Jul 12

Mets Should Stay Intact And Try For Strong Second Half

Rarely does a major league roster go unchanged from Opening Day to the end of the season and the 2013 New York Mets are no exception. The roster Terry Collins will be playing with this weekend in Pittsburgh and taking into the All-Star break barely resembles that of the one that left Port St. Lucie.

WRIGHT: Not the only positive. (AP)

WRIGHT: Not the only positive. (AP)

Less than a month ago the Mets were 15 games below .500, and with a sweep of the Pirates could be five games under. Nobody expects a sweep, but nobody thought they could go 5-0-2 in their past seven road series, either.

Think about it, the Mets are playing their best ball of the season and the Pirates are cooling. It can be done. But, if not, that still leaves the Mets with two weeks before the trade deadline. Should they be buyers or sellers?

Next winter is when the Mets tell us they could be active in the free-agent market, but who wants to wait that long? History tells us the Mets came from behind in 1969 and 1973 to reach the playoffs, so why not at least be thinking along those lines now, even if the odds are long?

A Mets executive recently told me a successful season would be defined as finishing .500, which would be a 14-game improvement over 2012. That is not unrealistic and should be ownership’s commitment to its fan base. The mantra should be: There will not be a fifth straight losing season.

The Mets are where they are because:

* An All-Star first half from David Wright. Even if  he’s not hitting a lot of home runs, he’s driving the ball, getting on base, playing a strong third base and producing with runners in scoring position.

* A strong first half from Matt Harvey, who could start the All-Star Game despite ten no-decisions. With a little support, .500 would be even more realistic.

* The acquisition of Eric Young, who as the tenth option, became the leadoff hitter the Mets have sought. Young is the kind of player the Mets, if they got creative again, could add. The Giants won two of the last three World Series with mid-season acquisitions such as Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff and Angel Pagan. None were marquee players, but pushed the Giants over the top. Proof the Mets don’t have to splurge to make second-half noise.

* Marlon Byrd has become the productive outfielder the Mets have been seeking. Why trade him now? Maybe he’ll cool, who knows? But, he’s produced and there are others like him out there.

* John Buck had a monster April. After a prolonged cooling off period, Buck is hitting again. He’s also been a stabilizing influence for Harvey.

* Josh Satin gave the Mets production they lacked from Ike Davis. While Davis will get most of the playing time, the Mets can’t afford to ignore Satin. Collins said he wants to get a look at Satin at second and the outfield. He’s waffled before, but needs to see what Satin can do.

* If Ruben Tejada hadn’t been hurt, he would have been demoted to the minor leagues. Omar Quintanilla is hitting and playing the kind of shortstop the Mets hoped from Tejada, who doesn’t deserve to have his old job handed to him.

* Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee rebounded from slow starts to become reliable starters. Hefner, especially, has been terrific, even better than Harvey over the past month. There’s the temptation of dealing Hefner now with the thought this is a fluke, but why not ride him out and see what you have over a full year?

* When the Mets become serious contenders they will need a closer, so trading Bobby Parnell, as I suggested yesterday, would be counterproductive.

Yes, we’ve been here before, seduced by a good run from the Mets. However, this is a season we never expected much from them. They are giving us more than we could have envisioned despite adversity.

In each of the past four seasons the Mets have gone into the All-Star break thinking they would be sellers at the break, only to have them do nothing but let talent slip away during the winter.

This year has a different feel to it. After a miserable start, they have stabilized and are playing competitive, aggressive baseball. There are still holes, but this time management should reward its players and fan base and give us something to watch after the national attention goes away following the All-Star Game.

Stay intact and give us a reason to come out in the second half.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 11

Mets Should Hold On Tight To Bobby Parnell

The New York Mets are finally showing signs of life to the point where their rebuilding plan could be believable. So, what should their next step be? Hmmm, according to some they should trade Bobby Parnell.

Unless they are offered a knockout package – that would include the likes of Jackie Bradley – they should hang tight to Parnell.

PARNELL: Keep him.

PARNELL: Keep him.

Because of the save rule, which needs to be modified, the save is undervalued and the stock argument is a closer can always be found.

If that is the case, tell it to the Tigers and Red Sox. Tell it to the Yankees, who, if they haven’t already, will admit to being spoiled after Mariano Rivera retires.

Dave Robertson is the one who will slide into the ninth-inning role for the Yankees next year. But, he will learn there’s a vast difference between being the set-up man and THE MAN. There’s something about the ninth inning with no safety net that changes your perspective. It’s not as simple as measuring the basket in Hoosiers and discovering “it’s 10 feet, the same as in our gym back in Hickory.’’

There’s a mentality shift in becoming a closer and not everybody can make it happen like Rivera. Ron Davis found it a lot harder being the closer than the set-up man for Goose Gossage.

The fact is closers aren’t a dime a dozen. While it seems every team has somebody with 25 or more saves, then why are so many teams still looking?

It has taken time, but Parnell is finally grasping the ninth inning role. He’s spit the bit before, but this year it’s coming together for him and the contenders are noticing.

And, like vultures circling what they perceive as a dead carcass in the Mets’ season, they are waiting for Sandy Alderson to make Parnell available.

However, there’s no longer the inevitability this will be the Mets’ fifth straight losing season. The Mets were 15 games under .500 on June 15, and were losing in the ninth inning the following day when Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered off the Chicago Cubs’ once invincible starter Carlos Marmol.

They have scrapped back to eight games under today. In that span, Matt Harvey has won two games, lost one and had two of his ten no-decisions.

Harvey’s overall year, plus Zack Wheeler’s promise have painted the picture of the Mets being relevant in 2014. Will trading Parnell push them over the top?

No, because if they deal Parnell they will put themselves in position of needing a closer. Trading Parnell tells us the gap to competitiveness is a lot wider.

What the Mets should do is nothing. They should keep Parnell, keep Marlon Byrd and keep whatever other chips they might have and try to make something out of this season.

Will they reach the playoffs? Probably not, but if management lets them play out the season we would get a clearer picture of their needs heading into the offseason.

If the Mets traded Parnell and Byrd, it would signify surrender, which could lead into a tailspin and blur how good or bad they are.

Trading Parnell, or even suggesting it, displays a loser’s mentality.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 07

Mets Encouraged By Ike Davis Since Return; Worried About Shaun Marcum

The New York Mets should be very encouraged from what they’ve seen in the two games since Ike Davis was promoted. Personally, I think more Saturday than the three hits Friday.

Little League coaches are fond of saying, “a walk is as good as a hit,’’ and that couldn’t be truer about Davis last night as he walked three times. The walks show patience and plate presence, and for Davis that’s an encouraging sign.

Ike-DavisI’ve been writing the Mets might want to see what they can get for Davis by the trade deadline. That doesn’t mean I want the Mets to trade, just that’s what I believe could be their thinking.

Terry Collins vowed Josh Satin would not be forgotten in the wake of Davis’ promotion, and he’ll be playing today against left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, but would say where.

Satin has been working out in the outfield and second base. It’s difficult to believe he’ll replace leadoff hitter Eric Young in left field or Marlon Byrd, one of the Mets’ hottest hitters, in right field.

Against a lefty, Collins will likely sit Daniel Murphy or Davis. I’m thinking the former because Davis has had consecutive good games and Collins wouldn’t want to disrupt that roll.

MARCUM A PUZZLE: There have been a lot of good pitchers who use a personal catcher. Greg Maddux had one, as did Steve Carlton.

In his wildest dreams, Marcum isn’t half as good as either. Yet, he wanted one, and got John Buck last night. Based on performance, Marcum doesn’t deserve one, but Collins probably acquiesced because he’s searching for anything to get Marcum going.

It didn’t help as he gave up six runs in five innings. He also gave up 11 hits and a walk, so Brewers were on base all night against him.

After losing his tenth game of the season, Marcum said he’s bothered by numbness and coldness in his right hand.

Marcum played the brave soldier and told reporters last night, “I’m not going to pull myself out of the game.’’ Marcum has been bothered by neck and back soreness since spring training. He’s had his good moments, but mostly he’s been bad.

Marcum said the numbness increases and his velocity decreases as his pitch count mounts. With an off-day in the schedule this week, Marcum could get an extra day of rest. And, after that is the All-Star break, so he could get consecutive starts with additional rest. The Mets could give him those to see if that will help.

Marcum isn’t the Mets’ only pitching concern. Jon Niese, who has a slight tear in his rotator cuff is scheduled for a MRI Monday, which could determine whether surgery is needed.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 03

Mets Lineup, July 3, Against Arizona

Fireworks at Citi Field tonight following Matt Harvey’s start against Arizona. The New York Mets will attempt to make it three straight against the Diamondbacks and fall inside of ten games under .500.

Here’s tonight’s lineup behind Harvey:

Eric Young, LF: Hitting .321 (18-for-56) since joining the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Takes a six-game hitting streak into the game.

David Wright, 3B: Ranks fourth in NL with .392 on-base percentage.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Hitting .274 with RISP.

Josh Satin, 1B: Takes an eight-game hitting streak into the game.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF: Is hitting .133 (4-for-30) since coming up from Triple-A Vegas.

John Buck, C: This is hard to understand. Anthony Recker had two hits, including a homer last night and doesn’t get a start. What’s wrong with rewarding performance? Buck is hitting .170 since May 5.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Has seven hits in his last four games.

Matt Harvey, RHP: One of only three pitchers to throw at least five innings in each of his 27 career starts.

Jul 03

Jeremy Hefner Among Group Of Mets Making 2014 Noises

The New York Mets had high expectations for Matt Harvey for this year. Jeremy Hefner was to fill out the rotation in Las Vegas, and be called up if something went wrong, like we knew it would, in Flushing.

Hefner’s break came with the expected breakdown of Johan Santana. He made the Opening Day roster, was hammered early, but eventually has become one of the Mets’ most effective pitchers with a 1.80 ERA in June. That was even better than Harvey.

HEFNER: Proving his value every fifth day. (AP)

HEFNER: Proving his value every fifth day. (AP)

A successful season for the Mets would be defined as .500, and the rest of the season should be about who will be around in 2014.

Hefner is one, as are five other players in last night’s lineup who weren’t on the Mets’ Opening Day roster: Eric Young, Josh Satin, Omar Quintanilla, Anthony Recker and Andrew Brown. There are others, too, including: Zack Wheeler, David Aardsma, Carlos Torres and Juan Lagares.

That’s eight players out of 25, roughly a third of their roster who were afterthoughts in April now on their radar. That’s a combination of making the wrong decisions coming out of spring training and having some organizational depth.

Perhaps all won’t be on the 2014 Opening Day roster, but it’s a starting point for next year, which is the essence of this summer.

A lack of run support has Hefner at 3-6, but his ERA of 3.54 is telling us a different story. With Jon Niese out, and Dillon Gee and Shaun Marcum hurting, Hefner is the No. 2 starter, one who’ll be sought out by contenders and someone the Mets would be foolish to deal.

In constructing next year’s rotation, factor in Wheeler and Hefner, and discard Marcum. Should Niese require rotator cuff surgery, which we could know this week, there will be a need to add.

After going through nine other players, the Mets seen to have found their leadoff hitter in Young, who can play the outfield and second base.

Lagares is being given every opportunity to win the center field job, which accounts for two of the outfield positions. Marlon Byrd, you figure, will either be traded or too expensive to re-sign in the off-season. If it’s the latter, that could turn into a mistake.

The Mets promised to add an outfielder, but assuming they don’t that leaves Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda competing for a spot.

Josh Satin is proving to be a viable option at first base assuming Ike Davis is either traded or leaves as a free agent. The Mets are using this month to ascertain Davis’ trade value. If they don’t deal him, there’s a good chance he won’t be tendered a contract and leaves as a free agent.

Terry Collins said Ruben Tejada must beat out Quintanilla to re-take the shortstop job. Assuming he doesn’t, Quintanilla has shown the Mets they won’t have to shop at that position.

I look at Brown as bench depth, and the same for the loser of the Quintanilla-Tejada competition.

The only other positions in question are catcher and the bullpen. The latter has recently been good, but overall is inconsistent. Torres should get a chance to compete for a job, but I don’t see LaTroy Hawkins coming back. He and Brandon Lyon can be swapped out. The same goes to Scott Rice if the Mets don’t burn him out.

Recker started last night and homered and singled, which should get him more playing time since the Mets have burned out John Buck. Travis d’Arnaud is now considered a September call-up, which might not be enough time to learn about him. So, somewhere Buck and Recker must be in the Mets’ 2014 plans somewhere.

Rarely does a season begin and end with the same roster, and the Mets are no exception. However, what they have now can morph into the foundation for next year’s roster.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos