Aug 17

Mets’ Terry Collins Deserves To Stay

The firing of Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel has put Terry Collins’ status with the New York Mets into the forefront.

The sacking of Manuel demonstrates once again baseball is widely unfair. After a long playoff run, which included several trips to the World Series, followed by a run of injuries from Chase Utley to Ryan Howard to Roy Halladay, the Phillies are south of the Mets, both in the standings and on the map.

COLLINS: Merits another introductory press conference.

COLLINS: Merits another introductory press conference.

So naturally, Manuel is out.

Collins, in the final season of his contract, could finish 2013 with his third straight losing year the Mets’ fifth overall, but is expected to get an extension because of how well the team has performed despite not adding significant pieces and substantial injuries.

After winning the first two games of the San Diego series, the Mets are eight games below .500, but have a reasonable chance of finishing even, but second place appears less likely.

Should the Mets lose the remainder of their games they would have 106 losses, a number many predicted of them heading into the season.

However, with several key injuries – including David Wright, Jon Niese, Johan Santana and Bobby Parnell – a patchwork bullpen and outfield, and dreadful slump of Ike Davis, the Mets adjusted on the fly and are playing competitive ball.

For the most part, the Mets have played well fundamentally, while breaking in a new outfield, and always seem to play hard for him. Collins has had several head-scratching moments, but has generally been solid.

When teams hustle and keep their heads in the game, it indicates the manager has things under control. Collins definitely merits an opportunity to stay now that resources have been promised.

Also working in Collins’ favor is nearly half the roster is different than what he left spring training with, and he’s had to juggle with 92 different line-ups in 120 games. That is almost incomprehensible.

The Mets appeared to have answered five significant spots this season, including positives in the development of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler; Parnell’s acclimation to the closer role; and the additions of outfielders Eric Young and Juan Lagares.

There have been other positives, such as the catching tandem of John Buck and Anthony Recker; the mostly solid play of Daniel Murphy at second base; and the play of Marlon Byrd in right field and Omar Quintanilla at shortstop.

There remain several holes and questions, but overall Collins deserves to be in that dugout next season. Not only that, he needs to stay.

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

Aug 14

Did Mets Mishandle Wilmer Flores Injury?

Once again the New York Mets’ handling of an injury leaves us scratching our heads. This time, it is Wilmer Flores, who one week into the major leagues, isn’t wise or brave enough to say, “hey, something is wrong here.’’

FLORES: Limping to DL? (Getty)

FLORES: Limping to DL? (Getty)

Flores sprained his right ankle running the bases Monday, did not play Tuesday and could soon go on the disabled list. All this in the wake of rookie infielder telling reporters: “It’s just sore. That’s it. I was able to play. … I think I’ll be all right.’’

But, his career is a week old, so I can’t blame him. But, what should be done is question the decision not to take him out of the game and not have him undergo X-Rays or a MRI.

In contrast, Giants defensive back Antrel Rolle sprained his ankle the same day, had a MRI and is in a walking boot. The Mets haven’t even said when Flores will get a X-Ray, but we should presume today.

Terry Collins, whom I have written should be brought back, said Flores stayed in the game after getting his ankle taped after the half-inning. He didn’t say if they spit or rubbed dirt on the ankle.

Collins explained: “It’s pretty stiff. In this world we live in, there’s always the possibility of the DL. We certainly won’t know anything for a day or so. I think the fact that he was taped up might have kept it a little bit intact. But after the game he was very, very uncomfortable. And [Tuesday] he was even worse.’’

Part of the Mets’ “new culture’’ after the hiring of GM Sandy Alderson was a better, cleaner, handling of injuries.

Before, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jenrry Mejia, Pedro Martinez and Mike Pelfrey were mishandled. Later in the Alderson Era, it has been David Wright – several times, including let him play with a fracture in his back and the recent hamstring strain that has him on the disabled list – Reyes, Johan Santana and Ike Davis.

Beltran, in fact, was so botched that he had surgery on his own which turned out to be a mitigating factor in his departure from the team.

All this, and Collins was taking preliminary bows the other night about limiting the innings of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to protect them from injury. All that, but there’s no mention of limiting Mejia, who is pitching well after coming off Tommy John surgery.

The bottom line is Collins has been around long enough to know not to listen to a player when he says “I’m fine,’’ because players are notorious liars.

If that bottom line isn’t bold enough, then try this one: Get a MRI!

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

Aug 13

How The Mets Morphed Into A Team

With a few exceptions, the New York Mets resemble little the team that broke spring training. Only two players, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis, were the expected starters this late in the season who were in the line-up Monday night in Los Angeles.

And, only recently is Davis’ performance at the plate reaching major league standards. And, Murphy will be the first tell you last night wasn’t major league standards for him defensively, but that’s another matter.

Davis is playing well, but not hitting for power and his spot next year is far from secure.

Around the infield, John Buck was to have been replaced by Travis d’Arnaud at catcher; Ruben Tejada was to be at shortstop, not Omar Quintanilla; and third baseman David Wright being on the disabled list gave Wilmer Flores an opportunity.

How well d’Arnaud plays on this level remains a mystery, and Tejada is playing his way out of the organization.

Ironically, Flores’ development could mean the end of Murphy’s tenure with the Mets as Terry Collins is talking about playing him at second base. However, he could sit after twisting his ankle.

From left to right in the outfield, we all knew Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Colin Cowgill in center, and Mike Baxter in right wouldn’t last. Cowgill hit a grand slam Opening Day and was on the bench within two weeks.

