Aug 29

Familia, Smith Lone Bright Spots In Rout

There aren’t many positives the Mets can find in a ten-run loss, but here goes: 1) Jeurys Familia was strong in his second game coming off the disabled list, and 2) struggling rookie Dominic Smith drove in two runs on a pair of hits.

FLEXEN: Apologizes for gesture> (AP)

FLEXEN: Apologizes for gesture> (AP)

Hey, I told you there wasn’t much to shout about.

Familia was the most important development with three strikeouts in 1.2 innings. Familia threw 27 pitches, many of them in the mid-to-high 90s.

Regarding next year, should Familia return healthy and Jerry Blevins is brought back, and AJ Ramos and the Mets have potentially a solid back end of the bullpen.

As far as Smith goes, he’ll get his hits. What I’m looking from him this early in his career is to not try to pull everything and to be patient at the plate.

Smith is hitting .183, but with a .206 on-base percentage, marked by only two walks over 80 at-bats.

C’MON REYES, PLAY SMART: The Mets trailed by four runs in the seventh inning and Jose Reyes was on first. So, what did he do?

He was thrown out trying to steal second.

Seriously, Jose? If you’re trying to be a mentor for Amed Rosario, don’t play like you’re brain dead.

ACCOUNTABILILTY: Mets starter Chris Flexen apologized to manager Terry Collins and Reyes after the game for when he threw up his arms after Billy Hamilton’s fly ball over Reyes’ head in the second.

“You can’ do that,’’ Flexen said.

Aug 19

Granderson Trade Officially Closes Mets’ Window

The Mets’ Great Salary Dump of 2017 continued today when the Mets traded Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash. Dealing Granderson marked the symbolic closing of the Mets’ window of contention.

The Mets signed Granderson to a four-year, $60-million contract in 2013, and with their young pitching, they promised to be a contender. It wouldn’t be until 2015 that they overachieved and not only reached the playoffs but made it to the World Series.

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

They lost in the wild-card game last year but were heavy favorites to return to October – with many thinking the World Series – this season.

I ask: If injuries were the number one cause of the failure this season, doesn’t it stand to reason that with a little tweaking added to the present core, then how far off could the Mets be for 2018? That’s with, or without, David Wright.

That GM Sandy Alderson would cast off so many of the Mets’ veteran assets is only indicative how poorly he constructed this team. Granderson, combined with Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and soon to be Rene Rivera, adds up to six future free agents after this season.

It stands to reason Alderson wouldn’t bring back all of them. But, to not bring back any of them is simply poor management.

You don’t construct your roster to have eight expiring contracts – don’t forget Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera – at the same time. That’s 33 percent of your roster. And, coupled with casting off Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, and that’s just a terrible job by the man whose biographer refers to him as the game’s smartest general manager.

Maybe you don’t keep them all, but if you’re telling the public your goal is to compete, you try to keep the core together. Of all the remnants the Mets received in return, only AJ Ramos – projected in a set-up reliever role – figure to make the 2018 roster.

Turner, for spiteful reasons, brought nothing from the Dodgers. He’s an All-Star who could win the NL batting title this year. Murphy, of course, walked because they wouldn’t spend the money.

Hell, that’s the case with all of them.

The Mets threw good money after bad with trading for and extending Walker when they could have kept Murphy.

Duda, well he was only keeping the seat warm for Dominic Smith. Reed could have been extended when Jeurys Familia was first suspended, then injured. Bruce was signed as a hedge in case the Mets didn’t re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, who, so far, has turned out to be a bust.

Cespedes has been a health and hustling concern each of the past two years. Having Bruce’s 29 homers would be needed next season.

And, still, Alderson tells us he expects the Mets to compete next year. That is, if the three of the core rotation that is on the disabled list return healthy next year, and a fourth – Steven Matz – rights himself.

Ex-Mets Granderson and Turner could meet ex-Met Murphy or ex-Met Rivera, who was claimed on waivers by the Cubs, in the NLCS for the right to possibly meet ex-Mets Bruce or Reed in the World Series.

As it is now, the Mets have only Jacob deGrom from that vaunted rotation. What can you count on from Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Matz? Remember, that rotation has yet to pitch in turn since 2013.

Their best player is Michael Conforto, but they don’t have a set position for him. Smith and Amed Rosario are promising questions. They refuse to play Wilmer Flores full time and Wright can’t be counted on.

The bullpen outside of Jerry Blevins is awful. Do you really trust Ramos and Familia? Don’t tell me you trust Hansel Robles.

I think Rosario could be a star, but as with what happened with Conforto, there could be growing pains. I like Smith, but he needs to get into shape. How will Rosario and Smith fare in a full major league schedule?

So, in looking at the Mets’ current roster, I only trust Conforto, deGrom and Blevins. Everybody else is a question or a black hole.

We know the Mets won’t be big spenders this winter as all their money is tied up wet-nursing Cespedes. There won’t be big-name help coming in from the outside. So, you’re delusional if you think they really would go after Manny Machado or Evan Longoria.

The Mets window to compete opened when they signed Granderson. It officially closed today.

Jul 29

Reed Waiting For Phone To Ring

This has to be an excruciatingly frustrating time for Mets closer Addison Reed. He’s a Met today, but could be a Dodger, or a Brewer, or a Diamondback, or on a half-dozen other teams tomorrow or Monday.

The Mets’ acquisition of A.J. Ramos from Miami on Friday, practically assures they will deal Reed by Monday’s deadline. If they don’t, he’ll be a free agent this winter because there’s no way the Mets will bring him back – at over $7 million – and Ramos – at over $6 million – to work out of the same bullpen with Jeurys Familia (over $7 million).

Those three, along with Jerry Blevins, would give the Mets a formidable bullpen, but we know they won’t spend that kind of money. So, Reed just bides his time waiting for his cell phone to ring.

What the Mets hope to do is swap Reed for a couple of prospects to make up for the two minor leaguers they traded to Miami for Ramos, just to get an extra year of reliever coverage for $1 million cheaper.

“As far as I know, I’m still here,’’ Reed told reporters in Seattle. “So, I’m going to keep pitching. Whenever the phone rings and they call my name, I’m going to be ready to go.’’

With Ramos expected to join the Mets in time for Sunday’s game, you can count on Reed not pitching Sunday as to not risk injury which would short-circuit any deal.

In replacing Familia, Reed has been superb this season with 19 saves in 21 opportunities with a 2.57 ERA.

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.