May 02

Wright More Than A Week Away

As they should, the Mets are treating David Wright‘s hamstring injury with kid gloves and perhaps learning from experience, aren’t making any projections about his return. GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Friday having Wright back next weekend in Philadelphia “seems a little aggressive.”

Wright went on the disabled list April 15 with what was called a right hamstring strain that was subsequently changed to a pull. At the time, Alderson said it might take three weeks, but that won’t happen. Wright said he feels it when he exerts himself running and was restricted to physical therapy yesterday and plans to resume running today.

There were rumblings earlier this week Wright might come back for the Washington series, but this is the right call all around.

Holding the best record in baseball at 16-8, there’s no reason to rush him. None. With previous injuries Wright sometimes pushed the envelope and played hurt. He acknowledged that when he went on the disabled list and said he didn’t want to risk injuring himself further.

May 01

Mets Make Right Move By Sticking With Flores

It wasn’t that long ago when Mets manager Terry Collins said his team would eventually run into problems – “blips,” he called them – but vowed “there would be no panic.”

COLLINS: Stays with Flores. (AP)

COLLINS: Stays with Flores. (AP)

In the wake of Wilmer Flores’ costly error Thursday night that lead to a three-run inning for the Nationals, if there were a time the Mets would have panicked in the past, this would have been it.

The defense of their middle infield of Flores (six errors) and Daniel Murphy (four) was a question entering the season and remains so; the Mets have lost seven of their last nine games, and they are no longer in coast mode.

Flores made no excuses and said he botched the play. Normally, that’s enough, but the last 24 hours have seen a lot of Flores bashing, which, although deserved in part, is also shortsighted. Much of that bashing was from former-Met-turned analyst Nelson Figueroa.

“I wish I had the answer to it,” manager Terry Collins said. “When we decided he was going to be the shortstop, you realize there might be a couple rough spots.

“But, you realize the minute you jerk him out of the lineup and throw him on the bench because he’s not good enough to play shortstop, you might as well put him someplace else because those days are over playing shortstop. … You have to be a little patient.”

Collins is 100 percent on the mark about this, as patience is the Mets’ only option. What, do you want to play Ruben Tejada full time? And, before anybody brings it up, Troy Tulowitzki has an injury history and $129 million remaining on a contract that runs through 2020 (with an option for 2021). And, we’ve danced through this before; the Mets don’t want to part with any of their young pitching in a trade.

Until next year’s free-agent market develops, it is pretty much Flores or bust.

The Mets’ only option is to fiddle from within, which is what they did when they promoted second baseman Dilson Herrera after Thursday’s game and said Murphy will move to third base while David Wright remains on the disabled list for at least another week.

Consequently, the Mets will move Eric Campbell to the bench and demote lefty reliever Jack Leathersich to Triple-A Las Vegas.

This might not be a palatable option, but it is the only one. And, more to the point, it means Collins is staying true to his word and not panicking.

After all, we are only one month into the season and the Mets are perched atop the NL East which nobody expected. It is way too soon to shut the window on Flores.

ON DECK:  Why I like Matt Harvey

Apr 29

Mets In Good Spot With Colon Today

It’s all about winning series at this point and for the Mets today they have another opportunity. You have to be happy Bartolo Colon is going for them today against the Marlins.

The Mets have the chance to go home to face the Nationals in a four-game series with at least a seven-game lead if they put away Miami today. It is why I called Miami a trap series. However, with how the Mets played the past two games it is clear they are focused. Dillon Gee was superb Monday and last night they came from behind to tie.

COLON: Workhorse goes today.

COLON: Workhorse goes today.

That doesn’t happen with teams looking ahead. However, I remain respectful and wary of the Nationals, who were down 9-1 Tuesday, but rallied to beat the Braves. Dying teams don’t do that, so obviously they are focused, also.

Should Colon win he will become the first Mets’ starter to go 5-0 since Pedro Martinez in 2006, not coincidentally, the last time they reached the playoffs. The franchise record is 7-0 by Frank Viola in 1990.

Colon is one of the Mets’ top story lines in April and his start in light of Zack Wheeler’s injury has more than stabilized the rotation. The Mets need another strong start from him on the eve of the Washington series.

Last night’s starter, Rafael Montero, was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas, which was to be expected considering he threw 85 pitches working into the sixth and wouldn’t be available soon.

Replacing him on the roster will be left-handed reliever Jack Leathersich. Subsequently, the Mets will go back to a short bench until David Wright returns from the disabled, which could be as soon as this weekend. Leathersich is a strikeout pitcher, averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

It will be interesting to see what the Mets do when Wright returns and when they want to bring back Montero.

The Mets like having Montero around, but they also like deeper bench. Unfortunately, they can’t have both.

 

Apr 28

Six-Man Rotation Not Practical For Mets

For more than five innings in tonight’s 4-3 loss at Miami, the Mets were treated to a solid performance from Rafael Montero to where the idea could be floated of considering a six-man rotation.

Doing so would give everybody an additional day of rest. Specifically, the real goal would be to give Matt Harvey an additional day and ultimately preserve his workload.

While that objective is worthwhile, why do something to impact all the other starters, while the prudent option would be to stick with – but so far ignored – plan of reducing his innings on a per start basis?

The Mets could have shaved three innings off Harvey’s last start, and two the one before that, which would have given him five to play with in September.

However, could a six-man rotation work for the long term? For something that unconventional to work, it can’t be imposed a month into the season. I suggested something similar in the offseason that would have enabled the rest of the rotation to get into a routine.

At one time teams utilized four-man rotations, which ultimately were expanded to five-man rotations. With teams looking to protect their investments in young pitching, I can see them wanting to reduce the number of starts for their frontline pitchers.

The plus is it saves wear-and-tear. The downside is many rotations are already thin and this makes them thinner. Another downside is the inevitable need for relievers, which subsequently creates a thin bench like the Mets had at the start of the season.

For this to work the entire season would have to be mapped out in advance factoring in off days.

For now, the Mets could keep Montero for the bullpen until David Wright is activated, but I don’t like the idea of going into the Washington series with a short bench.

The game is constantly changing and perhaps someday a six-man rotation could come into play, but it would have to come with an expanded roster. For now, the Mets will have to do what they’ve done all year with their pitching – play it by ear.

Apr 23

Don’t Think We’ll See Mejia Again

Resiliency is a characteristic of a championship caliber team, and so far it defines the 2015 New York Mets.

To date, they have lost for the season Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin to elbow injuries, and Jenrry Mejia to a drug suspension. They are also without David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell.

A little more than two weeks in and the Mets are on their second catcher and third closer.

There have been a lot of key figures to the Mets’ climb to the top of the NL East, but arguably one of their most important has been Jeurys Familia, who took the closer role from Mejia and by extension, Parnell.

The Mets’ bullpen is minus Parnell, Black, Edgin and Mejia, which are four of the seven they had counted on. Imagine where they might be today without Familia’s seven saves.

When Parnell does return, manager Terry Collins said he won’t immediately return to closing duties, and chances are Mejia will never wear a Mets’ uniform again.

If Mejia’s 80-game suspension isn’t enough to act as a deterrent for those players that choose to find an illegal edge, then perhaps this might be – not only is Mejia suspended, but his career could be over. At least, his one in Flushing.