Jul 21

Here’s Hoping Flores Gets Traded

It was two years ago next week when Wilmer Flores carved out a niche in Mets lore when he openly wept on the field after hearing a report he had been traded. Flores endeared himself to Mets fans everywhere that night because he showed the fans he was a player who genuinely wanted to play here.

How could you not cheer for a guy like that? How can you not cheer for a guy who showed such human emotions?

FLORES: The night he became a Mets' icon.  (AP)

FLORES: The night he became a Mets’ icon. (AP)

The trade to Milwaukee fell through and he remained in Queens, but his situation only briefly changed for the better regarding playing time. Off the field, there was still a shameful lack of respect from GM Sandy Alderson, who made him a butt of jokes on his stand up tour, and manager Terry Collins, who never trusted him enough to give him a position full-time.

However, in those moments when he did play – when Lucas Duda and David Wright were injured – Flores showed streaky power. He did so again yesterday with a pinch-hit homer in the win over St. Louis.

I always liked Flores, even before the tears, and openly advocated the Mets work him into a regular playing rotation. Now, I want the Mets to trade him. To Boston. To Houston. To Milwaukee, again. To any team where he’ll get a chance to play.

The Mets will soon move out Asdrubal Cabrera to make room for, and keep him away from, Amed Rosario. And, maybe they’ll trade Duda to make room for Dominic Smith. Neil Walker will soon be coming off the disabled list, and a midseason slump cost Flores his at-bats in favor of T.J. Rivera.

And, Flores? He’ll get moved to the bench where we won’t see him for ten more days. Collins never gave Flores a chance to work his way out of his slump; he wouldn’t work Flores into a rotation when all the infielders were coming off some kind of injury; he’ll bury him again.

Ken Davidoff, the talented baseball columnist for The New York Post, quoted a baseball scout on Flores and Rivera: “I like them more as fringe everyday players. Maybe guys you plug in for two weeks, or maybe even two months. But I wouldn’t be comfortable with them in a six-month situation for the full season.’’

That’s understandable because Flores has never been given more than a month to play. He tore things up earlier this season, then, like all players eventually do, tailed off. Hey, even Aaron Judge has cooled.

That’s the essence of a full baseball season. There will be stretches where everything falls in and others where even scorched balls are caught. His defense has never been good, but couldn’t that because he’s never been given a fulltime position? That’s the same way it was with Daniel Murphy.

Nobody knows what Flores can do for a full season because he’s never gotten the chance. Collins and Alderson put him in position where he’s always looking over his shoulder.

Flores can play adequately anywhere in the infield and has shown he can hit right-handed pitching. He can tear up lefties.

Flores was a valuable piece in the playoff runs of 2015 and 2016, and surely, can help a contender. Boston is in desperate need of a third baseman and the Yankees can still use a first baseman.

Flores can help either, but the hope here is he is traded by the deadline to a team that appreciates his value and will let him play.

Give him 550 at-bats before you tell me he can’t play.

 

Jul 19

Mets Wrap: DeGrom Shows Why Teams Want Him

One can certainly see why the Houston Astros, or any other team for that matter, would be interested in Jacob deGrom. The Mets’ ace struggled with his mechanics early, but settled down to do what aces do, which is carry their team.

Manager Terry Collins said deGrom was flying open and rushing his delivery during a 25-pitch first inning.

DE GROM: Ace. (AP)

DE GROM: Ace. (AP)

“He was very uncomfortable in the first inning,’’ Collins said. “He is who he is and late in the game he was still in there.’’

DeGrom said after the first inning he was more tuned into pitching to contact to preserve his pitch count.

“I noticed early on that I didn’t have my best stuff,’’ deGrom said. “I felt fine physically, but I didn’t have a good feel. I felt like I was rushing things.’’

With their season slipping away, deGrom picked up the Mets and willed them to a 7-3 victory over the Cardinals. In doing so, he won his seventh straight game. And, it not an appeal of a foul tip had gone against the Mets, deGrom would have pitched his seventh straight game of at least seven innings.

As the trade deadline rapidly approaches, there have been reports of the Astros’ interest. GM Sandy Alderson didn’t exactly call deGrom an “untouchable,’’ but did say he would have to be blown away.

As well as he should be.

DeGrom hears the rumors.

“I guess it is a good thing if people want you, but my job is to win here,’’ he said.

DeGrom gave up one run in 6.2 innings in breaking the Mets’ three-game losing streak, one that put them 15 games behind Washington at the start of the game. Just imagine where the Mets would be without deGrom, now 11-3 with a 3.37 ERA.

DeGrom has certainly been sharper, but what makes him so special is what he did tonight without his best stuff. He struck out only three, but more importantly walked only one while giving up seven hits.

“We knew when he first got here that he was going to be special,’’ said Collins.

So, if the Mets want to trade deGrom, I’m all for it – in nine or ten years.

HOW TRADE CHIPS FARED: Addison Reed converted his 16th save opportunity in 18 chances. … Lefty specialist Jerry Blevins gave up two hits and a walk with the three hitters he faced. … Jay Bruce had a hit in five at-bats. … Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits and Jose Reyes had two hits. … Lucas Duda doubled in a run.

CESPEDES HAS GOOD NIGHT: Yoenis Cespedes showed breakout signs with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored after flipping with Bruce in the order; Bruce moving up to third and Cespedes hitting cleanup.

 

Jul 18

Mets Wrap: Will Mets Talk Trade With Yankees?

Multiple reports have the Yankees reaching out to the Mets inquiring about first baseman Lucas Duda and reliever Addison Reed. With both Duda and Reed in their walk years, and the Mets not expected to break the bank on either, they might as well see what the Yankees will offer.

MONTERO: Defense lets him down. (AP)

MONTERO: Defense lets him down. (AP)

Since the Mets and Yankees rarely do business with each other, I  wouldn’t expect this one to materialize, but why not? If the White Sox can trade Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs, then why can’t the Mets deal with the Yankees? Both teams are paranoid about making a trade that would help the other and consequently be embarrassed.

We know the Yankees won’t be afraid to pursue a trade, especially with the Red Sox reportedly going after Todd Frazier and David Robertson. Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s reputation is that of trying to fleece the other team. Will that force the Yankees to walk away?

Duda, 31, is hitting .248 with 16 home runs and 34 RBI in 66 games this season. Reed, 28, has a 2.47 ERA and is 15-for-17 in save opportunities in 42 games.

DEFENSE LETS DOWN METS, MONTERO: The Mets committed three errors tonight accounting for three unearned runs to victimize Rafael Montero, who fell behind 4-0 after two innings, yet hung on to pitch another four innings.

It’s the second time he overcame a rough start to work deep into a game.

“After the second inning he could have let up, but didn’t,” said manager Terry Collins.

As for his team’s porous defense, Collins said: “In this league, you can’t give away outs or it will catch up to you. This is the major leagues and you have to make plays.”

 

Jul 15

Mets Wrap: Bruce Proves His Worth

Jay Bruce continues to show why the Mets should, and shouldn’t, trade him. Bruce’s three-run, first-inning homer, to center was the catalyst in tonight’s 9-3 mauling of the Rockies.

It’s been only two games against a struggling team, so let’s not go overboard on the Mets so far in the second half. That includes rushing to trade the Mets’ most productive hitter, whose 24th homer puts him on pace for 44 homers and 114 RBI.

BRUCE: Most valuable Met. (AP)

BRUCE: Most valuable Met. (AP)

That makes the 30-year outfielder attractive not only to a contender in search of a bat, but also to the Mets in the future as a complement to Yoenis Cespedes, but also a safety net should his injury problems persist.

Quite simply, if the Mets will be contenders next season as they believe, they’ll need to either bring back Bruce or replace his production which won’t come cheap.

Bruce will make $13.1-million this season and will be a free-agent this winter in the off-season, and I’m guessing could be re-signed for $80-million over four years. He’ll draw interest in the trade market, but his contract has a limited no-trade clause that blocks deals to contenders Arizona, Boston, Cleveland, Minnesota, the Yankees and Tampa Bay, and also-rans Miami and Oakland.

The Mets could offer Bruce a one-year qualifying offer, which would either keep him around for another season or net them a draft pick.

LUGO DOES IT ALL: Seth Lugo had one of those Little League games tonight, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings with five strikeouts, and also hitting a home run in the third.

Got a huge laugh when Lugo returned to the dugout to receive the silent treatment. Lugo took it all in stride, including giving air high-fives.

With Jacob deGrom going eight innings Friday and with Lugo’s effort, the Mets’ bullpen has worked just 3.1 innings in the series.

“He got ahead of hitters, changed speeds and kept the ball out of the middle of the plate,’’ was how Collins explained Lugo’s success.

CESPEDES LEAVES GAME: Cespedes left the game in the sixth inning when he jammed his left hip attempting to make a diving catch.

“It was more precautionary than anything,’’ manager Terry Collins said when asked his reasoning for taking Cespedes out of the game. “He felt something in his hip. I doubt he’ll be in there tomorrow.’’

Cespedes said through an interpreter that he left the game because of the score, and believes he’ll be able to play, “but if they want to give me the day off I’ll gladly take it.’’

CARGO DROPOFF: Do you remember when the Mets, before acquiring Cespedes, were interested in Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez? He’s fallen on hard times lately, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts tonight to see his average drop to .215.

EXTRA INNINGS: Lucas Duda, who like Bruce, will be on the block once the Mets officially put up the “For Sale,’’ sign, drove in two runs with a double. … Mets’ hitters struck out nine times, including four by Michael Conforto.Jose Reyes stayed hot with two hits, including his ninth homer in the eighth.

Jul 15

Mets’ Lineup, July 15, Colorado

Seth Lugo makes his first career start against the Colorado Rockies. In his last start, he gave up six runs in an 11-4 loss at Washington, July 4. Here’s the lineup behind him:

Michael Conforto – CF: Ranks sixth in the NL with a .963 OPS.

Asdrubal Cabrera – 2B: Is hitting .281 (16-57) with two homers and seven RBI since coming off the DL, June 23.

Yoenis Cespedes – LF: Has five homers and 12 RBI in 15 career games vs. Rockies.

Jay Bruce – RF: Is tied for fourth in the NL with 23 homers.

T.J. Rivera – 3B: Takes a career-high nine-game hitting streak into tonight’s game.

Lucas Duda – 1B: Is tied for eighth with Kevin McReynolds with 122 homers.

Jose Reyes – SS: Is hitting .395 with two homers and six RBI in his last 12 games.

Travis d’Arnaud – C: Six of his nine homers have either given the Mets the lead or tied the game.

Seth Lugo – RHP: Mets have won 10 of Lugo’ last 12 starts.