May 19

Collins Must Share Blame For Wright; DL Should Be Considered

In the 20-plus-years I have written about major league baseball, there are a handful of players I admire and respect as much as David Wright.

Even so, I am still objective as to what I see and it currently isn’t good. Wright was scratched Tuesday because of a sore back, and then returned to go 0-for-4 with three more strikeouts Wednesday.

WRIGHT: DL bound? (AP)

WRIGHT: DL bound? (AP)

Wright is in persistent discomfort and needs up to two hours to get ready to play. He is not suited to pinch-hit, especially in cold weather, as he did Sunday in Colorado. Wright knows not to push it, but when asked he will play. That’s in his DNA.

Translated: Manager Terry Collins did Wright a disservice when he asked him to pinch-hit. Winning one game in mid-May isn’t as important as risking losing him for the long haul.

I know Collins wants to win, but he was wrong, selfish and shortsighted for asking Wright to pinch-hit. It isn’t the first time Collins pushed the envelope with Wright or other players. Don’t forget his panic move of labeling the eighth game of the season “must win,’’ and pushing Wright, Jim Henderson and Jeurys Familia, none of whom should have played that day.

Wright would never finger-point at his manager. The bottom line is Collins should have been smart enough to not put Wright in that position.

“I don’t know,” Wright told Newsday on whether pinch-hitting took him out of Tuesday’s lineup. “Again, it’s probably not the ideal circumstances. But this is the National League, you really don’t have that much leeway especially when you’re playing with a short bench.”

That puts the onus on the manager to pay attention to what he has available.

Wright is batting .221, which is a career-low for this point in the season. He already has 47 strikeouts in 113 at-bats, with four homers and eight RBI. He’s on pace to strike out 195 times, hit 17 homers and drive in 33 runs. His on-base percentage of .362 gives us glimpses of him still being a productive player.

“The back thing is just something that I’m going to have to get used to because it’s not changing,” Wright told reporters. “But I feel like I can play at a much higher level than I’m playing at right now.

“I think that there are certainly some things I’m having to make adjustments with as far as preparation, as far as playing schedule, that I’m going to have to get used to. But when I go take the field I expect to play much better than I am right now.”

Is Wright done?

I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows. It’s worth sticking with him to find out, but that means staying with the plan and not deviating. That’s all on the manager.

Can Wright play Thursday night? That’s up in the air. If his availability is day-to-day and Collins doesn’t know what he has on any given night, he should go on the disabled list.

Go back to the beginning. Get re-examined and concentrate on nothing but getting stronger for the next couple of weeks. And, during this time, management should have a sit-down with Collins and tell him to get with the program and stick with it.

A lot of things must happen for this to work, including the manager being smarter than he has been.


Jun 13

Mets Can’t Count On Wright’s Return

When Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he would consider trading for strictly a third baseman, he might as well have said he’s not expecting David Wright to return any time soon, or at all this year. That is how they should handle it.

The Mets said Wright would stay in California for the next several weeks. If his rehab progresses, then it won’t be until after the All-Star break before he’ll even see minor league games. If you figure at least three weeks of games, then we’re talking into August before he’s activated.

FREESE: Available. (AP)

FREESE: Available. (AP)

By that time the trade deadline will have passed. And, of course, we have no idea of how he’ll play when he comes back, or if there will be a setback.

Alderson told Newsday he has to be open to trading for a third baseman.

“Would we consider a third baseman who can’t do anything else?’’ Alderson said. “Under the circumstances, yeah, we probably would. But we’re not just looking for any third baseman. It has to be something we think is an improvement that doesn’t cost us significantly.’’

Translation: They don’t want to pay.

The current flavor of the month is Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez, which is a bad idea on several levels. The 36-year-old Ramirez, who indicated he will retire after the season, is hitting only .211 with seven homers and 19 RBI. For that, Ramirez is being paid $14 million.

The Mets don’t want to trade a significant prospect and assume that much salary. So, unless the Brewers get bowled over by an offer, they are likely to wait this out until the end of July, figuring somebody might bite.

Milwaukee probably won’t eat a significant portion of Ramirez’s salary unless they get a decent prospect. The better the prospect, the more of Ramirez’s contract they’ll assume.

The third baseman I’m most intrigued with is the Angels’ David Freese, who will be a free agent this winter. The 32-year-old Freese is making $6.4 million, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot of money.

What the Angels want in return is uncertain, but he’s the guy I would want, and if it turns out Wright won’t come back, or is moved to the outfield next year, Freese could hang around for a few years. The problem, as it always is with the Mets, is how much they are willing to pay in terms of players and salary.

It seems they want to pay prospective free agents as if they are college students on an internship, meaning they don’t want to pay.


Mar 03

Wright Flashes Captain’s Bars To Syndergaard

David Wright gets it and always has. Now let’s see if the same can be said for Noah Syndergaard. The Mets’ captain reprimanded the young pitcher Tuesday for being in the clubhouse eating lunch instead of being on the bench for the intrasquad game.

Without getting in Syndergaard’s face, Wright let it be known Syndergaard’s place was in the dugout, not in an air-conditioned clubhouse. It’s something a team captain should do.

WRIGHT: Shows leadership skills. (AP)

WRIGHT: Shows leadership skills. (AP)

Syndergaard did not immediately move until Bobby Parnell picked up the rookie’s plate and dumped it in the trash.

Call that an exclamation point.

Wright is the captain for a reason, and that is to not only be a good example, but make sure his teammates understand.

“Being a young player, any chance you get to learn, you go out there and learn,’’ Wright told Newsday. “I’m not a big ranter and raver. When I get on somebody, it’s 99-percent private. I’m not going to yell and scream, but when I speak to somebody, when I get on somebody, the point needs to be taken.’’

The Mets have pointed to this year as when they could be competitive and possibly even challenge for the playoffs. Syndergaard is counted on to be a integral piece in the Mets’ development, and if he’s to become what they hope, he must learn how to win.

And, that includes learning the protocols of a clubhouse. If Syndergaard is to eventually be a leader, he can’t be if he’s eating in the clubhouse during a game – even an intrasquad game.

Wright was teaching. He showed Syndergaard there is a right way and a wrong way to being a teammate.

Syndergaard should have known better, but made a mistake. He said he didn’t think it was a big deal, and in the grand scheme of things, maybe it wasn’t. But, Syndergaard hasn’t been around long enough to make that decision.

Championship teams are built on little things, and that’s why Wright thought it was a big deal. Lecturing Syndergaard is as much a part of his job description as driving in runs and playing third base.

If he doesn’t step forward, then who will?

“I understand where David was coming from,’’ Syndergaard told Newsday. “We’re playing a team sport. I should be out there supporting my teammates.’’

Often, there is a mental turning point in a player’s career, as if a light switch was flipped. Maybe Wright turned it on for Syndergaard.


Mar 01

Further Proof Tejada Doesn’t Get It

My guess is this will be Ruben Tejada’s last season with the Mets. That is, if he lasts that long. Manager Terry Collins has called into question Tejada’s work ethic in the past, and now players are doing so.

Former teammate Jose Reyes, whose own attitude has been doubted, said Tejada failed in his opportunity to seize the Mets’ shortstop job.

Once off-season workout buddies, Tejada’s response to reporters of Reyes was: “I don’t really pay attention to too much. If I try to pay attention to everybody, it would make me crazy. I try to do my best and come here every day to work hard.’’

Tejada’s interpretation of working hard differs from that of Collins.

Collins has no problem with Reyes calling out Tejada, telling Newsday: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with one of your peers challenging you once in a while. … Jose Reyes is a guy who gets ready to play. I think the world of Jose Reyes. Apparently, he may know something I don’t. … They were good buddies when they were here and I think Jose might know some things that I don’t know.’’

Maybe so, but I have the feeling Collins knows all he needs to know about Tejada – and the impression isn’t good.

Jan 29

Why I Am Pulling For Flores

I don’t know Wilmer Flores well, but pulling for him to have a breakout season. And, I wanted this before Sandy Alderson foolishly cracked wise on him last weekend.

There are several reasons why, beginning with my penchant for rooting for the underdog. All those signings and trades people have advocated the Mets should make probably have made him uncomfortable, despite his well-grounded response to the rumors.

FLORES: Hope he does well.

FLORES: Hope he does well.

“You hear people talking all the time: ‘Is this guy going to be a shortstop? Can he play shortstop? Can he not?’ ’’ Flores told Newsday. “You know what? I can’t listen to that. I want to play the way I’ve been playing. … I’m not going to say I don’t hear things. But I try not to because I know what I can do, man. Honestly, I know what I can do.’’

That’s a great approach for somebody entering a season the first time as the frontrunner.

Playing Major League Baseball is hard enough without your boss dissing you. And, Alderson isn’t the only one. The Internet is loaded with comments endorsing just about anybody over Flores.

I like Flores because he works hard to succeed despite the criticism. He wants to do well and how can you not like that?

There’s criticism he can’t hit on the Major League level, but seriously, how do we know because he’s never been given a chance?

There’s also criticism his defense is suspect, but often over-looked is the aspect of positioning and pitchers working to hitters in such a way where the ball will be hit toward Flores.

Over the past few years Flores wasn’t given a real chance by the Mets. It appears that has changed, and for one, I hope he does well.