Sep 12

Where Is Mets’ Opening Day Lineup?

All teams evolve throughout a season, but the New York Mets’ transformation in 2013 has been staggering, with only second baseman Daniel Murphy and shortstop Ruben Tejada were in last night’s lineup at those positions. Lucas Duda started, but at a different position.

Here’s what has happened to the 2013 lineup in comparison to the team the Mets ran out there in Wednesday night’s 3-0 loss to Washington. Three starters plus the pitcher remain on the team; three were traded; and two are on the disabled list.

Colin Cowgill, CF: Was going to start after beating out Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker’s injury.  Cowgill was the starter for roughly a week after he was demoted and eventually traded. Den Dekker started last night, but Juan Lagares could eventually win the role next year if he’s more consistent offensively.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Started, but hit third last night. He’s been all over the top of the order. A slump followed a hot start, but he’s back up to .282. The Mets, however, aren’t enamored by his .316 on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3B: Entered the season after a contract extension and being named captain. He’s lived up to all that but is currently on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Wright vows he’ll return.

Ike Davis, 1B: Slumped horribly before being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas. Eventually wound up hitting .204 with nine homers. There was considerable speculation the Mets would not tender him a contract, but he’ll get another chance to next season.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Signed for depth, but wound up leading the team in homers and could be its MVP. Eventually traded to Pittsburgh, where he could see the playoffs. Good for him. Lagares was in right last night, and could stay there if den Dekker develops consistency at the plate.

Lucas Duda, 1B: This guy just can’t play the outfield. Has improved his plate presence as evidenced by a .353 on-base percentage, but has not produced for power. Will compete with Davis for the first base job next spring. Eric Young was acquired at mid-season and became the Mets’ tenth, and final, leadoff hitter. But, for all his speed, he must do better than a .318 on-base percentage.

John Buck, C: Carried the Mets offensively in April before tailing. However, he was consistent all year behind the plate and has to get some credit for the development of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. His status was doomed with the promotion of Travis d’Arnaud, who has struggled at .152. Traded along with Byrd to Pittsburgh.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Played brutally in the beginning before going on the DL. Omar Quintanilla more than adequately filled the void. Tejada is back, but the Mets openly question his work ethic and commitment. He has a lot to prove, and trading for a veteran in the winter isn’t out of the question.

Jon Niese, LHP: Was the de facto ace and Opening Day starter because of the season-ending shoulder injury of Johan Santana. Niese developed shoulder problems after back-to-back cold weather starts in Minnesota and Colorado. As Niese labored and eventually went on the disabled list. Niese could end up being the Opening Day starter in 2014 with Harvey’s injury.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 02

Mets Need Injury Treatment Overhaul

There are several things the New York Mets must evaluate and re-evaluate this off-season, and at the top of the list is their handling of injuries, with the latest being Jon Niese cramping up on a hot and humid night.

Niese already missed time this season with a shoulder injury, and he’s just one in a long line. Matt Harvey is out for the year with a slight tear in his UCL; David Wright is on the DL with a hamstring; Jenrry Mejia had surgery to remove bone spurs; Ike Davis has a strained oblique and could be done for the season; Jeremy Hefner had a similar injury as Harvey; Zack Wheeler had a strained oblique in spring training; Bobby Parnell could require surgery in the offseason on his neck; Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda each when on the disabled list, then sentenced to the minor leagues.

NIESE: One of many Mets injured in 2013.

NIESE: One of many Mets injured in 2013.

No team goes unscathed during a season, but the appearance is perhaps the Mets have more than most.

Why?

The initial report is Niese cramped on a hot and humid night. Sounds plausible, but with a steady taking of salt tablets and water it could have been preventable. Blame? The trainers need to stay on top of things, but the player must also be diligent.

Maybe both parties were and this was a freaky thing. But, the Mets should monitor to find out. Records could be taken of water and salt intake, just for the preventative research.

Already we know the Mets forced the issues with Harvey, Wright and Mejia, and that must stop. All arm injuries need to be addressed immediately, and with a MRI, because the Mets proved this is a major mishandling.

Hamstring and oblique tightness, as in the cases of Wright and Davis, need to come with immediate days off and treatment. For Wright to play an extra week before his popped is inexcusable, and player, training staff, manager and management must have some culpability.

Do better records need to be kept? Is the initial handling and treatment done correctly? Do the players withhold too much information for fear of losing their job? Are the rest periods too short? Should time on the disabled list be longer?

Do the players lift weights too much, and is there always a monitor for them? In weight lifting, is the weight lifted and repetitions recorded and tracked? Should their lifting be decreased later in the season? Do the players know that just showing up and lifting isn’t the proper procedure?

Are they too tight from the lifting? Should there be more stretching, even yoga, implemented in their routine? There have been cases where football teams have their players train in ballet to loosen the muscles … hey, you never know, is this something that could work?

