Jan 13

Top Ten Reasons Why Mets Can Return To World Series

As they are presently constructed, can the Mets return to the World Series? Why, of course. They are the defending National League champions, and while they haven’t gotten the big bopper they wanted, they still bring a formidable team to spring training.

Here are ten reasons why the Mets, if they stay healthy, can have another October:

1. They learned from 2015:

As Kansas City proved last season following their 2014 Series loss to San Francisco, a team can learn from defeat. From manager Terry Collins on down, the Mets will be better for the experience. They know what it takes to get there and you can’t buy what those five games against the Royals gave them. Not to mention the series against Chicago and Los Angeles.

HARVEY: I'm betting on 20 (Getty)

HARVEY: I’m betting on 20 (Getty)

2. The experience of Game 5:

Believe me on this, Matt Harvey is seething over Game 5. I’m not buying the Mets have the best rotation in the game until one of those wonder kids win 20 games. You’ll read it here first, but I think this is the year Harvey wins 20. I’m guessing he’s more than motivated, and with the restrictions from Tommy John surgery behind him, this could be a special year.

3. A full year with that rotation:

I don’t know if there will be innings restrictions on Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz – or Zack Wheeler when he comes off the disabled list. What I do know is if these guys are as special as advertised, I’m betting they learned from 2015. And, don’t forget, the Mets will have Matz and Syndergaard for a full season.

4. A full year from The Captain:

Assuming David Wright is healthy, and there’s no reason to figure otherwise, the Mets will have him for the full summer. He missed over four months last year, and missed them at a time when the offense struggled. Will he return to All-Star status? That might be a reach, but if he’s healthy and consistent, the Mets will be better.

5. The closer must have learned something:

Jeurys Familia had a breakout year, but didn’t have the smoothest postseason. He could have the potential to consistently save 40 games. That’s precious production. Personally, I’m glad he blew that Series game. Mariano Rivera said the best thing to happen in his career is when Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar Jr., homered off him in the 1997 playoffs. Rivera went on to become the game’s greatest closer.

6. They have a deeper bullpen:

Former closer Jenrry Mejia, when he comes off his suspension, will provide depth. They’ll also have Addison Reed for a full season, and hopefully a healthy Josh Edgin. And, once Wheeler returns, Bartolo Colon will go to the bullpen, where he excelled in the postseason. Hopefully, Hansel Robles will do some maturing. Lefty Jerry Blevins is back from missing last year with a broken. Logan Verrett provides depth, and can even spot start. The most intriguing spring training project with be Rafael Montero.

7. A better keystone combination:

The Mets’ defense up the middle is better with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrerra and second baseman Neil Walker. Offensively, replacing Daniel Murphy with Walker is a wash. Cabrerra is on a par with Wilmer Flores at the plate and is an upgrade in the field. Flores will add depth on the bench and give Collins more opportunities to rest Wright.

8. Left-handed power:

I never liked Curtis Granderson leading off, but love his ability to draw walks. He also hit 26 homers, but would he have more RBI if he batted in the middle of the order? It’s more than possible. Lucas Duda hit 27 homers last year after 30 in 2014. Why does it seem they all came in the same week? He still strikes out too much (138), but had a good on-base percentage (.352). Duda’s numbers should improve with more playing time (only 471 at-bats in 135 games). More consistency would be better, but I’ll take the 27 homers any way I can get them.

9. They have deeper catching:

Kevin Plawecki is here to stay, but could he force Travis d’Arnaud out of town? That will be interesting situation that could play itself out. d’Arnaud showed offensive promise when he came off the disabled list, but his inability to throw out base runners in the playoffs proved to be a glaring weakness. Having Plawecki around for an entire season will give Collins a chance to platoon him, especially against teams that like to run.

10. The kid in left:

Or, should I say that “budding star” in left? I’m among the many who are high on Micheal Conforto. Hopefully, Collins won’t fall into the trap of sitting him against lefties. He needs to play against everybody. If he’s the real deal, the Mets have something special.

 

Jan 11

Not Collins’ Job To Motivate Mets

As a longtime follower, reporter and blogger about the Mets, I read just about everything I can about the team. Some of it makes sense, some of it does not. I read something today – over a month before the start of spring training – that made me wonder it is with some people.

The author wrote how he couldn’t wait for spring training to see how Terry Collins would motivate the Mets.

Huh?

A major league manager only singularly motivates his players. There is no rah-rah speeches. These guys are professional athletes who are beyond having a manager or coach light a fire under them. Frankly, if you’re a professional athlete and need a manager for motivation you’re not long for the sport. These guys, who all make the minimum of $500-thousand, motivate themselves.

Collectively, this team surprised a lot of people to reach the World Series. All of them should be stinging over what happened to them. Perhaps, the player with the most heat is Matt Harvey over the ninth inning of Game 5.

I’m guessing he’s done a slow burn all winter. At least I hope so.

Nov 05

Mets Matters: Granderson Has Surgery; Harvey Comeback Winner

Curtis Granderson, arguably the Mets’ Most Valuable Player this year, underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to be ready for spring training.

