Aug 20

DeGrom And Cespedes Demonstrate Leadership In Different Ways

As today’s game unraveled for the Mets in the seventh the topic of leadership was brought out by broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez.

Cohen was right to call out Yoenis Cespedes’ lackadaisical approach on Christian Yelichs fly down the line in left. Hernandez was also right in saying Cespedes should have used two hands.

DE GROM: Words spoke louder than pitching. (AP)

       DE GROM: Words spoke louder than pitching. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins, of course, apologized for Cespedes, calling him “as a good a left fielder as there is in the game and he has a Gold Glove to show for it,’’ but the bottom line is if Cespedes hustled he wouldn’t have been put in the position where he had to reach for the ball.

Lack of hustle earlier played a role in the third when Dee Gordon’s shallow pop fly fell in front of Cespedes. Cohen called out Cespedes, saying he doesn’t dive or slide for balls, stemming from when he hurt his right hip in a mid-July game against Colorado.

What Cohen didn’t say is had Cespedes hustled against the Rockies he wouldn’t have had to make an awkward slide that injured his hip.

Cespedes recovered to get Adam Conley on a force play at second. Gordon, however, quickly stole second and scored on Yelich’s single off Wilmer Flores’ glove. Safe to say Conley, the pitcher, wouldn’t have done the same.

The topic turned to the lack of veteran leadership after Cespedes’ error in the seventh. While some players – like David Wright – develop into vocal leaders, I maintain ALL players have leadership potential regardless of their personalities.

Leadership comes from the basic concept of doing your job so your teammates know they can rely on you. That means knowing your responsibility on every play, whether at the plate or in the field. That means hustling on every play, not when the mood strikes. It means running out every grounder.

It means knowing your opponent. It wasn’t an error, but Amed Rosario can’t take his time throwing to first when Gordon is the runner. Leadership also comes from taking accountability, which is what Rosario did.

“I got a little overconfident on that play,’’ Rosario said, referring to his habit of double-pumping before throwing. “I take 100 percent (responsibility). I’m learning from every play. This will teach me not do that in the future.’’

Had Rosario made the play, the Mets could have intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton. Instead, Jacob deGrom was forced to pitch to Stanton, who hit the first pitch for a three-run homer.

A lot was made about Rosario’s play, but deGrom wouldn’t pile on, despite being visibly frustrated and putting him arms up. One could understand if deGrom lost his concentration on the pitch to Stanton.

“I don’t think so,’’ deGrom said, then demonstrated what being a leader is all about when he pointed the finger at himself.

“I can’t show my emotions like that. He plays hard so I don’t think it will happen again. That’s on me, I made a bad pitch. I have to do a better job.’’

DeGrom did what leaders do, which is assume responsibility. He knows that as a pitcher, that regardless of what happens behind him, he’s still responsible for throwing the next pitch. He also recognized nothing can be gained by throwing a rookie under the bus.

DeGrom’s day was done after that pitch, but not the Mets’ poor play. The next batter, Yelich, lifted a lazy fly to left, and after Cespedes’ error, ended up on second where he scored on Marcell Ozunas single.

Cespedes drove in two runs with a homer and double, but gave them back with his poor hustle and defense.

There are 40 games remaining in this lost season and much is made about exposing the young players to how the game is played on the major league level. Today they learned a lesson about leadership from both deGrom and Cespedes.

From deGrom’s words after the game and Cespedes’ actions during it.

 

Aug 02

Mets Wrap: Rosario’s Misplay In Ninth Spoils Debut

All eyes were on Amed Rosario, whose Major League debut had mixed reviews tonight in Denver. The future of the Mets singled in four at-bats, but the game came down to his misplay of DJ LeMahieu’s hard grounder.

With Charlie Blackmon on first, LeMahieu grounded a ball to shortstop. Rosario took a quick step toward the bag, then broke back to his right. The ball deflected off his glove, but the Rockies had two runners on with no outs, and Nolan Arenado followed with a single to center to give Colorado a 5-4 victory.

