Aug 03

Three Mets’ Storylines: Cespedes Goes From Golf Course To DL

With how the Mets played Wednesday, it’s as if they fell out of an Ugly Tree and hit every branch on the way down. The thud at the end was the sound of Yoenis Cespedes landing on the disabled list with a strained right quad, a move that should have been made weeks ago.

The Mets were counting on the combination of Cespedes and Jay Bruce jumpstarting their stagnant offense, but they went a combined 1-for-9 with three strikeouts in a 9-5 loss at Yankee Stadium, including 0-for-4 with RISP. The number I don’t have is what Cespedes shot during his 18 holes earlier in the day.

CESPEDES: Goes on DL ... finally. (AP)

CESPEDES: Goes on DL … finally. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins said prior to the game he was OK with Cespedes playing golf the day of a game despite the Mets’ efforts to keep him off his feet and preserve his energy since the All-Star break.

“Was he running on the course or was he walking? Did he ride a cart or was he jogging?” Collins told reporters “I don’t have any problem with it.”

This wasn’t the first time Cespedes’ penchant for golfing had been an issue. Cespedes golfed the day of Game 4 of the NLCS, then left the game with a shoulder injury. Collins didn’t have a problem with it then, either.

Collins and the Mets mishandled Cespedes’ injury from the beginning. The first mistake was playing him out of position in center. The injury occurred in early July when Cespedes misplayed a ball hit over his head and landed awkwardly.

Sure, it could have happened in left, but what happened later is where the Mets blew it. The Mets didn’t put him on the DL at the time and opted to wait until after the All-Star break, but did nothing when it was clear Cespedes was hurting.

The Mets weren’t hitting, but hoped Cespedes would run into a pitch, like he did against St. Louis, but that moment was lost in Jeurys Familia‘s first blown save.

Collins pointed to these five DH games as a chance to use Cespedes’ bat and keep him off the field. So, what did Collins do? He foolishly used him as a pinch-hitter Tuesday and Cespedes aggravated the quad with an awkward swing.

After Tuesday’s game, Cespedes said he felt something, so he did the responsible thing and played golf Wednesday – with the photos on the Internet – and was given a pass by Collins.

Others though different.

“You’re being rested for a reason,” said SNY analyst Nelson Figueroa. “When they are trying to give you time off, you shouldn’t be on a golf course.”

Added Bobby Valentine: “He should be worried about his RBI’s not his handicap. He’s a paid professional in one sport. … He’s in New York, he shouldn’t do it.”

Whether he used a cart or not is irrelevant. When you play 18 holes you’re still spending a lot of time on your feet and your legs get tired. Then to play a baseball game later is draining.

“I think the best option is just rest, about 10 days or so,” Cespedes told reporters through an interpreter. “Because if I continue playing hurt, I’m never going to recover.”

Too bad Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who brought up Brandon Nimmo to replace Cespedes, couldn’t figure that out weeks ago.

Cespedes injury was clearly the story of the night and will continue to be for a long time.

The other storylines were Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira being hit by a Steven Matz pitch to almost ignite a brawl, then getting in the head of reliever Hansel Robles. That came after the news Lucas Duda had a setback in his back rehab and will probably be lost for the rest of the season.

TEIXEIRA vs. METS PITCHERS:  Matz had a rough start, giving up six runs in six innings, including a homer by Teixeira. The damage was done in the first two innings, but Matz regrouped to retire 12 of the final 13 batters he faced.

The one he didn’t was Teixeira, who was plunked on the leg. It was clear Matz wasn’t throwing at Teixeira, because he immediately turned his back to the plate. When a pitcher intentionally hits a batter he doesn’t turn his back because he doesn’t want to give the hitter a free run at him.

Collins said there was no intent.

“We know Steven Matz wasn’t throwing at anybody,” Collins said. “If his command is that good we wouldn’t have been behind 6-3.”

Even so, to Teixeira perception was reality.

