Nov 30

Mets’ Smith Responds To Criticism About Weight

If there has been a positive to the Mets’ uneventful offseason, it has been Dominic Smith’s response to criticism he was out of shape this summer. Reportedly, Smith has lost 12 pounds, admitted he underperformed and said he was determined to get better.

SMITH: Watching his weight. (AP)

SMITH: Watching his weight. (AP)

All positive developments. Now, it doesn’t mean the Mets won’t consider other options, but perhaps it will make them think twice before they leap. If you’re looking to save money, which the Mets are, a platoon of Smith and Wilmer Flores makes more sense than going after Carlos Santana, who’ll cost plenty but won’t put them back into the playoffs.

“This is something I want to get under control and never make an issue again,’’ Smith told The Post about his weight. “I would rather go through this at 22 than go through this in my prime.

“They drafted me in the first round, so they expect me to be a first-round type player. They expect me to be a star in New York City. Of course, I didn’t live up to the expectations, and I am not going to take that and am upset about that. I know my capabilities and what I’m able to do. I am just going to put it all together and I am going to show the world.

“I definitely have a different mindset coming into next season. I am working my butt off every day continuously and I’m just working. I learned a lot. I got up there for six weeks and I learned from that and I am not taking anything for granted. It’s an honor and pleasure. Every day I get to wake up and play for the New York Mets, it’s an honor and pleasure. You know that you have to work hard. You have to be realistic with a lot of situations, so I definitely am.’’

Other than his nine homers in 49 games last summer, Smith did little to distinguish himself. Even so, the Mets finished 22 games below .500 last year and have a myriad of holes that Santana or Logan Morrison or Adam Lind or Jay Bruce won’t be able to fill.

Forty-nine games is not a big enough window to draw any definitive conclusions on whether Smith will be able to become a viable player, let alone be a star. As much as I’d like to see the Mets be a contender next season, I don’t think they will. There are just too many unanswered questions, of which Smith is one.

However, Smith can stop being a question if he’s given a chance to prove himself over a wider window.

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?

 

Oct 20

Mets’ Search Reportedly Down To Acta And Long

According to reports, the Mets’ managerial search is boiling down to hitting coach Kevin Long and Manny Acta. The Mets aren’t interested in talking to Dusty Baker, who was fired today by the Nationals.

A coach for the Mets under Willie Randolph, Acta previously managed the Indians and Washington.

Frankly, I’ve been disappointed in this whole process. My choice is Ron Gardenhire, who was given a three-year deal today by Detroit. I would have thought they’d at least kick the tires on Baker.

If Acta gets the job, the Mets say Long will stay on as a hitting coach. I don’t like this for two reasons, 1) how will Long react if he doesn’t get the job? and 2) how will Acta feel if he’s not allowed to name his own staff?

UNDERSTANDING DE BLASIO: I am not a fan of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, but I do admire his loyalty to the Red Sox.

De Blasio is a Red Sox fan, which is his right, and when asked about rooting for the Yankees, said he couldn’t do it if they reached the World Series.

Hey, the Mets are your team, so I can’t imagine you’d be rooting for them, either.

If you are a fan of a team, you don’t cheer for their archrivals. It’s just not done.

Jul 22

Mets Wrap: Cespedes Lets Down Mets

For somebody who professes his love for Mets fans and New York City, Yoenis Cespedes sure has a funny way of showing it.

CESPEDES: What was he thinking?  (AP)

CESPEDES: What was he thinking? (AP)

What else can you conclude after Cespedes’ comments to The San Francisco Chronicle that pledged his loyalty to the Oakland Athletics and their manager Bob Melvin, at the expense of the team that will pay him $110 million over four years and Terry Collins, the manager who has consistently had his back?

Whether it be apologizing for Cespedes not hustling or playing golf when he was injured and should have been rehabbing, Collins always supported his left fielder.

Cespedes said he wanted to end his career with Oakland, the team he started for in 2012.

“I don’t know how many years I’m going to play, but I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland,’’ Cespedes said. “I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but that’s my goal. I still love the A’s. They were the first team to give me an opportunity to play in the big leagues. I love Oakland all the time.’’

Cespedes said his comments were a “misrepresentation,’’ and blamed the reporter.

Cespedes can claim innocence all he wants, but he’s been around long enough to know what’s going on and how to handle such questioning.

And, as much as he respects Melvin, he has to be smart enough to know that if he calls “the best manager for me so far … I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin.’’

Is Cespedes that naïve to think that wasn’t going to get back to Collins?

Cespedes has been all about damage control since, saying, “this is my home, this is my team, nothing has changed.’’

And, regarding Collins, Cespedes said: “With respect to the comments I made about their manager, he’s a great manager, that does not take away from my relationship with Terry.”

Whatever Cespedes’ relationship is with Collins these days, it would be a lot better if he had more than 22 RBI.

FLORES DOES IT AGAIN: Wilmer Flores was waiting on a fastball, and when he got it he completely erased a five-run deficit with a home run in ninth inning to give the Mets a 6-5 victory tonight over the Athletics.

“I was looking for a fastball. I have to be ready for that,’’ Flores said of his approach facing reliever Simon Castro.

The Mets fell behind 5-0 but clawed back into the game with a four-run sixth that began with a double by Flores.

WHEELER TORCHED: Zack Wheeler continued his troubles, giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks with six strikeouts in five innings.

Wheeler gave up two homers, including to Matt Joyce on the game’s second pitch. He has now given up 17 homers.

Wheeler hasn’t won a game since May 20, nine starts ago.

TRADE CHIPS: Asdrubal Cabrera started at third base for the first time this season and had two hits. The Mets want to showcase Cabrera at third. … Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer, his 25th of the season. … Lucas Duda tied the game with a pinch-hit single in the eighth. … Addison Reed has drawn interest from the Dodgers and Yankees.

 

Oct 29

Mets Expect Cespedes To Opt Out

I’m all for a player making as much money as he can, but will Yoenis Cespedes please cut the crap? For all his talk about loving to play with the Mets, and liking New York City, Cespedes will walk away from $47.5 million when he opts out of his contract after the World Series.

Evidently, his love for the Mets has limits.

CESPEDES: Will opt out. (AP)

CESPEDES: Will opt out. (AP)

In gambling they would put it all together in 2016 after a surprise Series appearance last year, the Mets signed Cespedes to a three-year deal with an option to leave after he picked up $27.5 million this season.

The Mets believe Cespedes wants a five-year deal north of $100 million. They aren’t expected to meet Cespedes’ demands, which I think is the right move.

However, they are hedging their bets in two ways, 1) by offering him a $17.2 million qualifying offer, which Cespedes will refuse, and 2) picking up Jay Bruce’s $13-million option for 2017.

By making a qualifying offer, the Mets would receive a compensatory first-round draft pick.

Nobody should begrudge Cespedes trying to strike it rich, and at age 31, now is his time. It’s a business decision for him, just as it is for the Mets.

There are a lot of reasons why the Mets aren’t back in the World Series and the $100 million Cespedes wants could fill a lot of those holes.