Jun 23

Today’s Question: Have You Given Up On Mets?

If you’re a true fan, you’ll keep watching the Mets. Like an accident on the highway, you can’t take your eyes off of them. Jerry Blevins walking in runs was a new one for me, or perhaps I missed it earlier.

After they were bludgeoned in the first three games of their series in Los Angeles, last night was a tease. For a moment I thought they might salvage a game against the Dodgers, who hit 15 homers in the series. Ten games below .500 make any kind of playoff push nearly impossible.

REYES: Time to say good bye. (AP)

REYES: Time to say good bye. (AP)

It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine that considering the expectations of March.

GM Sandy Alderson has two choices. One, keep plodding away like an old plow horse and operate under the illusion they are playing for something. Or, they could actually be playing for something, which is next year.  Alderson already has a good idea of who will or won’t be back next year. Those he knows won’t be back, like Curtis Granderson – he’s finally hot, so whatever value he has left is at a premium now – and Asdrubal Cabrera, and Lucas Duda, and maybe Blevins and Addison Reed. Get what you can for them and let’s see what Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo can bring to the table.

Frankly, unless Rosario plays shortstop, I’m not interested in seeing Cabrera at second base. If anything, I’m tired of watching Jose Reyes and would rather see Wilmer Flores full time at second.

All experience is good, so give them the rest of the season. It won’t take away the disappointment of 2017, but perhaps it will take away the sour taste of this lost season.

 

 

Jun 19

Rivera And Flores Need To Play Fulltime

I don’t care where they play him, but T.J. Rivera needs to start every day. The same goes for Wilmer Flores. It doesn’t matter that neither fit into the Mets’ long-term plans heading into the season.

Manager Terry Collins said “those who hit will play,’’ and both are hitting and deserve to start, and the struggling Mets need to put their best offensive foot forward, especially against Clayton Kershaw.

RIVERA: Needs to play. (AP)

RIVERA: Needs to play. (AP)

Rivera, who had a career-high four hits Sunday, is batting second – between Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes – which theoretically should provide RBI opportunities for Cespedes and Jay Bruce.

Rivera is hitting .474 (9-for-19) since being recalled last Tuesday. The minor league batting champion hit .333 in 105 at-bats for the Mets last season and is hitting .289 this year in 117 at-bats.

That’s worthy of the chance to play full time.

“Right now, he’s one of the keys,’’ Collins said. “You got to put him in the lineup. This guy’s gonna get hits.’’

Rivera played first when he was with the Mets earlier this season when Lucas Duda was injured. He’s at third tonight.

“I just try to keep a positive mentality no matter what happens, whether it’s being sent down or not playing that day,’’ Rivera said. “I’m always looking forward to an opportunity to play. It’s not easier, but you get a little more comfortable in your at-bats, you see more [pitching] and it’s easier to react to things. The opportunity’s nice, and I’m just trying to help contribute in any way possible.’’

With Rivera at third, Flores is at first. Flores is the Mets’ leading hitter against Kershaw going 3-for-9 while Duda (1-for-11) is on the bench.

The rap on Flores has been his defense, but that’s mostly based on his play at shortstop. He’s had some yips at third, but he’s played generally well at first and hasn’t been too bad at second.

However, his best position is batter, where he’s hitting .296, with six homers and 20 RBI. He’s a lifetime .396 hitter (21-for-53) against the Dodgers. In 39 games since May 1, Flores is batting .331 (42-for-127), with eight doubles, four homers and 17 RBI.

When Cespedes was down, Flores has been the Mets’ best right-handed hitting threat.

When Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker get off the disabled list, somebody’s at-bats will dwindle, but whatever Collins does he needs to find at-bats for Rivera and Flores.

If they’re still hitting, Collins would be putting his best team on the field.

Here’s the rest of the lineup for tonight:

Conforto – CF

Rivera – 3B

Céspedes – LF

Bruce – RF

Flores – 1B

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Jose Reyes – SS

Gavin Cecchini – 2B

Zack Wheeler – RHP

 

Jun 17

Looking At Assets Mets Could Trade

The Mets didn’t go to the playoffs in each of the last two years by accident. They have some good players, several of whom could be welcomed by a contender.

After today’s 7-4 loss to the Nationals, the Mets are 11.5 games behind Washington, so regardless of the calendar, we might as well look at them as sellers at the deadline.

GSELLMAN: Could be valuable trade asset. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Could be valuable trade asset. (AP)

If they are so inclined, the Mets could have a fire sale for the ages.

When I look at today’s roster, I’m seeing four untouchables: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz.

Everybody else can be had. Here’s who could be available:

PITCHERS

Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have value and are currently in the rotation in large part because of injuries. They saved the Mets late last season and could have value to a contender.

Matt Harvey is currently on the disabled list but should be off before the deadline. His value is currently low, but a forward-looking team might take a nibble. However, trade talks for Harvey could grow in earnest if he stays healthy and fast forward to next summer.

A team simply looking for arms might shop in the Mets’ bullpen. The one who could draw considerable interest if they make him available is Addison Reed. Closers are valuable and Reed has proven himself under pressure. Let’s hope if they trade him it is to an American League team.

CATCHERS

For a team looking for a catcher, Rene Rivera or Travis d’Arnaud could draw interest.  The Mets can afford to trade either because they have Kevin Plawecki at Triple-A Las Vegas. For that matter, Plawecki could make for a backup.

INFIELDERS

Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera should be off the disabled list long before the trade deadline. If they are healthy they could help another team the way they did the Mets.

Both could be free agents after the season so they would be nothing more than a rental.

The Mets tried to trade him once, so would it be surprising if they tried to deal Wilmer Flores again? And, he’s a lot better than he was in 2015 so the return could worthwhile.

Jose Reyes has a manageable contract, but he’s not playing well. Would a change of scenery help? It’s worth a shot.

Lucas Duda, who is currently healthy, has the potential to bring back something in a trade. With Dominic Smith on the rise, the Mets might as well test the market for him.

OUTFIELDERS

Isn’t it ironic that GM Sandy Alderson desperately tried to trade Jay Bruce in the offseason, and he’s currently the most productive Met? Actually, they would be foolish to trade him because of Cespedes’ fragility, but he can bring back the most in a trade.

Curtis Granderson has been hot since May 1, but his overall miserable numbers are attributable to his slow April. But, Granderson brings a presence any contender would find valuable.

Should the Mets go the fire sale route it would mean finding a spot for Conforto and leaving him there. It means bringing up Smith and Amed Rosario. If they keep him, it means finding a spot for Flores.

It would mean starting over.

Jun 12

Mets’ Lineup, June 12, Cubs

When Terry Collins was asked the other day about pinch-hitting for Michael Conforto with Yoenis Cespedes, he said he wasn’t unhappy with Conforto and just wanted to give Cespedes an at-bat.

Conforto isn’t in the lineup tonight, but the Mets are saying it is because of back stiffness, however, he’s available to pinch-hit. However, there’s no word on if anything is wrong with Wilmer Flores.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Curtis Granderson – CF: Is .260 (27-104) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Is hitting .319 with 11 extra-base hits and 11 RBI over last 24 games.

Neil Walker – 2B: Is .269 (87-323) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Hit .321 with four homers and 18 RBI during May.

Cespedes – LF: Is .256 (10-39) lifetime vs. Cubs. Came off DL and hit grand slam Saturday.

Jay Bruce – RF: CF: Is .255 (118-463) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Leads Mets with 16 homers and 43 RBI.

Lucas Duda – 1B: Is .217 (23-106) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Has six homers with 15 RBI.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: Is .250 (5-20) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Hopefully snapped out of defensive funk Sunday in Atlanta.

Travis d’Arnaud – C: Is .294 (10-34) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Hot with three homers in last 10 games.

Jose Reyes – 3B: Is .273 (53-194) lifetime vs. Cubs. … Hit .133 on trip.

Jacob deGrom – RHP: Is 17-12 with a .217 ERA in 43 career starts at home. … Is 1-2 with 5.31 lifetime vs. Cubs.

ON DECK:  Breaking news and/or Mets Game wrap.

Jun 10

Harvey’s Five Not Enough

Matt Harvey pitched well tonight for the Mets, but are you completely convinced he’s back. Or at least good enough the Mets to think they can rely on him every fifth or sixth day.

HARVEY: Five-inning man. (AP)

HARVEY: Five-inning man. (AP)

Harvey pitched five scoreless innings and issued only two walks and four hits. However, he threw 104 pitches in those five innings, which says he labored. For that many pitches, he needs to go seven innings.

I mean, that’s what Harvey would have done in 2013 or 2015.

It looks as if Harvey has been reduced to being a five-inning pitcher, which really isn’t acceptable on this level. It means the Mets must go into their bullpen for four innings.

That many pitches say his command if off and an inability to put hitters away. It also suggests he hasn’t fully recovered from his thoracic shoulder surgery.

So, from here on out, the Mets have to go into every Harvey start thinking five innings from him and four from the bullpen. With that thinking manager Terry Collins will have to go into the surrounding starts thinking more innings from the starters to preserve the bullpen.

Even so, defense cost the Mets tonight in the ninth. Dansby Swanson’s double was the epitome of hustle, and lack of it from center fielder Curtis Granderson, who played it casually.

It was ninth inning in a tie game. That’s when defense should be at a premium. That calls for Juan Lagares, and that’s on Collins.

The Mets might have been better off with Jose Reyes at shortstop instead of Asdrubal Cabrera because of range. The positioning of Cabrera more to the bag instead of toward the hole might have cost them on Rio Ruiz’s game-winning single to left.

As it was, Cabrera had no chance at the ball, but it makes one think the shortstop defense – especially in the later innings – needs to be re-evaluated.

With the season slipping away, a lot of things must be re-evaluated.