Apr 04

Mets’ Roster An Indictment Of Alderson

If this sounds like piling on Mets GM Sandy Alderson, so be it. An ESPN report from Texas has the Mets carrying eight relievers – at the expense of valuable reserve Eric Campbell – because of concerns over the bullpen, most notably the possible overkill of carrying three lefty relievers after spending most of spring training in search of one.

ALDERSON: Trouble could be coming from different direction.  (AP)

ALDERSON: Trouble could be coming from different direction. (AP)

Quite simply carrying three means limited confidence in any of them.

The Mets want to keep lefty Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin along other lefties Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres, plus Rafael Montero, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Carlos Torres and Buddy Carlyle. Of course, the Mets are without Vic BlackJosh Edgin and Bobby Parnell, but knew they would be without the latter.

Had Alderson acquired a lefty during the winter – Gilmartin would have been a gamble anyway because he’s Rule 5 – they would have carried only seven relievers, and thereby could have kept Campbell. Instead they are left with a bench of Ruben Tejada, Anthony Recker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis – whose fast spring training start fizzled – and John Mayberry.

And, according to recent reports, they were unwilling to go with Tejada at second base had Daniel Murphy opened the season on the disabled list.

The Mets knew they would need bullpen help because of the innings limitation on Matt Harvey. Plus, how certain are we of the durability of Bartolo Colon at 41, or for that matter, Jacob deGrom in his second year and the fragility of Jon Niese?

And, considering all that, and the unproven record of Montero, the Mets are still willing to trade Dillon Gee. Yeah, sounds like a good idea.

This leaves the Mets without a quality back-up for David Wright at third, and manager Terry Collins unable use Recker as a pinch-hitter for fear being without another catcher. Campbell had worked behind the plate in spring training. They are also in position where if they go to the bench early, they are pretty much sunk in extra innings.

They are also face the likelihood of taxing their position players.

They are in this precarious position with their bench because of their inability – or unwillingness to go after – needed help in the offseason and because three roster spots are taken by players because of contractual reasons: Carlyle, Gilmartin and Nieuwenhuis.

In the book about Alderson, I keep waiting for the part of how the Mets have been revived.

 

 

Apr 02

Harvey Is Ready, But Are Mets?

Matt Harvey is ready. Now, what about the rest of the Mets?

Harvey, who’ll start the season’s third game in Washington, threw four scoreless innings today in a 0-0 tie with St. Louis today, and he immediately pronounced himself ready.

“I’m ready to go,” Harvey told reporters. “All the work has been put in, and it is time to just let all that loose.”

Harvey did not walk a hitter and threw 41 of 56 pitches for strikes.

“You hear stories of guys who have trouble with command coming back,” Harvey said. “That was something that I really worked on. Obviously you never know until you start facing hitters and get into a game.”

Harvey is the first of a long list of questions I posed at the start of spring training. As the Mets are in Texas to play the Rangers this weekend before heading to Washington, let’s re-visit those questions:

Q: How healthy is Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. Today was part of the good news. The Mets are thinking 30 starts and 190 innings. He’ll be on a 90-pitch count for the Nationals.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed, not to mention a new four-year contract. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson could hit second if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready, otherwise he should be in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season, but he has had a good spring. Wright is the centerpiece of the offense. If he’s on his game, the offense could be as potent as it was in Florida.

Q: Wil Dillon Gee be traded?

A: Unbelievably, the Mets are still interested in trying to trade him. They wanted too much when they dangled him during the winter. They finally broke down this week and slotted him into the rotation.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores had a solid spring and nobody is talking about replacing him. He needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor start.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets will keep Rule 5 lefty Sean Gilmartin, along with lefty acquisitions Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres. Filling out the bullpen is long-man Carlos Torres and Rafael Montero.

Q: Any injuries?

A: They wouldn’t be the Mets without injuries. Zack Wheeler and Edgin are lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle, but enters the season in good shape. Granderson was hit on the leg with a pitch today and it is questionable for Opening Day. The Mets are adamant Murphy will not start the season on the disabled list. No doubt, that’s a gamble.

 

 

Apr 01

Are Mets Kidding With Long-Term Talk With Lagares And Duda?

A show of hands please, who saw this coming from the Mets? I didn’t and twice in one week no less. The Mets, who have long been noted for their conservative approach when it comes to long-term contracts, are reportedly discussing multi-year deals with Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares.

Several days after an ESPN report the Mets were considering a four-year, $31-million contract with Duda, they reportedly reached terms today with Lagares to an extension through 2019 for $23 million.

While Duda is 29 and this would likely be his biggest payday, Lagares is 26 and could have two more contracts after this one.

The contract would cover Lagares’ arbitration years and the first year when he would become free-agent eligible.

Duda hit 30 homers last year and Lagares won the Gold Glove in center field where he was credited for saving 28 runs. Offensively, he hit .281 with four homers and 47 RBI.

Is this a good idea or not?

