Aug 26

Conforto And Cespedes Season Ends Are Fitting

First of all, please forgive my absence from talking about the Mets this week. As you might know I had an accident a few years ago and had several subsequent back surgeries. I had some complications this week.

Personally, when you can’t get out of bed nothing else seems to matter. Honestly, with Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, and my body feels right in with the 2017 Mets.

CESPEDES: This is fitting.  (AP)

CESPEDES: This is fitting. (AP)

Actually, the first two games in Washington perfectly describe what’s going with this team and what it will take to return the Mets to contending status.

It begins with pitching and that’s Jacob deGrom, the ace of this future formidable staff. Next up is Noah Syndergaard, who, like Cespedes, took his conditioning in his own hands and failed miserably.

Both said they need to revisit their offseason workout routines, and that’s probably the most important development of this season.

Strength is good, but flexibility is more important. For Syndergaard, bulking up does nothing for his fastball or his ability to last longer in his starts. Frankly, tearing his lat muscle might be his career-defining moment, a watershed event if you will.

If he takes being limber to heart, then he has a chance to become what is expected.

For Cespedes, if his flexibility is increased then so is his ability to stay on the field. Being flexible and limber won’t sacrifice any of his strength.

I didn’t like the Cespedes signing and still don’t. But, he’s here and will be for three more years. The most important number isn’t the Mets’ $110-million investment in him, but the 81 games he played this year. That’s half a season, and the Mets knew his injury history before GM Sandy Alderson signed him. So, this is on him, just like it was on him by letting Syndergaard pitch without taking that MRI.

So, the Mets are stuck with Syndergaard and Cespedes, so let them come together on productive conditioning routines and then possibly things will develop for the best.

As far as Conforto is concerned, it’s better this happened in a lost season, one with a month remaining. He’ll have surgery, and I know as well as anybody nothing is guaranteed once they start cutting into your body.

All you can do is trust your doctors and hope for the best.

That’s kind of a hopeless situation, but that fits in with following the Mets.

Again, sorry for the absence and I’ll speak with you tomorrow.

 

Aug 11

Rosario, Smith Give Mets Glimpse Of Future

The Mets got a glimpse of their future tonight and had to like what they saw.

On a night when Dominic Smith made his major league debut, wearing the crown was Amed Rosario, who ripped three hits, including his first career homer, a game winner.

ROSARIO: Hits game-winner. (AP)

ROSARIO: Hits game-winner. (AP)

Oh, by the way, Michael Conforto hit another home run.

Rosario, who has been a major leaguer for all of 11 days, sounded like a veteran when talking about his breakout game.

“Even though I’ve had a couple of bad days lately,’’ Rosario said through an interpreter, “this helped my confidence.’’

Rosario has been a bundle of energy since his long-awaited promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas. His defense, hustle and speed have been a spark.

You don’t hear this often from a rookie with less than two weeks into his career, but Rosario said he was concerned about his slow start at the plate, in particular, his high strikeout rate. So, he has been working with hitting coach Kevin Long on trying to shorten his swing to cut down on his swing and using all parts of the field.

It worked tonight.

“He’s still very aggressive,’’ manager Terry Collins said, indicating a slow start didn’t intimidate him. “He’s played great. He listens. He’s going to be good.’’

And, he believes the same thing for Smith, who struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat, then singled to center in his second. That’s learning.

“He was nervous. It was quite easy to see,’’ Collins said. “But, he’ll be like Rosario and will calm down.’’

The Mets will still be defined by their young pitching. Jacob deGrom was superb on Thursday, but took a line drive off his pitching arm in the seventh inning and had to leave the game. He’s still expected to pitch Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Matt Harvey is on the disabled list, but is about to start his rehab assignment. Noah Syndergaard is also on the disabled list, as is Zack Wheeler. The Mets hope they will all return in the season’s final six weeks so they know where they stand heading into the offseason.

Then, there is Saturday’s starter, Steven Matz who has been in a downfall funk over the past month. The Mets hope to find some answers about him, also.

All of them, save deGrom, have significant questions, as do Smith and Rosario, but all have very high ceilings if they are healthy.

Then, there is All-Star Conforto, who hit his 25th homer, while batting clean-up, while playing center. Where he plays and hits in the order could change, but he has star written all over him.

So do the others.

Aug 01

Today’s Question: Will Matz Snap Out Of It?

While all eyes will be on Amed Rosario tonight – and rightfully so – don’t forget to sneak a peak at Steven Matz. The Mets say they are a little concerned with Matz, who has a staggering 14.18 ERA over his last four starts and hasn’t worked longer than five innings in any of them. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span. Can he snap out of it tonight against the powerful Rockies in their launching pad of a stadium in Coors Field.

