Jul 27

Mets Do As Well As Can Be Expected In Duda Trade

Since they weren’t going to bring back Lucas Duda anyway, the Mets did about as well as could be expected in today’s trade to Tampa Bay for Triple-A pitching prospect Drew Smith.

Duda had been linked to the Yankees and Seattle, and with the Rays, he has a chance to make the playoffs for a third straight season.

DUDA: Traded to Rays. (AP)

DUDA: Traded to Rays. (AP)

It wasn’t too long ago that the Mets chose Duda over Ike Davis, both high-strikeout first basemen with plenty of power. Duda ranks seventh on the Mets all-time homer list with 125. While it is unfair, Duda’s Mets’ legacy will be his wild throw to the plate in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.

“I’m excited to join the Rays. They’re in the hunt,’’ Duda told reporters in San Diego. “Kind of mixed emotions. There are guys here I’ve grown pretty close to, and [the Mets] are a first-class organization. I was very proud to be a New York Met, and I’m gonna be very proud to be on the Tampa Bay Rays.’’

With his power, Duda would fit in well with the Rays, who have the DH in the American League. He is hitting .246 with 17 homers and 37 RBI.

Trading Duda opens the door for Dominic Smith’s promotion to the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas, but until he gets here they have other options, namely Jay Bruce, who is in the lineup tonight in San Diego, T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores and even Neil Walker. Playing Bruce at first also enables the Mets to play Curtis Granderson in center, until they trade him.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Dom,’’ the ever classy Duda said. “I hope he becomes a 10-year All-Star.’’

Duda will be a free agent this winter.

In Smith, 23, the Mets will add to their bullpen, which will be important especially if the Mets are successful in dealing Addison Reed. Smith was a third-round pick by Detroit in 2015 and traded to Tampa Bay in April. He has pitched for four minor league teams in the Rays’ organization and compiled a 1-2 record with a 1.60 ERA and seven saves in 31 games.

 

Jul 14

DeGrom Overpowering In Winning Sixth Straight

GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets are willing to trade viable players, but if they deal their two most valuable assets it could prevent them from fielding a competitive team for next year.

The Mets believe they can contend in 2018 if the pitching Alderson termed as “lousy’’ rebounds. That would entail the healthy returns of Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, both of whom are close to throwing.

“This is not a tear down situation,’’ Alderson said prior to tonight’s 14-2 rout of the Rockies. “This is what I believe is a pause button. We’re going to have a lot of players that are free agents at the end of the year. A lot of payroll will become available. We’re not looking to rebuild, we’re looking to make sure we have a nucleus of a competitive team going into next year.’’

De GROM: Overpowering tonight. (AP)

De GROM: Overpowering tonight. (AP)

But, just how competitive will they be if they deal Jay Bruce and/or Addison Reed? If they do, won’t they be searching for power – especially from the left side – if they trade Bruce? And, if they don’t, and aren’t able to re-sign him, how will they replace his power? Certainly not with Brandon Nimmo.

Pitching is always at a premium, and a reliever/closer the quality of Reed should fetch a decent return. However, trading Reed would officially raise the white flag on the season. The Mets should get Jeurys Familia back, but to what degree? Should they deal Reed and Familia not return to form, that puts the Mets in the market for a closer.

Alderson said he’s willing to listen to overtures on any player, even Jacob deGrom, who has been linked to Houston.

“I think that’s a possibility, only because you never quite know what’s going to be presented,’’ Alderson said. “But I’d say that that sort of trade is exceedingly unlikely.’’

DeGROM SPECTACULAR: DeGrom was magnificent tonight, giving up two runs on four hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts in eight innings in winning his sixth straight game.

It was deGrom’s fifth straight start of at least seven innings, and his ninth start overall of that length. It was also his seventh game with double-digits in strikeouts.

DeGrom had an overpowering fastball and command of his secondary pitches.

OTHER THOUGHTS FROM TONIGHT: Michael Conforto started in center over Curtis Granderson, which is how things will likely to be barring an injury. Conforto drove in four runs on a single and a three-run homer. Of course, whatever trade value Granderson has left will be diminished if he sits for three weeks. … Yoenis Cespedes had four hits, and looked great running on his double and an infield single. … The Mets rapped out 19 hits, their second most this season. … Jose Reyes had three hits to raise his average to .221. Reyes’ time will be cut once Amed Rosario is brought up, or when Neil Walker is activated from the disabled list (in roughly two weeks) and if Asdrubal Cabrera moves back to short. The trade values of Reyes and Cabrera is limited and neither is expected to be brought back next season.

Jul 14

Top Ten Mets’ Questions In Second Half

The Mets are home tonight for the start of a ten-game homestand that will determine the course of what is becoming a lost season.

While there’s little hope other than mathematics that they will be able to make a playoff push, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant questions that must be answered that could determine the direction of this franchise for years:

ALDERSON: Facing a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Facing a lot of questions. (AP)

  1. Will they be buyers or sellers at the deadline?

A: The Mets can’t advertise that they are giving up on the year before their longest homestand of the season. Their two most valuable commodities are closer Addison Reed and outfielder Jay Bruce, both of whom will be free agents this winter. This would make them rentals to any team dealing with the Mets.

