Jul 09

Collins Expresses Hope At The Break

Today’s Mets’ buzzword is “energy.’’ Mets manager Terry Collins, in talking about his team’s poor first half, bemoaned their lack of energy.

“We have to get energy back,’’ Collins said. “We aren’t playing with energy. We have to put a streak together, starting Friday.’’

COLLINS: Still has hope. (AP)

COLLINS: Still has hope. (AP)

At the break, the Mets are eight games under .500, 12 games behind Washington in the NL East, and 10 games behind the second wild-card Colorado with six teams to jump.

The Mets have been a string of bad optics from spring training until today. But, they are still alive.

I look at a potential pennant race from two angles. One, for a team to be in a race it has to be playing .500 ball and the Mets are eight games under. Secondly, there is enough time remaining with them being 12 games behind with 12 weeks remaining. As long as they can pick up one game a week it can be done. Mathematically, they are alive, but can they make a run? Have they demonstrated any signs of turning around their season?

So far, they have not.

There have been numerous times when they were on the cusp of making a move but stepped back. That trend started in April when after winning five straight, they lost 10 of 11.

They came out of that slide by winning the first two games of a three-game series in Washington and had Noah Syndergaard going in the final game. The Mets still had a chance with their ace gong.

However, that was the day Syndergaard, after refusing an MRI, tore his lat muscle and the Mets were routed 23-5. That was the singular most important moment of the first half.

From there, the Mets showed the resilience that marked their playoff pushes in the past two years. They went on to win six of eight to get back to .500 and give the perception anything was possible.

However, one of those two losses came when Matt Harvey was suspended and spot starter Adam Wilk was shelled by Miami. Syndergaard’s injury and Harvey’s suspension were two watershed moments from the first half.

However, the underlying theme of the first half was injuries, beginning with losing David Wright. Also going down were Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Juan Lagares, Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman, Harvey and Yoenis Cespedes.

Considering all that, it’s amazing they aren’t 20 games back.

“Well, pretty much the record speaks for itself,’’ said Collins. “No matter if you said, ‘Geez, we played without a lot of big pieces.’ We are not happy with where we are, certainly, so we’ve got to use this time to reassess what we’ve got to do in the second half and hopefully we start getting some of the pieces back.’’

Both the starters and bullpen have ERAs north of five, and there are no guarantees when, or if, they’ll get Syndergaard and Harvey back, and if so, how well they’ll perform. The same applies to Familia.

The Mets will be forced to decide if they’ll be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline. However, before that, they have to figure if they’ll get Syndergaard and Harvey back.

If they believe they’ll be back this season, then they have to be buyers. If they don’t, and GM Sandy Alderson has already decided his positions on Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Duda, Walker and others for 2018, then they have to be sellers.

The key players are their best offensive player, Bruce, and their closer, Reed. If either is dealt, Alderson would have surrendered on the season.

“If you want to talk about what we saw the last few months, I’ll go back to what we saw in the last 12 months,’’ Collins said when asked if the Mets had it in them. “We saw a team, last year, that when they were challenged they rose up. So, I think it’s in their DNA that they can do it again. We’ll find out.’’

The Mets open the second half with a ten-game homestand against the Rockies, Cardinals and Oakland.

Jul 23

Alderson Calls Into Question His Believability

He wouldn’t be Sandy Alderson if he weren’t snide and condescending. The Mets’ general manager told reporters this afternoon at Citi Field the team could add payroll.

“We have the ability to take on payroll,’’ Alderson told reporters, then added, “even though none of you will believe me.’’

ALDERSON: Holds court. (AP)

ALDERSON: Holds court. (AP)

Geez, Sandy, ever wonder why that is?

Could it be he’s gone back on nearly every player-acquisition comment he’s made? Could it be hardly any of his injury update statements have proven false? Could it be “Mr. Panic City” has made a habit of being flippant and rude? And, let’s not even start with the shortstop and leadoff decisions, not to mention talk of 90 wins.

Late last month Alderson was quoted in the New York Daily News saying it was within his budget to acquire a pricey, impact bat. Now, Aramis Ramirez – who is none of those things is reportedly on his way to Pittsburgh – there’s no interest in Justin Upton, and now even Oakland’s Ben Zobrist, who is making around $4 million, is too expensive.

I’m just wondering who this middle-of-the-order, inexpensive quality bat is and where he’s coming from?

It’s hard to tell if the Mets are buyers or sellers, considering they will still entertain offers for Jon Niese, Friday’s starter, who has been exceptional the past two months.

If the Mets are to contend they need hitting, but they’ll also need what Niese is giving them, which they apparently won’t get from Bartolo Colon or Dillon Gee.

Niese is under contract through 2016 and with the Mets holding a club option for 2017 and 2018. They would be open to dealing Niese if the contract they would take on has similar parameters.

So, I don’t see Niese leaving any time soon.

And, not coming any time soon is David Wright, who Alderson said would resume baseball activity next week in New York.

Of course, we’ve heard that several times since Wright went on the disabled list in April.

 

Apr 24

I Like Ike, But This Is Ridiculous

Geez, What the heck is up with Ike Davis? Spare me the “It’s only April diatribes”  I’m not in the mood for cliches and simplistic excuses this morning.

Ike Davis stranded the bases loaded three times in Monday’s doubleheader sweep by the Giants, although the first baseman cautiously noted that the final instance — a called third strike in the nightcap as a pinch hitter — was not entirely his fault. Davis and Terry Collins clearly said the final pitch was low. Davis flinged his bat after the at-bat. He left 11 runners on base in two games.

Low my ass… It was too close to take… You’re down a half dozen runs and have two strikes on you, protect the damn plate.

Instead of Collins making excuses for him, maybe he should set his head straight and tell Davis to stop lunging at everything.

Last week in this post, our own Drew (72MetsFan) referred to Ike Davis’ tirades at the plate.

Another thing that concerns me is Ike’s demeanor at the plate and how he reacts on close pitches that don’t go his way or his emotional displays after every strikeout. When a a Cy-Young type pitcher like Cliff Lee barely misses the outside part of the plate, he’s gonna get that call every time. There’s no use jawing about it to the ump and Davis’ reputation in that regard is growing quickly and will only serve against him. If not Hudgens, than Collins or somebody else needs to have him tone it down up there.

And there he was, taking a called third strike in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, popping off and slamming his bat and helmet to the ground as he turned from home plate in protest. Keep up that routine and see how many close pitches will go your way, Ike.

Collins was finally asked about Davis’ antagonistic protests aimed at the the men behind the plate and whether it plays against him in the long run as I mentioned last week:

“I don’t necessarily agree with that,” Collins said. “In our league, you have to be professional. … Years ago umpires could hold a grudge. Because there are so many TV cameras today, and with all the stuff being aired today, they really can’t. I don’t think they do that stuff anymore. They’re human beings. Once in a while they miss a call. We make mistakes. But I don’t think they really screw guys like they once did.”

Is he kidding me?

He thinks umpiring has improved instead of gotten worse? Really Terry?

That may be the most asinine baseball quote I’ve heard all year.

In the last week, Ike has gotten worse, not better. I loved hearing about how great he felt after batting practice yesterday, it really touched my heart, but I’m more concerned with results.

Is his head in the game? Of course it is, it’s one of the things I love about Ike – his focus and determination. In Spring Training Davis referred to himself as “pure chaos” at the plate when comparing himself to teammate Daniel Murphy. I thought it was cool at the time and a perfect nickname for him, but what was I thinking? He admitted he was a hacker which is okay when you’re hacking at a .295 clip and hitting home runs in bunches, but this… This slump is intolerable and he’s clogged up the middle of the order while batting cleanup. We’re getting tons of people on base… Haven’t you heard how awesome the Mets’ OBP is? How about getting some players in the middle of the order to drive in some runs… You know those things that leads to wins…

Time for Plan B… Time to get him a few days off, not one… You have Valdespin here, perfect timing, put him at second base for the Marlins series and let Daniel Murphy cover first base.

The goal here is two fold.

One, Ike would be served better to disengage, recharge and come back with a new approach and attitude. Let him huddle with Hudgens or anyone else who could help. Show him some tape from 2010 so he could see how pitchers have adjusted to to him and that he now needs to do the same. Hey, whatever it takes…

Two, the bottom line here is to win some baseball games. Batting Ike Davis cleanup while he’s a complete mess is a terrible idea. We’ve lost five of our last six games and we can’t afford a dead out deflating the middle of our lineup. Ike’s a flat tire right now and it needs some Fix-A-Flat.

Yesterday I told Andy Martino of the Daily News that Davis could be in the throws of a sophomore slump that is in late bloom. We all love to believe our young stars are immune to such things, but that’s what happens when the league adjusts to you and all you do is flail at the plate like nothing is different. Lucas Duda be forewarned as well.

Apr 16

April 16.10: Chat Room, Game #10 at Cardinals: Low expectations.

The Mets are in St. Louis tonight, a town that rarely treats them kindly. They’ll play the sizzling Cardinals, who have the game’s best hitter in Albert Pujols. They’ll face them with Oliver Perez, which begs the question what’s the over-under on homers allowed?

I’m guessing three.

Perez never inspires confidence, so you have to wonder whose basket is Omar Minaya putting his eggs in this weekend. Perez? Johan Santana? John Maine?

Geez … who do you think he had in mind when he told SI.com of his expectations for the weekend?

“St. Louis is always tough,” Minaya said. “If we can win two out of three, that will be outstanding. If we win one, I’ll take it. We’ve got Jose back, and once we get Murphy and Beltran back, we can compete with everyone else.”

Here’s tonight’s starting line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Gary Matthews, CF
OIiver Perez, LP