Jul 19

Mets Wrap: DeGrom Shows Why Teams Want Him

One can certainly see why the Houston Astros, or any other team for that matter, would be interested in Jacob deGrom. The Mets’ ace struggled with his mechanics early, but settled down to do what aces do, which is carry their team.

Manager Terry Collins said deGrom was flying open and rushing his delivery during a 25-pitch first inning.

DE GROM: Ace. (AP)

DE GROM: Ace. (AP)

“He was very uncomfortable in the first inning,’’ Collins said. “He is who he is and late in the game he was still in there.’’

DeGrom said after the first inning he was more tuned into pitching to contact to preserve his pitch count.

“I noticed early on that I didn’t have my best stuff,’’ deGrom said. “I felt fine physically, but I didn’t have a good feel. I felt like I was rushing things.’’

With their season slipping away, deGrom picked up the Mets and willed them to a 7-3 victory over the Cardinals. In doing so, he won his seventh straight game. And, it not an appeal of a foul tip had gone against the Mets, deGrom would have pitched his seventh straight game of at least seven innings.

As the trade deadline rapidly approaches, there have been reports of the Astros’ interest. GM Sandy Alderson didn’t exactly call deGrom an “untouchable,’’ but did say he would have to be blown away.

As well as he should be.

DeGrom hears the rumors.

“I guess it is a good thing if people want you, but my job is to win here,’’ he said.

DeGrom gave up one run in 6.2 innings in breaking the Mets’ three-game losing streak, one that put them 15 games behind Washington at the start of the game. Just imagine where the Mets would be without deGrom, now 11-3 with a 3.37 ERA.

DeGrom has certainly been sharper, but what makes him so special is what he did tonight without his best stuff. He struck out only three, but more importantly walked only one while giving up seven hits.

“We knew when he first got here that he was going to be special,’’ said Collins.

So, if the Mets want to trade deGrom, I’m all for it – in nine or ten years.

HOW TRADE CHIPS FARED: Addison Reed converted his 16th save opportunity in 18 chances. … Lefty specialist Jerry Blevins gave up two hits and a walk with the three hitters he faced. … Jay Bruce had a hit in five at-bats. … Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits and Jose Reyes had two hits. … Lucas Duda doubled in a run.

CESPEDES HAS GOOD NIGHT: Yoenis Cespedes showed breakout signs with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored after flipping with Bruce in the order; Bruce moving up to third and Cespedes hitting cleanup.

 

Jul 13

Six Plusses For Mets In First Half

It wasn’t all bad for the Mets in the first half, their record notwithstanding.Six players stood out for their performance:

Michael Conforto: The Mets’ lone All-Star, despite a lackluster June. Once pegged as the No. 3 hitter of the future, Conforto flourished in the leadoff spot. He singled in his first All-Star at-bat, but struck out later in the game with the winning run on third. Came off the disabled list the Saturday before the All-Star break. He enters the second half without a position, which is totally absurd. Unless there’s a trade, manager Terry Collins needs to develop a rotation system that gives Conforto four starts per week.

BRUCE: First-half MVP> (AP)

BRUCE: First-half MVP> (AP)

Jay Bruce: With 23 homers, he should have been the Mets’ All-Star representative. GM Sandy Alderson openly tried to deal Bruce after re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, but failing to do so only drove down his trade leverage. If the Mets decide to be sellers Bruce could draw a nice package in return. He’s a free agent after this season, but the Mets have made no overtures of bringing him back.

Jacob deGrom: Easily the Mets’ ace, even before injuries sabotaged the rotation. Had a rough start by giving up 15 runs in consecutive starts. He rebounded with five straight starts of at least seven innings pitched. He has eight such games overall. One red flag are the 18 homers he gave up in only 111 innings pitched.

Steven Matz: He started the season on the DL, but has looked good with a 3.05 ERA in six starts. He worked into the seventh in four of them. A red flag is seven homers given up in 38.1 innings.

Addison Reed: Had a rough stretch in May, but overall has done a great job filling in for Jeurys Familia. He has converted 15 of 17 save opportunities with a solid 1.08 WHIP. He’s a free agent after this season. He could bring a lot in a trade, but if the Mets think they are still in it they’ll need to keep him.

Jerry Blevins: Is tied for first with 44 appearances, but Collins has backed off in recent weeks. Lefty hitters are batting only .167 against him, which would make him an attractive trade chip at the deadline.

 

 

Jul 06

What Should Mets Do At Deadline?

Let’s assume the Mets have already decided they will be sellers at the trade deadline. And, let’s carry that assumption a step further and say GM Sandy Alderson will be aggressive.

What then, are the Mets’ options and how should Alderson play this?

GSELLMAN: Don't trade him. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Don’t trade him. (AP)

IDENTIFY TOP ASSETS: The Mets have four players that should draw considerable interest: Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, Lucas Duda, Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson.

Reed: Relievers always draw interest this time of year, and if the Mets are on the fence as to bringing back Reed in 2018, Alderson should get a lot of calls on him. The big gamble is that if they trade Reed and Jeurys Familia doesn’t return from his injury the Mets could be closer shopping.

Blevins: A lefty reliever who can also close is also very valuable. The concern here that Terry Collins might have burned out Blevins, thereby reducing his value.

Duda: This guy has remarkable, but also streaky power. For a team needing left power, or a first baseman, or a pinch-hitter, Duda fills those needs. The Mets are high on Dominic Smith, so bringing back Duda might be a stretch.

Bruce: He’s having an All-Star caliber season, so how can a team needing a power hitting outfielder not be interested? The risk in dealing Bruce is that if Yoenis Cespedes comes up lame again next year the Mets will be shopping for a bat again.

Granderson: If the asking price for Bruce is deemed too high, Granderson could be a good Plan B. However, Granderson has been hot over the past month which could draw more interest than otherwise expected.

GIVE TIME TO THE DESERVING: Michael Conforto, who is an All-Star by the way, T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores always seem to get the wrong end of the stick. They need to play and play every day. We know Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera won’t be with the Mets next season, so do we really need to see more of them?

DON’T GIVE UP YOUNG PITCHING: Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo haven’t pitched to expectations, but unless the Mets are blown away they should hold on to both. With all the pitching injuries the Mets have experienced this season – all but Jacob deGrom have been on the disabled list – they’d be wise to keep their depth.

Jun 23

Today’s Question: Have You Given Up On Mets?

If you’re a true fan, you’ll keep watching the Mets. Like an accident on the highway, you can’t take your eyes off of them. Jerry Blevins walking in runs was a new one for me, or perhaps I missed it earlier.

After they were bludgeoned in the first three games of their series in Los Angeles, last night was a tease. For a moment I thought they might salvage a game against the Dodgers, who hit 15 homers in the series. Ten games below .500 make any kind of playoff push nearly impossible.

REYES: Time to say good bye. (AP)

REYES: Time to say good bye. (AP)

It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine that considering the expectations of March.

GM Sandy Alderson has two choices. One, keep plodding away like an old plow horse and operate under the illusion they are playing for something. Or, they could actually be playing for something, which is next year.  Alderson already has a good idea of who will or won’t be back next year. Those he knows won’t be back, like Curtis Granderson – he’s finally hot, so whatever value he has left is at a premium now – and Asdrubal Cabrera, and Lucas Duda, and maybe Blevins and Addison Reed. Get what you can for them and let’s see what Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo can bring to the table.

Frankly, unless Rosario plays shortstop, I’m not interested in seeing Cabrera at second base. If anything, I’m tired of watching Jose Reyes and would rather see Wilmer Flores full time at second.

All experience is good, so give them the rest of the season. It won’t take away the disappointment of 2017, but perhaps it will take away the sour taste of this lost season.

 

 

May 17

Alderson Must Take Responsibility Of Mets’ Pitching Collapse

Going against Zack Greinke, it was expected the Mets’ losing streak would reach six, and this morning the fingers would start being pointed.

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

What didn’t happen in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to Arizona was another bullpen meltdown. If you want to call it a moral victory, go for it. I looked for moral victories in the standings and the only thing I could were the regular ones, which have them six games under .500 and nine games behind Washington.

But, wasn’t this team supposed to be a World Series contender if not win the whole thing? They sure were, because many; including GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets possessed the game’s best pitching.

I never bought into that because it simply wasn’t true. How could it be if the vaunted five of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler had never started a complete cycle in the rotation?

How could it be if there isn’t a 20-game winner among the group?

How could it be if they only have two with at least 30 victories (deGrom 32-23) and Harvey (31-31), with Syndergaard (24-18), Wheeler (20-18) and Matz (13-8) to follow? That’s not greatness, that’s potential.

How could it be, if four entered the season coming off significant surgery, and a fifth – Syndergaard – currently on the 60-day DL?

Wishful thinking is nice to have, but building on it is like a house of cards, capable of collapsing at the slightest nudge or breeze.

The Mets tried to build a group of back-ups, but Seth Lugo is on the DL, Robert Gsellman needs be optioned or sent to the bullpen to work on his mechanic, and Rafael Montero can’t find the plate.

New acquisition Tommy Milone was passable tonight, but you don’t win on passable. The best thing Milone did was work into the sixth, which was followed by Paul Sewald (1.1 innings), Fernando Salas (0.2 innings) and Jerry Blevins (0.1) not allowing a run.

The pen worked just 2.1 innings, but most nights it goes three or four, if not longer.

When fingers are pointed, they are initially directed at manager Terry Collins, but that’s too easy. It’s also too easy to blame pitching coach Dan Warthen. In finding out who is responsible for the Mets’ pitching problems, we must look at the nature of the injuries, and who acquiesced in the handling of Harvey and Syndergaard.

That would be general manager Sandy Alderson.