Duda is in the minor leagues saying he wouldn’t mind being a DH, which couldn’t make Sandy Alderson happy; Nieuwenhuis is in the minors while Cowgill was traded; and Baxter is again a role player.

Eric Young filled the lead-off hole and there’s no way Duda could replace him in left; Juan Lagares is the centerfielder of the present and future; and role player Marlon Byrd turned out to be the team’s best offensive player.

Anticipate Byrd asking for two years and not being retained.

Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia weren’t in the Opening Day rotation and both are pitching as if they have plans to never leave. We know, barring injury, Wheeler isn’t going anywhere.

The bullpen has been superb the past month, but has also been patchwork. Bullpens always need tinkering; so don’t be surprised if there are new faces next spring.

The expectations of the Mets were low this spring and it is a reflection of how Matt Harvey’s development and how well Collins and his staff have done to where .500 or second place are even possible goals.

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

Aug 12

No More Six-Man Rotation; Mets’ Pitching In State Of Flux

That six-man rotation the New York Mets wanted to establish will not happen. With the need to protect Jon Niese, who came off the disabled list Sunday, and wanting to limit the innings of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, the six-man rotation seemed an appropriate way to go.

HEFNER: DL bound?

HEFNER: DL bound?

Of course, six won’t work when there are only five pitchers. That’s because struggling Jeremy Hefner was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Niese, and could wind up on the disabled list with an elbow problem.

Niese labored in beating the Diamondbacks Sunday, but came out feeling no pain in his shoulder. We’ll know more when he reports to Dodger Stadium later.

“I felt good,’’ Niese told reporters in Phoenix. “There was no pain. Everything felt good. … Let’s see how it feels [Monday].’’

Niese, held to a 90-pitch limit, gave up four runs in six innings. Not a quality start, but good enough to win. Niese averaged roughly 90 mph., on his fastball, which has been this season’s norm. His next start is scheduled for Aug. 16, at San Diego. The Mets have not placed a pitch count limit for that start, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep him on a strict limit for the remainder of the season.

Despite the return to a five-man rotation, GM Sandy Alderson believes both Harvey and Wheeler should be able to close out the season while reaching their innings limit.

METS ROTATION FOR AUGUST: ESPN’s Adam Rubin, who is on top of all things Mets, put together their projected rotation for the remainder of the month. Here’s what Rubin came up with:

AT DODGERS

Aug. 12: Jenrry Mejia

Aug. 13: Harvey

Aug. 14: Dillon Gee

AT PADRES
Aug. 15: Wheeler

Aug. 16: Niese

Aug. 17: Mejia

Aug. 18: Harvey

AT TWINS

Aug. 19: Gee

BRAVES

Aug. 20: Wheeler

Aug. 21: Niese

OFF DAY
Aug. 22 

TIGERS

Aug. 23: Mejia

Aug. 24: Harvey

Aug. 25: Gee 

 PHILLIES

Aug. 26: Wheeler

Aug. 27: Niese

Aug. 28: Mejia

Aug. 29: Harvey

AT NATIONALS

Aug. 30: Gee

Aug. 31: Wheeler

Of course, there’s no accounting for injuries or rainouts, so the rotation could change. It doesn’t appear Rafael Montero will be brought up in September because he would be close to reaching his innings limit. However, during the crush of games for the rest of the month, it might be prudent for the Mets to bring him up for a spot start.

Where they slot him could allow for more rest for Harvey and Wheeler. Plus, it gives the Mets a look at one of their top prospects under major league conditions.

It would be a win-win situation.

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

Aug 11

Six-Man Rotation Might Benefit Mets And Jon Niese

Jon Niese will make his first start for the New York Mets in nearly two months this afternoon today in Phoenix. It is arguably one of the most important starts by a Met starter this season.

Those made by Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler generated more excitement, but for future planning, this is hugely important because it dictates their off-season objectives.

NIESE: What's he thinking?

NIESE: What’s he thinking?

Niese lasted just 3.1 innings in his last start, June 20, at Atlanta, after which it was discovered he had a partially-torn rotator cuff. He went on the disabled list two days later. Niese passed all the medical tests, so it is assumed he’s good to go.

The Mets need to test Niese with kid gloves for the remainder of the season, and figuring no further complications it would streamline the Mets’ off-season shopping list.

If Niese is reinjured, don’t expect an early return next year, and assume they will attempt to add another starter this winter. They could go again with Jeremy Hefner, who has hit the skids since the All-Star break, or they could add another solution like Shaun Marcum.

Yeah, I thought that might get your attention.

Niese gave up three runs on eight hits in that start against the Braves, with five strikeouts and no walks. The most important number is where he landed on the pain meter, which was pretty high.

With Niese’s return to the rotation, the Mets will continue with a six-man starter, which under these circumstances is a prudent move for several reasons: 1) it protects Niese; 2) it lengthens the time between Hefner starts; and 3) it allows the Mets to reduce the starts, and thereby innings, of Harvey and Wheeler.

Most importantly, it will give the Mets an understanding of where Niese stands physically and their off-season needs while protecting him. That’s their most important pitching objective for now, even more than reducing Harvey’s and Wheeler’s innings.

Nobody knows whether the Mets will need to reduce Harvey and Wheeler next season, but assuming they will, this experience can only help them in developing a between-starts routine.

In four games against Arizona, Niese is 1-2 with a 6.85 ERA, including an 11-5 loss last July. However, those numbers aren’t as important as the simple fact Niese is starting another game this season.

For those thinking the Mets have nothing to play for or learn the remainder of the season, guess again.

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