Apr 17

Looking At The Mets’ Fast Start

No, I can’t do it when it comes to the New York Mets. I can’t look at 7-3 and just say, “hey, that’s great.” I certainly can’t say they’ll keep this pace, because playing .700 ball would be incredible. Nobody plays .700 ball. Now that the Mets are playing at that clip, I am thinking a lot better than .500.

Isn’t everybody?

But, I’m like the man grilling over coals. I can’t resist poking at them. It’s part of my nature, and also why I became a journalist. I am wonder why. That’s what I do.

So here are my thoughts on this terrific start, and yes, I do hope they’ll prove me wrong and keep it up. I want to see them play in October. I’ve covered a lot of playoff and World Series games, but the Mets in 2006 were positively electric. I’d love to see that again.

Here’s to the fast start and some of the reasons why:

* Matt Harvey: He’s had two starts, one great and the other not so much. He’s still throwing too many pitches for six innings, but it is easy to see the Mets have something special when he goes to the mound and the team has an aura when he pitches. That might be the best thing he brings to the table.

* Bartolo Colon: He’s had two outings and proven he still has something to give. When it comes to counting pitches, I hope they’d do with Colon the way they do Harvey. If they can keep him strong for the season it could bear fruit in September.

* Jacob deGrom: One of my favorites. He has great stuff and has also shown an ability to pitch out of trouble. Rookie of the Year last season. What’s his ceiling this year?

* Jon Niese and Dillon Gee: Neither has been stellar, but they did work into the fifth which minimizes the use of the bullpen. That can’t be underestimated.

* The bullpen: Forget Jenrry Mejia and I think the Mets will when his suspension is lifted. But, Jeurys Familia has been terrific as has the lefty relievers we all thought would be a problem. I’ve been critical of GM Sandy Alderson, but kudos for fixing the left bullpen hole at the end of spring training. They won’t get back Josh Edgin, but things could be better when Bobby Parnell and Vic Black return.

* Travis d’Arnaud: Is doing it at both sides of the plate. And, he’s showing some pop. Defensively, the pitchers like him, he’s blocking the plate better and shows a strong arm.

* David Wright: His fast start before hurting his hamstring had a calming influence. They haven’t lost since he’s been out, but that’s coincidence. Another positive is Eric Campbell has played well since replacing Wright.

* Lucas Duda: No, this wasn’t written by order of importance. For some reason I always lead with pitching. However, Duda is having a terrific start and is shows the ability to hit lefties. His stroke is short and compact, and he’s showing plate presence and patience. If he continues like this there’s no telling what he can do.

Wilmer Flores: Yes, Flores. He didn’t have a good start, but he’s not letting it bother him. They don’t win last night without his homer. And, kudos to Terry Collins here. It could have been easy to panic and pull Flores, but he stayed the course. Good job by Collins.

Juan Lagares: He’s not hitting leadoff, and perhaps the early confusion lead to his slow start at the plate. But, it hasn’t affected his defense and he’s starting to improve at the plate. A less tougher player might have let the lineup change bother him. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Lagares.

Curtis Granderson: He’s not hitting, but has a high on-base percentage with all his walks. If Granderson weren’t getting on base there would be a problem.

Michael Cuddyer: Has been a steady and consistent presence in the middle of the order. So far, a good signing. And, a lot of people other than Wright like him.

Other good signs: They are winning close games and won two of three in Washington. Winning in the division is a great indicator and they’ll continue to get those opportunities the rest of the month. … Atlanta has cooled and Washington has sputtered and has significant bullpen problems. April is a great opportunity to make a strong, early statement and that’s what they are doing.

Of course, I could ask for more. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. But, I couldn’t ask for a better start.

 

 

 

Apr 14

April 14, Mets Lineup Vs. Phillies

Here’s tonight’s batting order for the Mets against Philadelphia:

Curtis Granderson, rf: I don’t want him here, but he’s among the leaders in walks which gives him a healthy on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3b: Still think he should hit third, but he’s hitting and that’s what counts. He’ll stay here for awhile.

Lucas Duda, 1b: His stroke seems a lot shorter and quicker. He’s poised for another big year.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: I like him behind Duda.

Daniel Murphy, 2b: I understand the idea of wanting to give him more RBI opportunities, but it’s not happening right now.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Probably the hottest hitting Met right now.

Juan Lagares, cf: I want to see him batting leadoff, but average and on-base percentage says he doesn’t deserve hitting first.

Wilmer Flores, ss: He’s probably under the most pressure to get going. His approach seems better the past few days.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Don’t you get the impression from him that he should not only pitch, but hit clean-up like the typical high school star?

 

 

Apr 13

Mets Game Thread: Lagares’ Hustle Breaks Ice

The Mets took a 1-0 lead off Aaron Harang in the fourth when Daniel Murphy doubled, took third on Travis d’Arnaud’s fly to right and scored on Juan Lagares’ line drive off the pitcher’s glove. The squirted away from Harang, but Lagares hustled to beat the throw to first. Lagares then stole second and took third on catcher Carlos Ruiz’s wild throw.

The inning ended on Wilmer Flores’ fly out to center.

Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom has given up three hits in four innings.

Mets 1, Phillies 0 (5)

Apr 13

Lagares Out Of Leadoff Spot

That was fast. The Mets’ Opening Day lineup features Curtis Granderson back in the leadoff spot and Juan Lagares dropped down to seventh. The move comes on the heels of Lagares going 0-for-5 Sunday in Atlanta.

LAGARES: Batting seventh. (AP)

LAGARES: Batting seventh. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins said he still has confidence in Lagares, who hit .359 in spring training.

“If he continues to swing the bat like he can, he’ll be in the leadoff spot,” Collins said of Lagares. “Right now, he’s struggling a little bit. So we kind of like where he’s at. We’ve got all the confidence in the world. When that confidence fades, we’ll find somebody else. But, right now, this guy is one of the real, real good players and an up-and-coming star in this game.”

After a strong spring training in which he worked on working the count and other aspects of leading off, Lagares began the season in the sixth spot in the order. The Mets insist they’ve considered the switch early in spring training, but puzzlingly didn’t act on it.

Lagares is admittedly struggling, batting .160, but then again Granderson is hitting .063.

While I understand the nuances of the leadoff hitter is assured of leading off an inning just once, and that when he’s batting it really doesn’t matter because he’s at the plate by himself. However, going into the season’s seventh game, Lagares is hitting in his third different spot in the order.

That indicates indecision.

Here’s today’s order for the Mets:

Curtis Granderson, rf

David Wright, 3b

Lucas Duda, 1b

Michael Cuddyer, lf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Juan Lagares, cf

Wilmer Flores, ss

Jacob deGrom, rhp

 

 

 

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.