Sep 03

Injuries Might Give Conforto More Playing Time

When it comes to rookie outfielder Michael Conforto, the Mets plan to choose the path of least of resistance and will continue their platoon system in left field. But, these are the Mets, so expect obstacles.

“We’ve brought people in here that hit lefties, that have a career record of hitting lefties,” manager Terry Collins said. “And right now that’s what we’ve been doing, and I’m going to stay with it.”

One of those hitters is Michael Cuddyer, but with injuries to Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy, Collins might not execute this platoon plan as they want – and that’s not a bad thing if it gives more playing time to Conforto.

Conforto is on a hot streak going 20-for-50 (.400) with five doubles, four homers and nine RBI in his last 17 games. He is hitting .311 overall, and attributes his success to going to the opposite field.

Sure, Cuddyer is hitting well since coming off the disabled list and is in the first season of a two-year contract. The way he’s hitting he should be playing, but with Duda on the DL it should be at first. Murphy has been playing a lot of first lately, but he’s day-to-day with a strained quad, which should remove some of the obstacles.

Nobody knows how long Duda and Murphy will be sidelined, but this is a perfect opportunity to give Conforto major league at-bats, including against lefties.

As for Yoenis Cespedes, stick him center and leave him there. Juan Lagares hasn’t done anything to justify his multi-year contract, so keep him as late-inning defense.

Conforto will be the starting left fielder with Cuddyer coming off the bench. There’s no reason why the Mets can’t get a head start on things now.

 

 

Sep 02

Mets Stay With Niese; Maybe A Good Thing Afterall

On second thought, maybe sticking with Jon Niese could be a good move. After Niese was shelled Tuesday night by the Phillies, I suggested the Mets’ best strategy would be to skip Niese Monday in Washington in favor of Steven Matz and stay with Noah Syndergaard Saturday in Miami.

My reasoning is the Washington game is more important to the Mets’ immediate pennant pursuit than conserving Syndergaard’s innings.

However, manager Terry Collins‘ comments to reporters prior to Wednesday’s game gave me pause.

“This was set down a long time ago,” Collins said. “I’m all done juggling all the pieces. I just told Jon last night when I took him out, ‘OK, you’ve had a couple of bad outings. The next game is the biggest game you’ve ever pitched in your life. So get ready for it.’ ”

Collins stayed with Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and on Tuesday with Bobby Parnell in large part to show he wasn’t abandoning them. This seems the same decision for Niese.

While beating the Nationals Monday is important, having a confident Niese is also vital down the stretch and into the playoffs. They Mets will need Niese to be at his mental and emotional best when he pitches in September and hopefully October.

The Mets will throw Niese, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom against the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman and Steven Strasburg. Collins will start deGrom, Bartolo Colon and Matz in Miami.

 

Sep 01

Mets Should Skip Niese Before Syndergaard

It’s now three stinkers in a row for Jon Niese, and if Mets manager Terry Collins is considering skidding Noah Syndergaard this weekend, perhaps the smarter play would be to bypass the veteran left-hander instead.

NIESE: Next start should be skipped. (AP)

NIESE: Next start should be skipped. (AP)

Niese was rocked in his second straight start by the Phillies Tuesday night, giving up six runs on seven hits in five innings. Niese fell behind 6-0 before Yoenis Cespedes‘ two-run homer briefly made a game of it, but the night unraveled with an eight-run sixth against the Mets’ very suspect bullpen.

Collins is planning to skip Syndergaard in favor of Steven Matz this weekend in Miami in an effort to conserve his innings. However, Niese’s next start is scheduled for Monday in Washington against Max Scherzer.

Which game figures to have greater for the Mets, Saturday in Miami or Monday in Washington? While all games are important, playing the Nationals can be vital, especially if they have cut into the Mets’ lead. The Mets entered Tuesday night’s game with a 5.5-game lead on Washington with six games left between the two teams.

The math is self-explanatory.

Skipping Niese in a game in which he would face Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth is something worth considering. It might be enough to enable him to clear his head. As for Syndergaard, the Mets could conserve his innings in his next start.

However, for this weekend and Monday, it’s more important for the Mets to conserve their lead in the division than it is Syndergaard’s innings.

Aug 31

Bumping Colon From Playoff Roster Not Good Idea

One of the foregone conclusions of the Mets’ playoff push is that once they get there, they won’t have a role for Bartolo Colon.

Conventional wisdom has Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Jon Niese in the rotation. Although there has been some silliness reported about putting Syndergaard in the bullpen and Steven Matz in the rotation.

COLON: Don't skip him from playoffs. (AP)

COLON: Don’t skip him from playoffs. (AP)

Uh, that’s not a good idea.

Bumping Colon from the playoff roster isn’t a good idea either for a franchise that hasn’t played in the playoffs since 2006.

There have been times when Colon has been dreadful, but more often than not he’s been terrific, like he was Monday night, his start last week in Philadelphia and out of the bullpen Saturday.

Of Colon’s 27 starts, he’s given up more than four runs six times, walked only 21 batters and worked less than five innings only five times.

And, oh yes, Colon got his seventh hit Monday night along with throwing eight scoreless and tying his season-high with nine strikeouts. He’s now thrown 16 straight scoreless innings.

Where Colon also demonstrated his value is with that relief appearance over the weekend. It was for one inning, but should have planted the seed for long-man use.

In his two years with the Mets he has won 27 games. He has won 12 games this season, tied with deGrom for the team lead, one more than Harvey, and three more than Niese and Syndergaard.

Even so, the Mets seem determined to bump Colon in favor of Matz, who seemingly has a bright future but only two major league victories.

The number that works against Colon is that he’s 42. However, somewhere along the line he’ll do something or pass along a tidbit of information that could be invaluable.

The Mets shouldn’t throw that away.

Aug 30

Mets Should Sit Wright Today

I am happy for David Wright and his return to the Mets. In the handful of games he’s played last week, he’s swung the bat well and after an awkward first game in the field his defense has come around.

WRIGHT: Should sit today. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Should sit today. (Getty)

For all he’s gone through and all he’s meant to the Mets, he deserves the opportunity to play in October. That being said, I don’t want to see him play today.

Wright did not play Saturday because of stiffness in his throwing shoulder, and despite two straight losses to Boston, there should be no sense of urgency to get him in the lineup.

Collins said there’s nothing wrong with Wright’s lower back, but why take the chance? Give him an extra, two if need be, because they have Juan Uribe.

Uribe can field the position and has been productive at the plate.

Plus, his heads-up play Saturday in which he backed up a throw to second and almost caught David Ortiz shows his head is always in the game.

The last thing I want right now is a setback with Wright. He’ll say he’s fine, because that’s what he does, but Collins should sit him and only use him as a pinch hitter.

Be smart, Mets.