Apr 05

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Stifles Royals

GAME #2:  Mets 2, at Kansas City 0.  Record: 1-1.

SUMMARY: Noah Syndergaard dominated with nine strikeouts in six innings and was backed by Neil Walker‘s two-run homer in the fourth. … The bullpen was flawless as it retired nine straight Royals to end the game. Jeurys Familia, who blew three save opportunities in the World Series, registered the save.

KEY MOMENT: Alcides Escobar tripled to lead off the game, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three hitters. Syndergaard also stranded runners in scoring position to end the fifth and sixth innings.

THOR DROPS HAMMER: Syndergaard was on his game as he struck out nine and gave up three hits with one walk in six scoreless innings. What he did in the first inning illustrated why he has Cy Young potential.

WALKER STRIKES EARLY: Walker had two hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth. Walker also drove in a run Sunday night.

WRIGHT IS RIGHT: Reports of his demise could be premature. David Wright walked twice, singled to right and stole two bases. He was also flawless in the field.

THUMBS UP: The bullpen was solid again. In his Mets’ debut, Jim Henderson struck out two in the seventh. … Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

THUMBS DOWN: Michael Conforto, who reached base four times Sunday night, was hitless in four at-bats. … Three strikeouts by Curtis Granderson. … The Mets stranded three runners in the seventh and two in the eighth.

QUOTEBOOK: “He took a deep breath and realized he had to take it pitch-by-pitch.” – Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on Syndergaard’s mindset after Escobar’s leadoff triple in the first.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12: strikeouts by Mets’ pitchers.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets are off Wednesday and will face the Phillies in their home opener Friday.

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Mar 27

Mets’ Issues With A Week To Go

The Mets begin defense of their National League title a week from today, but will do so a team not without its issues.

Let’s go position-by-position to see how they stack up:

STARTING PITCHING: One issue was Jacob deGrom’s dip in velocity, but he was back in the mid-90s in Saturday’s start. Steven Matz gave up one run Sunday, but also walked four and later said he was gassed. He only gets one more start and doesn’t look sharp. There are no questions with Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, and Bartolo Colon has not pitched well.

MATZ: Not ready. (AP)

MATZ: Not ready. (AP)

BULLPEN: Jim Henderson, Erik Goeddel, Sean Gilmartin and Logan Verrett are competing for the last bullpen spot. With three days off in the first week, the Mets shouldn’t have a problem not having Hansel Robles for the first two games as he serves a suspension.

CATCHER: Travis d’Arnaud is penciled in as the starter, but took a .200 batting average and .275 on-base percentage into Sunday’s game against the Nationals. The original plan was for Kevin Plawecki to be the back-up, and as of today they are leaning in that direction. However, with a heavy dose of days off in April – meaning he wouldn’t play much – and the prospect of saving a few bucks because of his Super 2 status, why not go with Johnny Monell and give Plawecki at-bats.

FIRST BASE: Lucas Duda hit 27 homers with 73 RBI last season and 30-92 in 2014. However, he had nearly a 2-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks-ratio in both seasons. He’s extremely streaky, capable of ten homers in one month and two in another. Five drives a month would be add consistency to his make-up. Wilmer Flores is the projected back-up.

SECOND BASE: Neil Walker is not having a good spring, but his track record shows he’s not a .171 hitter. There’s no indication his lack of production is because of any injury. It’s just a slow start.

SHORTSTOP: Asdrubal Cabrera has missed much of the spring with a strained left knee. There’s a chance he’ll be ready by Opening Day, but there’s no sense in pushing things. If not Cabrera, then Flores could get the start.

THIRD BASE: David Wright’s back seems fine, but he’s been bothered by tightness in his legs. He won’t get the at-bats he prefers but will have to make the best of it. I still think the best decision would be for him to be the DH in the first two games at Kansas City.

LEFT FIELD: Michael Conforto didn’t play Saturday because of a back issue, but was in the lineup Sunday. The Mets ideally want to play Conforto against lefties, but hasn’t had a good spring, which might temper those plans. In that case, we could see more of Juan Lagares (.316 this spring).

CENTERFIELD: The Mets’ best left fielder is center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, whose .394 average and .429 on-base percentage, not to mention the pig roast he hosted, would combine to push his brain cramp to the back burner. The Mets figure to bat him third behind Wright.

RIGHT FIELD: Curtis Granderson is hitting .324. A walking machine last year, he has drawn only one this spring.

Mar 19

Is Cespedes In Center The Best Thing?

Mets manager Terry Collins is reportedly reluctant to play Yoenis Cespedes anywhere in the outfield other than centerfield, to which I ask: Why? Frankly, after watching Cespedes in last year’s World Series, I wonder if he’s not overmatched playing centerfield.

GRANDERSON: Maybe better off in center. (Getty)

GRANDERSON: Maybe better off in center. (Getty)

From left to right, the current Mets’ outfield plan is Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Curtis Granderson, with 2014 Gold Glove Award winner Juan Lagares coming off the bench. Assuming he’s healthy, Lagares is the Mets’ best defensive outfielder, but the other three are superior at the plate.

On days when Lagares does play, it should be in center for the simple reason that with the Mets’ premium on pitching they should field their best defensive alignment whenever possible. Given that, I wonder why Granderson isn’t being considered in center with Cespedes in right (the best outfield arm is usually in right and that’s Cespedes).

I’m wondering if the Mets, in pursuing Cespedes in the outfield, didn’t promise him center field. Granderson can play center field, and probably just as well as Cespedes.

If the idea is to give yourself the best chance to win and given that, I’m not convinced Cespedes in center is the right decision.

 

 

 

 

Feb 06

De Aza On Block … Or Is He?

Well, that was quick. With Yoenis Cespedes now in the fold, Alejandro De Aza is suddenly now available. Or, at least that is what is being reported because of the crowded situation in the Mets’ outfield with Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and De Aza.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said a trade is possible, but not imminent.

Since De Aza, who’ll make $5.75 million this season, isn’t expected to get much playing time, why not deal him? Because trading De Aza is the logical assumption, other teams would think the same thing so his value would appear to be limited.

So, unless De Aza is part of a larger package, I wouldn’t think teams are lining up for him. So, the thought here is De Aza isn’t going anywhere soon.

Jan 24

With Cespedes Back, What Happens With Lagares?

With Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets, what’s the plan now for Juan Lagares?

As with most decisions, it all depends on health? Runners clearly took their liberties last summer on Lagares’ arm, and if he’s still ailing, now might be the time to explore Tommy John surgery.

LAGARES: Minor league bound? (AP)

LAGARES: Minor league bound? (AP)

However, what are their options if Lagares is healthy?

Of course, they might want to consider trading him, but with Cespedes able to opt out after the season that might be premature. If he does the Mets will be searching for a new center fielder next winter.

Considering Lagares was injured and regressed – both with the bat and glove – regardless of how friendly his contract is, his trade value regressed.

However, with De Aza on the roster, the most prudent option could be for Lagares to open the season in the minor leagues, where he’ll play full time and get the necessary at-bats for his development. Another advantage is it would free up an additional roster spot, perhaps for another reliever.

With Cespedes and De Aza, I’m wondering how much playing time Lagares would receive.