Jun 24

Alderson Lets Down Mets … Again

The Mets deserved to lose today not just because they gave up seven home runs and not just because they continued flounder hitting with runners in scoring position.

They lost because the man who is supposed to put them in position to win, or at least compete, completely let them down. You might even say he betrayed them.

ALDERSON: Puts Mets in no-win situation. (AP)

ALDERSON: Puts Mets in no-win situation. (AP)

I guess we might surmise using seven relief pitchers is not something the Mets want to do any time soon. They were put in that position because scheduled starter Jason Vargas was forced to the disabled list with a strained muscle jogging in the outfield 15 minutes prior to first pitch – not prior to Wednesday’s game in Denver.

That would be nearly four days ago.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway said they didn’t believe the injury was serious enough warrant going on the disabled list. Even so, you’d think if Alderson was sharp he’d have somebody from Triple-A at Citi Field just in case.

They don’t even get a pass because Las Vegas is a four-hour flight. However, Double-A Binghamton is roughly a three-hour drive.

The fact they could have done something if they wanted to. Actually, they already had a minor league starter available in Chris Flexen, today’s losing pitcher, 8-7 in 11 innings to the Dodgers, a team that has now beaten them 12 straight times.

Instead, they opted to start lefty specialist Jerry Blevins, who at 34, was making the first start of his career. Back-to-back homers to start the game was a sign of things to come.

You knew the parade of Mets’ relievers wasn’t going to work, but that wasn’t what really irked me today. That would be Callaway saying “Dominic Smith has never bunted before,’’ when asked why Smith didn’t bunt in the 10th inning with a runner on first and the Dodgers shifting with infielders on the right side.

Actually, Smith sacrificed once in 2014, but isn’t that the ultimate indictment of the Mets’ inability to develop players. Actually, a criticism of today’s players in general is the lack of fundamentals.

What’s the point then in players bunting twice in batting practice before they swing?

There’s one other example of Alderson’s malpractice, and that was Justin Turner’s game-winning home run. Turner, of course, was once let loose by Mets.

That’s not piling on,

Jan 23

Mets Continue To Overplay Their Hand Since 2015 Series

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon can try to spin his payroll anyway he chooses but it comes down to one simple fact: Declaring you want to win and doing what it takes to do so are two different things.

“We certainly want to win,’’ Wilpon told reporters today at Citi Field. “There’s nobody going there trying not to win and not do their best to put us in the absolute best position to win.’’

The Mets’ payroll last year was $155 million and they finished 22 games under .500. It was $135 million in 2016 and $101 million in 2015 when they reached the World Series.

That last year, their Series rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz earned a combined $2.18 million, the odds of repeating which fall into the catch-lightning-in-a-bottle category. That is just plain lucky.

Wilpon said he’s not interested in the Mets being a top-five team in payroll, something we’ve known for years. Instead, he said the Mets are concerned with wins and losses.

The problem when looking at things that way is it reduces 2015 to a fluke season, something the Mets have been riding the past two years.

The following four things conspired to put the Mets into the Series that year:

  • Because of injuries and poor performances, the Nationals had a miserable season in 2015 which gave the Mets their opening.
  • The Mets caught lightning that summer with the Yoenis Cespedes trade. Cespedes had a historic six weeks that propelled them into the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the Mets tried to parlay that trade with a $110-million, four-year contract that will set them back for years.
  • There was their sterling rotation mentioned earlier. Also, unfortunately for the Mets, that rotation hasn’t stayed healthy, and including the fifth member, Zack Wheeler, those five have yet to make a complete turn.
  • That postseason will always be remembered for Daniel Murphy’s blitz through the National League playoffs. Without it, maybe the Mets don’t get past the Dodgers in the Division Series. Unfortunately, the Mets played hardball with Murphy and let him escape to Washington as a free agent.

While it’s never a bad thing to reach the World Series, a case can be made the Mets overplayed their hand and overestimated just how good they were that season and have been paying for it since.

From signing Cespedes to letting Murphy go to overestimating their rotation it has been one bad decision after another.

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.