Sep 04

Bruce Optimistic About Move To First Base

Jay Bruce is apparently serious about first base. And, we know the Mets are about him playing the position, otherwise, Peter Alonso would be with the team. Bruce has been in touch with former Cincinnati teammate Joey Votto, and he’s sought out the Giants’ Brandon Belt and Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo for tips on the position.

BRUCE: High on first.  (AP)

BRUCE: High on first. (AP)

And, when the Mets return home he plans to talk with Keith Hernandez, a defensive wiz at the position.

`”If I am going to do this I want to be good at it, and I think I can be good at it,” Bruce said.

So far, the Mets are happy with what they’ve seen from Bruce, both on the field and with his effort in trying to learn the new position.

“I think he looks good,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He is getting more and more comfortable over there the more games he plays. I think he is going to have the whole offseason to work at this if this is the route we are going to go, and [infield coach] Gary DiSarcina and myself feel like he can do the job at first base from what we have seen so far.”

Dominic Smith will rejoin the Mets this week, but the team has cooled on him after his poor performance in the second half. When Bruce was on the disabled list Wilmer Flores got the most time at first, and Callaway said he’ll see some time this month, but September is mostly for the Mets to get a feel for Bruce at the position.

Bruce is signed through 2020 and owed another $28 million after this season. Assuming Bruce works out at first base, the  Mets anticipate Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo playing mostly in left and right field, respectively, with Austin Jackson getting a shot at center.

“Obviously [Bruce] is going to get more and more time over there and we are going to continue where he’s at,” Callaway said. “But he feels comfortable and the coaches like what they have seen so far, so we are definitely excited that he can be our first baseman next year.”

Bruce said he’s comfortable fielding the position, but he’s challenged by the positioning on bunts, relays and cutoffs.

”’I don’t think fielding the position is going to be an issue for me as far as straight-up ground balls,” Bruce said. ”I feel I can get off the bag far enough to have the range and stuff like that. But it’s going to be the nuances that are going to be the most important.”

 

 

 

Jul 04

Familia Could Be First Met To Go

It’s not hard to figure out which Mets will net the most in the trade market. That would be Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, but I don’t think either will be dealt. But, who will be first to go?

HARVEY: He could torment the Mets as a Yankee.. (AP)

HARVEY: He could torment the Mets as a Yankee.. (AP)

My guess is it will be Jeurys Familia, followed perhaps by Asdrubal Cabrera and Zack Wheeler. I think Familia would be the first because relievers are always a hot commodity this time of year, and he’ll be a free agent after this season.

And, with a $7.925 million salary that will be half paid by the deadline, he should come across as a bargain, providing, of course, he starts to pitch better.

As far Cabrera goes, he would provide a veteran presence, something all contenders need. He’s also hitting well and can play three infield positions. Boston, especially, could use an infielder.

As far as Wheeler goes, just because he hasn’t won since late April shouldn’t deter a contender needing a starter. However, it won’t be the Yankees, because the Mets are afraid of the predictable headlines in dealing with the Bronx.

The Yankees need pitching and Wheeler would help, but I’m thinking they might instead deal with Cincinnati – for Matt Harvey.

Since 2015 I’ve been writing Harvey would eventually pitch for the Yankees. This is a roundabout way of it happening, and it realistically could happen.

May 09

Mets Bat Out Of Order; Lose Again

If what happened to the Mets today in Cincinnati isn’t hitting rock bottom, well, it should be. It doesn’t get much worse than a major league team batting order, which is what occurred in the first inning of today’s 2-1 loss in ten innings to the Reds.

The lineup card coach given the umpires prior to the game by coach Ruben Amaro Jr., has Asdrubal Cabrera second and Wilmer Flores third, which was different than the one publicly. That one had Flores second and Cabrera third, which is how they appeared at the plate when Cabrera blooped a two-out double to left with Jay Bruce coming up.

After the double, Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman, informed the umpires of the discrepancy and Bruce was called out.

This should be double-checked by the bench coach, Gary Disarcina, but Callaway wouldn’t throw his coach under the bus.

“I’m responsible for that,’’ Callaway said. “It probably cost us the game.’’

Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, but stuff like this shouldn’t happen.

However, to Callaway’s credit, he got in front of it and accepted full responsibility. Rather than make excuses or blame somebody else, Callaway held himself accountable.

I’m sure nobody is happy with what’s going on with the Mets these days, but how Callaway took the blame is something that shouldn’t get lost on his team.

Wheeler Clicks With Mesoraco: Zack Wheeler and newly-acquired catcher Devin Mesoraco are off to a good start in their working relationship. With Mesoraco, who was acquired Monday for Matt Harvey, behind the plate today, Wheeler was sharp in a loss to Cincinnati.

