May 01

Mets Make Right Move By Sticking With Flores

It wasn’t that long ago when Mets manager Terry Collins said his team would eventually run into problems – “blips,” he called them – but vowed “there would be no panic.”

COLLINS: Stays with Flores. (AP)

COLLINS: Stays with Flores. (AP)

In the wake of Wilmer Flores’ costly error Thursday night that lead to a three-run inning for the Nationals, if there were a time the Mets would have panicked in the past, this would have been it.

The defense of their middle infield of Flores (six errors) and Daniel Murphy (four) was a question entering the season and remains so; the Mets have lost seven of their last nine games, and they are no longer in coast mode.

Flores made no excuses and said he botched the play. Normally, that’s enough, but the last 24 hours have seen a lot of Flores bashing, which, although deserved in part, is also shortsighted. Much of that bashing was from former-Met-turned analyst Nelson Figueroa.

“I wish I had the answer to it,” manager Terry Collins said. “When we decided he was going to be the shortstop, you realize there might be a couple rough spots.

“But, you realize the minute you jerk him out of the lineup and throw him on the bench because he’s not good enough to play shortstop, you might as well put him someplace else because those days are over playing shortstop. … You have to be a little patient.”

Collins is 100 percent on the mark about this, as patience is the Mets’ only option. What, do you want to play Ruben Tejada full time? And, before anybody brings it up, Troy Tulowitzki has an injury history and $129 million remaining on a contract that runs through 2020 (with an option for 2021). And, we’ve danced through this before; the Mets don’t want to part with any of their young pitching in a trade.

Until next year’s free-agent market develops, it is pretty much Flores or bust.

The Mets’ only option is to fiddle from within, which is what they did when they promoted second baseman Dilson Herrera after Thursday’s game and said Murphy will move to third base while David Wright remains on the disabled list for at least another week.

Consequently, the Mets will move Eric Campbell to the bench and demote lefty reliever Jack Leathersich to Triple-A Las Vegas.

This might not be a palatable option, but it is the only one. And, more to the point, it means Collins is staying true to his word and not panicking.

After all, we are only one month into the season and the Mets are perched atop the NL East which nobody expected. It is way too soon to shut the window on Flores.

ON DECK:  Why I like Matt Harvey

Apr 29

Mets In Good Spot With Colon Today

It’s all about winning series at this point and for the Mets today they have another opportunity. You have to be happy Bartolo Colon is going for them today against the Marlins.

The Mets have the chance to go home to face the Nationals in a four-game series with at least a seven-game lead if they put away Miami today. It is why I called Miami a trap series. However, with how the Mets played the past two games it is clear they are focused. Dillon Gee was superb Monday and last night they came from behind to tie.

COLON: Workhorse goes today.

COLON: Workhorse goes today.

That doesn’t happen with teams looking ahead. However, I remain respectful and wary of the Nationals, who were down 9-1 Tuesday, but rallied to beat the Braves. Dying teams don’t do that, so obviously they are focused, also.

Should Colon win he will become the first Mets’ starter to go 5-0 since Pedro Martinez in 2006, not coincidentally, the last time they reached the playoffs. The franchise record is 7-0 by Frank Viola in 1990.

Colon is one of the Mets’ top story lines in April and his start in light of Zack Wheeler’s injury has more than stabilized the rotation. The Mets need another strong start from him on the eve of the Washington series.

Last night’s starter, Rafael Montero, was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas, which was to be expected considering he threw 85 pitches working into the sixth and wouldn’t be available soon.

Replacing him on the roster will be left-handed reliever Jack Leathersich. Subsequently, the Mets will go back to a short bench until David Wright returns from the disabled, which could be as soon as this weekend. Leathersich is a strikeout pitcher, averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

It will be interesting to see what the Mets do when Wright returns and when they want to bring back Montero.

The Mets like having Montero around, but they also like deeper bench. Unfortunately, they can’t have both.


Mar 12

Mets Unhappy With Lefty Relievers

Both GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins lamented the Mets’ lefty situation in the bullpen. However, the criticism was more directed at the pitchers not performing than it was as Alderson for not being in more talent.

COLLINS: Concerned. (AP)

COLLINS: Concerned. (AP)

Let’s face it, Josh Edgin is likely to have Tommy John surgery, which means somebody from the foursome of Dario Alvarez, Sean Gilmartin, Jack Leathersich and Scott Rice must to emerge. Currently they have a combined 15.43 ERA.

