so I’m going to do everything possible to stay up here. I watched [Jacob] deGrom last night pretty heavily and saw how he attacked hitters, and tried to transfer it over to the next day.”

If he keeps attacking batters like that, there’s little doubt he will stay.

* They easily could have won three of four in Chicago. The one that stings the most, of course, was Matt Harvey’s game.

As I watched Carlos Torres give it up that night, I couldn’t help but think of those who ripped my columns about preserving Harvey’s innings. A quick question: What would you have preferred, Harvey staying in against the Cubs and possibly winning, or remaining in to pitch a complete game against the Yankees, which he didn’t?

The answer is a no-brainer.

* The bullpen started the season as a positive, but has soured. Injuries have been a big part, but there has to be a reliable bridge to Jeurys Familia and there’s not. They can’t say things will get better when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black return, because nobody can say when that will be or if they will be productive when they do.

* The offense appeared to get going the last two games, ignited by homers from Curtis Granderson. I am wondering, as Granderson’s power emerges, whether Terry Collins will leave him at the top of the order or move him down to the run-producing slots.

It is, however, premature to think all is well with their bats, because they start a four-game series Monday with the Cardinals, who by the way, have pitching far superior to Milwaukee’s.

* They really miss David Wright, who is supposed to begin baseball activities this week, perhaps as soon as Monday. Then again, they’ve said that before. Wright was having a good year when he was injured, and although he hasn’t hit with great power the past few years, his presence does offer stability and would reduce the juggling.

That being said, the Mets have won when Eric Campbell is in the lineup. They should leave him hitting second and see where it goes.

Also, your guess is as good as mine, or Collins’, as where Daniel Murphy will hit next. He’s been all over the place.

* It will be like this all season for Wilmer Flores. He’ll make errors and follow it up with a big game at the plate. For all the criticism he gets, it was sweet to see him respond with the grand slam.

* I don’t like the pitcher in the eighth slot, but they’ve won the past two games with it so they might as well stick with it for a while. Don’t mess with a streak, regardless of how short it is.

* Bartolo Colon was eventually going to hit a rough stretch, and might be on it now.

* The Mets opened the season with Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the bench because he was out of options. With a .081 batting average, his time remaining with the Mets could be short.

After beating the Brewers today, the Mets hold a slim one-game lead over Washington with the sixth-best record in the major leagues. It is a tenuous lead at best, especially with the Cardinals and Pirates coming up.