Normally, I’??m all for locking in prospects long-term, but what about Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom – we can forget Zack Wheeler for now – to start with?

After all, I always favor the commitment to pitching first. However, before diving off the deep end, the prudent thing would be to get a larger window on both players, especially since they each have questions.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notes.

 

Mar 27

What’s Collins Really Thinking With His Lineup?

Here’s why I have trouble taking the Mets seriously at times. In today’s game against St. Louis, manager Terry Collins plans to bat Matt Harvey eighth.

Theoretically, it would enable him to bat Juan Lagares ninth followed by Curtis Granderson and David Wright.

COLLINS: What's he really thinking?

COLLINS: What’s he really thinking?

“I know in our market it’s a big issue. It’ll be a headline, back-page story,’’ Collins told reporters the other day. “But I’ll just do it to see what it looks like. Nothing more than that.’’

So, why do it then? That question becomes more pertinent when you consider the rest of the lineup.

First of all, if this is done to bunch your speed at the top of the order, you can do it the traditional way. The problem is Lagares isn’t even in the lineup, so the initial point is automatically defeated. Traditionally – and why is it tradition is such a taboo word in baseball these days? – a team’s best hitter, which is the combination of average and power, bats third. And, with the Mets that is Wright.

Today, it is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who admittedly has had a good spring, but will open the season on the bench. Collins also has Michael Cuddyer clean-up and Wilmer Flores fifth – where neither will be during the season – Eric Campbell at first and Danny Muno at second. Campbell is a role player and Muno likely won’t make the team.

Spring training is in part used to experiment. Fine, but it you’re going to experiment then at least do it in such a way that you’ll get somewhat of an idea of how things will be in the season.

Here’s today’s Mets’ lineup:

Curtis Granderson, rf: Will bat leadoff only if Lagares can’t do the job, which means that’s another issue.

David Wright, 3b: Is having a good spring and should bat third until he proves he can’t.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf: Will make the team in part because he’s had a good spring, but also because he’s out of options.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: Won’t hit clean-up as that’s reserved for Lucas Duda. We’ll see how long he lasts in left field.

Wilmer Flores, ss: Is playing with a bruised foot. Let’s hope he doesn’t get re-injured. Even so, I can’t see him hitting this high in the order.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: He hasn’t had a great spring hitting, but I can see him in the sixth slot at times.

Eric Campbell, 1b: Valuable role player.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Yes, the DH is used to spread out at-bats, but they hit in the National League. How many games did the Mets lose because their pitcher was an automatic out or couldn’t advance a runner? Bottom line: The batters should hit more during spring training.

Danny Muno, 2b: Is making a push to make the team, however if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready then Ruben Tejada should be playing more at the end of spring training.

So, there you have it, the Mets’ order one-through-nine. Of the nine spots, only d’Arnaud at sixth seems like something they’ll do during the season.

Collins has wasted today’s batting order and made today a joke. Is that what he really wanted to do, or is he sending a message to GM Sandy Alderson? And, what could that message be? Perhaps that he doesn’t have a legitimate leadoff hitter? Or that Granderson really isn’t a good fit for this team?

I’m sure there are others, and you don’t have to look that hard.

 

Mar 23

What’s The Point Of Mets Announcing Partial Rotation?

What is it with the Mets that they can’t go all the way with certain things? Manager Terry Collins announced his rotation for the season-opening three-game series at Washington, but stopped there. How difficult is it to name the full rotation? And, more to the point, if Matt Harvey is ready for the season, then why not go ahead and name him the Opening Day starter?

COLON: Opening Day starter.

COLON: Opening Day starter.

I endorsed Bartolo Colon earlier, but that was because said it wouldn’t be Harvey. He’s regarded as the staff’s ace and so much has been made of his return. Given that, if he’s ready physically, then why not give him the ball in the season’s first game?

I heard the reasoning is to start him in the season’s third game, which would begin a couple of hours earlier and with it the likelihood of warmer weather. Seriously, if the game time is that big a deal where it might be a few degrees earlier, that suggests concern. If that is the case, then is Harvey really ready?

The starters for the Nationals series are Colon, Jacob deGrom and Harvey. That leaves Dillon Gee and Jon Niese for the first two games against the Braves. Collins did say deGrom would start the season opener at Citi Field.

Collins’ rationale for going with Colon was what I pointed out several weeks ago: his 15 victories; 200-plus innings; and the veteran presence to handle the big stage.

Well, all that was there two weeks ago, but in the interim the Mets hinted at deGrom, Colon and Zack Wheeler while saying no about Harvey.

I would have gone with – assuming everybody is healthy – Harvey, Colon, Niese, deGrom and Gee. I like the idea of slotting the lefthander in the middle of the rotation. Plus, with Harvey’s innings that much an issue, I prefer an innings-eater to follow him to take pressure off the bullpen.

However, the bottom-line reason for not liking the partial announcement is it smacks of indecision. If Collins isn’t ready to name the full rotation, then wait.