Apr 09

Mets Wrap: Phillies Blank Listless Offense

GAME #4:  Phillies 1, at Mets 0.  Record: 2-2.

SUMMARY: With the weather cold, who would have expected a pitching duel between Bartolo Colon and Vince Velasquez? However, that’s what we got with Velasquez striking out nine Mets. Three hits by the Mets won’t get it down.

KEY MOMENT: Ryan Howard’s homer in the fifth was the night’s offense.

THUMBS UP: Colon was terrific, making one bad pitch to Howard. Colon also made an over-the-shoulder catch of a bunt. … Travis d’Arnaud threw out another base stealer. … Jeurys Familia pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth. Then again, he got himself into trouble. … Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits.

THUMBS DOWN: Did I mention just three hits? … The crowd has already started getting on Yoenis Cespedes (2-for-16 this year), who struck out three times. … Mets hitters struck out 12 times. … Lucas Duda also struck out three times. … The Mets’ two hottest hitters, Neil Walker and Michael Conforto went a combined 0-for-8.

EXTRA INNINGS: David Wright did not play, but was warming up to pinch-hit in the ninth. Manager Terry Collins said Wright started to get loose in the seventh. … Jacob deGrom’s between-starts throw day is Sunday. … In just the third game of their existence, the Mets’ minor league affiliate Columbia Fireflies combined on a three-man no-hitter.

QUOTEBOOK: “We’re not going to make any excuses about how cold it is. We have to swing the bats better.’’ – Collins on the Mets’ offense.

BY THE NUMBERS: 45: Career homers by Howard against the Mets.

NEXT FOR METS: Matt Harvey goes against Jeremy Hellickson.

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Apr 01

Matz Putting It Together At Right Time

The one pitching Met I was most concerned with appears to have pulled it together, and that’s Steven Matz, who pitched five hitless innings in an 8-1 rout of the Cubs that snapped a 14-game winless streak.

Matz struck out six and walked two, and there were no comments after questioning his stamina or conditioning.

“This is definitely a good way to go into the season,’’ Matz told reporters. “My slider was working and it’s definitely something I’m going to be using. I’m definitely getting to where I need to be.’’

However, “getting to,’’ isn’t exactly “being there,’’ and it should be pointed out starters are expected to work at least six innings and possibly seven in their final tune-up.

Matz threw 73 pitches, which won’t do in his first start. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom threw 71 pitches in a minor league game in Port St. Lucie.

All Mets starters operated under a reduced workload in spring training. It took awhile for Matz to come around, but Matt Harvey had a miserable spring. Manager Terry Collins said he won’t be concerned until the games count, and that will be Sunday with Harvey.

After the game, the Mets finalized their Opening Day roster with Kevin Plawecki being the last position player and relievers Jim Henderson and Logan Verrett rounding out the staff.

Mar 14

Mets Handling Wright Correctly

The Mets continue to handle David Wright with kid gloves, which is the only way to go. Wright, who has yet to play in an exhibition game this spring, singled in five at-bats in a minor-league intrasquad game today. Wright didn’t play in the field.

As of now, the plan is to get Wright into a dozen exhibition games, and there’s no idea as to how many games he’ll play this season.

Wright will play in minor league games Tuesday and Thursday, and possibly getting in a regular season game for the first time on Friday.

“You don’t know what to expect your first time taking at-bats as far as timing and stuff, and that was really secondary to going out there, simulating some at-bats in a game-like situation,” Wright told TCPalm.com. “Taking some swings, trying to run to first base, run the bases a little bit – I thought it went great. Obviously, the biggest thing now is try to get some timing, but I feel mechanically health-wise, I thought it worked out great. Now it’s just a matter of doing it over and over again.”

Wright does up to 90 minutes of stretching and exercising prior to each game, so even if he’s not playing his body is taking a toll.

So, even if you don’t notice Wright’s name in a box score, understand he’s still working and his body is being taxed. Hopefully, it will pay off.

 

Mar 13

Vegas Should Be The Place For Plawecki

The Mets finally acknowledged what they probably should have all along and that’s catcher Kevin Plawecki – projected as a back-up to Travis d’Arnaud – might begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s probably the best thing for all concerned.

PLAWECKI: Should open season in Vegas. (Mets)

PLAWECKI: Should open season in Vegas. (Mets)

Manager Terry Collins, while saying nothing has been determined, admits this will be a topic amongst the Mets’ hierarchy in the coming weeks. It’s an age-old debate: Is Plawecki better served backing up d’Arnaud and maybe playing twice a week on the major league level, or being in Vegas where he’ll start and get consistent at-bats?

If Plawecki goes, then Johnny Monell will probably make the 25-man Opening Day roster.

“We haven’t had that discussion as to where he’s going to fit the best, or what we think is the best for everyone involved,” Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “That has not taken place. What we’ve got to do is take what we think are the best 25 and get out of the gate and go from there. If the conversation goes to where, ‘Hey, look, we need to have this guy ready to be an everyday guy,’ he may have to go play [in Las Vegas].

“If we think we’re better off being able to get him two to three games a week at times [backing up d’Arnaud], then he’s got a good chance of making the club.”

As of now, I’m thinking the minors is the place for Plawecki. In their perfect world, Plawecki and d’Arnaud would compete and the loser would be traded. Plawecki appears to be the better prospect – and d’Arnaud seemingly can’t throw out a baserunner if he was crawling to second.

It’s hard to project the trade value for either player because neither has played a full season or in d’Arnaud’s case, without injury. I’d be guessing if I projected either as the Opening Day 2017 starter. For now, d’Arnaud should be with the Mets next month and Plawecki in Vegas.

Oct 30

Five Reasons Why The Mets Can Still Win

The Mets are down two games in the World Series, but I am here to give you five reasons why they can come back and win this thing. Never mind the odds, the beautiful thing about sports is anything can happen, including a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Here’s how it can happen:

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

COLLINS: The right man in the dugout for Mets. (Getty)

TERRY COLLINS: Let’s start with the basics. You need to win four games to win a World Series and the Royals have only won two. The Royals haven’t won anything yet and they know it.

Manager Terry Collins will make that his first point when he talks to his players today. He must stress the Mets need to win just one game. They win Friday and go to work Saturday. One game at a time is a cliché, but a cliché becomes a cliché because it is true.

As long as the Mets have the mindset all they need to do is concentrate on that day’s game they will be fine. Sure, they are in a hole. If they think it’s a big hole they are in trouble. If they look at it as a matter of one game they can win. (See: 1986 Mets; 2004 Red Sox).

For the most part, Collins pushed the right buttons this year. He knows his team, knows its temperament and knows how to pull them out of funks. He lost a couple of gambles in the first two games, but made them for the right reasons.

Collins made a good decision Thursday when he made the workout optional. Collins knew his team was fatigued and the questions they would be asked. He knew his team needed a breather.

That’s a manager having the pulse of his team.

THIS CAN’T LAST: The Mets played maybe their worst game in a month in Game 2. We have seen them bounce back from bad games numerous times this year to play well.

These Mets have put bad moments behind them and responded with wins. That’s a quality you don’t forget and I expect them to do the same starting Friday.

Teams go into slumps, and the Mets are no different. They got here because they played well and I believe they will snap out of it.

I’m counting on it.

THEY STILL HAVE THAT PITCHING: The main storyline going in was the Mets’ rotation. Just because they didn’t win with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom in Games 1 and 2 doesn’t mean they went away for good. That advantage still exists.

Remember, both pitched with a lead, but were victimized by a bad inning. They could each get another start, with Harvey getting Game 5 at home and deGrom Game 6 on the road.

It’s hard to remember them pitching poorly in back-to-back starts. In case you’re wondering about fatigue, neither pitched deep into their games and that will work in their favor.

Noah Syndergaard goes Friday and has done well at home.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t believe Jeurys Familia will be scarred by Game 1. You don’t save that many games by letting things bother you.

SPEAKING OF HOME: The 2-3-2 format works in the Mets’ favor. Three straight games at Citi Field with that rocking crowd can turn the tone of the Series.

The Mets won 60 percent of their Citi Field games this season and definitely have a home field advantage. I would bet on the Mets returning to Kansas City.

A player who thrives at Citi Field is Lucas Duda, who hit 19 of his 27 home runs in the direction of the Pepsi Porch.

A HOT BAT WILL SURFACE: Whether it be David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Duda, or Curtis Granderson, I expect one or more to snap out of it.

The Royals seemed to have solved Daniel Murphy, but he’s getting hits. If Murphy is to be a player of the ages we thought a week ago, he’ll need another spurt.

The Mets have struck out a lot, but this is something that can be addressed with patience. They’ve snapped out of it before and have the ability to do it again. A little hit-and-run, a little stealing has a way of jumpstarting an offense.

Remember, they didn’t win 90 games by accident. Strat-O-Matic believes that. The game we played as kids – before such things as Fantasy Leagues – projected the Royals to win the first two games.

And, for the Mets winning the next four.