Sep 27

Mets Wrap: Pitching Should Be Mets’ Offseason Priority

By definition, Carlos Torres gave the New York Mets a quality start tonight – three runs in six innings – which is usually good enough to win most starts.

However, the Mets aren’t scoring much these days, and didn’t again tonight in a second straight 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, a team they should beat.

Terry Collins started his 128th different batting order out of 160 games tonight, which is as telling a stat as there is to define the 2013 Mets. Most of that is attributable to injuries and poor performance – notably Ike Davis – but indicates a lack of offensive consistency and depth

TORRES: Could get spring training invite.

TORRES: Could get spring training invite..

The popular belief is the Mets need to upgrade their offense, which is true, but is it really their top priority?

Factoring having David Wright for a full season; improvement that comes from experience with Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker; having Eric Young for a full season; developing a consistent batting order; and, of course, the annual hope of whether Davis or Lucas Duda will find it, the Mets’ offense should be better in 2014.

Adding a bat is important, but is it imperative?

As is usually the case, pitching should be their primary concern, especially considering general manager Sandy Alderson has just three starters heading into spring training: Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler, the latter who was scratched from his final start with shoulder soreness.

Torres’ start tonight underscores the Mets’ need to add pitching. Theoretically, if the Mets pitch well their offense should improve enough to manufacture enough runs to be competitive.

The odds are long the Mets will have Matt Harvey for 2014, so they have two slots to fill in the rotation.

Torres has been valuable out of the bullpen in long relief and as a spot starter. He’s pitched well enough to get a spring training invite. What he did tonight is what the Mets need in a fifth starter, but he might be more valuable in long relief.

Saturday’s starter, Aaron Harang, should also be invited to spring training. I had my doubts, but Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched well recently and would likely also be invited to spring training.

Prior to the game Collins said he doesn’t anticipate Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard cracking the rotation coming out of spring training, which means adding a veteran arm, especially one who has a taste of playing on a winning team, should be their priority.

When Citi Field opened, the Mets said they would build around pitching, speed and defense. Power is great, but it isn’t essential in building a winner. The Mets should emphasize that mentality in constructing their 2014 team.

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Sep 21

David Wright Delivers For Mets In Return; Matsuzaka Continues To Disappoint

The New York Mets got what they hoped for Friday night in David Wright’s return, but remain wanting with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Backed by Wright’s first-inning homer, the Mets gave Matsuzaka a 5-0 lead, but he gave up four runs in the fourth inning. Never mind two of the runs were unearned, but a pitcher’s job is to pitch out of trouble.

Matsuzaka not only didn’t escape trouble, but with three walks and four hits in six innings, he contributed to his own demise.

WRIGHT: Welcome back. (MLB)

WRIGHT: Welcome back. (MLB)

Those are not acceptable numbers, and his performance doesn’t even define a No. 5 starter. Aaron Harang has pitched well enough to warrant a spring training invite, but Matsuzaka has not.

Yes, he pitched six innings, and yes, the Mets came away with a victory, but it was a stressful outing and they can’t afford having their bullpen drained once every fifth day.

As for Wright, who played for the first time in seven weeks, he came out of the night sore, but confident: “I want to be able to just flow and react, and I’m not quite there yet as far as the rhythm of the game and that kind of explosiveness that I feel I had before I got hurt.’’

Prior to the game, Wright said he wanted to play in eight of the Mets’ last ten games.

GEE GOES TODAY: Nobody thought it would happen in April, but Dillon Gee will lead the Mets with victories this season. He goes after his 12th victory today and will get another start Thursday against Milwaukee at Citi Field.

Gee’s season turned around with a 12-strikeout game, May 30, at Yankee Stadium.

It was as if switch was flipped.

“I started pitching with more command,’’ Gee said.

HAWKINS GOES FOR MILESTONE: LaTroy Hawkins has 99 career saves, 11 of them coming this season when he assumed the closer role when Bobby Parnell was injured.

