Oct 06

Bumgarner Wins Classic Duel

For the second straight season, the interlocking “NY’’ on the Mets’ caps stood for “next year.’’ After an improbable run to overcome lengthy offensive droughts and numerous injuries to reach the postseason, the Mets received a sterling performance from Noah Syndergaard.

BUMGARNER: A classic ace. (AP)

BUMGARNER: A classic ace. (AP)

However, it wasn’t enough to beat Madison Bumgarner, who again came up with a game for the ages in October, who spun a four-hitter to beat the Mets, 3-0, to send the San Francisco Giants to the NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Syndergaard throws heat all the time and showed he doesn’t just have ace potential, but that he’s already there. However, Bumgarner will go down as one of the game’s greatest playoff pitchers in history.

In three postseason win-or-go-home games, Bumgarner has thrown 23 scoreless innings. He has reached a level few could ever imagine.

In 2014, Bumgarner won Games 1 and 5 in the World Series, then came back after two days of rest to throw five scoreless innings in relief. When asked what he hoped his legacy would be, Bumgarner simply said: “A winner. That’s all anybody wants to be regarded as.”

Syndergaard outpitched Bumgarner in the early part of the game, but as his strikeouts mounted – he finished with ten – so did his pitch count. Syndergaard threw 108 in seven innings while Bumgarner threw 119 for the complete game.

“Bumgarner, he never gives in,” said Jose Reyes. “We had some chances and couldn’t do anything with them.”

Bumgarner vs. Syndergaard had baseball junkies salivating and weren’t disappointed. The Mets had their best going, but unfortunately, the Giants had one of the best of all time going for them.

The starters were the storyline of the night, with the others being Jeurys Familia and Yoenis Cespedes spitting the bit.

FAMILIA LOSES IN THE NINTH: Familia saved 51 games this season and the Mets weren’t in the playoffs without him.

Last year, Familia blew three save opportunities. Tonight wasn’t a save chance, but it hurt just the same.

The fall began with a double by Brandon Crawford. After Angel Pagan failed to get a bunt down, Joe Panik walked then Conor Gillaspie crushed a three-run homer to bring on winter.

“It was a sinker. That’s my best pitch,” said a stand-up Familia. “Every time I try to go out and do the best I can. I missed with the location. I have to move on.`I know these things are going to happen. It’s a game.”

CESPEDES SILENT: For all his talking about living for these moments, for the second straight postseason Cespedes came up empty.

As far as I’m concerned, Cespedes gave away his four at-bats by swinging from the heels at pitches out of his reach. Bumgarner toyed with him getting him to strike out twice and pop up.

Cespedes saw only 18 pitches.

True to form, Cespedes opted not to talk after the game.

Perhaps he had an early tee time.

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Aug 01

Of The New Guys, Who Stays?

Unquestionably, the Mets are a better team today than a week ago. They added depth with Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe; strengthened their bullpen with Tyler Clippard; and gave their offense a tremendous boost with Yoenis Cespedes.

Do they have enough now – remember, they can always add more in August with waiver deals – to overtake Washington? Yes, they are good enough to not only compete, but to win.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Short stay in NY. (AP)

The NL East is theirs for the taking.

They are also better because they get to keep Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. Regardless of whatever else Flores does in his Mets career, he permanently carved out a space in franchise lore.

Flores gave us a rare peak into the personal, emotional life of a professional athlete. He showed up these guys are human beings and capable of hurting with something other than a sprained ankle. Flores showed us frustration and anguish, and although you are young and rich, you can also feel the sting of rejection and embarrassment.

The whole country saw his tears Wednesday night before it fell through. Then, it saw him enjoy raw exhilaration with his game-winning homer Friday night?

Just wondering, but did his feet ever touch the ground? Yes, there are times when reality trumps fantasy.

So, I figure Flores will stay for a while, and be joined by Wheeler a year from now. But, what of the others? Let’s handicap the four acquisitions as to who they could keep next year?

