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.


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.