Aug 13

Mets’ Bright Spots In Lost Season

There are always a few rubies that can be found in this garbage dump of a Mets season. This year, the shiniest of the gems are Michael Conforto’s emergence of being a star and Jacob deGrom’s recovery from surgery to being an All-Star caliber starter.

The other highlights have been the production of traded Mets Jay Bruce and Addison Reed; the professionalism of Curtis Granderson; and promotions of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith.

Once a question to even make the Opening Day roster, Conforto began the season in a pinch-hitting role, but his success, coupled with Granderson’s slow start and injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, increased his playing time and subsequently run production to the point where he made his first All-Star team.

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

Conforto’s two-run homer gave him his 26th of the season, but more importantly, the Mets a two-run lead in the first inning, one they never relinquished in today’s 6-2 victory over the Phillies.

Conforto hit 12 homers last season, so his home run ceiling was just a hunch. Now, with 26, you would think 35 could be within reach with 47 games remaining.

I’ve long advocated Conforto should hit third in the order, ahead of Cespedes, and hopefully manager Terry Collins will keep him there. I also like that even with the trade of Bruce, Collins is keeping Conforto in center field. If the rest of the season is about laying the foundation for 2018, then hit Conforto third and in center and leave him there – hopefully, for the next dozen years.

Conforto’s last five hits have been homers, and since the All-Star break has 12 homers with 23 RBI.

As for deGrom, he took a line drive off his pitching arm Thursday, but all indications are he’ll make his next start, Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. DeGrom is 13-5 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. The word “ace,’’ gets thrown around a lot, but it’s clear cut when talking about deGrom, who works fast, and despite an overpowering fastball, more importantly has excellent command of all of his pitches.

With Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey on the disabled list, and Steven Matz struggling and winless in over a month, deGrom has been the rotation’s workhorse

The Mets are clearly in a rebuild, salary dump mode, which is why Bruce, Reed, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are gone, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Granderson could soon follow. Jose Reyes will stay to be Rosario’s caddy.

Bruce hit 29 homers with 75 RBI to lead the Mets, and has already made an impact with the Indians, going 5-for-12 with three RBI. You can describe Bruce, Reed, Walker and Granderson as consummate professionals.

Rosario booted a play in his debut that cost the Mets a game, but Bruce and Walker were seen in the dugout giving him counsel on what he should have done differently.

As for Granderson, he’s still being shopped, and maybe raised his value with three more hits today, including a two-run homer. He won’t be re-signed for 2018 and it is puzzling why there isn’t more interest. Granderson has four homers and nine RBI over his last ten games.

With Granderson, Bruce and the other veterans with expiring contracts assuredly not going to be here next season, the future belongs to Conforto, Rosario and Smith.

They, along with deGrom, give the Mets something to build on for next year.

 

Jul 31

Whoopee!!!! Reed Dealt For Prospects

As promised, the Mets rid themselves of their most valuable trade commodity today when they shipped Addison Reed to Boston for three minor league pitching prospects.

So, the Reed deal, coupled with trading Lucas Duda for another minor league prospect, and acquiring AJ Ramos from Miami, what the Mets accomplished is addressing their bullpen – in 2020.

REED: Goes to Boston. (AP)

REED: Goes to Boston. (AP)

None of these prospects are what you would call blue chippers, and have a timetable of at least two years out. So, for a team anticipating to contend next season, they shouldn’t expect an immediate return from these deals.

In return for Reed, the Mets will receive Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan and Gerson Bautista, the Red Sox’s 18th-, 23rd- and 28th-ranked prospects. Callahan pitched for Class Triple A Pawtucket, so it is possible he could help the Mets next season.

How good these guys will be is unknown, but we already know how good Reed is, having saved 19 games in 21 opportunities.

Basically, the Mets swapped Reed for Ramos.

Of course, the Mets can still move players during August, but they must clear waivers. That’s the only way they’ll move Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jay Bruce or Rene Rivera.

Jul 30

Free Agents The Mets Could Keep

The trade deadline is always an interesting time of the baseball season because of its potential for October, but there is a twinge of sadness this year for the Mets because it signifies an end. There will be no playoffs for the Mets and for some players – such as Lucas Duda – their time in Flushing will be over.

Of will it?

BRUCE: Hope they bring him back. (AP)

BRUCE: Hope they bring him back. (AP)

The players the Mets are currently shopping will be free agents this winter, which begs the question: If they are unable to trade them, which players should they bring back?

Addison Reed: Imagine a bullpen of him, Jeurys Familia and AJ Ramos. Throw in Jerry Blevins and that’s potentially a killer bullpen. Of course, that would run into some money which the Mets won’t want to spend. Too bad, but didn’t they say they plan to compete.

Jay Bruce: Reportedly, there isn’t much interest in him, which could be a good thing if it makes it easier for the Mets to re-sign him, which they should because they will need his left-handed power. I hope they bring him back.

Curtis Granderson: He’s been a terrific Met and I’ve enjoyed watching him. A contender needs a left-handed bat with pop coming off the bench, but with Brandon Nimmo, there’s little chance of bringing him back even though he is a pro’s pro.

Asdrubal Cabrera: To hear manager Terry Collins talk about him, he’s invaluable. But, that’s more likely a commercial aimed at other teams to drum up interest. The Mets are more likely to bring back Jose Reyes as Amed Rosario‘s mentor.

Rene Rivera: The catcher’s version of Cabrera would benefit any contender. Since it appears Kevin Plawecki has fallen out of favor, the Mets could use a veteran back-up presence for Travis d’Arnaud, who may also be falling out of favor.

Neil Walker: Since he just came off the disabled list, there probably hasn’t been much interest. The Mets gave him a qualifying offer because they needed a second baseman and weren’t willing to give him a long-term contract. That hasn’t changed.

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.