Aug 09

Mets Head West With Second Place On Their Minds

The New York Mets balked at trading Bobby Parnell and Marlon Byrd at the deadline, citing the desire to finish as strong as possible.

One Mets’ executive told me finishing at .500 would be defined as a successful season, one that began with many forecasting as many as 100 losses.

COLLINS and F. WILPON: Thinking about second.

COLLINS and F. WILPON: Thinking about second.

How close they come to reaching that objective will greatly be determined by this upcoming road trip.

After sweeping Colorado, the Mets begin a four-city, 11-game road trip starting tonight in Arizona. From there the Mets go to Los Angeles for a series against the Dodgers, then to San Diego and on their way home, stop in Minnesota for a make-up game layover against the Twins.

West Coast trips have often been killers to the Mets, and this one stands to be no different. There’s not an easy game on the schedule, then there’s that fun trip to Minnesota when then would be spent at the time.

“This might be, in my time here, the toughest road trip we’ve had to face,’’ manager Terry Collins said Thursday afternoon as his players packed to board a bus to the airport.

“You’ve got to face the two top teams in the National League West, who are playing very, very good, and we know San Diego has good pitching.’’

The Mets leapfrogged Philadelphia and are one game behind Washington for second place in the NL East. They are even in the loss column. Collins, who has made more than expected with little this year, has his eyes on second place, even if it doesn’t translate into the playoffs.

“I think it’d be huge,’’ Collins said. “I think it’d be an enormous lift not only for the team, because they certainly deserve everything they got, but the entire organization. Some of these young guys have come up and contributed to what we’re doing now. You got to keep battling. Right now we got 50 left. That’s still an uphill climb.’’

Sure it is, but it is better than the last three seasons when the Mets folded after the break. Finishing in second place – or at .500 – is a sign of significant progress, which will have the Mets head into winter with significantly fewer questions than in previous years.

Also, with the Mets saying they have the resources this winter, their situation might be more enticing to several free agents. You never know.

However, complicating their objective is possibly losing closer Parnell to season-ending surgery to repair a disk in his neck and David Wright on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. The Mets don’t expect Wright back during this trip.

Even so, there are no excuses. The Mets had to overcome injuries all season and must do it again as they attempt to play meaningful games in September.

Meaningful games in September? Who would have thought?

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

Aug 07

Mets’ Bobby Parnell Faces Surgery

The New York Mets aren’t ready to say it yet, but there’s a good chance Bobby Parnell’s breakthrough season might be broken down. Parnell has a herniated disk in his neck that could require surgery is  a pair of epidurals don’t work.

PARNELL: Surgery possible.

PARNELL: Surgery possible.

Parnell had an epidural Monday and could receive another in a week. Surgery could be the next option if they don’t take.

It is an option Parnell must prepare himself to take right now, because extending this season isn’t as important a priority as in getting ready for next year. Should Parnell rush himself back, or allow the Mets to hurry him, and there’s another setback it could hinder his preparation for next season.

The Mets have numerous examples of where they’ve rushed an injured player. They appear to have a closer worth building around in Parnell and can’t risk losing him to a serious injury by mishandling him.

“It’s just a holding pattern right now,’’ Parnell told reporters. “We’ll see what happens. … I’m going to try that until I can’t anymore. If it doesn’t work, then surgery is an option. If I do have surgery, they said I’ll be ready for spring training next year. It’s just a waiting game right now.

“I don’t want the season to end like this. I want to get back. But I’ve got to be smart about it, too. If I go out and re-injure it right quick, it’s going to set me back even farther.’’

MEJIA SHINES AGAIN: The Mets must be thrilled with what they received from Jenrry Mejia Tuesday night against Colorado.

First, he pitched to the expectations long expected of him, and second, he did so without the bone spur pain that bothered him in his previous start.

Mejia will have surgery to remove the bone spur in the offseason.

In his three starts since being promoted, Mejia has three walks, 18 strikeouts with a 1.96 ERA. That’s far more encouraging than his last assignment with the Mets in 2010, when then-manager Jerry Manuel attempted to force-feed him a reliever’s role. The shuffling back-and-forth between roles eventually led to an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery.

If the Mets just keep him as a starter and let him develop, they would have only wasted time and not a potential career.

FLORES ADMITS TO NERVES: Rookie prospect Wilmer Flores was hitless in his first four major league at-bats last night and committed an error at third base.

Later Flores conceded his anxiousness.

“A little bit too excited,’’ Flores said. “You want to do well. I was a little bit nervous that first at-bat, but I had fun.’’

Fun is only part of it, because with David Wright out for perhaps as long as a month, this is Flores’ chance to make a strong impression.

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

Aug 06

Wilmer Flores To Make Debut; Bobby Parnell Goes On DL

The New York Mets are finally giving Wilmer Flores his opportunity as they promoted him from Triple-A Las Vegas and will start him tonight at third base against Colorado. Ironically, today is Flores’ 22nd birthday.

The Mets, currently in an overall team-hitting slump, could use an offensive boost from Flores, who is hitting .321 with 15 homers and 86 RBI. The thought of Flores coming close to that with the Mets is enticing. They certainly aren’t going to get production from Justin Turner.

FLORES: Gets his chance.

FLORES: Gets his chance.

To make room on the roster for Flores, closer Bobby Parnell was placed on the disabled list with pain in his neck. Parnell received an anti-inflammatory injection Monday.

The Mets could make another roster move this weekend if Jonathan Niese is activated from the disabled list. Niese, rehabbing from a partial rotator cuff tear, will make what is hoped to be his final rehab start tonight for Double-A Binghamton. If all goes well, he could start Sunday at Arizona.

If not, he’ll make another rehab start.

Here’s tonight’s lineup, the 82nd different one this season, against Colorado:

Eric Young, LF: Has 15 steals since joining the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Has 20 RBI since July 6.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has at least one hit in 16 of his last 20 games.

Ike Davis, 1B: Batting .194 (13-for-67) with RISP.

Juan Lagares, CF: Is hitting .303 (47-for-155) since June 5.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: Makes major league debut on 22nd birthday. Are all the stars aligned?

John Buck, C: On a 3-for-28 (.107) over his last eight games.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Drew 19 walks in July, third in the NL.

Jenrry Mejia, RHP: Will make his third start. The first two were quality starts.

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

Aug 06

Mets Should Cut Ties With Valdespin

Talent usually warrants numerous chances, but will the New York Mets offer another to Jordany Valdespin in the wake of his 50-game suspension from the Biogenesis scandal?

Considering his other baggage, which ranges from a temper tantrum directed at Terry Collins when he was optioned to Triple-A; to being suspended from winter ball; to being photographed wearing a Marlins hat; to not hustling, and finally his look-at-me demeanor such as styling after a home run in a game seemingly decided, it’s likely we’ll never see him play for the Mets again.

VALDESPIN: Time to cut ties. (Wikipedia)

VALDESPIN: Time to cut ties. (Wikipedia)

Valdespin failed when given a chance to play second base, but has hit since his demotion. Yes, talent usually warrants another chance, but how real is the positive Valdespin displayed last year?

Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, for one, is curious. Valdespin recently homered off Clippard, and the pitcher is wondering if the Mets’ outfielder had help. You know, better baseball through chemistry.  Clippard did not hide his anger at Valdespin, telling The Washington Post: “You’re like, ‘Those guys are doing stuff that’s affecting my career and they’re not playing the game the right way.’ So that’s frustrating.

“I think anybody can relate to that. If they’re not doing things the right way, and they’re beating you, then it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. So that’s why this is so important. Because nobody – players, ownership – nobody wants to see guys cheat.’’

Valdespin was drilled after his home run styling, and who can blame Clippard if he throws high heat the next time they face each other.

The Mets have tired of Valdespin’s act, so if he were to be released would anybody be surprised? The Mets talk about changing their culture, and getting rid of Valdespin would be a step in the right direction. If he becomes a star elsewhere, so be it.

If Clippard is upset about being beaten by a tainted Valdespin, think for a moment a Mets’ prospect who might be overlooked in favor of this guy.

This is where the Players Association is finally getting it, and is showing support for the rank-and-file over the high-salaried cheaters. It is the Players Association’s obligation to protect the accused, as it is doing with Alex Rodriguez, but it is finally yielding to the low-salaried and low-profile players whose careers are threatened by cheaters.

And, Valdespin is one of them.

Valdespin’s representative offered a lame statement about him not appealing the 50-game suspension as to not be a distraction, but in reality if he was innocent of any wrong-doing wouldn’t he have appealed?

Because he didn’t, we can conclude two things: 1) Major League Baseball had serious proof against him, or 2) MLB was bluffing and Valdespin fell for it.

If you’re innocent, you appeal. Nonetheless, it is time for the Mets to sever their relationship with Valdespin, and the sooner the better.

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

Aug 02

Using Zack Wheeler Out Of The Bullpen Is A Bad Idea

There are bad ideas and really bad ideas, and the New York Mets considering using Zack Wheeler out of the bullpen falls into the latter category.

WHEELER: Leave him alone. (AP)

WHEELER: Leave him alone. (AP)

Wheeler has thrown a combined 114.1 minors-and-majors innings this season with a cutoff number at 180. With the intent of limiting his innings, manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen are mulling using Wheeler out of the bullpen.

This is a bad idea on so many levels, beginning with the up-and-down nature of a reliever. The Mets will say they will only use Wheeler at the start of an inning, but that’s no guarantee. It is still a change in routine and they must scrap this idea immediately.

The Mets’ goal of winning as many games as possible in the second half and limiting Wheeler and Matt Harvey aren’t mutually compatible. The best way to achieve their goal of making a .500 run is to not change their pitching, which has been good.

Pitchers are creatures of habit and Wheeler hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen since 2010. For the past three years, he’s worked in the routine of a starter. Bouncing from starter to reliever in the middle of a season is never a good idea. The Mets should know that by now with Jenrry Mejia, who went from reliever to starter and ended up having Tommy John surgery.

A coincidence? Perhaps, but why take the chance? Considering how the Mets handled Wheeler with kid gloves, thrusting him into a new role is counter productive. It might be different if the Mets were in a pennant race, but they are not.

Figuring ten more starts they should simply cut Wheeler at six innings a game and do not deviate under any circumstances. That would give him 174.1 innings, just under the limit. This way, it keeps Wheeler in his normal routine and eliminate the different strain on his arm caused by working in relief. A starter has a set program, but a reliever does not.

San Francisco used Tim Lincecum out of the pen last year, but he’s a veteran more capable of making the adjustment than Wheeler.

Currently, the Mets are operating with a six-man rotation, which could go back to five once Jonathan Niese comes off the disabled list. The Mets have not said they’ll continue with six when Niese returns. Doing so might not be a bad idea because it would accomplish the dual  purposes of monitoring Wheeler and Harvey, not to mention protecting Niese.

If the Mets go down to five, it would give Wheeler and Harvey additional turns. In that case, they should be skipped or pushed back a turn, which is preferable to shaving innings piecemeal..

The Mets haven’t said whether they will have an innings limit on Wheeler and Harvey next season, but if they do, they should map out their plan from the beginning than doing so mid-stream.

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