Feb 07

Looking At Mets’ Early Schedule

Since the Super Bowl is considered a national holiday, I’ve always considered it the end of the winter holiday season, and consequently “baseball season” begins tomorrow. So, I figure this is a good time to fast-forward to the Mets’ April schedule.

I’ll bitch about this later, but the first game of the season shouldn’t be interleague. However, if it is going to be that way, then why not make the first series be against the World Series opponents? I mean, if MLB is hell bent on interleague play, then this should be a new Opening Day tradition. It won’t be because the schedule is released before the end of the World Series.

OK, there are two games against the Royals on the road, followed by three-game series at home against the Phillies and Marlins.

That’s followed by three games at Cleveland – the Indians have one of the best rotations in the sport – and three more against at Philly and Atlanta.

The Mets end April with three games with Cincinnati and two with the Giants, who also have one of the game’s best rotations.

A key last year was the Mets’ fast start, highlighted by the long winning streak that put them 10 games over .500 to give them a solid buffer to help hold of the Nationals later in the summer. The Mets need to do the same this year as they have a considerably tougher May schedule with a game against San Francisco, seven against the Dodgers and six against Washington.

That’s 14 games against playoff caliber teams.

As for the Super Bowl, I am pulling for the Broncos.

 

Dec 22

Mets Add Journeyman Outfielder De Aza

We knew the Mets weren’t going to bring back Yoenis Cespedes and diving deep into the free-agent market is not their style. They needed a left-handed hitting outfielder and addressed that void with Alejandro De Aza.

DE AZA:  Signed to platoon with Lagares. (AP)

DE AZA: Signed to platoon with Lagares. (AP)

De Aza was signed to platoon with Juan Lagares in center field. He’s a role player and nothing more.

He might be slightly better than Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but nothing to get excited about. His most relevant numbers are he’s 32; will make $4.5 million in 2016; has played for five teams in eight years, including three last season and hit .267 with a .331 on-base percentage last year.

He can play all three outfield positions and has some speed, with 86 career stolen bases. But, that doesn’t mean he’s a base running threat as he’s been thrown out 41 times. De Aza played for Baltimore, Boston and San Francisco last season. Three teams in one year, and five before the age of 32 tells you something, doesn’t it? It tells me this is no big deal; nothing to get excited about. This also tells me De Aza fits in with the Mets’ recent history of operating on the cheap.

We’re talking about a player who’ll be no better than the 23rd, 24th or 25th player on the roster. We’re not talking about somebody who will return them to the playoffs.

Actually, for my money they might be better off just playing Lagares full time and skipping the platoon.

 

Sep 19

Mets Have More To Worry About Than Beating The Yankees

Does anybody still look at the Yankees’ series as a battle for New York? If you do, then you’ve missed the point of the previous 148 games. To me, whether April or September, the “Subway Series” means nothing because the real prize is the NL East.

The next two weeks, not this weekend, will determine the success of this season. And, in that regard, the Mets are waving a few red flags. As with everything, it begins with starting pitching, and everybody has questions.

SYNDERGAARD: Home run issues. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Home run issues. (Getty)

Manager Terry Collins said he’s not worried about the home runs given up by Noah Syndergaard, who gets in big trouble in the sixth with an ERA approaching nine. Syndergaard has given up 17 homers this year, with seven in the sixth inning.

That’s a problem. If you can’t make it out of the sixth, that will tax the bullpen, which is also the scenario for Matt Harvey, who will be going on half-starts.

Reportedly, the Mets, Harvey, agent Scott Boras and Dr. James Andrews reached a settlement. But, even if Harvey makes two more starts of 70 pitches, what have they really determined if Andrews’ evaluation is for him not to pitch, or to make an abbreviated start in the playoffs?

Ideally, the intent is to have Harvey ready to pitch deep in these games, but that’s not the case.

The Mets also want to have Jacob deGrom skip a start.

So, how confident are you with three starters working on limits? And, Bartolo Colon – who has been the most consistent the past three weeks – reportedly not in the rotation? And, another, Jon Niese, who has been horrible the last two months? And another, Steven Matz, with only a handful of major league starts?

