Aug 13

How The Mets Morphed Into A Team

With a few exceptions, the New York Mets resemble little the team that broke spring training. Only two players, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis, were the expected starters this late in the season who were in the line-up Monday night in Los Angeles.

And, only recently is Davis’ performance at the plate reaching major league standards. And, Murphy will be the first tell you last night wasn’t major league standards for him defensively, but that’s another matter.

Davis is playing well, but not hitting for power and his spot next year is far from secure.

Around the infield, John Buck was to have been replaced by Travis d’Arnaud at catcher; Ruben Tejada was to be at shortstop, not Omar Quintanilla; and third baseman David Wright being on the disabled list gave Wilmer Flores an opportunity.

How well d’Arnaud plays on this level remains a mystery, and Tejada is playing his way out of the organization.

Ironically, Flores’ development could mean the end of Murphy’s tenure with the Mets as Terry Collins is talking about playing him at second base. However, he could sit after twisting his ankle.

From left to right in the outfield, we all knew Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Colin Cowgill in center, and Mike Baxter in right wouldn’t last. Cowgill hit a grand slam Opening Day and was on the bench within two weeks.

Duda is in the minor leagues saying he wouldn’t mind being a DH, which couldn’t make Sandy Alderson happy; Nieuwenhuis is in the minors while Cowgill was traded; and Baxter is again a role player.

Eric Young filled the lead-off hole and there’s no way Duda could replace him in left; Juan Lagares is the centerfielder of the present and future; and role player Marlon Byrd turned out to be the team’s best offensive player.

Anticipate Byrd asking for two years and not being retained.

Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia weren’t in the Opening Day rotation and both are pitching as if they have plans to never leave. We know, barring injury, Wheeler isn’t going anywhere.

The bullpen has been superb the past month, but has also been patchwork. Bullpens always need tinkering; so don’t be surprised if there are new faces next spring.

The expectations of the Mets were low this spring and it is a reflection of how Matt Harvey’s development and how well Collins and his staff have done to where .500 or second place are even possible goals.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 04

Here’s A Plan For The Mets On How To Use Wilmer Flores

What is going on with the New York Mets and prospect Wilmer Flores? Can we even call him a prospect anymore?

His natural position is third base, but with David Wright on the disabled list they are not bringing up Flores.

FLORES: Could he play first?

FLORES: Could he play first?

It makes no sense unless the Mets have other plans for Flores. Reading between the lines, my guess is their long- range plan could be to play him at first base, which is where he recently worked at Triple-A Las Vegas following an ankle injury.

Reportedly, he’s back at second base, but why? They should play him at first for the rest of the minor league season to see if they have something there.

Flores has played all around the infield, but mostly at second base this season before the interlude at first base. Blocked from third because of Wright, and with Daniel Murphy playing better at second, and concerns about his lack of speed keeping him from the outfield, first base could be the logical conclusion.

Don’t the Mets see that?

It appears the Mets will give Davis the second half to find his way at the plate. If he doesn’t, but Flores shows something at first, their questions could be answered for them by not tendering Davis a contract and go into spring training next year with Flores competing with Josh Satin for the first base job.

Should Flores use the rest of the minor league season – and there’s not much left – to make a positive impression at first base, it will be interesting to see if the Mets send him somewhere this winter to work at that position.

The presumption is Flores can hit, evidenced by his .320 average with 14 homers and 85 RBI with Las Vegas. All that in just 412 at-bats.

Currently, Flores has little trade value, even as a prospect, because other teams also don’t know where to play him. And, American League teams prefer to use the designated hitter slot for veterans who have lost a step, or proven major league hitters stuck in a position logjam.

Flores is neither. The question is: Will he ever be a Met?

 

TODAY’S LINEUP

The following is the Mets’ lineup for their series finale with Kansas City:

Eric Young, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Josh Satin, 3B

Marlon Byrd, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Juan Lagares, CF

John Buck, C

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Zack Wheeler, RHP

LINEUP THOUGHTS: There was speculation the Mets would move Murphy to third and play Eric Young at second, but that’s not the case and that’s a good thing. Young and Murphy are settled into their positions, and with Wright out, why make a move that impacts three positions instead of one? … I still like Lagares batting second and dropping down Murphy into a RBI slot. With the way he’s hitting he’s better in the fifth slot than Davis.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 03

Mets Mishandle Wright’s Injury; Lands On Disabled List

The New York Mets posted their lineup on a bulletin board opposite the door opening into their vast clubhouse and missing is David Wright’s name.

He shouldn’t have been in Friday’s lineup either, and also not in Thursday’s lineup.

WRIGHT: Limping off the field. (AP)

WRIGHT: Limping off the field. (AP)

Once again, the Mets mishandled an injury that has the potential to turn significant. Wright, playing with tightness in his right hamstring this week, strained that hamstring last night and was placed on the disabled list this morning.

As I always say when it comes to Met injuries, bet the over, and don’t think this will just be two weeks.

I wrote prior to the game Wright should sit. It pleases me none to say, “I told you so.’’ Then again, I don’t have to say it to veteran Met watchers as they know, regardless of the manager or GM, injuries and the Mets are never a good mix.

Wright several times – including a slight fracture in his back last year – Ike Davis, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jon Niese and Johan Santana were not handled properly. Beltran was so frustrated and distrustful of how he was being treated that he had surgery on his own.

Actually, that didn’t work out too badly for him, did it?

Earlier this week, Dr. Terry Collins suggested Wright might have been dehydrated.

It has been said nobody knows a player’s body like himself and there is some degree of truth to that, but it is not complete. Nothing ever is.

Wright is notorious for playing through pain, as evidenced by playing for a month with the fracture in his back. If the doctors would had let him, he would have tried to play after being beaned by Matt Cain.

In explaining the play, Collins told reporters: “He just wanted to get extended to try to help us win a baseball game, that’s what it’s all about.’’

Not so fast. Let’s not write this off on Wright busting his butt to make a play. We know that’s what Wright is all about.

But, players are kids. You can’t always trust them, especially when it comes to injuries. These guys have such an ingrained loyalty to their teammates – most of them, anyway, with the exception of say Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, but that’s another issue – that they will play through the pain.

And, players aren’t doctors. What they feel and what they know are two different things.

Since players can’t trust themselves, it comes down to the team, especially the trainers and manager. Nobody ever knows when a hamstring will go, but when there’s tightness or soreness, you always have to judge on the side of caution.

I know Collins wants to win, but this one has to be on him. He should have rested Wright from the beginning and had him undergo some kind of treatment.

If he had, he wouldn’t writing in Justin Turner’s name at third for today.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Eric Young, LF

Juan Lagares, CF

Josh Satin, 1B

Marlon Byrd, RF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Justin Turner, 3B

Anthony Recker, C

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Jeremy Hefner, RHP

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 31

Mets Stand Pat At Trade Deadline

The trade deadline passed and as expected the New York Mets did not make a move. In previous seasons when one wondered about the futures of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright for economic reasons, this time they opted not to be sellers.

With nearly $50 million coming off the books next year because of contracts to Johan Santana and Jason Bay, the Mets say they will be active in the winter, mostly in the free-agent market, but for now want to make the most of this season.

Projected to lose as many as 100 games in some circles, the Mets have their eyes on second place in the NL East and a .500 record. It is not out of line. This was exactly the right thing the Mets did.

“We’re trying to win games here,’’ Terry Collins told reporters in Miami. “We’re not just throwing the season away.’’

The Mets’ inactivity must be interpreted in the positive because their message is they believe they have a competitive core, and the pieces everybody wants from them – notably Bobby Parnell and Marlon Byrd – have greater value in Flushing. If the Mets really believe they can be competitive next season they will need a closer, and Byrd is a positive influence on the field and in the clubhouse. All winning teams need players like him.

Since nearly player goes on waivers during the season to gauge trade interest, it is possible something could happen in August, but for now GM Sandy Alderson’s intent is to see how good this team can be over 162 games, and from there, better formulate his shopping needs.

Pitching is always a need and they now have a positive in Jenrry Mejia, tonight’s starter in Miami, who is coming off a solid, seven-shutout inning performance in Washington last Friday.

Mejia has struggled with injuries over the past three seasons, including undergoing Tommy John surgery. It is not unreasonable to speculate Mejia’s injuries were caused by the Mets bouncing him from the rotation to the bullpen back into the rotation. This was precipitated by then manager Jerry Manuel’s insistence in bringing him north out of spring training in 2010 to work out of the pen.

Only Mejia rarely pitched and when he did was usually ineffective. He was optioned to Triple-A, where he started and eventually injured his elbow.

Mejia starts tonight and if he does well will stay in the Mets’ six-man rotation.

With Jeremy Hefner ineffective over his last three starts and Jon Niese recovering from a slight rotator cuff, there’s potential for things to get dicey in the rotation, making it imperative for Mejia to produce.

Here’s the Mets’ lineup behind Mejia tonight:

Eric Young, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Marlon Byrd, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

John Buck, C

Juan Lagares, CF

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Jenrry Mejia, RHP

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 29

Could Juan Lagares And Eric Young Be A Viable One-Two?

As the enthusiasm for a strong finish by the New York Mets might have fizzled in Washington, a bright spot continues to be Juan Lagares, raising the possibility of a speedy tandem at the top of the order with Eric Young.

Of course, he needs to show more offensively, but that part of his game is improving and the power might develop as he gets stronger and learns the pitchers better. It must be remembered development also includes adjusting to the pitching when it adjusts to him.

LAGARES: Catch of the year?

LAGARES: Catch of the year?

Lagares’ opportunity came from the collective ineptness of the Mets’ outfield. Currently, he and Young are the only outfielders that could be considered starters heading into spring training.

Lucas Duda might end up at first if he’s still on the team; Marlon Byrd might not be re-signed; Kirk Nieuwenhuis has his moments, but they are sparse.

Lagares is outstanding defensively, and his diving catch where he lost the ball and re-caught it might be one of the best of the season by an outfielder.

The objectives over the next two months for Lagares and Young are to show GM Sandy Alderson his outfield needs aren’t so severe.

Lagares’ average is slowly rising, but his 47-to-7 strikeouts-to-walks ratio must close, and if it does his .299 on-base percentage and .699 OPS would rise. His number projected over 162 games would be 121 strikeouts, 18 walks and 39 doubles.

The number that stands out most with Lagares are 15 doubles in 175 at-bats. Give him 600 at-bats and he would be pushing 45 doubles. If his strikeouts and walk numbers improved, the Mets would have themselves a solid center fielder.

Meanwhile, despite cooling since his hot debut, Young is still a catalyst at the top of the order with a .275 average and .357 on-base percentage in 138 at-bats.

Since the rest of the season is for finding answers, I would like to see if Young and Lagares can complement each other at the top of the order. What is currently preventing that is Daniel Murphy’s ability to work the count and protect Young as a base stealer.

Should Lagares develop in that area, it might be intriguing, and could allow for Murphy to be lowered in the order to give him more favorable RBI opportunities.

That would be important to know if the Mets don’t bring back Byrd, which I see as unlikely. I figure, as with Scott Hairston after last season, the Mets won’t give the player two years.