May 29

After The Bad And Ugly, Mets Show Us The Good

Nobody knows what will happen from here, but the New York Mets have given us a show the past three nights. They have given us a respite of thrills with three straight comeback victories in what has been a lifeless spring.

DUDA; Joyous moment.

                           DUDA: Joyous moment.

Let’s not be foolish enough to think the Mets will suddenly turn it on, reel off a 20-of-24 tear and cruise into the All-Star break as a contender. We can’t think that way because there still exist numerous holes and they’ve toyed with our emotions too many times for us to buy into it again.

They are my high school girlfriend, the ultimate tease.

However, the beauty of sports is its power to generate dreams and hope, and that forces us to ask this question about the past three nights: Why can’t they play like this all the time?

Even David Wright wonders from time to time.

“To win the last couple of games the way we have – coming back from behind – I think it gives everybody a little bit of confidence moving forward, especially against one of the upper-tier teams and against the best closer to ever do it. It means a lot,” said Wright, who for the second straight game drove in the tying run in the late innings.

Wright, the best the Mets have to offer, is having a superb season with a realistic chance to start an All-Star Game in his home park.

Although, Tuesday night had its blemishes, Matt Harvey – with Dwight Gooden looking on – gave us a juxtaposition of the Mets’ past and future, and a pretty damned good view of the present.

Harvey made one give-me-that-back pitch to Lyle Overbay, otherwise he could have pitched a shutout. He was that good; good enough for us to imagine him joining Wright in the All-Star Game.

Even so, Harvey was on the hook for his first loss when the Mets came to bat against Mariano Rivera in the ninth. Normally, Rivera might throw, say, nine pitches in a one-two-three night.

Rivera threw nine last night, but it was a double by Daniel Murphy, who again played a huge role, game-tying single by Wright, who advanced to second on an error by Brett Gardner, and scored on a broken bat single by Lucas Duda.

Terry Collins has preached aggressive base running, which is a way for an undermanned team to gain an edge. Wright hustled into scoring position on the error and pushed the envelope on Duda’s hit. Too many runners might have held up and waited for the ball to drop, but Wright got a tremendous jump.

Funny thing, as Wright slid home and Duda waived his teammates onto the field, I couldn’t help but think that would have been Ike Davis’ spot in the order. But, that’s a negative thought, and last night, the past three nights, are to be savored.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

May 28

Mets Drop Ike Davis To Eighth In Order; Honor Mariano Rivera

Assuming the Mets play tonight, Ike Davis will bat in the eighth slot. Terry Collins didn’t give a good explanation for the drop in the order, simply saying he wanted to get Marlon Byrd in the game and separate his lefty hitters. Of course, he could do that without dropping Davis.

However, the only thing lower than batting eighth is Triple-A Las Vegas, but the Mets don’t want to go there, yet. Not sure what they are waiting for as the season is already rapidly fading away. The sooner they  send down Davis to work on his approach and mechanics, the sooner he has a chance to salvage this season.

Despite Davis’ insistence he needs to stay on the major league level, the only way he’ll break out of this is to go down. The pitchers are too good and the game is too quick for him at this level. Davis has proven he’s unable to hit breaking balls down and away, and until he does, that’s all he’ll get. Any pitcher who gives him anything but that should be fined.

Here’s tonight’s batting order:

Ruben Tejada, SS:  He’s hitting .206 this season at home and a blistering .185 (5-27) during the homestand.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Hitting .316 with RISP. Has hit in 12 of his last 15 games. Was hitting .296 in the leadoff role, but he’s not there any longer. Don’t ask why.

David Wright, 3B: Homered and tripled Monday night. Hitting .372 with RISP and .353 lifetime vs. Hiroki Kuroda.

Lucas Duda, LF: Misplayed ball last night into triple. Hitting .333 (9-27) on the homestand.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has ten RBI to tie for the team lead with Wright for month of May.

Rick Ankiel, CF: Is 10-42 (.238) with two homers and six RBI in 12 games with Mets.

John Buck, C: Hit nine homers in April, but only two in May. Hasn’t had a multi-hit game since May 1.