CESPEDES: He’s the big prize, of course, at 29. But, he’s also going to want a monster contract. The Mets are his fourth team, which has to tell you something. If he turns out to be a good soldier with no incidents, then maybe, but I think the Mets will balk at his asking price, which would have to be a package of over $100 million. LEAVES

CLIPPARD: With Jenrry Mejia out and Jeurys Familia struggling in the second half it wouldn’t be surprising if he muscles into a closer role. He won’t be cheap, but he’s probably worth considering. STAYS

JOHNSON: I don’t know what will happen with Flores or David Wright, but Johnson is a reliable, versatile bench player. He’ll have some value, but don’t be surprised if they dumpster dive. LEAVES

URIBE: He’s already made a positive mark, but he’ll be 37 in March and I believe the Mets will seek younger options, including Dilson Herrera. LEAVES

 

The Mets picked quality this week and got to hold onto Flores and Wheeler. The latter contacted Alderson after the deal fell through and asked to be traded.

We’ll see next July, but for now the Mets have done well, and Flores continues to walk on air.

Sep 28

Mets Finish 2014 With Next Year Looking Bright

A sign spotted in the bleachers pretty much said it all about the day and the season: “We Believe in 2015.’’ For the first time in six years, there’s a legitimate reason to believe the interlocking NY on the Mets’ cap does mean next year.

Seriously, without Matt Harvey, David Wright ailing and missing and questions in their rotation and bullpen, the Mets finished in second place (tied with Atlanta) and two games under .500. Nobody realistically could have anticipated such an improvement considering their issues at first base, catcher, shortstop, the bullpen and outfield.

I certainly didn’t.

There was so much to like about today. The sendoff to Bobby Abreu was special, but not like the one Derek Jeter received in Boston. Bartolo Colon threw over 200 innings and won 15 games, something I didn’t bet on either.

The Mets were 14-10 in September for their third winning month of the year. That hasn’t happened often.

Who didn’t enjoy watching Daniel Murphy smoke a double in his last at-bat? Would have liked to have seen him finish at .300. But Lucas Duda crushed another two run homer to give him 30 with 92 RBI. Ike Davis hit 11 homers with 51 RBI playing for the Mets and Pittsburgh. That was a decision that turned out right.

Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia showed us the bullpen is heading in the right direction.

The Mets are 79-83 and GM Sandy Alderson said they need to improve by another 10 or 12 victories. That’s possible.

However, what I’ll remember the most of this season was getting hurt just as I was getting ready for spring training, and how you welcomed me back from my absence.

That meant the world to me. Thank you again. I’ll be posting regularly in the offseason, which, for the first time in six years won’t be hollow.

Thanks.

Mar 27

Lannan Added To 40 Man Roster

jiohn lannan Phot by Howard Simmons, Daily News

Adam Rubin of ESPN NY reported on his Twitter page that the Mets officially signed John Lannan to a contract and added him to the 40-man roster.

Lannan is officially on the Opening Day roster as a reliever.  During the Grapefruit league picthed in seven games and was 0-2, with a 4.91 ERA.

This will be the first time in his major league career, spanning 148 games, that he will pitch out of the bullpen.

(Photo Credit: Howard Simmons/ NY Daily News)

Mar 25

Lannan Taking Well To New Role

Adam Rubin of ESPN NY writes that left-hander John Lannan passed another test in his transition to a relief role, he entered mid-inning and inherited runners on base, for not only the first time in his career, but also the first time working on consecutive days.

Since switching roles, Lannan, has tossed two perfect innings in relief.

“That’s exactly how I envisioned it,” Collins said. “… I was glad we had the opportunity to get John in there with guys on base to face some lefties. That’s what I wanted. He did what he did yesterday. He came right at them, threw strikes and really had a good outing.”

“The adrenaline was definitely there today, more than yesterday, just because of the situation,” Lannan said. “I was still able to throw strikes. I faced two lefties in there, so it was a good experience.”

“It’s a start. It’s back-to-back days. I mean, it’s a hard thing to do. It’s going to be work, but I’m up for the challenge. The first two days have gone pretty well. I just have got to keep on learning and figure out a routine to be able to go out there back-to-back days on a consistent basis.”

If he continues to pitch this way once the season starts, the Mets could have one of the better bullpen’s in the National League, something that will help if they’re serious about competing for a wild card.

(Photo Credit: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News)