Sep 18

Three Mets’ Storylines: Makeshift Starter Saves Day … Again

When the final chapter of the 2016 Mets is written, it will be about pitching. The central theme will be about those lost and those who stepped into the breach. With Jacob deGrom scratched from Sunday’s start with an elbow injury that will require season-ending surgery, Gabriel Ynoa became the latest to help keep the Mets in the center of the wild-card race.

YNOA: Makes key start. (AP)

YNOA: Makes key start. (AP)

Personally, I was disappointed manager Terry Collins didn’t give Ynoa one more batter, but it worked out for the best and the Mets went on to complete their sweep of the Minnesota Twins, 3-2, to move into the lead wild-card spot, one game ahead of San Francisco and two over the Cardinals.

Ynoa gave up four hits and struck out eight in 4.2 innings, and from there manager Terry Collins turned to his “plethora of pitchers,” to complete the sweep. Five Mets’ relievers limited the Twins to a pair of runs.

While Ynoa was done when the game was decided, his contribution was vital – and worthy of another start with deGrom for the year – he personified the overriding storyline of this season (even more than their average with RISP) of the success of their emergency starters.

With Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and deGrom lost for the year, Seth Lugo, Logan Verrett, Robert Gsellman, Ynoa and Rafael Montero – all of whom were not in the Opening Day rotation – have combined to give the Mets 25 starts (seven defined as quality) and 10 victories. Another pitcher who was supposed to be out of the rotation in early July – 43-year-old Bartolo Colon – has 14 victories in 30 starts (18 defined as quality).

That’s 24 victories in 55 starts (25 quality), which is the difference between having something to keep playing for this season and thinking about spring training.

“Hey look, somebody else has got to help,” Collins said. “When you are called upon and it’s your chance, make the most of it.”

This issue will undoubtedly be raised again in the Mets’ remaining 13 starts, as Colon is slated to get three more starts, while the Band-Aid of Lugo, Gsellman and Ynoa are anticipated getting seven more.

That was today’s main storyline with Neil Walker‘s future with the team and more injury updates the others.

WALKER WANTS TO RETURN: The Mets are where they are in the playoff hunt in large part because of Walker, who hit .282 with a career-high 23 homers and 55 RBI, before being lost for the season to undergo season-ending back surgery.

Prior to Walker’s injury, GM Sandy Alderson said he’d talk with Walker’s agent about an extension, something which obviously hasn’t happened. Walker’s leverage on the free-agent market was compromised by the surgery. That explained Walker’s interest in returning.

“This is a good fit,” Walker told reporters. “This looks good, but we don’t know what else is out there. We don’t know where teams might be coming from. The free-agent market this year is kind of weak, especially at the infield position, so you never know what good happen.”

INJURY UPDATES:  Evidently, the Mets didn’t learn from their recent experience with deGrom. Why else would Collins say today Matz could come back “with an opportunity to pitch,” at the end of the week?

Matz, who hasn’t pitched in a month because of a shoulder impingement and is coming off a 30-pitch bullpen session Saturday, could pitch Friday

When it comes to Mets’ injury news, I’ll believe it when I see it, which is why I have no faith in what Collins said.

Matz was 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA when he was sidelined. The long-term goal would be to have him a viable option to pitch in a possible postseason.

“We have no plans yet,” Collins said, almost backtracking. “Nothing’s written. Steven Matz’s name certainly will be in the mix,” Collins said. “But Steven, when he gets here, is going to be a guy with a limit in workload that he has. So to get him built up and get him where we want, I am not sure we have the starts available.”So, why

So, why float the idea in the first place?

Meanwhile, Wilmer Flores‘ sore right wrist has kept him out of the lineup since it was injured in a home-plate collision with Braves’ catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Collins took responsibility for the injury saying he should have run for Flores.

Lucas Duda started for the first time since May. He was activated from the DL Saturday after being on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back. … Yoenis Cespedes left the game in the sixth inning after feeling ill. … Walker said he’s feeling better after having surgery on a herniated disk in his neck.

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Feb 02

Today In Mets History: Traded For Santana

In 2008, the Mets pulled off one of the most stunning trades in franchise history with the acquisition of Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for prospects Deolis GuerraCarlos GomezPhilip Humber and Kevin Mulvey.

SANTANA: Became a Met today (AP)

SANTANA: Became a Met today (AP)

The Yankees and Red Sox were hot at the time after Santana in the free-agent market, but the Twins pitted them against each other until they got fed up and pulled out of the bidding. That opened the door for the Mets, but to seal the deal they were given a negotiating window and signed Santana to a six-year, $137.5 million contract.

