Aug 02

Mets Wrap: Rosario’s Misplay In Ninth Spoils Debut

All eyes were on Amed Rosario, whose Major League debut had mixed reviews tonight in Denver. The future of the Mets singled in four at-bats, but the game came down to his misplay of DJ LeMahieu’s hard grounder.

With Charlie Blackmon on first, LeMahieu grounded a ball to shortstop. Rosario took a quick step toward the bag, then broke back to his right. The ball deflected off his glove, but the Rockies had two runners on with no outs, and Nolan Arenado followed with a single to center to give Colorado a 5-4 victory.

ROSARIO and WALKER: Veteran schools rookie. (SNY)

ROSARIO and WALKER: Veteran schools rookie. (SNY)

Manager Terry Collins refused to throw Rosario under the bus, saying he didn’t know who was supposed to cover the bag, that Rosario and second baseman Neil Walker would decide before the pitch who was to cover the base.

However, basic fundamentals with a right-handed hitter at the plate dictate the second baseman cover the bag, but the only problem was Walker wasn’t close to the base.

After the game, both Walker and Jay Bruce met with Rosario to tell him to shake it off.

“It really means a lot,’’ Rosario said through a translator. “I’ve already shaken it off. I’ll come in tomorrow with a fresh mindset.’’

Collins said Rosario handled himself well the entire game, and didn’t hang his head.

“If you get caught, you get caught,’’ Collins said. “He’ll be fine. He shouldn’t be upset about not making the play. I thought he handled himself well. He’ll be fine.’’

Rosario collected his first major league hit in the eighth, just beating shortstop Trevor Story‘s throw wide of first. The play could’ve been scored an error, as a good throw would have gotten Rosario.

BRUCE KEEPS SLUGGING: They say there wasn’t a market for corner outfielders, but do you mean to say there wasn’t one AL contender that couldn’t have used Bruce as a DH?

Bruce hit his 28th homer tonight to temporarily give the Mets a 4-3 lead in the eighth. Don’t forget the home team gets to bat, too, and against that bullpen.

“Jay Bruce is a good player,’’ Collins said. “He comes to play every day. People just don’t give him enough credit.’’

GM Sandy Alderson is still trying to make a waiver deal for Bruce, but if the Mets are to contend as he hopes next season they’ll need to replace his power.

Bruce also had a RBI double.

MATZ LOSES IT QUICKLY: Steven Matz flirted with a no-hitter through four innings, pitched shutout ball after five, but four batters into the sixth was out of the game and losing after giving up a three-run homer to Arenado.

Matz said he threw the ball better tonight, but fell back into some bad habits in the sixth.

 

Jul 27

Mets Do As Well As Can Be Expected In Duda Trade

Since they weren’t going to bring back Lucas Duda anyway, the Mets did about as well as could be expected in today’s trade to Tampa Bay for Triple-A pitching prospect Drew Smith.

Duda had been linked to the Yankees and Seattle, and with the Rays, he has a chance to make the playoffs for a third straight season.

DUDA: Traded to Rays. (AP)

DUDA: Traded to Rays. (AP)

It wasn’t too long ago that the Mets chose Duda over Ike Davis, both high-strikeout first basemen with plenty of power. Duda ranks seventh on the Mets all-time homer list with 125. While it is unfair, Duda’s Mets’ legacy will be his wild throw to the plate in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.

“I’m excited to join the Rays. They’re in the hunt,’’ Duda told reporters in San Diego. “Kind of mixed emotions. There are guys here I’ve grown pretty close to, and [the Mets] are a first-class organization. I was very proud to be a New York Met, and I’m gonna be very proud to be on the Tampa Bay Rays.’’

With his power, Duda would fit in well with the Rays, who have the DH in the American League. He is hitting .246 with 17 homers and 37 RBI.

Trading Duda opens the door for Dominic Smith’s promotion to the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas, but until he gets here they have other options, namely Jay Bruce, who is in the lineup tonight in San Diego, T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores and even Neil Walker. Playing Bruce at first also enables the Mets to play Curtis Granderson in center, until they trade him.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Dom,’’ the ever classy Duda said. “I hope he becomes a 10-year All-Star.’’

Duda will be a free agent this winter.

In Smith, 23, the Mets will add to their bullpen, which will be important especially if the Mets are successful in dealing Addison Reed. Smith was a third-round pick by Detroit in 2015 and traded to Tampa Bay in April. He has pitched for four minor league teams in the Rays’ organization and compiled a 1-2 record with a 1.60 ERA and seven saves in 31 games.

 

Jan 29

Woods’ Failure Brings To Mind Wright

Watching Tiger Woods fail to make the cut this weekend at Torrey Pines, I couldn’t help but think about David Wright’s comeback from his back issues and wonder what he’ll give the Mets this summer.

Perhaps, based on his importance to the franchise and salary, he should be given the latitude to call his own shots regarding his playing time (in the short term) and the issue of retirement (in the long term). However, in retrospect, it doesn’t matter because those things are to be determined by the stability and pain level in his back.

WRIGHT: Facing a tough year. (AP)

WRIGHT: Facing a tough year. (AP)

If he hurts, he doesn’t play; if he’s pain-free, he’ll be in there.