Other assets who would command less are Curtis Granderson, Jerry Blevins, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes.

2. Will we see Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith?

A: That was one of the prevailing first-half questions. GM Sandy Alderson insists they aren’t ready, when in reality he was just waiting out the market. Rosario would mean the end of Reyes and Cabrera – assuming they aren’t dealt – and Smith would likely determine Duda’s future.

3. Will Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey pitch again this season?

A: Harvey has already begun throwing and Syndergaard is two weeks from starting, but neither have a definitive timetable to return. Syndergaard has a partially torn lat muscle and the Mets want to know what they have moving forward. Syndergaard likewise wants to know where he is physically, which would dictate his offseason conditioning and throwing program. Hopefully, this winter he won’t hit the weights too much.

As for Harvey, it could very well be his real value to the Mets is as trade bait. I have written numerous times Harvey is just biding his time before he’s a free agent after the 2018 season. He hinted as much in 2015 when his agent Scott Boras brought up Harvey’s innings ceiling. The Mets can explore trading Harvey now or they can hope he comes back strong in the second half and the first half in 2018 before shopping him next year. Either way, his time with the Mets is numbered.

4. Will Yoenis Cespedes stay healthy and become the hitter the Mets are paying all that money to?

A: He’s strong, but muscle bound, which makes him susceptible to muscle pulls. Watching Cespedes run, whether on the bases or in the outfield, and you have to think it is a matter of time before he’s hobbling again.

5. Will manager Terry Collins finally give the Mets’ All-Star, Michael Conforto enough playing time?

A: Assuming Bruce and Granderson aren’t traded, then Collins must either bench the latter or devise a playing rotation for the four.

6. Will Collins do the same for Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera?

A: Neither Flores nor Rivera are the physical prototypes Alderson craves, but they produce despite not having a designated position. Both can play anywhere in the infield save shortstop.

7. Speaking of infielders, what will happen with Neil Walker?

A: It wasn’t a bad gamble to give Walker a $17.2 million qualifying offer. After all, it was for only one year and the Mets believed they were competitors. Walker wants a multi-year deal, which the Mets would be foolish to give him, especially with the money owed Cespedes and David Wright.

8. Will we see Wright?

A: The Mets don’t have a timetable for Wright’s return following his back surgery. Thinking positively, if Wright could come back and play well, it could make the Mets’ offseason plans a bit smoother. If he doesn’t come back, will he retire?

9. What is Collins’ future with the Mets?

A: The major league’s oldest manager is in his last year with the Mets. He could retire, but after this season, the Mets could decide not to bring him back. There remains the question of whether he would want to return.

10. What is Alderson’s future with the Mets?

A:  He’ll be 70 this winter and you have to wonder how much longer he wants to do this, especially if the Mets opt to rebuild. The young, vaunted pitching staff has not made one uninterrupted cycle through the rotation together and there’s no guarantee it ever will. There is a multitude of other issues with the Mets and maybe Alderson doesn’t want to go the building process again.

Jul 08

Conforto Activated; Not Starting

Let’s get this straight. The Mets have only one All-Star, Michael Conforto. He was activated from the disabled list today but isn’t starting. This makes no sense to me and screams of one thing. The Mets want him available to play in the All-Star Game, which isn’t a good enough reason.

If you hit, you will play, says Mets manager Terry Collins. Except, of course, unless you’re Yoenis Cespedes. Both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce have been hitting. Cespedes has not been.

Assuming the Mets don’t trade either Granderson or Bruce, there will be a logjam in the outfield. Conforto is their future and needs to play, through hot times and slumps. Trading Bruce, who is younger than Granderson and Cespedes, would be a mistake.

This is the Mets’ starting lineup today.

Granderson – CF

Asdrubal Cabrera – 2B

Cespedes – LF

Bruce – RF

T.J. Rivera – 3B

Lucas Duda – 1B

Jose Reyes – SS

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Zack Wheeler – RHP

Jul 03

Mets Suffer Crushing Defeat; Waste Matz Start

The Mets are like my last girlfriend, the ultimate tease. I mean, if you’re going to tie the game on a pinch-hit homer in the top of the ninth, you might as well hang around and win the damn thing. Instead, the Mets’ bullpen gave it up, and tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals dropped them to 10.5 behind, and in the process waste a sterling Steven Matz start.

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

Yes, you have to win the first game before you can sweep, but make no mistake, the Mets needed to sweep this three-game series at Washington. Even if they win the next two games, the most they closest they’ll get is 8.5 games. Still time, but very disappointing.

Curtis Granderson tied it 2-2 in the ninth on a pinch-hit, two-run homer, but the bullpen – using three relievers in the bottom half of the inning – gave the game away. Why not use your best reliever, Addison Reed, for two innings? Reed didn’t pitch Sunday, so he had some rest.

The bullpen has been an issue this season, and Fernando Salas, who gave up the game-winning hit, really has no business being in the game if the ninth inning of a tie game. Another issue is all the Mets’ pitchers’ walks. Two of the Nationals’ three runs were the result of walks. Overall, they’ve walked 305, good for third in the National League.

You thought, maybe the Mets would pull it out once Granderson homered, but when they didn’t take a big lead that inning, you understood disappointment could still loom, as it did tonight.