“I know Matz is a good kid,” Teixeira said. “`I’ve talked to him a few times. But listen, when you hit a home run and the next pitch is not even close and hits you it just looks bad. So I just told him, I didn’t appreciate it.”

And, Robles didn’t appreciate Teixeira when the Yankees blew open the game in the seventh inning. When Teixeira was on second, Robles became incensed because he thought he was stealing signs. Robles became angrier when Teixeira mocked him, even to the point where he laughed and pretended to give a set of signs.

“I’ve never gotten inside someone’s head by standing there,” Teixeira said. “After three or four pitches, I realize he’s staring at me. I was trying to have some fun with him. If you think I have your signs, then change your signs.”

Collins conceded Teixeira wasn’t doing anything, but Robles was still upset.

“I think he was trying to pick up signs,” Robles said. “That’s not the way you play baseball. … Just play baseball, you don’t need to pick up signs.”

DUDA HAS SETBACK:  Duda, who had been on the DL since May 23 with a stress fracture in his lower back, was still feeling discomfort and was re-examined by Los Angeles-based orthopedic surgeon Robert Watkins, who suggested 30 days rest. After that, figuring another two to three weeks of rehab, then you’re talking the end of the season.

Duda is making $6.75 million this year. There’s a good chance the Mets will non-tender him in December. The clear option is to bring back James Loney next season, but Alderson said it is possible Michael Conforto or Bruce might be tested at first.

Yeah, that will work.

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Aug 02

Time To DL Cespedes Now

There’s no word to Yoenis Cespedes’ availability for tonight’s Mets-Yankees game at Citi Field. The belief is manager Terry Collins is saving him for the upcoming five games in American League parks where he can be used as a designated hitter.

This makes sense on the surface, but does it really?

CESPEDES: Time to sit him. (AP)

CESPEDES: Time to sit him. (AP)

I understand wanting to get his bat in the lineup, where he might run into a pitch and give the Mets a game. I get all that, but the Mets are taking an unnecessary gamble.

Suppose Cespedes makes it through the DH games without incident, then severely reinjures his right quad to the point where he needs to go on the disabled list. That means the Mets would lose the five DH days (six if you include Tuesday) where they could have back-dated the start time of a DL stint.

If they DL Cespedes now hopefully he will come back sooner – and healed.

At the time I understood wanting to wait until after the All-Star break, but Cespedes came back no better than when he was first injured. Had Cespedes been placed on the DL after the break, his quad could be a moot point. That’s water under the bridge and nothing can be done about it now, however with the addition of Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Nimmo, the Mets – barring further injuries – have enough outfielders to get them through the next two weeks.

What Cespedes needs is rest, which he won’t get in a DH role. If he can’t run in the outfield, he can’t run on the bases. This day-to-day stuff is paralyzing Collins in terms of making out his lineup and in-game management. If Cespedes can’t, or won’t, play center, his value to the Mets is diminished.

Frankly, I’d rather be without Cespedes for two weeks in early August than lose him for a longer period at the end of the month or worse, in September. The Mets need to DL Cespedes now to set up for the stretch drive.

The season depends on it.

Apr 15

Mets Must DH Wright In Cleveland

If David Wright is going to get hurt, he’ll get hurt. That’s what fate is all about. Wright said he’s not changing the way he plays to protect himself.

“I can’t go out there and play the game to protect my back,” Wright said. “If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen. Granted, I’d like to think I’m not going to take crazy risks. But, at the same time, I’ve got to play the way I’m capable of playing.`I’m hopeful I’m doing everything to get my back to hold up. If it doesn’t hold up, it is what it is. There’s nothing else I can do.’’

WRIGHT: Needs to DH. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Needs to DH. (Getty)

“I’m hopeful I’m doing everything to get my back to hold up. If it doesn’t hold up, it is what it is. There’s nothing else I can do.”

However, there is something the Mets can do, and that’s take advantage of the designated hitter. They failed to so at Kansas City, but have three games this weekend in Cleveland.

