Mar 08

Mets’ Top Five Questions As Opening Day Looms

Opening Day is three weeks from today and there’s more than a foot of snow outside my door. The Mets lost today and now are 5-9 this spring. Today the Nationals lit up Jeurys Familia for five runs.

Results and stats don’t matter in spring training. It’s about getting ready for the season and right now Mickey Callaway’s team isn’t ready. Far from it.

Callaway and GM Sandy Alderson have a boatload of questions that must be addressed before the Cardinals get to town.

The following are the top five:

  1. What is the rotation?

A: There are four givens – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jason Vargas – with Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo competing for the fifth spot.

  1. What is the make-up of the front end of the bullpen?

A: Familia, AJ Ramos, Anthony Swarzak and Jerry Blevins are the givens at the back end.  If Gsellman and Lugo don’t start, one of them could end up in the pen. So might Rafael Montero, who is out of options. Jamie Callahan, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame and Hansel Robles will compete for the final spot or two.

  1. Who is the leadoff hitter?

A: Brandon Nimmo is the best bet because of his on-base percentage. But, will the Mets commit to him in center field until Michael Conforto returns or will they go with a platoon of Nimmo and Juan Lagares until then? Amed Rosario has the speed, but a poor on-base percentage. It could end up being Asdrubal Cabrera, who has a passable on-base percentage and can add some pop.

  1. Is there a healthy first baseman?

A: Adrian Gonzalez has a bad back and Dominic Smith has a bum leg. Other than me, nobody ever mentions Wilmer Flores, who is destined never to get a fair shake with the Mets.

  1. How healthy is Yoenis Cespedes?

A: He played only 81 games last year with a quad injury and is having a slow spring. If the Mets are to be competitive, they need a big year from Cespedes.


Jan 23

Mets Continue To Overplay Their Hand Since 2015 Series

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon can try to spin his payroll anyway he chooses but it comes down to one simple fact: Declaring you want to win and doing what it takes to do so are two different things.

“We certainly want to win,’’ Wilpon told reporters today at Citi Field. “There’s nobody going there trying not to win and not do their best to put us in the absolute best position to win.’’

The Mets’ payroll last year was $155 million and they finished 22 games under .500. It was $135 million in 2016 and $101 million in 2015 when they reached the World Series.

That last year, their Series rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz earned a combined $2.18 million, the odds of repeating which fall into the catch-lightning-in-a-bottle category. That is just plain lucky.

Wilpon said he’s not interested in the Mets being a top-five team in payroll, something we’ve known for years. Instead, he said the Mets are concerned with wins and losses.

The problem when looking at things that way is it reduces 2015 to a fluke season, something the Mets have been riding the past two years.

The following four things conspired to put the Mets into the Series that year:

  • Because of injuries and poor performances, the Nationals had a miserable season in 2015 which gave the Mets their opening.
  • The Mets caught lightning that summer with the Yoenis Cespedes trade. Cespedes had a historic six weeks that propelled them into the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the Mets tried to parlay that trade with a $110-million, four-year contract that will set them back for years.
  • There was their sterling rotation mentioned earlier. Also, unfortunately for the Mets, that rotation hasn’t stayed healthy, and including the fifth member, Zack Wheeler, those five have yet to make a complete turn.
  • That postseason will always be remembered for Daniel Murphy’s blitz through the National League playoffs. Without it, maybe the Mets don’t get past the Dodgers in the Division Series. Unfortunately, the Mets played hardball with Murphy and let him escape to Washington as a free agent.

While it’s never a bad thing to reach the World Series, a case can be made the Mets overplayed their hand and overestimated just how good they were that season and have been paying for it since.

From signing Cespedes to letting Murphy go to overestimating their rotation it has been one bad decision after another.

Jan 04

Imagine Being A Marlins’ Fan

If you’re a Mets fan, and the assumption is you are, then you have to be grateful to Miami, because as stagnant as Wilpon’s team has been, the Marlins simply don’t care. Derek Jeter, one of baseball’s greatest frauds, is the face for the Marlins’ latest ownership group bent on stripping whatever competitiveness is left of the franchise.

The Marlins, reeling after the death of ace Jose Fernandez, were realistically a pitcher or two of being a contender for a wild card. Two starters could have made it a possibility.

