Jun 18

Mets Need Granderson To Go On A Tear

Mets manager Terry Collins spoke with tempered confidence Saturday afternoon regarding his team’s slide in the NL East over the past three weeks, going from tied to six games behind the Washington Nationals.

GRANDERSON: Need him to take control. (Getty)

GRANDERSON: Need him to take control. (Getty)

The Mets face the Nationals seven times over the next three weeks.

“We’ll be ready for it,” Collins told reporters about the two series that could determine the rest of the season for the Mets.

They might be ready, but also short-handed with David Wright likely gone for the season and Lucas Duda out indefinitely. There are performance leaders and clubhouse leaders. If you believe in the latter, who will replace Wright?

“We’re going to miss David’s presence,” Collins said. “We’ve got to pick up the slack, not just on the field but in the clubhouse.”

When a manager speaks of the need for players to step up, both on the field and in the emotional sense, it means he really doesn’t have anybody obvious he can lean on.

Yoenis Cespedes can carry a team on his back as he proved last summer. His homer Saturday night put a charge into the Mets. However, there are times he loses focus and becomes lackadaisical. Neil Walker is also capable, who carried the Mets in April? However, and this is important, just how much weight will their words and gestures carry considering both could be gone after the season?

It won’t be Lucas Duda, who is on the disabled list with no timetable for his return. And, when he does play, he’s extremely quiet.

It is essential a team leader is productive. Who listens to your words if you can’t back it up? Right now that rules out Michael Conforto, who is starting to hit some balls hard, but has been in a dreadful slump since the end of April.

It won’t be a pitcher as they play once every five games, and in the Mets’ case, are generally quiet.

The obvious candidate to me is Curtis Granderson, who is warming up after a slow start and has an outgoing personality. If the Mets are to turn it around, they need Granderson to grab this team by the scruff of the neck and shake it awake.

 

Jun 11

Mets Wrap: Walker Injured; Options Available

Here’s a shock, the Mets have another player down with a lower back injury and it has manager Terry Collins concerned. Very concerned.

VERRETT: Torched by Brewers. (AP)

VERRETT: Torched by Brewers. (AP)

Neil Walker left Saturday’s 7-4 loss at Milwaukee with tightness in his lower back. He won’t play Sunday and beyond that the Mets don’t know of his availability.

At this point, the disabled list can’t be discounted. David Wright (herniated disk in his neck) and Lucas Duda (stress fracture) are already on the disabled list with back-related injuries.

Walker grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third and was out of the game in the fourth.

“`With what we’ve been seeing, yeah,” Collins told reporters if he was concerned, saying Duda’s soreness turned out to be a broken back.

“Any time you’re talking about the lower back there is a concern.”

Collins said Walker will be examined Sunday, but what happens next nobody knows. Of course, you must assume the worst, which is usually what you have to do when it comes to the Mets and injuries.

Walker said he’s not concerned and hopes to play Tuesday.

Kelly Johnson will likely play tomorrow, but beyond that we could end up seeing Dilson Herrera up from the minors sooner than we expected. I floated the idea of signing Jimmy Rollins, but unless Walker’s injury is severe, they won’t do anything substantial.

METS GAME WRAP

June 11, 2016, @ Milwaukee

Game: #61          Score:  Brewers 7, Mets 4

Record: 34-27    Streak: L 1

Standings: Second, NL East, three games behind Washington.  Playoffs: First WC.

Runs: 226    Average:  3.7   Times 3 runs or less: 30

SUMMARY:  Logan Verrett gave up three homers in a spot start and Mets’ pitching surrendered five overall.

KEY MOMENT: Curtis Granderson tripled to lead off the third and was stranded. … Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

THUMBS UP: Two hits by Cabrera, including a two-run homer in the second. … Granderson had three hits and fell a double short of a triple. …

THUMBS DOWN:  Verrett gave up five runs on four hits and four walks in four innings. … Reliever Hansel Robles walked two. … Antonio Bastardo gave up two homers in the seventh. … Mets’ hitters struck out nine and their pitchers walked seven.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets had won six straight before losing Saturday. … The Mets have 83 homers, third in the league. … The Mets’ pen has given up 18 homers. … Travis d’Arnaud caught in a rehab assignment in Port St. Lucie.

QUOTEBOOK: “He threw 80 pitches in four innings. That’s a lot.’’ – Collins on Verrett’s performance.

BY THE NUMBERS:  5-for-51: The numbers behind Michael Conforto’s recent slump.

NEXT FOR METS: Steven Matz (7-2, 2.39) vs. RP Zach Davies (4-3, 4.29) at Milwaukee, Sunday. … The Mets are off Monday then begin a three-game series Tuesday against Pittsburgh at Citi Field.

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Jun 11

June 11, Mets’ Lineup At Milwaukee

The Mets will try to make it four straight this afternoon in Milwaukee behind Logan Verrett. The Mets were beyond fortunate to win last night, 2-1 in 11 innings, mostly because the Brewers had a mind cramp in the field.
Matt Harvey had his third straight strong start and Yoenis Cespedes homered to overcome the Mets’ horrendous situational hitting, going 1-for-12 with RISP and stranding 11.
Here’s the order:
Curtis Granderson – RF: Has 11 homers but only 18 RBI. If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know about his production, then try this one: 3-for-35 (.086) with RISP.
Michael Conforto – LF: He was supposed to be the No. 3 hitter, but is now batting second. Of his 29 RBI, 13 have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead.
Cespedes – CF: His slump is over as he’s 7-for-15 in his last three games. Hit his 16th homer Friday.
Neil Walker – 2B: Has 13 homers with 25 RBI and batting .297 with RISP. Makes you think he’ll be walking this winter.
James Loney – 1B: Filled the void left by Lucas Duda‘s injury. Has hit better (.286 RISP) than people expected.
Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Was the No. 2 when David Wright went down, but that seems by the boards, too. Lifetime .300 hitter vs. Brewers.
Wilmer Flores – 3B: Is batting .500 (13-26) since taking over at third base. Has seven hits in the last three games.
Rene Rivera – C: Was reported to be Harvey’s catcher, but didn’t play Friday. Turns out it didn’t matter. Mets are 9-5 when he starts.
Verrett – RHP: Took a loss, May 14 at Colorado, in his last start. It’s like he’s pitching against the Mets when there’s RISP.  Hitters batting .167 with RISP against him.
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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