Why is it so hard for manager Terry Collins to grasp this concept? It was bad enough playing Wright Wednesday afternoon following Tuesday night’s game.

If Wright is going to get hurt, he’ll get hurt. But why push the envelope?

Mar 26

My Projected Mets Opening Day Batting Order

One week from tomorrow the Mets will open defense of their National League title in Kansas City. Here’s what I have as my projected Opening Day batting order:

Curtis Granderson, RF: Wouldn’t it be terrific if he walked 90 times and scored 98 runs again?

David Wright, DH: Collins said no, but it’s the best decision.

Yoenis Cespedes, CF: Thirty homers and 100 RBI are expected.

Lucas Duda, 1B: Imagine, having a two 30 HR-100 RBI hitters back-to-back.

Neil Walker, 2B: Interchangeable with Daniel Murphy.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: A right-handed hitter between lefties.

Michael Conforto, LF: Didn’t have a great spring training, but it’s back to zeroes across the board.

Wilmer Flores, SS: I’m not expecting Asdrubal Cabrera to be ready.

Eric Campbell, 3B: With Wright the DH and Flores playing shortstop, who else will play third?

Matt Harvey, RHP: Hopefully, the first of 34 starts.

So far, the reports have Wright playing third base and not as the DH and Cabrera might me ready. I’m not for pushing things, especially with Wright. Nobody knows how many games he’ll play, but the there is a plan to rest him and DH is the perfect place to start. There are five interleague games in American League parks in April.

 

 

 

Mar 24

Looking At Mets’ Injuries

The one thing capable of derailing any team is injuries and the Mets aren’t any more immune than any other team. Fortunately for them, their starters haven’t been touched, although Jacob deGrom‘s velocity is down and Steven Matz has been pounded.

Both bear watching.

CONFORTO: Has sore back. (Getty)

CONFORTO: Has sore back. (Getty)

However, if the season started today the Mets have numerous health issues that would put the brakes on a fast start. The most pertinent are:

Michael Conforto: He’s dealing with lower back spasms that took him out of Wednesday’s game. He saw doctors today in Port St. Lucie and the prognosis is favorable.

“It was a little tight this morning,” Conforto told reporters. “Obviously, the ride home didn’t help. But I came in here and just got it loosened up pretty good. It feels a lot better.”

That’s encouraging, but it must be noted Conforto has a history of back problems, but he said it hasn’t kept him out for a significant period of time.

David Wright: Speaking of sore backs, there’s the third baseman, who was to play in exhibition games Thursday and Friday. That would leave him only a week, which isn’t enough time to get enough at-bats to get sharp.

Wright pushed it running the bases earlier in the week which resulted in his legs getting stiff, something manager Terry Collins said was to be expected.

Assuming Wright opens the season on the active roster, Collins said he’s not inclined to use him as a designated hitter, which would be a mistake. If the Mets’ intent is ease Wright into the season and take pressure off his back, then doing so as a designated would be a prudent option considering five of their 22 games in April are played in American League parks (two in Kansas City and three in Cleveland).

Doing otherwise would be ridiculous.

Asdrubal Cabrera: After missing much of spring training with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, Cabrera is being eased in as a DH. When he was first injured, the thinking was Cabrera would open the season on the disabled list. That could still be the case, which appears likely considering he’s not even running.

Even with Cabrera injured, the Mets dumped Ruben Tejada, something they might eventually regret.

Yoenis Cespedes: He was bothered by a sore hit two weeks ago, but appears all right now. Even so, it’s a leg injury and that’s always something to watch.

Josh Edgin: He’s recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready until early May. He only recently got into a game. The Mets have lefty relievers Sean Gilmartin and Antonio Bastardo, so they can get by without Edgin for now.

Erik Goeddel: Was sidelined with a strained lat muscle earlier in camp, but there’s a chance he could be ready by Opening Day.