Oct 12

ALDS Highlight Many Differences Between Mets And Yankees

With Cleveland – and with it, Jay Bruce – eliminated from the playoffs, I’m guessing the worst possible World Series scenario for Mets fans would be the Yankees against the Nationals.

Mets fans clearly hate the Yankees for reasons we can all understand and embrace, and which was reinforced by their ALDS win over the Indians and define the differences of the franchises:

NO QUIT MENTALITY: After losing the first two games to Cleveland, the Yankees rallied to win the next three. Yes, 2015 was a magical year, but outside of that season that’s a characteristic we haven’t often seen from the Mets. We certainly didn’t see it in 2017.

FRONT OFFICE AGGRESSIVENESS: Despite already exceeding expectations at the deadline, Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn’t rest on the presumption it was already a successful season. The Yankees might have gotten by not doing anything at the deadline, but Cashman brought in third baseman Todd Frazier, and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Cashman also added Sonny Gray, although the early returns haven’t been good. You don’t need to be reminded what Mets GM Sandy Alderson did.

SUPPORTING THE MANAGER: Yankees manager Joe Girardi had an awful time in Game 2, but his team rallied behind him and he said “they had my back.’’ Nobody can say the Mets had Terry Collins’ back, especially Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey and all those unnamed sources in the Newsday article.

THE BULLPEN: The difference in the Yankees’ bullpen compared to that of the Mets is roughly the same separation of that between Ohio State and Rutgers. The Yankees might have the best pen remaining in the playoffs and could translate into another title.

YOUNG STUDS: Michael Conforto is the best the Mets have to offer, while Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are unproven. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ farm system has produced Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. Judge struck out 16 times in 24 plate appearances against the Indians, but I’m willing to bet he’ll be much better against the Astros.

STARTING PITCHING: Can we officially dismiss the notion the Mets have the best rotation – young or otherwise – in baseball? The Mets don’t even have the best rotation in New York, although I’m taking Jacob deGrom before any Big Apple pitcher.

REPLACING ICONS: Not long after Derek Jeter retired the Yankees made the aggressive trade for Didi Gregorius, who homered twice against Corey Kluber in Game 5. Meanwhile, David Wright has played in only 75 games over the past three years. The Mets’ contingency plan is Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera.

VETERAN PRESENCE: They are called the Baby Bombers, but the Yankees might not be here without Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and C.C. Sabathia. The Mets’ veterans? Well, Wright is recovering from surgery and the other vets were dealt at the deadline for a handful of non-descript pitching prospects.

OWNERSHIP: George is gone, but the Steinbrenner family is far more aggressive than Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Not even close.

If they were in the same division, the Mets would be 20 games behind the Yankees. That means Alderson has a lot of work ahead of him.

Oct 07

Mets’ Dismal Managerial Search

A show of hands please, who is exactly blown away by the Mets’ managerial search?

“Right now, we have a very long list,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said this week. “We will have it shortened after we have had internal discussions, and then talks with people outside the organization to make sure we have a list that is all inclusive and go from there.’’

GIRARDI: Mets should be so lucky. (AP)

GIRARDI: Mets should be so lucky. (AP)

The Mets’ current list stands at seven, which really means there’s no top candidate. Seriously, if you have seven choices you really have none. The list includes Robin Ventura, Kevin Long, Alex Cora, Joe McEwing, Sandy Alomar Jr.,, Bob Geren and Chip Hale.

From that group, who blows you away?

When Alderson said after the season those minor leaguers promoted at the end of the season – notably Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith – had holes in their game, had to make one wonder why they won’t consider Wally Backman.

Alderson’s first managerial search after the 2010 season which resulted in the hiring of Terry Collins lasted three weeks and there’s no reason to believe this one will last any shorter.

From that above group, only Ventura has had any success, and it was minimal at best, going 375-435 (.463) in five seasons with the Chicago White Sox (2012-2016). He had only one winning year, going 85-77 in his first season.

Of course, things can change, but there’s nothing on Ventura’s resume that suggests that will happen.

YANKEES FANS BACK TO NORMAL: By all accounts, the Yankees exceeded all expectations this season to reach the AL playoffs as a wild-card.

It’s premature to say the Yankees are back, but their fan base was in championship entitlement form this morning after listening to the radio call-in shows this morning, many calling for the manager’s head.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was roasted for several decisions, beginning with pulling C.C. Sabathia after 77 pitches, but most notably for not using a challenge in the bottom of the sixth when plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled Chad Green’s pitch clipped hitter Lonnie Chisenhall’s hand and not the bat knob as television replays did.

Chisenhall went to first to load the bases and set up Francisco Lindor’s grandslam, which pulled the Indians within 8-7.

After the game, Girardi said he didn’t challenge because he didn’t want to disrupt Green’s rhythm. It was clearly a panic response, one Girardi retracted today at Yankee Stadium.

“I screwed up,’’ Girardi told reporters today. “It’s a hard day for me, but I’ve got to move forward. … I feel horrible. Does it change the complexion of the game? Sure, it could have. … It’s a tough loss, a tough situation.’’

Girardi, of course, was ripped on social media, which was to be expected because Twitter and Instagram are the wild, wild west. However, what Girardi shouldn’t have had to endure was to get roasted by one of his own players.

Aroldis Chapman, who last year criticized how Cubs manager Joe Maddon used him in the World Series, liked an Instagram post that read: “Let’s hope Joe Girardi’s contract is not renewed after this season. He is a complete imbecile.’’

Chapman, of course, is blessed with the million-dollar arm but a 10-cent head. Here’s hoping the Yankees have the guts to fine him. The Yankees will bring back Girardi, who is a Manager of the Year candidate, but if they don’t the Mets should jump on him.

Chapman reportedly apologized, but what does it matter if it is already out there?

Reportedly, lost in all this is had Girardi challenged, it wouldn’t have been a called third strike, but the pitch would have to be replayed.

 

Oct 05

Wright Has Back Surgery; Bruce Homers For Indians

David Wright remains as determined as ever to return and took another step today after undergoing back surgery in Los Angeles. Wright underwent a laminectomy procedure which designed to relieve pressure caused by a compressed nerve in the back of the spinal cord.

WRIGHT: More surgery. (AP)

WRIGHT: More surgery. (AP)

In a statement, Wright said: “Through this entire rehab process, I have been driven to get back on the field as quickly as I can. That’s why I had the shoulder surgery and that’s why today I underwent back surgery to reduce the risk of further issues going forward. With these two surgeries behind me, I hope to be able to put on a Mets uniform again as soon as possible. My desire to play is as strong as ever.’’

Wright expressed several times during the summer he is not considering retirement.

“I think I still have something to give,’’ he told the New York Post. “There’s still kind of that passion and that fire in me.’’

As much as Wright has to overcome physically, almost as difficult for him in his comeback attempt is overcoming all the time he has missed. At 34, he has played in just 75 games over the past three seasons.

Among his injuries in that time have been a pulled hamstring, spinal stenosis, a herniated disc in his upper spine and a rotator cuff issue.

Of course, I’d like to see Wright make it back, and believes he deserves the opportunity to try it again next spring.

From the Mets’ perspective, they can’t assume Wright will make it back which is why most likely will bring back Asdrubal Cabrera and/or Jose Reyes.

BAUER VS. SYNDERGAARD: It was interesting to hear how Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer and the Indians jointly developed and monitored a workout and conditioning program in the offseason.

The point is the Indians worked with the player and told him not to expect results early in the season. Bauer bought into the program and started tonight against the Yankees.

Conversely, the Mets pushed Matt Harvey early this season when he wasn’t ready to pitch. They also let Noah Syndergaard bulk up on his own which led to the lat injury.

HAPPY FOR BRUCE: I’m happy for Jay Bruce, who doubled and hit a two-run homer tonight against the Yankees. I loved the Bruce trade last season and was thrilled at his good start this season and wish they hadn’t traded him.

I felt even before the injuries to Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes the Mets would need Bruce’s left-handed power if they are to be competitive next year.

Despite Bruce saying he is open to returning to the Mets, I don’t see it happening because I don’t think GM Sandy Alderson will pony up the money on a long-term deal.

Sep 15

How Can You Not Be Happy For Bruce?

I channel surfed during Mets-Cubs last night to Indians-Royals. I love that history is being made in Cleveland, my hometown, and was especially happy to see Jay Bruce drove in the game-winner. After what he went through last season, and how he rebounded this year, how can you not cheer for a guy like that?

BRUCE: Happy for him. (AP)

                        BRUCE: Happy for him. (AP)

Meanwhile, the Mets remain rudderless, with no viable veteran presence.

Unless the money is so overwhelming, why would Bruce want to come back to the Mets? Seriously, if I’m Bruce, I know I already have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life. If the Indians make a viable offer, I’d stay in Cleveland rather than come back to the toxic atmosphere permeating around the Mets.

We can assume manager Terry Collins won’t be coming back, and with him will likely go the coaching staff. What will be constant is probably GM Sandy Alderson and his penny-pinching ways.

We can assume Michael Conforto won’t be ready for Opening Day, and possibly the same applies to Yoenis Cespedes. Alderson is already on record saying don’t expect an increase in salary, so Bruce would probably get a low-ball offer, and if he’s crazy enough to take it, he won’t be getting much help.

Why would he put himself through that again?

Alderson says he expects the Mets to compete next season, predicated of course, on their young pitching. But, Jacob deGrom is the ace, but with only 14 wins. Matt Harveys rehab is three starts – one good; two bad – and after losing to the Cubs Wednesday he said there’s been nothing positive. It sounds like he defeated mentally.

As far as Noah Syndergaard is concerned, I’m happy he’s dating a supermodel, but his rehab has stalled. He’s playing catch now, but nobody can say for sure when he’ll get in a game. So, like Harvey, Syndergaard is a question. So are Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz. Seth Lugo, hammered last night and Robert Gsellman, torched in the series opener, regressed to where they’ll go into spring training with no defined roles.

Catcher, the entire infield save shortstop, and at least one outfield position are up for grabs next season. So, I ask you, unless Alderson blows him away with an offer – and we know that won’t happen – why would Bruce even think of coming back here?

 

Aug 13

Mets’ Bright Spots In Lost Season

There are always a few rubies that can be found in this garbage dump of a Mets season. This year, the shiniest of the gems are Michael Conforto’s emergence of being a star and Jacob deGrom’s recovery from surgery to being an All-Star caliber starter.

The other highlights have been the production of traded Mets Jay Bruce and Addison Reed; the professionalism of Curtis Granderson; and promotions of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith.

Once a question to even make the Opening Day roster, Conforto began the season in a pinch-hitting role, but his success, coupled with Granderson’s slow start and injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, increased his playing time and subsequently run production to the point where he made his first All-Star team.

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

Conforto’s two-run homer gave him his 26th of the season, but more importantly, the Mets a two-run lead in the first inning, one they never relinquished in today’s 6-2 victory over the Phillies.

Conforto hit 12 homers last season, so his home run ceiling was just a hunch. Now, with 26, you would think 35 could be within reach with 47 games remaining.

I’ve long advocated Conforto should hit third in the order, ahead of Cespedes, and hopefully manager Terry Collins will keep him there. I also like that even with the trade of Bruce, Collins is keeping Conforto in center field. If the rest of the season is about laying the foundation for 2018, then hit Conforto third and in center and leave him there – hopefully, for the next dozen years.

Conforto’s last five hits have been homers, and since the All-Star break has 12 homers with 23 RBI.

As for deGrom, he took a line drive off his pitching arm Thursday, but all indications are he’ll make his next start, Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. DeGrom is 13-5 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. The word “ace,’’ gets thrown around a lot, but it’s clear cut when talking about deGrom, who works fast, and despite an overpowering fastball, more importantly has excellent command of all of his pitches.

With Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey on the disabled list, and Steven Matz struggling and winless in over a month, deGrom has been the rotation’s workhorse

The Mets are clearly in a rebuild, salary dump mode, which is why Bruce, Reed, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are gone, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Granderson could soon follow. Jose Reyes will stay to be Rosario’s caddy.

Bruce hit 29 homers with 75 RBI to lead the Mets, and has already made an impact with the Indians, going 5-for-12 with three RBI. You can describe Bruce, Reed, Walker and Granderson as consummate professionals.

Rosario booted a play in his debut that cost the Mets a game, but Bruce and Walker were seen in the dugout giving him counsel on what he should have done differently.

As for Granderson, he’s still being shopped, and maybe raised his value with three more hits today, including a two-run homer. He won’t be re-signed for 2018 and it is puzzling why there isn’t more interest. Granderson has four homers and nine RBI over his last ten games.

With Granderson, Bruce and the other veterans with expiring contracts assuredly not going to be here next season, the future belongs to Conforto, Rosario and Smith.

They, along with deGrom, give the Mets something to build on for next year.