Sep 12

Where Is Mets’ Opening Day Lineup?

All teams evolve throughout a season, but the New York Mets’ transformation in 2013 has been staggering, with only second baseman Daniel Murphy and shortstop Ruben Tejada were in last night’s lineup at those positions. Lucas Duda started, but at a different position.

Here’s what has happened to the 2013 lineup in comparison to the team the Mets ran out there in Wednesday night’s 3-0 loss to Washington. Three starters plus the pitcher remain on the team; three were traded; and two are on the disabled list.

Colin Cowgill, CF: Was going to start after beating out Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker’s injury.  Cowgill was the starter for roughly a week after he was demoted and eventually traded. Den Dekker started last night, but Juan Lagares could eventually win the role next year if he’s more consistent offensively.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Started, but hit third last night. He’s been all over the top of the order. A slump followed a hot start, but he’s back up to .282. The Mets, however, aren’t enamored by his .316 on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3B: Entered the season after a contract extension and being named captain. He’s lived up to all that but is currently on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Wright vows he’ll return.

Ike Davis, 1B: Slumped horribly before being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas. Eventually wound up hitting .204 with nine homers. There was considerable speculation the Mets would not tender him a contract, but he’ll get another chance to next season.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Signed for depth, but wound up leading the team in homers and could be its MVP. Eventually traded to Pittsburgh, where he could see the playoffs. Good for him. Lagares was in right last night, and could stay there if den Dekker develops consistency at the plate.

Lucas Duda, 1B: This guy just can’t play the outfield. Has improved his plate presence as evidenced by a .353 on-base percentage, but has not produced for power. Will compete with Davis for the first base job next spring. Eric Young was acquired at mid-season and became the Mets’ tenth, and final, leadoff hitter. But, for all his speed, he must do better than a .318 on-base percentage.

John Buck, C: Carried the Mets offensively in April before tailing. However, he was consistent all year behind the plate and has to get some credit for the development of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. His status was doomed with the promotion of Travis d’Arnaud, who has struggled at .152. Traded along with Byrd to Pittsburgh.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Played brutally in the beginning before going on the DL. Omar Quintanilla more than adequately filled the void. Tejada is back, but the Mets openly question his work ethic and commitment. He has a lot to prove, and trading for a veteran in the winter isn’t out of the question.

Jon Niese, LHP: Was the de facto ace and Opening Day starter because of the season-ending shoulder injury of Johan Santana. Niese developed shoulder problems after back-to-back cold weather starts in Minnesota and Colorado. As Niese labored and eventually went on the disabled list. Niese could end up being the Opening Day starter in 2014 with Harvey’s injury.

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Aug 29

Mets’ Outfield Prospect Matt den Dekker To Make Debut Today

Providing the weather clears, the New York Mets will run out another rookie this afternoon: lanky center fielder Matt den Dekker. This kid can fly and run down a ball in the gap with anybody the Mets have, but is a slow study at the plate.

Den Dekker’s opportunity comes in the aftermath of the trade of Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh.

DEN DEKKER: Tracks them down.

DEN DEKKER: Tracks them down.

A capsule of den Dekker’s production was last year when he hit .340 at Double-A Binghamton, but .220 at Triple-A Buffalo. Den Dekker was producing for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .296 with six home runs, eight doubles and 38 RBI in 53 games.

Like other outfield prospects in the organization – Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Juan Lagares – den Dekker has had too high a strikeout ratio for his production.

However, after starting the season with a broken wrist, den Dekker’s strikeout ratio has dropped and he’s walking more. The speculation is the injury forced him to shorten his swing.

When the Mets opened Citi Field, they did so under the pretext of defense and pitching, but their first significant signing was Jason Bay.

From left to right, the Mets will likely go with Eric Young, den Dekker and Lagares, easily their fastest and best defensive outfield alignment they’ve had in a long time.

The projected power numbers from that trio would be too low for the major leagues, but theoretically it could be acceptable if they were getting it elsewhere, but David Wright is on the disabled list (he leaves for treatment in Florida today) and they are getting nothing from Ike Davis.

The Mets will use the final month to get an idea of what their outfield could look like next year. With the absence of Byrd, the Mets will still look for a power-hitting outfielder over the winter.

Should they obtain that kind of outfielder, it could come down to den Dekker or Lagares for the starting job in center. Lagares has been impressive in streaks, but strikes out too much. Defensively, den Dekker goes back on the ball better, which is very important in Citi Field, but Lagares, who already has 11 assists, might have a stronger arm.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 28

Mets Wrap: Daisuke Matsuzaka Awful In Sloppy Loss To Phillies

Terry Collins said the last month of the season for the New York Mets is about making an impression in the fight for 2014 jobs. In that regard, save Eric Young’s continued hustle – tagging up on a pop up and taking third – there wasn’t much in tonight’s 6-2 loss to Philadelphia.

MATSUZAKA: Bad again.

MATSUZAKA: Bad again.

If you’re into wanting good things happening to good people, Marlon Byrd did hit a three-run homer in his first game for the Pirates.

Other than that, it was not a pretty game. Excruciating actually, beginning with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who threw 82 pitches in three innings, which included getting out of bases-loaded jams in the second and third innings.

Matsuzaka threw 110 pitches in 4.1 innings. In comparison, Jon Niese threw 113 in his shutout the night before. Obviously, the issue isn’t quantity.

