Apr 27

Syndergaard, Cespedes Lost … Is Season Far Behind?

Welcome, my friends, to Panic City, where your mayor, GM Sandy Alderson and his deputy, Terry Collins, have some serious scrambling to do before they take their last place Mets into Washington for a three-game series with the Nationals.

While Alderson was in his office after today’s 7-5 loss to the Braves – the Mets’ sixth straight – weighing his limited options, Collins was delivering his annual, closed doors, “nobody is going to feel sorry for you … it’s time to grind it out, starting now,” address to his shell-shocked team, losers of ten of their last 11 games.

CESPEDES: Yes, things can get worse. (AP)

CESPEDES: Yes, things can get worse. (AP)

Collins was in a testy mood following a day when starter Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes were lost.

Syndergaard has biceps tendinitis and the Mets hope he’ll be ready for Sunday, but they are accomplished at wishful thinking. Cespedes, whom the Mets gambled was back from a tight hamstring, significantly pulled it legging out a double in the fourth inning and will be lost for an extended period.

Cespedes will get another MRI Friday and likely will be placed on the disabled list before facing Max Scherzer in Washington. There, he will join Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, David Wright, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Brandon Nimmo.

Collins, his voice getting louder with each name, ticked them off one at a time, Duda, Wright, Matt Harvey, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Cespedes, Matz, Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud, and said the Mets eventually pulled it together to reach the playoffs.

“I told them, ‘We can do it again, but it’s got to start now,’ ” Collins said. “OK, so the weather is gonna start changing. That can no longer be the excuse. It’s now time to go out and grind it out as we did last year.

“It’s still April, I understand that, but, we can no longer sit back and say, ‘It’s ugly weather, we’ve got some guys hurt.’ No one cares. [The Braves] don’t care, the Nationals don’t care. The only thing that matters are the guys in [the clubhouse], because that’s the product. They’ve got to care. They’ve got to come out, play with some energy and get this going and I truly believe they can do it.”

When asked the timing for this message, Collins played the perception-reality card, Collins said he’s aware of the talk energy is down, but that’s to be expected when your team batting average is .184 and on-base percentage is .268 during this slide.

“Look, it’s just April, I get it, but it’s time,” Collins said. “We’ve got a tough road trip ahead. … We’ve got to grind it out. We can do it, but we’ve got to start now.”

Now, is best defined as Friday in Washington, where the Mets, currently 7.5 games behind the Nationals, will try to stop their free-fall. As of now, deGrom, Zack Wheeler and to-be-announced will start, but Collins can’t say whether the offense will show, especially with Cespedes out.

“We’ve got to go out there and have energy,” said third baseman Jose Reyes. “We know we are going to better than this. … We’re going to see what we’re made of. It’s only April, we have five more months. We don’t want to go too deep in the standings. We have a good ballclub and we’re going to turn it around.”

It’s going to be difficult without Cespedes and Syndergaard. Collins said losing Cespedes “is a big hole.”

Losing Cespedes could have been prevented had the Mets acted proactively, which they did not. Instead, they kept hoping he’d get better. By putting Cespedes immediately on the disabled list, he might have missed both Washington series. Instead, foolishly gambling on a player with a history of muscle pulls, they not only miss Cespedes for both Nationals series, and for possibly up to a month.

“No,” a defiant Collins said when asked if he had any regrets by not putting Cespedes on the disabled list a week ago.

“He did all the things that were required to get in the lineup,” Collins said. “It just happens. It’s easy to say you should have put him on the DL. Well, you know what? Every time you turn around for every little thing, if you keep putting guys on the DL, we can’t run anybody out there.

“The guy pulled a hamstring. He’s wound tight. I am going to go with that. Now he’s going to be out for awhile.”

In saying Cespedes is wound tight, and especially after last season, are specifically the reasons why he should have been put on the disabled list. But, Collins doesn’t make those decisions; he’s there to shield GM Sandy Alderson from the flack he deserves.

As for Syndergaard goes, the Mets can afford a few extra days in making a decision because as a pitcher he works every five days. Syndergaard was supposed to start Wednesday, but was scratched because “I wanted to,” said Collins, not because he felt something in his arm while shagging fly balls before the game.

Syndergaard said the discomfort is in his shoulder and biceps area and isn’t a reoccurrence of the bone spur that bothered him last season.

“It’s quite obvious we can’t take a chance on him,” Collins said. “He’s a big piece of the puzzle.”

Prior to the game, Syndergaard said, “it’s a little thing right now, but we definitely don’t want to become a big thing,” but after the game got testy with a team official for not preventing reporters from questioning him.

Harvey started in place of Syndergaard and was lit up by the Braves. He got a phone call early today saying he would start.

“I really physically prepared for starting today,” said Harvey, who lifted weights Wednesday. “Having those workouts that I did yesterday and the throwing that I did yesterday, I just definitely wasn’t prepared.”