Granderson was injured making a headfirst slide in Game 3 of the NLCS, but played in the World Series and hit three homers.

mets-matters logoOne of the significant storylines of the season was when Granderson was thrust into leadoff role over Juan Lagares and hit .259 with 26 homers, 70 RBI and a .364 on-base percentage in 157 games. Seven of those homers were leading off games to set a club record.

Granderson is a finalist for the NL Gold Glove Award. He has two more years on his contract and will make $16 million next season and $15 million in 2017.

HARVEY NL COMEBACK PLAYER: Matt Harvey won the award no player wants because it meant a bad season, either by injury or performance.

In Harvey’s case it was injury as he missed the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His innings became an issue, but the 180 announced by his agent, Scott Boras, turned out to be 216 before it was done.

Harvey was 13-18 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts. Harvey won two games in the playoffs, but will be remembered for bullying manager Terry Collins to allow him to go out for the ninth inning in Game 5 fo the World Series.

Nov 04

Mets Do Right By Collins

The Mets did right by manager Terry Collins, and more to the point they didn’t waste any time doing it. Less than 72 hours after their season ended – and by Collins’ admission on his bad decision – the Mets extended their 66-year-old manager for two years.

Accused of being tyrannical in his previous stops in Anaheim and Houston, Collins gave his players a lot of leeway. He said he “trusts my players,’’ and in the end that might have cost him when he went against his better judgment and allowed Matt Harvey to go out for the ninth inning in Game 5 of the World Series.

COLLINS: How much more champagne? (AP)

COLLINS: How much more champagne? (AP)

No need to remind you of what happened.

It is key the Mets acted quickly as to not let how the disappointing way the season ended to fester.

The Mets opened the year after six straight losing seasons, but Collins insisted during spring training they were good enough to compete – as is. Yes, the Washington Nationals had a bad year, but the Mets were 90-72 to give Collins a 394-416 record during his Mets’ tenure.

Want to bet that will be over .500 by the time he retires after the 2017 season?

“My job is to pretty much make sure the players are on board with everything we’re doing,’’ Collins said. “So, I think I’ve changed a lot there.’’

Collins was voted the NL Manager of the year by The Sporting News and is up for a similar honor by the official Baseball Writers Association of America award.

“I think it’s well deserved,’’ Wright said. “Credit should be given to TC and his coaching staff for aiding and preparing us for this success. This preparation started years ago, and I’m thrilled this coaching staff has helped lead us to a World Series appearance.’’

Collins’ coaching staff – hitting coach Kevin Long, pitching coach Dan Warthen, first base coach Tom Goodwin, third base coach Tim Teufel, bullpen coach Ricky Bones and bench coach Bob Geren – will be retained. However, Geren will interview for the Dodgers’ vacant managerial spot.

 

Oct 31

Mets’ Future Free Agents Do In Team

It was there for the taking, but the Mets wouldn’t have anything to do with victory and let Game 4 of the World Series slip away from them like a ground ball under Daniel Murphy’s glove.

Oh, wait, that actually did happen.

MURPHY: Critical error. (AP)

MURPHY: Critical error. (AP)

“You can’t give a good team extra outs,’’ said dumbfounded Mets manager Terry Collins, who also contributed to the late-inning collapse in Saturday night’s 5-3 loss to the Royals, the team that won’t die.

In the end, the likely end to the Mets’ 2015 postseason came down to three players who probably won’t be here next season for not making the plays when they needed to most.

Tyler Clippard, Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes did nothing to endear themselves to Mets’ fans and GM Sandy Alderson.

However, let’s first start with Collins, who pulled Bartolo Colon before going with hot reliever Addison Reed in the seventh. You go with your hot hand and Collins should have stayed with Colon and ride him until he gave up a base runner before going to Reed.

Reed was terrific, but the template backfired on Collins when Clippard walked two in the eighth. First of all, Collins should have gone with Jeurys Familia for a two-inning save. Only trouble is Collins was reluctant to go with Familia because he had worked an inning Friday night in a blowout win in Game 3. That was lame. This time of year, your closer has to work two, maybe three nights in a row.

So, not having Familia in there falls on Collins. Also falling on Collins is not pulling Clippard after the first walk. At this stage, Clippard gets one runner before he’s pulled.

Then came a grounder to Murphy. The snake of a grounder slithered under his glove and the game was tied. Then it totally slipped away from the Mets.

“Jeurys did his job, I didn’t do mine,’’ said the always stand-up Murphy. “I misplayed it. There’s no excuse for it. We lost the ballgame because of it.’’

The Mets put the tying runs on base in the ninth, but Cespedes was doubled off first on a soft liner to third baseman Michael Moustakas. Despite a runner on base ahead of him, Cespedes was running.

Where was he going? What was he thinking?

Later, he offered the lame excuse. “I thought it was going to touch the grass,’’ Cespedes said. “I didn’t think it would be a double play.’’

I don’t blame Murphy as errors happen. I don’t really blame Clippard because wildness happens. However, neither Collins nor Cespedes had their heads in the game when they needed to most.

That’s why the Mets are 27 outs from winter.