“Yeah, I’m disappointed,’’ Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. “Here’s a chance. You come to the major league spring training and all you want is a chance. Now, with our guy down, if I’m left-handed I’m looking in the mirror and deciding what do I need to do to get that job, because it’s out there.’’

Alvarez stunk it up in today’s 11-9 victory over Washington. The Mets had taken an 11-4 lead with nine runs in the eighth, but Alvarez gave up four of the five Nationals’ runs in the ninth.


Rice gave up five runs the previous day and couldn’t get out of his inning; Leathersich has five walks in 1.2 innings; and Gilmartin has given up three runs in two innings.

Alderson explained his offseason approach by saying he wanted the competition to come from within and Andrew Miller and Zack Duke were out of their price range.

Alderson again reiterated not using Steven Matz in relief because of his upside as a starter.

Mar 12

Edgin Facing Surgery; Lefty Pen Void Critical

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said treating Josh Edgin’s left elbow isn’t a black and white decision, but that’s clearly not the case.

“It’s not a black-and-white situation,’’ Alderson told reporters Thursday morning. “There’s a certain amount of gray area that requires some judgment on the physician’s part as well as Josh deciding exactly how he wants to approach it. … The question is whether this condition can be managed over time. That’s where we are.’’

EDGIN: Facing season-ending surgery. (AP)

EDGIN: Facing season-ending surgery. (AP)

Not true. Based on the reported information, if Edgin wants to continue his career Tommy John surgery is the only option. Managing over time? Well, that’s when Edgin will make the decision, and even Alderson said it must be made by the end of the month as to not impact next year.

Yes, time is of the essence.

Edgin will first confer with a doctor – this would be a second opinion – then talk with teammates Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, both of whom have had the surgery.

Alderson said there’s no harm in first trying rest and rehab for two weeks, but that won’t repair a stretched ligament by itself. The pain could subside, but eventually it will resurface, and who is to say there might not be more damage, like the ligament snapping?

The gamble is how long can Edgin pitch without blowing out the elbow entirely?

If anybody suggests this isn’t a big deal, they would be wrong. I’m not a doctor, but this much I know, things like this don’t repair themselves.

What is clear regardless of how Edgin decides, is he won’t be on the Opening Day roster, whether he opts to rest or have surgery, and the Mets have a huge void to fill. The internal options are Scott Rice, Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, Dario Alvarez and Jack Leathersich, with Duane Below and Darin Gorski in the minor league camp.

They could also wait until the end of spring training and hope somebody who has been released.

They also have prospect Steven Matz, whom they refuse to try in that role even though he has the best stuff of any of them.

All of this means the Mets must make a deal. Remember Alderson’s talk about being capable of winning 90 games and possibly contending? Well, that possibility is gone without a left reliever.

If the Mets are as good as they claim, then it is time to show it and make a deal.


ON DECK: Today’s game and lineups.

Mar 11

Not Trying Matz In Pen Raises Questions

The Mets are saying they won’t consider Steven Matz out of the bullpen, despite Josh Edgin’s injured elbow.

What they aren’t saying is why. This approach leads to numerous questions and maybe a conclusion or two.

MATZ: Why not the pen?

MATZ: Why not the pen?

Do they think Edgin’s injury isn’t as worse as initially believed? Even if he’s ready for the season, what about a second lefty?

Are they that sold on Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin or Scott Rice, Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez? They either have to use Gilmartin or lose him, so he should get the first shot. But what if he’s a bust?

“It’s way too early to say anything about anybody,’’ pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters Tuesday. “We are looking at lefties, so I don’t know. We have been looking at lefties every year, so I don’t have an evaluation right now.’’

What was their reasoning for letting Dana Eveland go? What about not even considering Phil Coke?

There’s plenty of time left, but I want to go back to Matz. If Warthen said he doesn’t have an evaluation, what harm would it do in trying him out of the pen?

The Mets have been telling us they plan to be competitive this season, but that would be hard to do without a lefty out of the bullpen.

More questions.

Is Matz that fragile where he can’t work out of the pen for a while? If he’s that fragile, wouldn’t that be something the Mets would want to know?

If Matz is as highly regarded as the Mets believe, then what is the problem? Would a year out of the bullpen damage him that much? Dave Righetti was able to do it.

If they have reason to believe Matz isn’t capable, I will buy that, but they haven’t said so.

A lefty reliever is vital, and if the Mets are as good as they are saying, then why not roll the dice on Matz? It makes me wonder if the Mets don’t think Matz is good enough, or if the Mets aren’t good enough.