Aug 13

How The Mets Morphed Into A Team

With a few exceptions, the New York Mets resemble little the team that broke spring training. Only two players, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis, were the expected starters this late in the season who were in the line-up Monday night in Los Angeles.

And, only recently is Davis’ performance at the plate reaching major league standards. And, Murphy will be the first tell you last night wasn’t major league standards for him defensively, but that’s another matter.

Davis is playing well, but not hitting for power and his spot next year is far from secure.

Around the infield, John Buck was to have been replaced by Travis d’Arnaud at catcher; Ruben Tejada was to be at shortstop, not Omar Quintanilla; and third baseman David Wright being on the disabled list gave Wilmer Flores an opportunity.

How well d’Arnaud plays on this level remains a mystery, and Tejada is playing his way out of the organization.

Ironically, Flores’ development could mean the end of Murphy’s tenure with the Mets as Terry Collins is talking about playing him at second base. However, he could sit after twisting his ankle.

From left to right in the outfield, we all knew Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Colin Cowgill in center, and Mike Baxter in right wouldn’t last. Cowgill hit a grand slam Opening Day and was on the bench within two weeks.

Duda is in the minor leagues saying he wouldn’t mind being a DH, which couldn’t make Sandy Alderson happy; Nieuwenhuis is in the minors while Cowgill was traded; and Baxter is again a role player.

Eric Young filled the lead-off hole and there’s no way Duda could replace him in left; Juan Lagares is the centerfielder of the present and future; and role player Marlon Byrd turned out to be the team’s best offensive player.

Anticipate Byrd asking for two years and not being retained.

Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia weren’t in the Opening Day rotation and both are pitching as if they have plans to never leave. We know, barring injury, Wheeler isn’t going anywhere.

The bullpen has been superb the past month, but has also been patchwork. Bullpens always need tinkering; so don’t be surprised if there are new faces next spring.

The expectations of the Mets were low this spring and it is a reflection of how Matt Harvey’s development and how well Collins and his staff have done to where .500 or second place are even possible goals.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 11

Mets’ Ike Davis Showing Breakthrough Signs

One of the hidden storylines for the New York Mets Saturday was Ike Davis’ batting average breaking .200 heading north.

The Mets stuck with Davis longer than they should have before demoting him July 9, but it was because a slow 2012 first half culminated with a late surge that saw him finish with 32 homers, and that’s production GM Sandy Alderson couldn’t ignore.

DAVIS: Scoring last night vs. D-Backs. (Getty)

DAVIS: Scoring last night vs. D-Backs. (Getty)

“He showed what he is capable of last year in the second half,’’ Alderson said in the weeks prior to the demotion in explaining why Davis was still taking his three empty swings and heading back to the dugout. “We have to keep that in the back of our mind.’’

Davis had two hits against Arizona to raise his average to .203, but also drew two walks. Not enough to warrant a contract extension, but consider Davis is hitting .300 since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas compared to .161 before the desert and you can see the difference.

Davis’ pre-Vegas strikeouts-to-walks ratio was 66-to-19; it is now, brace yourself, 22-to-25. He’s still not hitting for power with one homer and nine RBI, but first things first. His patience and pitch selection is far better, and if it continues, the run production will increase.

Davis has not done enough to warrant the Mets’ tendering him a contract this winter, but a strong finish would give Alderson reason to think, instead of looking at Josh Satin or Wilmer Flores or somebody in the free-agent market.

The Mets claim they’ll have more resources this winter, but they still are a franchise feeling financial strain. They aren’t about to throw money away, and that would include bringing back Davis at his current run-production.

Davis is making $3.1 million this season, which is chump change for a 30-homer bat. He has six homers and 25 RBI, which isn’t enough to keep him, but 15 homers and 50 RBI is definitely doable. That could change everything.

Currently working against him is a horrid first half that has him in a platoon with Satin, and with David Wright on the disabled list, pitchers can work around Davis.

As far as next year, Satin will be cheaper, but he doesn’t have Davis’ power. Perhaps he’s a right-handed Daniel Murphy at best.

Power is not expected from Satin and irrelevant now from Davis, what matters is having an idea and a light has switched on above his head.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 10

Mets Even Thinking Of Trading Wilmer Flores Is Absurd

All of a sudden, I’ve been reading with head-scratching confusion how several bloggers are suggesting the New York Mets trade Wilmer Flores.

Why? What good would it serve other than just giving away a prospect? What could they possibly get for him now? Their confused reasoning is since the Mets have few position player prospects they should trade their best one. Yup, makes sense to me.

FLORES: Don't even think of trading him.

FLORES: Don’t even think of trading him.

Flores has been with the Mets for just a handful of games, too small a window to ascertain his potential, and also way too tiny for another team to figure out what to do with him or how he could fit into their plans.

The reason the Mets are having a hard time figuring out what to do with him, and only brought him up because of David Wright’s strained hamstring, is because they don’t know where to play him because he doesn’t have a position.

Wright will occupy third base for much of the next decade; supposedly he doesn’t have the range to play shortstop or speed to go to the outfield; and Daniel Murphy is the second baseman for the foreseeable future.

Other teams also see that, and American League teams are reluctant to use young prospects as a designated hitter let alone trade for one to assume that role. Veteran bats caught in a position logjam, or those that can’t play the field, usually end up as the designated hitter.

I’ll bet you can’t name many prospects stuck in the DH role. At least none on a long-term basis.

So, where could Flores end up playing?

I wrote over a week ago he could be a first-base option should the Mets opt not to tender a contract to Ike Davis, who would then leave as a free agent. Assuming the high probability of that scenario, isn’t it likely other teams have reached the same conclusion?

And, given that, wouldn’t a team needing a bat, particularly a left-handed one, wait until Davis is a free agent instead of trading for him? Davis, after all, based on 32 homers last season, has a more immediate upside than Flores.

Trading Flores now is akin to giving him away because nobody – including the Mets – has a real understanding of his value this early in his career.

Flores could have trade value in the future, but not now. His value to the Mets, with Wright most likely out for the rest of the month, is to establish what he can and can’t do.

Even at the end of the season it would be premature to think of trading him. Should the Mets decide to test Flores at first base next year, they would want to play him there during the winter and let him compete for the spot during spring training.

Any move involving Flores prior to that would be a mistake. A knee-jerk reaction to the highest degree.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 04

Here’s A Plan For The Mets On How To Use Wilmer Flores

What is going on with the New York Mets and prospect Wilmer Flores? Can we even call him a prospect anymore?

His natural position is third base, but with David Wright on the disabled list they are not bringing up Flores.

FLORES: Could he play first?

FLORES: Could he play first?

It makes no sense unless the Mets have other plans for Flores. Reading between the lines, my guess is their long- range plan could be to play him at first base, which is where he recently worked at Triple-A Las Vegas following an ankle injury.

Reportedly, he’s back at second base, but why? They should play him at first for the rest of the minor league season to see if they have something there.

Flores has played all around the infield, but mostly at second base this season before the interlude at first base. Blocked from third because of Wright, and with Daniel Murphy playing better at second, and concerns about his lack of speed keeping him from the outfield, first base could be the logical conclusion.

Don’t the Mets see that?

It appears the Mets will give Davis the second half to find his way at the plate. If he doesn’t, but Flores shows something at first, their questions could be answered for them by not tendering Davis a contract and go into spring training next year with Flores competing with Josh Satin for the first base job.

Should Flores use the rest of the minor league season – and there’s not much left – to make a positive impression at first base, it will be interesting to see if the Mets send him somewhere this winter to work at that position.

The presumption is Flores can hit, evidenced by his .320 average with 14 homers and 85 RBI with Las Vegas. All that in just 412 at-bats.

Currently, Flores has little trade value, even as a prospect, because other teams also don’t know where to play him. And, American League teams prefer to use the designated hitter slot for veterans who have lost a step, or proven major league hitters stuck in a position logjam.

Flores is neither. The question is: Will he ever be a Met?

 

TODAY’S LINEUP

The following is the Mets’ lineup for their series finale with Kansas City:

Eric Young, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Josh Satin, 3B

Marlon Byrd, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Juan Lagares, CF

John Buck, C

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Zack Wheeler, RHP

LINEUP THOUGHTS: There was speculation the Mets would move Murphy to third and play Eric Young at second, but that’s not the case and that’s a good thing. Young and Murphy are settled into their positions, and with Wright out, why make a move that impacts three positions instead of one? … I still like Lagares batting second and dropping down Murphy into a RBI slot. With the way he’s hitting he’s better in the fifth slot than Davis.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 03

Mets Mishandle Wright’s Injury; Lands On Disabled List

The New York Mets posted their lineup on a bulletin board opposite the door opening into their vast clubhouse and missing is David Wright’s name.

He shouldn’t have been in Friday’s lineup either, and also not in Thursday’s lineup.

WRIGHT: Limping off the field. (AP)

WRIGHT: Limping off the field. (AP)

Once again, the Mets mishandled an injury that has the potential to turn significant. Wright, playing with tightness in his right hamstring this week, strained that hamstring last night and was placed on the disabled list this morning.

As I always say when it comes to Met injuries, bet the over, and don’t think this will just be two weeks.

I wrote prior to the game Wright should sit. It pleases me none to say, “I told you so.’’ Then again, I don’t have to say it to veteran Met watchers as they know, regardless of the manager or GM, injuries and the Mets are never a good mix.

Wright several times – including a slight fracture in his back last year – Ike Davis, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jon Niese and Johan Santana were not handled properly. Beltran was so frustrated and distrustful of how he was being treated that he had surgery on his own.

Actually, that didn’t work out too badly for him, did it?

Earlier this week, Dr. Terry Collins suggested Wright might have been dehydrated.

It has been said nobody knows a player’s body like himself and there is some degree of truth to that, but it is not complete. Nothing ever is.

Wright is notorious for playing through pain, as evidenced by playing for a month with the fracture in his back. If the doctors would had let him, he would have tried to play after being beaned by Matt Cain.

In explaining the play, Collins told reporters: “He just wanted to get extended to try to help us win a baseball game, that’s what it’s all about.’’

Not so fast. Let’s not write this off on Wright busting his butt to make a play. We know that’s what Wright is all about.

But, players are kids. You can’t always trust them, especially when it comes to injuries. These guys have such an ingrained loyalty to their teammates – most of them, anyway, with the exception of say Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, but that’s another issue – that they will play through the pain.

And, players aren’t doctors. What they feel and what they know are two different things.

Since players can’t trust themselves, it comes down to the team, especially the trainers and manager. Nobody ever knows when a hamstring will go, but when there’s tightness or soreness, you always have to judge on the side of caution.

I know Collins wants to win, but this one has to be on him. He should have rested Wright from the beginning and had him undergo some kind of treatment.

If he had, he wouldn’t writing in Justin Turner’s name at third for today.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Eric Young, LF

Juan Lagares, CF

Josh Satin, 1B

Marlon Byrd, RF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Justin Turner, 3B

Anthony Recker, C

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Jeremy Hefner, RHP

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos