Apr 29

Mets In Good Spot With Colon Today

It’s all about winning series at this point and for the Mets today they have another opportunity. You have to be happy Bartolo Colon is going for them today against the Marlins.

The Mets have the chance to go home to face the Nationals in a four-game series with at least a seven-game lead if they put away Miami today. It is why I called Miami a trap series. However, with how the Mets played the past two games it is clear they are focused. Dillon Gee was superb Monday and last night they came from behind to tie.

COLON: Workhorse goes today.

COLON: Workhorse goes today.

That doesn’t happen with teams looking ahead. However, I remain respectful and wary of the Nationals, who were down 9-1 Tuesday, but rallied to beat the Braves. Dying teams don’t do that, so obviously they are focused, also.

Should Colon win he will become the first Mets’ starter to go 5-0 since Pedro Martinez in 2006, not coincidentally, the last time they reached the playoffs. The franchise record is 7-0 by Frank Viola in 1990.

Colon is one of the Mets’ top story lines in April and his start in light of Zack Wheeler’s injury has more than stabilized the rotation. The Mets need another strong start from him on the eve of the Washington series.

Last night’s starter, Rafael Montero, was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas, which was to be expected considering he threw 85 pitches working into the sixth and wouldn’t be available soon.

Replacing him on the roster will be left-handed reliever Jack Leathersich. Subsequently, the Mets will go back to a short bench until David Wright returns from the disabled, which could be as soon as this weekend. Leathersich is a strikeout pitcher, averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

It will be interesting to see what the Mets do when Wright returns and when they want to bring back Montero.

The Mets like having Montero around, but they also like deeper bench. Unfortunately, they can’t have both.

 

Mar 30

Good Games From Montero And Duda Raise Questions

Two pertinent Mets’ issues surfaced in today’s 7-1 rout of the Marlins. The most urgent is the competition for a starter’s spot between Rafael Montero and Dillon Gee. The second is the idea of giving Lucas Duda a contract extension.

DUDA: Are Mets talking long-term? (AP)

DUDA: Are Mets talking long-term? (AP)

Coming on the heels of Gee’s strong outing Sunday, Montero was equally dominating today against Miami with six scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and no walks with six strikeouts.

The assumption is Gee would get the starter job, which is what Terry Collins said after Zack Wheeler’s season-ending elbow injury. However, the Mets have dragged their feet on making an official announcement, and now there are reports they are trying again to deal Gee.

Considering the fragility of starting pitching, and clear questions surrounding their bullpen – of which Montero would be more effective – the prudent decision would be to commit to Gee in the rotation.

As for the 29-year-old Duda, there are reports of a four-year, $31-million contract. Duda is coming off a 30-homer, 92-RBI season and will make $4.2 million this year. He went deep today and drove in five runs, so you might think Duda’s agents at the Beverly Hills Sports Council will be putting in a call to GM Sandy Alderson soon.

Reportedly, Duda’s people are interested in talking this week, but don’t want to negotiate during the season. The Mets don’t operate well when under the gun like that, which is probably a good thing.

Normally, I’d be in for signing Duda long term, but you must remember he’s only had one good season. I’m not sure one good year is worth a four-year deal.

If he does it again, then sure, but the price will go up.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

Mar 09

Wheeler Struggles With Same Old Problems

It is a measure of our expectations of the Mets’ Zack Wheeler that we are disappointed when he pitches poorly – even less than two innings in an exhibition game.

Wheeler entered spring training with a checklist of issues to work on, including command, not letting things bother him, and learning how to work out of trouble.

WHEELER: Same old problems.

WHEELER: Same old problems.

So, what can we take from him getting ripped by the Marlins, 13-2, Monday? Saying it is early doesn’t really cut it.

His numbers don’t mean much with the exception of one – 47 pitches. That’s way too many, as normally that many pitches should take you to, if not through, the fourth inning.

“Honestly, it’s early for everybody,’’ Wheeler told reporters. “But, I was supposed to throw to one side of the plate and it was on the other. That’s always hard to call a strike. You and I both know that if you’re not consistent, it’s harder to get strikes.’’

That’s what happened in the second inning – and defines his fatal flaw.

After a perfect, 10-pitch first, things unraveled in an excruciatingly hard-to-watch 1.2 innings, when he walked two, hit two, gave up two hits and six runs.

You can argue it would have been better if not for a controversial umpire’s call when Jordany Valdespin – of all people – was called safe at first when replays clearly showed he was out.

That is irrelevant, because if Wheeler is to reach the next level, he must learn to slam the door when he gets in of trouble. Yes, a call went against him, but good pitchers overcome such things. They happen, just as broken-bat bloop hits and fielding errors. A good pitcher doesn’t let such things get to him.

As the inning unfolded, so did his command, and 47 pitches in two innings is a wasted start. Actually, it was reminiscent of when he got into trouble last season.

Wheeler was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA last year and threw 185.1 innings. Wheeler averages nine strikeouts per nine innings, which is ace worthy. However, his four walks per nine innings is something that must be reduced – by at least half.

Depending on whom you talk with, Wheeler’s stuff might be better than Harvey’s. Command is a different issue. Wheeler must improve his control, and doing so would enable him to work deeper into games. In 32 starts last year, Wheeler worked into the seventh only 13 times. He also threw 100 pitches 24 times and 110 pitches 13 times.

If Wheeler is to be evolve into the pitcher the Mets hope, that must change.

Mar 09

Mets Today: Wheeler Starts Against Marlins; Lineups

Zack Wheeler makes his spring training debut for the Mets against Miami, with former Yankee David Phelps starting for the Marlins.

Wheeler pitched in last Tuesday’s intrasquad game and gave up two hits and two walks in 1.2 innings.

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said Wheeler’s mechanics were off in that he was throwing across his body.

Here are today’s lineups:

METS

Curtis Granderson,rf

Ruben Tejada, ss

David Wright, 3b

Michael Cuddyer, 1b

Daniel Murphy, 2b

John Mayberry Jr., lf

Kevin Plawecki, c

Matt den Dekker, cf

Gavin Cecchini, dh

 

Zack Wheeler, rhp

MIAMI

Jordany Valdespin, rf

Derek Dietrich, 2b

Marcell Ozuna, cf

Michael Morse, 1b

Jarrod Saltalmacchia, c

Jeff Baker, dh

Don Kelly, 3b

Cole Gillespie, lf

Reid Brignac, ss

 

David Phelps, rhp

NOTES: Do you remember when Valdespin posted an online picture of himself wearing a Marlins cap? One of the great bonehead moves of all time. Well, he’s wearing it for real today. … Murphy returns to lineup. I like him in the middle of the order because those are better RBI opportunities. … With Juan Lagares getting the day off, Granderson is hitting leadoff. … Cuddyer hitting cleanup again. He’ll likely hit there during the season when Lucas Duda gets a day off against a tough lefthander. … By the way, Duda will take BP today and could get in a game Friday. … Commissioner Rob Manfred is in camp.

Mar 09

Today In Mets History: “Meet The Mets” Song Released

On this day in 1963, the Mets released their official theme song, “Meet The Mets,’’ written by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz.

When I first heard Meet The Mets,’’ I thought, `Now, this is cool.’ Of course, I was only eight at the time.

Click here to play in its entirety. If they played it between innings it would go against baseball’s plan to shorten games.

So, do you recall your thoughts when you first heard the song? Would love to know.

ON DECK: Mets Today: Zack Wheeler starts against Marlins.