May 16

Mets Call On DeGrom To Stop Slide

The other day in Chicago, Mets manager Terry Collins said, “what slide?’’ Well, by the end of tonight, that slide could erase the Mets’ once seemingly comfortable lead over Washington into a half-game deficit.

The Mets are in a 7-13 skid, including five straight losses where they scored just 10 runs while hitting .192. In their last two losses, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon gave up 12 runs in 11.2 innings.

Asked to stem the tide is Jacob deGrom, loser of three of his last four starts. That includes giving up four runs and two homers with four walks in a loss Monday at Chicago.

His problem has been fastball command that runs up the pitch count.

“It boils down to location,’’ deGrom said after the Cubs lost. “I can’t throw the pitches I want for strikes and make some mistakes over the plate and they seem to hit a long way.’’

DeGrom will especially be wary of keeping Ryan Braun in the park. Braun homered twice Friday as Milwaukee mugged Colon.

DeGrom’s opponent is Matt Garza, who has thrown four straight quality starts. Garza will face this lineup:

Curtis Granderson, RF

Juan Lagares, CF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Eric Campbell, 3B

Kevin Plawecki, C

Jacob deGrom, RHP

May 15

Mets Should Have No Untouchables

With the Mets’ eight-game lead over Washington down to one, we are at the part of the season when panic sets in. They must do something, and fast.

Yes, Wilmer Flores – who leads the team in home runs, by the way – has been dreadful at shortstop. Naturally, he’s the one who must go and the Mets have to trade for a shortstop. In the car, if not the Rolling Stones or Eagles, I will sometimes listen to sports talk radio. Yes, yes, I know it’s a dumb thing to do, but like chocolate it is sometimes hard to resist.

HARVEY: No untouchables. (Getty)

HARVEY: No untouchables. (Getty)

Something I heard today made me laugh out loud. The topic was the Mets’ urgent need for a power bat, to which I can’t disagree. Of course Troy Tulowitzki‘s name came up. It always does. But what was said next is proof most of these guys don’t know what they are talking about.

“The Mets need a shortstop, because they are set everyplace else.”

This is dumb on so many levels, beginning with this – the Mets haven’t had a winning season in six years and despite their hot start there’s no guarantee they will have one this year. That they are 7-12 since their 11-game winning streak is proof this team can’t say it is set. That hot start is a memory.

“Just who are you going to replace?” the voice droned on.

Just who can’t they replace? That’s the better question. After 35 games, the Mets are ninth in the National League with 26 home runs. They are 12th in the league in runs scored with 130. The only player with a batting average higher than .250 in the lineup yesterday was Lucas Duda. Take your pick as to who should be replaced. If the goal is a winning season and the playoffs, everybody should be made available if it improves the team.

After losing four straight to the Cubs, the Mets must beat the Brewers this weekend before the Cardinals come to town. If they lose the Milwaukee series, who can’t see them below .500 by the end of next week, even if Matt Harvey wins his game?

There’s not a player on the team – Harvey included – I wouldn’t trade for the right package. They must get a star already signed to a multi-year deal to make it worthwhile. The often-injured, pricey Tulowitzki is not the answer. There are players, such as Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia, I prefer to keep, but entice me. Make me think before I say no.

Juan Lagares? Why not? Duda? Why not? Please don’t tell me they are set in the outfield with Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer. Maybe the Mets have players like Lagares they see locked into their future, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better players who could help.

When you’re the Mets and haven’t sniffed the playoffs since 2006, can they be that set to where they say they have untouchables?

Nobody expected an 11-game winning streak, but what it did was not serve notice the Mets are contenders, but allowed them a margin for error which is down to one game. If you can’t see below .500, surely you can see them out of first place.

The Mets entered the season hoping for bounce-back years from David Wright, Granderson and Harvey, and for Flores to develop. The Mets entered the season hoping for a lot of things, but how many times do I have to say “hoping is not a strategy?”

Hope is what GM Sandy Alderson built this season around, and it if all goes to hell, it will be Terry Collins who takes the fall. Such is the plan of baseball’s greatest general manager.

There should be no players who are untouchables given the right circumstances. None. Flores and Collins aren’t the only ones who should be concerned about their jobs.

May 11

Mets’ Immediate Schedule Favorable In Determining Set Lineup

Beginning tonight, the 20-11 Mets have seven straight games against the Cubs and Brewers, teams you would think they should handle before playing St. Louis a week from today. After winning their last two games in Philadelphia, asking them to win seven more in a row would be a tall order, but 4-3 or 5-2 isn’t out of the question considering how well their starting pitching has performed.

Jacob deGrom, the unknown in Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jon Niese will pitch against the Cubs in Wrigley Field, then we should get Bartolo Colon, deGrom and Syndergaard next weekend against Milwaukee. If these guys pitch to their capabilities, the Mets have to feel good about themselves over the next week.

LAGARES: How long will he stay In leadoff spot? (AP)

LAGARES: How long will he stay In leadoff spot? (AP)

When the NFL schedule comes out, you look at who your team is playing and check off games they should win or lose. Now, if you’re a fan of the New England Patriots, after you looked at their schedule, who didn’t realistically see them losing three of their first four games (Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Dallas)?

A baseball schedule is different, but this time it’s not hard to think this could be a good stretch for the Mets to right their struggling offense and pick up more ground in the NL East.

The Mets’ offense has sputtered since Travis d’Arnaud and David Wright were sidelined with injuries. The Mets lost seven of ten before seemingly rebound against Baltimore and Philadelphia (won four of five). The Mets have several offensive issues they must address.

They apparently solved one by moving Daniel Murphy to the third spot. Juan Lagares is leading off tonight with Curtis Granderson getting the night off. If Lagares does well, manager Terry Collins might keep him at the top of the order and moving Granderson to the middle of the order.

I’ve always wanted Lagares to hit leadoff if he could improve his on-base percentage, which he did during spring training. I admit I was wrong about Granderson, as his on-base percentage has been very good. However, the Mets’ haven’t hit for much power, and as Granderson’s batting average slowly rises, he might be in position to drive in more runs.

With Murphy, Lucas Duda, Michael Cuddyer and Granderson, the Mets potentially could be set in the 3-4-5-6 slots, and could strengthen themselves even further when Wright returns.

What the Mets’ 11-game winning streak did was buy time for them to endure a down stretch. They’ve had that “blip,” as Collins likes to say, now we have to see if they can build off it.

 

Jan 24

Mets Blew It With Ike Davis On Many Levels; So Did His Father

Ike Davis’ father, former Yankees reliever Ron Davis, has ripped into the New York Mets. The elder Davis said the Mets screwed up handling his son, which, while correct on some levels, can’t make things any easier for Ike if he stays with the team.

Ron Davis is correct, but partially.

RON DAVIS: Wrong in attacking Mets

RON DAVIS: Wrong in attacking Mets

Yes, he’s correct in that this began not with the Mets’ intent to trade Ike Davis, but for how public they made it.

“I think that’s why the Mets have really screwed up in that situation – because they’ve publicly done it so much,’’ Ron Davis said. “It’s saying to my son, `Hey, we don’t want you anymore.’ ’’

Well, yes and no.

The issue isn’t what it said about Ike Davis, but in what it tells other teams, `We don’t want Ike Davis, but please take him off our hands.’

The first rule in making a trade is to not devalue the talent you’re trying to unload. If you don’t think the player is worth anything, then why would other teams?

Another rule is to understand the value of the talent you’re trying to deal and don’t go in with the idea of fleecing the other team. The teams the Mets were talking to, notably Milwaukee, said GM Sandy Alderson’s asking price – the Brewers’ fifth starter – was too high.

