Aug 23

Things Falling Into Place For Mets

Maybe there are omens, if you believe in such things, but there is so much to like about what’s happening for the Mets, and it could be personified by Logan Verrett. Not only did the Mets get five innings from Verrett in his start for Matt Harvey, but got eight strong – with eight strikes in today’s series clinching win over the Rockies.

Things don’t often fall into place the way did for the Mets today. After a rocky first inning Verrett settled down to where you thought you were actually seeing Harvey. Funny line from Verrett, telling Harvey, “I don’t know why everybody is freaking out because everybody knows I’m a better pitcher than you.”

Not only did the Mets rest Harvey, but got a victory and their first sweep of the Rockies in Coors Field. For one day at least, Verrett made us believe this innings-saving program with Harvey might just work after all.

Conventional wisdom had the Mets sending down Verrett to Triple-A Las Vegas after the game, but he was so impressive the Mets optioned out left reliever Dario Alvarez instead. Verrett also gives manager Terry Collins a reliable choice should he need to rest Harvey again or Noah Syndergaard. As a manager, you don’t want to do a lot of searching in September.

The Mets’ bullpen – evidenced by the first two games of the Colorado series – has been shaky lately, but Verrett can offer stability.

There were other season-falling-into-place signs for the Mets this week.

All right, I thought they dragged their feet placing Lucas Duda on the disabled list, but they appear to be surviving his absence. Daniel Murphy, who supposedly can’t play defense, started a key double play. Speaking of defense, Wilmer Flores – with tears out of his eyes – is showing he can play shortstop when he has to. He saved a run, today.

And, the more I see him, the more I like Yoenis Cespedes. He made two scintillating plays in center field that undoubtedly saved a few runs. Since the Mets got him their offense has transformed into something to be feared.

I didn’t think GM Sandy Alderson had it in him, but getting Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Tyler Clippard jumpstarted this team.

Once struggling for runs, the Mets are scoring at a rate where the pressure was lessened on Michael Conforto, and will be for David Wright when he’s activated from the disabled list Monday in Philadelphia. The Mets need Wright to be Wright, but with the way the Mets are hitting – thanks in large part to Cespedes – they can ease him back. The last thing the Mets want is for Wright to force things, and if the offense keeps producing it makes things easier for Wright.

And, with Uribe, they have a reliable option at third. Uribe, with the Latin pitchers, can be a calming influence. He was today with Hansel Robles.

The Mets are a season-high 11 games over .500 as they go to Philadelphia. However, these Phillies are a different bunch than the team the Mets have beaten up on this year.

The Mets have pitched well all season, recently started to hit and their defense is better. If Verrett can stabilize the bullpen when he’s not pitching eight strong, then the Mets could be doing more than playing meaningful games in September.

They could be playing meaningful games in October, and wouldn’t that be sweet.

 

Aug 20

Hopes And Expectations Not The Same For Wright

There are hopes and there are expectations, and they aren’t one of the same when it pertains to the Mets and David Wright. When Wright returns – perhaps within the week – we hope for him to stay healthy and perform like the All-Star he was. But, we can’t really expect it, can we?

Manager Terry Collins is already putting limits on Wright by telling reporters, “[he] won’t be that everyday guy until we know his back is 100 percent and that might not be until next spring.” That might be the most realistic thing Collins ever said about Wright.

WRIGHT: We want to see his smile. (AP)

WRIGHT: We want to see his smile. (AP)

From when Wright comes back and until the end of the season, the Mets might learn third base might be pushing it for him. We might learn because of the bending at the position, that third base might not be the place for him. Then what?

Wright might share time with Daniel Murphy and Juan Uribe, as the Mets’ infield will resemble a jig-saw puzzle with pieces strewn all over the table. Murphy, Kelly Johnson and Wilmer Flores could share second; Ruben Tejada and Flores would share shortstop. Johnson can spell anybody at any position.

“That is what happens when you get a lot of players that are pretty good,” Collins told reporters in Baltimore. “You’ve got to figure out how to get them all in the game at different times. Yeah, it will be a little bit of a challenge.”

However, if Wright is stable and hitting, he’ll get most of the time at third base. Everybody, even Collins, knows that to be true.

That’s the best case scenario for the Mets, regardless of Collins’ words or caution. That is what we’re hoping for, but can’t realistically expect.

Aug 09

A Lot Riding On Wright’s Return

I am cautiously optimistic as I post the following: Mets third baseman and captain David Wright will start a rehab assignment Monday with Class A St. Lucie.

Knock on wood. Don’t walk under a ladder. Throw salt over your shoulder. Cross your fingers. Do whatever it takes to get him back to Flushing soon and in one piece.

WRIGHT: A lot riding on rehab. (AP)

WRIGHT: A lot riding on rehab. (AP)

After winning seven straight, the Mets have dropped their last two to the Rays to fall a scant 1.5 games ahead of Washington. I said it yesterday and will say it again, forget the wild card and go for the division. Wright will help immensely in that regard.

Of all their position players, Wright is the one the Mets can ill-afford to lose the most because of what he represents: he’s their best hitter; he’s a team leader; he’s their biggest investment; he represents the Mets past, present and future.

Yes, there’s a lot riding on this.Wright sustained a right hamstring strain Aug. 14 against Philadelphia, and while on the disabled list was subsequently diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column. After spending most of the summer in Los Angeles undergoing physical therapy, Wright just spent five straight days of baseball activity, which is throwing, fielding grounders and taking batting practice.

What happens tomorrow is what realty counts as it best proximates what he’ll hopefully be doing the remainder of the season and into October – deep into October.

“There’s not much more preparation I can do other than games,’’ Wright told reporters last week when the Mets were in Miami.

Wright’s return is critical to the Mets on a number of fronts. First, if he’s close to form, it gives the Mets’ offense a jumpstart and deepens their bench and batting order.

That’s the most immediate impact.

Secondly, it should help determine the Mets’ offseason priorities: Will they need another third baseman? Will Wright need to change positions? Will a healthy Wright decrease the chances of keeping Daniel Murphy or Kelly Johnson, and possibly Juan Uribe? If Wright can’t make it, was his extension a waste and how will it effect their future spending?

No, this won’t be just a normal roster move when Wright returns. This could be roster, and possibly, franchise defining.

 

Jul 25

Collins Issues Ultimatum; Mets Respond To Rout Dodgers

Timing is everything for the Mets, so it shouldn’t be shocking on the night manager Terry Collins issued an ultimatum his players better hit or take to the bench, the offense exploded for season-highs in runs (15) and (21).

“They’ve been put on notice it’s time to pick it up,’’ Collins said.

And, picked it up they did to make it an easy night of it for Matt Harvey, who coasted to his ninth victory in a 15-2 rout of the Dodgers. It was one of those games that made you scurry to the record books.

So much happened for the Mets, who had scored 21 runs in their previous eight games since the All-Star break:

* Kelly Johnson had two hits, including a homer in his first game as a Met.

* Rookie Michael Conforto, making his second start, slashed four hits and walked.

* Lucas Duda, the Met who has struggled more than any other Met, ripped two homers.

* Kirk Nieuwenhuis, starting in place of Juan Lagares, ripped four hits and walked.

* Ruben Tejada has three hits and scored three runs.

* Daniel Murphy homered.

* Harvey helped his own cause with two hits and two RBI.

“If you want to stay in the lineup, you’ve got to start hitting,’’ Collins said. “Our pitching is good enough to keep us in any game. … I’ll tell you what: Whoever is swinging the bat is going to play. It’s about scoring some runs right now.’’

In the baseball vernacular, games like tonight are called laughers, and laugh they did. It has been a long time coming.

Of course, it’s baseball, and there’s no telling what can happen the next day. Tomorrow, the Mets face Zack Greinke.