Oct 10

Mets Matters: Good Minor League News; Don’t Count On Girardi

Call it good news that the Mets purchased the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League, and in two years they will become their new Triple-A affiliate.

That leaves two more years of flying prospects to and from Las Vegas, which they have been doing since 2013. Prior to that, they were affiliated with Buffalo for four seasons, but that relationship soured because the Mets didn’t do enough promotions, such as playing exhibition games there.

Before Buffalo, the Mets were affiliated with New Orleans for two years, and prior to that with Norfolk/Tidewater since 1969.

GIRARDI NOT COMING: Of course, hiring Joe Girardi would be a no-brainer should the Yankees be foolish enough to fire him after the playoffs.

Girardi’s four-year contract expires at the end of this season.

Girardi is everything the Mets would want in a manager, but the same applies to the Yankees.

Of course, the Yankees could low-ball Girardi the way they did Joe Torre and he could walk away.

The Yankees have overachieved this year and by most accounts are one to two years ahead of schedule. So, regardless of what happens tomorrow night in Cleveland, why wouldn’t the Yankees want him back?

NO PROBLEMS WITH NATIONALS WINNING: I have no problems with the Nationals reaching the World Series. Actually, that would be in the best interest of the Mets.

Should the Nationals get to the Series it would be a wake-up call to GM Sandy Alderson as to how far the Mets have to go.

 

Aug 27

Next Year Brought Into Focus In Doubleheader With Nationals

With Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes currently on the disabled list and out for the rest of the season, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares will get a bulk of the playing time.

Both distinguished themselves today, but in different ways.

For Nimmo, who hit third in the nightcap, his two-run homer briefly game the Mets a lead in the game they eventually lost, 5-4.

Lagares had two hits in the second game, but more impressive was how alertly he backed up right fielder Travis Taijeron on Daniel Murphy’s single to start a blurry fast relay to nail pinch-runner Edwin Jackson at the plate to end the game and preserve the Mets’ 6-5 victory.

D'ARNAUD: Blocks plate on game-ender. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Blocks plate on game-ender. (AP)

Let’s assume Conforto’s pending shoulder surgery keeps him off the Opening Day roster, then Nimmo would likely play in right field to start the season. If not, he could start the season coming off the bench.

Nimmo isn’t a home run hitter, but there’s a lot to like about his enthusiasm and .378 on-base percentage. He can play off three outfield positions, so his versatility is a plus.

Lagares’ problem has been with his bat, but there’s nothing wrong with his defense.

That he backed up the plate is part of his job description, but with the Mets playing out the string, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see a role player just coast, but that’s not the case with Lagares.

Without Lagares’ awareness, the Mets might have lost the first game, too.

But, it’s plays like that, and Nimmo’s hitting, that should stand out to GM Sandy Alderson as he makes notes regarding next year.

LUGO PITCHES WELL:  Seth Lugo, in his start coming off the disabled list, gave up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in the second game.

“I thought I threw the ball really well,’’ Lugo said. “I had life on my pitches and was hitting my spots.’’

Robert Gsellman was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Lugo on the roster.

In looking at next season, I see Lugo better suited as a starter and Gsellman coming out of the bullpen.

TWO FACES OF ROBLES:  We saw the two faces of Hansel Robles in today’s double-header.

In the first game Robles, struck out the only two hitters he faced. In the second game, Robles walked three straight batters, including the last two with the bases loaded to force in the tying and go-ahead runs.

Robles is wildly inconsistent, and if the Mets are auditioning for their bullpen for 2018, he must show more consistency, beginning with throwing more strikes.

The real problem I had with Robles’ second appearance was more with manager Terry Collins, who left the reliever in to walk three straight batters.

“You can’t walk guys in the big leagues,’’ Collins said. “You can’t walk three hitters in a row, like that.’’

I understand it was a double header and the bullpen was taxed, but you can’t leave a reliever in to walk three straight hitters.

Just bad managing.

THE METS AND DUSTY:  Both the Mets’ Collins and Nationals manager Dusty Baker are in the final years of their contracts.

Of course, that begs the question: If neither are brought back in 2018, would the Mets entertain signing Baker to manage them.

While the Mets are non-commital about Collins, Baker has let it be known he is interested in returning. If Baker does hook on with the Mets, it could cost them as he is making $4 million this year.

HARVEY UPDATE: Matt Harveys next game will be with the Mets. After four rehab starts – including 4.2 innings Saturday for Double-A Binghamton – the Mets announced he will be activated when the rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

The Mets will be in Houston then, so his first start will be against the Astros, who are slightly better than the Portland Sea Dogs. Harvey threw 72 pitches against Portland and probably won’t throw much more than that against Houston.

UP NEXT: The Mets are off today, then are in Cincinnati for the start of a three-game series against the Reds.

Aug 15

Why Not Trade Grandy To Nationals Or Yankees?

If the Mets are hell bent on trading Curtis Granderson, and they can get something decent in return in the form of a prospect or not having to pay any part of the $4 million remaining on his salary, I have no problem with them dealing him to the Yankees or Nationals.

Why not?

GRANDERSON: Why not trade him to Nats? (AP)

GRANDERSON: Why not trade him to Nats? (AP)

The season is over and if what they get back can help the Mets, what’s the problem? What I think is stupid is the Mets possibly missing out on a deal for Granderson because they want him for the Subway Series.  Could that really be a reason not to trade him now?

Granderson will be a free agent after the season and said he’ll retire if he can’t find a good deal as a player. So, what are the odds he’ll come back to bite the Mets next year?

