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.
* 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.
In 2012, the Mets’ first year without Jose Reyes as their shortstop, they gambled on Ruben Tejada. Nobody thought Tejada could duplicate Reyes’ dynamic style of play, but if he would give them something offensively, with his defense they could live with him.
Tejada was superb that season hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. In fact, the Mets thought so highly of Tejada, at that time manager Terry Collins believed he could be the leadoff hitter the team so desperately needed.
Sure, the window is small, but since reshuffling their infield by putting Tejada to short, Wilmer Flores to second and Daniel Murphy to third, Tejada has produced. Maybe he has produced to the point where Collins might revisit the leadoff hitter idea, which could move Curtis Granderson‘s bat to the middle of the order.
Tejada worked his at-bat in the ninth the way he played in 2012. Tejada had a superb eight-pitch at-bat against Tanner Roark by fouling off five pitches before a RBI single to right that extended his hitting streak to nine games.
Can this last? Tejada is hitting .333 since July 3 to raise his average from .236 to .254.
Again, Tejada’s window has been small, but for now at least shortstop doesn’t have the same sense of urgency, and last night he and the Mets were fun to watch.
As much as I would like to see David Wright play again this summer for the Mets, I’m not holding my breath. Neither should you.
On Sunday afternoon, manager Terry Collins said he spoke with Wright that day and he had begun doing some baseball activities. What those activities were, Collins wouldn’t say. Maybe Wright was asked to right the word “baseball” on a blackboard ten times.
However today, GM Sandy Alderson said Wright’s status hasn’t changed and he hasn’t been cleared for baseball activities. The timetable is at least three weeks from the time he is cleared to when he’s able to play again. Of course, that means if there are no setbacks.
It will be three months tomorrow from when Wright last played in a game. He went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, and while rehabbing it was determined he had spinal stenosis.
Ideally, the Mets would have listened to offers for Daniel Murphy, a free agent whom the Mets aren’t inclined to bring back next season. However, with the Mets legitimate contenders, there’s no way they’ll deal Murphy now.
Meanwhile, when the Mets were in Los Angeles last week Wright said he planned on playing again this season. It’s not looking good.
All the goodwill the Mets fostered during their 11-game winning streak is gone, vanished like a possible Jacob deGrom victory because of a faulty bullpen and no hitting. It faded along with the Mets’ eight-game lead over the Nationals, which is now a 3.5-game deficit.
Sure, the Mets could regroup but what are their chances, but what are the odds?
The way I see it, manager Terry Collins is on his own; a life raft in rough waters. Ownership did nothing over the winter to bring in the offensive talent needed, and he’s received no help from GM Sandy Alderson, whose contribution was Michael Cuddyer.
Collins, because of his contract situation, is a lame duck and managing for his job. Because Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager – ripped him in a book, it is clear he doesn’t have any support.
That says it in spades, as if Alderson’s failure to build a quality bullpen and procure the needed hitting to sustain the young starting pitching wasn’t enough.
It is clear the Mets aren’t playing with fire anymore, and part of that is because Collins isn’t showing any himself. It appears he’s been beaten down and frustrated by a front office and ownership that isn’t supportive.
Collins is a long-time baseball man. He knows the right thing to do. He has no control over injuries, but does have over the talent he sends out every night. He also has control in the dugout after the first pitch. Collins must be aggressive and manage the Mets like this is his last chance, because he’s gone after this year. Deep down he has to know that.
I want to see him go out kicking and not meekly collecting a paycheck. Here’s what he needs to do to give the Mets their best chance of winning:
Goodbye pitch counts: Since it is clear there was no plan to begin with, let’s cut the crap. Matt Harvey has twice been pulled late with a 1-0 lead and went on to lose. That’s happened to deGrom once. Give those horses the extra inning.
Curtis Granderson: He’s finally showing some pop, so drop him in the order. Third, fourth, fifth, I don’t care. He’s being wasted hitting leadoff. I advocated this after seeing the Opening Day lineup. It worked for a while, but is failing now.
The answer? I don’t know. I wanted Juan Lagares, but his on-base percentage is dreadful. There is no real solution, but since he’s in the line-up I’m inclined to go with Ruben Tejada, who has decent speed, but I confess is too streaky.
Speaking of Granderson, the best outfield alignment is him in left field and Cuddyer in right. Why that wasn’t done in the first place is ridiculous.
The infield: Eventually we would get to this, but the best solution defensively is to move Wilmer Flores to third base and Tejada to shortstop. The Mets don’t want to because they are afraid of how Flores might react mentally.
If Flores’ ego is that fragile to where he couldn’t handle a switch then maybe he’s not tough enough to play in the major leagues. When Daniel Murphy returns move him to third and Flores to second.
What about David Wright, you ask? The Mets are foolish if they even think he’ll be back anytime soon, and if he does if he’ll play to any resemblance of his former self. It is more and more looking as if the issue of what to do with Wright will be addressed next spring – with another manager.
These are some of the things Collins can do with the 25 players he currently has on his roster. Since he’s not getting any help, he has to go down showing the same fight he wants from his team.
And, if Alderson doesn’t like it, then tell the game’s smartest general manager to fire him, because what the hell, it will happen soon enough.