Sep 14

Lucas Duda Getting His Chance To Shine

When New York Mets manager Terry Collins railed at his listless team for not taking advantage of the opportunity to make an impression toward 2014, he had Lucas Duda in mind.

“This is his chance to play every day at first base. That’s where he likes to play,’’ Collins said last night. “We’re hoping he relaxes at the plate. He doesn’t have to worry about playing defense because he knows he can play first.’’

DUDA: Marlin mashing. (Getty)

DUDA: Marlin mashing. (Getty)

This is the third year the Mets hoped Duda would emerge as their lefty-hitting slugger, and the third time he has disappointed.

However, in Friday night’s 4-3 victory over Miami, Duda responded with a three-run homer in his chance to play with the injured Ike Davis sidelined. Duda has outperformed Davis statistically this season, hitting .236 with 13 homers, 30 RBI and a much-improved .351 on-base percentage.

Even so, Davis has the 32-homer 2012 season on his resume.

The Mets began the season with the offensive approach of patience, of working the count, waiting for and then driving your pitch. The rap on Duda was he became too selective and subsequently too passive at the plate.

But, playing in New York is about right-now production and Duda’s critics were far less patient with him than he was at the plate. While the final two weeks is about making an impression over Davis, everybody knows there will be a sense of urgency come spring training.

The experiment at the start of the year of Duda in left field – after playing right field the previous season – is over. It effectively ended when Duda went on the disabled list with a strained intercostal muscle. Duda lacks speed and range to complement his poor defensive skills, and there was no way he’d get back in the lineup after the acquisition of Eric Young.

At one time this summer there was the feeling the Mets would not tender a contract to Davis and Duda would get first base by default. However, Duda’s power output wasn’t what the Mets hoped, and when Davis showed signs of patience after his return from Triple-A, management’s thinking changed to keeping Davis and have the two battle it out in spring training.

Part of their thinking is that whoever wins, it will be an inexpensive option, and with first base covered they could fill other holes.

The Mets won’t carry two lefty first basemen, and with right-handed hitting Josh Satin available in a platoon, the loser would either go to the minors or be traded.

The homer last night is what the Mets want, but after the game Duda wouldn’t bite on reporters’ questions speculating the future.

“I’m just more concerned with winning and playing well,’’ Duda said. “Whatever they do is up to them. I’m just going to play hard, have fun, and hopefully continue to win.’’

Those comments are about playing the good soldier and saying the right thing, but what the Mets really need from his is to be aggressive and mash.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 10

Mets Release 2014 Schedule; No Shortage Of Quirks

What are the odds? Hours after I posted on why you still watch the New York Mets, the club released its 2014 schedule. The announcement also came shortly after Matt Harvey said he didn’t think he’d need surgery. But, there’s another opinion coming on that issue.

As usual, the schedule has plenty of quirks. There are four off-days in April; the home-and-home series with the Yankees is in early May; including interleague, they make four West Coast trips, which should be consolidated; and the season ends at home with an interleague series against Houston.

There is no reasoning as to how the schedule is made, but it has been that way since interleague play started and it isn’t about to change.

MARCH

31 Washington

APRIL

1 Off day

2-3 Washington

4-6 Cincinnati

7 Off day

8-10 At Atlanta

11-13 At LA Angels

14-16 At Arizona

17 Off day

18-19 Atlanta

21-14 St. Louis

25-27 Miami

28 Off day

29-30 At Philadelphia

MAY

1-4 At Colorado

5-7 At Miami

8 Off day

9-11 Philadelphia

12-13 At Yankees

14-15 Yankees

16-18 At Washington

19 Off day

20-22 LA Dodgers

23-25 Arizona

26-28 Pittsburgh

29-31 At Philadelphia

JUNE

1 At Philadelphia

2 Off Day

3-5 At Chicago

6-8 At San Francisco

9 Off day

10-12 Milwaukee

13-15 San Diego

16 -18 At St. Louis

19-22 At Miami

23 Off day

24-25 Oakland

26-29 At Pittsburgh

30 At Atlanta

JULY

1-2 At Atlanta

3 Off Day

4-6 Texas

7-10 Atlanta

11-13 Miami

14-17 All-Star Break (Minnesota)

18-20 At San Diego

21-23 At Seattle

24-27 At Milwaukee

28-30 Philadelphia

31 Off day (Trade deadline)

AUGUST

1-4 San Francisco

5-7 At Washington

8-11 At Philadelphia

12-14 Washington

15-18 Chicago

19-20 At Oakland

21 Off day

22-24 At LA Dodgers

25 Off day

26-28 Atlanta

29-31 Philadelphia

SEPTEMBER

1-3 At Miami

4 Off day

5-7 At Cincinnati

8-10 Colorado

11-14 Washington

15-17 Miami

18 Off day

19-21 At Atlanta

22 Off day

23-25 At Washington

26-28 Houston

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 09

Ike Davis Could Remain With Mets

ESPN reported the New York Mets would tender Ike Davis a contract for 2014, largely because not doing so would cost them a compensatory draft pick.

Davis is making $3.1 million this year, and through the CBA, can’t be offered anything higher than a 20 percent pay cut. Reportedly, the least Davis would make is $2.4 million, which isn’t bad for nine homers and 33 RBI.

The reason GM Sandy Alderson delayed sending Davis to Triple-A Las Vegas was because of the promise of a breakout second half, which, of course, never happened.

Non-tendering a contract would have meant no compensation, so what Alderson is doing is essentially buying an insurance policy, with the worst-case scenario being forced to endure another year of non-production.

In keeping Davis, the Mets would go into spring training of him and Lucas Duda competing for the first base job.

Currently, the Mets are about getting whatever they can, which is what they did in the John Buck-Marlon Byrd deal, their reasoning with Davis, and why, despite the foul taste it gave them, they recalled Frank Francisco.

Despite all accounts but Francisco’s, the Mets believed he dogged it during rehab, he was pitching in the major leagues Sunday.

It was a last ditch effort to showcase him to a contender desperate for bullpen help, even though Francisco would not be eligible for a postseason roster.

Francisco is owed $745-thousand for the remainder of the season, which isn’t much, but better than nothing.

METS MUSINGS: Among the Mets’ call-ups is 35-year-old pitcher Aaron Harang, who might get one or two starts to serve as an audition for a spring-training invite. Harang went 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts with Seattle. Harang will likely pitch Saturday in one of the games of the Mets’ doubleheader with Miami. … David Wright could be with the Mets this week, but he’s not ready to play. … RHP Matt Harvey will receive a second opinion this week from Dr. James Andrews on his elbow, and after which could decide on Tommy John surgery.

METS PROBABLES vs. Washington at Citi Field:

Tonight: RHP Carlos Torres (3-3, 2.89) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.49), 7:10 p.m.

Tomorrow: RHP Dillon Gee (11-9, 3.53) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmerman (16-8, 3.30), 7:10 p.m.

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-4, 3.38) vs. RHP Dan Haren (8-13, 5.23), 7:10 p.m.

Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (6-7, 3.86) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (5-0, 0.94), 1:10 p.m.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 23

Seven Years Later, Daisuke Matsuzaka Starts For Mets

Falling under the category of “somebody has to do it,’’ the New York Mets will throw out Daisuke Matsuzaka to start tonight against Detroit.

The 32-year-old Matsuzaka, who never came close to living up to expectations when Boston outbid the Mets for him in 2006, is now a retread hanging on to his career.

Maybe, just maybe, if he shows something the final month of the season the Mets will bring him to spring training. That’s a peak into the future, but personally I’d rather see prospect Rafael Montero, who, like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler has an innings cap.

Montero isn’t done, yet, this season, but I’m intrigued about seeing what he could have against the Tigers tonight at Citi Field, rather than against Detroit in Port St. Lucie in spring training. Even if it is for just one start, I’d like to see Montero, just to give us another glimpse into the future.

It won’t happen because of 40-man roster considerations.

With the Mets still mired nine games under .500, second place and a winning season appear to be slipping away, making the last month a spring training preview. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, we’re getting to see Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores.

They haven’t disappointed; they have us anxious about the future, which is closer than we might have originally thought.

The rosters can be expanded Sept. 1, but I’d like to see some creative thinking and for the one weekend of the month have Major League Baseball waive the 40-man roster listing and enable teams not in the running to have a prospect promotion.

Bring up guys such as Matt den Dekker, Montero and Noah Syndergaard and let the Mets have their own Futures Weekend. Wouldn’t you rather see that as one of the games of the Sept. 14 doubleheader against Miami rather than guys such as Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Robert Carson?

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

Aug 22

Mets Reunion With Jose Reyes Unlikely

If you think the New York Mets’ parting with Jose Reyes was cold and difficult, just think about the potential of a possible reunion?

This is something percolating in my mind with the Toronto Blue Jays playing across town yesterday. However, it could happen because Reyes was traded from the team (Miami) that signed him a free agent, he’s eligible to go back on the market.

REYES: Don't see him coming back.

REYES: Don’t see him coming back.

Making this an enticing thought is the future is not Omar Quintanilla and Ruben Tejada is quickly morphing into a past tense option at shortstop.

Reyes’ departure was a poorly calculated departure that became a public relations fiasco. All summer GM Sandy Alderson said bringing back Reyes was an option, but in the end, the Mets never offered a contract so when the Miami Marlins dangled over $106 million, he was off.

I wrote at the time it was a messy divorce, but not surprising for several reasons.

Mets ownership, mired in the Madoff case, was under dire financial distress. They had the money to offer one major deal, but it was to go to Wright, not Reyes.

Money puts a strain on the strongest relationships, but the Mets and Reyes were never all that tight, even though the team gave its mercurial shortstop a long-term deal early in his career.

While money is always the easiest thing to point to, but there was also the issue of Reyes’ health. Reyes missed two months this year with an ankle injury, but previously with the Mets was sidelined with several hamstring injuries, including twice going on the disabled list in his final season in Flushing.

Reyes is having a decent season, hitting .295 with a .352 on-base percentage. However, including his last year with the Mets, his speed numbers (triples, stolen bases, and stolen-base percentages) are in decline.

Quite simply, he’s not the player he once was, when from 2005-8, he stole over 56 bases each year, three times leading the league. In that span, he also led the National League in triples three times.

The Mets forecast a decline in Reyes’ speed-related production, and now at 30 it is starting to happen. More breakdowns can be expected as Reyes goes deeper into his contract.

Reyes is in the second season of a seven-year deal with an option for 2018. Nobody, probably not even Reyes, believes he’ll run better as the years progress.

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