At 40, Hawkins still throws in the mid-90s, but more to the point, he still knows how to pitch. Hawkins has been a positive influence in the bullpen and the Mets should bring him back.

They could do far worse.

FLORES TO PLAY SECOND: Wilmer Flores might get more starts at second base in the remaining nine games.

For several years, the Mets struggled to find a position for Daniel Murphy. Ironically, they appear to be trying to replace him with Flores, a player, like Murphy, who had trouble finding a position.

WINTER BALL METS: The Mets are seeking to find winter ball teams for Lucas Duda and Matt den Dekker, both of whom lost at-bats this summer because of injuries.

Duda would get time at first base, a further indication the Mets appear to be moving away from Ike Davis.

As for den Dekker, he could earn a spot next spring if he can hit.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 18

Is Tim Lincecum On Mets’ Radar?

What might the New York Mets be wondering as they look into the Giants’ dugout and see Tim Lincecum?

Could they be mulling over the idea of signing him as a free agent this winter? He’ll be pricey, but if the Mets are serious about contending in 2014, they’ll have to pay for pitching.

LINCECUM: Could he be on Mets' radar?

LINCECUM: Could he be on Mets’ radar?

With Matt Harvey opting for rehab over the next two months instead of immediate Tommy John surgery, the Mets have no certainties with their young ace. Surgery is still a possibility, and that would mean he would miss all of next year.

At the time Harvey went on the disabled list and surgery was anticipated, GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets would have to prepare to not have him next season.

Perhaps he didn’t want to reveal his true thoughts in front of Harvey in a press conference, or perhaps he didn’t want to come across as being desperate, but Alderson backed off that sentiment yesterday.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect our offseason planning as much as has been speculated,’’ Alderson said. “The one thing we have is a great deal of starting-pitching depth, some of it untested at the minor league level. But we have a lot of confidence in the quality and quantity of our starting pitching.

“So hopefully Matt is part of that rotation next year. But if he’s not, I don’t foresee us working hard to fill his spot from outside the organization.’’

What Alderson should have said is the Mets have “potential’’ starting-pitching depth.

Harvey, of course, is no given. Jenrry Mejia just underwent elbow surgery. Noah Syndergaard isn’t ready, and there’s nothing imminent with Rafael Montero.

By my count, the Mets will go into spring training with a rotation of Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. Tonight’s starter, Aaron Harang, could be invited to spring training and so might Daisuke Matsuzaka. Are you comfortable with those last two options?

They will have to add somebody regardless of what Alderson said and Lincecum could be available. He’s in the final season of a two-year, $40.5-million contract, and the Giants haven’t said anything about bringing him back.

If not the Giants or Mets, somebody will offer Lincecum a contract, and considering what he made this year there won’t be much of a salary cut.

Lincecum was signed to the contract after the 2011 season, in which he went 13-14, but with a 2.74 ERA and having worked 217 innings. The feeling it was due to a lack of run support.

Lincecum was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA in 2012 and a drop to 186 innings. He has thrown 184 so far this season while going 10-13 with a 4.40 ERA. Both this year and last there were reports his velocity is down. Even so, something had to be there to throw a no-hitter.

There’s some sentiment a change of scenery might benefit Lincecum, who is only 29. The flip side reported in San Francisco is the Giants might sign him for one year plus a team option.

Of course, the Mets might offer the same. They might have to.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 08

In Retrospect Mets Made Right Call In Passing On Michael Bourn

Watching the New York Mets this weekend in Cleveland reinforced the adage the best deals are the ones you don’t make.

The Mets were heavily criticized last winter for their choice not to sign free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn from Atlanta because they didn’t to give up the compensatory draft pick.

Bourn was supposed to give the Mets the leadoff hitter they lacked plus a defensive anchor in center field. For the first two months of the season the Mets lamented not getting Bourn as they went through ten leadoff hitters before settling on Eric Young, and used eight center fielders with Juan Lagares having the inside track heading into spring training.

