Aug 29

Mets’ Outfield Prospect Matt den Dekker To Make Debut Today

Providing the weather clears, the New York Mets will run out another rookie this afternoon: lanky center fielder Matt den Dekker. This kid can fly and run down a ball in the gap with anybody the Mets have, but is a slow study at the plate.

Den Dekker’s opportunity comes in the aftermath of the trade of Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh.

DEN DEKKER: Tracks them down.

DEN DEKKER: Tracks them down.

A capsule of den Dekker’s production was last year when he hit .340 at Double-A Binghamton, but .220 at Triple-A Buffalo. Den Dekker was producing for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .296 with six home runs, eight doubles and 38 RBI in 53 games.

Like other outfield prospects in the organization – Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Juan Lagares – den Dekker has had too high a strikeout ratio for his production.

However, after starting the season with a broken wrist, den Dekker’s strikeout ratio has dropped and he’s walking more. The speculation is the injury forced him to shorten his swing.

When the Mets opened Citi Field, they did so under the pretext of defense and pitching, but their first significant signing was Jason Bay.

From left to right, the Mets will likely go with Eric Young, den Dekker and Lagares, easily their fastest and best defensive outfield alignment they’ve had in a long time.

The projected power numbers from that trio would be too low for the major leagues, but theoretically it could be acceptable if they were getting it elsewhere, but David Wright is on the disabled list (he leaves for treatment in Florida today) and they are getting nothing from Ike Davis.

The Mets will use the final month to get an idea of what their outfield could look like next year. With the absence of Byrd, the Mets will still look for a power-hitting outfielder over the winter.

Should they obtain that kind of outfielder, it could come down to den Dekker or Lagares for the starting job in center. Lagares has been impressive in streaks, but strikes out too much. Defensively, den Dekker goes back on the ball better, which is very important in Citi Field, but Lagares, who already has 11 assists, might have a stronger arm.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 28

Losing Matt Harvey Not Mets’ Only Issue

Can we please have a reality check in the wake of the New York Mets losing Matt Harvey for the remainder of this season and possibly all of 2014?

In some ways the Mets overachieved this year, but not to the point where they should be considered favorites next summer, or the following one, even with Harvey.

HARVEY: Even with him, Mets have issues.

HARVEY: Even with him, Mets have issues.

The Mets are a flawed team, and considering they just traded their two of their top three home-run and RBI leaders in Marlon Byrd and John Buck, they are even more scarred.

Without Harvey, and with Jenrry Mejia and Jeremy to have surgery, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese are the only givens in next year’s rotation. And, Niese is coming off a slight rotator cuff tear and Wheeler will have only half a season experience on his resume.

It is imperative the Mets go on with the belief Harvey will be out indefinitely and add one or two starters. Please don’t say Daisuke Matsuzaka is enough, and even in jest, don’t suggest bringing back Johan Santana.

The Mets like catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s future, but he’s only played a handful of games. They’ll miss Buck, not only for his bat, but his ability to handle pitchers.

First base has the unappealing options of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin. There’s also a hole at shortstop, with Ruben Tejada fading into past tense and Omar Quintanilla a reserve.

Second baseman Daniel Murphy could be gone, especially if the Mets opt to go with Wilmer Flores.

Left and center, as of now, appear set with Eric Young and Juan Lagares, with neither having much power. Right field, as it was this spring, is wide open. Maybe they’ll bring back Byrd. Who knows?

The bullpen has pitched well for the most part in the second half, but with Bobby Parnell facing surgery on his neck, it will be patchwork all over again.

General manager Sandy Alderson has been pointing to 2014 since he got here, saying once several bloated contracts were off the books the team will have liberty to spend.

The timetable has been pushed back at least a year with Harvey’s injury, but that’s no excuse for him to sit on his hands this winter. The Mets have at least two winters of spending before they’ll have a competitive team around Harvey and Wheeler.

They must, even if it is just in keeping with the appearances of their 2014 timetable, be aggressive this off-season.

It’s the least they can do considering all the talking they’ve done.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

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