There are a half-dozen other teams Matz would rather face, and in just as many ballparks.

MATZ:  Something isn't right. (AP)

MATZ: Something isn’t right. (AP)

Matz pitched most of last season with a bone spur in his left elbow, and after four months went on the DL for the rest of the year with shoulder tightness, presumably from altering his mechanics as compensation. He spent the first two months of this year on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

It’s highly plausible the Mets pushed him last season or this year and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball. Matz is throwing hard, but of the three velocity isn’t as important and location and movement. Instead of sinking or tailing away, Matz’s pitches stay over the middle of the plate, making it easier for them to be hit – or crushed.

“You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut,” Collins said. “We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz said if feels good, but didn’t we hear the same refrain from Matt Harvey, or Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler?

Should Matz get shelled tonight, it would be easy to blame Coors Field and the Rockies. It would also be foolish.

Jul 27

What’s Wrong With Matz?

When will Steven Matz’s current troubles develop into a reason for physical concern from the Mets? Over his last four starts, Matz has a staggering 14.18 ERA, but worse, hasn’t worked longer than five innings. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span.

MATZ: What is wrong? (AP)

MATZ: What is wrong? (AP)

Speaking of numbers, he spent the first two months of the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. This after pitching the first four months of last year with a bone spur in his elbow, and spending the last two months of the season on the disabled list with a shoulder tightness.

Perhaps the Mets pushed him last season or this year, that’s highly plausible and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball.

It is fast, but straight. A pitcher needs movement, location and velocity to be successful, with the last being the least important.

“The ball is down the middle,’’ Collins said. “You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut. We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz seemed to have a decent curveball, and previously said throwing the slider stings his elbow.

Matz said, “I feel good and healthy out there, so there is really no excuses for my pitching.’’ You can plug that same quote next to Matt Harvey’s name, or Noah Syndergaards, or Zack Wheeler’s.

Of course, both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson have also said similar things.

I suggested something could be wrong after Matz’s last start. Now, I am convinced. The point is four straight stinkers from a pitcher usually signifies something isn’t right with the arm. The only question is: When will the Mets admit it?

The only question is: When will the Mets admit it?

ON DECK:  The latest Mets’ trade rumors.

Jul 25

Trading For De Grom Wouldn’t Really Benefit A Contender

Just like you, I would be curious to learn what the Mets could get for Jacob deGrom. He’s won eight straight after beating the Padres last night, posting a 1.61 ERA in that stretch.

Also important considering the Mets’ bullpen issues is he routinely works into the seventh inning or deeper [doing so in seven of his last eight starts].

DE GROM: Untouchable. (AP)

DE GROM: Untouchable. (AP)

With a 12-3 record his value to the Mets is clear, especially with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler on the disabled list.

The Houston Astros are salivating over deGrom, but other teams would love to add him for the stretch drive. Also making him attractive is his one-year, $4.05-million contract. He’s arbitration eligible and will be a free agent in 2021.

A smart team would trade for him and sign him to a long-term deal. Of all the pitchers in the Mets’ vaunted rotation, he’s the one worthy of getting a long-term contract.

With Clayton Kershaw sidelined for up to six weeks, if deGrom continues this roll he could merit Cy Young consideration. His performance in the 2015 postseason against the Dodgers says he can rise on the big stage.

Who wouldn’t want deGrom?

But, what would be the price? I’m thinking up to four major-league ready players, including at least one starting pitcher. That seems reasonable from the Mets’ perspective.

DeGrom should command a big package, and with the Mets saying they will compete for the playoffs next year, they want major-league ready talent in return. The problem from the other team’s perspective is they are already a contender and losing four key pieces could derail their plans.

Would Houston, or any team, benefit from adding deGrom at the expense of gutting a contender? If the Mets were really interested in trading him this is something better fitted for the off-season. In doing so, if Syndergaard, Harvey and Wheeler return this year, the Mets would have a better idea on next year’s staff.

Frankly, I would sign deGrom long-term and build around him. I know GM Sandy Alderson won’t say it, but he should say: “The price is four starters. Wow me. Otherwise, deGrom is off limits.’’

DeGrom is a keeper. He’s the only one of five I wouldn’t trade.

“[DeGrom] loves to be out there and loves to compete, and with his stuff and his command, he’s going to win a lot of games,’’ manager Terry Collins said.

Hopefully, it will be with the Mets.