May 10

Collins Gives No Confidence Vote To Conforto

Looking at the Mets’ lineup for Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but notice a glaring mistake. Perhaps it was just an oversight on manager Terry Collins’ part, but I’m not thrilled with Michael Conforto batting sixth, protected between the red hot Wilmer Flores (.170, one homer and two RBI) and the sizzling Kevin Plawecki (.229, one homer and three RBI).

CONFORTO: Bad move dropping him. (AP)

CONFORTO: Bad move dropping him. (AP)

The Mets touted Conforto as the team’s No. 3 hitter of the future when Collins moved him there in mid-April. The move, where he hit ahead of Yoenis Cespedes, jumpstarted the Mets’ offense and sparked their surge in the standings.

The Mets are 16-5 isince moving Conforto to third, which includes losing the first two games on this trip. Unquestionably, Conforto is on a significant slide, going 3-for-29 (.103) over his last eight games. Basically, that’s a bad week.

Although the Mets are facing a left-hander in Alex Wood, it should be noted he’s 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA. The message indicated a lack of confidence by Collins in Conforto, but the manager’s words flat out shout it loud.

Lefties are batting .367 this year against Wood, but the manager doesn’t think that’s relevant. Collins said batting Conforto sixth wouldn’t create pressure to perform, but he’s mistaken. There’s more pressure now.

Collins made a big deal saying Cespedes’ presence helped Conforto, but if you buy that logic, you must also accept he’s getting next to no protection between Flores and Plawecki. In addition, what must Conforto be thinking about this demotion?

As far as his reasoning for moving Conforto, Collins told reporters today: “I’d like to leave him in the three-hole if I thought he could do some damage.”

That’s another way of saying he doesn’t think he can do any damage against a pitcher with an ERA just under six. How’s that for a pat on the back?

No, I don’t like this decision. Confidence is essential in the development of a hitter, and this move screams Collins has doubts. When Collins moved Conforto, I wrote how important it was for him to stay with him during slumps. At least the first one.

If Conforto is to become the No. 3 hitter the Mets expect of him, he’ll have to endure dry stretches. So, what does Collins do? He bails at the first sign of a problem. Collins said Conforto will bat third against right-handers, but said nothing about lefties. You have to assume he won’t hit third against Clayton Kershaw.

It has only been eight games. Let Conforto work his way out of this, the same way he’s given a long leash to Matt Harvey.

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May 08

Mets Wrap: Harvey Comes Up With Best Effort Of Year

HARVEY: Best start of the year. (AP)

HARVEY: Best start of the year. (AP)

Matt Harvey touched 97 on the radar gun and struck out ten as the Mets beat San Diego, 4-3, Sunday afternoon. Couple that with the Cubs completing a sweep of Washington and the Mets are back in first place.

Seems like all is well again for the Mets.

A lot went right for the Mets, including another home run from Yoenis Cespedes, Kevin Plawecki is starting to hit, they were on the receiving end of a blown instant replay ruling, and Antonio Bastardo escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the eighth.

However, unquestionably the best thing that happened for the Mets was Harvey (3-4) coming up with his best outing of the season.

And, he knew it, too.

“I finally felt for the majority of the game a lot more comfortable,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I was able to pound the zone and throw all of my pitches.

“Mechanically it felt great. I just have to keep working on it. Everything felt good today.’’

In his four losses, Harvey’s fastball velocity was down to the low 90s and his breaking and off-speed pitches were off. Harvey knows he’s on his game not so much when he’s throwing in the high 90s, but “ when I can go inside and throw a change-up to a right-handed hitters.’’

Again Harvey stumbled in the fifth when he left a mediocre fastball over the plate Christian Bethancourt took deep into the second deck. However, unlike in previous games, Harvey rebounded in the sixth.

Harvey gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and ten strikeouts in six innings. Again, his pitch count was too high at 102.

Sunday was a definite positive for Harvey, but he knows for him to reach the level expected of him he has to give the Mets more innings for all those pitches.

However, on this day the concern level on Harvey was low. Just the way the Mets want it to be.

METS GAME WRAP


Game: #30   Record: 19-11   Streak: W 2

Standings: First, NL East

Runs: 133     Average per game: 4.4    Times scoring 3 runs or less: 12

SUMMARY: Harvey pitched his best came of the season, and was backed by Cespedes’ homer and a pair of two-out RBI singles by Asdrubal Cabrera.

KEY MOMENT: The Mets received a controversial replay ruling in their favor in the fifth inning when the review upheld the original decision that Andrew Cashner was out at the plate. Had the call been reversed the Padres would have pulled within 4-3 and had a runner on third.

