Nov 03

Mets Sign Cabrera, Blevins

As expected, the Mets picked up the one-year, $8.5-million option on Asdrubal Cabrera, an indication of their lack of confidence on David Wright making a successful return from the disabled list.

Signing Cabrera also is clear indication the Mets won’t make a run at free-agent Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier.

“Asdrubal can help us all around the infield,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “The season didn’t end the way we wanted but that didn’t stop him from playing hard right to the very last out of the season. Asdrubal is a great tutor to our younger players and a leader in the clubhouse. We’re happy to have him back.’’

Cabrera, the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop last year, will play third and fill in at second. Cabrera, who asked to be traded last year after manager Terry Collins asked him to play second, has done an about-face.

Being injured, losing a step and your starting job, not to mention getting older will often cause a player re-evaluate his position. The Mets’ inability to trade Cabrera at the deadline also gave him an indication of what the free-agent market could be for him.

“I want to come back here because I feel this team is going to be in the playoffs again really soon,’’ Cabrera told reporters at the end of the season. “We’ve got talent.’’

Despite several stints on the disabled list last season (ligament damage in his right thumb), Cabrera hit .280 with 14 homers in 135 games.

Signing Cabrera doesn’t necessarily preclude the Mets not bringing back Jose Reyes, who is a free agent and can also play second and third, but is a better choice to back-up Rosario.

The Mets also picked up the one-year, $7-million option on lefty reliever Jerry Blevins.

“Jerry always takes the ball,’’ said Alderson. “He was a stable force in our bullpen all year long. With Jerry, the addition of AJ Ramos and having Jeurys Familia for the entire season, we feel we have the nucleus for a much-improved pen. Getting Jerry back makes me a lot more confident about the late innings as we go forward in 2018.’’

Despite the potential of the Mets’ pen, Blevins endorsed bringing back Addison Reed, who was traded to Boston in July but is a free-agent.

“I’d like to see them maybe go out and sign Addison Reed,’’ Blevins said. “We’re going to need some steady, solid arms in the bullpen next year.’’

VEGAS LIKES METS: At least one Las Vegas oddsmaker is banking on the Mets battered pitching staff being healthy next season. Bovada has the Mets at 22-1 to win the World Series, ahead of three 2017 playoff teams: Arizona (28-1), Colorado (40-1) and Minnesota (66-1).

The Mets are listed eighth, behind Houston (5-1), the Dodgers (11-2), Cleveland (15-2), Washington (10-1), Boston, the Cubs and Yankees, all at (11-1).

Oct 25

Beltran Is Why I Am Rooting For Astros

In games I don’t cover and just watch for fun, I have to take a rooting interest, otherwise why bother? So, it is a no-brainer for me to pull for the Houston Astros, who entered the National League in 1962 with the Mets.

I also worked for the Astros right out of college and still have a lot of friends in Houston. Outside of those links, there are two reasons why I am pulling for the Astros.

BELTRAN: My World Series hook. (AP)

BELTRAN: My World Series hook. (AP)

I understand why but don’t like the Dodgers leaving Curtis Granderson off the World Series roster. We all know how much he brings to a team and clubhouse and how he delivers in the clutch.

Logically, I understand their reasoning. With shortstop Corey Seager now active, Chris Taylor was moved to center field. My argument took a hit when Taylor homered on the game’s first pitch.

Even so, I do have a sentimental bone and love watching Granderson, and this could have been his last chance to play in a World Series.

It would have been sweet if Granderson homered to beat the Yankees in the World Series – at Yankee Stadium, of course.

And, I always liked Justin Turner, who homered again last night. Mickey Callaway said at his press conference that he is going to go out of his way to show the players he cares about them.

Frankly, Turner was run out of town and not appreciated by the Mets. The same applies to Carlos Beltran. This will be Beltran’s last chance to play in a World Series and I can’t help but feel happy for him. Beltran has always been one of my favorite players to cover.

Win or lose, he was always stand-up after games. He always answered questions no matter how he played. He often played hurt, playing with a fractured face from an outfield collision in 2005. Even so, arguably the Mets’ best all-time position player was never truly appreciated by fans of the team, but certainly was in the clubhouse.

I hated how Beltran was treated by the team at the end of his Mets’ tenure when GM Sandy Alderson didn’t appreciate the gravity of Beltran’s knee injury and the player went and had surgery on his own.

My two favorite Beltran plays was a circus catch while running up that ridiculous incline in center field in Houston. And, of course, there was his game-winning homer to beat Philadelphia.

Another thing I’ll always remember was a story I wrote about him recalling his experiences in spring training as a rookie with Kansas City. He spoke about being so lonely to the point that he holed up in his hotel room and cried.

Beltran has come a long way since that troublesome spring in Fort Myers, Fla. He’s gone from lonely rookie to a borderline Hall of Fame career.

I will miss him. Granderson, too.

Aug 19

Montero Solid Again; Flores Has Superb Effort

Rafael Montero is finally showing signs of getting it. Tonight’s outing against the Marlins encored a strong six-inning effort – only two runs – against the Yankees.

MONTERO: Another strong start. (AP)

         MONTERO: Another strong start. (AP)

That’s two of at least six innings, and seven over all that he’s worked into the sixth.

Montero’s recent success stems from working inside with his fastball to set up his change-up away. Montero also worked quickly and ahead in the count, two things he failed to do in previous years when he struggled.

“He pitched in and had good movement on his fastball,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “That’s why he got so many ground balls. We’ve been preaching to him to pound the strike zone.’’

Montero has made significant improvement, enough to where he could fit into their future plans.

