Jul 01

Mets’ July Schedule Makes It Imperative For Alderson To Do Something Now

I couldn’t help but wonder what Mets GM Sandy Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager – was thinking last night when his team was shut out for the eighth time. And, the fourth time by a 1-0 score.

Perhaps he was mulling over his Twitter account and what 140-character quips he might treat us with. Hopefully, he was thinking about the July schedule that will define this season. If he was, hopefully he was overcome by a sense of urgency. Somehow, I doubt it.

ALDERSON: Take off the shades and see what's going on.  (AP)

ALDERSON: Take off the shades and see what’s going on. (AP)

Alderson’s first priority when he was hired was to shave the payroll, and then develop a competitive team. He did the payroll bit. Gone are Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Johan Santana and Jason Bay. Also gone are Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.

The payroll is down. Alderson did his job marvelously in that regard, although the parting with Reyes was a bit sloppy. Actually, for a team in New York, the Mets’ payroll of just over $100 million is too low.

For the first time since 2008, the Mets are competitive. They lived off the buffer of an 11-game winning streak in April and go into Wednesday’s game with the Cubs two games over .500 and in second place 3.5 games behind the Nationals. We would have signed up for that in a heartbeat entering the season, but after spending several days in the rarified air of 10 games above .500, we want more.

And, with one solid pitching start after another being wasted, it’s frustrating, if not aggravating, to have Alderson tell us the “market is thin.’’ It makes us angry that he gives the appearance of sitting on his hands.

I don’t care how thin the market is, do something to get some hitting. Michael Cuddyer won’t play before Friday at the earliest. … The bench is ridiculously thin. … The Mets have used three third basemen since David Wright was injured and there’s no prospect of his return.

Quit frankly, waiting for Daniel Murphy to come off the disabled list wasn’t the answer we wanted to hear.

OK, I get it, Sandy, you don’t want to trade any of your top four prospect pitchers – Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steve Matz – and that’s fine. At least it is fine for right now.

However, nobody is ringing your phone for Jon Niese, Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon.

The market might be lean, but it’s your job to find a nugget. It’s your job to push the envelope and put together a package to make a trade for somebody nobody is thinking about. It’s your job to find a taker for Niese and the others. It’s also your job to realistically look at the four foundation pitchers and ascertain their trade value. And, also project who will be hardest to sign and keep. That last thing shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

What’s better, keeping all four and missing the playoffs, or trading one and possibly getting in?

If the playoffs began today, the Mets would be on the outside with 83 victories. It would be a winning season, but not what we want.

Now that the payroll is manageable, it is your job to do something to make the playoffs happen.

If you can’t, or won’t, make a deal, then I don’t want to hear about not rushing young prospects like Michael Conforto, or Matt Reynolds, or Brandon Nimmo. The young pitchers are here, so let’s see about the young hitters. We all know this isn’t really about preserving their fragile psyche as much as it is delaying the service time clock. If you wait too long, the window might be closed.

And, by a window I mean July’s brutal schedule that includes three games with the Giants, seven with the Dodgers, three with St. Louis and four with Washington. Of those 17 games, only five are at home.

Let’s face it, the season could be over by July 31 and you know it. Moves must be made now.

Sandy, you and ownership asked the Mets’ fan base to be patient and they have. Now that they see a glimmer of what could be, they want it. And, it is your job to deliver.

Now, do your job.

Jun 12

Niese Shows Why He Will Be Hard To Trade

The roller coaster enigma that is Jon Niese was on full display Thursday night, which will only make it even more difficult for the Mets to trade him. Every Niese start is an opportunity for the Mets to showcase him for a trade that would open the way for Steven Matz to be promoted.

NIESE: Another fruitless outing. (AP)

NIESE: Another fruitless outing. (AP)

Scouts had to wonder after the Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the first on an opposite field single to left, a scratch infield hit in which the Mets did not get a favorable replay review and a walk. The Mets didn’t get the call, but the pitcher’s responsibility to suck it up and get the next hitter, which all too often Niese does not do.

Before you know it, the Giants had two runs. And, had not one of them scored on a double play grounder, it could have been worse. That was frustrating, especially following the previous two games. But, it also typical of what the Mets have seen from Niese.