Well, after trading Dee Gordon to Seattle, and Giancarlo Stanton the Yankees for a song, and then Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals for a whistle, the Marlins can be regarded possibly as worse than the Mets.

That would be assured if Jeter is successful in trading outfielder Christian Yelich, catcher J.T. Realmuto and infielder Martin Prado. Compounding matters for the Mets is the contenders to land these players are the Nationals, Braves and Phillies.

Reportedly, Jeter told MLB in the screening process he had no intention of stripping the Marlins. Whether he did or not is open for debate, but his actions speak otherwise.

The Marlins’ ownership groups have always been a mess, and it goes before Jeter. Have you forgotten the Marlins gutted their franchise after winning the World Series in 1997 and 2003?

This time Jeter didn’t even wait until a parade. He has scuttled the Marlins. So, if you think things are bad with the Mets, imagine being a Marlins fan.

Jan 02

Five Things I’d Love To See Happen With The Mets

Here we are, two days into the new year and I’ve already broken one resolution. It was the one about eating junk food, not about criticizing the Mets.

There’s plenty of time left for that, but for now let’s take a look at the top three things I’d like to see happen with the Mets this year, not including winning the World Series.

WRIGHT: Want to see that swing again. (AP)

WRIGHT: Want to see that swing again. (AP)

I’m not even holding out for a winning season, or for them to even be competitive. The following are five individual things or events I am rooting for to happen to the Mets this season:

The Captain: The odds are getting longer and longer, but I sure would like to see David Wright complete a successful comeback following rotator cuff surgery. Maybe not 2006 revisited, but to play again without pain and make the throw from third to first as if it was effortless.

Those arms: I’m not thinking about any of them winning a Cy Young Award. Or winning 20 games. Or even each starting 34 games. What I want to see is just one time this summer the rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler make all their starts in a row. I don’t even care if all five lose their starts. I just want them to make them.

Stay healthy: There will be some injuries, of course, but let’s have nothing like those that shelved Michael Conforto, Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes. Injuries have long been used as the explanation for the losing. I just want Mickey Calloway to not have to write out 125 different lineups this summer. No Mets manager has had something like that since, well, who knows when? Maybe Davey Johnson in 1986.

Solve Murph: Daniel Murphy has had his way since the Mets cast him aside. Murphy left as a free agent, but make no mistake he was pushed away much like Jose Reyes when he left as a free agent. Murphy has also owned the Mets since signing with the Nationals. In the 38 games Murphy has played against the Mets he has 54 hits, of which nine are homers adding up to 35 RBI and a .386 batting average and a .435 on-base percentage and a staggering 1.135 OPS.

Spend some money: Wouldn’t it be nice for ownership to call GM Sandy Alderson and demand he spend some money and bring some talent to Flushing.

I’m not holding my breath, especially on the last one.


Nov 20

Mets Release Partial Spring Training Schedule

The Mets released a partial spring training schedule this afternoon with 12 dates still to be filled in. This spring the Mets at a home-and-home with the Yankees, and so far four games against the champion Astros. The schedule also features games against the Braves, Cardinals and Nationals.

Feb. 23 Braves at PSL

Feb. 24 Cardinals at PSL

Feb. 25 Marlins at PSL

Feb. 26 Astros at West Palm Beach

Feb. 27 TBA

Feb. 28 Braves at Disney

Mar. 1  TBA

Mar. 2  Nationals at PSL

Mar. 2  Astros at West Palm Beach

Mar. 3  Marlins at Jupiter

Mar. 4  TBA

Mar. 5  TBA

Mar. 6 TBA

Mar. 7  Yankees at PSL

Mar. 8  Nationals at West Palm Beach

Mar. 9   Tigers at Lakeland

Mar. 10 Yankees at Tampa

Mar. 11 Astros at PSL

Mar. 12 TBA

Mar. 13 Nationals at West Palm Beach

Mar. 14  Marlins at Jupiter

Mar. 15 Marlins at PSL

Mar. 16 TBA

Mar. 17 Nationals at West Palm Beach

Mar. 18 Orioles at Sarasota

Mar. 19 Astros at West Palm Beach

Mar. 20 Cardinals at Jupiter

Mar. 21 TBA

Mar. 22 Nationals at PSL

Mar. 23 Cardinals at PSL

Mar. 24 Cardinals at Jupiter

Mar. 25 TBA

Mar. 26 TBA

Mar. 27 TBA

Mar. 28 TBA