What you’re talking about is the starters pitching limited innings and the bullpen being overworked. And, that bullpen is not without issues now as Tyler Clippard has a barking back. If you’re expecting the Mets’ bullpen to work up to four innings a game, then you need Carlos Torres healthy, Hansel Robles to develop consistency, and for Addison Reed to keep pitching well.

They also need Jeurys Familia to remain oblivious to the mounting pressure.

And, there will be pressure.

Sep 02

Mets Stay With Niese; Maybe A Good Thing Afterall

On second thought, maybe sticking with Jon Niese could be a good move. After Niese was shelled Tuesday night by the Phillies, I suggested the Mets’ best strategy would be to skip Niese Monday in Washington in favor of Steven Matz and stay with Noah Syndergaard Saturday in Miami.

My reasoning is the Washington game is more important to the Mets’ immediate pennant pursuit than conserving Syndergaard’s innings.

However, manager Terry Collins‘ comments to reporters prior to Wednesday’s game gave me pause.

“This was set down a long time ago,” Collins said. “I’m all done juggling all the pieces. I just told Jon last night when I took him out, ‘OK, you’ve had a couple of bad outings. The next game is the biggest game you’ve ever pitched in your life. So get ready for it.’ ”

Collins stayed with Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and on Tuesday with Bobby Parnell in large part to show he wasn’t abandoning them. This seems the same decision for Niese.

While beating the Nationals Monday is important, having a confident Niese is also vital down the stretch and into the playoffs. They Mets will need Niese to be at his mental and emotional best when he pitches in September and hopefully October.

The Mets will throw Niese, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom against the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman and Steven Strasburg. Collins will start deGrom, Bartolo Colon and Matz in Miami.

 

Aug 29

Upon Further Review: Lagares Blew Play

It is totally irrelevant, 100 percent, replays showed Blake Swihart’s drive off the wall that resulted in an inside-the-park home run would have been ruled a conventional homer had it been reviewed.

Also irrelevant, and unacceptable, is Juan Lagares’ explanation that he saw the ball go over the line.

“One hundred percent,’’ Lagares told reporters. “It hit over the line. That’s why the ball came back that hard.’’

LAGARES: Didn't make the play. (AP)

LAGARES: Didn’t make the play. (AP)

Yes, it did, but that doesn’t matter. More important were his actions during the play. I don’t want to say Lagares is lying, but I’m not buying what he said.

If Lagares really thought the ball struck over the line, then why did he run after it? Actually, he jogged after it, which is also not acceptable.

OK, Lagares misplayed the drive and indicates he’s continually plays too shallow. He won the Gold Glove last season, but he’s not good enough to play that shallow. He’s not Paul Blair, not Curt Flood, not Willie Mays, not Andruw Jones, and not Andrew McCutcheon. Not even close. A lot of balls have gone over his head this season. (Sorry for the side rant, but that has been building up for awhile.)

The only ones who handled the play properly were Swihart, who never stopped running; the umpires, who never gave the home run call because they didn’t see that; and Ruben Tejada, who ran into the outfield to get the ball.

“I thought it had gotten over because of the way it bounced back, but I just kept my head down running,’’ Swihart said. “I kind of watched the center fielder jogging after it, but I didn’t hear anything so I kept running.’’

Notice how Swihart said Lagares jogged after the ball. He kept running out the play; Lagares did not.

And, give left fielder Yoenis Cespedes a bag of popcorn for the way he watched the play. It hasn’t been the first time he hasn’t hustled.

Lagares needs to hustle after the ball because you never know until the umpires make the call. As a player, you never assume anything, out or safe, fair or foul, until the call is made.

Lagares’ judgment and Cespedes’ lack of hustle can’t be tolerated, not in spring training and especially not during a pennant race.

After the game, manager Terry Collins conceded Cespedes and right fielder Curtis Granderson didn’t do their jobs, saying: “Somebody’s got to back him up.’’

However, Collins was not quoted regarding Lagares’ part other than to say the ball went over the line. Here’s wrung him out in his office after the game. The Mets are in a race, so this stuff needs to be cleaned up now.

Last night doesn’t cut it in October.