Apr 09

Today In Mets’ HIstory: Carter Hits OD Game-Winning Homer

On this date in 1985, the Mets’ drive to, as manager Davey Johnson said, “to dominate,” began with Gary Carter‘s 10th-inning Opening Day homer gave them a 6-5 victory over St. Louis at Shea Stadium.

Carter Gary Plaque_NBL_0The Mets acquired Carter in an offseason trade with Montreal for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans.

The Mets’ championship team of 1986 was built around draft picks Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, but the trades for Carter and Keith Hernandez were largely regarded as the final pieces of the puzzle.

The Mets finished second to St. Louis in 1985, but the die had been cast. During spring training in 1986, Johnson said the Mets would “dominate,” that year. The Mets cruised through the regular season, outlasted Houston to win the NLCS with a dramatic win in extra-innings. That was a crucial win because Mike Scott – who was clearly in the Mets’ head – was the Astros’ Game 7 starter.

The Mets rallied to win Game 6 of the World Series in another epic game, to set up Game 7. The Mets came from behind to win that game, also. Carter hit .276 in the World Series with two homers and nine RBI.

Carter played only five years with the Mets and released after the 1989 season. He played three more years in the majors with San Francisco (1990), Los Angeles (1991) and retired after the 1992 season with a farewell tour with Montreal.

After falling short in several votes, Carter was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Carter died, February 16, 2012.

ON DECK: Mets Should Skip DeGrom’s Next Start

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Apr 03

Repeating Will Be Harder

Wilmer Flores wasn’t halfway back to the Mets’ dugout after striking out to end the bottom of the 12th inning and last year’s World Series when we already asking the question: Can the Mets return to the Series?

Getting to the World Series is one thing, but getting back there is different, and much harder. Much harder for the simple reason everybody is gunning for you.

SYNDERGAARD: Game two starter. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Game two starter. (Getty)

“The first thing I talked about in spring training is the difference between being the hunter and the hunted,” David Wright told reporters. “We have a bullseye on us now.”

That they do. The Washington Nationals want to wrestle the NL East back from them and the Chicago Cubs – everybody’s sexy pick to get to the World Series – want to avenge being swept in the NLCS.

Last year at this time, the Mets entered the season without having a winning record since 2008. The hope was their young pitching keyed by Matt Harvey‘s return following Tommy John surgery, and Jacob deGrom coming off a Cy Young season, could carry them. And, don’t forget, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz hadn’t even made their major league debuts.

The Mets entered 2015 with questions at catcher, shortstop, Wright’s health at third, left field and in the bullpen.

The Mets got off to a blistering start, but lost Wright in April with a strained hamstring that turned into spinal stenosis and almost four months on the disabled list. The pitching kept the Mets afloat when the hitting collapsed.

The Mets kicked away their early lead, then turned their season around when Michael Conforto was brought up and the team traded for Yoenis Cespedes with a couple of days after a trade for Carlos Gomez fell through which created the enduring image of the season, that being Flores crying at shortstop after hearing he had been traded to Milwaukee.

The season began with .500 as the goal, but the Mets pulled away from Washington, outlasted the Dodgers in five games – winning the deciding game on the road – and sweeping the Cubs to reach their first World Series since 2000 and the fifth in franchise history.

However, Jeurys Familia blew three save opportunities in the World Series and the bats fell quiet and the Royals won in five games.

“Falling short can be a motivator,” deGrom said.

Daniel Murphy left, but the Mets appear to have upgraded their up-the-middle defense with the acquisitions of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cespedes was brought back and they’ll have Conforto for a full year. They’ll also expect to have Syndergaard and Matz for a full season.

The health of Wright and Travis d’Arnaud are significant issues as is the make-up of the bullpen.

But, we’re not talking about .500 as a primary goal, but winning a World Series.

“Mets fans are hungry,” Wright said. “We’re hungry.”

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Jan 25

Mets To Retire Piazza’s No. 31

Falling under the category – “It’s About Time” – the Mets announced this afternoon they will retire Mike Piazza‘s No. 31 as part of a ceremonial weekend, July 29-31. Piazza, of course, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this summer.

