May 05

We Are About To Learn What Mets Are Made Of

It’s not about the “blips,’’ for the New York Mets, it’s about how they rebound from them that will tell the story of this season. Beginning tonight, we shall see what the Mets are really made of as they have lost three straight series after their 11-game winning streak.

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

Most frustrating is with the exception of the first games of their series against the Yankees and Nationals, they lost five games by a composite nine runs, three of them by one run, including the last two by 1-0 scores.

When manager Terry Collins said there would be “blips,’’ and wasn’t lying.

When the Mets were winning 11 straight there were comments about their strength of schedule. Since the Yankees and Nationals righted their collective ships, the Mets have lost seven of ten games; they have gone from the best record in the majors to the seventh best; and their eight-game lead over Washington has been trimmed from eight to 3.5 games.

However, this isn’t the NCAA Tournament, overall strength of schedule isn’t the issue. The issue is winning your schedule.

What their winning streak accomplished was to buy time to take such a hit, and there is no mistaking the Mets were clipped big time and so far they’ve won at a clip that could get them into the playoffs.

That the Mets stayed close in games was a tribute to their overall strong pitching and a few players hitting in the clutch.

However, this stumble exposed the following: 1) Jacob deGrom must make some adjustments to his game; 2) they miss David Wright; 3) the defense is shaky up the middle; 4) there’s an overall lack of power from Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda; and 5) their overall clutch hitting has been poor.

Collins said there “would be no panic,’’ but signs of panic always come first from management in the form of benching and/or trading players and other roster moves that suggest an overhaul.

* Wilmer Flores was told he has a long leash, but sat the last two games. Whether or not he plays against the Orioles could determine a lot.

* There have long been rumors of trading Daniel Murphy and Dillon Gee, and the Giants have been scouting the former. What’s happening there? Do you trade Murphy while you’re still in first place?

* Eric Campbell replaced Wright, but was subsequently benched for not hitting. In the process Dilson Herrera was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas to play second and Murphy went to third. This was done to showcase Murphy at third, but Herrera isn’t hitting, so what will they do? Wright’s return is far from imminent.

There are a lot of moving parts for the Mets now and how GM Sandy Alderson and Collins respond will go a long way to determine the success of this season. If they panic, that winning streak will be a memory.

May 04

Are Mets Too Eager To Deal Murphy And Gee?

Scouts were in town over the weekend to watch the Mets Daniel Murphy for the purpose of trading for the third baseman. Specifically the Giants, who didn’t bring back Pablo Sandoval last winter, have the most interest.

The Mets really aren’t in a good position when it comes to possibly trading Murphy because there’s little doubt they will bring him back next year. Given that, unless there’s a line out the door of suitors for Murphy, the Giants probably won’t have to come up with a big package.

Under the Sandy Alderson era, the Mets have traditionally asked for too much in the trade market, and the same might happen again if it were solely about Murphy. What the Mets might think about doing is making that package include Dillon Gee, whom they are also eager to deal.

This could work because the Giants have pitching depth issues and need another arm.

While it is easy to understand why San Francisco, which is having a down year, might want Murphy and Gee, the motivation for the Mets to deal one or both is to clear salary and make room for younger talent. However, if the Mets are to be the contender they hope to be this season they will be gambling their young talent of infielder Dilson Herrera and possibly Noah Syndergaard will adjust to the demands of the major leagues and be able to immediately give them what Gee and Murphy can.

The Mets want to get something for Murphy and Gee before they leave, which is understandable. But, I would rather the Mets make the playoffs and they walk and get nothing, than dealing them now and missing October.

Seems to me the Mets are too eager to get rid of them.

 

 

Apr 30

Mets, Nationals Starters

Here are the starting pitchers for this weekend’s Mets-Nationals series at Citi Field:

Thursday: RHP Jacob deGrom (2-2, 2.96) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 4.88), 7:10 p.m. ET

Friday: RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 3.04) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (1-2, 1.26), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jon Niese (2-1, 2.74) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 5.01), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Dillon Gee (0-1, 4.26) vs. RHP Doug Fister (1-1, 3.28), 1:10 p.m. ET

 

Apr 26

Niese Still Key In Mets’ Rotation

In the first two games of this series, the focus for the Mets was on their stud pitchers Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, but I remain intrigued with Sunday’s starter, Jon Niese.

In the pre-Harvey years, when the Mets were forced to move from Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey – wow, I hadn’t thought of him in a long time – Niese was in the driver’s seat of their rotation. Young, left-handed, and a hard thrower with a manageable contract, Niese not only was a Mets’ leader but coveted by other teams.

NIESE: Still important to Mets. (AP)

NIESE: Still important to Mets. (AP)

However, injuries – including a partial tear of his rotator cuff – sapped the effectiveness of Sunday’s starter against the Yankees. Last winter the Mets were open to trading Niese, but at 28, he’s young enough to reverse the perception of him and increase his value to the Mets for the long-term.

And, it definitely helps that he’s healthy, which only fuels his confidence.

“I haven’t been this confident in my arm in probably three years,’’ Niese said during spring training. “I feel really good. … I feel a lot stronger. My arm feels excellent.’’

That has translated to the mound, where Niese is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA – and 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts against the Yankees. He is off to the good start he hopes will fuel a comeback season. It must keep playing out this way if Niese is thinking long-term, although the math remains in his favor.

On one hand, there’s Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz waiting at Triple-A Las Vegas to push him out of the rotation. On the other, figure on Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee not coming back next season, and we won’t see Zack Wheeler until at least July.

Also, he’s still young and hard-throwing left-hander with a manageable contract (under their control for the next two seasons). In this scenario, figure on Niese returning.

However, the Mets aren’t just interested in him just holding a roster spot, but needing him to perform as he did in his last start, Tuesday against Atlanta, when he gave up a solo homer in 6.2 innings.

They will take that tonight and every night.