Jul 25

Collins Issues Ultimatum; Mets Respond To Rout Dodgers

Timing is everything for the Mets, so it shouldn’t be shocking on the night manager Terry Collins issued an ultimatum his players better hit or take to the bench, the offense exploded for season-highs in runs (15) and (21).

“They’ve been put on notice it’s time to pick it up,’’ Collins said.

And, picked it up they did to make it an easy night of it for Matt Harvey, who coasted to his ninth victory in a 15-2 rout of the Dodgers. It was one of those games that made you scurry to the record books.

So much happened for the Mets, who had scored 21 runs in their previous eight games since the All-Star break:

* Kelly Johnson had two hits, including a homer in his first game as a Met.

* Rookie Michael Conforto, making his second start, slashed four hits and walked.

* Lucas Duda, the Met who has struggled more than any other Met, ripped two homers.

* Kirk Nieuwenhuis, starting in place of Juan Lagares, ripped four hits and walked.

* Ruben Tejada has three hits and scored three runs.

* Daniel Murphy homered.

* Harvey helped his own cause with two hits and two RBI.

“If you want to stay in the lineup, you’ve got to start hitting,’’ Collins said. “Our pitching is good enough to keep us in any game. … I’ll tell you what: Whoever is swinging the bat is going to play. It’s about scoring some runs right now.’’

In the baseball vernacular, games like tonight are called laughers, and laugh they did. It has been a long time coming.

Of course, it’s baseball, and there’s no telling what can happen the next day. Tomorrow, the Mets face Zack Greinke.

Jul 24

The Mets Add Conforto; Deal With Braves Pending

Michael Conforto was lifting weights when his minor league manager, Pedro Lopez, approached him with a cell phone to inform him of his promotion to the Mets. Now, comes the part of trying to withstand the temptation to lift the Mets.

Of course, that’s easier said then done, especially with the numbers screaming this is a team in desperate need of help. After Friday’s 7-2 loss to the Dodgers the Mets are losers of six of their last eight games. They have the worst team batting average in the majors at .233 and next to last in runs scored with 331.

Yes, the Mets are a team in need and along with the much-anticipated promotion of Conforto, they were on the verge of swinging a deal with Atlanta for third baseman Juan Uribe and left-handed hitting utility player Kelly Johnson.

Conforto, at least, seems to have his head screwed on straight regarding expectations.

“I haven’t played in big league games,’’ Conforto said. “So really there’s no way for me to really know if I’m ready.’’

Conforto is here because Michael Cuddyer was finally placed on the disabled list with a sore knee. That decision came at least three weeks too late by GM Sandy Alderson.

Alderson, as usual, spoke legalese when it came to talking about Conforto’s expectations, saying there was thought he would “super dramatically,’’ upgrade the Mets’ production. Conforto was hitless but drove in the Mets’ first run with a groundout.

Maybe Alderson was attempting to take the pressure off Conforto, but the game’s smartest general manager, according to his auto-biography, couched everything.

Alderson said the promotion might have occurred without Cuddyer’s injury, but since it was tied to a player going on the disabled list there was no guarantee how long he would stay up here. Alderson also said the promotion was no connection as to how active the Mets will be on the trade market.

By the end of the game, the Mets hadn’t announced the trade that would send pitching prospects Michael Gant and Rob Whalen to the Braves.

Figuring it does, the Mets could play Uribe at third, move Daniel Murphy back to second and Wilmer Flores back to shortstop. Of course, that means Ruben Tejada will likely return to the bench.

Johnson, who can also play both outfield positions as well as the infield, is hitting .275 with nine homers and 34 RBI, numbers which could arguably make him the Mets’ best hitter.

Do Conforto, Uribe and Johnson make the Mets decidedly better?

Not really.

Uribe, who is hitting .272 with eight homers and 23 RBI, this year with Atlanta and the Dodgers, and Johnson, bring with them batting averages that would put them at the top of Mets, but they are essentially complementary players. And, Conforto, whom Alderson didn’t want to bring up in the first place, remains a Double-A prospect.

You could say they make the Mets better because what has been here has been so bad.

That’s not really that comforting, is it?

Surely, there has to be more. There just has to be.

Jul 23

Alderson Calls Into Question His Believability

He wouldn’t be Sandy Alderson if he weren’t snide and condescending. The Mets’ general manager told reporters this afternoon at Citi Field the team could add payroll.

“We have the ability to take on payroll,’’ Alderson told reporters, then added, “even though none of you will believe me.’’

ALDERSON: Holds court. (AP)

ALDERSON: Holds court. (AP)

Geez, Sandy, ever wonder why that is?

Could it be he’s gone back on nearly every player-acquisition comment he’s made? Could it be hardly any of his injury update statements have proven false? Could it be “Mr. Panic City” has made a habit of being flippant and rude? And, let’s not even start with the shortstop and leadoff decisions, not to mention talk of 90 wins.

Late last month Alderson was quoted in the New York Daily News saying it was within his budget to acquire a pricey, impact bat. Now, Aramis Ramirez – who is none of those things is reportedly on his way to Pittsburgh – there’s no interest in Justin Upton, and now even Oakland’s Ben Zobrist, who is making around $4 million, is too expensive.

I’m just wondering who this middle-of-the-order, inexpensive quality bat is and where he’s coming from?

It’s hard to tell if the Mets are buyers or sellers, considering they will still entertain offers for Jon Niese, Friday’s starter, who has been exceptional the past two months.

If the Mets are to contend they need hitting, but they’ll also need what Niese is giving them, which they apparently won’t get from Bartolo Colon or Dillon Gee.

Niese is under contract through 2016 and with the Mets holding a club option for 2017 and 2018. They would be open to dealing Niese if the contract they would take on has similar parameters.

So, I don’t see Niese leaving any time soon.

And, not coming any time soon is David Wright, who Alderson said would resume baseball activity next week in New York.

Of course, we’ve heard that several times since Wright went on the disabled list in April.

 

Jul 23

Mets’ Lineup, July 23, Dodgers

Here’s the Mets’ starting lineup tonight against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw.

Curtis Granderson – RF

Ruben Tejada – SS

Wilmer Flores – 2B

John Mayberry Jr. – LF

Eric Campbell – 3B

Lucas Duda – 1B

Juan Lagares – CF

Anthony Recker – C

Bartolo Colon – RHP

 COMMENTS: John Mayberry Jr., he of the .170 batting average is hitting clean-up says it all for the Mets. … But, in case you wanted more: 1) if Tejada is batting second he might as well hit leadoff and have Granderson dropped in the order; 2) four starters are hitting .255 or lower, while another three are hitting below .200.

By the way, just wondering, but if an average is below .200 can you really call it “hitting?”

Jul 23

The Mystery Is Over For Colon

If you’re Bartolo Colon pitching against Clayton Kershaw tonight, considering the Mets’ anemic offense you can’t like your chances if you give up a couple of runs.

Then again, if you’re the Mets’ hitters, you can’t like your chances with Colon on the mound. The Mets aren’t scoring and Colon isn’t preventing anybody from scoring and that’s a losing combination.

COLON: Hanging on. (AP)

COLON: Hanging on. (AP)

At one time Colon was 9-4 with a reasonable chance to make the All-Star team. He was one of the good stories early this year.

He goes into tonight’s game against the Dodgers at 9-8, going 3-6 with a 5.74 ERA over his last ten starts. The Mets have lost six of Colon’s last seven starts, scoring just a combined ten runs. The opposition has scored 33 runs.

Colon now finds himself hanging onto his career, one spanning 18 years and eight teams.

When you’re 42 and primarily throw a not-so-fast fastball, you will get crushed if your control is off. Colon simply doesn’t have the stuff to overcome mistakes.

“It’s all command with him,’’ manager Terry Collins said after Colon’s last start. “Bartolo does not change the way he pitches. Primarily fastball, with a mix of some change-ups and some sliders, but when he commands the fastball, the other stuff is just an accent. And when he doesn’t command the fastball, he’s not the kind of a guy who’s going to go strictly off-speed, he just doesn’t pitch like that.’’

The Mets signed Colon two years ago to a $20-million contract with the intent of logging innings when Matt Harvey was out. He surprised us with 202.1 innings and 15 victories in 2014, and with nine wins so far this season. They got their money’s worth.

In fairness, he exceeded early expectations, but unfortunately is now living up to them.

And, it isn’t pretty.