So, the Mets did not want Davis and then asked for too much. But, that isn’t the whole story with how the Mets mishandled Davis.

With Ike Davis coming back from the ankle injury and the virus, the Mets might have rushed him back in 2012. Despite a horrid first half, the Mets didn’t send him back to the minors to work on his mechanics. Instead, they kept him around, a gamble that paid off when he had a strong second half to finish with 32 homers.

IKE DAVIS: Needs to learn to hit.

IKE DAVIS: Needs to learn to hit.

He was even more lost last year, but despite all signs saying Davis needed to go to the minors, the Mets ignored them in the hope of another strong second half. Long after it became apparent Davis was lost at the plate was when they sent him down. Then, they clearly brought him back too soon, which only compounded their mistake.

Alderson also screwed up by not having a defined objective for Davis after the season. Alderson had enough of a sampling of Davis to know what he should do.

That he didn’t want him was clear in the effort to trade him, but that intent should have been understated and with a lower asking price. By this time, teams were waiting out the Mets in hope they would release him. However, Alderson was playing chicken holding out for more.

Then, Alderson blew it more by offering Davis arbitration. Why would they do that for a player they clearly didn’t want?

While the Mets blew it on several levels with Ike Davis, I would be remiss in not calling out Ron Davis on a few things.

OK, you’re unhappy with how the Mets handled your son. Anybody can see that, but ripping the Mets does nobody any good, especially your son. The last thing a major league player needs is to have a Little League father upsetting things in the papers and clubhouse. What could the other players be thinking You want to rip the Mets? Fine. Do it after he’s out of the organization.

Secondly, don’t blame Citi Field for your son’s troubles. His problem is not with the ballpark, but his approach to hitting. Quite simply, he doesn’t know how to hit.

His comment last spring that, “I’m a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs. Strikeouts come with that,’’ tells you all you need to know about Ike Davis as a hitter.

Ron, you were a big league pitcher. Are you telling me you can’t look at your son’s hitting approach and say how you would attack him? C’mon. If you really wanted to help him, you’d study the video and tell him he needs to be more patient, he needs to stop trying to pull everything, he needs to use Citi Field to his advantage and hit balls in the gaps.

That’s how you would help your son. Not by being a Little League father. Ike Davis doesn’t need your coddling; he needs tough love.

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

Sep 30

Did Collins Deserve A New Contract?

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Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson will address the media at 12 p.m. on Monday, September 30 in the Citi Field Press Conference Room.

He is expected to announce a two-year contract extension for Terry Collins to remain the manager of the Mets. The deal is reportedly valued at $1 million per season and includes an option for  2016.

A fourth straight losing season; another fourth-place finish in the NL East and another .400 something-or-other win percentage – the Mets have not improved this year.

In fact, the majority of MLB betting fans would argue we’ve devolved since 2008, the club becoming preoccupied in the huge vanity project that is Citi Field and the problems we’ve had filling it.

Overseeing three of these four disappointing seasons is Terry Collins, who has not exactly been the revelation we expected when GM Sandy Anderson promoted him in November 2010:

“We were not looking for someone who was an extension of us,” Alderson said back in 2010. “We were looking for someone who was going to be complementary to us. I think that’s what we’re getting.”

Sadly, we haven’t got that. Instead of a complimentary manager that develops the team, Collins has seen players leave, newcomers fail and win percentages drop. The general trend of underperforming year on year has set into the Mets locker room and something must change soon to correct this.

While the Mets played out a meaningless series with Milwaukee this weekend, the top brass thrashed out a new deal for Collins – despite his 224-260 record (by Saturday). The new two-year contract is effectively a 12-month one, for if we don’t improve in 2014 Collins is out the door.

But do we trust him to progress this raw team and save his job – and do we even want him to? Another year is a long time to realize you’ve made a mistake hiring the same guy and, as respected as he is in the majors, Collins has proven he cannot get this team fighting on all fronts.