Jun 23

Today’s Question: Have You Given Up On Mets?

If you’re a true fan, you’ll keep watching the Mets. Like an accident on the highway, you can’t take your eyes off of them. Jerry Blevins walking in runs was a new one for me, or perhaps I missed it earlier.

After they were bludgeoned in the first three games of their series in Los Angeles, last night was a tease. For a moment I thought they might salvage a game against the Dodgers, who hit 15 homers in the series. Ten games below .500 make any kind of playoff push nearly impossible.

REYES: Time to say good bye. (AP)

REYES: Time to say good bye. (AP)

It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine that considering the expectations of March.

GM Sandy Alderson has two choices. One, keep plodding away like an old plow horse and operate under the illusion they are playing for something. Or, they could actually be playing for something, which is next year.  Alderson already has a good idea of who will or won’t be back next year. Those he knows won’t be back, like Curtis Granderson – he’s finally hot, so whatever value he has left is at a premium now – and Asdrubal Cabrera, and Lucas Duda, and maybe Blevins and Addison Reed. Get what you can for them and let’s see what Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo can bring to the table.

Frankly, unless Rosario plays shortstop, I’m not interested in seeing Cabrera at second base. If anything, I’m tired of watching Jose Reyes and would rather see Wilmer Flores full time at second.

All experience is good, so give them the rest of the season. It won’t take away the disappointment of 2017, but perhaps it will take away the sour taste of this lost season.

 

 

Jun 22

Should Mets Option Slumping Conforto?

Perhaps GM Sandy Alderson’s reluctance to promote Amed Rosario stems from observing Michael Conforto’s June Swoon. As it did last year, Conforto’s hot start turned south and taking down with it another Mets’ season.

I’ve always been in Conforto’s camp and that hasn’t changed, but something isn’t right and the slide has been dramatic.

CONFORTO: Would minor league trip help?. (AP)

CONFORTO: Would minor league trip help?. (AP)

On May 24, after a two-hit game against San Diego, Conforto was hitting .341 with a 1.149 OPS. Going into tonight’s game in Los Angeles, Conforto’s average is .278 with .949 OPS. Conforto entered June batting .314 but is hitting .167 for the month to have his average drop to .278. That’s a decent average that masks his slump. Especially alarming are 19 strikeouts in 54 at-bats.

Conforto is out of the lineup again tonight against left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu. It’s easy to understand why, because as cold as he has been, Curtis Granderson has been that hot. For the second straight day, Granderson homered to lead off the game and set a club record with his 20th leadoff homer.

Manager Terry Collins hasn’t said Conforto won’t get back in, but as the Mets struggle to hang onto their season, he has to play the hottest hitters.

Both Alderson and Collins said of Conforto that he’s better off getting at-bats in the minor leagues than sitting on the bench in the majors. If Conforto doesn’t heat up, perhaps it is time to think about a trip to Las Vegas to work on his mechanics.

If the Chicago Cubs can send down Kyle Schwarber, the Mets can send down Conforto.

Alderson said when Rosario comes up to the majors it should be for good.  Ideally, the same should apply to Conforto, but after fading in each of the last two seasons following a hot start, perhaps Alderson is having second thoughts and is thinking he rushed Conforto.

It’s a thought.

 

Jun 18

DeGrom Carries Mets Again

With his father and son watching, Jacob deGrom had one of those dream games when he smacked his first career home run and dominated the Washington Nationals. The win prevented the Mets from being swept and temporarily stopped what could be a free fall.

Whether competing for a pennant, a wild card, or just trying to reach .500, a team needs a stud pitcher.

DEGROM: Hits and pitches Mets to win. (AP)

DEGROM: Hits and pitches Mets to win. (AP)

Sandy Koufax once told me that if you’re going to win you need a pitcher who is 12 games over .500,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “You have to have that kind of guy. Jake is here to win.”

DeGrom has pitched back-to-back stellar starts after back-to-back stinkers in which he gave up 15 runs. DeGrom followed up his complete-game against the Cubs by going eight innings today, giving up one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

He’s given up one earned run in 17 innings after solving his mechanical issue of flying open and throwing across his body.

“I was able to keep my front side close,’’ was how deGrom explained what’s been working for him. “I was able to locate [my change-up] on both sides of the plate.’’

At 6-3, I don’t know if deGrom will finish 12 games over .500, but he’s pitching like an ace. Some pitchers when they struggle can’t turn it around, but deGrom seemingly has fixed his problems.

That’s what aces do.

With the Mets heading on a brutal trip to Los Angeles (four games), San Francisco (three) and Miami (three) represent ten games that could define their season.

DeGrom’s win comes before the Mets face Clayton Kershaw Monday to start a four-game series against the Dodgers. This has the potential to be an ugly week, and stopping losing streaks is also the definition of an ace.

CESPEDES RESTS: Twice Saturday Yoenis Cespedes legged out infield hits and went from first to third on singles. He also scored on a sacrifice fly and made running catch down the line on a fly ball. That proves his hamstring didn’t bother him yesterday, but it’s the day after that is important.

“I’m more concerned with fatigue and some of the other things that have happened in the past,’’ Collins said.

When they brought Cespedes off the disabled list, they did so with a plan. And, for once they stuck with their plan.

Too many times the Mets abandoned a plan with a player and he later was reinjured.

A struggling team like the Mets needs all the help it can get, but they did the right thing this time.

A SPOT FOR REYES: With Asdrubal Cabrera expected off the disabled list shortly, we’ll be seeing less and less of Jose Reyes at shortstop. And, as long as T.J. Rivera keeps hitting – four more hits today – he should play third base – or someplace, every day.

“He keeps getting hits,’’ Collins said. “He has to play.’’

Conversely, Reyes went 0-for-5 today to see his batting average drop to .193 and his on-base percentage to .269.

For now, Wilmer Flores must stay at second and Rivera on third. So, when Cabrera returns, Reyes has to go to the bench.

EXTRA INNINGS: With a ninth-inning double, Daniel Murphy has reached base in each of the 29 games he’s played against his former team. Murphy is batting .391 with ten doubles, eight homers and 29 RBI vs. Mets. … With the win the Mets are now 1-6 vs. Washington at Citi Field. …  Michael Conforto showed breakout signs with two hits and two RBI.

UP NEXT: The Mets begin a season-defining stretch of playing 16 of their next 19 games on the road tomorrow night in Los Angeles when Zack Wheeler starts against Kershaw.

Jun 16

What Are Mets’ Options Without Wright?

The Mets announced third baseman David Wright underwent successful surgery today to repair a disk in his neck. What they did not announce was what happens next.

Dr. Robert Watkins, who performed the surgery, and Mets’ doctors advise rest as Wright recovers from the cervical discectomy and fusion.

WRIGHT: What happens next? (AP)

WRIGHT: What happens next? (AP)

“After trying every way to get back on the field, I’ve come to realize that it’s best for me, my teammates and the organization to proceed with surgery at this time,” Wright said in a statement released by the team.

“`My neck simply did not respond to any of the treatments of the past few weeks. While incredibly frustrating and disappointing, I am determined to make a full recovery and get back on the field as soon as I can to help the Mets win. I greatly appreciate the support of my teammates and our fans throughout the last few weeks.”

Wilmer Flores is the immediate option, but left Thursday night’s 6-4 victory iover Pittsburgh in the third with a bruised left wrist. Kelly Johnson and Ty Kelly are on the 25-man roster. There has also been speculation of Neil Walker moving from second to third and Dilson Herrera being promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas.

The most appealing of those is to stick with Flores.

Those are the internal options. As far as trade options, it is generally considered too early to deal. Of course, it would have been great to get Todd Frazier last season, but that’s ruminating.

Third basemen scheduled to be on the free-agent market this winter are Daniel Descalso (bench player for Colorado), Martin Prado (starting and hitting .331 for Miami), Justin Turner (starter for Los Angeles) and Luis Valbuena (starter for Houston).

Traditionally, future free agents are often traded if their teams know they can’t sign them. But, the Mets have to understand they have no chance at Prado or Turner.

Milwaukee’s Aaron Hill, San Diego’s Yangervis Solarte or the Angels’ Yunel Escobar have also been speculated as potential trade options.

“`Everything has been discussed,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “We knew a few days ago that this was a definite possibility, so we’ve talked about other options – about moving guys. We’re still open to anything, but right now, for the short term, this is what we’re going to do.”

However, when it comes to Wright, there really is not a short term. The odds are we probably won’t see him again this season, and if so, likely not before September. That means the Mets need to be thinking long-term options.

 

May 13

Mets Considering Pushing Matz Up

Terry Collins reminds me of the weekend griller who can’t help poking at the coals – whether they need it or not. The Mets’ manager told reporters in Denver Friday they might bring left-hander Steven Matz prior to his next turn.

Matz will be skipped Saturday against the Rockies because of a sore forearm, which would put his next start Thursday against Washington.

As of now, Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey are scheduled to start against the Nationals from Tuesday through Thursday. The Nationals are scheduled to go with Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and either Stephen Strasburg or Tanner Roark.

The Mets would clearly not skip Syndergaard or Harvey, but wbump Colon.

Yes, it’s Washington and the teams enter Friday’s schedule tied for first place in the NL East, with today’s game being the 35th of the season for the Mets. The speculated Matz start would be the 40th game of the season, or 25 percent into the schedule.

Is one game that important?

The division could boil down to one game, but for Collins to juggle his rotation this early in the season smacks of panic to me. All games are important, but it is way too early for this kind of move.  Even if Matz wasn’t nursing an injury, altering the rotation wouldn’t be a good move.

From his batting order to moving Michael Conforto around, Collins can’t resist poking the coals. Now, it’s the rotation.

It’s not even the middle of May and we’re already talking about the Mets screwing around with their rotation, placing ultra importance on a single game. Maybe if the Mets had Matz examined in Los Angeles, or sent him home early to be checked, I’d think differently, but the plan is for doctors to look at him on Monday.

Why is there such a rush to pitch Matz? The Mets won’t win the pennant in May, but their chances of winning could be compromised if they push the envelope and he’s re-injured.

Yes, when it comes to pitcher’s arms I am ultra conservative. I just wish Collins and the Mets were, also. That approach would serve them well.

But, they don’t and Collins keeps fooling around with the coals. That’s how you get burned.

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