That’s odd because had he paid attention Wednesday when Syndergaard’s arm was barking and he was scratched, should have realized something was going on. Of course, that wouldn’t have taken away the workout, but Harvey could have been more mentally prepared.

Should have, could have, would have can’t turn this thing around for the Mets, who are in desperate need of something to go right.

“We need to be cognizant, when things aren’t going your way, not to go through the motions,” said Jay Bruce, one of the few bright spots for the Mets. “We’re up to the challenge.”

They better be, because 21 games into a season they all believed a World Series was possible, they are looking at that opportunity slipping away.

Apr 27

Syndergaard And Cespedes Go Down

The answer to today’s question, unfortunately, is YES: Something is wrong with the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. First Wednesday’s, then today’s scheduled starter, was scratched with what manager Terry Collins called a “tired arm,” but technically biceps tendinitis, or possibly something else.

The Mets have until Sunday to figure it out, as that is when they figure is the earliest Syndergaard could next pitch.

“In my opinion, I think it’s very minor, and I’ll get back on the field Sunday,” said Syndergaard, who to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t have a medical degree.

Collins and GM Sandy Alderson don’t have medical degrees, either, yet roll the dice when it comes to dealing with injuries.

“It’s quite obvious we can’t take a chance on him, hurting this guy,” Collins said prior to today’s game, not long after he said, “because I wanted to,” when asked why Syndergaard was scratched Wednesday night. I wrote last night Collins didn’t deserve the benefit of doubt about being given leeway in discussing Mets’ injuries.

That’s based on Collins’ past deceptive and stonewall comments in covering for Alderson’s lack of decisiveness in those types of situations.

Because he’s a pitcher who works every fifth day, the Mets have the luxury of waiting for a few days before putting him on the disabled list

That wasn’t the case with Yoenis Cespedes, whom they kept hoping his strained left hamstring would get better. Based on Cespedes’ injury history, the Mets should have put him on the 10-day disabled list immediately. Instead, they sat him out last weekend’s series against the Nationals, but hoped he could pinch-hit.

They thought the day off and the rainout could buy them some healing time but gambled on him playing Wednesday. He came away from that game but re-pulled his hamstring legging out a double in the fourth inning.

It is clear Cespedes will be out for a long time.

MORE, MUCH MORE, TO FOLLOW

 

Apr 23

Mets Have Few Options To Revive Offense

Pennants aren’t usually won in April, but can be lost, which is the prospect facing the Mets. After being swept by the Nationals – losing 6-3 to Max Scherzer – they are 5.5 games behind with a week remaining in the month.

There’s a lot of time remaining, but in addition to their myriad of injuries, the Mets aren’t hitting. They are in a deep and lengthy slump with few breakout signs and don’t have many options as to how they can turn it around.

CESPEDES: DL decision coming? (AP)

CESPEDES: DL decision coming? (AP)

There’s a 10-day disabled list now, so why aren’t the Mets using it with Yoenis Cespedes? They are using it with Lucas Duda (elbow) and Wilmer Flores (knee), but heading down the same road with Cespedes’ hamstring as they did last year with his quad, when a few games turned into weeks.

When they finally made the move, GM Sandy Alderson conceded they waited too long. However, the rules were 15 days then but a more manageable ten now.

Cespedes didn’t start tonight, which the Mets anticipated. However, if he’s not ready to go Tuesday against the Braves, then it could be time to make a retroactive move. However, they should guard against being foolish enough to use him in a pinch-hit role and risk starting the clock over. The game ended with him on the on-deck circle, which was reckless.

Admittedly, the Mets aren’t deep in the minors but have prospects Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario. They don’t want to bring up either now because they don’t want the arbitration clock to start ticking. Of the two, there should be serious thought to replacing Jose Reyes with Rosario.

Money also factored into why Michael Conforto started the season on the bench behind Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce, and, while we’re at it, in light of Daniel Murphy’s first-inning grand slam off Zack Wheeler, why he’s with the Nationals. Wheeler, by the way, put it together after the first.

The Mets’ mentality that favors bucks over baseball underscores an underlying cheapness that has been always disturbing. It isn’t the approach of a championship caliber organization.

Quite simply, Conforto needs to play, and with the offense on a hiatus, I don’t see why that’s even a question. He had three more hits tonight.

Another aspect of the Mets’ approach that is lacking regards injuries. When Alderson was hired, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon vowed an overhaul of their handling of injuries, which hasn’t happened.

It is well documented four of their starters are coming off various arm surgeries. Fate or coincidence?

Collins made a point of referring to Cespedes being tightly muscled in regards to being cautious. Considering his problems last season, I wonder how serious they thought about that before re-signing him.

It’s an oversimplification to think all injuries are a product of fate or are even avoidable. Both Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera have hamstring issues. Are they doing enough stretching? It’s a legitimate question, especially in the cold.

Whatever the answer, it won’t have an immediate impact on the Mets. What will have an impact is when they’ll start hitting.

Apr 19

Game Wrap: Bruce Hammers Phillies

First booed, and then the subject of trade rumors over the winter, Jay Bruce is now taking curtain calls.

“It shows how much respect they have for him,” manager Terry Collins said of the affection given Bruce.

BRUCE: Homers twice. (AP)

BRUCE: Homers twice. (AP)

After GM Sandy Alderson failed to deal Bruce this winter after extending Yoenis Cespedes, the frustrated Mets’ right fielder vowed he wasn’t intimidated by New York.

“He told me in spring training, `I’m the guy you traded for.’ He’s a run producer and we’re glad to have him,” Collins told reporters after Bruce’s monster game, two homers and five RBI in a 5-4 victory over the Phillies Wednesday night that snapped the Mets’ four-game losing streak.

“I don’t think any game in April is a must win, but we needed this one,” Bruce said.

Bruce’s first homer was a three-run drive off Vince Velasquez is the sixth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit. His second was a two-run drive off Edubray Ramos that broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth. Collins said prior to the game what had been missing during the Mets’ skid was power, but Bruce provided that tonight.

“We need to get it going,” Collins said. “This is something that could get us started.”

GSELLMAN ULTRA SHARP: The Mets had a chance to get it going because Robert Gsellman became their first starter to see the eighth inning this season.

“We talked before that he’s got to get us deep into to the game because our bullpen is exhausted,” Collins said.

Gsellman gave up three runs on six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

DUDA, d’ARNAUD HURT: First baseman Lucas Duda and catcher Travis d’Arnaud left the game with injuries and won’t play Thursday.

Duda sustained a hyperextended left elbow in the fifth inning when he reached across the baseline to field Gsellman’s throw and his arm caught runner Cesar Hernandez.

D’Arnaud was hurt two innings later when his hand struck Aaron Altherr’s bat on a throw to second.

REYES PLAYS: Despite a run-producing error and a dreadful hitting slump to start the season, Jose Reyes started as Collins promised.

“He deserves the chance to get a chance to turn things around,” Collins said. “He earned that right.”

CESPEDES BASE BLUNDER: Poor base running by Cespedes cost the Mets a run in the first inning. On first base, Cespedes took a peak over his shoulder running toward third instead of looking at the third base coach.

Doing so forced him to slow down a step and change his stride. When that happened, he had to look for the bag and missed coach Glenn Sherlock’s stop sign.

ROTATION WON’T CHANGE: There are no plans to push Thursday’s starter, Noah Syndergaard, back a day so he could start against the Nationals instead of the Phillies. It was thought Collins might push Syndergaard back after he tore a fingernail in his last start.

Apr 03

New Season Brings High Expectations For Mets

Talk about your mixed metaphors for this Mets’ season: I woke this morning to the sounds of birds chirping, but when I looked out the window there were still patches of snow on the ground. The sounds of spring and the sites of winter.

So, what will it be for the Mets? Will there be a third straight playoff appearance or will they sputter and stay home in October? I’ve read in several places where they’ll return to the World Series and in many others they’ll be frustrated.

SYNDERGAARD: High expecattions. FOX)

SYNDERGAARD: High expecattions. FOX)

“You have to embrace it,” manager Terry Collins said of the expectations swirling around his team. “The expectations are what they are. We have a room full of guys who have won and who expect to win.”

There are two keys to winning: staying healthy and getting strong starting pitching. If that happens they’ll be right up there and contend with Washington. Are they better than the Nationals? Potentially, they are, but they have a multitude of issues and concerns.

There’s the bullpen that will be without Jeurys Familia for the first 15 games. There’s defense, including Jose Reyes getting a full season at third base. There’s Yoenis Cespedes and whether the security of a four-year contract will help or hinder him. And, perhaps as important as anything is their offense, especially hitting with runners in scoring position.

Above all else, the key is for their starters to stay healthy. Four of them – Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler are coming off surgery. Matz opens the season on the disabled list and after a sluggish start, Harvey seemed to close spring training on a high note.

Of all the Mets’ pitchers, the highest expectations are that of Opening Day starter Noah Syndergaard, who, if he stays healthy, has the ability and stuff to win 20 games and win the Cy Young Award. He can be that dominant. Syndergaard’s primary issues are: 1) the effectiveness of his change-up, 2) whether the bone spur that bothered him on-and-off last season, and 3) his ability to prevent runners from running wild against him (48 stolen bases when he was on the mound last year).

So many things must happen for a team to reach, and win, a World Series. The Mets have the potential pieces to make that happen.

Thanks, and wishing you all a great season of watching.