It was a pricey deal in terms of salary and prospects, but it was supposed to put them over the top and return them to the playoffs. Santana’s first season was the only one in which the Mets had a winning record.

The fuel behind the trade was a late-season collapse in 2007 in which the Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 remaining to reveal a lack of pitching. Santana’s best season with the Mets was his first when he went 16-7 with a 2.53 ERA in 34 starts, but underwent knee surgery following the year.

That would be a prelude of things to come, as he never again pitched a full season because of a variety of injuries and missed all of 2011 with a torn shoulder capsule. He returned in 2012 to pitch just 117 innings, but also author the only no-hitter in franchise history.

Santana re-injured his shoulder in spring training of 2013 when he rushed himself and threw against the program laid out for him and needed a second surgery. Santana went 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA during his tenure with the Mets, but his most important statistic was missing a potential 96 starts.

Santana is currently attempting a comeback with Baltimore.

Was it a good trade for the Mets?

In theory, they needed a pitching upgrade, but that wasn’t their only weakness. They especially needed to improve their bullpen. Of the players the Mets gave up, only Gomez became a viable player.

I thought the Mets gave up too much because there was no competition. With the Yankees and Red Sox gone, there was nobody else in the market. Plus, the Twins knew they had to deal him because there was no way they would re-sign him for anything close to what the Mets paid.

Nobody could question Santana’s heart, but I would have spent the money to fill other holes.

Dec 15

Mets Make It Official, Sign Reliever Jon Rauch

The New York Mets today announced the club has signed free agent righthanded pitcher Jon Rauch to a one-year contract.

Rauch, 33, appeared in 53 games with the Toronto Blue Jays last season, finishing 5-4 with 11 saves. He compiled a 4.85 ERA (28 earned/52.0 innings) with 36 strikeouts and pitched 1.0 inning or more in 39 of his 53 appearances.

Since 2006, Rauch leads all relievers in wins (31) and has appeared in the second-most number of games (434).

He was 3-1 with 21 saves and a 3.12 ERA (20 earned runs/57.2 innings) in 2010 with the Minnesota Twins.

Over his eight-year major league career, Rauch has also played for Chicago (AL), Montreal/Washington and Arizona.  He is 39-31 with 58 saves with a 3.82 ERA (221 earned runs/520.2 innings). Righthanded batters have hit .241 against Rauch for his career, while NL East opponents have batted .230.

The 6-11, 290-pound native of Louisville, KY was drafted by the White Sox in the third round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft and is currently the tallest player in major league baseball.

Oct 15

Responding to some comments

Ramirez: He had to go.

Ramirez: He had to go.

Sorry … a little late today in responding to your comments from last night after I logged off.

1. chucky (about Manny Ramirez): I understand what you’re saying about burying grudges for the good of the team. But, I disagree that placating Ramirez would have been the way to go. I thought the Red Sox made the right decision to get rid of him. Even if it means not getting to the World Series (of course, we don’t know that, yet).

2. Jim (on dealing Delgado to Minnesota): The Twins might need a DH/1B type, but I don’t see them trading a top prospect in the offseason for Delgado, who has these red flags: salary, injury history, age and the question of whether his second half was a fluke.

3. Steve (The Original) (on Phillie fans at Citi Field): Tickets will be a premium next year at Citi Field. Plus, there are fewer of them to go around. If I had season tickets, I would sell my Yankee and Phillie tickets to pay for the whole package. I’m sure I’m not the only one with those capitalist leanings.-JD

Oct 01

Mets to announce Minaya contract tomorrow

Four more years.

Four more years.

The Mets scheduled a telephone news conference for tomorrow to announce a new contract for general manager Omar Minaya. After Minaya, the Mets are then expected to finalize a contract for manager Jerry Manuel.

I’m sure plenty of you have thoughts on this, many of them heated as the Mets lost on the final day of the season for the second straight year.

This season brought several defining moments in Minaya’s career, beginning with the trade for two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins. Minaya also traded prospect Lastings Milledge to Washington for outfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider.

The Mets, and Minaya, were criticized for their handling of Church’s concussion, and for circumstances surrounding the firing of manager Willie Randolph.

Minaya’s first order of business will be signing manager Jerry Manuel to an extension and patching a bullpen that blew 29 save opportunities.