ROSARIO and WALKER: Veteran schools rookie. (SNY)

ROSARIO and WALKER: Veteran schools rookie. (SNY)

Manager Terry Collins refused to throw Rosario under the bus, saying he didn’t know who was supposed to cover the bag, that Rosario and second baseman Neil Walker would decide before the pitch who was to cover the base.

However, basic fundamentals with a right-handed hitter at the plate dictate the second baseman cover the bag, but the only problem was Walker wasn’t close to the base.

After the game, both Walker and Jay Bruce met with Rosario to tell him to shake it off.

“It really means a lot,’’ Rosario said through a translator. “I’ve already shaken it off. I’ll come in tomorrow with a fresh mindset.’’

Collins said Rosario handled himself well the entire game, and didn’t hang his head.

“If you get caught, you get caught,’’ Collins said. “He’ll be fine. He shouldn’t be upset about not making the play. I thought he handled himself well. He’ll be fine.’’

Rosario collected his first major league hit in the eighth, just beating shortstop Trevor Story‘s throw wide of first. The play could’ve been scored an error, as a good throw would have gotten Rosario.

BRUCE KEEPS SLUGGING: They say there wasn’t a market for corner outfielders, but do you mean to say there wasn’t one AL contender that couldn’t have used Bruce as a DH?

Bruce hit his 28th homer tonight to temporarily give the Mets a 4-3 lead in the eighth. Don’t forget the home team gets to bat, too, and against that bullpen.

“Jay Bruce is a good player,’’ Collins said. “He comes to play every day. People just don’t give him enough credit.’’

GM Sandy Alderson is still trying to make a waiver deal for Bruce, but if the Mets are to contend as he hopes next season they’ll need to replace his power.

Bruce also had a RBI double.

MATZ LOSES IT QUICKLY: Steven Matz flirted with a no-hitter through four innings, pitched shutout ball after five, but four batters into the sixth was out of the game and losing after giving up a three-run homer to Arenado.

Matz said he threw the ball better tonight, but fell back into some bad habits in the sixth.

 

Jul 23

Mets Wrap: Back In Sell Mode?

Had the Mets won six out of every ten games all year, this might have turned out to be an enjoyable, if not a memorable season. It remains to be seen – although it is unlikely – if going 6-4 on this homestand will be enough to change GM Sandy Alderson’s definition of “exceedingly well.’’

MONTERO: Coming together for him? (AP)

MONTERO: Coming together for him? (AP)

That’s the rate Alderson said the Mets had to play at in their homestand coming out of the All-Star break to shift out of sell mode.

Manager Terry Collins believes Alderson has already made up his mind.

“I can tell you that’s the belief in the clubhouse, but I don’t know if that’s the feeling from the outside,’’ Collins said, while not naming Alderson. “Going 6-4 might not be good enough. Eight and two would be good enough.’’

Once again, the Mets failed to complete a sweep on a home Sunday, losing 3-2 today, as Oakland won on the strength of three solo homers. The Mets remain the major’s only team not to win a three-game home series. They begin a 10-game trip tomorrow to San Diego, Seattle and Colorado that will take them through the non-waiver trade deadline.

The Mets regrouped in each of the last two seasons to reach the playoffs. Their odds are longer this year.

“Next week will be hard,’’ Collins said. “Again, I will do the best I can to keep their mind on the game. …

“I’ve pushed and pushed and pushed to let them know, you gotta go play. If you’re building up your hopes that maybe you’re gonna get traded to a first-place club or something, they’ve got to realize that stuff’s completely out of their control, and a lot of things can change at the last minute.’’

Jay Bruce knows what Collins is talking about. He lived through it last year before Cincinnati traded him to the Mets.

“Obviously, the fact that this could be the last home game for a lot of us here is something that’s a bit odd, but nothing happens until it happens and we don’t know for sure and we’ll just see how it goes,’’ Bruce said. “We don’t need to be reminded [about what Alderson said]. We know what situation we are in.’’

