Aug 19

Mets Making Mistake Not Hitting Juan Lagares Second

If not for Major League Baseball’s inane scheduling policies, the New York Mets should be enjoying a day off following a lengthy road trip, not playing the Minnesota Twins with a starting line-up featuring just three players – Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and starter Dillon Gee – who were on the Opening Day roster.

LAGARES: Let's see what he can do batting second.

LAGARES: Let’s see what he can do batting second.

Considering the influx in personnel, it is impressive they are in third place and only nine games under .500.

Quite simply, scheduling the Mets in Minneapolis in April was just plain dumb, but that’s another rant later.

Such a turnaround in personnel is astonishing as evidenced by today’s line-up, the 94th different penned by Terry Collins. If that’s not a record, it should be.

It is puzzling why a run-starved team like the Mets aren’t capitalizing on Juan Lagares’ speed and bunching him with Eric Young at the top of the order. There’s stolen base and run potential there. Even with the designated hitter, batting Lagares eighth does little good.

Here’s today’s head-scratching line-up:

Eric Young, LF: One of the Mets’ primary problems has been resolved.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Should be hitting third, a better RBI slot. His patience helps Young, but he might have greater value hitting in a RBI position.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Murphy should be dropped down to third and Byrd should be clean-up. Byrd is also hot now, so I can see Collins’ reasoning.

Ike Davis, 1B: With his soaring on-base percentage, he should be hitting leadoff. Joking. Seriously, with the rate he’s getting on base he should be hitting ahead of Byrd to maximize the latter’s RBI potential.

Andrew Brown, DH: Good he’s getting a chance to play, but I would drop him behind Wilmer Flores.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: I’d bat Flores behind Davis to maximize his RBI potential. Prior to his injury, he was averaging also a RBI per game.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: We don’t know how he’ll hit on this level, so seventh is as good a slot as any.

Juan Lagares, CF: This one is puzzling. They need to bunch the speed of Young and Lagares to generate excitement and run-scoring potential at the top of the line-up. The concern might be Lagares’ ability to work an at-bat to protect Young, but that should come with the experience of hitting second.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: This is about right. No pitcher hitting today, but in the regular line-up eighth is his place.

Dillon Gee, RHP: Could tie Matt Harvey with nine wins today.

I don’t understand Collins’ approach in determining his line-up, which means the Mets will score nine runs today. Would anybody be surprised if they did?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 17

Mets’ Terry Collins Deserves To Stay

The firing of Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel has put Terry Collins’ status with the New York Mets into the forefront.

The sacking of Manuel demonstrates once again baseball is widely unfair. After a long playoff run, which included several trips to the World Series, followed by a run of injuries from Chase Utley to Ryan Howard to Roy Halladay, the Phillies are south of the Mets, both in the standings and on the map.

COLLINS: Merits another introductory press conference.

COLLINS: Merits another introductory press conference.

So naturally, Manuel is out.

Collins, in the final season of his contract, could finish 2013 with his third straight losing year the Mets’ fifth overall, but is expected to get an extension because of how well the team has performed despite not adding significant pieces and substantial injuries.

After winning the first two games of the San Diego series, the Mets are eight games below .500, but have a reasonable chance of finishing even, but second place appears less likely.

Should the Mets lose the remainder of their games they would have 106 losses, a number many predicted of them heading into the season.

However, with several key injuries – including David Wright, Jon Niese, Johan Santana and Bobby Parnell – a patchwork bullpen and outfield, and dreadful slump of Ike Davis, the Mets adjusted on the fly and are playing competitive ball.

For the most part, the Mets have played well fundamentally, while breaking in a new outfield, and always seem to play hard for him. Collins has had several head-scratching moments, but has generally been solid.

When teams hustle and keep their heads in the game, it indicates the manager has things under control. Collins definitely merits an opportunity to stay now that resources have been promised.

Also working in Collins’ favor is nearly half the roster is different than what he left spring training with, and he’s had to juggle with 92 different line-ups in 120 games. That is almost incomprehensible.

The Mets appeared to have answered five significant spots this season, including positives in the development of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler; Parnell’s acclimation to the closer role; and the additions of outfielders Eric Young and Juan Lagares.

There have been other positives, such as the catching tandem of John Buck and Anthony Recker; the mostly solid play of Daniel Murphy at second base; and the play of Marlon Byrd in right field and Omar Quintanilla at shortstop.

There remain several holes and questions, but overall Collins deserves to be in that dugout next season. Not only that, he needs to stay.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 16

What’s Mets’ Thinking With Flores Injury?

There are times when the New York Mets are hard to figure out, and the latest regarding Wilmer Flores is one of them.

Flores sprained his right ankle running the bases Monday in Los Angeles and hasn’t played since. He is, however, in a walking boot and supposedly able to pinch-hit.

“It was important that he get an at-bat,’’ manager Terry Collins said about Flores staying in the game. “Because if he can’t play for a few days, at least if we know he can go up and hit, it’s going to help us.’’

Really? How is he going to help the Mets if he can’t run to first base? I can see not rushing him to the disabled list immediately, but if he can’t play for a few more days they can backdate him to Tuesday.

Why can’t they simply say “he won’t play until he’s ready?’’ Bottom line: If he’s in a protective boot there’s no reason to even think about playing him.

