Apr 15

Mets Must DH Wright In Cleveland

If David Wright is going to get hurt, he’ll get hurt. That’s what fate is all about. Wright said he’s not changing the way he plays to protect himself.

“I can’t go out there and play the game to protect my back,” Wright said. “If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen. Granted, I’d like to think I’m not going to take crazy risks. But, at the same time, I’ve got to play the way I’m capable of playing.`I’m hopeful I’m doing everything to get my back to hold up. If it doesn’t hold up, it is what it is. There’s nothing else I can do.’’

WRIGHT: Needs to DH. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Needs to DH. (Getty)

“I’m hopeful I’m doing everything to get my back to hold up. If it doesn’t hold up, it is what it is. There’s nothing else I can do.”

However, there is something the Mets can do, and that’s take advantage of the designated hitter. They failed to so at Kansas City, but have three games this weekend in Cleveland.

Why is it so hard for manager Terry Collins to grasp this concept? It was bad enough playing Wright Wednesday afternoon following Tuesday night’s game.

If Wright is going to get hurt, he’ll get hurt. But why push the envelope?

Apr 12

Mets Not In “Panic City”

This column is in response to Adam Rubin’s question at the bottom of today’s Morning Briefing, I will say no. Rubin asked his readers if they were yet a resident of “Panic City,’’ what GM Sandy Alderson called some Mets fan when the team floundered last season before regrouping to reach the World Series.

SYNDERGAARD: Big start tonight. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Big start tonight. (Getty)

My readers know me for calling it straight. Many of them believe I might be too critical of the team. The over/under for Mets’ victories I posted Opening Day was 92, believing they could improve on last season by having Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes full time.

That’s still very possible.

It’s very easy to spot the problems six games into the season: the offense has not produced and their vaunted starting pitching hasn’t lived up to expectations. The bullpen was overworked in Matz’s start, but giving up three runs in 7.1 innings isn’t that bad.

The three best starts were made by Syndergaard in Kansas City, Jacob deGrom in the home opener and Bartolo Colon Saturday night. Matt Harvey has been roughed up twice and Matz was torched Monday night.

I want to go back to a column I posted earlier suggesting the rotation didn’t get enough work during spring training. Normally starters work about 30 innings during spring training, but no Met pitcher worked more than 15. This was done with the objective of protecting those young arms, and the immediate by-product has been location.

The only real concern here is with deGrom’s tight right lat muscle. Perhaps he wasn’t in his best condition before of the shortage of work. His velocity has been off. Is that injury or lack of work? We don’t know yet.

I posted last night I wasn’t concerned with Matz, but let’s go back early in spring training when he was worried about results and manager Terry Collins questioned whether he was in his best condition.

The lack of work will eventually resolve itself as the season continues. After all, they can’t go back to spring training.

Hopefully, Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen will learn from this and tweak their offseason and spring training workout programs. There’s nothing they can do now.

Offensively, we’re seeing signs of life from Cespedes and Wright.

Curtis Granderson hasn’t produced, but the same thing happened last year. His track record is he’ll get better. The Mets have only two homers in six games, but that will change. There have been too many strikeouts and missed scoring opportunities.

You can blame the weather, but it was just as cold for the Royals, Phillies and Marlins. It won’t get any easier tonight against Jose Fernandez or over the weekend in Cleveland.

We also should remember something Wright said at the start, and that’s the Mets will have a bullseye on their backs all year. Philadelphia and the Marlins, not surprisingly want a piece of the Mets. They were the National League champs, every team should want to knock them down a peg.

Tonight’s Mets’ lineup has only two hitters – Granderson and Lucas Duda – who were with the team all of 2015.

The others were either injured and missed significant time – Wright and d’Arnaud – or are in their first full seasons with the team. That would be Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera.

You can’t tell much about a team or a player after six games. Let’s see how things are at the end of the month. We all knew getting back to the Series wouldn’t be a breeze.

Please follow me on Twitter.

Apr 11

Today In Mets’ History: Grote Homer Beats Reds

Not known for his power, on this day in 1971 Mets catcher Jerry Grote’s homer in the bottom of the 11th was the difference in a 1-0 victory over Cincinnati at Shea Stadium.

Batting eighth, Grote homered off Wayne Granger to lead off the inning. Grote homered twice that season and 39 times during his 16-year career, which included 12 seasons with the Mets where he carved a reputation as a defensive specialist with a strong throwing arm.

GROTE: Mets' best defensive catcher. (AP)

GROTE: Mets’ best defensive catcher. (AP)

Grote was a National League All-Star in 1968 and 1974. In those days, the NL was strong behind the plate with the likes of Johnny Bench, Tim McCarver and Randy Hundley.

How good was Grote defensively? Bench once said: “If Grote and I were on the same team, I’d be playing third base.”

Tom Seaver started that day and pitched nine scoreless innings. He was relieved by Tub McGraw, who worked two innings for the victory.

Grote also played with Houston (1963-64), the Dodgers (1977-78, and 81), and Kansas City (1981).

Grote was inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame in 1992.

He is 73 and lives in San Antonio, Tx.

ON DECK: April 11, Mets’ Lineup Against Miami

Please follow me on Twitter.

Apr 06

Mets Matters: DeGrom Still Waiting On Baby

The Jacob deGrom family is still awaiting the birth of the couple’s first child, which puts the starter of Friday’s home opener in flux.

mets-matters logoThe current plan is for deGrom to start against the Phillies, but if wife Stacey goes into labor, he could be on a flight to Florida. Well, at least he’ll be close to the airport.

If deGrom doesn’t start, Steven Matz is expected to get the start, although manager Terry Collins did not rule out Bartolo Colon. If deGrom does pitch Friday, Colon would start Saturday, Matt Harvey on Sunday and Matz Monday against Miami.

WALKER WINS BELT: The Mets have a tradition of awarding the star of every victory a wrestling-style championship belt. The season’s first winner is second baseman Neil Walker because of his game-winning two-run homer Tuesday in Kansas City.

“I’ve heard a lot about it –  the mystique of it that comes along,” Walker told reporters. “That was a really cool moment to get it [Tuesday]. But I don’t know if I completely deserve it. You saw what Noah [Syndergaard] did today. I think we’ll split it.”


Apr 03

Mets Wrap: New Year, Same Old Story With Royals

GAME #1: Royals 4, Mets 3, at Kansas City.  Record: 0-1.

SUMMARY: We’ve seen this before from the Mets against Kansas City, and it didn’t look any better on Opening Day. The Royals took a 4-0 lead keyed by an unearned run in the first against Matt Harvey created when Yoenis Cespedes dropped an easy fly ball hit by Mike Moustakas. A passed ball, a walk and a hit and the Mets were again looking up at the Royals. The Mets scored three in the eighth on Lucas Duda‘s two-run single and Neil Walker‘s RBI forceout. The Mets had a chance to tie in the ninth, but David Wright took a called third strike and Cespedes struck out swinging to end the game.

CAN’T TOUCH VOLQUEZ: Royals starter Edinson Volquez limited the Mets two a pair of hits and three walks in six scoreless innings.

HARVEY NOT SO SHARP: Matt Harvey said his mechanics were off and it showed as he gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 5.2 innings in his first career Opening Day start. The damage against Harvey could have been worse had Harvey not gotten three double plays.

CESPEDES’ GLOVE A FACTOR: This is what you get from Cespedes. He’s lax at times. Moustakas hit a routine fly and had he bothered to use two hands.

CONFORTO COMFY AT PLATE: Actually, Michael Conforto was more than comfortable as he reached base in all four at-bats with a double, single and two walks.

THE GOOD: In addition to Conforto, Juan Lagares made a strong throw to third base showing his arm is better. … Duda went to the opposite field on his two-run hit. … Curtis Granderson singled after a tough at-bat in the ninth. … Bartolo Colon and Jerry Blevins out of the pen.

THE BAD: Wright was hitless in four at-bats. … Cespedes in left. It was Cespedes’ first error in left in 156.2 innings. … Travis d’Arnaud‘s passed ball set up the Royals’ first run.

QUOTEBOOK:  “I felt all right. There were times I felt fine. Other times I couldn’t find my rhythm.” – Matt Harvey.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Mets fell to 35-20 in franchise history in openers (a MLB-best .636 winning percentage).

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets are off Monday and will face the Royals Tuesday afternoon with Noah Syndergaard going against former Met Chris Young.

Please follow me on Twitter.