Bruce is one of several Mets whose next trip to Citi Field will be that as a visitor. Asdrubal Cabrera, Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Jose Reyes are some of the others.

MONTERO PITCHES WELL: The Mets would take three runs in seven innings every time from Rafael Montero.

“He did a nice job again today,’’ Collins said. “We didn’t have many opportunities, but he gave us every chance to get back and win the game.’’

The only trouble is Montero gave up three of his five homers this year today. Two came on hanging sliders.

“I think I need to keep the ball a little bit lower,’’ Montero said. “That’s really where I got into some trouble and there was damage done against me. Those home runs, when they occurred, that’s because I kept the ball too high.’’

Montero has worked into the sixth inning or later in his last four starts. The Mets might not reach the playoffs this year, but they might have found another starter.

CESPEDES’ WOES CONTINUE: Yoenis Cespedes, who went 0-for-5 Saturday, did not start, but flied out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

Since June 24, Cespedes has two doubles, no homers and just three RBI.

He hasn’t homered in 80 at-bats.

UP NEXT: Jacob deGrom (11-3, 3.37) has won seven straight starts. He has a 1.51 ERA in that span with 50 strikeouts and ten walks. LHP Clayton Richard (5-10, 5.35) will start for San Diego.

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 13

What Went Wrong For Mets In First Half

When a team is eight games below .500 and 12 games behind, there’s plenty of blame to go around. The following didn’t perform to expectations in the first half:

Noah Syndergaard: Reportedly showed up to spring training muscle-bound by 17 pounds because he erroneously believed it would help him last longer in games. The watershed moment for the Mets in the first half was when Syndergaard refused to take an MRI and subsequently partially tore his lat muscle pitching against Washington in late April. He has been on the disabled list since and is still at least two weeks from throwing. Reportedly, pitching coach Dan Warthen is considering initially using him in relief.

SYNDERGAARD: Downfall started with his injury. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Downfall started with his injury. (AP)

Matt Harvey: Went on the DL with a stress injury to his scapula. Could this be because he was overthrowing trying to build up his velocity? In spring training Warthen estimated Harvey wouldn’t be at full strength until late May or early June. Given that, he shouldn’t have been on the Opening Day roster. Harvey wasn’t pitching well, evidenced by a 5.25 ERA when he went on the DL. Compounding Harvey’s poor season was when he was suspended for a game because of an unexcused absence from a game prior to a start in May.

Yoenis Cespedes: He missed six weeks with a hamstring injury, likely caused by the Mets not initially putting him on the DL. He’s back but entered the All-Star break with no extrra-base hits in 11 straight games. Manager Terry Collins said Cespedes was playing at 75 percent.

Jose Reyes: Was hitting under .200 for much of the first half, but raised his average to .215 over the last three weeks. Reyes’ game is based on speed, but he lost his job based on a .284 on-base percentage. He has little trade value and certainly won’t be re-signed.

Asdrubal Cabrera: Has twice been on the disabled list. His range is reduced which prompted his move from shortstop to second base. He has been hitting better since demanding to be traded. Both him and Reyes will be expendable once Amed Rosario is brought up.

The bullpen: Where to begin? Familia’s suspension didn’t help. Then he had a blood clot in his shoulder that required surgery. There’s no timetable for his return, but if the Mets believe they’ll make a run they can’t afford to mess with Addison Reed in the closer role. … Fernando Salas, Neil Ramirez and Josh Edgin haven’t done the job. … Paul Sewald has run hot-and-cold.

Sandy Alderson: Is largely responsible for the decline in the pitching. He never constructed a productive bullpen, which was essential considering five starters were coming off surgery and would pitch deep into games.  Alderson also made mistakes with Syndergaard and Harvey. He should have insisted Syndergaard take the MRI and told him he wouldn’t pitch until he had done so. Regarding Harvey, when Warthen said it would take a couple of months before he was full strength, Alderson never should have had him on the Opening Day roster. … Alderson also made a mistake by not putting Cespedes on the DL when he was initially injured.