GREAT PLAY: We’ve seen some terrific defensive plays this year from the Mets’ outfield, but the one Thursday night when Eric Young scaled the wall to deflect what would have been a home run back into the outfield is one of the best.

Young has been a joy to watch, both offensively with his ability to make things happen, and defensively for his penchant for running balls down.

I recently read where the Mets won’t keep both Young and Juan Lagares next year, to which I say: Why not?

There’s nothing wrong with stacking two speedy playmakers at the top of the order. Both are part of that group I recently profiled of in-season additions that developed this team and brought excitement where there was once none.

Young is in center tonight as Lagares gets the night off and Mike Baxter is given a chance to play in left field.

Tonight’s line-up at San Diego:

Eric Young, CF: Has 15 steals in 49 games with the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Is hitting .224 (13-for-58) with one walk in August.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Is getting warm again, hitting .417 (10-for-24) on the trip.

Ike Davis, 1B: Is hitting .284 with 30 walks since recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Josh Satin, 3B: Is hitting .303 since joining the Mets, but has just one homer.

Mike Baxter, LF: Not hitting at all this season with a paltry .213 average with four RBI.

John Buck, C: Still waiting for his wife to deliver and him to go on leave and enable Travis d’Arnaud to make his Mets’ debut.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Takes a 0-for-9 slide into tonight’s game.

Jonathon Niese, LHP: Since August 2012. Niese has given up more than four earned runs twice in 25 starts.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 06

Wilmer Flores To Make Debut; Bobby Parnell Goes On DL

The New York Mets are finally giving Wilmer Flores his opportunity as they promoted him from Triple-A Las Vegas and will start him tonight at third base against Colorado. Ironically, today is Flores’ 22nd birthday.

The Mets, currently in an overall team-hitting slump, could use an offensive boost from Flores, who is hitting .321 with 15 homers and 86 RBI. The thought of Flores coming close to that with the Mets is enticing. They certainly aren’t going to get production from Justin Turner.

FLORES: Gets his chance.

FLORES: Gets his chance.

To make room on the roster for Flores, closer Bobby Parnell was placed on the disabled list with pain in his neck. Parnell received an anti-inflammatory injection Monday.

The Mets could make another roster move this weekend if Jonathan Niese is activated from the disabled list. Niese, rehabbing from a partial rotator cuff tear, will make what is hoped to be his final rehab start tonight for Double-A Binghamton. If all goes well, he could start Sunday at Arizona.

If not, he’ll make another rehab start.

Here’s tonight’s lineup, the 82nd different one this season, against Colorado:

Eric Young, LF: Has 15 steals since joining the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Has 20 RBI since July 6.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has at least one hit in 16 of his last 20 games.

Ike Davis, 1B: Batting .194 (13-for-67) with RISP.

Juan Lagares, CF: Is hitting .303 (47-for-155) since June 5.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: Makes major league debut on 22nd birthday. Are all the stars aligned?

John Buck, C: On a 3-for-28 (.107) over his last eight games.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Drew 19 walks in July, third in the NL.

Jenrry Mejia, RHP: Will make his third start. The first two were quality starts.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 04

Here’s A Plan For The Mets On How To Use Wilmer Flores

What is going on with the New York Mets and prospect Wilmer Flores? Can we even call him a prospect anymore?

His natural position is third base, but with David Wright on the disabled list they are not bringing up Flores.

FLORES: Could he play first?

FLORES: Could he play first?

It makes no sense unless the Mets have other plans for Flores. Reading between the lines, my guess is their long- range plan could be to play him at first base, which is where he recently worked at Triple-A Las Vegas following an ankle injury.

Reportedly, he’s back at second base, but why? They should play him at first for the rest of the minor league season to see if they have something there.

Flores has played all around the infield, but mostly at second base this season before the interlude at first base. Blocked from third because of Wright, and with Daniel Murphy playing better at second, and concerns about his lack of speed keeping him from the outfield, first base could be the logical conclusion.

Don’t the Mets see that?

It appears the Mets will give Davis the second half to find his way at the plate. If he doesn’t, but Flores shows something at first, their questions could be answered for them by not tendering Davis a contract and go into spring training next year with Flores competing with Josh Satin for the first base job.

Should Flores use the rest of the minor league season – and there’s not much left – to make a positive impression at first base, it will be interesting to see if the Mets send him somewhere this winter to work at that position.

The presumption is Flores can hit, evidenced by his .320 average with 14 homers and 85 RBI with Las Vegas. All that in just 412 at-bats.

Currently, Flores has little trade value, even as a prospect, because other teams also don’t know where to play him. And, American League teams prefer to use the designated hitter slot for veterans who have lost a step, or proven major league hitters stuck in a position logjam.

Flores is neither. The question is: Will he ever be a Met?

 

TODAY’S LINEUP

The following is the Mets’ lineup for their series finale with Kansas City:

Eric Young, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Josh Satin, 3B

Marlon Byrd, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Juan Lagares, CF

John Buck, C

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Zack Wheeler, RHP

LINEUP THOUGHTS: There was speculation the Mets would move Murphy to third and play Eric Young at second, but that’s not the case and that’s a good thing. Young and Murphy are settled into their positions, and with Wright out, why make a move that impacts three positions instead of one? … I still like Lagares batting second and dropping down Murphy into a RBI slot. With the way he’s hitting he’s better in the fifth slot than Davis.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos