Jun 24

Collins Will Be Scapegoat If Mets’ Fall Continues

The Mets’ season hasn’t exactly slipped away, but it seems that way with the fruits from an 11-game winning streak having all but slipped away.

Most likely if this season totally turns to dust, it will be manager Terry Collins who will be the fall guy. Already vultures, those talking heads and those calling in to talk with them, are circling the dying body of another Mets’ season.

COLLINS: Out on limb. (AP)

COLLINS: Out on limb. (AP)

Do I think the Mets can right themselves, turn this summer around and make a run at the playoffs? Yes, I do.

Do I believe they will do so? No, I do not.

I don’t because I can’t see the Mets doing anything of significance in adding a power bat to their line-up. And, I don’t have faith David Wright will come back soon, and in top form if he does. I also don’t see much coming in the second half from Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer.

The Wilpons, despite getting a near $170 windfall in the Madoff case, aren’t about to spend, and I have no confidence GM Sandy Alderson – even with the financial resources – will make a trade.

There are also serious concerns about the bullpen and defense.

The Mets used injuries, and deservedly so, as a reason to extend Collins’ contract. That could work again, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Alderson is already on record saying he doesn’t have faith in Collins and with him getting heat of his own, sacking the manager will protect him.

 

Jun 23

Niese Betrayed By Hitters And Defense

Just when you think you never want to see Jon Niese on the mound again for the Mets, he goes out and pitches a decent game. It was a game he could have won if the Mets had any kind of offense. Then again, Milwaukee had its chances to blow it open, but to his credit Niese kept the Mets in the game.

In six innings Niese gave up two runs on eight hits and three walks. By today’s lax standards it was considered a “quality start.’’ Eleven base runners in six innings are not particularly good. Neither are the 99 pitches he threw.

However, what I took from Niese’s effort in tonight’s 3-2 loss at Milwaukee was how he minimized the damage. It isn’t something we’ve seen often this season.

Something we have seen often is the Mets’ woeful offense. They scored just two runs and had no hits after the third inning. Also, throw in a dozen strikeouts. There was also a costly defensive breakdown in Michael Cuddyer’s run-producing error in the seventh. And, Ruben Tejada misplayed another bunt while playing third base that cost the Mets a run.

The Mets have scored eight runs in their last six games, all losses.

The loss was the Mets’ 17th of the season by a margin of two runs or less and dropped them to .500 at 36-36. Now, all fruits from their 11-game winning streak are gone.

Damn, they are frustrating.

Jun 23

Playing The Blame Game With Mets’ Hitting

Once ten games over .500, the Mets are a team dangerously close to having an even ledger should they lose tonight to Milwaukee, a team they should have pushed around in Citi Field, but did not.

Eleven-game winning streaks are to be built on, not used as a safe haven to play mediocre ball. For a team unable to score runs, Jon Niese is not the guy you want on the mound tonight.

The Mets have blown two 1-0 starts from Matt Harvey and one from Jacob deGrom. They have lost 16 of their 35 games by two runs or less. Had they won half those games they would be 44-27, good for first in the NL East and with the second best record in baseball behind the computer-hacking St. Louis Cardinals.

Hitting coach Kevin Long is basically saying, “these things happen and we just have to break out of it.’’

If you think that’s an oversimplification, it is not.

There’s no help coming from the minors; they won’t trade any of their young starting pitching for a big bat; the pitchers they would trade, Dillon Gee, Niese and Bartolo Colon, nobody really wants, at least not now; and they don’t have any position players to deal.

You can blame the Wilpons for not opening their check book last winter, or you can blame Sandy Alderson for not doing anything significant in the offseason. You can certainly blame the hitters for not producing. You can also blame Terry Collins, because after all, blaming the manager always seems like the easy option.

There’s a lot of blame to go around, but precious little hope right now.

Jun 22

Willie Randolph Deserved Better From Mets

It was nice to see the Yankees honor Willie Randolph, but it was also a reminder of how shabbily he was treated by the Mets during his short tenure as manager. Randolph’s lifetime 302-253 record is the third highest record among Mets’ managers, behind Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine.

RANDOLPH: Back stabbed in the end. (AP)

RANDOLPH: Back stabbed in the end. (AP)

The Mets were on the verge of becoming a National League power when they last made the playoffs in 2006. Their payroll was over $140 million, and this team could hit with a healthy David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado.

Hitting was no problem, with the primary issues being the back end of the rotation and bullpen, which was exposed in 2007 when the Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining. The Mets also coughed up the NL East on the final weekend in 2008.

The Mets’ pitching began to decline at this time because of injuries and ineffectiveness, and as the team started to lose Randolph found himself unfairly in the crosshairs in 2008. Johan Santana was injured; Mike Pelfrey failed to reach his potential; and Oliver Perez was a mess. In 2008, Randolph’s last season, the Mets used 24 pitchers.

Randolph’s tenure was also sabotaged by the front office, which made increasingly bad acquisitions, but worse spied on the manager as assistant general manager Tony Bernazard was a constant presence in the clubhouse. There were also reports Delgado, who was not a Randolph fan, ripped the manager to Jose Reyes.

So much was going on behind Randolph’s back and he was powerless. That he was fired shortly after midnight after a game in Anaheim – 3 in the morning in New York – was an inevitability.

Too bad, because the last time the Mets were formidable was under Randolph.

 

Jun 19

Mets Should Sign DeGrom Over Harvey

Should the Mets opt to sign just one of their wunderkind pitchers to a long-term contract, my choice would be tonight’s starter, Jacob deGrom. And, if they opt to trade one, I’d first offer Matt Harvey.

Ideally, after this season they should make a run at signing all three to long-term deals. The money would be high, but not nearly what it will eventually be. They must be aggressive and determined, but do you really see that happening?

DE GROM: A keeper. (AP)

DE GROM: A keeper. (AP)

I can’t say for sure deGrom would be easiest to sign or cost less. That’s a hunch. But, it certainly wouldn’t be Harvey, whose agent, Scott Boras, is known for not leaving any money on the table. Boras’ plan has traditionally been to wait until a player reaches free-agent status and play the market. Undoubtedly, this is what he wants with Harvey, and ideally, he wants to play the Mets against the Yankees.

I’ve said numerous times Harvey yearns to be a Yankee. If I am right, that’s fine, that’s his prerogative, that’s his right, but the Mets shouldn’t get caught up in a bidding war. If they want to keep Harvey for the duration of his career, they need to strike before the market opens. But, I don’t think Boras will let that happen, unless, of course, the Mets would be offering 2019 money, which is the year he becomes a free agent.

I don’t believe that will happen, either. However, if the Mets are as committed to building a winning team as they claim to be, they must dig deep.

The guess here is deGrom and Noah Syndergaard might be easier to sign.

DeGrom (7-4, 2.33) is pitching the best so far this season – he is 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA over his last six starts – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He could have won another had his defense and bullpen not coughed it up for him tonight.

There’s a lot to like about deGrom, including his mound composure, command and ability to locate his pitches. Harvey has those things, too, but this year his command has been off as evidenced by all the home runs he’s given up.

So, if it boils down to one in deGrom vs. Harvey and whom to keep, I’m going with deGrom. He has about the same amount of talent, could be financially a better investment, is not a diva, and ultimately, I can’t shake the belief Harvey’s heart is really in the Bronx.

That’s what I believe. I also believe if the Mets had to trade one, my first choice would be Harvey for the same reasons.