Aug 23

Seven Years Later, Daisuke Matsuzaka Starts For Mets

Falling under the category of “somebody has to do it,’’ the New York Mets will throw out Daisuke Matsuzaka to start tonight against Detroit.

The 32-year-old Matsuzaka, who never came close to living up to expectations when Boston outbid the Mets for him in 2006, is now a retread hanging on to his career.

Maybe, just maybe, if he shows something the final month of the season the Mets will bring him to spring training. That’s a peak into the future, but personally I’d rather see prospect Rafael Montero, who, like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler has an innings cap.

Montero isn’t done, yet, this season, but I’m intrigued about seeing what he could have against the Tigers tonight at Citi Field, rather than against Detroit in Port St. Lucie in spring training. Even if it is for just one start, I’d like to see Montero, just to give us another glimpse into the future.

It won’t happen because of 40-man roster considerations.

With the Mets still mired nine games under .500, second place and a winning season appear to be slipping away, making the last month a spring training preview. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, we’re getting to see Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores.

They haven’t disappointed; they have us anxious about the future, which is closer than we might have originally thought.

The rosters can be expanded Sept. 1, but I’d like to see some creative thinking and for the one weekend of the month have Major League Baseball waive the 40-man roster listing and enable teams not in the running to have a prospect promotion.

Bring up guys such as Matt den Dekker, Montero and Noah Syndergaard and let the Mets have their own Futures Weekend. Wouldn’t you rather see that as one of the games of the Sept. 14 doubleheader against Miami rather than guys such as Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Robert Carson?

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

Aug 19

Mets Making Mistake Not Hitting Juan Lagares Second

If not for Major League Baseball’s inane scheduling policies, the New York Mets should be enjoying a day off following a lengthy road trip, not playing the Minnesota Twins with a starting line-up featuring just three players – Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and starter Dillon Gee – who were on the Opening Day roster.

LAGARES: Let's see what he can do batting second.

LAGARES: Let’s see what he can do batting second.

Considering the influx in personnel, it is impressive they are in third place and only nine games under .500.

Quite simply, scheduling the Mets in Minneapolis in April was just plain dumb, but that’s another rant later.

Such a turnaround in personnel is astonishing as evidenced by today’s line-up, the 94th different penned by Terry Collins. If that’s not a record, it should be.

It is puzzling why a run-starved team like the Mets aren’t capitalizing on Juan Lagares’ speed and bunching him with Eric Young at the top of the order. There’s stolen base and run potential there. Even with the designated hitter, batting Lagares eighth does little good.

Here’s today’s head-scratching line-up:

Eric Young, LF: One of the Mets’ primary problems has been resolved.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Should be hitting third, a better RBI slot. His patience helps Young, but he might have greater value hitting in a RBI position.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Murphy should be dropped down to third and Byrd should be clean-up. Byrd is also hot now, so I can see Collins’ reasoning.

Ike Davis, 1B: With his soaring on-base percentage, he should be hitting leadoff. Joking. Seriously, with the rate he’s getting on base he should be hitting ahead of Byrd to maximize the latter’s RBI potential.

Andrew Brown, DH: Good he’s getting a chance to play, but I would drop him behind Wilmer Flores.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: I’d bat Flores behind Davis to maximize his RBI potential. Prior to his injury, he was averaging also a RBI per game.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: We don’t know how he’ll hit on this level, so seventh is as good a slot as any.

Juan Lagares, CF: This one is puzzling. They need to bunch the speed of Young and Lagares to generate excitement and run-scoring potential at the top of the line-up. The concern might be Lagares’ ability to work an at-bat to protect Young, but that should come with the experience of hitting second.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: This is about right. No pitcher hitting today, but in the regular line-up eighth is his place.

Dillon Gee, RHP: Could tie Matt Harvey with nine wins today.

I don’t understand Collins’ approach in determining his line-up, which means the Mets will score nine runs today. Would anybody be surprised if they did?

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

Aug 17

Mets’ Terry Collins Deserves To Stay

The firing of Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel has put Terry Collins’ status with the New York Mets into the forefront.

The sacking of Manuel demonstrates once again baseball is widely unfair. After a long playoff run, which included several trips to the World Series, followed by a run of injuries from Chase Utley to Ryan Howard to Roy Halladay, the Phillies are south of the Mets, both in the standings and on the map.

COLLINS: Merits another introductory press conference.

COLLINS: Merits another introductory press conference.

So naturally, Manuel is out.

Collins, in the final season of his contract, could finish 2013 with his third straight losing year the Mets’ fifth overall, but is expected to get an extension because of how well the team has performed despite not adding significant pieces and substantial injuries.

After winning the first two games of the San Diego series, the Mets are eight games below .500, but have a reasonable chance of finishing even, but second place appears less likely.

Should the Mets lose the remainder of their games they would have 106 losses, a number many predicted of them heading into the season.

However, with several key injuries – including David Wright, Jon Niese, Johan Santana and Bobby Parnell – a patchwork bullpen and outfield, and dreadful slump of Ike Davis, the Mets adjusted on the fly and are playing competitive ball.

For the most part, the Mets have played well fundamentally, while breaking in a new outfield, and always seem to play hard for him. Collins has had several head-scratching moments, but has generally been solid.

When teams hustle and keep their heads in the game, it indicates the manager has things under control. Collins definitely merits an opportunity to stay now that resources have been promised.

Also working in Collins’ favor is nearly half the roster is different than what he left spring training with, and he’s had to juggle with 92 different line-ups in 120 games. That is almost incomprehensible.

The Mets appeared to have answered five significant spots this season, including positives in the development of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler; Parnell’s acclimation to the closer role; and the additions of outfielders Eric Young and Juan Lagares.

There have been other positives, such as the catching tandem of John Buck and Anthony Recker; the mostly solid play of Daniel Murphy at second base; and the play of Marlon Byrd in right field and Omar Quintanilla at shortstop.

There remain several holes and questions, but overall Collins deserves to be in that dugout next season. Not only that, he needs to stay.

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

Aug 13

How The Mets Morphed Into A Team

With a few exceptions, the New York Mets resemble little the team that broke spring training. Only two players, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis, were the expected starters this late in the season who were in the line-up Monday night in Los Angeles.

And, only recently is Davis’ performance at the plate reaching major league standards. And, Murphy will be the first tell you last night wasn’t major league standards for him defensively, but that’s another matter.

Davis is playing well, but not hitting for power and his spot next year is far from secure.

Around the infield, John Buck was to have been replaced by Travis d’Arnaud at catcher; Ruben Tejada was to be at shortstop, not Omar Quintanilla; and third baseman David Wright being on the disabled list gave Wilmer Flores an opportunity.

How well d’Arnaud plays on this level remains a mystery, and Tejada is playing his way out of the organization.

Ironically, Flores’ development could mean the end of Murphy’s tenure with the Mets as Terry Collins is talking about playing him at second base. However, he could sit after twisting his ankle.

From left to right in the outfield, we all knew Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Colin Cowgill in center, and Mike Baxter in right wouldn’t last. Cowgill hit a grand slam Opening Day and was on the bench within two weeks.

Duda is in the minor leagues saying he wouldn’t mind being a DH, which couldn’t make Sandy Alderson happy; Nieuwenhuis is in the minors while Cowgill was traded; and Baxter is again a role player.

Eric Young filled the lead-off hole and there’s no way Duda could replace him in left; Juan Lagares is the centerfielder of the present and future; and role player Marlon Byrd turned out to be the team’s best offensive player.

Anticipate Byrd asking for two years and not being retained.

Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia weren’t in the Opening Day rotation and both are pitching as if they have plans to never leave. We know, barring injury, Wheeler isn’t going anywhere.

The bullpen has been superb the past month, but has also been patchwork. Bullpens always need tinkering; so don’t be surprised if there are new faces next spring.

The expectations of the Mets were low this spring and it is a reflection of how Matt Harvey’s development and how well Collins and his staff have done to where .500 or second place are even possible goals.

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

Aug 06

Wilmer Flores To Make Debut; Bobby Parnell Goes On DL

The New York Mets are finally giving Wilmer Flores his opportunity as they promoted him from Triple-A Las Vegas and will start him tonight at third base against Colorado. Ironically, today is Flores’ 22nd birthday.

The Mets, currently in an overall team-hitting slump, could use an offensive boost from Flores, who is hitting .321 with 15 homers and 86 RBI. The thought of Flores coming close to that with the Mets is enticing. They certainly aren’t going to get production from Justin Turner.

FLORES: Gets his chance.

FLORES: Gets his chance.

To make room on the roster for Flores, closer Bobby Parnell was placed on the disabled list with pain in his neck. Parnell received an anti-inflammatory injection Monday.

The Mets could make another roster move this weekend if Jonathan Niese is activated from the disabled list. Niese, rehabbing from a partial rotator cuff tear, will make what is hoped to be his final rehab start tonight for Double-A Binghamton. If all goes well, he could start Sunday at Arizona.

If not, he’ll make another rehab start.

Here’s tonight’s lineup, the 82nd different one this season, against Colorado:

Eric Young, LF: Has 15 steals since joining the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Has 20 RBI since July 6.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has at least one hit in 16 of his last 20 games.

Ike Davis, 1B: Batting .194 (13-for-67) with RISP.

Juan Lagares, CF: Is hitting .303 (47-for-155) since June 5.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: Makes major league debut on 22nd birthday. Are all the stars aligned?

John Buck, C: On a 3-for-28 (.107) over his last eight games.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Drew 19 walks in July, third in the NL.

Jenrry Mejia, RHP: Will make his third start. The first two were quality starts.

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