Apr 12

Lagares At Leadoff … Finally

Well, it’s about time the Mets wised up and used Juan Lagares in the leadoff spot. And, it doesn’t matter that he went 0-for-5 in Sunday’s 4-3 victory in Atlanta.

After six games Lagares is batting .160, with an identical on-base percentage. It isn’t a stretch to suggest his slow start was caused in large part by moving from first to sixth in the batting order, this after spending spring training working on hitting leadoff.

LAGARES: In leadoff spot. (AP)

LAGARES: In leadoff spot. (AP)

Both Lagares and the Mets sizzled offensively during spring training, but as Terry Collins pointed out, there is a difference between Florida and the regular season.

However, there must be some correlation for preparing for one role for six weeks and then suddenly changing. Athletes are creatures of habit and Lagares – whose strong 2014 season warranted a four-year extension – was obviously unsettled by the switch. As an impressionable young player, how could he not be?

Moving him was a mistake, whether it was Collins’ idea or GM Sandy Alderson’s, but even more absurd was Collins’ explanation he wanted Lagares to avoid the top of Washington’s rotation.

That couldn’t have been much of a confidence builder, and as a young player, that’s what he needs most.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

 

 

Apr 11

Mets Week In Review: An Encouraging Start

If the Mets play out this season as they did their first week, I’ll take it. In a heartbeat I would take it.

mets-logoball-2They are 2-2 after four games, which is .500, the bullseye placed on their back. They played four tight, taut games, that if the breaks went a different way could have put them at 0-4.

The upside is they could also just as easily be at 4-0, which is the beauty of it all.

A clutch hit here or there by the Nationals against Bartolo Colon or Matt Harvey puts a different spin on the week. Just as easily, however, a tighter defense last night and a better pitch from Jacob deGrom spins the week another way.

What we can take out of the first week is the Mets figure to be a team that should tay in every game, and I’ll take that any time because it should mean being there in the end, which is another way of saying they will play meaningful baseball in September.

And, you must do that before you can play meaningful games in October, and isn’t that what we all want – regardless of who makes out the lineup card?

Here’s what I took from the first week:

* Bartolo Colon has something left in his tank. He overcame a rough first inning to beat Washington to show us all there’s nothing wrong with a little age.

* Something the Mets haven’t consistently done in recent seasons was to capitalize on opportunities, which is what they did in both their victories over the Nationals. So, when in doubt, hitting the ball to Ian Desmond is a good strategy.

* Matt Harvey is pitching with a chip on his shoulder aimed at those who tend to judge him on more than what he does on the mound. If that’s his motivation, so be it. Just keep pitching this way and all will be well. Do that and let the Mets worry about keeping him from the Yankees in the future.

* The bullpen is better than advertised. Rafael Montero took the loss Friday night in Atlanta, but the loss lies on Wilmer Flores’ errant throws, a bad decision by David Wright and not hitting in the clutch. Having fundamental breakdowns is how the Mets will likely lose most of their games this season. It will be maddening, but, then again, that’s the Mets.

* A week in and we haven’t seen a lot of power, and that’s probably the way it will go all season. This team needs Lucas Duda’s home run bat.

* Injuries helped shape the Opening Day roster and as always will play a significant role. The Mets lost Josh Edgin and Zack Wheeler before the season started, then lost Jenrry Mejia on Opening Day.

* An underlying theme this week has been the lineup. Whether it is all Terry Collins and not from above – which I doubt – it hasn’t produced an offensive explosion, and it has left Juan Lagares, the projected leadoff hitter, in a funk. He’s not the only one, as Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Flores are also running in mud. Wright, Duda and Travis d’Arnaud are having strong starts, but then again, it has been only four games.

* The closeness of the games is a good sign, but it should also be a nagging reminder of the red flag of their thin bench. Eventually, they’ll have a game when they’ll be caught short.

No, it hasn’t been a great start – although the starting pitching has been a positive – but we’ve seen far worse from the Mets. It has been an encouraging start, and if they are standing at .500 six months from now I’ll have a hunger for much more from them.

And, isn’t that what we want?