As for Bourn, the Mets didn’t miss his .263 average with five homers, 40 RBI, paltry .317 on-base percentage and 22 stolen bases.

n the end, the Mets waited, filled two voids and saved themselves over $40 million in the process.

SECOND OPINION FOR HARVEY: Perhaps the most important decision to impact the Mets over the next two years will whether Matt Harvey will proceed with Tommy John surgery.

Harvey’s initial thought was to rest in the hope he’ll be ready for Opening Day 2014, but conventional wisdom dictates surgery. In that regard, a decision could be made as soon as this week after an exam with Dr. James Andrews.

The sooner the surgery, the sooner the rehab and the sooner the return, but it isn’t expected to be before the start of the 2015 season.

MORE CALL-UPS: The Mets are expected to include Ruben Tejada in their latest group of call-ups. Tejada his .288 with 24 RBI at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Outfielder Mike Baxter and catcher Juan Centeno are also expected to be brought up.

TODAY’S BATTING ORDER:

Eric Young, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Josh Satin, DH

Lucas Duda, 1B

Justin Turner, 3B

Juan Lagares, RF

Matt den Dekker, CF

Anthony Recker, C

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 05

Mets Should Already Have Several 2014 Answers In Place

The New York Mets say they are using September to gather information for their 2014 preparation.

All clubs not printing playoff tickets are doing the same. However, if the Mets were truly honest, you must believe they already have several answers:

Terry Collins: Quit the suspense, just announce it already that he’s returning. Based on what he’s been given, he’ll get another year. Maybe two.

COLLINS: He's coming back.

COLLINS: He’s coming back.

Ike Davis: After several years of non-production, interrupted by last season’s strong second half, and power drought following his return from Las Vegas, the Mets must know what direction they are leaning. GM Sandy Alderson said the roundtable discussions pertaining to Davis would occur after the season, but they must know the strapping first baseman will not be tendered a contract.

Daniel Murphy: Despite their posturing with Wilmer Flores and others, the Mets know replacing Murphy is not high on their priority list. The Mets’ needs far outweigh finding another second baseman.

Ruben Tejada: They’ll bring him to spring training, but if they were smart it would be with a one-strike policy. It’s one thing to have a poor season, but it’s another to have an “I don’t care,’’ attitude to go along with it. If Tejada doesn’t care, than neither should the Mets.

Wilmer Flores: With his shortstop range suspect, but how would we really know, since they never tried him there, what’s up with Flores? The organization has to know first base is where he should land.

Travis d’Arnaud: They got a picture of their future catcher, but it was a postcard, not a panoramic view. However, it was large enough for them to trade John Buck. Even so, they’ll likely bring in a veteran catcher.

Eric Young: He solved their leadoff spot vacancy, and that’s reason enough to bring him back. The team never looked so alive as when Young was running the bases.

Juan Lagares: In the absence of signing a power bat in the outfield, Lagares will start next season. The question is whether center or right? Matt den Dekker is better defensively in center, but him, Lagares and Young produce little power. Outside of Young, the only outfield certainty is it won’t include Lucas Duda.

Matt Harvey: Despite Harvey’s wishful thinking, the Mets know he won’t be in their rotation. They can’t push Harvey to surgery because that would be bad form, but deep down they know.

Zack Wheeler: They know they got a good one in Wheeler. Presumably, they already know they will monitor his innings. Unlike how they handled Harvey, they should already have a plan in place, and it should be to skip one start a month. That puts him at 28 for the season and a potential savings of 54 innings.

The rotation: Adding a veteran starter or two is essential. Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be an option. They should also have a tentative timetable in place to promote Rafael Montero. They had one for Harvey and Wheeler; Montero will be the same.

Jenrry Mejia: Considering his effectiveness as a starter, and now the void in that role, Mejia needs to go back to starting after he’s recovered from surgery.

The bullpen: Again, they know there will be an overhaul as LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison and perhaps Pedro Feliciano won’t be back.

It will be another long winter, but the Mets should already have their plan in place.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos