May 31

Mets Who Should Be All-Stars

Some people believe Matt Harvey should be the Mets’ representative on the National League All-Star team. Sure, I can see that, but he’s no higher than fourth on my list. However, there’s no way the Mets will have four players, especially since they won’t have anybody voted in. David Wright is fourth among third baseman.

FAMILIA: Saved 15th game today. (AP)

FAMILIA: Saved 15th game today. (AP)

My first choice is Jeurys Familia, who threw two innings of relief today, which included striking out Giancarlo Stanton with a wicked slider in the eighth. The Mets head to San Diego this week in second place, and it isn’t hard to imagine where they would be without Familia, who has 15 saves. Familia won the and won’t give it up. When he returns Bobby Parnell will have to assume another role. Likewise for Jennry Mejia, if he ever comes back.

My next choice is eight-game winner Bartolo Colon. It’s a funny for some to watch him hit, but he’s total serious on the mound. He has won eight of the Mets’ 28 games. I again wonder where the Mets would be without Colon.

They certainly wouldn’t be in second place.

Finally, there’s Lucas Duda, but Adrian Gonzalez (Dodgers), Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) and Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)  are the top three vote getters at first base. Duda is emerging into an All-Star. If not this year, but soon enough.

The All-Star voting system is extremely flawed – any election that lets you vote 35 times is a joke – and the idea every team must be represented is also far from perfect. This variable often keeps out deserving players.

Hopefully, it won’t keep out Familia.



May 17

Reflecting On The Mets Last Week

At the beginning of the week, after winning two of three in Philadelphia, I wrote the Mets could snap out of their funk with consecutive series against the Cubs and Brewers. I thought they had the opportunity to stabilize their batting order and get their offense on a roll. Well, it could have happened.

SYNDERGAARD: Solid again. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Solid again. (AP)

Here’s what I took from the past week:

* Noah Syndergaard took scoreless efforts into the sixth inning today and Monday. I was impressed with how he responded from beaning Carlos Gomez. He gave up a RBI single to Ryan Braun, but limited the damage to one run. Many pitchers, veterans included, could get rattled after hitting a batter like that, but not Syndergaard.

After the game, Syndergaard said: “I’d love to stay, so I’m going to do everything possible to stay up here. I watched [Jacob] deGrom last night pretty heavily and saw how he attacked hitters, and tried to transfer it over to the next day.”

If he keeps attacking batters like that, there’s little doubt he will stay.

* They easily could have won three of four in Chicago. The one that stings the most, of course, was Matt Harvey’s game.

As I watched Carlos Torres give it up that night, I couldn’t help but think of those who ripped my columns about preserving Harvey’s innings. A quick question: What would you have preferred, Harvey staying in against the Cubs and possibly winning, or remaining in to pitch a complete game against the Yankees, which he didn’t?

The answer is a no-brainer.

* The bullpen started the season as a positive, but has soured. Injuries have been a big part, but there has to be a reliable bridge to Jeurys Familia and there’s not. They can’t say things will get better when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black return, because nobody can say when that will be or if they will be productive when they do.

* The offense appeared to get going the last two games, ignited by homers from Curtis Granderson. I am wondering, as Granderson’s power emerges, whether Terry Collins will leave him at the top of the order or move him down to the run-producing slots.

It is, however, premature to think all is well with their bats, because they start a four-game series Monday with the Cardinals, who by the way, have pitching far superior to Milwaukee’s.

* They really miss David Wright, who is supposed to begin baseball activities this week, perhaps as soon as Monday. Then again, they’ve said that before. Wright was having a good year when he was injured, and although he hasn’t hit with great power the past few years, his presence does offer stability and would reduce the juggling.

That being said, the Mets have won when Eric Campbell is in the lineup. They should leave him hitting second and see where it goes.

Also, your guess is as good as mine, or Collins’, as where Daniel Murphy will hit next. He’s been all over the place.

* It will be like this all season for Wilmer Flores. He’ll make errors and follow it up with a big game at the plate. For all the criticism he gets, it was sweet to see him respond with the grand slam.

* I don’t like the pitcher in the eighth slot, but they’ve won the past two games with it so they might as well stick with it for a while. Don’t mess with a streak, regardless of how short it is.

* Bartolo Colon was eventually going to hit a rough stretch, and might be on it now.

* The Mets opened the season with Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the bench because he was out of options. With a .081 batting average, his time remaining with the Mets could be short.

After beating the Brewers today, the Mets hold a slim one-game lead over Washington with the sixth-best record in the major leagues. It is a tenuous lead at best, especially with the Cardinals and Pirates coming up.




May 14

Numbers Glaring As To How Bad Mets Were In Chicago

On April 23, after the Mets wrapped up their 11th straight victory to move ten games over .500 and build a comfortable eight-game lead over the Washington Nationals, all seemed right in their world.

They won because their starting pitching overcame injuries to David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud; a lack of consistent power from Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer; a slumping Daniel Murphy; and defensive flaws up the middle, in particular with shortstop Wilmer Flores.

At the time of their 11-game winning streak, the Mets were playing at a pace that would have resulted in 132 victories. None of us expected them to continue at that rate. Realistically, after six straight losing seasons most of us would take .500, although the buzz number was 90 victories. Today, after losing four straight to the Cubs, they are on pace to win 93 games.

The Mets weren’t as good as they appeared when they won 13 of 16 games, and likely not as bad as they are in going 7-12 since.

Quite simply, the flaws in their game at the start of the season caught up with them, in addition with a poor stretch from Jacob deGrom; a continued lack of power; Juan Lagares’ injury; and cracks in the bullpen bridge to Jeurys Familia.

Collectively, the Mets aren’t hitting, and their pitching was off during the Cubs’ series. Fundamentally, they had four miserable days in a great city.

Overall, their hitters were 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position; stranded 21 runners; grounded into five double plays and struck out 40 times. Only one hitter in today’s game, Duda at .296 is batting over .250.

Their pitchers walked 19 batters and hit four batters during the four games.

The statistics in this series were so glaringly bad to as to poorly the Mets performed. Overall, here are two more: 1) they scored three or fewer runs in 18 of their 35 games, and 2) 11 of their 15 losses were by one or two runs.

In the big picture, the Mets might be considered to be lucky to be where they are, which is 20-15 with a slim one-game lead over Washington.


May 13

Mets Lose, Rangers Win In Dramatic Fashion

The TV remote has to be one of the greatest inventions of all time, and it allowed me to switch between the Mets and Rangers tonight. When my eyes weren’t glued on Matt Harvey and the Mets, they were focused on Henrik Lundqvist and the front of the Rangers’ goal.

HARVEY: Great effort equals no decision. (AP)

HARVEY: Great effort equals no decision. (AP)

There’s an obvious disconnect in the paces of the two sports, but each has their different kinds of mounting tensions.

Seconds after Jeurys Familia walked Chris Coghlan to force in the winning run in the ninth inning, Derek Stepan put a rebounded shot in from the left wing in overtime to win a classic Game 7.

There was a slowly, mounting tension as Familia entered a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, and as each pitch missed the strike zone you could see Harvey’s brilliant effort slip away. Meanwhile, at Madison Square Garden there was an incredible steady pressure as the Capitals were literally camped in front of Lundqvist.

Whether it was the Garden or Wrigley Field, there was no margin for error for either New York team. The Mets could afford their third straight loss because after all, it is only May. But, in Manhattan one mistake and the Rangers would welcome in summer instead of Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference finals.

Harvey entered the game with the plan of using more breaking balls to start off hitters and it worked. A tough luck loser in his last start, Harvey gave up three hits with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings. He left with a 1-0 lead, but his sixth victory would not to be as Carlos Torres gave up the tying run in the eighth and loaded the bases to put Familia in a precarious jam he could not escape.

Meanwhile, as Familia struggled the Rangers cleared the puck into the Washington zone and after a brief flurry the puck came to Stepan and he knew what to do with it.

Perhaps, in several months when the Rangers are starting a new season, the Mets might be playing in a Game 7 of their own.

May 01

Mets Game Wrap: Harvey Halts Slide With Gem

Matt Harvey did what aces are expected to do, which was pick up his struggling Mets when they needed him most with a 4-0 gem tonight over the Washington Nationals.

HARVEY: Big time effort. (AP)

HARVEY: Big time effort. (AP)

The Mets went into the game losers of three straight to watch their once sizable lead over the Nationals dwindle down to five games (4.5 over Atlanta and Miami). Yes, tonight was as close to being a “must win” game as you can get on the first day of May.

Harvey relishes these situations and responded by giving up only five hits in seven scoreless innings despite not having his best fastball (indicative of only three strikeouts). Consequently, Harvey had to go to his breaking ball more than he normally would have wanted.

Matt Harvey takes these games to heart. When you have a No. 1, it’s just great to have,” manager Terry Collins said. “You can depend on him.”

His 5-0 record is comprised with three victories following a Mets’ loss. Earlier today I wrote about what makes Harvey special, but there’s another reason – he can locate all of his pitches and do so without his best fastball.”

It was thought Harvey, who was aided by Michael Cuddyer‘s homer in the fourth and a diving catch by Juan Lagares‘ diving catch in the fifth, might come out for the eighth, but Collins said he didn’t think he had anything left.

“I thought he had run out of gas,” Collins said. “He was starting to labor between pitches. The one thing I didn’t want to do was to have to go out there if and they got a  guy on and you have to go out and get him.”

Harvey had no qualms with Collins’ decision.

“I think he made the right decision,” Harvey said. “He did exactly what he needed to do. He made the right call.”

This put the Mets in position of having to rely on Jeurys Familia for a fifth-out save. What could have been a tense situation was considerably relaxed with Daniel Murphy‘s three-run double in the eighth.

Harvey called Familia’s effort “huge,” but the same can be said for his.