Jul 31

Alderson Rallies At Deadline

After arguably one of the most frustrating 48-hour periods in franchise history, Mets GM Sandy Alderson rallied at the trade deadline by securing slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit for pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

The deal came on the heels of a trade Wednesday for Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez that culminated with Mets infielder Wilmer Flores – who, along with Zack Wheeler, was going to the Brewers – breaking down in tears while taking his position in the field. The next day, the Mets blew a six-run lead while losing to San Diego.

So, with the trade deadline ticking down, Alderson went for broke and came up with an enigma of a player who could be exactly what the Mets need – if his head is screwed on correctly – before he becomes a free agent after the season.

“We’re going for it,” Alderson said. “He’s a very dynamic player. We think he’s going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived.”

Cespedes had been linked to the Mets before, and Alderson is right, he can be a dynamic player. However, at 29, the Mets will be his fourth team. That’s a lot and raises questions, in particular: What’s wrong with him that somebody with that much talent can’t find a home?

Cespedes is hitting .293 with 18 homers and 62 RBI, that would put him at the top of the Mets’ leaderboards.

Alderson has taken considerable criticism, including from me, about his inactivity, and I was especially vocal after the Gomez deal fell through. Numerous reports said it was financial, with the Mets wanting the Brewers to eat part of Gomez’s salary, which was highly plausible considering the Mets’ and Alderson’s reputation. However, today Alderson said it was concern about Gomez’s healthy, although the Houston Astros had no such problems. But, in fairness to the Mets, different medical staffs can have varying opinions.

Although I have concerns with Cespedes, he might not be here next season for it to become an issue. What’s important is that waiting for the Mets to act like a contender, they are doing just that – good for them.

 

 

 

Jul 30

Alderson Has Considerable Apologizing To Do

Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins were quick to blame social media for Wednesday’s trade that fell through which would have sent Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. Alderson said he apologized to the visibly upset Flores for how things transpired, which makes me wonder if he has any intent to apologize to his manager, his players and Mets fans for what could be the very real possibility of blowing a chance at the playoffs.

ALDERSON: Blows Gomez trade. (AP)

ALDERSON: Blows Gomez trade. (AP)

Gomez would have been a terrific addition, one which would have filled four voids: right-handed power bat; leadoff hitter; speed; and center fielder.

The names were agreed upon, but as often is the case with Alderson, no trade was made because he wanted to win the deal.

Several reports surfaced as to why the deal fizzled. First, there was concern by the Brewers over Wheeler’s elbow. Then, there was a reported issue of Gomez’s hip. Then it was Gomez’s abductor muscle. (Apparently Gomez’s health wasn’t an issue to the Houston Astros, who swooped in like a big-market franchise to finalize a trade with Milwaukee today).

Then, reports out of Milwaukee surfaced – and befitting the Mets’ reputation it is totally believable – Alderson wanted a draft pick, which the Brewers nixed. Then, the Mets wanted Milwaukee to eat some of Gomez’s salary, which would have amounted to roughly $12 million for a year-and-a-half. That much for a two-time All-Star who has won a Gold Glove and has hit over 20 homers with over 30 steals is a bargain.

The Mets should be ashamed for trying to put the financial screws to the Brewers. Only, because Alderson wanted to win the trade, instead he got nothing and there are only a few hours left.

Not only did they blow this trade, but looked terrible in hanging Flores out to dry. Everybody saw Flores break down, but this could have been avoided had Alderson had an open dialogue with Collins. After the game, Collins said he kept Flores in the game because he never got word from Alderson to pull him. Collins said he didn’t know what was going on, and Flores learned from yells from the crowd and comments from his teammates.

However, once again Alderson kept his manager in the dark, which further leads to the disconnect between the two. As with the batting order coming out of spring training (with Curtis Granderson hitting first), the six-man rotation fiasco, and of course, the lack of a plan regarding Matt Harvey‘s innings, there doesn’t appear much communication between Alderson and Collins.

This time, Alderson’s penchant for ignoring his manager not only embarrassed Flores, but may have lead to a botched trade that could keep the Mets out of the playoffs.

Yeah, Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager, according to his biographer – needs to apologize to a lot more people than just Flores.

It is shameful what happened.

Jul 29

Deal With Brewers Falls Through

The Mets had every right to keep Wilmer Flores in the game during tonight’s loss to San Diego. After all, said GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, they were trying to win a game. However, caught in the crossfire was an emotional Flores, who received a standing ovation from the Citi Field crowd, which also thought there was a trade sending the young infielder Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee for two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez.

FLORES: Remains a Met - for now. (Getty)

FLORES: Remains a Met – for now. (Getty)

With the advent of social media, and fans watching the game on television from the luxury suites and listening to the game on the radio, most everybody at Citi Field believed the Mets were on the verge of a major trade.

But, it never happened, and Alderson would not say why the deal fell through.

“There is no trade,” Alderson said. “A trade has not. and will not transpire. … Unfortunately, social media got ahead of the facts.  What was reported has not transpired. We could have pulled him and contributed to the speculation.”

Collins eventually pulled the emotional Flores, who was followed into the Mets’ clubhouse by captain David Wright.

“During the game I heard I was getting traded and I got emotional,” Flores said. “Then I heard I wasn’t traded. … I was sad. I wanted to be a Met forever.”

Gomez, originally a Met, but traded to Minnesota in the Johan Santana trade, would have immediately filled voids as a right-handed power bat and as a leadoff hitter.

Alderson has steadfastly insisted he would not trade from their core of young starters in the current rotation – Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz (on the DL) – which left Wheeler available.

It would be a good deal for the Mets because Gomez, a two-time NL All-Star, fills two offensive needs, while Wheeler won’t pitch until next July. Meanwhile, Flores never took to shortstop, but showed promise at second base. Flores got off to a good start offensively, but slumped over the past two months.

 

Jun 26

DeGrom Doesn’t Erase Issues Surrounding Mets

As great as Jacob deGrom was for the Mets Thursday, one lone start is not enough to create the perception of them as a playoff team. DeGrom’s eight scoreless innings enabled the Mets to beat Milwaukee, 2-0, at Miller Park, but did nothing to diminish the growing number of questions swirling around his team.

DE GROM: Brilliant Thursday. (AP)

DE GROM: Brilliant Thursday. (AP)

The Mets were 36-30 when their road trip began, and their record is now 37-37. In the end, all the Mets’ 11-game winning streak in April did was prevent the bottom from totally falling out. The Mets scored 11 runs during their 1-7 trip. They were shut out twice and scored more than two runs once. Five of those seven losses were by two or fewer runs.

It tells you two things that the Mets are 19-18 in games decided by two or fewer runs: 1) they are competitive team, which is what the front office promised, and 2) they are still too flawed to reach the next level.

Playoff caliber teams win close games and the Mets simply aren’t winning enough. But, if you had been told before the season that the Mets would be sitting in second place at .500 at the end of June you would have signed up for it in a heartbeat.

However, their improbable 11-game winning streak ratcheted the expectations of the Mets. What was once competing for a wild card spot changed to winning the division and going deep into the playoffs. It’s not that way any more.

However, this trip illustrates flaws the Mets haven’t been able to overcome:

* The Mets can’t win on the road, evidenced by an 11-26 record away from Citi Field. DeGrom can’t win them all, so there’s no sign this will change.

* The Mets can’t score. They have a minus-18 runs differential. In contrast, the Nationals have a plus-28 runs differential and scored 58 more runs. Like the Mets, the Nationals had early-season injuries, but they’ve been able to overcome them. They are 3.5 games ahead of the Mets and if that lead increases by much in the next 15 games prior to the All-Star break, they won’t be caught.

* The infield defense is atrocious. The best alignment has Wilmer Flores at third base or second, with Ruben Tejada at shortstop. There have been reports the Mets could be moving toward that thinking, but nothing official.

* We keep hearing rumblings Steven Matz will be promoted, and with that again the possibility of a six-man rotation. However, Matz does nothing to improve their offense, and the resulting demotion of Jon Niese only diminishes is already minimal trade value.

* The Mets have been hamstrung by injuries, with Travis d’Arnaud going back on the disabled list and David Wright not having any timetable for his return.

Finally, there is growing speculation manager Terry Collins’ job security is tenuous, which unfortunately is the way of the world. Collins unquestionably has flaws, but the real fault for the Mets’ slide since they were 15-5 has to be directed at ownership, which won’t spend, and GM Sandy Alderson, which hasn’t proven he can make the big trade.

There is a sense of urgency from the Mets’ fan base to do something, to do anything, but the Wilpons and Alderson don’t seem to be listening.

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.