Jun 02

Mets’ May Review And Looking At June

Considering all that went wrong for the Mets in May, ranging from key injuries to slumps to Matt Harvey’s horrendous pitching, they were lucky finish the month at 14-15 and two games behind Washington.

The Mets ended the month by losing four series, but they enter June with the expected news third baseman David Wright will be placed on the disabled list for an extended period with a herniated disk in his neck.

CESPEDES: Mets May MVP. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets May MVP. (AP)

June starts with a ten-game road trip, beginning with consecutive three-game series at Miami and Pittsburgh, places where they have struggled. It ends with four games in Milwaukee.

Noah Syndergaard (5-2), Bartolo Colon (4-3) and Harvey (4-7) will start against the Marlins.

MAY MVP

It has to go to the only batter who hit with any consistency, which would be Yoenis Cespedes, who hit .342 with eight homers and 14 RBI for the month. Making that more impressive is he’s entering the Miami series on a 1-for-22 (.045) slide. It should also be noted Michael Conforto, Lucas Duda and Wright didn’t offer much protection.

PITCHER OF THE MONTH

Despite spitting the bit in his last start, Steven Matz was named the NL Rookie of the Month by going 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA for the month. He leads all rookie pitchers with seven victories, a 2.60 ERA and 53 strikeouts.

KEY GAME OF THE MONTH

There were several notable games and moments, beginning with Colon’s homer in San Diego and Harvey’s hoped-for turnaround victory on Monday. However, there’s really only one game that ratcheted everybody’s emotions, and that was when Syndergaard threw out Mets’ nemesis Chase Utley. Syndergaard was ejected in the in the third inning which disrupted the Mets’ bullpen for a week and Utley responded with two homers, including a grand slam.

KEY MOVE OF THE MONTH

The Mets had several options as what to do with the frustrated and struggling Harvey, but opted to give him one more start. Harvey responded by pitching the Mets to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox.

RED FLAG ENDURED

After losing Travis d’Arnaud to the disabled list, but Mets brought up catcher Rene Rivera, who has been impressive with his defense and throwing.

KEY ISSUE RESOLVED

The Mets traded for James Loney to replace Duda, who went on the disabled list with a back issue.

HEALTH ISSUES

Wright will be on the disabled list with a herniated disk for an indefinite length of time. … Duda and d’Arnaud are on the DL with no timetable for their return. … Hansel Robles has a sprained ankle.

SIX QUESTIONS RAISED

Will they generate any offense outside of hitting home runs?

How long will they be without Wright, Duda and d’Arnaud and can their replacements pick up the slack?

Will the new guys, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, keep hitting?

Was Harvey’s start Monday a fluke or a sign of things to come?

Can the bullpen pull itself out of its funk?

BY THE NUMBERS

1-4: Harvey’s record for May.

3-3: Record in May vs. Nationals.

5: Homers given up by Robles this season.

5: Third baseman used so far.

6: Extra-base hits by Conforto for May.

33: Strikeouts by Curtis Granderson in May.

.208: Mets’ average with RISP.

3.56: Bullpen ERA in May after it was 2.71 in April.

LOOKING AT JUNE’S SCHEDULE

It begins with ten games on the road, including three at Pittsburgh, where they have not played well. Perhaps Walker can catch a Penguins’ game.

They return home for three games each the Pirates and Braves, and two against World Series opponent Kansas City.

They end the month with four games in Atlanta and three more in Washington, before starting a four-game series at home against the Cubs that extends into July.

Nov 05

Extending My Apologies To Sandy Alderson

In my coverage of the Mets, from my days as a newspaper reporter to this blog, I have been a proponent for being stand-up. I have applauded David Wright, Daniel Murphy, ,manager Terry Collins and others for accepting responsibility when things go wrong.

ALDERSON: You have reason to smile. (AP)

ALDERSON: You have reason to smile. (AP)

And, I have been critical of Matt Harvey for not always doing the same.

Given that, I must hold myself to the same standards and admit I was wrong on GM Sandy Alderson on several issues this year. Among them:

* Not having a concrete plan for Harvey as to his innings limit, or at least, not being open with it.

* For his reluctance to promote outfield prospect Michael Conforto from the minor leagues when the team was in a woeful hitting slump.

* For seemingly dragging his feet on bringing in a bat at the trade deadline. And, when the Carlos Gomez trade with Milwaukee fell through, Alderson deserves considerable credit for despite the rapidly approaching deadline, kicking the tires on Jay Bruce from Cincinnati before landing Yoenis Cespedes.

The bottom line: No Cespedes, no playoffs.

Alderson told us to be patient and rewarded us.

When the Harvey news broke, Alderson went with the flow and worked with the appropriate parties to make sure it wasn’t a lingering problem. And, well Conforto made the most with his opportunity and in addition to gaining valuable experience, helped the Mets to the World Series.

He’s expected to be a starter next season and the Mets are far ahead because they already have a book on him. In both cases, Alderson did what he was supposed to do, which was act in a manner that made the Mets better. Nobody can ask for more.

There’s no rest for him as he’ll be attending the general managers meetings next week. Next year has already begun and with it a myriad of issues, from rebuilding a bullpen, and making hard decisions on Cespedes, Murphy, the middle infield and ascertaining where things are with Wright’s back.

I’ll voice my opinion as I always do, but for now, Alderson deserves to savor this season without my two cents.

So, cheers to you Mr. Alderson for making me, and countless Mets fans, eat our words. Your instincts about this team were correct and I was wrong. You had one hell of a year.

Congratulations.

Nov 04

Alderson Holds Court Before Fainting

Before GM Sandy Alderson passed out at the press conference today at Citi Field, he offered these nuggets:

* Said he anticipates the 2016 Opening Day payroll to exceed the $103 million it was this season. “We ended up higher than the $103 [million] because of the additions we made at the [trade] deadline,’’ Alderson said. “So my hope is we’ll start with a somewhat higher payroll – I don’t know exactly what that will be – than we started [at] last year. And we’ll have room at the deadline to make acquisitions, as we did this year.’’

The key addition was outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in a trade from Detroit. Whether of not the Mets can retain the free-agent-to-be, Alderson said the trade was a success.

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

* Despite their glut in starting pitching, Alderson said the Mets were open to re-signing free-agent Bartolo Colon to a bullpen role.

At 42, Colon was 14-13 with a 4.16 ERA in 194 2/3 regular-season innings, but went to the bullpen for the playoffs.

“He proved in the postseason that he can pitch out of the pen,’’ Alderson said. “Whether he would do that on a full-time basis, or be a swing man/middle guy, or even step into the rotation in the event of injuries, I think we’re still open-minded about the possibility of Bartolo.’’

* Said the probability was small of trading one of their young starters – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey or Steven Matz – for offensive help, despite the long odds of re-signing Cespedes.

“I can’t see it happening,’’ Alderson said. “You never know what comes up. But I think it’s unlikely.’’

Even so, don’t forget the Mets agreed to a deal at the deadline what would have sent Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee for outfield Carlos Gomez.

* Said the Mets were undecided as to whether they will extend a qualifying offer to Daniel Murphy.

Alderson, as he frequently does, danced around the issue: “Take it out of the Murphy context. I think you have to start with whether you want the player back. If you decide the answer is yes, then it’s easy to make a qualifying offer.

“If you decide no, then you get to the question of, for gamesmanship purposes, whether making a qualifying offer is a good idea. Murph has been a great player for us over the years. He’s been a Met over his entire career. So we’re going to make that decision a little later this week.’’

Alderson fainted because he had not eaten breakfast and was dehydrated. He was examined by a Mets trainer and deemed all right.

 

 

Aug 04

What’s Future Of Lagares With Mets?

Let’s assume the Mets succeed in signing Yoenis Cespedes to a contract extension. Then factor in Michael Conforto for a spot next year – you know he won’t make the Opening Day roster as a role player.

LAGARES: Where does he fit? (AP)

LAGARES: Where does he fit? (AP)

And, with Michael Cuddyer signed for one more year and Curtis Granderson for two, what does that mean for Juan Lagares?

After his 2014 Gold Glove Award season, in an unprecedented move for them, the Mets signed Lagares to a five-year deal based primarily on defense and the hope he hits. For the most part Lagares remains an offensive liability with a propensity for striking out, a lack of plate patience and low on-base percentage.

Cespedes, Cuddyer, Granderson and Conforto all represent an offensive upside over Lagares. That the Mets attempted to deal him to Milwaukee in the botched Carlos Gomez trade speaks volumes of the regrets the Mets are having. This is even more underscored by the Mets’ willingness to try Cespedes in center field.

If the Mets sign Cespedes, we can figure them trying to deal Lagares this winter, and with it a virtual certainty he won’t last the five years of his contract.

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.