Whatever the case, part of reaching the next level and taking care of business is staying healthy. This is an area where the Mets promised a new culture, and it is vital it be done.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 30

Mets Wrap: Dillon Gee Continues Hot Pitching

The projected leader in victories for the New York Mets was, of course, Matt Harvey, with the second choice Jon Niese. Dillon Gee might have been the third choice at best.

After Harvey cooled, Gee has easily been the Mets’ most consistent pitcher as he picked up a team high 10th victory tonight against Washington in a 3-2 win.

GEE: Stuffs Nationals. (AP)

GEE: Stuffs Nationals. (AP)

Gee continued his impressive run by giving up two runs on 7.2 innings, and received support in the form of a two-run homer from Ike Davis.

In 17 starts since May 30, Gee is ranked fifth in the majors with a 2.49 ERA, trailing Jose Fernandez (1.52), Clayton Kershaw (1.75), Bartolo Colon, (2.39) and Yu Darvish (2.40).

Gee’s reputation has been one of dependability and consistency, and in the absence of Harvey’s early-season domination because of injury and Niese’s erratic season in part from a shoulder injury, Gee is assumed the role as Mets’ ace.

Who would have guessed?

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 28

Mets Wrap: Daisuke Matsuzaka Awful In Sloppy Loss To Phillies

Terry Collins said the last month of the season for the New York Mets is about making an impression in the fight for 2014 jobs. In that regard, save Eric Young’s continued hustle – tagging up on a pop up and taking third – there wasn’t much in tonight’s 6-2 loss to Philadelphia.

MATSUZAKA: Bad again.

MATSUZAKA: Bad again.

If you’re into wanting good things happening to good people, Marlon Byrd did hit a three-run homer in his first game for the Pirates.

Other than that, it was not a pretty game. Excruciating actually, beginning with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw 82 pitches in three innings, which included getting out of bases-loaded jams in the second and third innings.

Matsuzaka threw 110 pitches in 4.1 innings. In comparison, Jon Niese threw 113 in his shutout the night before. Obviously, the issue isn’t quantity.

Instead of giving one of their minor leaguers a chance, the Mets opted to sign Matsuzaka, who now has had two rocky starts. Then again, with Matt Harvey probably gone for next season, and Jenrry Mejia and Jeremy Hefner having surgery today, the Mets will run him out there again. Who knows? He might even get a chance in spring training.

Reliever Robert Carson again showed an inability to keep the ball in the park. Carlos Ruiz homered, the ninth given up by Carson in 19.2 innings.

Offensively, the Mets were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, that being Ike Davis going the opposite way for a RBI single. However, that was offset by his three strikeouts. Travis d’Arnaud also showed a level of discomfort at the plate.

One of the story lines going in was Wilmer Flores playing second base. He didn’t show a lot of range and a ball did get through him. Flores also had an error at third.

In fairness, Flores will get likely get another chance at second.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 28

Holy UCL Batman! Mets In Trouble Without Matt Harvey!

Matt Harvey might as well play on Twitter because he’s not going to be pitching for the New York Mets any time soon.

Last night, while his teammates outside of Marlon Byrd and John Buck were taking batting practice, Harvey mustered all his strength to tweet: “Thank you everyone for the kind words and support. I may be done this year, but I will be back next year for April 1.’’

HARVEY: More than a bloody nose this time.

HARVEY: More than a bloody nose this time.

Then the Mets, no doubt inspired by this bit of news, went out to win one for Harvey.

I have no doubt Harvey will be back next April Fool’s Day, just not starting a game for the Mets. But, I can’t say that with any more certainty than Harvey can predict he’ll make a triumphant MacAurthuresque return.

“If that’s his tweet, that’s his tweet,’’ said Sandy Alderson, who didn’t immediately call off the off-season.

It’s great to be optimistic, but not to the point of being illogical. There’s just too much information currently not available, such as a second opinion after the swelling subsides, which could be in more than two weeks.

What I can tell you with certainty are the Mets would be foolish if they were to bank on Harvey’s return and making a contending run next season. The Mets must, and I can’t emphasize this enough, go on with life assuming Harvey won’t be in it until 2015 at the earliest.

Gloom and doom? You bet, but you’re Mets’ fans, you should be used to it by now.

As far as what Jon Niese did last night in shutting out the Phillies, it was simply a sign he’s recovering from his shoulder tear. It can’t be assumed Harvey will recover that quickly as every arm is different.

Terry Collins, whom I still can’t believe didn’t know about Harvey’s elbow until a few days ago, was accurate in something he said last night that nobody will feel sorry for the Mets and the final month is about auditioning for 2014 jobs.

I’ve endorsed Collins several times for an extension and believe he should return. However, nothing is a slam dunk in this game and Collins will be watched closely on how he handles this adversity. Harvey’s injury plus the Buck-Byrd trade – which was made for the right reasons – is akin to a punch in the gut. Niese’s game was a start, but wounded teams often show an initial spark.

The issue is if they sustain and return to play the alert, aggressive baseball they were before being swept by the Dodgers. Now, more than ever before, Collins needs to show he still has his team and will have them playing with fire until the end.

If they call it a season now, that’s a reflection on Collins.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos