Jun 12

Mets Remain Stuck After Ike Davis Demotion; Doing Daniel Murphy Wrong

At least the Mets had one issue resolved Tuesday night, and that is who to demote from the rotation when Zack Wheeler is brought up. That will be Jeremy Hefner, who gave up five unearned runs.

The Mets are determined to bring up Wheeler despite questions of him not being ready because they desperately want a diversion to this already lost season. Hefner and Dillon Gee have pitched too well recently to lose their spot in the rotation, but that is irrelevant.

MURPHY: Doing him wrong.

MURPHY: Doing him wrong.

Last night’s enduring image was Daniel Murphy’s error. After two years of Murphy trying to learn second base, the Mets moved him back to first base when Ike Davis was sent down. Sandy Alderson’s sterling reasoning: To see what Jordany Valdespin can give them at second base and leadoff.

For the Mets’ myriad of questions, Valdespin isn’t much an answer to any of them. But, it makes sense using Metsian logic to make things difficult for a decent, hard working, productive guy in Murphy to placate a headache such as Valdespin. Am I being unfair to Valdespin? Perhaps, but has he really earned the benefit of doubt?

Why fool around with one of their more productive players in Murphy at first when they just brought up first baseman Josh Satin to replace Davis? What’s Satin doing here if he’s not going to play?

As far as trying to learn about Valdespin, that’s what spring training was about. And, what is the correlation between batting leadoff and playing second? If the Mets want to learn about Valdespin hitting leadoff they’ve had plenty of opportunities.

As far as Davis is concerned, he was 0-for-3 last night at Las Vegas, after which he declined to talk to reporters who traveled 2,500 miles to see him. He’s lucky people still care about what he does.

Davis said he’s in Las Vegas to work on his swing, which is only partially correct. He’s also there to work on his plate presence and approach that is abundantly flawed. If Davis believes going to Las Vegas is only to work on mechanics he will never get out of this funk.

Hitting is first mental, then physical, something Davis does not recognize or chooses to ignore. The Mets waited far too long to demote Davis and are not waiting long enough to promote Wheeler.

That does make me curious about one thing. Will Davis still be in Las Vegas by the time they send back Wheeler?

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Jun 11

Alderson Dances Around Questions In Interview; Francesa Ignores Follow-ups

Sandy Alderson is infuriating with his “lawyer speak,’’ which is the art of answering a question without saying something. After hearing him Monday on Mike Francesa, who, of course, did not ask the appropriate follow-up questions, I will give you that public service:

ON FIRST BASE CHOICE WITH IKE DAVIS OPTIONED:

ALDERSON: Say what?

ALDERSON: Say what?

Alderson answer: Terry [Collins] will have three options. Daniel Murphy can move to first base and we can play Jordany Valdespin everyday at second base. A second option will be to play Josh Satin at first base and leave Murphy where he is. Third, but not likely would be playing Lucas Duda at first. We’ve told Murphy about first base and he understands that if we do move him, we’re not looking to shift him to first base permanently. But basically if we move Murph it gives us a chance to evaluate Valdespin who we need to look at closely.

Obvious follow-up: If they’ve been thinking about this for a while, then why didn’t they have an action plan in place? Three options is not a plan. In addition, after saying they wanted Murphy and Duda to stay in their new positions earlier, why the change? Does this indicate unhappiness with Murphy at second? If the move is not permanent, can we deduce they are doing this to ascertain Valdespin’s trade value?

ON DAVIS DEMOTION:

Alderson answer: With respect to Ike Davis, we went about it as long as we could. In retrospect we should have done it sooner. He needs to get away from the voices in his ear. Hopefully the hitting environment in Las Vegas will be the right environment to turn it around.’’

Obvious follow-up: If they waited too long on Davis, what was the turning point in making the decision? What kind of pressure did Alderson feel, if any, by hearing the crowds booing Davis? Was that not an indicator. We’ve heard so much about the Las Vegas climate as being detrimental to pitching, so wouldn’t the obvious be true with a bump in numbers be misleading in evaluating Davis? What exactly will Davis be evaluated on? The Mets, collectively, abandoned the club’s hitting approach, so will that be hammered into Davis’ psyche? Francesa should have also asked about Davis’ contractual status and whether the team is inclined to not tender a contract.

ON KIRK NIEUWENHUIS PROMOTION:

Alderson answer: “We felt that Kirk Nieuwenhuis needed to play here in the majors.’’

Obvious follow-up: How can he say that when Nieuwenhuis is still striking out at an alarming rate? If they want to find out about Nieuwenhuis, then why did they sign Rick Ankiel? Alderson said Ankiel bought them some time with Nieuwenhuis. How much? Three weeks?

ON LUCAS DUDA AND RUBEN TEJADA NOT BEING CONSIDERED CORE PLAYERS:

Alderson answer: Alderson said he didn’t look at either as being a core player or significant future player.

Obvious follow-up: When the decision to not re-sign Jose Reyes, you expressed optimism with Tejada. He hit over .280 last year and played well in the field. Yes, he’s had troubles this year, but was that a large enough window to make that decision? What does he have to do? … If Duda isn’t considered part of the core, then why move him to left? Didn’t the team have any other outfield options other than him, and if it didn’t, then who is responsible for void?

