Jul 03

Player Mets Avoid Playing, Conforto, Is All-Star

The first thing I thought of when I heard Michael Conforto would be the Mets’ representative in the All-Star Game was: Isn’t this the guy they don’t want to play?

The guy GM Sandy Alderson didn’t want to bring up, and manager Terry Collins doesn’t want to start, will be in Miami next week, hopefully for the first of many All-Star appearances. And, hopefully, when he rejoins the Mets, Collins will find a place for him in his outfield.

CONFORTO: Player Mets don't want to play is All-Star?

CONFORTO: Player Mets don’t want to play is All-Star?

Perhaps the Mets will clear a spot for him by trading Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, but what they do this week in Washington and St. Louis will determine whether they are buyers or sellers.

Yoenis Cespedes, foolishly re-signed by Alderson, has a no-trade clause in his four-year, $110-million contract so he isn’t going anywhere.

Conforto began the season coming off the bench, primarily as a pinch-hitter, but moved into the starting lineup when Cespedes was injured (his injury history, along with his salary and the Mets’ other needs are why I didn’t want him back).

Conforto started hitting the way he did at the end of the 2015 season and in April of 2016 before he tailed). At the time, Collins proclaimed him as the Mets’ No. 3 hitter of the future. He dropped off again this season, then sustained a bruise bone when he was struck by a pitch last week in San Francisco.

“I really didn’t think back to that,’’ Conforto told reporters of his role coming out of spring training. “Really, what I thought back to was the hard work that I’ve put in this offseason and in spring training. I always had a feeling that even if I didn’t start with the team, I knew I was going to make an impact at some point.’’

Conforto is hitting .285 with a .405 on-base percentage and .356 with 26 RBI with runners in scoring position.

“Obviously, last year was a learning experience for me and something I had to go through,’’ Conforto said. “I look at it as part of my journey. … You have to let it fuel your fire, which is definitely something it did for me.’’

 

Jul 02

Mets Lose, But Montero Gives Encouraging Effort

C’mon, you really didn’t think Rafael Montero would be solid four games in a row, did you? Probably the Mets didn’t think he would, either. However, it wasn’t a total loss for Montero despite the Mets losing, 7-1, today to the Phillies.

MONTERO: Helps save bullpen. (AP)

MONTERO: Helps save bullpen. (AP)

The Phillies got to Montero for four runs in the second, but he hung around and took the Mets into the seventh. In the big picture, Montero’s 6.1 innings – coming on the heels of Zack Wheeler’s cameo appearance yesterday – helped save the bullpen with the Nationals series coming up.

“That was it,’’ manager Terry Collins said of the second. “He had a bad inning. After that, he kept attacking the zone. He kept us right there. … I trust him because he’s throwing strikes.’’

Montero gave the Mets a chance to win, which is all you can expect from a relatively inexperienced pitcher.

Command has always been a problem from Montero, but he only walked two hitters – consecutive batters in the sixth – which enabled him to work into the seventh. Montero gave up four runs on eight hits with six strikeouts.

In previous games, Montero’s problems would escalate, but today he regrouped after the second to give the Mets more than they could have expected.

“It would have been easy for him to throw up his hands and feel sorry for himself,’’ Collins said. “But, he bore down and kept us in the game.’’

However, the Mets managed one hit against rookie Nick Pivetta.

GRANDERSON SITS: The red-hot Curtis Granderson didn’t play because of tightness in his left hip. Granderson was originally in the starting lineup but was scratched after complaining of a tight hip.

“He tried to hit, but couldn’t,’’ Collins said, leading to speculation he might not be available to face Stephan Strasburg Monday in Washington.

CESPEDES COLD: If Granderson hadn’t come up lame, today would have been a good day to rest Yoenis Cespedes, who is on a 3-for-21 slide.

Cespedes has looked overmatched – if not tired – at the plate and has been chasing pitches low-and-away.

“He’s human,’’ Collins said of Cespedes’ struggles. “Everybody who has ever played this game is going to have [bad days]. Yoenis Cespedes will turn it around. He’s too good a player.’’

