Apr 26

Is It Time For Mets To Panic?

As devastating as the five-run first inning against Robert Gsellman was to the Mets tonight, let’s not forget their fourth inning against Julio Teheran.

The Mets had the bases loaded with no outs and the best they could muster was a sacrifice fly. That’s it; the game was over right there, and the Mets were on the way of losing, 8-2, to Atlanta.

i-1They have lost five straight and nine of ten, and have three games this weekend in Washington.

Is time to panic?

In a rare display of candor, exasperated Mets manager Terry Collins said: “It could be pretty soon.’’

The first inning was emblematic of what currently ails the Mets. How many times can you say if the Mets don’t homer they won’t score? When the Mets’ pitching goes south as it did for Gsellman tonight, and their defense is horrible – three errors – that’s too big a hole when the offense gets only five hits.

Collins has long said the Mets are built on hitting home runs, but twice this homestand lamented their inability to produce (1-for-5 with RISP and seven runners left on base).

“You know we’re not going to get a lot off Teheran, so that took the air out of the balloon pretty quick,” Collins said of the early hole. “You don’t see any panic in them. We have to stop worrying about home runs and worry about getting some good swings.”

Gsellman said he was told last night he would start, which is contrary to what Collins said. No matter, he had nothing. He explained the problem as mechanical, saying he was flying open with his shoulder that consequently left the ball out over the plate.

Sounds so simple, but why is it so hard to fix? That applies to a lot of things.

Sep 20

Three Mets’ Storylines: Did They Lose Bruce?

In the end, it came down to this: manager Terry Collins has more confidence in Eric Campbell, a player who hasn’t had a hit since May than he does Jay Bruce, the player whom the Mets hoped would carry them into the playoffs.

BRUCE: Did Mets lose him? (AP)

BRUCE: Did Mets lose him? (AP)

Campbell came through with a RBI pinch-hit single in the eighth, but the Mets still lost, 5-4, to Atlanta Tuesday night, and you have to wonder – as Bruce must, also – that he’ll be of little, or no use, to them in the remaining 11 games.

And, after that, do they see a reason to bring him back next season?

There’s no disputing Bruce has been horrid ohis last 24 games, hitting .167 and .125 with RISP. There’s also no disputing he was leading the National League in RBI with 80 when the trade was made.

A manager has a myriad of tough decisions to make, and with this one was the balance between trying to get a player going and winning the game.

“It’s one of the worst things you can do as a manager is to pinch-hit for a star,” Collins said. “My job is to win the game. … I think he’s extremely frustrated. All he cares about is to be a good teammate and help this team. I sure he’s dumped a lot of pressure on himself.”

Collins said he spoke with Bruce before that inning and told him he would use a pinch-hitter, to which he said the player told him: “You do what you have to do.”

Bruce left the dugout as Campbell came to the plate, which isn’t a good image. But, he was probably thinking he didn’t want to have the cameras focused on him for the rest of the game.

Later, it was clear Bruce wasn’t happy, but he said all the right things.

“It was very difficult,” Bruce said about being pinch-hit for. “It’s the first time I was pinch-hit for. (Actually, it is the ninth time according to ESPN). I always think I’m the best choice, but he’s the manager and it his decision and I respect that.

“Coming over here, it has been tough for me. I’m worried about the team. I have plenty of time later to think about myself but now isn’t the time. I’m ready to play. I’ll be ready every day.”

The thing that bothers me about the decision was not that Collins hit for Bruce, but his inconsistency in his decision-making. There have been too many times when logic dictated he do something, but did the opposite. From leaving Matt Harvey in too long to not resting Yoenis Cespedes, to a half-dozen other things, Collins’ track record is inconsistency.

So, did the Mets lose Bruce?

If Bruce is a man of his word, they didn’t. But, that leads to the question whether the Mets’ lack of confidence reached the point where they don’t want him anymore.

Unquestionably, Collins’ decision on Bruce was the game’s primary storyline. The others were the Mets’ offense and a look at the wild-card race.

OFFENSE STRUGGLES VS. TEHERAN:  Perhaps it is an overstatement to say Julio Teheran owns the Mets, but it wouldn’t be wrong to indicate he’s in their heads.

The Mets managed one run on five hits in seven innings against Teheran. Who knows? Had he stayed in for another inning perhaps the Bruce issue wouldn’t have surfaced.

“He’s good, he’s an All-Star,” Curtis Granderson said. “He has some really good stuff.”

Collectively, the Mets have scored 21 runs over their last eight games. And, with the topic of struggling hitters, Cespedes is hitting .179 over his last ten games and struck out to end the game.

WILD-CARD UPDATE: The loss coupled with St. Louis winning in Colorado dropped the Mets and Cardinals to a tie.

Meanwhile, with Miami winning over the Nationals, the Marlins moved over .500 and remain in wild-card contention. The Mets are in Miami for three games next week.

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Mar 10

March 10, Mets-Braves Lineups

Here are Tuesday’s Mets-Braves lineups:

METS

Juan Lagares, cf

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf

Wilmer Flores, ss

John Mayberry Jr., dh

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Eric Campbell, 1b

Alex Castellanos, 3b

Cesar Puello, rf

Dilson Herrera, 2b

 

Barolo Colon, rhp

ATLANTA

Mallex Smith, cf

Phil Gosselin, 3b

Freddie Freeman, 1b

A.J. Pierzynski, c

Jonny Gomes, dh

Alberto Callaspo, 2b

Joe Terdoslavich, lf

Eury Perez, rf

Pedro Ciriaco, ss

Julio Teheran, rhp

Apr 29

Dillon Gee and His Amazing Streak

DILLON GEE, RHP

There might not be any starting pitcher in the game who is more underrated than the Mets’ Dillon Gee. The righthander delivered his best effort of the season on Sunday, tossing eight shutout innings against the Miami Marlins to help the Mets take the series two games to one.

Gee, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday, struck out five and confounded the Marlins with his signature changeup and a slider that’s become a great out pitch for him. Whenever he’s on the mound, he gives the team a chance to win and the baseball odds at Allpro confirm it.

“It was one of those good days,” Gee said. “I just try to go out there each time it’s my turn and do the best I can and get as deep as I can, and give us a chance to win. As long as we win at the end of the day, I’m a happy guy.”

Despite having thrown 110 pitches, Gee wanted to pitch the ninth, but was told no by manager Terry Collins.

Opponents are now hitting .193 against Gee this season. He has an 0.86 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in his last three starts, in which he’s allowed only two extra-base hits.

“He got us to where we wanted to get to,” Collins said, “That was pretty much the end.”

Gee’s remarkable stretch that began last season when he struck out 12 Yankees on May 30, has him among the game’s elite. The Mets righty has a 2.75 ERA over his last 28 starts, topped only by Clayton KershawZack GreinkeYu DarvishJulio TeheranMax Scherzer and Adam Wainwright. among pitchers with 20 or more starts in that span.

For the season, Gee’s ERA stands at a pristine 2.88 with a 1.043 WHIP. Better yet, over his last three starts he’s 2-1 with a 0.86 ERA.

It might be time to start talking about an extension with Gee, who has become the most reliable starter in the Mets rotation and one of the top arms in the NL.

May 24

Mets Road Gets Rougher With Braves Coming In

The Atlanta Braves don’t have Chipper Jones anymore, but still represent the yardstick in which the Mets like to measure themselves.

There is no longer a rivalry for National League East supremacy, and what there once was had been dominated by the Braves. Kenny Rogers’ wildness and Armando Benitez ensured trumped Robin Ventura’s grand slam single.

DAVIS: Still here.

DAVIS: Still here.

Arguably, the Mets’ greatest moment in the rivalry – outside winning the 1969 NLCS – was Mike Piazza’s thunderbolt after September 11.

The Braves, who paid no attention to preseason speculation of Washington running away with the division and going straight to the World Series, are in first place, 4 ½ games ahead of the Nationals and 10 up on the Mets.

Atlanta is in for the start of a three-game series tonight, and it will be odd not to have Jones around to boo. Even so, the Braves might be the best run team in the National League and they have the same blueprint.

Gone are Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, but this weekend the Mets skip Tim Hudson, but get Kris Medlen (1-5), Mike Minor (5-2) and Julio Teheran (3-1). If they get through them, the Braves (2.79) have the third-ranked bullpen behind San Francisco and Pittsburgh, and might have the league’s premier closer in Craig Kimbrel.

The Braves have always been about fundamentals, pitching and power, and this season is no different with Justin Upton (14 homers), B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward, an outfield the Mets could only dream about.

Evan Gattis (10 homers) has more than capably handled the plate while Brian McCann has been on the disabled list.

Meanwhile, the Mets have been listless offensively, scoring more than four runs only once since beating the Braves, 7-5, on May 3. Their hitters are striking out roughly ten times a game and it is only a matter of time before Ike Davis (.147 and on a 1-for-38 slide) is shipped out to the minors.

The Mets, losers of 10 of their last 12 games, have Jeremy Hefner, Dillon Gee and Shaun Marcum, who are a combined 2-15 going for them. Hefner and Marcum comprise 40 percent of the rotation and have no victories.

Once 10-9, the Mets are 17-27 and in a free fall towards irrelevance. Prior to the Pirates series, when the Mets were 13-17, I wrote where the next two weeks could define their season and that is coming to fruition.

The Mets lost three of four to Pittsburgh and St. Louis in consecutive series, won two or three in Chicago, and swept in a three-game series at home by Cincinnati.

After the Braves come four straight with the Yankees, before closing the month at Miami.

June doesn’t get easier as the Mets have six games against the Nationals, three with St. Louis, five in Atlanta (includes a make-up game), three in Philadelphia, two in Chicago against the White Sox, and they fly to Colorado for a one-game make-up on an off-day.

By the time they conclude a nine-game road trip leading into the All-Star break, there is a very realistic chance the Mets could be 20 games under .500 if not 20 games out of first place.

The Mets’ long summer is getting longer and we’re not even through with May.