May 04

Today’s Question: Will Collins Leave Well Enough Alone?

Mets manager Terry Collins has often been like the weekend grill master who can’t resist poking at the coals.

So, the day after they rapped out 16 runs on 20 hits, today’s question is: Will Collins leave well enough alone?

That means not being seduced by Jose Reyes’ five RBI and resist moving him back to the leadoff spot. It also means leave Michael Conforto at the top of the order.

There could be some juggling because Collins said Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker could use a day off.

But, nothing drastic should be done. Let’s hope Collins slept on last night’s 16-5 rout in Atlanta was something he savored and left well enough alone.

 

Apr 29

Mets Wrap: Bullpen Saves Mets; Injury Updates

With the exception of one pitch – Addison Reed’s room service fastball to Ryan Zimmerman – the Mets’ bullpen pitched large in today’s 5-3 victory over the Nationals. The headliner, of course, was Jeurys Familia, less than 24 hours after he was pulled from a save opportunity last night, put down the Nationals in order this afternoon.

FAMILIA CELEBRATES WITH RIVERA (AP)

FAMILIA CELEBRATES WITH RIVERA (AP)

Manager Terry Collins vowed Familia was still his closer, didn’t have anybody warming up in the ninth.

“It is very important for a lot of reasons,” Collins said of Familia’s first save of the season. “We’re excited to get him on the right track.”

The parade to Familia started with two outs in the fifth when Collins pulled starter Zack Wheeler, and for the second straight game brought in Josh Edgin to shut down one of the Nationals’ lefty sluggers.

Today he got Daniel Murphy on a fly to right with a runner on third. Edgin ended Friday’s game with the bases loaded by getting Bryce Harper on 1-2-3 double play.

Collins said Edgin’s slider has been biting.

“Confidence is big in this game and he believes he can get people out,” Collins said.

WHEELER LABORS: It wasn’t a strong start for Wheeler, and that could be one of the best things to happen for him.

Wheeler gave up two runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts. That’s a lot of activity over 96 pitches.

“His pitch count is one thing, but he was in trouble for the whole game,” Collins said. “He had to battle all game long and I think that’s good for hm. You have to show you can go out there and compete when you don’t have your best stuff.”

The Nationals were 2-for-11 with RISP and stranded eight runners, with six put on by Wheeler, who kept the game in the balance.

“I wasn’t my best today,” Wheeler said. “I fell behind and threw a lot of pitches, but I made some pitches when I had to.”

INJURY UPDATES: Falling under the “I’ll Believe It When I See It,” category, the Mets have positive reports on Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes.

GM Sandy Alderson seemed optimistic Duda (hyperextended elbow) can come off the disabled list when he’s eligible Monday. T.J. Rivera will continue to play first base until Duda is available.

Meanwhile, the Mets say Cespedes could be ready May 8, which is highly optimistic considering how he looked when he was re-injured.

Alderson said an ultrasound didn’t show significant damage and called the injury mild.

As I’ve always said, when it comes to Mets’ statements on injuries, bet the over.

Meanwhile, pitcher Steven Matz and Seth Lugo – both on the DL with elbow injuries – were scheduled to throw off the slope of the mound today. Their return dates are for late May.

In addition, Travis d’Arnaud left the game when his back stiffened up and will not play Sunday.

ANOTHER RIVERA: Rivera is making the most of his opportunity. He had three hits Friday and two more today, and will stay in the lineup.

The minor league batting champion is hitting and is worthy of more playing time, even if it takes playing time from Jose Reyes (.173) and Neil Walker (.205).

The Mets have won two straight, but their offense has been relatively anemic the last two weeks.

HOT REYES: In danger of losing his job a week ago, Reyes is slowly finding his offensive groove, but not to the point where the Mets should move him back to the leadoff spot – especially with Michael Conforto as hot as he is.

In his last five games, Reyes is hitting .444 with a .525 on-base percentage, two stolen bases and two homers, including one for an insurance run in the ninth today.

Even so, Reyes is still below .200.

For as cold as they were, the after winning two straight, Collins shouldn’t monkey with what is working.

“Jose is starting to play like we know he can do offensively,” Collins said. “Him getting on base is how we’re going to win games.”

Reyes will start at shortstop tomorrow to give Asdrubal Cabrera a day off.

TOMORROW’S GAME: The Mets go for the sweep Sunday behind Noah Syndergaard.