NATIONALS NEXT: This is probably as good a time as any to face the Nationals. Trea Turner is out indefinitely with a broken wrist and their bullpen has blown 13 save opportunities. The Mets also catch a break in not facing Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez.

Jun 29

Mets Lineup At Miami, June 29

Here’s tonight’s Mets lineup at Miami:

Curtis Granderson – CF: Has three leadoff homers on this trip. … Trade value is as high as it gets.

Asdrubal Cabrera – 2B: Says he wants to stay with the Mets. … Trade value enhanced by move to second.

Yoenis Cespedes – LF: Is slumping now. … Has no-trade clause.

Jay Bruce – RF: Perhaps will be the Mets’ All-Star representative. … Trade value high.

T.J. Rivera – 1B: Plays better at first than third. … Has little trade value.

Jose Reyes – SS: Having miserable season. … Has no trade value.

Rene Rivera – C: Having best offensive season.  … Has some trade value.

Matt Reynolds – 3B: Reliable back-up. … Has no trade value.

Seth Lugo – RHP: Can he give the Mets seven? … Has trade value, but won’t be moved.

Jun 27

Mets Lose Game And Gsellman

One of the more puzzling aspects of the Mets has been the regression of Robert Gsellman. The Mets might not have made the playoffs last season if not for Gsellman. He hasn’t pitched well this year and left tonight’s game after three innings with a hamstring injury.

“It’s a hamstring, so it will be a little while,’’ manager Terry Collins said when asked about how long Gsellman might be out.

GSELLMAN: Has strained hammy. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Has strained hammy. (AP)

Gsellman, who entered the game having given up 15 runs in his previous two starts, gave up three runs in the first inning and was replaced by Paul Sewald, who pitched three scoreless innings in relief. Sewald, of course, won’t be available Wednesday night.

There’s no telling how long Gsellman will be out, but the disabled list isn’t out of the question. If Gsellman goes on the disabled list, he’ll be sixth Mets starter to be disabled this season, joining Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler.

When you add David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda, it’s amazing they are only eight games under .500 this year.

“It’s a little frustrating to see them keep going down,’’ Collins said.

GRANDERSON’S VALUE SPIKING: Whatever Curtis Granderson’s trade value is, it probably is as high as it is going to be.

Granderson hit his third leadoff homer in this road trip, and the 21st as a Met to extend his franchise record.

Granderson can play each of the outfield positions and would fit in well for a contender either as a spot starter or off the bench.

CONFORTO DOESN’T PLAY: Michael Conforto did not play because of a bruised left wrist after being hit by a pitch Sunday in San Francisco.

Collins hoped Conforto would be available to pinch-hit, but had difficulty holding the bat.

“At this stage, I don’t know how long he’ll be out,’’ Collins said.

Jun 23

Today’s Question: Have You Given Up On Mets?

If you’re a true fan, you’ll keep watching the Mets. Like an accident on the highway, you can’t take your eyes off of them. Jerry Blevins walking in runs was a new one for me, or perhaps I missed it earlier.

After they were bludgeoned in the first three games of their series in Los Angeles, last night was a tease. For a moment I thought they might salvage a game against the Dodgers, who hit 15 homers in the series. Ten games below .500 make any kind of playoff push nearly impossible.

REYES: Time to say good bye. (AP)

REYES: Time to say good bye. (AP)

It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine that considering the expectations of March.

GM Sandy Alderson has two choices. One, keep plodding away like an old plow horse and operate under the illusion they are playing for something. Or, they could actually be playing for something, which is next year.  Alderson already has a good idea of who will or won’t be back next year. Those he knows won’t be back, like Curtis Granderson – he’s finally hot, so whatever value he has left is at a premium now – and Asdrubal Cabrera, and Lucas Duda, and maybe Blevins and Addison Reed. Get what you can for them and let’s see what Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo can bring to the table.

Frankly, unless Rosario plays shortstop, I’m not interested in seeing Cabrera at second base. If anything, I’m tired of watching Jose Reyes and would rather see Wilmer Flores full time at second.

All experience is good, so give them the rest of the season. It won’t take away the disappointment of 2017, but perhaps it will take away the sour taste of this lost season.