Aug 11

Five Questions If The Mets Are To Contend

The Mets answered one of the most important questions if they are to contend, which is whether they would add to their roster. The additions of Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson energized this team. They created further sparks when Travis d’Arnaud was activated from the disabled list and now the pending return of David Wright.

However, there are more questions to be answered, with these being the most pertinent:

QUESTION: How will they handle the pressure?

ANSWER: There’s a minimum of postseason experience on this roster, and Wright still hasn’t returned. Uribe and Johnson have been there before, but not Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores or Juan Lagares. Eventually they will be faced with a critical situation, one they have yet to encounter.

QUESTION: How will the young arms hold up?

ANSWER: Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have been stellar, but as the season progresses they will surpass career highs in innings pitched. None of them have pitched meaningful games in September.

QUESTION: How good will Wright be when he returns?

ANSWER: Nobody can say, but if he’s his former self considerable pressure will be alleviated down the lineup. The Mets will need another RBI bat in the middle of their order down the stretch.

QUESTION: Will the bullpen hold up?

ANSWER: This is all new for Jeurys Familia, but Clippard has playoff experience. It will be interesting to see if manager Terry Collins has a shorts leash when it comes to his bullpen.

QUESTION: Will they stay healthy?

ANSWER: We’re waiting on Wright, but Duda missed Tuesday’s game. Lagares has had a sore are all year and runners are taking liberties off him on the bases. Fortunately, Harvey has so far responded coming off Tommy John surgery.

Jul 27

Clippard Deal Gives Depth To Mets’ Bullpen

Perhaps the Mets see cracks with Jeurys Familia, or they see flaws with Carlos Torres and Alex Torres, but I like the acquisition of Tyler Clippard from Oakland. In whatever role they use him, he adds depth to a strained bullpen that is becoming exposed. Note that Familia has blown his two save opportunities since the All-Star break.

The Mets sent minor league pitcher Casey Meisner to the Athletics and increased their payroll by just over $2 million. That’s a minor investment for a chance to win.The A’s will send $1 million to the Mets to complete the deal. Kudos to GM Sandy Alderson, who I hope is not finished.

Clippard is a free agent after the season, but his numbers of 1-3 with a 2.79 ERA and 17 saves in 21 chances say he could be worth keeping. Plus, he’s only 30. Another factor to consider is if the Mets falter in August, they can trade Clippard in a waiver deal.

Whatever the Mets do, Clippard is somebody they should think about keeping.

Jul 26

Mets’ Mojo Has Changed

Did the Mets turn around their karma in the last two games of the Dodgers’ series? Considering what was projected from them coming out of the break, it’s entirely possible because their chemistry has been significantly altered with the additions made Friday night after they were stuffed by Clayton Kershaw.

Rookie Michael Conforto and trade acquisitions Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe have already made an impact. Johnson and Conforto jumpstarted an offensive explosion, and Conforto and Uribe drove in runs in today’s 10-inning, 3-2 victory over the Dodgers.

DE GROM: Would have left him in. (AP)

DE GROM: Would have left him in. (AP)

Uribe not only drove in the game winner, but for the second straight game made an outstanding defensive play at third.

The Mets scored 15 runs Saturday, but that was an aberration. It was going to be different today against Zack Greinke, we all knew that to be the case. The Mets grabbed a 2-0 lead against Greinke, and Jacob deGrom was coasting.

Personally, I would have liked to see deGrom try to win it himself, but I can’t really argue with Jeurys Familia because of his success.

However, after Familia coughed up the lead, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see the game get totally away from the Mets. But, it didn’t happen that way.

Curtis Granderson lead off the tenth with a double and scored on Uribe’s drive off the center field wall. With the win, the Mets are two games behind Washington with the call-it-a-season San Diego Padres coming to town Tuesday.

There’s still a lot of the season to go, but for the first time in several weeks there’s not a feeling of despair around the Mets. There’s a sense they can still make something of this season.

And, that’s what I wanted all along.

Jul 22

What Was Collins’ Real Responsibility?

It was a nice gesture on the part of manager Terry Collins to accept blame for the Mets’ 4-3 loss at Washington. But, to what degree was Collins at fault?

PARNELL: Doesn't have it. (AP)

PARNELL: Doesn’t have it. (AP)

Collins volunteered it should have been on him because he didn’t stall long enough for Jeurys Familia to warm up while Bobby Parnell struggled in the eighth inning. Now, that’s getting a little too precise.

“That’s all on me. It’s not on Bobby. He’s been throwing the ball great,” Collins told reporters. “I could have let Jeurys get looser. I could have delayed the game a little bit and let him get loose.”

The need to stall would have been alleviated if Collins followed a set plan to get his closer ready. The Mets have three relievers with closer experience. The mistake wasn’t in not stalling, but in not getting Familia up sooner and for not pulling Parnell when he clearly didn’t have it.

Parnell was stand-up about it, saying he did’t pitch well, which was spot on.

Parnell was handed a two-run lead in the eighth, but after one out he walked Ian Desmond – always a critical mistake – and gave up a two-run single to Matt den Dekker. After Tyler Moore lined out, Parnell threw a wild pitch that put two runners in scoring position, where they scored on a game-tying two-run single by Michael Taylor.

Danny Espinosa followed with a RBI double for the game-winner, which put the Mets at 2-4 since the break.

The need to stall came about because Collins, pitching coach Dan Warthen and bullpen coach Ricky Bones – pick any of the three – didn’t get Familia up until after den Dekker reached base. Familia has to know he needs to start loosening up after the first runner got on base.

It’s simple bullpen management. It has to be automatic, which makes stalling a moot issue. Stalling is playing around; what the Mets needed was a concrete strategy, which they didn’t have.

Hey, you’re the Mets. You don’t fool around by stalling. You have an idea of what you need to do and just do it.


Jul 05

Memo To Harvey: Shut Up And Pitch

Matt Harvey said he wasn’t making excuses for his performance Saturday as the Mets lost in Los Angeles. But, that’s what it came across at for Princess Matt when he blamed the six-man rotation for his control issues.

HARVEY: Acting like he's still in college. (UNC)

HARVEY: Acting like he’s still in college. (UNC)

“With that much time off in-between starts, throwing once a week, I found a rhythm in the bullpen and then once I got a hitter in there and got the adrenaline going a little bit, things kind of got out of whack,” Harvey told reporters. “With the six-man and the day off, it’s tough. We’re all having to deal with it. It’s not an excuse why things didn’t go well today, but I just have to do a better job of finding a way to find a rhythm through a period of extended rest like that.”

The primary reason the Mets went to a six-man rotation was to protect the Diva of Flushing. The Mets failed in going with a concrete plan going into the season and consequently adopted the six-man rotation. My guess is this GM Sandy Alderson’s brainchild.

Harvey threw 100 pitches in five innings and walked five. He’s now 7-6 with a 3.11 ERA, and I had to laugh when I read his chances were slim in being selected to the All-Star team. I have Harvey fourth behind Jeurys Familia, Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom as All-Star worthy Mets pitchers.

Harvey’s command was off from the beginning, and that’s been the case with him for awhile now.

Sure, Harvey said he has to find a way to turn things around, but that doesn’t change the fact he did take a jab at the six-man rotation, and by extension, undercutting manager Terry Collins, who goes out of his way to protect him.

All the other pitchers are going through the same thing, but their whining is minimal compared to that of Harvey. Regardless of the issue, the Mets have gone out or their way to protect Harvey and acquiesce to his demands and whims.

Frankly, it’s getting a tiresome and a little boring. From now on, I’ll just go under the assumption you’re terminally irked about the rotation and move on. Understand, your complaints would carry a lot more weight if you actually pitched like an ace and didn’t act like an ass.