Relations with the Yankees are frigid at best following the Jay Bruce and Neil Walker trades, so that’s a long shot at best. However, with Bryce Harper out indefinitely, the Nationals have more of a need.

Of course, the Mets would rather not trade within the division, but they have already gotten their money’s worth out of Granderson’s four-year, $60-million contract, so why not?

It might be fun to see Granderson match up against Bruce in the World Series.

 

Aug 14

A Good Game, But Still Interleague Play

It was well played, but tonight’s Mets-Yankees game was still interleague, so it only gets a half-hearted thumbs-up. I make no apologies, I can’t stand interleague play.

If it is a true rivalry game, then I’d rather see the Mets play the Nationals, the Braves, or even the Phillies. Then again, it would be nice to see a dozen more games in Citizens Bank Park.

Hell, I’d rather see them play another four games with the Dodgers than four with the Yankees this week.

There are so many reasons why interleague play doesn’t make it for me:

No integrity to schedule: Interleague play coupled with the unbalanced schedule means teams in the same league don’t travel the same course to the playoffs. That’s not an issue when everybody plays the same schedule, home and away.

I’m sorry, but 19 games a year against the Nationals, Braves, Phillies and Marlins is just too damn much.

Speaking of the schedule, does it make sense for the Angels to play three games at Citi Field while the Yankees are only in for two? Or the Mets in Seattle for three games, but only two games in the Bronx?

There are so many complications with the current schedule, such as teams playing out of their leagues and divisions in April, when the schedule is prone to rainouts. That the Yankees had to wait out a three-hour-plus rain delay because the Tigers made only one trip to New York is simply the epitome of arrogance and taking their fans for granted.

Commissioner Rob Manfred, like Bud Selig before him, is so hell bent on cutting three minutes from the time of game – and selling T-shirts in China and Europe, that he ignores the basic structure that served the sport well for over a century.

Regarding the Mets and Yankees, the two teams are competing for different objectives, so what’s the point of these games? It has been said a baseball season is a marathon, but with different schedules how fair is it for one team to run 26 miles while another runs only 25?

Attendance and original premise are irrelevant: There are only four teams playing in antiquated stadiums – Boston, the Cubs, Tampa Bay and Oakland – with the Athletics and Rays hurting at the gate.

Interleague play was introduced as a gimmick to boost attendance, with some critics of Selig saying it was to have the Cubs play in Milwaukee. But, with nearly everybody playing in new stadiums, attendance is rarely an issue.

Another selling point for tearing the fabric of the game was for the fan in Cleveland to watch the Padres. But, with cable TV and the various MLB packages, viewers in Wyoming can see most any team at most any time.

Different rules: Can you imagine an AFC team getting to use a two-point conversion with NFC teams not being able to? There’s simply no good reason why the NL doesn’t have the DH while the AL teams do. It is ridiculous this still goes on, especially in the World Series.

It doesn’t work everywhere: I can appreciate the premise in New York, Chicago and maybe Los Angeles. Weak arguments can be made for Cleveland-Cincinnati, Baltimore-Washington, St. Louis-Kansas City and San Francisco-Oakland. But, who are the “natural interleague rivals’’ for Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Arizona, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Diego? Or, Minnesota and Detroit?

Unless a player is returning to face his former team – or the teams in question are having outstanding seasons, what’s the appeal of Twins-Pirates, or Mets-Mariners, or Marlins-Tigers?

I’m old school: Call me what you will, but I grew up watching baseball a certain way. I respect and appreciate, but I have yet to hear an argument interleague play is for the betterment of the game.

The 2000 World Series was special, it was an event. but everything since just didn’t do it for me. I mean other than Shawn Estes throwing behind Roger Clemens. Yeah, that was interesting.

MONTERO SHARP: Rafael Montero was as good tonight as we’ve ever seen him, giving up two runs in six innings, which by every stretch was a quality start.

Montero gave up five hits and two walks with six strikeouts, so he was adept at pitching out of trouble. What was most impressive about him was how he challenged Yankee hitters inside with his fastball, including Aaron Judge, whom he struck out in the first.

Judge did get a measure of revenge with a game-tying homer in the sixth.

Jul 05

Even DeGrom Can’t Save Mets

Do you want the truth from me about the Mets, or should I tell you what I think of them through blue-and-orange glasses? I’m guessing you want the truth because that’s all I’ve given you on this site.

I hope I am wrong and the Mets do something heroic, but even if Jacob deGrom beats the Nationals tonight, I think this over.

DE GROM: Can't help Mets now. (AP)

DE GROM: Can’t help Mets now. (AP)

Just when they take a step forward, like trim a 12.5-game deficit down to 8.5, they stub their toe. They not only failed to sweep the Phillies but got clobbered in the final game. Curtis Granderson hit a game-tying homer with two strikes and two down in the ninth, which is the stuff great pennant runs are made of.

But, they lost that game and were routed yesterday to fall back to 11.5 games behind.

They can’t beat the Nationals, Dodgers or Diamondbacks, and I don’t like their chances against St. Louis and Colorado.

There is too much going on with the Mets that doesn’t encourage a miraculous comeback. Their pitchers walk too many hitters and the bullpen is among the game’s worst. Their offense is all-or-nothing with the home runs. Hitting in the clutch? Uh, no.

And, let’s not forget the numerous injuries: Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey; David Wright and Neil Walker; Jeurys Familia and Michael Conforto.

Quite simply, the Mets need to pick up at least six games by the end of the month to have any chance of making it a race giving them two options: 1) maintain the illusion and keep the status quo, or 2) back up the truck and have a fire sale.

Whatever they do, I’ll keep watching and imagine you will, also, because that’s what we do.