Instead of giving one of their minor leaguers a chance, the Mets opted to sign Matsuzaka, who now has had two rocky starts. Then again, with Matt Harvey probably gone for next season, and Jenrry Mejia and Jeremy Hefner having surgery today, the Mets will run him out there again. Who knows? He might even get a chance in spring training.

Reliever Robert Carson again showed an inability to keep the ball in the park. Carlos Ruiz homered, the ninth given up by Carson in 19.2 innings.

Offensively, the Mets were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, that being Ike Davis going the opposite way for a RBI single. However, that was offset by his three strikeouts. Travis d’Arnaud also showed a level of discomfort at the plate.

One of the story lines going in was Wilmer Flores playing second base. He didn’t show a lot of range and a ball did get through him. Flores also had an error at third.

In fairness, Flores will get likely get another chance at second.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 28

Holy UCL Batman! Mets In Trouble Without Matt Harvey!

Matt Harvey might as well play on Twitter because he’s not going to be pitching for the New York Mets any time soon.

Last night, while his teammates outside of Marlon Byrd and John Buck were taking batting practice, Harvey mustered all his strength to tweet: “Thank you everyone for the kind words and support. I may be done this year, but I will be back next year for April 1.’’

HARVEY: More than a bloody nose this time.

HARVEY: More than a bloody nose this time.

Then the Mets, no doubt inspired by this bit of news, went out to win one for Harvey.

I have no doubt Harvey will be back next April Fool’s Day, just not starting a game for the Mets. But, I can’t say that with any more certainty than Harvey can predict he’ll make a triumphant MacAurthuresque return.

“If that’s his tweet, that’s his tweet,’’ said Sandy Alderson, who didn’t immediately call off the off-season.

It’s great to be optimistic, but not to the point of being illogical. There’s just too much information currently not available, such as a second opinion after the swelling subsides, which could be in more than two weeks.

What I can tell you with certainty are the Mets would be foolish if they were to bank on Harvey’s return and making a contending run next season. The Mets must, and I can’t emphasize this enough, go on with life assuming Harvey won’t be in it until 2015 at the earliest.

Gloom and doom? You bet, but you’re Mets’ fans, you should be used to it by now.

As far as what Jon Niese did last night in shutting out the Phillies, it was simply a sign he’s recovering from his shoulder tear. It can’t be assumed Harvey will recover that quickly as every arm is different.

Terry Collins, whom I still can’t believe didn’t know about Harvey’s elbow until a few days ago, was accurate in something he said last night that nobody will feel sorry for the Mets and the final month is about auditioning for 2014 jobs.

I’ve endorsed Collins several times for an extension and believe he should return. However, nothing is a slam dunk in this game and Collins will be watched closely on how he handles this adversity. Harvey’s injury plus the Buck-Byrd trade – which was made for the right reasons – is akin to a punch in the gut. Niese’s game was a start, but wounded teams often show an initial spark.

The issue is if they sustain and return to play the alert, aggressive baseball they were before being swept by the Dodgers. Now, more than ever before, Collins needs to show he still has his team and will have them playing with fire until the end.

If they call it a season now, that’s a reflection on Collins.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 27

Loss Of Matt Harvey Leads To Purge; John Buck And Marlon Byrd First To Go

Not too long ago, I wrote the New York Mets should stand pat at the trade deadline to make a run at respectability, but with Matt Harvey gone for the year, that goal has been flushed. The gurgling sound you’re now hearing is the news the Mets sent John Buck and Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh for infield prospect Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

The garage sale has begun and should not stop. With the Mets’ timetable for competiveness now 2015 instead of 2014, the Mets’ thinking should be to stockpile as many prospects and draft choices as possible, which means it shouldn’t end with Byrd and Buck.

BUCK: Gone.

BUCK: Gone.

Until the Aug. 31 deadline to make waiver deals, the Mets should be shopping Daniel Murphy, LaTroy Hawkins, Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda, Scott Atchison and anybody else not fitting in their immediate plans.

Nobody will net a top prospect, such as what the Mets received for Carlos Beltran, but at this point it doesn’t matter. It’s garage sale time, so they should take what they can get.

Byrd was having a tremendous season, well enough for him to want – and warrant – a two-year deal, or one plus an option. Based on their history, the Mets would have offered one and he would walk without the team receiving compensation.

As for Buck, he evolved as Harvey’s personal catcher, but his playing time was reduced with the addition of Travis d’Arnaud. Buck played the good soldier, but realistically, he performed well enough to look for a full time job.

It won’t be with the Mets, and with Harvey likely done until 2015; Buck would not sit around. Catchers in a pennant race, especially those with a little pop in their bat, are valuable to a contender. The Pirates needed relief for Russell Martin, and it didn’t hurt Buck has a National League background.

Buck was terrific for the Mets, but they wouldn’t have gotten anything for him if he left after the season.

The Mets must now make a first base choice between Davis and Duda. It’s not likely they’ll tender Davis a contract, so get something now. That upside the Mets promised with Davis, well, we haven’t seen it.

Duda would be cheaper, so I’m inclined to believe they’d keep him over Davis. They can’t carry both, especially with Duda not playing the outfield.

Murphy is a reliable bat and could come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, and to an American League team, he has DH potential. And, does anybody believe they’ll bring back Hawkins?

Just a few weeks ago the Mets were thinking about .500 and second place. With Harvey and Wheeler, the future looked bright.

Not so much now.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos