Jul 03

Player Mets Avoid Playing, Conforto, Is All-Star

The first thing I thought of when I heard Michael Conforto would be the Mets’ representative in the All-Star Game was: Isn’t this the guy they don’t want to play?

The guy GM Sandy Alderson didn’t want to bring up, and manager Terry Collins doesn’t want to start, will be in Miami next week, hopefully for the first of many All-Star appearances. And, hopefully, when he rejoins the Mets, Collins will find a place for him in his outfield.

CONFORTO: Player Mets don't want to play is All-Star?

CONFORTO: Player Mets don’t want to play is All-Star?

Perhaps the Mets will clear a spot for him by trading Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, but what they do this week in Washington and St. Louis will determine whether they are buyers or sellers.

Yoenis Cespedes, foolishly re-signed by Alderson, has a no-trade clause in his four-year, $110-million contract so he isn’t going anywhere.

Conforto began the season coming off the bench, primarily as a pinch-hitter, but moved into the starting lineup when Cespedes was injured (his injury history, along with his salary and the Mets’ other needs are why I didn’t want him back).

Conforto started hitting the way he did at the end of the 2015 season and in April of 2016 before he tailed). At the time, Collins proclaimed him as the Mets’ No. 3 hitter of the future. He dropped off again this season, then sustained a bruise bone when he was struck by a pitch last week in San Francisco.

“I really didn’t think back to that,’’ Conforto told reporters of his role coming out of spring training. “Really, what I thought back to was the hard work that I’ve put in this offseason and in spring training. I always had a feeling that even if I didn’t start with the team, I knew I was going to make an impact at some point.’’

Conforto is hitting .285 with a .405 on-base percentage and .356 with 26 RBI with runners in scoring position.

“Obviously, last year was a learning experience for me and something I had to go through,’’ Conforto said. “I look at it as part of my journey. … You have to let it fuel your fire, which is definitely something it did for me.’’

 

Jun 30

Mets Beware Of Trap Series

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression of a “trap series,’’ and the Mets are cruising into one this weekend at home against the Phillies, owners of the worst record in the sport.

DE GROM: Needs to keep things rolling.  (AP)

DE GROM: Needs to keep things rolling. (AP)

Sandwiched between the end of a road trip they closed by winning five of six games and a three-game series in Washington, the Mets could be in a precarious situation should they take the Phillies lightly.

After being swept in a four-game series in Los Angeles, the Mets were staring into the abyss. Instead, they swept the Giants – it still counts in the standings – and won two of three in Miami, a place where they traditionally have trouble.

Seth Lugo pitched brilliantly for six innings last night and the Mets have Jacob deGrom going tonight.

“We’re hoping our pitching is starting to fall in place right now,’’ Collins said Thursday in Miami. “And if it does, we’ve got an exciting second half ahead of us.’’

If the Mets sweep the Phillies, they then travel to Washington, whom they trail by 10.5 games. They made up wild-card ground this last week and trail Colorado by 9.5 games for the second wild card. They open the second half with three games against the Rockies at Citi Field.

However, to catch the Rockies they must first leapfrog the Cardinals, whom they play seven times over the next two weeks.

That’s a lot of looking ahead, and sometimes when you look too far ahead you miss what’s right in front of your face. And, we’ve seen this before from the Mets. Just when they start feeling good about themselves they walk into the door.

Jay Bruce said last night the Mets haven’t been consistent, and “we need to play great baseball’’ if they are to have a chance.

The Mets said all the right things. Yes, the Mets talk a good game. Now they have to play a good game. Beginning tonight.

Jun 28

Mets’ Pitching Could Determine Role At Trade Deadline

Watching Steven Matz toy with the Marlins tonight I couldn’t help but wonder what might have been or what could be. The Mets were supposed to go deep into the playoffs this season with five starters and two reliable reserves just in case something happened.

Well, something did happen and six of those pitchers have spent some time on the disabled list.

MATZ: He's back. (AP)

MATZ: He’s back. (AP)

Matz is back and going strong, working into the seventh inning in three of his last four starts, including seven scoreless in beating the Marlins, 8-0.

Teamed with Jacob deGrom, manager Terry Collins, said the Mets have the beginnings of a strong core.

“It’s going to take pitching if we’re going to get back into this thing,’’ Collins said.

Matz was superb despite only four strikeouts as he pitched to contact.

“I let them put the ball in play,’’ Matz said. “I got a lot of groundball outs [12] and that helps me go deep into games.’’

Matz’s control was on tonight as he not only painted the corners but brushed Giancarlo Stanton off the plate, something Mets’ pitchers don’t always do.

Robert Gsellman went on the disabled list today which gives Rafael Montero another chance to stay in the rotation. Montero has made three straight strong appearances and is coming off a good start.

While the Mets are optimistic about him, they are also hoping for innings from Seth Lugo, Thursday, in Miami, plus a positive medical report on Zack Wheeler.

Even should all those things materialize, the Mets are in such a hole that catching the Nationals isn’t likely to happen, but .500 is within reach.

Perhaps more importantly – and you can decide for yourself whether it is good or bad – the Mets open the second half with ten straight at home, which could make them competitive enough to where it could decide their direction at the trade deadline.

 

Jun 26

Don’t Read Too Much Into Giants’ Sweep

In most seasons, the Mets sweeping the Giants in San Francisco would be something to get excited about, but this isn’t most years. To emphasize how bad the Giants are this season, they were just swept by the Mets, and we know how bad they have been.

This weekend was just the Mets’ third series victory of the month, and they’ll need to reel off a dozen more in a row if they are to turn this season around.

The Mets’ next two series are against Miami and Philadelphia – they are 4-6 and 4-2 against, respectively – before back-to-back three-game series in Washington and St. Louis before the break.

The Marlins and Cardinals always play the Mets tough, and I’m certainly not counting on them beating the Nationals.

Against the three division leaders and the one wild-card team they have played, the Mets are 5-19. After the break until the trade deadline, the Mets have three games against what is now the second wild card – Colorado – four more against St. Louis, and four at San Diego and three at Seattle.

Daunting is an understatement, so I’m not reading too much into the Mets fun in the Bay Area.

May 09

Humble Harvey Apologizes; Now We Wait

A humbled Matt Harvey said and promised to do all the right things. However, actions always speak louder than words, and it will take more than just a quality start Friday in Milwaukee for his apology to be accepted.

“First off, as I just did with my teammates and all the coaches, I apologized for my actions and I do apologize for my actions,” was how Harvey opened his press conference and Citi Field today.

HARVEY: Apology accepted. (AP)

HARVEY: Apology accepted. (AP)

“Obviously, I’m extremely embarrassed by my actions.”

Harvey was emotional, soft-spoken and contrite. There wasn’t a hint of arrogance. He was a man asking for another chance. He admitted he was wrong. As far as getting another chance, Harvey said it was something that needed to be earned.

Harvey was a no-show for Saturday’s game, and the Mets didn’t know of his condition until team security personnel came to his Manhattan apartment at 10 p.m.

They found him well, and when he reported to Citi Field for his Sunday start against Miami, he was suspended for three days. That gave him plenty of time to think about what he would say and the tone of his message.

The apology was “heartfelt,” said Curtis Granderson, one of many Mets who insisted they still trusted Harvey and had his back.

He would need his teammates’ trust and respect to move forward, as manager Terry Collins said, “he can’t do it alone.”

Collins is old school in many ways and has heard more than his fair share of apologies. He knows sincerity when he hears it.

“He gave it some great thought and certainly did it the right way,” Collins said. “I say, `Don’t tell me, show me.’ I think everybody deserves a second chance. Those guys in that room respect him.”

Part of earning respect is owning up to his actions.

“Yes, I was out on Friday night, past curfew,” Harvey said. “I did play golf Saturday morning and I put myself in a bad place to be ready to show up for a ballgame. It is my responsibility and I take full blame for that.”

When Noah Syndergaard was injured, Harvey was moved up to take his spot, then complained he wasn’t given enough time. He said he lifted weights the day before, something he shouldn’t have done.

Harvey was making excuses for a bad outing. Today, he accepted clubbing isn’t proper game preparation: “People make mistakes, and there are things I have realized the last couple days. … [What] I should be doing is putting myself in a better place to perform physically.”

Harvey could have gone Wednesday afternoon, but Collins opted for Friday, which would spare him getting a negative reception at Citi Field.

“I’m looking forward to getting everything back on track and helping this organization moving forward,” Harvey said. “They have my word on that.”

If there is a clubhouse leader with David Wright out indefinitely it is Granderson, who when asked if he bought Harvey’s apology, said: “There’s no reason why I wouldn’t.It was genuine. It was heartfelt. He definitely thought it out and knew what he wanted to say. I think guys have spoken to him even before he said something today, and guys will continue to talk to him after today.”

One of those guys was Bartolo Colon, who reached out in a text telling him he needed to make baseball a priority.

Today was the first step.

One issue Harvey would not address was a report he planned to file a grievance with the Players Association.

There was no way he was going to admit to that today.

“That’s the last thing in the last three days I’ve thought about,” Harvey said. “I’ve been thinking about the team more than anything. … I’ve apologized for what I’ve done. My job is to move forward and do everything I can to help this team and organization get back on track.”

One would think a legal battle isn’t the right was.