Of course, manager Terry Collins can’t afford to push the envelope, but must be prudent in structuring Wright’s playing time and such matters of days off and rest against certain pitchers.

However, there are a couple of things I’ve wondered about lately concerning Wright.

First, were the Mets ever serious about playing Wright at first base? I’m guessing not because there’s still a lot of crouching at first. Since the Mets don’t play in the American League where they could use the DH, probably the only other position he might be moved to is left field, where the stress on his back might be less. Then again, there would be questions about his arm strength and at age 34 and position change would be difficult.

One thing I am curious about is how much he’s considering altering his hitting style. Will he concentrate more on going to right field and less on pulling the ball to left, which creates more torque in his lower back?

Also, will he consider going to a lighter bat and concentrate on being more of a contact hitter. This would likely entail hitting second or perhaps seventh or eighth in the order.

I’m betting Wright will make the right decision because he’s always been about doing what is best for the team.

Jan 06

Mets Will Likely Pick Up Salary To Deal Bruce Or Granderson

The Baltimore Orioles have a deep bullpen and are in need of a DH and/or a corner outfielder. Meanwhile, the Mets need relievers and it is no secret they are trying to trade Jay Bruce and/or Curtis Granderson.

So, why can’t these teams get together on a trade? They seem like logical trade partners.

Sure, it would be great to snag Zach Britton, but that’s a fantasy, and it would take a lot more than Bruce or Granderson. In the Orioles’ six-man bullpen, Odrisamer Despaigne, Vance Worley and Ubaldo Jimenez are the last three on the depth cart, so we can probably start from there.

Reportedly, the Orioles would like to trim from their 2016 payroll of $147 million, so it’s not difficult to conclude if a deal is worked out the Mets would have to pick up some of Bruce’s ($13.1 million) or Granderson’s ($15 million) salary.

Jan 03

My Hall Of Fame Ballot

The New York Times recently published a story claiming baseball writers softened their stance against voting for players connected with PEDs. Well, they didn’t contact me about my ballot that does not include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa or Ivan Rodriguez, all of whom have been connected to steroids.

MUSSINA: Got my vote.(Getty)

MUSSINA: Got my vote.(Getty)

I always considered it a privilege to be a Hall of Fame voter; one I take very seriously. I always believed taking steroids was cheating.

The fundamental misconception of steroids is it enables a hitter to crush a ball 500 feet or adding a couple of feet to a fastball. That’s not it. Steroids enable a player continuing to work out when exhausted. The issue isn’t added strength but increased bat speed that generates to power. For pitchers, it heightens stamina allowing him to work longer into games.

And, for all users, there’s an increase in the confidence of better production.

There have been some reporters whose litmus test to detect cheaters was the back-acne test. Every voter has their own criteria, and I have three: 1) the player had to have failed a drug test and subsequently failed in the appeal process; 2) he had to have been mentioned in the Mitchell Report or any other MLB sanctioned investigation or report; and 3) he had to have been outed, on the record, by a player, coach or baseball official.

If the Hall of Fame changes its protocols and puts on the plaque a player used PEDs – after an admission by the athlete – then I will reconsider and vote for a user.

The following were on my ballot:

Mike Mussina:  Won 20 games for the only time in his 18-year career in his final season. Of course, he could have hung on to win 300. Won at least 15 games in 11 seasons. Won 270 games, falling 30 short of what traditionally has been automatic entry. His .638 winning percentage is sixth best among those who won 250 games. Received Cy Young Award votes nine times.

Jeff Bagwell: There have been rumors, but nothing substantiated. He garnered 71.6 percent of the vote last year – missing out by 15 votes – and every player who received at least 65 percent of the vote got in. Bagwell hit over 30 homers in nine of his 15-year career with Houston. He averaged over 100 runs scored and 100 RBI per season during his career.

Tim Raines: Is on the ballot for the final time before going to the veteran’s committee. He’s arguably one of history’s greatest leadoff hitters, joining Pete Rose, Lou Brock and Rickey Henderson. He was a lifetime .294 hitter with a .385 on-base percentage and stole 808 bases in 954 attempts (the best percentage in history at 84.7 percent).

Trevor Hoffman: A seven-time All-Star finished with 601 saves in his 18-year career. His career hits-per-innings ratio of 6.9 leads all relievers. Recorded at least 30 saves in 14 of 15 seasons and had over 40 nine times.

Lee Smith:  What is wrong with being a compiler? You have to pretty good to hang around for 18 seasons and have 13 straight years of 20-plus saves, 10 of 30-plus saves and three of 40 or more. He ranks 12th all-time in games pitched with 1,022. He ranks third all-time with 478 saves.

Edgar Martinez: Designated hitter is an official position, so why should he be penalized for playing the majority of his games there? MLB named its award for best DH in his honor. Martinez hit at least .300 in ten seasons and is one of nine players to hit 300 homers, 500 doubles, a career average over .300, a career on-base percentage over .400 and a slugging percentage over .500.

Fred McGriff: This one I call a testament for hitting clean. It used to be 500 homers was automatic entry into the Hall of Fame; McGriff hit 493 in 19 seasons. He hit over 30 homers ten times and drove in at least 100 runs eight times. No whispers about him doing it the right way.