Mar 30

Wilpon Holds Team Meeting

Earlier this spring I wrote Mets owner Fred Wilpon should have more of a vocal and visible presence around his team. Let’s face it, Mets’ fans love their team and want to know what the owner is thinking.

Now his players know as Wilpon held a closed-doors meeting Monday morning, but as usual after these things, nobody was talking.

WILPON: What did he say? (AP)

WILPON: What did he say? (AP)

“Any time that you have those types of meetings you can take a lot out of it, and I think everybody in here took a lot of out of it,’’ David Wright told reporters. “I’m not big on sharing what happens in those closed-door team meetings. … As far as the players are concerned, we’re going to keep that in the clubhouse.’’

Wilpon, of course, wasn’t talking, either, but it really doesn’t matter what he tells the press. What matters is what he told the players, and after he spoke there was applause. That’s encouraging. At least nobody was throwing anything.

It would have been great to be a fly on the wall in that room, but we’ll know soon enough the essence of what Wilpon said.

We’ll know in July if the Mets are playing well, but there is a hole. In that case, is he willing to pick up a contract that could put them into October?

With all the talk about how badly Wilpon wants to win, we will see when it comes to crunch time.

ON DECK: Lefty reliever added.

Mar 29

Alderson Facing A Lot Of Questions This Week

The Mets are entering the final week of their eventful spring training. Unless the Mets make a surprise trade – and what are the odds of that? – there shouldn’t be any notable additions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions to be made.

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

And, if you’ve followed closely, you know GM Sandy Alderson will make the final call on those decisions with only a minimal input from manager Terry Collins. The most successful teams have collaboration between the GM and the manager, usually based on respect, but that’s not the basis of this relationship. When the GM tells an author of his eroding confidence in his manager, what does that tell you?

So, operating under the theory this is Alderson’s team, here is what he must decide:

LEFTY RELIEVER: With Scott Rice optioned out, the thinking in Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin will get the nod over Dario Alvarez. There’s been talk about going outside, but that’s been going on all spring.

DISABLED LIST: There have been reports of Daniel Murphy and Vic Black being ready for Opening Day, but it’s a long season so why push it?

SECOND BASE: If not Murphy, then who? Alderson discusses Danny Muno or Matt Reynolds, but ignores Ruben Tejada, who is supposed to be the backup.

LEADOFF HITTER: They really don’t have one in the traditional sense, but based on their options it should be Juan Lagares. Quite simply, Curtis Granderson has more value as a run producer in the middle of the order.

BATTING ORDER: Primarily because of the juggling at the leadoff spot, there’s been little consistency in the order. We’ve seen the Mets have over 100 different batting order combinations in recent seasons. Unfortunately, it could be that way again.

ROTATION ORDER: Most teams who already know their rotation would have an order. Not the Mets.

So, Alderson has a lot to think about this week.

Mar 28

Murphy, Black Should Open Season On DL

It’s getting to be time for the Mets where they must start seriously thinking about their Opening Day roster and whom might be on the disabled list. While there’s nothing official, the Mets are holding out hope for Daniel Murphy (right hamstring) and reliever Vic Black (right shoulder) to be ready.

Seems like wishful thinking.

MURPHY: Should open on DL.  (AP)

MURPHY: Should open on DL. (AP)

The Mets backed off a little Friday on Murphy when they said he would only play in minor league games next week. The Mets can backdate the injury that way and the most he would miss are the season’s first six days. However, if they played him in a major league exhibition game and was injured, the clock would start at the time of the injury.

There’s no point in pushing Murphy, especially considering the nature of his injury. It will be cold in April and hamstrings don’t respond well when it’s frigid.

It’s a no-brainer, actually.

The same could be said of Black, who has been sidelined for two weeks with weakness in his shoulder. Currently, Black is being treated with anti-inflammatory medicine and is only throwing on flat ground.

It is incomprehensible considering where Black is, how pitching coach Dan Warthen would actually claim Black is “right on the cusp,’’ of being ready for Opening Day. If Black pitches again this spring, the Mets are crazy if they didn’t use him the same way they plan to use Murphy.

When you factor in the Mets’ history in handling injuries, why is there any debate to this? Let’s cut the nonsense and have them both open the season on the disabled list.

Why is this so hard to figure out?

Mar 27

Mets Matters: Murphy DL Bound; Harvey Sharp

In what hardly is a surprise, the Mets are now saying they expect Daniel Murphy to open the season on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring.

“Look, any hamstring is typically a minimum of a couple of weeks,’’ GM Sandy Alderson told reporters today. “For him to come back sooner than roughly Opening Day would be a little surprising. But given the way he felt – and the fact that it was a very mild strain – it’s still a possibility he will be ready. I don’t think it’s anything we can predict right now.’’

mets-matters logoMurphy was injured March 19.

Alderson’s comments are vague, which is no shock. Alderson’s initial prognosis was, “he’ll be out a week or so, maybe a little longer … and, “hamstrings take longer than people want to admit.’’

He was correct there, but his subsequent comment about the injury being a “very mild strain,’’ is nonsense considering the Mets downgraded the hamstring from tightness to a pull. Until Alderson today, the Mets never described it a “very mild strain.’’

Two weeks from March 19 is April 2, or next Thursday.

If Murphy plays next week it will only be in minor league games, which will enable the Mets to backdate his time on the DL and allow him to miss only the season’s first six days. If he plays in a regular exhibition game and is injured the clock would start ticking that date.

Murphy started hitting off a tee Wednesday and did some light running Friday.

METS LOSE TODAY: Matt Harvey, who turned 26, gave up one run on three hits with five strikeouts in 4.1 innings in today’s 5-4 loss to St. Louis. … In the Mets’ grand experiment of batting the pitcher’s spot eighth, those hitters went a combined 1-for-3, which was pinch-hitter Anthony Recker’s single. Harvey was hitless in two at-bats. The Nos. 9 and 1 hitters – Danny Muno and Curtis Granderson – were a combined 4-for-7. … Closer Jenrry Mejia gave up a three-run homer in the eighth inning. … Lefty specialist Sean Gilmartin, a Rule 5 pick, struck out Scott Moore looking with two outs in the seventh.

EXTRA INNINGS: ESPN reported the Mets are scouting lefty relievers Rex Brothers (Colorado) and Boone Logan (Los Angeles Dodgers). Count on Logan being too pricey for the Mets as he is due $11.75 million in 2015 and 2016. … Pitching coach Dan Warthen said closer Bobby Parnell could throw 100 mph., which is another useless prediction by the Mets. Let’s see him not open the season on the DL first. … Jacob deGrom will start Saturday against Washington’s Stephen Strasberg at Tradition Field.

 

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.