Ike Davis, 1B:  Struck out three times Monday night. Hitting .155 with four homers and 11 RBI this year. Batting .114 (5-44) with RISP.

Matt Harvey, RHP: Gave up season-high four runs in last start. Is trying to go 6-0. Already has five no-decisions.

NOTE:  Bobby Parnell’s availability is doubtful for tonight. He’s worked the last two games, but there’s no report of any injury.

METS HONOR RIVERA: The Mets will honor Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera with a presentation from the NYPD. He’ll also have the unique distinction of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Curious as to who will catch it. No disrespect intended for back-up catcher Anthony Recker, but I assume it won’t be him. Perhaps Wright?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

 

May 22

Matt Harvey Reveals What Little Else Mets Have

The headlines were basically the same no matter where you look: Today Is Matt Harvey Day.

Harvey, undeniably the most exciting thing to happen to the Mets this season, starts Wednesday against Cincinnati. In games following his start, the Mets are 0-9.

HARVEY: Goes against Reds.

HARVEY: Goes against Reds.

Harvey has started nine games and won five with four no-decisions. Even in those games he was brilliant. Yes, when Harvey starts the Mets have a very good chance of winning. On those days, the Mets are major league quality.

That’s a good thing, but it comes with a flip side, and that’s outside of him, David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell, there’s little substance on this team. Harvey’s success merely illustrates how little the Mets have on the major league level, and their refusal to demote Ike Davis shows how little faith they have in their minor league players.

Harvey is a major leaguer both in talent and demeanor, surrounded by players who mostly are not.

John Buck has his moments, as does Marlon Byrd, but seriously, you’re talking about two players who might not be here next year. Hey, they might be dealt at the July 31 deadline.

Besides Harvey, who can start on anybody’s staff, Wright and maybe Murphy – depending on the team – can be starters elsewhere.

The Mets began the season with a core they hoped to build around and contend with for a decade. Harvey and Jon Niese in the rotation; Davis, Wright and Ruben Tejada in the infield; Lucas Duda in the outfield, and Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate.

However, Tuesday night showed Niese to be unreliable. He is 3-5 with a 4.80 in ten starts. By definition, he has six quality starts, however, by sight he’s not been quality at all. Certainly, not one you would build a team around. He recovered Tuesday to give the Mets a chance to rally if they had any kind of offense. However, as has often been the case with Niese, one bad inning did him in, and it was the first when with no one on base and two outs, he walked three and fell behind 3-0.

Davis had an opportunity to get the Mets back in the game, but struck out. What can you say about Davis that hasn’t already been said, other than he’ll be on the next flight to Las Vegas?

Sandy Alderson, speaking during the SNY broadcast, said he sees last year’s second half when he watches Davis. Eventually, he concluded: “It may be he is better off going to Las Vegas for some period of time. But at this point we’re going to live with Ike for a little longer.’’

“Going to live with.’’ That’s some endorsement, isn’t it?

Duda’s on-base percentage has improved, but has little run-production – only 14 RBI – despite eight homers. One could conclude Buck drove in many of those potential RBI hitting ahead of him, but in reality Duda is not a good situational hitter.

Tejada has fallen off both at the plate and in the field, and you realize he’ll never be close to being what a healthy Jose Reyes was at one time.

Murphy is reliable, but not a star. He’s greatly improved at second base, but the Mets will always be looking for somebody faster and more athletic at that position. Murphy is a piece they could dangle in front of a contender in a couple of months.

That’s about the time d’Arnaud could be under consideration to being promoted. For now, his broken foot will be in a cast for another two weeks and he’ll begin rehab.

Parnell has been one of the few pleasant surprises, showing he can be a closer. Even if Frank Francisco’s elbow improves to where he’ll come off the disabled list, he won’t get the closer job back. We might not see him at all this season, which means never again in a Mets uniform.

The Mets host the All-Star game in less than two months. By that time, they could be 20 games under .500 and their fall complete before the dog days of summer.

But, enough of that for now. Today is Matt Harvey Day and there’s a reason to watch.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 22

Mets’ Offense Flat Again In 4-0 Loss To Reds

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The Cincinnati Reds (25-18) shutout the New York Mets (17-25) by the score of 4-0 tonight at a sparsely crowded Citi Field.

Left-hander Jon Niese started for the Mets and and after getting the first two outs in the first inning he allowed a hit and a pair of walks to load the bases. Niese had a chance to come out of the inning unscathed and induced a hard grounder to third for what should have been the third out. However, David Wright committed his fourth error of the season as the ball went under his glove and through his legs allowing two runs to score. Niese was rattled after that and allowed another run to score before finally getting the third out to put the Reds up 3-0. All of the runs were unearned.

Niese threw 48 pitches in that wild first inning and it appeared he was heading for an early shower. But to his credit he gutted out five scoreless innings after that and wound up giving the Mets a very solid effort allowing just five hits and three walks in six innings while striking out seven. Niese took the loss, but saw his ERA improve to 4.80 for the season.

The Reds score their fourth and final run in the ninth when Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco greeted Collin McHugh with a home run to leadoff the inning.

Offensively, the Mets had nothing but blanks… Nothing but the same sorry, pitiful offense that has plagued the team all season. Reds starter Mike Leake hurled seven scoreless innings and allowed the Mets’ only three hits of the game – one each by Lucas Duda, John Buck and Daniel Murphy.

It’s getting pretty hard to watch this team and I thought Sandy Alderson would address that while he visited the with gary Cohen and Ron Darling in the third inning, but he was at a loss for words. He said he was going to continue to hang in there with Ike Davis a little longer, which is the last thing anyone of us wanted to hear. Davis batted seventh and went 0-for-three tonight and saw his batting average fall to .149 for the season. Pathetic.

The Mets will wrap up the series tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 PM when right-hander Matt Harvey (5-0, 1.55 ERA) takes on Mat Latos (4-0, 2.91 ERA) and tries to avoid the sweep.

May 16

Found: Guts In Mets Clubhouse

Finally, guts.

LaTroy Hawkins has been around a long time. He has forgotten more about clubhouse protocol than most Mets will ever know.

Yes, we’re talking again about Jordany Valdespin, this time Hawkins’ take on the matter to national baseball writer Bob Nightengale.

Nightengale has been around a long time. He knows the ropes, and after years of living in Minneapolis developed a relationship of trust with Hawkins, a long-time Twin.

“What were we supposed to do there? We were down six runs, he hits a home run and he acts like it’s a walk-off,’’ Nightengale said of Valdespin’s posing after a meaningless home run.

“This isn’t Little League. What, now we’re supposed to get into a fight for that? We’re supposed to throw at somebody because he did a bonehead thing? Now, if they throw at him for no reason, that’s a different story. We protect our team. But to do what he did put us in a bad spot, a real bad spot.

“He showed absolutely no respect. If you’re going to pimp it, you’re going to suffer the consequences. I have no problem defending my teammates, but some things, you just can’t defend against. He’s created a lot of unnecessary tension around here.’’

Earlier today, I listed several action steps for Sandy Alderson. I wonder if he’s taken the temperature in his clubhouse. I wonder if he’s spoken to a veteran like Hawkins.

I don’t expect a general manager to act on the basis of one quote, but I do expect him to know the sentiments of his players.

Perhaps the Mets will wise up and get rid of Valdespin soon, but for now he’s in the starting line-up as the leadoff hitter in right field.

Here’s today’s line-up as the Mets attempt in St. Louis to avoid a seventh straight defeat:

Jordany Valdespin, RF: Whatever he does today, let’s hope he’s quiet about it.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Broke out of slump with seven hits in last four games.

David Wright, 3B: Coming off his worst game of the season with a costly run-generating error and three strikeouts. Is batting .419 with runners in scoring position.

Ike Davis, 1B: Hitless in 11 at-bats in the three games so far against Cardinals. Overall, one hit in last 20 at-bats and hitting .164.

Lucas Duda, LF: Hitless in ten at-bats in the series. Is .143 (3-21) with runners in scoring position.

John Buck, C: Thrown out twice at second Wednesday night. Why was he trying to steal?

Rick Ankiel, CF: Homered last night.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Batting .174 for month of May.

Jonathan Niese, LHP: Hasn’t won in five starts. Has to try to do it with this line-up.