PIAZZA: To be honored. (Mets)

PIAZZA: To be honored. (Mets)

The weekend includes:

Friday, July 29, 7:10 p.m.: All fans receive a Piazza replica jersey.

Saturday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.: On-field retirement ceremony.

Sunday, July 31,1:10 p.m.: First 15,000 fans receive Piazza bobblehead doll.

“It is such a tremendous honor to have my number retired alongside the great Tom Seaver,” Piazza said in a statement released by the team. “My time as a Met was truly special and I want to thank Fred (Wilpon), Saul (Katz)  and Jeff (Wilpon) and the entire organization for this incredible gesture.”

During his parts of eight seasons in New York, Piazza hit .296, with 220 homers and 655 RBI. He twice led them to the NLCS and to the 2000 World Series.

Piazza will become the fourth Met to have his number retired, joining Seaver (41), Gil Hodges (14) and Casey Stengel (37). Jackie Robinson‘s No. 42 is retired by every team. No has worn No. 31 since Piazza left the club in 2005.

 

Dec 13

Mets Can’t Afford To Stand Pat

The 2006 season ended for the Mets with Carlos Beltran frozen by a wicked Adam Wainwright curveball with the bat on his shoulder. The Mets reasoned with another break or two, they could have won the NLCS that year and advanced to the World Series. Perhaps thinking if the breaks went their way in 2007 they might get to the World Series, the Mets did precious little that winter.

METS: Can't stand pat now.

METS: Can’t stand pat now.

Maintaining the status quo didn’t work out then and the Mets can’t afford to duplicate that thinking this winter.

The Mets upgraded their up-the-middle defense with the additions of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, but there is more to be done and this isn’t the time for them to be cautious. Attendance at Citi Field will increase this summer as it usually does after a playoff season, but that shouldn’t alleviate the Mets of their responsibility to put a good team on the field and their response should be to be aggressive.

Their situation in the bullpen and in center field isn’t good enough to win with now, and they have several other questions. Will their sterling rotation stay healthy and continue to progress? Will David Wright remain healthy? Will Lucas Duda be consistent? Will Michael Conforto make the next step?

They’ve already done something to back-up Wright, but Michael Cuddyer‘s retirement and not bringing back Daniel Murphy leaves a gap behind Duda? They must remember Conforto won’t take anybody by surprise this year..

That being said, the bullpen and center field are the main weak links and this is no time to stand pat. Especially since Chicago has improved, as has San Francisco and Arizona. You can also count on the Dodgers and Nationals being aggressive the rest of the winter.

I don’t expect Mets to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, but there are other options and Kirk Nieuwenhuis shouldn’t be among them. And, expecting Hansel Robles to be a bullpen stud is wishful thinking.

This isn’t the time for the Mets to watch the turnstiles click, because if they think repeating is a given that would be mistake.

 

Nov 05

Mets Matters: Granderson Has Surgery; Harvey Comeback Winner

Curtis Granderson, arguably the Mets’ Most Valuable Player this year, underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to be ready for spring training.

Granderson was injured making a headfirst slide in Game 3 of the NLCS, but played in the World Series and hit three homers.

mets-matters logoOne of the significant storylines of the season was when Granderson was thrust into leadoff role over Juan Lagares and hit .259 with 26 homers, 70 RBI and a .364 on-base percentage in 157 games. Seven of those homers were leading off games to set a club record.

Granderson is a finalist for the NL Gold Glove Award. He has two more years on his contract and will make $16 million next season and $15 million in 2017.

HARVEY NL COMEBACK PLAYER: Matt Harvey won the award no player wants because it meant a bad season, either by injury or performance.

In Harvey’s case it was injury as he missed the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His innings became an issue, but the 180 announced by his agent, Scott Boras, turned out to be 216 before it was done.

Harvey was 13-18 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts. Harvey won two games in the playoffs, but will be remembered for bullying manager Terry Collins to allow him to go out for the ninth inning in Game 5 fo the World Series.