Mar 07

Mets Must Earn Right To Have Swagger

About this swagger thing Mets manager Terry Collins wants his team to have, well, it just doesn’t happen. It is something a team grows into having, something the Mets haven’t had since 2006. They lost it with their September collapse in 2007, and haven’t come close to regaining it with the possible exception of every fifth game in 2013 when Matt Harvey pitched.

“You know, for years and years, you used to watch those teams that won all of the time, they had an air about them,’’ Collins said this week. “You used to play the Braves and they’d walk out there and, they weren’t cocky, but they were confident.They weren’t overbearing, they knew how to play, they knew what they had to do to win games.’’

The Braves earned the right to have swagger by getting into the playoffs for a decade straight. Jose Reyes used to dance in the dugout after scoring and thought that was swagger.

It wasn’t.

LeBron James and other NBA players flatter themselves into thinking they have swagger, but most really don’t. If you have to carry yourself in such a way where you want people to get the impression you’re tough, then you really aren’t. If you’re really tough you don’t have to pound your chest as if to say “look at me,’’ which seems the standard in the NBA and NFL these days.

I know what Collins is getting at, but it just doesn’t happen overnight. True swagger isn’t forced. For your opponents to fear and respect you, that must be earned and the Mets aren’t there, yet.

After six straight losing seasons you just don’t snap your fingers and say you have swagger. The Mets need to be tougher, and that includes winning close games; winning within the division; taking the other team’s second baseman out on a double play; and when your hitters get plunked, then plunk one of their batters.

Swagger needs to first come from the top. It’s having a general manager not afraid to roll the dice at the trade deadline. It’s about being decisive on a player who doesn’t have it and not being afraid to cut ties with past disasters like the Mets had in guys like Ike Davis and Jordany Valdespin.

The bottom line is if you’re good you don’t need to tell anybody because they will know. And, nobody knows that about the Mets. Not yet, anyway.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notes.

Dec 08

Are Mets Sabotaging Flores?

I have been writing over a month Wilmer Flores should be the Opening Day shortstop. Speaking to reporters at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, GM Sandy Alderson all but confirmed it.

“I’d say where we are today, that’s the likelihood. But that doesn’t mean it’ll happen,’’ Alderson said. “But if you look around at all the possibilities, is it more likely than not? Probably.’’

FLORES: Don't undercut him.

FLORES: Don’t undercut him.

To that, I say it is about time.

Alderson began his regime promising a more open dialogue, but what we’ve been getting have been smokescreens and diversions. Let’s face it, Troy Tulowitzki was too absurd to consider, and Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew aren’t worth considering.

Alderson mentioned the possibility of January. If you’re going to wait that long, what does it say about the Mets’ level of confidence in these players? It says they don’t have much, if any.

It also screams cheapness and indecisiveness.

By the way, if the Mets are rebuilding as they say, you don’t do it by filling such a key position as shortstop with rejects. And, before you say you don’t build with guys like Flores, either, save it because we don’t know about him.

You build with your own players before you look outside.

All of this speaks little of the Mets’ faith in Flores. All this talk of trying to replace him can’t help his self-esteem. What the Mets are doing with Flores is the same thing they did with Ike Davis and that’s a shame.

The Mets constant negativity directed at Davis made it impossible for him to function here. I am afraid they are doing the same with Flores.

Why won’t they learn?

ON DECK: Do Mets really have pitching depth to trade?

Nov 22

Could Former Met Davis Land With Nats?

The reports came so close together that they invariably are linked. First, Ike Davis was released by Pittsburgh, and then Met-killer Adam LaRoche bolted the Nationals and signed a two-year, $25-million deal with the White Sox.

So, what does two plus two equal? I can see it adding up to Washington signing the former Met.

DAVIS: Could he go to Washington?

DAVIS: Could he go to Washington?

Davis hit 11 homers with 51 RBI and a surprising .344 on-base percentage last year. There was so much going on with Davis’ head last season, then the trade, that it was almost inevitable he wouldn’t have a breakout year.

Davis made $3.5 million in 2014, so he shouldn’t command a big salary. And, by putting him in a powerful lineup where he doesn’t have to carry the full load – Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth – he could be worth a roll of the dice.

There were a lot of reasons why Davis didn’t make it with the Mets. After a promising start there were injuries and slumps, the latter having its roots in a misguided approach where he didn’t care about strikeouts and tried too much to pull the ball for home runs.

“I’m a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs,’’ Davis once told me. “Strikeouts are going to happen.’’

That, and trying to power-pull the ball through a shift were aggravating to watch.

It wasn’t too long that those lunging catches over the dugout rail were forgotten.

If he learned, it wouldn’t be a bad move by the Nationals.

Jul 30

How Collins Views Wilmer Flores

terry-collins1

The following transcript is courtesy of Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. It’s a conversation between reporters and Terry Collins at Citi Field regarding Wilmer Flores.

Reporter: ”When you take a look at Wilmer Flores, when he was up here in May, when he played in five consecutive games, he hit. When he plays every other game he doesn’t hit. Is now the time to see what Flores can do on an everyday basis?”

Collins: ”It all depends where you’re going to play him.”

Reporter: ”You don’t have confidence in him at shortstop?”

Collins: ”No, no. I didn’t say that. The other kid [Tejada] is playing pretty good. I don’t know what games you’ve been watching, but we’ve been playing pretty good lately.”

Reporter: ”He’s 3-for-29.”

Collins: ”We’re playing pretty good lately. You know, Ike Davis wasn’t hitting and we were winning games. So you pick and choose your spots. Wilmer came up because Ruben got beaned, so we were concerned about having a backup. So that’s why he’s here. There were no instructions to play him everyday. We’re going to try to get him at-bats. That’s why he’s in there today.”

Reporter: ”What do you need to see from him to keep him in the lineup everyday?”

Collins: ”Nothing from him. We’ve got to figure out if he is going to be the shortstop, or if the other guy is going to be the shortstop.”

During Flores’ first call-up to the Mets, he hit a grand slam and drove in six against the Phillies to win the game. Afterward, Collins said the following about Flores:

“It’s not like he hit it against Cliff Lee.”

After sitting idle for 12 straight days, Collins was asked if that was harmful to Flores’ development. The Mets manager responded:

“I cant worry about developing players, I have games I’ve got to win.”

Last week, when asked if Flores would share time at short with Tejada, the Mets manager said:

“Lets understand that if Tejada didn’t get beaned, Flores is not even here right now. Got it?”

Cripes… Yeah, we got it…

Mar 22

Three Homers Power Mets To 10-2 Win Over Marlins

The Mets banged out 13 hits including three home runs to beat the Miami Marlins by a score of 10-2 on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

There were a lot of great story lines in this game for the Mets, but let’s begin with Travis d’Arnaud, who blasted a two-run homer against Miami Marlins lefthander Brad Hand. The home run snapped a hitless streak that had lasted 21 at-bats for the Mets Opening Day catcher.

Apparently, d’Arnaud and hitting coach Dave Hudgens spent some considerable time together on Friday and hopefully this was a sign that things will now improve for 25-year old backstop.

“I’m seeing the ball well,” d’Arnaud said. “I’m just over-swinging. Yesterday me and ‘Hudgy’ just worked on keeping my eye on the ball. If you keep your eye on the ball, you have a higher chance of succeeding than when you don’t see the ball hit the bat.”

More Highlights:

Perhaps the biggest star on the day was Bartolo Colon  who pitched all the way into the seventh inning and got the win. Colon tossed 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits while walking none and striking out three. He threw over 80% of his pitches for strikes including 18 of them in a row at one point in the game. Collins was right – this guy is a strike-throwing machine. Additionally, Colon singled, drove in a run, and nearly beat out a grounder for an infield hit, much to the delight of the crowd who gave him a big ovation. This guy is going to be a lot of fun!

Wilmer Flores with a three hit, four RBI day that include a three-run shot – his second homer of the year. Flores leads the Mets in RBIs this Spring, but will likely begin the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s unfortunate.

Ike Davis had his second big day in a row. After going 3-for-3 on Friday, Davis celebrated his 27th birthday by ripping a two-run homer off Marlins closer Steve Cishek. It was his second home run of the spring and he’s now 5-for-15 with four extra-base hits. Lucas Duda had the day off.

How about Chris Young? He reached base 5 times today and is having himself a fantastic spring. Young finished his day going 3-for-3 with a walk and two steals.

Eric Young Jr. batted leadoff and collected a single and a walk in four plate appearances while stealing a pair of bases including third.

Up Next:

The Mets play a pair of split squad games on Sunday. Jenrry Mejia opposes Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark at 1:10 PM at Port St. Lucie, while John Lannan opposes Atlanta Braves right-hander Freddy Garcia at 1:05 PM at Disney.