Aug 06

Mets Matters: Bruce Hopes To Return Tuesday

Jay Bruce didn’t play tonight, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway with how the Mets have performed lately. Bruce was absent for the second straight game because of a stiff neck, but said he hopes to play Tuesday against Texas at Citi Field.

mets-matters logo“There’s been improvement, working with the medical staff, doing what I can,’’ Bruce told reporters. “Like I said, there has been improvement. I think with the treatment, and tomorrow off, I should be ready to go. … I want to be careful with it. Because I don’t want this to turn into a long-term situation.’’

Bruce believes he came down with the stiff neck on the flight back from Denver Thursday.

In 101 games, Bruce leads the Mets with 29 home runs and 75 RBI.

HARVEY MAKING PROGRESS: Matt Harvey threw his first bullpen session since going on the DL June 16 with a stress injury in his right shoulder. Harvey was scheduled to throw in the bullpen Tuesday, but will throw live batting practice.

MATZ STILL NOT THERE: It doesn’t matter an instant replay reversal in the first extended the inning so the Dodgers would score three runs in the first off Steven Matz, it is still up to him to get out of trouble.

He didn’t and the left-hander lost his fourth straight decision to remain winless since June 28.

Matz gave up five runs on six hits in 5.1 innings to see his ERA jump to 8.44.

The inning unraveled in large part with long standing flaw from Mets’ starters, which is their failure to hold runners on base. The Dodgers pulled off a double steal and both runners scored on Logan Forsythe’s single to center.

GLAD THAT’S OVER: With their 8-0 rout of the Mets, the Dodgers swept the season series, outscoring them 57-15 and shutting them out for the third time. … Los Angeles clubbed two more homers – Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger – and have outhomered the Mets 25-6. The rookie Bellinger has five homers against Mets’ pitching.

The 2015 NLDS seems like ages ago.

Aug 01

Today’s Question: Will Matz Snap Out Of It?

While all eyes will be on Amed Rosario tonight – and rightfully so – don’t forget to sneak a peak at Steven Matz. The Mets say they are a little concerned with Matz, who has a staggering 14.18 ERA over his last four starts and hasn’t worked longer than five innings in any of them. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span. Can he snap out of it tonight against the powerful Rockies in their launching pad of a stadium in Coors Field.

There are a half-dozen other teams Matz would rather face, and in just as many ballparks.

MATZ:  Something isn't right. (AP)

MATZ: Something isn’t right. (AP)

Matz pitched most of last season with a bone spur in his left elbow, and after four months went on the DL for the rest of the year with shoulder tightness, presumably from altering his mechanics as compensation. He spent the first two months of this year on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

It’s highly plausible the Mets pushed him last season or this year and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball. Matz is throwing hard, but of the three velocity isn’t as important and location and movement. Instead of sinking or tailing away, Matz’s pitches stay over the middle of the plate, making it easier for them to be hit – or crushed.

“You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut,” Collins said. “We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz said if feels good, but didn’t we hear the same refrain from Matt Harvey, or Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler?

Should Matz get shelled tonight, it would be easy to blame Coors Field and the Rockies. It would also be foolish.

Aug 01

It’s Rosario’s Time

Well folks, you got your wish as Amed Rosario will be in the Mets’ lineup tonight in Denver. The player GM Sandy Alderson refused to bring up until the white flag was officially raised on this season is supposed to represent the rebuilding of the team many thought could be heading to the World Series.

How good is Rosario?

ROSARIO: It's time. (AP)

ROSARIO: It’s time. (AP)

His .328 batting average tells us he can hit Triple-A pitching. Limited glimpses of him during spring training says he has the potential to become an elite defender. Minor league instructor Tim Teufel told The Post a lot when he said, “he’s not a finished product, yet,’’ yet admitted he might have become a little bored in the minors.

Getting bored and his Tweet literally screaming at the Mets to bring him up aren’t positive signs, but at 21 he gets a pass. Not every young player becomes a David Wright or Derek Jeter in that they always say the right things.

I called for the Mets to bring up Rosario nearly a month ago, but I appreciate part of Alderson’s reluctance. His inability to deal Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Jose Reyes creates a logjam in the infield, but that’s manager Terry Collins’ problem. However, limited playing opportunities for Cabrera might make it more difficult to trade him, unless the Mets are willing to nearly give him away.

Alderson’s problem in making trades is he continually holds out; his priority is to “win’’ the trade, which turns off other general managers. At least, that’s his reputation. It is the primary reason he couldn’t – thankfully – move Jay Bruce last winter.

The timing of the promotion is good with the Mets are on the road, which should give Rosario three games to get rid of the butterflies. Opening up at home, against the high-flying Dodgers, would have put undue pressure on him. It’s also a good time because it is August, and the competition will be sharper than in September when opposing rosters are littered with call-ups. That’s also why first baseman Dominic Smith’s promotion soon is important.

