Jun 06

Figuring A Busy And Critical Offseason For Mets

Whatever happens with David Wright this summer, we know the Mets must make a decision on his future and formulate a plan for 2017 should something sideline him for a third straight year.

Wright won’t be their only decision and GM Sandy Alderson figures to be busy:

CESPEDES: Can see him opting out. (AP)

CESPEDES: Can see him opting out. (AP)

CATCHER: Rene Rivera is their best defensive option, but neither he nor Kevin Plawecki has produced with the bat. For that matter, neither has Travis d’Arnaud. That is when he’s able to play.

FIRST BASE: If the Mets decide first base is Wright’s eventual landing spot, what becomes of Lucas Duda? He’s still at least a month away from coming off the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back and assuming he returns nobody knows what they’ll get from him. He’s arbitration eligible so the Mets might not make an offer as it is doubtful they’ll want him as a backup.

SECOND BASE: Base on how he’s performed, it should be a no-brainer to bring back Neil Walker. But, will they look at him the way they did Daniel Murphy? How much are they willing to pay and for how long? The extra year is always an obstacle. If Walker hits 30 homers, don’t count on the Mets matching his price and he could make a killing this winter.

THIRD BASE: There is nobody among us who doesn’t want to see Wright return to his All-Star form. His on-base percentage and homers were reasonable when he was playing, but his strikeouts and RBI were telling negative stats and he wasn’t good defensively. We shall see if Wilmer Flores is the answer, but it has only been three games. If he fizzles this position must be addressed.

If Fores does well, that will increase the pressure to do something with Wright, who is clearly having problems fielding the position. They can’t trade him, but they could move him to a different position. Or, and this is delicate, they could talk about buying him out.

Everything has to be on the table with him.

OUTFIELD: Despite his slump, I’m not worried about Michael Conforto, but is left his best position? Their ideal defensive outfield has Yoenis Cespedes in left and Juan Lagares in center, so could Conforto play right? If not this year, then perhaps they could test him there in the Arizona Fall League or send him to play winter ball. Curtis Granderson isn’t having a good year and is under contract for one more season.

Considering how he’s playing, Cespedes is sure to opt out after this year to test the market. Why wouldn’t he? If Cespedes bolted that would solve the problem of moving Conforto and they might extend Granderson if he finishes strong.

Frankly, I was surprised to see what the Mets gave Cespedes, but the opt-out clause could make that chump change. Do you see the Mets re-working his contract to give him extra years and money that could surpass $100 million? Not me.

There are a lot of dominos in the outfield.

BULLPEN: Their least agita-inducing reliever is Addison Reed. They might need to make a decision on either him or Jeurys Familia as the closer. Either way, is there really a reliable arm in that bullpen? It was superb in April, but there have been visible cracks since. I’m not yet willing to make the comparison of Familia to Armando Benitez, but my confidence level is being tested.

I would have loved a 7-8-9 bullpen like the Yankees, but the Mets don’t have the reliable arms, largely because they can’t depend on Hansel Robles.

ROTATION: I know many of you won’t like this, but after Sunday’s game in Miami – and if he really has turned the corner – perhaps they should seriously consider trading Matt Harvey this winter. His salary is reasonable and if healthy he should bring something back in a trade. I still think he will walk after the 2018 season and leave the Mets with only a draft pick.

Trading Harvey, coupled with the monetary savings if Cespedes left, could fill several voids.

If they went long-term on a pitcher, I would go after Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz ahead of Harvey. I believe they’ll cost less in the long run and won’t create as many headaches. Can they keep all three? Who knows, but if they signed them it would be for less than if they waited for their free-agent years. Pay more now to avoid arbitration and use the savings to plug holes.

Health is always a risk in signing a pitcher long-term, but if they continue to pitch to expectations, there is no question they will cost a lot more when they become free agents. Pay more now to avoid arbitration and use the savings to plug holes.

As much as people like to say, Bartolo Colon can’t pitch forever. What happens with him is largely contingent on Zack Wheeler, and there’s no guarantee what they get from him when he returns – if he returns – after the All-Star break. The longer Wheeler stays down, the less chance they have to move Colon at the deadline.

If you realistically scanned their 25-man roster, you can make a case for only Asdrubal Cabrera, Conforto, Granderson, Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz and Familia returning for 2017. Who can’t see them low-balling Walker, Cespedes, Reed or Duda?

There were high hopes for the Mets entering the season and they will make the playoffs if they began today. However, injuries are starting to cripple them and their depth is thin. They have little to trade in their minor league system outside of Wheeler – whose health raised a red flag for prospective buyers – and with the combination of health, salary and poor production, they have nothing to trade from the major league roster.

It’s a beautiful day today and I don’t want to rain on your picnic, but even with their young core of arms, the Mets’ window of winning could be rapidly closing. If you thought Alderson did magic last year at the trade deadline, he’ll have to do even more this July.

ON DECK: Pirates Series Borders On Critical

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Jun 04

June 4, Mets’ Lineup At Miami

Bartolo Colon goes for the Mets today as they try to make it a two-game winning streak. Is two games really a winning streak? BTW: Miami is where Colon entertained us with his behind-the-back flip to first base.

Here’s today’s order:

Curtis Granderson – RF: (.203/9/16) Should have a lot more RBI for the number of homers. Hitting paltry .103 (3-29) with RISP. Hitting .217 lifetime against Marlins.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: (.275/5/19). Hitting .297 (11-37) with RISP. Lifetime .301 hitter against Marlins. Ranks third in All-Star voting.

Yoenis Cespedes – LF: (.278/15/37). Hitting .250 (10-40 with 21 RBI) with RISP. Ranks third in All-Star voting.

Neil Walker – 2B: (.284/13/25). Hitting .314 (11-35 with 10 RBI) with RISP. Hit 16 homers last year. Ranks third in All-Star voting.

Juan Lagares – CF: (.277/2/6). Hitting .273 lifetime against Marlins. Is batting .310 (13-42) on the road. Back to playing superb defense.

Wilmer Flores – 3B: (.190/1/3). Getting the first opportunity at third with David Wright on the DL. Had two hits and scored twice Friday night.

James Loney – 1B: (.231/1/2). Hit 100th career homer Friday night. Career .247 hitter against Miami. Was batting .342 in minors before trade from San Diego.

Kevin Plawecki – C: (.198/1/7). Playing time reduced because of Rene Rivera. Has gone 51 at-bats since his last homer (at Dodgers vs. Scott Kasmir).

Colon – RHP: Is 7-4 with 2.92 ERA lifetime vs. Miami. Is 3-1 on the road this year.

COMMENTS: Four of today’s starters weren’t in Opening Day lineup. … I know Michael Conforto is in a terrible hitting slump, but he’ll never learn to hit lefties if he doesn’t face them. … Mets are 12-5 in day games.  … The Mets have eight come-from-behind victories this season.

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Jun 01

June 1, Mets’ Lineup Analysis Vs. White Sox

Jacob deGrom starts to get the Mets back on the winning trail after the pitching broke down Tuesday night. First, Steven Matz lost in all at once and the bullpen – after Noah Syndergaard – never had it. That would be Hansel Robles, who gave up five homers in May.

mets-logoball-2Here’s the lineup behind deGrom:

Curtis Granderson – RF: Is heating up, batting .303 (10-33) over his last ten games. His on-base percentage still must improve.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Is very comfortable hitting No. 2. Has hit in 10 of last 12 games. Has 12 career homers vs. White Sox.

Michael Conforto – LF: After blazing April settled down and is hitting .261 with eight homers and 24 RBI. Still hitting third for the most part.

Neil Walker – 2B: Moved to cleanup with Yoenis Cespedes getting the day off. Off the top of my head, who is the last cleanup hitter who played second base. Maybe Robinson Cano.

James Loney – 1B: Hitless in for at-bats in his Mets’ debut. Hit .280 in 104 games in 2015 with Tampa Bay.

Juan Lagares – CF: Average is up to .278. Would like to see more of him in the lineup.

Ty Kelly – 3B: Today’s third baseman of the day. He’s the fifth different player to play the position. This is Kelly’s fourth start at third.

Rene Rivera – C: Good to see him play. Nothing against Kevin Plawecki, but the staff ERA with Rivera is nearly a run better.

deGrom – RHP: First start against White Sox. Is coming off his fourth straight no-decision. Has given up three runs or less in seven of eight starts.

COMMENTS:  Cespedes is hitting .462 (6-13) and Alejandro De Aza (.571) lifetime against White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez but are not starting. And, Granderson is hitting .071 against Gonzalez. Puzzling. And, please don’t tell me about rest. De Aza hardly plays and Cespedes could rest almost any time. … Wright not in today, but Mets could know more about placing him on the DL later today.

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May 31

May 31, Mets’ Lineup Vs. White Sox

Steven Matz will be going after his eighth straight victory tonight against the Chicago White Sox. He’s given up only six runs in his last seven starts.

Here’s the lineup behind him:

Curtis Granderson – RF: Has been starting to hit, but his on-base percentage and walk ratio isn’t what it was like last year.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: With David Wright not playing and a DL possibility, Cabrera could be the perfect No. 2 hitter.

Michael Conforto – LF: I like how the Mets shot down the idea of Conforto playing first base quickly. No reason to let something like that linger.

Yoenis Cespedes – CF: Is having an All-Star season. Perhaps he’ll be joined by Matz or Noah Syndergaard. Remember, the better the numbers the greater the chance he’ll opt out after this year.

Neil Walker – 2B: With 12 homers he should also merit some All-Star consideration. He’s on pace to hit over 40, but I’m taking the under.

James Loney – 1B: The first-base answer to Lucas Duda. I hope they keep him here and don’t monkey around with a platoon.

Wilmer Flores – 3B: Will get the bulk of the time at third base if Wright can’t play. Eric Campbell was sent down today.

Kevin Plawecki – C: He’ll need to hit better to earn more playing time as Rene Rivera will likely catch Matt Harvey and Syndergaard more.

Matz – LHP: The numbers say he’s the ace of the staff. It is hard to argue with 7-1.

May 23

May 23, Mets Lineup At Washington

Bartolo Colon gets another shot at the Nationals tonight in DC. He was hammered by Washington in his last start, giving up three runs on five hits and five walks in 4.2 innings. The five walks Colon (3-3, 3.75) were the most he’s given up in a game since 2005.

As you know by now, Lucas Duda was placed on the disabled list this afternoon.

Here’s the Mets’ lineup against Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 1.86):

Curtis Granderson – RF: Career vs. Nats: .254 (44-173). Has 39 game-opening homers, including four this season.

Juan Lagares – CF: Career vs. Nats: .297 (49-165). With Michael Conforto getting the night off against the left-hander, Lagares gets a start. Has been showing his Gold Glove form lately.

David Wright – 3B: Career vs. Nats: .297 (207-697). Said he’d move to first if team asked. No surprise there. Has 239 career homers to trail franchise leader Darryl Strawberry who has 252.

Yoenis Cespedes – LF: Career vs. Nats: .309 (15-49). His 14 homers are tied for the major league lead.

Neil Walker – 2B: Career vs. Nats: .288 (38-132). Is batting .180 (11-61) in 19 games this month after a torrid April.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Career vs. Nats: .222 (6-27). Is hitting .333 with 12 RBI with RISP, including a two-run single Sunday.

Eric Campbell – 1B: Career vs. Nats: .150 (6-40). It has been 79 at-bats since his last homer. Is hitting .278 (5-18) on the road this year.

Kevin Plawecki – C: Career vs. Nats: .206 (7-34). Went 1-13 (.077) during Mets’ recent homestand.

Bartolo Colon – RHP: Career vs. Nats: Is 3-6 with a 3.38 ERA lifetime against the Nationals in 10 games, including nine starts. Has 14 wins vs. NL East since the start of the 2015 season.

COMMENTS: Conforto is getting hot again, so I’d hate to sit him. Five of his eight homers have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead. … Mets pitchers have 10 no-walk games to lead the majors. … Jeurys Familia has converted 31 consecutive save opportunities to tie him with Billy Wagner for the club record. … The Mets’ bullpen has thrown 14.1 scoreless innings over the last four games. … The Mets were 6-3 against the Nationals last year in Washington.