ON TERRY COLLINS’ JOB SITUATION:

Alderson answer: Anytime you hit a rough patch people speculate about players and staff, but this is about player performance and I don’t believe our staff performance has been bad. If its a player issue, then that’s on me. I’ve been in situations where we change hitting coaches every year but I honestly don’t think that’s our problem. Terry is working his butt off and we are not considering changing anything.’’

Obvious follow-up: Can that be interpreted as an endorsement for next year and beyond? Doesn’t endorsing the manager and coaching staff send a message to the players that the problem is on the field?

Fitness Gear or a Rope Hammock and more,

Jun 04

Mets Wrap: Another Jeremy Hefner Start Wasted

Once again, the Mets wasted a strong Jeremy Hefner, this time when Bobby Parnell blew a save by giving up three hits and a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. With the 3-2 loss, the Mets have dropped four straight. Not quite the encore they hoped for after winning four straight from the Yankees.

ON THE MOUND: Hefner will be a hard act for Dillon Gee to follow Wednesday. Hefner gave up one run on four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. … Brandon Lyon pitched a perfect eighth, but Parnell pitched far from a perfect ninth.

AT THE PLATE: Omar Quintanilla had two more hits, including a two-run triple in the fifth. … Jordany Valdespin had the Mets’ two other hits against Jordan Zimmerman.

THEY SAID IT: “Jeremy pitched another very good game. He pitched very well. He got us where we wanted to.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on Jeremy Hefner.

BY THE NUMBERS:  30: Games in which the Mets scored three or fewer runs.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee goes against Dan Haren Wednesday night.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 04

Jeremy Hefner Pitching For Rotation Spot – Again

In which direction will the streak-prone Mets go? After winning four straight against the Yankees, they turned about face and were swept by the Miami Marlins.

They are in Washington for the start of a three-game series tonight, but these aren’t the same Nationals the national media gave a bye straight into the World Series.

Bryce Harper is on the disabled list and Stephen Strasburg might soon join him, and the struggling Nationals trail Atlanta by seven games. They are vulnerable to be taken and it would have been great to imagine the edge to this series had the Mets swept Miami instead. However, even without the Nationals’ two top players, they remain a formidable opponent in the NL East.

Tonight, Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.74) goes against Jordan Zimmerman (8-3, 2.37). Hefner has pitched better recently than his record would indicate, but overall, he’s 1-5 for a reason, and that is he’s vulnerable to the big inning. Hefner does not have the ability to shut down an inning quickly after trouble surfaces. One run quickly becomes two, then three and then it is call in the bullpen.

Hefner is pitching to keep his job in the rotation when Zack Wheeler is promoted in the next few weeks. Hefner is third in the pecking order behind Shaun Marcum (who’s making $4 million) and Dillon Gee (who has a greater window of consistency).

Hefner claims he’s beyond worrying about his spot in the rotation, saying, “I don’t worry about it anymore.’’

Even so, the scenario still exists, and if the Mets are bent on promoting Wheeler soon, somebody will be demoted, or their spot could be altered. For example, Hefner could work in long relief and Collin McHugh could be optioned.

Here’s the lineup the Mets hope will give Hefner a fighting chance:

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, LF

John Buck, C

Ike Davis, 1B

Jordany Valdespin, RF

Rick Ankiel, CF

Jeremy Hefner, RHP

METS MATTERS: Wright trails San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval by over 120,000 votes at third base in the All-Star balloting. The only other Met listed is Buck, who is third behind Buster Posey and Yadier Molina. … Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud will be in a protective walking boot for at least another week. … The prognosis of Dr. James Andrews is Scott Atchison does not need elbow surgery. … Congratulations to Kevin Burkhardt, who’ll call NFL games this year on FOX. … If you want to read an excellent piece on Wheeler, check out ESPN’s Adam Rubin’s story here.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 01

Mets Made Right Call In Not Starting Zack Wheeler

It might sound as if I don’t want to see Zack Wheeler, but that’s not even close. I agree with the premise of bringing him up when he’s ready, with that coinciding with his Super Two status.

Bringing him up to start today in Miami in place of Jon Niese for a spot start would have been a mistake. Wheeler should be brought up the same way Matt Harvey last year, and that was to stay in the rotation.

A one-day start would not have impacted Super Two, but would have if he stayed.

Instead, Collin McHugh gets the ball and might again if Niese can’t go again. McHugh will try to get the Mets back on track after Friday night’s loss to the Marlins. The knee-jerk reaction is the Mets had a let down after winning four straight over the Yankees.

Let’s dispel that right away.

Despite Shaun Marcum’s meltdown after six strong innings, the Mets lost because they didn’t hit. They beat the Yankees in spite of their anemic offense, and they won’t take another step toward relevance until they start scoring some runs.

“I don’t think there’s any question. That’s still an issue,’’ Collins said. “We’ve had some great games. We’ve pitched some good games. We’ve gotten some big hits, which allowed us to win some games lately.’’

In that regard, there are some things about today’s Mets’ line-up that make me wonder, beginning with Omar Quintanilla as the leadoff hitter, their eighth of the season.

I keep hearing how Jordany Valdespin makes things happen. If that’s the case, why have him eighth in front of the pitcher? As long as Ike Davis is still around, he should stay eighth.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, LF

John Buck, C

Rick Ankiel, CF

Ike Davis, 1B

Jordany Valdespin, RF

Collin McHugh, RHP