May 19

Collins Must Share Blame For Wright; DL Should Be Considered

In the 20-plus-years I have written about major league baseball, there are a handful of players I admire and respect as much as David Wright.

Even so, I am still objective as to what I see and it currently isn’t good. Wright was scratched Tuesday because of a sore back, and then returned to go 0-for-4 with three more strikeouts Wednesday.

WRIGHT: DL bound? (AP)

WRIGHT: DL bound? (AP)

Wright is in persistent discomfort and needs up to two hours to get ready to play. He is not suited to pinch-hit, especially in cold weather, as he did Sunday in Colorado. Wright knows not to push it, but when asked he will play. That’s in his DNA.

Translated: Manager Terry Collins did Wright a disservice when he asked him to pinch-hit. Winning one game in mid-May isn’t as important as risking losing him for the long haul.

I know Collins wants to win, but he was wrong, selfish and shortsighted for asking Wright to pinch-hit. It isn’t the first time Collins pushed the envelope with Wright or other players. Don’t forget his panic move of labeling the eighth game of the season “must win,’’ and pushing Wright, Jim Henderson and Jeurys Familia, none of whom should have played that day.

Wright would never finger-point at his manager. The bottom line is Collins should have been smart enough to not put Wright in that position.

“I don’t know,” Wright told Newsday on whether pinch-hitting took him out of Tuesday’s lineup. “Again, it’s probably not the ideal circumstances. But this is the National League, you really don’t have that much leeway especially when you’re playing with a short bench.”

That puts the onus on the manager to pay attention to what he has available.

Wright is batting .221, which is a career-low for this point in the season. He already has 47 strikeouts in 113 at-bats, with four homers and eight RBI. He’s on pace to strike out 195 times, hit 17 homers and drive in 33 runs. His on-base percentage of .362 gives us glimpses of him still being a productive player.

“The back thing is just something that I’m going to have to get used to because it’s not changing,” Wright told reporters. “But I feel like I can play at a much higher level than I’m playing at right now.

“I think that there are certainly some things I’m having to make adjustments with as far as preparation, as far as playing schedule, that I’m going to have to get used to. But when I go take the field I expect to play much better than I am right now.”

Is Wright done?

I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows. It’s worth sticking with him to find out, but that means staying with the plan and not deviating. That’s all on the manager.

Can Wright play Thursday night? That’s up in the air. If his availability is day-to-day and Collins doesn’t know what he has on any given night, he should go on the disabled list.

Go back to the beginning. Get re-examined and concentrate on nothing but getting stronger for the next couple of weeks. And, during this time, management should have a sit-down with Collins and tell him to get with the program and stick with it.

A lot of things must happen for this to work, including the manager being smarter than he has been.

 

May 17

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Stuffs Nats

SYNERGAARD: All arm and hair. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: All arm and hair. (Getty)

Take away two pitches and the Mets and Nationals might still be playing. Home runs by Curtis Granderson – off the first pitch thrown to him – and Michael Conforto off Max Scherzer were all Noah Syndergaard needed to win, 2-0, Tuesday night.

“I think he rises to the challenge,” Mets manager Terry Collins to reporters about Syndergaard in a classic understatement.

Syndergaard struck out ten to break the Mets’ four-game losing streak to pull them within a half-game of the Nationals. Scherzer, who was coming off a 20-strikeout performance in his previous start, also struck out ten.

The game featured the return of long-time Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy to return. Murphy hit six homers in last year’s postseason before he was signed as a free-agent in the offseason.

“Very nice of them,” Murphy said of two standing ovations.

After that, he was booed.

METS GAME WRAP

May 17, 2016

Game: #38      Score: Mets 2, Nationals 0

Record: 22-16      Streak: W 1

Standings: Second, NL East .5 GB Nationals Playoffs Today: First WC vs. Pittsburgh

Runs: 148       Average: 3.89    Times 3 or less: 17

SUMMARY: Sometimes pitching duels don’t live up to their promise. This one did.

KEY MOMENT:  Granderson’s homer in the first.

THUMBS UP:  Syndergaard was brilliant, throwing 102 pitches in seven innings. He gave up five hits and didn’t walk a batter. … Granderson reached base in all four plate appearances. … Addison Reed struck out two of the three Nationals he faced. … Jeurys Familia earned his 13th save in as many opportunities.

THUMBS DOWN:  None.

EXTRA INNINGS:  David Wright was scratched because of sore back and is listed day-to-day. It is the first time this season Wright didn’t play because of his back. I am wondering if his late pinch-hit appearance Sunday after sitting all day might have been a cause. … Lucas Duda didn’t play because of a sore back. He received an injection and the hope is he’ll be able to play Thursday. … Tests showed no ligament damage with Steve Matz. He won’t pitch in this series but could start Friday. I would still save him for next week.

QUOTEBOOK:  “Played good because we pitched good.’’ – Collins in as succinct an analysis as possible.

BY THE NUMBERS:  6-0: Mets’ record this year after an off day.

NEXT FOR METS:  Bartolo Colon Wednesday against Gio Gonzalez.

May 14

May 14, Mets’ Lineup At Colorado

The last time Logan Verrett started a game in Denver it was to replace Matt Harvey when he needed to skip a turn. Tonight he’s replacing Steven Matz.

Verrett will be making his third start of the season. In his previous two, he pitched back-to-back scoreless six-inning starts against Miami (April 13) and Philadelphia (April 19). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Verrett is the first pitcher ever with two relief wins and two scoreless starts of at least six innings before the end of April.

Here’s the lineup behind him:

Curtis Granderson – RF: Batting .171 (6-for-35) on the trip and is 9-for-47 over his last 16 games.

David Wright – 3B: Has drawn at least one walk in 11 of his last 12 games. Is currently on a 0-for-14 slide.

Michael Conforto – LF: Glad to see him still hitting third despite being in a prolonged slump (6-for-42) .143 since May 1.

Yoenis Cespedes – CF: Has back-to-back 0-for-4 games. Has 28 strikeouts in last 31 games.

Lucas Duda – 1B: Another one on a dry road trip, hitting .154 (4-for-26). Enters with a 13-game hitting streak against Rockies’ pitching.

Neil Walker – 2B: After a blistering April, he’s hitting .121 (4-for-33) in 11 games in May. Is a lifetime .301 hitter at Coors Field.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS:  Has gone 37 games without a homer. Is hitting .308 on the road this year.

Kevin Plawecki – C: Having a good road trip .280 (7-for-25). Is batting .273 (3-for-11) with RISP.

Verrett – RHP: Hitters are 0-for-16 with five strikeouts with RISP against him this year. Has 10 strikeouts with three walks as a starter.

 

May 10

May 10, Mets’ Lineup At Dodgers

The Mets behind Jacob deGrom will be going after their fourth straight victory tonight in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. After dropping the first two games on this road trip in San Diego the Mets seem to be back on their game.

Here’s the Mets’ batting order tonight against Alex Wood.

Juan Lagares – RF: Curtis Granderson, who hit the first pitch of Monday’s game for a homer, is on the bench. Lagares is 0-for-7 on this trip.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Is hitting .300 on the trip and .333 on the road this season. Defensively, has committed one error in 117 chances, sixth among ML shortstops.

David Wright – 3B: Is a .340 lifetime hitter against the Dodgers, including the playoffs. Of his three homers, two put the Mets in the lead.

Yoenis Cespedes – CF: Is hitting .303 with five homers and 21 RBI with RISP. Has three homers on this trip.

Wilmer Flores – 2B: Is a .403 lifetime hitter against Los Angeles, including .464 at Dodger Stadium. Hitless in ten at-bats with RISP.

Michael Conforto – LF: Did not play Monday. Is 2-for-14 on the trip. Three of his five homers have put the Mets in the lead. Is batting .333 with RISP.

Kevin Plawecki – C: Is batting .357 (5-for-14) on this trip, which began the day after Terry Collins called him out in the press for not hitting.

Eric Campbell – 1B: Replaces Lucas Duda tonight. Made his first Opening Day roster as the result of hitting .292 with a .433 on-base percentage in spring training.

DeGrom – RHP: Is coming off his first loss of the season, May 5, in San Diego. Cruised through seven scoreless innings against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS and gutted his way through six innings in Game 5.

 

May 07

Colon One Of A Kind

Bartolo Colon swings hard, so you figured if he ever caught a pitch just right it might go out. Well, it finally happened in the second inning Saturday night when Colon, 17 days shy of his 43rd birthday, connected against James Shields in the 226th at-bat of his career.

This wasn’t a “run for the roses,’’ as much as it was a 31-second jog around the bases, long enough for the Mets to vacate the bench, fans back home to text their friends with a “you’ll never believe what just happened,” message, and researchers to discover he became the oldest player to hit his first career homer.

Colon’s blast – and he did crush it – was one of four the Mets hit on the night. Yoenis Cespedes hit the first in the first inning, and David Wright and Michael Conforto went back-to-back in the ninth as the Mets regained their power stroke to beat the Padres, 6-3, and Colon won the 221st game of his splendid career.

COLON: One of a kind. (GETTY)

COLON: One of a kind. (GETTY)

Incidentally, the Mets also have the oldest player ever to hit a homer in Julio Franco at 47.

This is Colon’s third year with the Mets. He was originally signed to pick up the innings void when Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery. Colon won 15 and 14 games, respectively, in his first two years and worked over 190 innings each time.

Colon won over the hearts of Mets’ fans, not to mention his teammates, with his work ethic and outwardly unashamed signs of enjoying himself on the field. Colon also won everybody’s respect last year when he volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen during the playoffs.

Colon’s behind-the-back flip to first base last year in MIami was a sense of comic relief, but Saturday’s homer came at a time when the struggling Mets’ offense most needed a jolt.

However, the Mets didn’t get Colon to rake. They got him to pitch, and once again he came up with a quality outing, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings with five strikeouts. It marked the fourth time in six starts this year Colon (3-1) has gone at least six innings, and the 50th time in 68 starts with the Mets he’s gone that far.

Those, however, are numbers. He means far more than stats to this franchise. To watch his teammates mob him in the dugout, to hear how they love to tease him and enjoy his company, is a reflection how much they like and admire him. That’s a sign of respect not many players get to enjoy.

Colon has been a joy to watch during his short time here. He’ll go down as one of the most beloved Mets.