Apr 12

Lagares At Leadoff … Finally

Well, it’s about time the Mets wised up and used Juan Lagares in the leadoff spot. And, it doesn’t matter that he went 0-for-5 in Sunday’s 4-3 victory in Atlanta.

After six games Lagares is batting .160, with an identical on-base percentage. It isn’t a stretch to suggest his slow start was caused in large part by moving from first to sixth in the batting order, this after spending spring training working on hitting leadoff.

LAGARES: In leadoff spot. (AP)

LAGARES: In leadoff spot. (AP)

Both Lagares and the Mets sizzled offensively during spring training, but as Terry Collins pointed out, there is a difference between Florida and the regular season.

However, there must be some correlation for preparing for one role for six weeks and then suddenly changing. Athletes are creatures of habit and Lagares – whose strong 2014 season warranted a four-year extension – was obviously unsettled by the switch. As an impressionable young player, how could he not be?

Moving him was a mistake, whether it was Collins’ idea or GM Sandy Alderson’s, but even more absurd was Collins’ explanation he wanted Lagares to avoid the top of Washington’s rotation.

That couldn’t have been much of a confidence builder, and as a young player, that’s what he needs most.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

 

 

Apr 11

Mets Week In Review: An Encouraging Start

If the Mets play out this season as they did their first week, I’ll take it. In a heartbeat I would take it.

mets-logoball-2They are 2-2 after four games, which is .500, the bullseye placed on their back. They played four tight, taut games, that if the breaks went a different way could have put them at 0-4.

The upside is they could also just as easily be at 4-0, which is the beauty of it all.

A clutch hit here or there by the Nationals against Bartolo Colon or Matt Harvey puts a different spin on the week. Just as easily, however, a tighter defense last night and a better pitch from Jacob deGrom spins the week another way.

What we can take out of the first week is the Mets figure to be a team that should tay in every game, and I’ll take that any time because it should mean being there in the end, which is another way of saying they will play meaningful baseball in September.

And, you must do that before you can play meaningful games in October, and isn’t that what we all want – regardless of who makes out the lineup card?

Here’s what I took from the first week:

* Bartolo Colon has something left in his tank. He overcame a rough first inning to beat Washington to show us all there’s nothing wrong with a little age.

* Something the Mets haven’t consistently done in recent seasons was to capitalize on opportunities, which is what they did in both their victories over the Nationals. So, when in doubt, hitting the ball to Ian Desmond is a good strategy.

* Matt Harvey is pitching with a chip on his shoulder aimed at those who tend to judge him on more than what he does on the mound. If that’s his motivation, so be it. Just keep pitching this way and all will be well. Do that and let the Mets worry about keeping him from the Yankees in the future.

* The bullpen is better than advertised. Rafael Montero took the loss Friday night in Atlanta, but the loss lies on Wilmer Flores’ errant throws, a bad decision by David Wright and not hitting in the clutch. Having fundamental breakdowns is how the Mets will likely lose most of their games this season. It will be maddening, but, then again, that’s the Mets.

* A week in and we haven’t seen a lot of power, and that’s probably the way it will go all season. This team needs Lucas Duda’s home run bat.

* Injuries helped shape the Opening Day roster and as always will play a significant role. The Mets lost Josh Edgin and Zack Wheeler before the season started, then lost Jenrry Mejia on Opening Day.

* An underlying theme this week has been the lineup. Whether it is all Terry Collins and not from above – which I doubt – it hasn’t produced an offensive explosion, and it has left Juan Lagares, the projected leadoff hitter, in a funk. He’s not the only one, as Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Flores are also running in mud. Wright, Duda and Travis d’Arnaud are having strong starts, but then again, it has been only four games.

* The closeness of the games is a good sign, but it should also be a nagging reminder of the red flag of their thin bench. Eventually, they’ll have a game when they’ll be caught short.

No, it hasn’t been a great start – although the starting pitching has been a positive – but we’ve seen far worse from the Mets. It has been an encouraging start, and if they are standing at .500 six months from now I’ll have a hunger for much more from them.

And, isn’t that what we want?

Apr 10

Whose Lineup Is It Really?

GM Sandy Alderson took a not-so subtle poke at Mets manager Terry Collins the other day when he interrupted the latter’s pregame press conference and said, “Hey, Terry, here’s your lineup for tomorrow.”

Now, I’m not saying Alderson handed Collins a lineup and said, “use this,” but I do believe he’s had a lot of influence in what is put on the field.

Curtis Granderson hitting first, David Wright second, projected leadoff hitter Juan Lagares sixth and the pitcher eighth is not what was practiced during spring training, and, of course, there are questions why?

The front office routinely talks with the manager about lineups, but I doubt a manager with far more job security would accept this influence, and definitely not the ribbing Alderson gave. Bruce Bochy wouldn’t have. Neither would have Joe Torre or Tony La Russa or Sparky Anderson.

All this seems to be a jab at Collins, whom Alderson said he wasn’t supportive of in his book. How can anybody not see that? Surely, it had to make Collins uncomfortable, although he wouldn’t say anything. How could he?

The Mets’ unconventional lineup has drawn attention throughout baseball, to which Alderson told reporters: “I think what happened is people were surprised by the lineup. People don’t like surprises, whether it’s the media or fans or other people in baseball who’ve got everything figured out. So when there’s a surprise like that, people are scrambling around for some sort of rationale or explanation. Sometimes it gets a little crazy. That’s what I chalk it up to — mostly.”

That’s one or the reasons why there is spring training as teams work to avoid surprises. Why practice something and then deviate?

It makes no sense.

 

Apr 07

Sleeping On The Mets: A Lot Of Good, Some Bad In DC

After sleeping on it, there was a lot to like about the Mets’ win yesterday in Washington. Of course, it’s only one game so don’t read too much into anything. After all, does anybody really expect Lucas Duda to drive in 324 runs? Personally, I’d take a third of that.

Even so, here’s what I took from the Mets beating the Nationals, 3-1:

MEJIA: Could be a big loss. (AP)

MEJIA: Could be a big loss. (AP)

THE GOOD

* They won a close game, on the road, against a division opponent that dominated them last season. Yesterday was the type of game the Mets would often lose to the Nationals.

* Bartolo Colon gave up one run in six innings to quell the chatter he shouldn’t have started. I understand giving the young kids a chance, but Colon can still bring it and his age shouldn’t be used against him. The game could have gotten away from the Mets in the first when the Nationals put two on with no outs, but Colon slammed the door. He also pitched out of trouble in the sixth.

* I flat out loved what the bullpen did with three scoreless innings. They overcame losing Jenrry Mejia to get out of the ninth. It won’t be like this every night, but it was fun to watch. Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres didn’t have great springs, but were sharp. I also liked Jerry Blevins putting down Bryce Harper.

* All too often in recent seasons the Mets failed to capitalize on opportunities, but yesterday took advantage of two Ian Desmond errors to score their three runs. That’s what winning teams do.

* Duda, who missed most of spring training with a strained intercostal muscle, drove in two runs. Duda is benefitting from Kevin Long. His plate patience is good and his stroke on the two-run single was short and compact.

* Travis d’Arnaud‘s triple. There’s a lot of pressure on him to show something at the plate.

* Daniel Murphy committed a throwing error, but moved around all right and didn’t seem bothered by his pulled right hamstring.

THE BAD

* Mejia couldn’t come out for the ninth because of soreness in his throwing elbow and was placed on the disabled list today. He’s already had one Tommy John surgery. Since Bobby Parnell isn’t ready to come off the disabled list, the immediate fallout should have Familia assuming the closer role.

LINGERING ISSUES

* Yes, they won, but I still don’t care for the line-up. Juan Lagares spent most of spring training at the top of the order and it must be confusing for him to be dropped down. I don’t like Collins’ response of protecting him from the top of Washington’s rotation as it gives a message of negativity. But, they won and Curtis Granderson drew two walks leading off so I don’t expect them to change tomorrow. I also don’t like David Wright batting second, something he hadn’t done since 2010.

ON DECK: Mejia goes on disabled list.

Apr 06

Mets Game Thread: Colon Done For Day

The Mets built their lead to 3-1 in the seventh when Juan Lagares reached on Ian Desmond’s throwing error and scored on Travis d’Arnaud’s drive off the center field wall.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis pinch-hit for Bartolo Colon to close his pitching line at one run on three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in six innings

Carlos Torres was the first reliever out of the Mets’ bullpen and put down the Nationals on three straight grounders.

Score: Mets 3, Nationals 1. (7th)