Oct 25

Beltran Is Why I Am Rooting For Astros

In games I don’t cover and just watch for fun, I have to take a rooting interest, otherwise why bother? So, it is a no-brainer for me to pull for the Houston Astros, who entered the National League in 1962 with the Mets.

I also worked for the Astros right out of college and still have a lot of friends in Houston. Outside of those links, there are two reasons why I am pulling for the Astros.

BELTRAN: My World Series hook. (AP)

BELTRAN: My World Series hook. (AP)

I understand why but don’t like the Dodgers leaving Curtis Granderson off the World Series roster. We all know how much he brings to a team and clubhouse and how he delivers in the clutch.

Logically, I understand their reasoning. With shortstop Corey Seager now active, Chris Taylor was moved to center field. My argument took a hit when Taylor homered on the game’s first pitch.

Even so, I do have a sentimental bone and love watching Granderson, and this could have been his last chance to play in a World Series.

It would have been sweet if Granderson homered to beat the Yankees in the World Series – at Yankee Stadium, of course.

And, I always liked Justin Turner, who homered again last night. Mickey Callaway said at his press conference that he is going to go out of his way to show the players he cares about them.

Frankly, Turner was run out of town and not appreciated by the Mets. The same applies to Carlos Beltran. This will be Beltran’s last chance to play in a World Series and I can’t help but feel happy for him. Beltran has always been one of my favorite players to cover.

Win or lose, he was always stand-up after games. He always answered questions no matter how he played. He often played hurt, playing with a fractured face from an outfield collision in 2005. Even so, arguably the Mets’ best all-time position player was never truly appreciated by fans of the team, but certainly was in the clubhouse.

I hated how Beltran was treated by the team at the end of his Mets’ tenure when GM Sandy Alderson didn’t appreciate the gravity of Beltran’s knee injury and the player went and had surgery on his own.

My two favorite Beltran plays was a circus catch while running up that ridiculous incline in center field in Houston. And, of course, there was his game-winning homer to beat Philadelphia.

Another thing I’ll always remember was a story I wrote about him recalling his experiences in spring training as a rookie with Kansas City. He spoke about being so lonely to the point that he holed up in his hotel room and cried.

Beltran has come a long way since that troublesome spring in Fort Myers, Fla. He’s gone from lonely rookie to a borderline Hall of Fame career.

I will miss him. Granderson, too.

Oct 21

How Should Mets Handle Yankees’ Success?

So, how should the Mets handle the obvious news the Yankees are back to being the bullies on the New York City block?

No question, 2015 and 2016 was fun while it lasted, but the essence of winning is to sustain it, and do it again, and again. Whether the Yankees can do that remains to be seen, but they but have the necessary building blocks the Mets didn’t.

The Yankees have the young core of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius, while the Mets had only one young star the last time they saw October, and that was Michael Conforto.  The Mets have since added Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith.

The Yankees have a solid bullpen, while the Mets don’t. The Mets have the potential of a good, but not a great pen, but clearly, there’s a gap.

The Yankees have several good, young starters, while the Mets supposedly had the best young rotation in the majors. Suffice to say, that never happened, and Jacob deGrom is the only healthy arm the Mets can count on for next season.

The Yankees have a reputation with general manager Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner ownership group of not being handcuffed when it comes to a willingness to spend to reach the next level. The Mets’ reputation with GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons is the opposite.

That’s four categories with the Yankees holding the edge in each one.

So, if you’re the Mets, what should you do?

The Mets’ first decision is to ignore the Yankees, regardless what happens tonight in Houston. The Mets don’t compete with the Yankees for anything other than the back pages of the tabloids, which in the grand scheme of things is irrelevant. Let the Yankees enjoy their success and just concentrate on your own business.

The Mets’ second step – not surprisingly – is to hire a new manager, and I’m guessing it will be Manny Acta based on managerial experience.

Alderson has a lot of work to do, beginning with devising a rebuilding plan. It won’t be exactly going to Square One, but it is close. Alderson said he expects the Mets to be competitive in 2018, but hasn’t defined what that means. It should be noted the Mets finished 22 games below .500 this season.

It’s a stretch to think, even if they get all their players back that they’ll improve by 28 games, which would tie them at 87-75, the record of the Colorado Rockies, the second wild card in the National League.

That’s just for starters.

For that to happen, Alderson must add the following:

Starting pitching: The Mets can expect deGrom back and possibly Noah Syndergaard, the latter whom returned from the DL but is far from a given. The Mets probably have higher expectations of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo than they do Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. It would be reasonable to think Alderson would pursue at least one starter.

Bullpen: Alderson has never been able to build a reliable bullpen, but there’s potential with Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins. If one or two of the arms they acquired when they stripped themselves of their veterans at the trade deadline. Even so, they shouldn’t pass on getting a quality reliever in free agency.

Outfield: Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes are recovering from significant injuries and both are questionable to be ready for the start of the season. That leaves Nimmo and Juan Lagares as the only reliable outfielders, and the Mets are sold on the latter.

Second/third base: The Mets are expected to bring back Jose Reyes and/or Asdrubal Cabrera, but both? That might be a stretch. I believe Cabrera is better at both positions and could be a better offensive threat. But, Reyes is a better shortstop replacement. Is that enough?

Should Alderson address all four in the positive the Mets should be better, but will it be enough for the playoffs?

 

Aug 09

Montero’s Spot In Rotation Not Secure

It is all about pitching for the New York Mets. It is why this season went down the toilet a couple of months ago, and it is why they lost today and why Rafael Montero might not be long for the rotation.

MONTERO: Not getting it done. (AP)

MONTERO: Not getting it done. (AP)

Montero left today’s 5-1 loss to Texas for a pinch-hitter in the third inning after giving up four runs on five hits and three walks, with two of his 87 pitches hitting batters. After Montero fell to 1-8 with a 6.06 ERA, manager Terry Collins was understandably asked whether he would stay in the rotation.

“That’s something that will have to be discussed in the next couple of days,’’ Collins said. “If we don’t [find somebody better] he’ll go back out there.’’

Montero walked three of the eight batters Mets’ pitching issued free passes to. The staff has walked 398 batters, fourth worst in the National League and sixth overall (3.5 per game).

Eighty-seven pitches in three innings meant Montero was working deep into counts to numerous hitters.

“It’s a tough league to pitch in when you get three balls on a hitter,’’ Collins said. “We have not walked people like this in the past. You can’t keep putting runners on base. On this level, you have to throws strikes when you need to. He has got good enough stuff to go after guys.’’

 

 

Jul 03

Mets Suffer Crushing Defeat; Waste Matz Start

The Mets are like my last girlfriend, the ultimate tease. I mean, if you’re going to tie the game on a pinch-hit homer in the top of the ninth, you might as well hang around and win the damn thing. Instead, the Mets’ bullpen gave it up, and tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals dropped them to 10.5 behind, and in the process waste a sterling Steven Matz start.

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

Yes, you have to win the first game before you can sweep, but make no mistake, the Mets needed to sweep this three-game series at Washington. Even if they win the next two games, the most they closest they’ll get is 8.5 games. Still time, but very disappointing.

Curtis Granderson tied it 2-2 in the ninth on a pinch-hit, two-run homer, but the bullpen – using three relievers in the bottom half of the inning – gave the game away. Why not use your best reliever, Addison Reed, for two innings? Reed didn’t pitch Sunday, so he had some rest.

The bullpen has been an issue this season, and Fernando Salas, who gave up the game-winning hit, really has no business being in the game if the ninth inning of a tie game. Another issue is all the Mets’ pitchers’ walks. Two of the Nationals’ three runs were the result of walks. Overall, they’ve walked 305, good for third in the National League.

You thought, maybe the Mets would pull it out once Granderson homered, but when they didn’t take a big lead that inning, you understood disappointment could still loom, as it did tonight.

 

Jun 02

Today’s Question: What Harvey Will We Get Tonight?

The Matt Harvey we saw last weekend in Pittsburgh was not the vintage pitcher we hoped would terrorize National League lineups for a decade. Two surgeries made sure that wasn’t going to happen.

HARVEY: Which one? (AP)

HARVEY: Which one? (AP)

However, he was good enough to throw a season-high six innings to come away with the victory. That leads to the obvious question: Was his last start a fluke or something to build on?

Harvey beat the Pirates that evening throwing in the mid-90s, but with sharp command (two walks). If Harvey is to become a consistent winner, he’ll need to do it with command and location, more than overpowering velocity.

“Obviously, it’s just taken a little bit of time,” Harvey said after the Pittsburgh game. “It’s been frustrating for me. But a lot of the work has been paying off, and really, it’s a huge, huge positive for me being able to execute those pitches.”

So, what will we get tonight? Was his last start the real thing or just a tease?