Apr 09

Memo To Harvey: Quit Whining And Just Pitch

Matt Harvey is pitching today, and with this event comes the question: Is he more interested in being a New York media darling or a Mets’ star?

It seems that way..

Like everybody else, I was enamored with the possibility of what Harvey could bring to the Mets and whether he could help them become a viable franchise again.

HARVEY: On his throne. (ESPN)

HARVEY: On his throne. (ESPN)

The operative word is “help,’’ because not one player can do it by himself, which I say because Harvey seems to be separating himself from the “common folk,’’ who are his teammates.

However, he comes off as someone not interested in the collaborative effort – that he knows best – but who rather marches to his own beat. So be it when you have the track record to back it up, but he has only 12 victories in the major leagues.

He is “potential over proven commodity,’’ which makes his threat for people to judge him by his pitching and not his off-the-field life laughable.

That’s hard to do because Harvey throws his off-the-field life into our faces on a regular basis, whether it be posing nude for ESPN; arguing with the front office where to do his rehab; letting himself be photographed in public kissing models or taking them to see the Rangers; or disregarding the perception of being seen at a Yankees game to watch Derek Jeter.

That didn’t go over well with management and some of his teammates, but he doesn’t care. He also doesn’t acknowledge his own recklessness of trying to pitch through obvious pain and not reporting the discomfort in his forearm could have contributed to his elbow injury.

Apparently, making that start in the All-Star Game was more important than anything else.

Take a look at his smirk in the accompanying photograph. Who, but somebody with a huge ego would allow himself to be photographed that way?

No, we don’t see the effort behind-the-scenes of his workouts and conditioning, but we do hear about his off-the-field exploits of wanting to bed as many women as Jeter and his clubbing and drinking.

Good for him. Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Mickey Mantle were New York media icons, but had the accomplishments to back it up. Harvey has won 12 games.

In the end, the nightlife killed Mantle and destroyed the playing careers of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. It is also part of why the Mets didn’t bring back Jose Reyes.

However, Harvey is young and walks with the attitude “it won’t happen to me.’’

But, it can. The questions are “when’’ and “where.’’ Will it be in Queens or the Bronx as a Yankee? Crosstown, it seems, is where he really wants to be.

At least, that’s the perception, not that he wants to be a star with the Mets, who by the way, are his employers who have the right to judge him.

Sure, I’m all for honoring Harvey’s diva-like demand to judge him on his pitching. OK,  then just shut up and pitch and don’t distract us with the other stuff.

 

Apr 08

Mets Game Wrap: DeGrom Falls Short; Offense Sputters

SCORE: Washington 2, Mets 1.

RECORD: 1-1.

THE SKINNY: It’s painful to waste strong outings by the starter, but that’s what the Mets did Wednesday behind Jacob deGrom. The Mets’ offense sputtered and left the bases loaded in the second against Jordan Zimmerman.

GAME SUMMARY: Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer off deGrom and the Mets’ new look line-up offered just six hits.

PITCHING:  Under normal circumstances, the Mets would take what deGrom gave them every night, two runs in six innings. … Rafael Montero pitched two scoreless innings in relief.

HITTING:  Could we please forget about this line-up? … The Mets bunched together three hits for a run in the second, with Travis d’Arnaud getting a RBI single. However, they left the bases loaded. … David Wright singled in the eighth for his first hit of the season.

NOTES:  Prior to the game GM Sandy Alderson poked his head into Terry Collins‘ office and joked he had the lineup. Always with the jokes is Alderson.

UP NEXT: The Mets conclude their first series of the season Thursday in an afternoon game with Matt Harvey starting against Stephen Strasburg.

Apr 08

Mets Game Thread: DeGrom Done For Night

Jacob deGrom’s 2015 debut was a solid one for the Mets, but he’s still on the hook for the loss as the game moves into the eighth inning.

DeGrom gave up two runs on six hits – a two-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman – with two walks and six strikeouts in six innings, and departed trailing 2-1.

Rafael Montero relieved and pitched a scoreless seventh.

SCORE: Washington 2, Mets 1 (top 8th)