 

Apr 28

Mets To Make Alamo Stand In DC

The setting for this series should be in San Antonio, home of the Alamo. That’s appropriate for the Mets, as they are about to make perhaps their last stand for the 2017 season.

The Mets enter this three-game series losers of six straight and 10 of their last 11 games; they are in last place 7.5 games behind.

DeGROM: Makes huge start tonight. (AP)

DeGROM: Makes huge start tonight. (AP)

Jose Reyes said it best about this series, saying, “we’ll see what we’re made of … we can’t too deep into the standings.’’

Should the Mets be swept by the Nationals as they were last weekend at Citi Field, they will limp into May 10.5 behind.

And, let us not forget their roster on the disabled list that could expand by Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard.

Cespedes had an MRI and the Mets put him on the disabled list today. The Mets hope Syndergaard will be available to start Sunday, but hoping isn’t much of a strategy.

The Mets are in a two-week long hitting funk and it will be hard-pressed for them to escape against Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

The Mets start Jacob deGrom tonight in what arguably could be call one of the five most important starts of his career. Raw, but promising Zack Wheeler goes Saturday and Sunday is up in the air. In anticipation of putting Syndergaard on the disabled list, the Mets recalled lefty Sean Gilmartin today.

Without the long ball, the Mets’ chances to win get longer. Twice during their losing stretch, manager Terry Collins said they needed to manufacture runs.

That lack of situational hitting has been a staple during GM Sandy Alderson’s tenure.

Alderson wanted to bury Michael Conforto on the bench, but he’s been forced to play because of injuries and the overall ineptness of the offense.

He’ll leadoff tonight. He’s a line drive hitter with decent speed, but don’t look for him to steal a game on the bases.

Here’s tonight’s batting order:

Conforto – LF

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS

Jay Bruce – RF

Neil Walker – 2B

Curtis Granderson – CF

Reyes – 3B

T.J. Rivera – 1B

Travis d’Arnaud – C

deGrom – RHP

 

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.

Mar 17

Things To Like About Mets So Far

With a little over two weeks remaining in spring training, there’s a lot to like about how the Mets are playing, with several bright spots surfacing in today’s rout of the Cardinals.

CESPEDES: Has MVP aspirations. (AP)

CESPEDES: Has MVP aspirations. (AP)

STARTING PITCHING: If numbers were to determine the Opening Day starter, you would have to go with Jacob deGrom, who has a 0.90 ERA and 0.60 WHIP in three starts, with 13 strikeouts in 10 innings.

Noah Syndergaard, however, has a 3.52 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. And, four walks in 7.2 won’t get it done most games. Syndergaard bulked up in the offseason with the intent of getting stronger as to work deeper into games. It’s not that he’s not strong enough, but his command is off. What haunted him last year is resurfacing this spring with higher pitch counts.

Steven Matz threw 3.2 innings today, and if you add an inning in his likely two remaining starts, that won’t get him out of the fifth in his first regular season start. He’s throwing well, by so far isn’t stretched out like the Mets want him to be.

Sure, these are exhibition numbers, but also an early measure of performance. So far, none of their starters are stretched out for them to go longer than six. That becomes an issue if the bullpen is shaky, which so far is far from fine-tuned.

In the competition for the fifth starter, Zack Wheeler – who will likely stay back – his throwing hard and pain-free. The projection is roughly 110 innings, which makes him better suited to coming up in late May or June. I don’t like the idea of using him in relief now.

As for Seth Lugo, he’s pitching in the World Baseball Classic and has done well. It will be either him or Robert Gsellman who goes north in the rotation. However, with numerous off days in April, the fifth starter won’t often be used, so one could go in the bullpen.

HOT BATS: Yoenis Cespedes said he wants to be MVP and if that happens a lot of good things will happen this summer. He’s hitting .419 with five homers, but the key numbers are only two strikeouts in 31 at-bats. That kind of ratio would go a long way towards making an MVP possible.

Also hitting well are Michael Conforto (.359), Neil Walker (.313), Curtis Granderson (.323), but most importantly Travis d’Arnaud (.333) and Lucas Duda (.292 with five doubles). The pressure is on d’Arnaud to have a make-or-break season and Duda, who missed much of last year with a stress fracture in his lower back and recently received a couple on injections.

Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores finally pushed their averages over .200, and the latter drove in six runs Friday with a grand slam and double. Flores is not going away and the Mets need to find a way of getting him regular playing time to stay ready.