Working with Kevin Plawecki, who caught him at Las Vegas, Montero gave up one run on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings to win his second game and first at Citi Field, 8-1.

Montero said his sinker was working which resulted in him getting four double plays.

If all five of the Mets vaunted starters are healthy next year, Montero could be used as a long reliever.

FLORES AT THIRD: Wilmer Flores made a diving stop of a hard-hit ball by Marcell Ozuna in the first inning to possibly save a run. He also started three double-plays.

Although he’s not Graig Nettles, Flores has always played third base reasonably well. If the Mets are looking for answers for 2018, I’d like to see them finish the season with Flores at third.

Flores also hit his 15th homer, a two-run blast in the Mets’ seven-run sixth inning. Nine of those homers have come against right-handed pitching.

I’ve long been a Flores supporter, something GM Sandy Alderson is not. I want to play Flores full time, and I can see a contender wanting him.

In addition to Flores, Plawecki also hit a two-run homer, and Dominic Smith hit his first Citi Field homer. Perhaps more important than the homer was Smith drew his first career walk.

LEADOFF HITTER: Another thing to look at is their leadoff hitter. Tonight it was Brandon Nimmo, who went 1-for-4. His .380 on-base percentage definitely works in his favor.

If not Nimmo, I’d like to see Amed Rosario get a shot. With his speed, if he walks more he could be a 50-stolen base candidate. Rosario hitting first, with Nimmo second to protect him, the Mets could have something special.

However, for Rosario to be an effective leadoff hitter he must improve his on-base percentage (it’s only .256).

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets tied a franchise record by turning five double plays. … Jeurys Familia threw 25 pitches in a scoreless inning in his second rehab appearance. … Curtis Granderson went 0-for-4, but reached on an error and scored the first run in the Dodgers’ victory over Detroit. … Smith has hit safely in five of his first nine major league games. … The win was the Mets’ 54th of the season. Conversely, the Dodgers are 53 games over .500.

 

Aug 15

Even In Defeat, DeGrom Shows Why He’s An Ace

Jacob deGrom might be one of the few things left worthwhile watching with these Mets, but even he doesn’t have it every start. It wasn’t a complete stinker, but he was clearly off his game tonight.

Even so, he gave the Mets a chance a chance to win, and seriously with the way this season has gone, could you ask for more?

DE GROM: Grit personified. (AP)

                                 DE GROM: Grit personified. (AP)

“I’m not sure,’’ deGrom said when asked what was off more, command of his fastball or secondary pitches.

In some ways, tonight deGrom reminded me of that playoff game against Los Angeles he had no business winning, but kept fighting the Dodgers all night. That’s what aces do, they give their team a chance when it seems hopeless.

“He pitches,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He keeps you in the game. He just battles.’’

Let’s hope Wednesday night’s starter, Robert Gsellman, was taking notes, as was Thursday’s starter, Steven Matz. And, for that matter, everybody in the Mets’ rotation.

For that matter, that should include Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard.

ROOKIES ROCK: Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario each hit two-run homers to help get the Mets back into the game.

It was Smith’s first career homer and the second for Rosario.

Collins said the Subway Series was the perfect scenario for Smith and Rosario to learn under pressure, yet he pinch-hit for Smith in the ninth inning in favor of Jose Reyes against Aroldis Chapman.

“This guy mows down left-handed hitters,’’ Collins said of Chapman. “Some challenges can be just too daunting. But, he’ll have his chances down the road.’’

Reyes reached on an infield single, but even so, I would have let Smith hit for himself. How are you going to learn otherwise?

Smith will always remember tonight for his first career homer, not for being pinch-hit for, and, it’s not like his confidence would be shaken even if Chapman blew him away on three pitches.

 

 

Aug 06

Mets Matters: Bruce Hopes To Return Tuesday

Jay Bruce didn’t play tonight, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway with how the Mets have performed lately. Bruce was absent for the second straight game because of a stiff neck, but said he hopes to play Tuesday against Texas at Citi Field.

mets-matters logo“There’s been improvement, working with the medical staff, doing what I can,’’ Bruce told reporters. “Like I said, there has been improvement. I think with the treatment, and tomorrow off, I should be ready to go. … I want to be careful with it. Because I don’t want this to turn into a long-term situation.’’

Bruce believes he came down with the stiff neck on the flight back from Denver Thursday.

In 101 games, Bruce leads the Mets with 29 home runs and 75 RBI.

HARVEY MAKING PROGRESS: Matt Harvey threw his first bullpen session since going on the DL June 16 with a stress injury in his right shoulder. Harvey was scheduled to throw in the bullpen Tuesday, but will throw live batting practice.

MATZ STILL NOT THERE: It doesn’t matter an instant replay reversal in the first extended the inning so the Dodgers would score three runs in the first off Steven Matz, it is still up to him to get out of trouble.

He didn’t and the left-hander lost his fourth straight decision to remain winless since June 28.

Matz gave up five runs on six hits in 5.1 innings to see his ERA jump to 8.44.

The inning unraveled in large part with long standing flaw from Mets’ starters, which is their failure to hold runners on base. The Dodgers pulled off a double steal and both runners scored on Logan Forsythe’s single to center.

GLAD THAT’S OVER: With their 8-0 rout of the Mets, the Dodgers swept the season series, outscoring them 57-15 and shutting them out for the third time. … Los Angeles clubbed two more homers – Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger – and have outhomered the Mets 25-6. The rookie Bellinger has five homers against Mets’ pitching.

The 2015 NLDS seems like ages ago.