Sep 10

Mets Matters: DeGrom Improves

I didn’t really expect the Mets to skip Jacob deGroms start today, but it wouldn’t have killed them if they had done so. DeGrom rebounded from going 3.2 innings in his last start to post his tenth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. DeGrom came away with a no-decision in the Mets’ 10-5 loss to Cincinnati.

DeGrom will likely make four more starts before calling it a winter. He has accumulated 188.1 innings, so barring something unforeseen he should reach his goal of 200.

DE GROM: Better. (AP)

DE GROM: Better. (AP)

“Jake’s our guy and we ride him. We kind of push him, let him go a little deeper than others,” manager Terry Collins said. “We think when we send him out there we’re going to be in the game.”

Today was just deGrom’s sixth no-decision of the season, a testimony to his ability to work long into games. Since pitch counts dominate most pitching conversations these days, it’s rather remarkable deGrom’s low this year was 69 in a June 6 loss at Texas.

My point in skipping deGrom is that with him coming off surgery, I don’t think it’s worth taking a risk with his arm. So much has gone wrong this season, that why take the chance?

DISTURBING TREND: There have been numerous statistics that have defined this season for the Mets, and today revealed another that showed a lack of a killer instinct. The Mets not only had their 18th blown save of the season, but it went deeper than that. The Mets had a chance today to complete a weekend series sweep, but for the sixth time failed to put away the opposition on a Sunday.

SMITH HAS WORK TO DO: Despite hitting his fifth homer, rookie Dominic Smith has struggled to the point where nothing is assured for him for next season.

A .210 batting average with a .257 on-base percentage illustrate holes in his offensive profile that must be improved. Currently, I would be reluctant to simply gift the first base job to Smith right now.

NOAH SCRATCHED: Noah Syndergaard’s rehab today was delayed because of “general soreness.’’ It’s possible he could throw Tuesday in Chicago.

“We aren’t going to push him, first of all. We’ll go at his pace and how he feels,’’ Collins said. “[Saturday] night he said he was feeling a little sore from the outing the other day and wanted to throw a bullpen and we just said, ‘No, until you feel better we’re not going to do that.’ So, we’ll wait.’’

Syndergaard threw 36 pitches in Brooklyn Thursday, throwing 36 pitches.

Aug 29

Familia, Smith Lone Bright Spots In Rout

There aren’t many positives the Mets can find in a ten-run loss, but here goes: 1) Jeurys Familia was strong in his second game coming off the disabled list, and 2) struggling rookie Dominic Smith drove in two runs on a pair of hits.

FLEXEN: Apologizes for gesture> (AP)

FLEXEN: Apologizes for gesture> (AP)

Hey, I told you there wasn’t much to shout about.

Familia was the most important development with three strikeouts in 1.2 innings. Familia threw 27 pitches, many of them in the mid-to-high 90s.

Regarding next year, should Familia return healthy and Jerry Blevins is brought back, and AJ Ramos and the Mets have potentially a solid back end of the bullpen.

As far as Smith goes, he’ll get his hits. What I’m looking from him this early in his career is to not try to pull everything and to be patient at the plate.

Smith is hitting .183, but with a .206 on-base percentage, marked by only two walks over 80 at-bats.

C’MON REYES, PLAY SMART: The Mets trailed by four runs in the seventh inning and Jose Reyes was on first. So, what did he do?

He was thrown out trying to steal second.

Seriously, Jose? If you’re trying to be a mentor for Amed Rosario, don’t play like you’re brain dead.

ACCOUNTABILILTY: Mets starter Chris Flexen apologized to manager Terry Collins and Reyes after the game for when he threw up his arms after Billy Hamilton’s fly ball over Reyes’ head in the second.

“You can’ do that,’’ Flexen said.

Aug 19

Granderson Trade Officially Closes Mets’ Window

The Mets’ Great Salary Dump of 2017 continued today when the Mets traded Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash. Dealing Granderson marked the symbolic closing of the Mets’ window of contention.

The Mets signed Granderson to a four-year, $60-million contract in 2013, and with their young pitching, they promised to be a contender. It wouldn’t be until 2015 that they overachieved and not only reached the playoffs but made it to the World Series.

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

They lost in the wild-card game last year but were heavy favorites to return to October – with many thinking the World Series – this season.

I ask: If injuries were the number one cause of the failure this season, doesn’t it stand to reason that with a little tweaking added to the present core, then how far off could the Mets be for 2018? That’s with, or without, David Wright.

That GM Sandy Alderson would cast off so many of the Mets’ veteran assets is only indicative how poorly he constructed this team. Granderson, combined with Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and soon to be Rene Rivera, adds up to six future free agents after this season.

It stands to reason Alderson wouldn’t bring back all of them. But, to not bring back any of them is simply poor management.

You don’t construct your roster to have eight expiring contracts – don’t forget Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera – at the same time. That’s 33 percent of your roster. And, coupled with casting off Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, and that’s just a terrible job by the man whose biographer refers to him as the game’s smartest general manager.

Maybe you don’t keep them all, but if you’re telling the public your goal is to compete, you try to keep the core together. Of all the remnants the Mets received in return, only AJ Ramos – projected in a set-up reliever role – figure to make the 2018 roster.

Turner, for spiteful reasons, brought nothing from the Dodgers. He’s an All-Star who could win the NL batting title this year. Murphy, of course, walked because they wouldn’t spend the money.

Hell, that’s the case with all of them.

The Mets threw good money after bad with trading for and extending Walker when they could have kept Murphy.

Duda, well he was only keeping the seat warm for Dominic Smith. Reed could have been extended when Jeurys Familia was first suspended, then injured. Bruce was signed as a hedge in case the Mets didn’t re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, who, so far, has turned out to be a bust.

Cespedes has been a health and hustling concern each of the past two years. Having Bruce’s 29 homers would be needed next season.

And, still, Alderson tells us he expects the Mets to compete next year. That is, if the three of the core rotation that is on the disabled list return healthy next year, and a fourth – Steven Matz – rights himself.

Ex-Mets Granderson and Turner could meet ex-Met Murphy or ex-Met Rivera, who was claimed on waivers by the Cubs, in the NLCS for the right to possibly meet ex-Mets Bruce or Reed in the World Series.

As it is now, the Mets have only Jacob deGrom from that vaunted rotation. What can you count on from Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Matz? Remember, that rotation has yet to pitch in turn since 2013.

Their best player is Michael Conforto, but they don’t have a set position for him. Smith and Amed Rosario are promising questions. They refuse to play Wilmer Flores full time and Wright can’t be counted on.

The bullpen outside of Jerry Blevins is awful. Do you really trust Ramos and Familia? Don’t tell me you trust Hansel Robles.

I think Rosario could be a star, but as with what happened with Conforto, there could be growing pains. I like Smith, but he needs to get into shape. How will Rosario and Smith fare in a full major league schedule?

So, in looking at the Mets’ current roster, I only trust Conforto, deGrom and Blevins. Everybody else is a question or a black hole.

We know the Mets won’t be big spenders this winter as all their money is tied up wet-nursing Cespedes. There won’t be big-name help coming in from the outside. So, you’re delusional if you think they really would go after Manny Machado or Evan Longoria.

The Mets window to compete opened when they signed Granderson. It officially closed today.

Aug 17

Reyes Goes On DL; Tonight’s Lineup

Jose Reyes was placed on the 10-disabled list strained left oblique, similar to the one he had with the Mets in 2010. The team is still waiting what to do with Wilmer Flores, who was also a late scratch from Wednesday’s lineup. Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini were both been promoted from Triple-A and added to the 25-man roster.

Reynolds has played left field, center field, shortstop, second and third base this year at Class Triple-A Las Vegas, but is only hitting .217 for the Mets. He will be in the lineup tonight at third base.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Curtis Granderson – RF
Asdrubal Cabrera – 2B
Michael Conforto – CF
Yoenis Cespedes – LF
Dominic Smith – 1B
Amed Rosario – SS
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Reynolds – 3B
Steven Matz – LHP

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.