THUMBS UP: Bastardo entered the game in the eighth with the bases loaded and no outs, and proceeded to strike out Derek Norris, got Melvin Upton on a pop-up and struck out Alexei Ramirez. … Three two-out RBI. … Cabrera continues to excel. … Two hits by Eric Campbell, who started in place of David Wright. … Ten saves in as many opportunities for Jeurys Familia.

THUMBS DOWN: The offense stranded 11 runners on base. … Jim Henderson balked a runner home. … Addison Reed was off, giving up two hits and not retiring a hitter.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets bussed to Los Angeles after the game. … Neil Walker did not start because of a bruised right shin, but pinch-hit and struck out. … Cespedes hit his 11th homer. He didn’t hit his 11th last year until July 6. … The Dodgers will use three lefties against the Mets. … TOPPS will put out a special edition baseball card commemorating Bartolo’s homer Saturday night. It will cost you $9.99.

QUOTEBOOK: “It’s only May,’’ – Collins in response to a question of the Mets jumping the Nationals for first place in the NL East.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-for-19: Walker’s current slide.

NEXT FOR METS: Steven Matz starts Monday night for the Mets in Los Angeles.

Apr 09

Today In Mets’ HIstory: Carter Hits OD Game-Winning Homer

On this date in 1985, the Mets’ drive to, as manager Davey Johnson said, “to dominate,” began with Gary Carter‘s 10th-inning Opening Day homer gave them a 6-5 victory over St. Louis at Shea Stadium.

Carter Gary Plaque_NBL_0The Mets acquired Carter in an offseason trade with Montreal for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans.

The Mets’ championship team of 1986 was built around draft picks Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, but the trades for Carter and Keith Hernandez were largely regarded as the final pieces of the puzzle.

The Mets finished second to St. Louis in 1985, but the die had been cast. During spring training in 1986, Johnson said the Mets would “dominate,” that year. The Mets cruised through the regular season, outlasted Houston to win the NLCS with a dramatic win in extra-innings. That was a crucial win because Mike Scott – who was clearly in the Mets’ head – was the Astros’ Game 7 starter.

The Mets rallied to win Game 6 of the World Series in another epic game, to set up Game 7. The Mets came from behind to win that game, also. Carter hit .276 in the World Series with two homers and nine RBI.

Carter played only five years with the Mets and released after the 1989 season. He played three more years in the majors with San Francisco (1990), Los Angeles (1991) and retired after the 1992 season with a farewell tour with Montreal.

After falling short in several votes, Carter was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Carter died, February 16, 2012.

ON DECK: Mets Should Skip DeGrom’s Next Start

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Feb 16

Tejada Should Move On From Utley Play

Ruben Tejada is already in Port St. Lucie, but his mind isn’t there. His mind is nearly 3,000 miles to the west, in particular Los Angeles. Specifically, he’s back on Dodger Stadium lying in the dirt near the second base bag where Chase Utley mangled his right leg on an ultra-aggressive take-out slide last October.

TEJADA: Should move on from Utley. (AP)

TEJADA: Should move on from Utley. (AP)

Not surprisingly, he’s in favor of a proposed rule change designed to protect middle infielders, and told The Post’s Kevin Kernan he’s hoping to get an apology from Utley.

“I know it’s part of the game, but not like that,” Tejada said. “I would never do that to another infielder. That is the position I play and I would never want to hurt another player that plays that position like that.

“It would have been different if some other position player, a corner infielder or an outfielder had done that to me, but he is a middle infielder, he should know better.”

Tejada said Utley reached out to him and sent a gift, but wouldn’t elaborate. I’m sure it wasn’t an autographed photo of the play. But, Utley didn’t send what Tejada really wants.

“I would like to hear an apology,” Tejada said.

He won’t get it, and should stop thinking about it. Tejada should concentrate on moving on and not going back to that play. The umpires have the discretion to eject a player for something they consider a “dirty” play, but did nothing against Utley.

Only after an outcry from Mets’ fans and media about the play, and with MLB wanting to avoid an ugly scene when the series moved back to Citi Field, was Ultey suspended for two games. He is waiting for his appeal, which is one reason there hasn’t been an apology. An apology is an admission of guilt and there’s no way Utley would do that prior to the appeal.

Personally, I’m not so sure it was a blatantly dirty play. The throw from shortstop Wilmer Flores put Tejada out of position to make a play and directly into Utley’s path. So many things went into that play to the point where we can’t assume intent on Utley hurting Tejada. Actually, I’m betting the suspension will be reduced to one game.

Utley’s intent was to break up the double play and keep the inning alive, which he did. Doing so enabled the Dodgers to win the game and stay alive in the NLDS.

Tejada’s focus should be getting himself ready to play. As of now, he already lost his starting job to Asdrubal Cabrera and will enter the season as a bench player. His career has deviated sharply from when he was groomed to be Jose Reyes‘ replacement. One can easily envision Tejada being an ex-Met after this season and no apology can prevent that from happening.

Tejada has other things to focus on instead of holding out for an apology that might not even be warranted.

Jan 13

Top Ten Reasons Why Mets Can Return To World Series

As they are presently constructed, can the Mets return to the World Series? Why, of course. They are the defending National League champions, and while they haven’t gotten the big bopper they wanted, they still bring a formidable team to spring training.

Here are ten reasons why the Mets, if they stay healthy, can have another October:

1. They learned from 2015:

As Kansas City proved last season following their 2014 Series loss to San Francisco, a team can learn from defeat. From manager Terry Collins on down, the Mets will be better for the experience. They know what it takes to get there and you can’t buy what those five games against the Royals gave them. Not to mention the series against Chicago and Los Angeles.

HARVEY: I'm betting on 20 (Getty)

HARVEY: I’m betting on 20 (Getty)

2. The experience of Game 5:

Believe me on this, Matt Harvey is seething over Game 5. I’m not buying the Mets have the best rotation in the game until one of those wonder kids win 20 games. You’ll read it here first, but I think this is the year Harvey wins 20. I’m guessing he’s more than motivated, and with the restrictions from Tommy John surgery behind him, this could be a special year.

3. A full year with that rotation:

I don’t know if there will be innings restrictions on Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz – or Zack Wheeler when he comes off the disabled list. What I do know is if these guys are as special as advertised, I’m betting they learned from 2015. And, don’t forget, the Mets will have Matz and Syndergaard for a full season.

4. A full year from The Captain:

Assuming David Wright is healthy, and there’s no reason to figure otherwise, the Mets will have him for the full summer. He missed over four months last year, and missed them at a time when the offense struggled. Will he return to All-Star status? That might be a reach, but if he’s healthy and consistent, the Mets will be better.

5. The closer must have learned something:

Jeurys Familia had a breakout year, but didn’t have the smoothest postseason. He could have the potential to consistently save 40 games. That’s precious production. Personally, I’m glad he blew that Series game. Mariano Rivera said the best thing to happen in his career is when Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar Jr., homered off him in the 1997 playoffs. Rivera went on to become the game’s greatest closer.

6. They have a deeper bullpen:

Former closer Jenrry Mejia, when he comes off his suspension, will provide depth. They’ll also have Addison Reed for a full season, and hopefully a healthy Josh Edgin. And, once Wheeler returns, Bartolo Colon will go to the bullpen, where he excelled in the postseason. Hopefully, Hansel Robles will do some maturing. Lefty Jerry Blevins is back from missing last year with a broken. Logan Verrett provides depth, and can even spot start. The most intriguing spring training project with be Rafael Montero.

7. A better keystone combination:

The Mets’ defense up the middle is better with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrerra and second baseman Neil Walker. Offensively, replacing Daniel Murphy with Walker is a wash. Cabrerra is on a par with Wilmer Flores at the plate and is an upgrade in the field. Flores will add depth on the bench and give Collins more opportunities to rest Wright.

8. Left-handed power:

I never liked Curtis Granderson leading off, but love his ability to draw walks. He also hit 26 homers, but would he have more RBI if he batted in the middle of the order? It’s more than possible. Lucas Duda hit 27 homers last year after 30 in 2014. Why does it seem they all came in the same week? He still strikes out too much (138), but had a good on-base percentage (.352). Duda’s numbers should improve with more playing time (only 471 at-bats in 135 games). More consistency would be better, but I’ll take the 27 homers any way I can get them.

9. They have deeper catching:

Kevin Plawecki is here to stay, but could he force Travis d’Arnaud out of town? That will be interesting situation that could play itself out. d’Arnaud showed offensive promise when he came off the disabled list, but his inability to throw out base runners in the playoffs proved to be a glaring weakness. Having Plawecki around for an entire season will give Collins a chance to platoon him, especially against teams that like to run.

10. The kid in left:

Or, should I say that “budding star” in left? I’m among the many who are high on Micheal Conforto. Hopefully, Collins won’t fall into the trap of sitting him against lefties. He needs to play against everybody. If he’s the real deal, the Mets have something special.