Wheeler retired 12 straight Reds from the second through fifth innings but unraveled in the sixth. Even so, after giving up an RBI single to Joey Votto, Wheeler got out of a bases-loaded jam with only that one run given up.

Wheeler gave up one run on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in six innings in his best outing since giving up one run in seven innings, April 11, at Miami.

“I felt good,’’ Wheeler said. “I was able to hit my spots today. I did feel like I was moving a little bit quicker. I felt comfortable with him behind the plate. We were both on the same page.’’

Callaway Not Giving Up On Hitters: The Mets had a chance to win today not because of their offense, but because of Wheeler, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo pitching picked them up today.

“Our hitters will come around,” Callaway said. “We did and dig and dig, but sometimes you don’t have an answer. We’ll figure it out.”

With the exception of Cabrera’s .319 average, no Mets starter was hitting higher than Brandon Nimmo’s .255 today. Even so, Callaway is trying to be positive.

“If I were to get angry and yell at people it wouldn’t be productive,’’ Callaway said. “I think the guys have been going about things the right way and we haven’t been winning.’’

Extra Innings: Yoenis Cespedes didn’t start, but grounded out batting for Seth Lugo in the tenth. … The Mets are off tomorrow, then start a three-game series in Philadelphia. The Mets are 40-17 in their last 57 games in Philly, and have outscored the Phillies 307-186 in that span.

May 08

Mets Get Catcher For Harvey

The Mets did better than anybody expected today when they acquired catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash for Matt Harvey, who had been designated for assignment Saturday.

Catching has been a Mets’ weakness since injuries to Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud landed each on the disabled list. Mesoraco was activated for tonight’s game in Cincinnati.

The Reds will pay the remainder of Mesoraco’s $13.125 million salary and the Mets will pay the balance of Harvey’s $5.625 million contract.

Harvey will join the Reds this week in Los Angeles.

Immediate speculation, which makes a lot of sense considering Harvey will be a free agent this winter, is for the Reds to hope they can turn him around and try to trade him at the July 31 deadline. The Reds are in last place in the NL Central and it’s clear they won’t sign Harvey this offseason.

Mesoraco, 29, an All-Star in 2014, was hitting .220 with one homer and three RBI for the Reds this season. Injuries limited him to 113 games since the start of the 2015 season.

The Mets had no alternative but to DFA Harvey after he refused a minor league assignment to figure out his mechanics. In eight games, he was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA this season. Harvey was 34-37 lifetime for the Mets.

The only thing wrong with trading Harvey is that the Mets didn’t do it sooner, like after the 2015 season when he had some real value.

DeGrom Aces Bullpen: Jacob deGrom had a good up-and-down bullpen session today and is on schedule to start Sunday in Philadelphia. DeGrom hyperextended his right elbow swinging the bat last Wednesday against Atlanta.

“I feel like I am good to go,’’ deGrom said.

DeGrom is not expected to bat against the Phillies.

Frazier Goes On DL: Third baseman Todd Frazier was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Frazier is batting .237 with five homers and 21 RBI. In addition, reliever Anthony Swarzak was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

May 06

Mets Do Right Thing And Will Skip DeGrom

The Mets did two things right during their lost homestand. The first was long overdue when they designated Matt Harvey for assignment Friday. There hasn’t been a hint of remorse or regret from the Mets, or words of being missed by his former teammates.

The second came prior to the Rockies completing their sweep of the Mets today with the announcement – perhaps overdue, but certainly expected – Jacob deGrom will miss tomorrow’s start in Cincinnati.

This came the day after the Mets said he would stay in the rotation.

“The more and more we thought about it, we have to make sure that he’s totally fine,” manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. “He feels no pain and he wanted to pitch tomorrow.”

Coming up from Triple-A Las Vegas to take deGrom’s spot in the rotation against Cincinnati will be P.J. Conlon, who is killing it with a 1-2 record and 6.75 ERA in five starts this season. Last season, at Double-A Binghamton, he was 8-9 with a 3.38 ERA.

DeGrom is 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA in seven starts for the Mets.

“I said I felt like I could go, but I think the bigger picture is what we’re looking at,” deGrom said. “If you go out there and something happens, you end up missing five starts, vs. skipping one and making sure everything is fine. After talking to them, I understand the decision. Erring on the side of caution is what we’re doing.”

DeGrom will throw a 50-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, but will have intermittent rest to simulate real game conditions. Barring a setback, he will throw a bullpen session Friday before his next start.

DeGrom was injured swinging a bat last Wednesday against Atlanta.