“We want to see what we have, so going into next season or going into the offseason we will have a better sense of what we need,’’ Alderson said yesterday on a conference call. “I think it’s important for guys like Rosario and Smith to get more than just playing time in September. To make it meaningful, it has to be a little bit longer than that, and against more regular-season competition as opposed to expanded rosters.’’

I suppose it is possible if Rosario is a bust for the next two months it might change the Mets’ thinking on Cabrera and Reyes. But, Rosario won’t play every day, said Alderson, because “he’s never played that many games in a year.’’

Huh? He’s 21. He’s not a pitcher. Sure, he should get a day off this weekend, just to clear his head from the call-up, but I want to see this guy play. I want to see what the Mets have.  I would play Rosario more in August when the competition is better and let him rest more in September.

What I also want to see is patience with him if he struggles at first. Give him a chance to experience and learn how to get out of slumps. Above all, the Mets – and the fans and media – should give him a little breathing room and acknowledge he’s one piece to the puzzle, he’s not a savior.

Look back within the past ten years at some of the prospects the Mets used, and burned out, with too high expectations: Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Gomez, Jenrry Mejia, Kaz Matsui and Ike Davis. You can even make cases to a lesser extent for Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and even Matt Harvey.

The expectations on all of these guys created a burden that was too heavy for them to carry. Let’s enjoy Rosario’s skills, but realize he alone won’t lift the Mets to the next level.

ON DECK:  Can Steven Matz snap out of his funk?

Jul 27

What’s Wrong With Matz?

When will Steven Matz’s current troubles develop into a reason for physical concern from the Mets? Over his last four starts, Matz has a staggering 14.18 ERA, but worse, hasn’t worked longer than five innings. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span.

MATZ: What is wrong? (AP)

MATZ: What is wrong? (AP)

Speaking of numbers, he spent the first two months of the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. This after pitching the first four months of last year with a bone spur in his elbow, and spending the last two months of the season on the disabled list with a shoulder tightness.

Perhaps the Mets pushed him last season or this year, that’s highly plausible and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball.

It is fast, but straight. A pitcher needs movement, location and velocity to be successful, with the last being the least important.

“The ball is down the middle,’’ Collins said. “You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut. We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz seemed to have a decent curveball, and previously said throwing the slider stings his elbow.

Matz said, “I feel good and healthy out there, so there is really no excuses for my pitching.’’ You can plug that same quote next to Matt Harvey’s name, or Noah Syndergaards, or Zack Wheeler’s.

Of course, both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson have also said similar things.

I suggested something could be wrong after Matz’s last start. Now, I am convinced. The point is four straight stinkers from a pitcher usually signifies something isn’t right with the arm. The only question is: When will the Mets admit it?

The only question is: When will the Mets admit it?

ON DECK:  The latest Mets’ trade rumors.

Jul 25

Trading For De Grom Wouldn’t Really Benefit A Contender

Just like you, I would be curious to learn what the Mets could get for Jacob deGrom. He’s won eight straight after beating the Padres last night, posting a 1.61 ERA in that stretch.

Also important considering the Mets’ bullpen issues is he routinely works into the seventh inning or deeper [doing so in seven of his last eight starts].

DE GROM: Untouchable. (AP)

DE GROM: Untouchable. (AP)

With a 12-3 record his value to the Mets is clear, especially with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler on the disabled list.

The Houston Astros are salivating over deGrom, but other teams would love to add him for the stretch drive. Also making him attractive is his one-year, $4.05-million contract. He’s arbitration eligible and will be a free agent in 2021.

A smart team would trade for him and sign him to a long-term deal. Of all the pitchers in the Mets’ vaunted rotation, he’s the one worthy of getting a long-term contract.

With Clayton Kershaw sidelined for up to six weeks, if deGrom continues this roll he could merit Cy Young consideration. His performance in the 2015 postseason against the Dodgers says he can rise on the big stage.

Who wouldn’t want deGrom?

But, what would be the price? I’m thinking up to four major-league ready players, including at least one starting pitcher. That seems reasonable from the Mets’ perspective.

DeGrom should command a big package, and with the Mets saying they will compete for the playoffs next year, they want major-league ready talent in return. The problem from the other team’s perspective is they are already a contender and losing four key pieces could derail their plans.

Would Houston, or any team, benefit from adding deGrom at the expense of gutting a contender? If the Mets were really interested in trading him this is something better fitted for the off-season. In doing so, if Syndergaard, Harvey and Wheeler return this year, the Mets would have a better idea on next year’s staff.

Frankly, I would sign deGrom long-term and build around him. I know GM Sandy Alderson won’t say it, but he should say: “The price is four starters. Wow me. Otherwise, deGrom is off limits.’’

DeGrom is a keeper. He’s the only one of five I wouldn’t trade.

“[DeGrom] loves to be out there and loves to compete, and with his stuff and his command, he’s going to win a lot of games,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

Hopefully, it will be with the Mets.