May 10

Murphy Produces Hitting Third

We can’t assume the Mets’ heretofore stagnant offense is suddenly vibrant after one game, but we can conclude Daniel Murphy should remain hitting third for the foreseeable future. The Mets are hoping Murphy’s three hits in today’s 7-4 victory over Philadelphia can jumpstart an offense that has scored three or fewer runs in 16 of their 31 games.

The offense broke through today to make Bartolo Colon the majors’ first six-game winner of the season.

MURPHY: Getting hot. (Getty)

MURPHY: Getting hot. (Getty)

Traditionally, the No. 3 hitter is a team’s best hitter with the combination of average and power, which is the injured David Wright. Lucas Duda had been hitting third, but he’s slumping and not hitting with power. That leaves the warming Murphy, who a week ago was being showcased for a possible trade to San Francisco. He’s not going anywhere now.

Manager Terry Collins opened the season with a twist by dropping Juan Lagares from leadoff to sixth in the order, and moving up Curtis Granderson to first. Wright was hitting second and Duda third. Later, when injuries took Wright and Travis d’Arnaud from the lineup, and with Duda slumping and Granderson still first, there was a lack of punch in the order.

The Mets thrived during an 11-game winning streak with solid starting pitching and timely hitting, but the offense wilted in losing seven of ten.

With no help coming from the minors or in a trade, Collins needed a spark and this could happen with Murphy. In a domino effect, Duda dropped to clean-up where he thrived last season and Michael Cuddyer moved to fifth.

Collins will have some decisions to make when Wright returns, and he’ll resume baseball activities Monday. He could move Wright to second, where he was hitting before he was injured. Subsequently, Lagares could go back to sixth, or he could hit first with Granderson moving to the middle of the order.

That’s to be determined, but Murphy in the third spot worked out today, and this week the Mets have the Cubs and Brewers, teams they are better than and should be able to handle. There’s no better time than to run with this lineup and see where it goes.

 

 

May 07

Reading The Murphy Tea Leaves

The thing that stands out about the recent Daniel Murphy trade rumors is the lack of denials from the New York Mets. None. Sure, scouts look at players all the time and we shouldn’t be surprised San Francisco was in over the weekend to look at Murphy. It stands to reason considering the Giants have a Pablo Sandoval size hole at third base.

It is no coincidence Murphy was moved to third to be showcased when Dilson Herrera was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas.

MURPHY: Sliding on out of here? (AP)

MURPHY: Sliding on out of here? (AP)

It also comes as no surprise the Mets have made no overtures to extend Murphy’s contract. And, they have had plenty of time.

It all makes sense, except for one thing: The Mets are playing winning baseball and Murphy, although not hitting well, does have a pile of RBI since he was moved into a run-producing slot in the batting order.

So, what happens in the next couple of weeks when David Wright comes off the disabled list? Especially if Herrera is hitting?

Who can’t see the Mets trying to unload Murphy?

But, if theMets accept token players, minor league scraps, if you will, while having their best season in six years, if should tell you a lot about GM Sandy Alderson and what management really considers as a priority.

My guess is winning isn’t ranked first.

May 01

Mets Game Wrap: Harvey Halts Slide With Gem

Matt Harvey did what aces are expected to do, which was pick up his struggling Mets when they needed him most with a 4-0 gem tonight over the Washington Nationals.

HARVEY: Big time effort. (AP)

HARVEY: Big time effort. (AP)

The Mets went into the game losers of three straight to watch their once sizable lead over the Nationals dwindle down to five games (4.5 over Atlanta and Miami). Yes, tonight was as close to being a “must win” game as you can get on the first day of May.

Harvey relishes these situations and responded by giving up only five hits in seven scoreless innings despite not having his best fastball (indicative of only three strikeouts). Consequently, Harvey had to go to his breaking ball more than he normally would have wanted.

Matt Harvey takes these games to heart. When you have a No. 1, it’s just great to have,” manager Terry Collins said. “You can depend on him.”

His 5-0 record is comprised with three victories following a Mets’ loss. Earlier today I wrote about what makes Harvey special, but there’s another reason – he can locate all of his pitches and do so without his best fastball.”

It was thought Harvey, who was aided by Michael Cuddyer‘s homer in the fourth and a diving catch by Juan Lagares‘ diving catch in the fifth, might come out for the eighth, but Collins said he didn’t think he had anything left.

“I thought he had run out of gas,” Collins said. “He was starting to labor between pitches. The one thing I didn’t want to do was to have to go out there if and they got a  guy on and you have to go out and get him.”

Harvey had no qualms with Collins’ decision.

“I think he made the right decision,” Harvey said. “He did exactly what he needed to do. He made the right call.”

This put the Mets in position of having to rely on Jeurys Familia for a fifth-out save. What could have been a tense situation was considerably relaxed with Daniel Murphy‘s three-run double in the eighth.

Harvey called Familia’s effort “huge,” but the same can be said for his.

 

 

Apr 23

Amazing Start Changing Perception Of Mets

As special as the Mets played Wednesday, today was important for another reason. After winning their tenth straight game last night, there was tremendous letdown potential for today, but this team would have no part of such talk as it tied a franchise best with its eleventh straight victory in sweeping a ten-game home stand.

COLLINS: Revels in great start.

COLLINS: Revels in great start.

It was cold, the stands were mostly empty, and there were moments of sloppiness. Daniel Murphy blew a play in the field that lead to a pair of Atlanta runs; Wilmer Flores was picked off second; and the hitting was sporadic.

However, the offense drew eight walks; Bartolo Colon was sharp again in winning his fourth straight start; Murphy drove in four runs; and the bullpen was again in shutdown mode, keyed by another strong appearance from Buddy Carlyle and Jeurys Familia‘s eighth straight save in a 6-3 victory over the Braves.

To win despite not being sharp is another significant sign in a season that already has had so many. The starting pitching; the bullpen; winning close games; winning within the division; coming from behind; just about everything they haven’t done in previous seasons.

What the Mets are doing is changing the perception, which might be one of the hardest things to do in sports.

“That was one of our goals coming out of spring training, that we are different,” manager Terry Collins said. “There are expectations. This sends a huge message to our fans that what we said we meant.”

Previous Mets teams would not have over come the long string of injuries and adversity that has already hit them hard this season.

“It has been the resiliency,” Collins said of the one ingredient that defined the home stand. “We have been behind in a lot of the nights, but we hung in there and executed.”

The Mets had spotty moments today and will have some in the future. However, Collins vowed this team is different and will handle those moments different than from other recent Mets’ teams.

“Whether it will be in the next week, the next six weeks, the next four months, there will be no panic with this team,” Collins promised.

He sounded believable.