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 19

Rivera And Flores Need To Play Fulltime

I don’t care where they play him, but T.J. Rivera needs to start every day. The same goes for Wilmer Flores. It doesn’t matter that neither fit into the Mets’ long-term plans heading into the season.

Manager Terry Collins said “those who hit will play,’’ and both are hitting and deserve to start, and the struggling Mets need to put their best offensive foot forward, especially against Clayton Kershaw.

RIVERA: Needs to play. (AP)

RIVERA: Needs to play. (AP)

Rivera, who had a career-high four hits Sunday, is batting second – between Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes – which theoretically should provide RBI opportunities for Cespedes and Jay Bruce.

Rivera is hitting .474 (9-for-19) since being recalled last Tuesday. The minor league batting champion hit .333 in 105 at-bats for the Mets last season and is hitting .289 this year in 117 at-bats.

That’s worthy of the chance to play full time.

“Right now, he’s one of the keys,’’ Collins said. “You got to put him in the lineup. This guy’s gonna get hits.’’

Rivera played first when he was with the Mets earlier this season when Lucas Duda was injured. He’s at third tonight.

“I just try to keep a positive mentality no matter what happens, whether it’s being sent down or not playing that day,’’ Rivera said. “I’m always looking forward to an opportunity to play. It’s not easier, but you get a little more comfortable in your at-bats, you see more [pitching] and it’s easier to react to things. The opportunity’s nice, and I’m just trying to help contribute in any way possible.’’

With Rivera at third, Flores is at first. Flores is the Mets’ leading hitter against Kershaw going 3-for-9 while Duda (1-for-11) is on the bench.

The rap on Flores has been his defense, but that’s mostly based on his play at shortstop. He’s had some yips at third, but he’s played generally well at first and hasn’t been too bad at second.

However, his best position is batter, where he’s hitting .296, with six homers and 20 RBI. He’s a lifetime .396 hitter (21-for-53) against the Dodgers. In 39 games since May 1, Flores is batting .331 (42-for-127), with eight doubles, four homers and 17 RBI.

When Cespedes was down, Flores has been the Mets’ best right-handed hitting threat.

When Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker get off the disabled list, somebody’s at-bats will dwindle, but whatever Collins does he needs to find at-bats for Rivera and Flores.

If they’re still hitting, Collins would be putting his best team on the field.

Here’s the rest of the lineup for tonight:

Conforto – CF

Rivera – 3B

Céspedes – LF

Bruce – RF

Flores – 1B

Travis d’Arnaud – C

Jose Reyes – SS

Gavin Cecchini – 2B

Zack Wheeler – RHP

 

Jun 16

How Mets Derailed Harvey’s Comeback

Stuff happens, but why does it always seem to happen to the Mets? Let’s not disregard GM Sandy Alderson as a possible explanation. That’s certainly the case with Matt Harvey‘s recent trip to the disabled list for stress to his shoulder that is the cause for his tired arm.

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

When Harvey’s fastball barely touched 90 in spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said following thoracic outlet surgery one couldn’t expect him to be at full strength until the end of May. On March 15, I wrote if the Mets had the guts to leave Harvey off the Opening Day roster. They did not, of course, which isn’t surprising.

If Harvey wasn’t going to be full strength until May, then why was he on the Opening Day roster? Manager Terry Collins doesn’t make those decisions, Alderson does.

Perhaps there was a sense of urgency on Alderson’s part because neither Steven Matz nor Zack Wheeler were expected to be ready for the Opening Day roster. Even so, that’s not a good enough reason. Just because one player is injured and not ready it doesn’t give Alderson license to rush another player who isn’t ready.

Alderson had the authority to keep Harvey behind and chose not to. As far as Harvey goes, he’s staring at the end of his career and certainly wouldn’t rock the boat regarding his treatment.

The bottom line is that once again an issue involving Harvey was mishandled, but this time it was the Mets’ doing.

 

 

 

Jun 13

Today’s Question: Is Cespedes Available?

The obvious question is will the Mets place Yoenis Cespedes back on the disabled list? Since the Mets don’t think the same way I do, it won’t happen.

While Cespedes’ left hamstring is clearly not 100 percent – he admitted as such when he came off the DL – he left last night’s game in the fifth inning with a sore left heel.

CESPEDES: Can't stay healthy. (AP)

CESPEDES: Can’t stay healthy. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins said Cespedes is scheduled to play tonight against left-hander Jon Lester, but it will depend on how he feels when he reports to Citi Field.

So, that leaves us with the question: Will Cespedes play tonight?

I’m guessing he won’t, which would be the smart decision considering he can’t run and the Mets have to baby him and don’t know from day to day whether he’ll play.

Compounding the Mets’ outfield is Michael Conforto didn’t play last night because of back stiffness and is questionable for tonight.

Jun 03

Rushing Cespedes Smacks Of Desperation

If it was late August and the Mets were five games behind, I might see rushing Yoenis Cespedes off the disabled list. If he could save their season and give them a realistic shot at the postseason, then, why not?

But, they are not. They aren’t even close. Before today’s game, the Mets trailed Washington by 11 games and were nine games out of the second wild card.

ALDERSON: No need to rush Cespedes. (AP)

ALDERSON: No need to rush Cespedes. (AP)

I might be inclined to push the envelope with Cespedes if it meant improving the Mets’ offense, but that’s not even their biggest weakness. The Mets never thought pitching – both starters and relievers – would be what’s holding them back.

Cespedes originally tweaked his left hamstring, April 20, against Philadelphia. The Mets originally said he would miss at least four games, but instead of placing him on the 10-day disabled list, they foolishly kept him on the active list. He missed three games, then after an off-day and rainout, rushed him back.

Cespedes played in two games, reinjured the hamstring April 27 and went on the disabled list the following day.

He hasn’t played since.

Cespedes has had two “setbacks,” including one last weekend. Even so, GM Sandy Alderson said the hope is for him to be activated when the Mets are in Texas, June 6, where he can be the designated hitter.

Manager Terry Collins said Cespedes is “making strides,’’ although the best he’s doing now is jogging.

Cespedes needs to run full speed; change speeds and direction in the outfield; and run the bases. He’s still a week away from doing those things, before he plays at least a week of minor league games.

That is, if Alderson wants to handle this the right way. Anything else is asking for trouble. Forcing Cespedes back now with so much of the season remaining is foolish.

It smacks of desperation.