Not all roller coasters are downhill, and Niese regrouped to throw three solid innings. He gave his team a chance to win, and indeed, the Mets took the lead. Niese even helped his own cause when he doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Niese was cruising until Eric Campbell committed a two-out error. As I said, a pitcher has pick up his teammates, but Niese promptly gave up the lead when Brandon Crawford hit a two-run homer.

Frustratingly bad at the start, uplifting in the middle, then downright annoying with the homer and Niese left with a no-decision. Again.

The Mets eventually won. As for the showcasing of Niese, any prospective buyer would have to wonder: Why bother?

 

Jun 11

Harvey Stand Up About Falling Down

The best thing the Mets’ Matt Harvey did Wednesday night was not offer excuses for his mauling by the Giants.

There are explanations for everything, but Harvey wouldn’t say the three home runs crushed by the Giants or his second seven-run outing in his last four starts, was the result of Tommy John surgery.

HARVEY: Real Harvey camouflaged. (AP)

HARVEY: Real Harvey camouflaged. (AP)

“This is Major League Baseball,’’ Harvey told reporters moments after suffering his fourth loss of the season. “You can’t hit your spots, you can’t mix things in well, you’re not going to do your job very well.

“I just have to be better. There’s no excuses to be made. My job is to go out and put up zeroes. I’m not doing that very well. Right now I’m just not executing anything.’’

Normally a strikeout machine, Harvey had only only two last night. Harvey is throwing hard enough, but a product of Tommy John surgery is his pitches weren’t darting; the movement he normally has wasn’t there.

Of the three, location, movement and velocity, speed is the least important. Harvey is usually in the strike zone, but has little movement in it. That makes him easier to hit.

“Everything was all over the place,’’ Harvey said. “I just tried to go a certain place and couldn’t do it. The ball was over the middle or high. … I’m just not doing my job very well.’’

Harvey said he feels fine physically and wouldn’t bite on surgery as being an out.

“It’s just a terrible performance,’’ Harvey said. “The last couple of starts have been extremely bad. I’m just not getting it done, not helping the team in any way. Something needs to change. I need to go to square one.’’

He already took the first step by not having any alibis. Good for him.

 

Jun 09

Giants Rookie No-Hits Mets

It was a poor start by Noah Syndergaard, but it really didn’t matter considering the Mets didn’t get any hits in being no-hit by Giants rookie, Chris Heston, 5-0 Tuesday at Citi Field. Heston struck out 11 and didn’t walk anybody, but did hit three Mets.

It was the fourth no-hitter in as many seasons by the Giants, and the 17th in franchise history. The Mets, as you obviously know, have just that tainted one thrown by Johan Santana. The Mets have been no-hit seven times in their history.

Despite the loss, the Mets maintained their slim half-game lead over Washington, which lost to the Yankees, in the NL East.

Syndergaard allowed at least 10 hits for the his second straight start and struck out fewer than five for the first time in six career starts.

EXTRA INNINGS:  In their nine home losses, the Mets have scored just 12 runs and have been shut out in five of them. … Giants’ pitching have thrown ten shutouts. … Dilson Herrera had two hits for Triple-A Las Vegas. … Bobby Parnell, who is expected to be activated from the disabled list Wednesday, pitched a scoreless inning for Double-A Binghamton.

Jun 09

Baseball’s Scheduling A Joke

There probably is if I thought hard enough about it, but for now there are few things more absurd in baseball than its scheduling. While the sport is bent out of shape about the playing time of games, it might be more prudent to come up with a better scheduling format.

Seriously, how ridiculous is it for both the Mets and Yankees to playing at home tonight, against the Giants and Nationals, respectively? The teams were also home the same time for Opening Day and Memorial Day.

Of course, this is the byproduct of interleague play and the unbalanced schedule. Neither of those money-grabbing brain strokes has improved the game or the integrity of the schedule.

At one time, there was an even number of teams in each league and every team played every other team – home and away – the same number of times. They say a baseball season is a marathon, but currently not all teams run the same race. Some run 26 miles, while others run 24 or 28.

It’s just not the same race and that’s wrong. It’s emblematic of a sport without integrity.