Jul 04

Three Mets’ Storylines: Don’t Forget Cespedes As MVP Candidate

As impressive as the Mets’ four-game sweep was of the Cubs, a case can be made it was validated by what they did Monday afternoon with their firecracker comeback victory over the Miami Marlins. You can even argue two of the Mets’ most important victories this season came during this home stand.

There was Thursday’s rally from three runs down – call it the Brandon Nimmo Game – in a 4-3 victory over the Cubs. Today, they overcame another poor performance from Matt Harvey to come from six runs behind to win their fifth straight game, 8-6, to pull within four games of Washington.

CESPEDES: MVP Candidate. (AP)

CESPEDES: MVP Candidate. (AP)

On Thursday they put the brakes on what was turning into a severe skid; today they pressed down on the accelerator in their playoff push.

There were three significant storylines from the game, with two – Harvey and the bullpen – intertwined. The third was Yoenis Cespedes‘ clutch hitting.

CESPEDES: I keep hearing about potential NL MVP candidates, among them Daniel Murphy and Kris Bryant.

But, Cespedes can’t be ignored. He has five of his 20 homers and 28 RBI coming with RISP. His 20 homers – fourth in the NL – suggest he’s in scoring position as soon as he leaves the on-deck circle. In his last 12 home games, Cespedes is batting .419 with four doubles and four homers, including that monster drive to jumpstart Thursday’s win.

Cespedes had no chance of being the NL MVP last year because of his limited time in the league. But this year, he’d be my choice, with his game-winning, two-run double in the eighth just another sample of what he’s been doing all year.

HARVEY: Gone are the feel-good thoughts Harvey might have turned around his season after making three strong starts. Harvey encored those three starts with four bad ones in which he gave up a combined 13 runs on 30 hits and five walks with only 15 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. For the second straight game Harvey worked just 3.2 innings. (In fairness, his outing was cut short in the Washington start by rain, but even so he wasn’t pitching well.)

Harvey hasn’t come away with a victory since, May 30, some seven starts ago.

On the bright side, he hasn’t given up a homer since his May 24 loss at Washington when he gave up three. However, of his 17 starts he’s only gone seven innings twice.

For someone who considers himself an ace, this is unacceptable. For those of you who still believe him to be an ace, kindly think again if his 4-10 record and 4.86 ERA haven’t convinced you. That’s not to say he can’t be an ace in the future, but not now.

The Mets will need Harvey because of looming physical questions of Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard.

BULLPEN: The pen has been maligned, but today it stepped up with 5.1 scoreless innings.

The Mets didn’t have Addison Reed, but were picked up by Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins and Jeurys Familia. Kudos for Verrett and Robles for working out of trouble, and again for Familia, who always seems to be on the ropes only to escape with his 29th straight victory.

A point that requires no debate: Championship teams need a strong bullpen.

Jun 21

What Do You Think, Should The Mets Go After Reyes?

Losing has a way of changing one’s perception. For the Mets in means dramatically softening their “you gotta be kidding me,” stance on bringing back Jose Reyes to `let’s think about it.” Losing third baseman David Wright and a team-wide offensive drought gave GM Sandy Alderson second thoughts.

He’s kicking the tires on the idea of a reunion.

Reyes has been on the radar of Mets’ fans almost from the moment he bolted for the Miami Marlins. It wasn’t long before he was traded to Toronto, and Colorado, before he was designated for assignment. The Rockies have until Saturday to trade him, or put him on release waivers where he’d become a free agent and they would have to eat his salary.

REYES: Reunion would be a good idea now. (AP)

REYES: Reunion would be a good idea now. (AP)

Compared to the $106 million Reyes got when he signed with Miami, the Mets would be on the hook for a prorated portion of the major-league minimum. That’s chump change for a temporary fix to their offensive problems.

We’re still four to five weeks from the trade deadline, but teams like the White Sox, who have Todd Frazier, and the Rays, who have Evan Longoria, will decide whether or not they want to trade. When you look at the standings, there are about ten teams you would be pretty confident saying won’t make the playoffs. Minnesota, the Angels and Oakland in the American League; the Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Rockies, Arizona, San Diego and Reds in the National League.

However, with the wild card, playoff scenarios can be fluid. That means Reyes could be a Band-Aid until the Mets can trade for a tourniquet.

Manager Terry Collins didn’t seem to object to the idea when he spoke to reporters: “When we lost Jose, I thought, ‘Boy, this is a major piece gone.’  His energy to play the game, his love to play the game, his love to play the game in New York City, it’s hard to find. It’s hard to find those guys. We missed him. I don’t know what’s going to happen down the road. Certainly, I always root for him.”

Even so, bringing back Reyes doesn’t come without baggage and issues:

* Most recently, there was a domestic-violence incident last Oct. 31 in Hawaii. He was arrested, but charges were dropped when his wife would not cooperate with authorities. The State of Hawaii couldn’t come up with a case and he served his suspension from Major League Baseball. In the eyes of the law, Reyes paid his debt and merits a second chance.

Today on talk-radio, a point was raised that Mets’ fans, if unhappy about Reyes based on the domestic issue, can influence the team’s decision. Don’t bet on that, because the thinking is if Reyes can help he’ll be signed. By now, I hope you realize the Mets will ignore the media – I’m used to that – and fans when it comes to building their team.

Word is Reyes wants to return, but it will be as a third baseman. If |the Mets want him to make public appearances against domestic violence, that’s part of the plan. Reyes would not push Asdrubal Cabrera off shortstop.

* It must also be noted the 2016 version of Reyes is greatly different than the player who beat out a bunt and walked off the field to preserve his batting title. I never liked that about Reyes and neither did the Mets. Apparently, their dire offensive situation gave them pause to move on.

I was against keeping Reyes at first, then bringing him back, because he’s a speed player who didn’t run his last year with the team and had two stints on the disabled list with hamstring pulls. If you’re thinking Reyes will come here and steal 30 bases for the Mets, well, can I interest you in some ocean front property in Arizona?

If Reyes returns he’ll still have the same issues of a mediocre on-base percentage and a lot of strikeouts. But, he would hit leadoff which would enable the Mets to drop Curtis Granderson to the middle of the order where he and Yoenis Cespedes would be back-to-back.

The way the Mets are presently constructed, having a healthy Reyes back, even though his skills might be diminished, would be an improvement.

Go for it.

Jun 05

Mets Wrap: Harvey Says It Is Only One More Step

HARVEY: Another step. (AP)

HARVEY: Another step. (AP)

It is hard to say Matt Harvey turned the corner for the simple reason the Mets’ pitcher himself won’t acknowledge the possibility.

Harvey encored the seven shutout innings he threw in his last start against the White Sox with seven more strong innings in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the Miami Marlins. He sure looked good, but …

“It’s still two starts,” Harvey told reporters. “Obviously, there were massive struggles that happened before. The only thing you want to think of is not letting that creep back in. Today was, I guess you could say, a second step from the last start. But obviously going deep into the game and feeling pretty good, it’s definitely a positive.”

Harvey struck out only three hitters, but that’s a positive because the Marlins put the ball in play to keep his pitch down to 104.

METS GAME WRAP

June 5, 2016, @ Miami

Game: #55          Score:  Marlins 1, Mets 0

Record: 31-24     Streak: L 1

Standings: Second, NL East, two games behind Washington.  Playoffs: First WC, 1.5 games ahead of Pittsburgh.

Runs: 54    Average:  3.8   Times 3 or less: 27

SUMMARY: Harvey was superb, but Miami starter Jose Fernandez was basically untouchable.

KEY MOMENT:  Wilmer Flores struck out to end the seventh with two runners on to end the Mets’ best scoring opportunity.

THUMBS UP:  Yoenis Cespedes did not start, but was able to bat as a pinch-hitter. He should be able to play Monday in Pittsburgh. … Michael Conforto continued his breakout signs with another hit. … Another hit by James Loney.

THUMBS DOWN:  Only four hits and 15 strikeouts by the offense. … Three strikeouts each by Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Juan Lagares did not play because of a sprained left thumb. He’ll return to New York Monday to be examined by team doctors.

QUOTEBOOK: ““It was one of those game where you have a great pitching match-up head to head, and that’s exactly what you would expect — a 1-0 game,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.

BY THE NUMBERS:  2: Number of Mets to reach scoring position.

NEXT FOR METS: Steven Matz (7-1, 2.60) vs. former Met Jonathon Niese (5-2, 4.36) at Pittsburgh on Monday.

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Apr 12

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Start Wasted

GAME WRAP

GAME #7:  Record: 2-5.  Streak: L 4

SUMMARY: The Mets wasted Noah Syndergaard‘s 12-strikeout start and the offense struck out 13 times in a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins. Of the Mets’ five losses, three have been by one-run.

SYNDERGAARD: Mets waste his effort. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Mets waste his effort. (AP)

KEY MOMENT: Lucas Duda was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single in the first and the Mets left the bases loaded in the second. Teams can’t afford to blow a chance to knock Jose Fernandez from the game. … Dee Gordon outlasted Jim Henderson in a 16-pitch at-bat to lead off the eighth. He stole second and scored on a sacrifice fly.

THUMBS UP: Syndergaard gave up one run on seven hits and one walk with 12 strikeouts in seven innings. He has 21 strikeouts in his first two starts. … Duda threw a runner out at the plate. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re going to say.

THUMBS DOWN:  Henderson finally gave up a run. Too bad it was the difference in the game. … Travis d’Arnaud is hitting .105 and Curtis Granderson is batting .074. … The Mets have only two homers in seven games.

EXTRA INNINGS: Despite tomorrow being a day game, manager Terry Collins said David Wright will play. … Rafael Montero will be activated for tomorrow’s game. To make room on the roster, Eric Campbell will be optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. … Gordon’s 16-pitch at-bat included fouling off 11 straight pitches. It was the longest at-bat in the majors in two years. … Ichiro Suzuki collected the 2,936th hit of his career and moved into 33rd place on the all-time list, passing Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds in the process.

QUOTEBOOK: “I’m concerned about them. One thing we’d like to do is get into some type of rhythm. We’re not able to get a hit with men on base when we need it.” – Mets manager Terry Collins on his team’s dismal offense.

BY THE NUMBERS:  52: Strikeouts by Mets’ hitters through the first seven games.

NEXT FOR METS:  Logan Verrett will start Wednesday afternoon against left-hander Adam Conley.

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Apr 09

Mets Should Do The Smart Thing And Skip DeGrom

We have long been aware of the Mets’ hit-and-miss nature in their handling of injuries. They could be on the verge of making another mistake as manager Terry Collins said Jacob deGrom‘s next start is up in the air. He told reporters today no MRI is planned for deGrom’s tight right lat muscle.

DeGROM: Needs to skip next start. (AP)

DeGROM: Needs to skip next start. (AP)

DeGrom wasn’t in a talkative mood this afternoon with reporters, but the word it is still very sore.

Collins said if deGrom doesn’t show substantial improvement and throw his between-starts bullpen Sunday, he would likely be scratched from Wednesday’s start against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.

Who hasn’t heard this refrain from the Mets about one of their injured players? They did it with Matt Harvey in 2013 and last season with Steven Matz. Neither one of those gambles turned out well. They’ve also mishandled injuries with David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Church and many others.

It’s cold today and will probably be likewise Wednesday. DeGrom complained of back tightness in spring training. None of the Mets’ starters worked significant innings this spring. Plus, they have other options available.

DeGrom is a vital key to whatever success the Mets have this year. What could be their possible reasoning in not wanting deGrom get an MRI? You would think they would want to know as much about deGrom’s injury as possible.

If tonight’s game gets bagged, Collins could push his starters back a day. But, why don’t they do the smart thing and just say now they will skip deGrom until the injury risk is greatly reduced? Injuries can always happen, but what’s the point of pushing the envelope on this?

They should just say they are resting deGrom and do the right thing now.

Why is that such a hard thing for them to figure out?

ON DECK: Mets Game Wrap: Game #4 vs. Phillies.

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