Aug 11

Five Questions If The Mets Are To Contend

The Mets answered one of the most important questions if they are to contend, which is whether they would add to their roster. The additions of Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson energized this team. They created further sparks when Travis d’Arnaud was activated from the disabled list and now the pending return of David Wright.

However, there are more questions to be answered, with these being the most pertinent:

QUESTION: How will they handle the pressure?

ANSWER: There’s a minimum of postseason experience on this roster, and Wright still hasn’t returned. Uribe and Johnson have been there before, but not Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores or Juan Lagares. Eventually they will be faced with a critical situation, one they have yet to encounter.

QUESTION: How will the young arms hold up?

ANSWER: Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have been stellar, but as the season progresses they will surpass career highs in innings pitched. None of them have pitched meaningful games in September.

QUESTION: How good will Wright be when he returns?

ANSWER: Nobody can say, but if he’s his former self considerable pressure will be alleviated down the lineup. The Mets will need another RBI bat in the middle of their order down the stretch.

QUESTION: Will the bullpen hold up?

ANSWER: This is all new for Jeurys Familia, but Clippard has playoff experience. It will be interesting to see if manager Terry Collins has a shorts leash when it comes to his bullpen.

QUESTION: Will they stay healthy?

ANSWER: We’re waiting on Wright, but Duda missed Tuesday’s game. Lagares has had a sore are all year and runners are taking liberties off him on the bases. Fortunately, Harvey has so far responded coming off Tommy John surgery.

Jul 31

Alderson Rallies At Deadline

After arguably one of the most frustrating 48-hour periods in franchise history, Mets GM Sandy Alderson rallied at the trade deadline by securing slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit for pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

The deal came on the heels of a trade Wednesday for Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez that culminated with Mets infielder Wilmer Flores – who, along with Zack Wheeler, was going to the Brewers – breaking down in tears while taking his position in the field. The next day, the Mets blew a six-run lead while losing to San Diego.

So, with the trade deadline ticking down, Alderson went for broke and came up with an enigma of a player who could be exactly what the Mets need – if his head is screwed on correctly – before he becomes a free agent after the season.

“We’re going for it,” Alderson said. “He’s a very dynamic player. We think he’s going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived.”

Cespedes had been linked to the Mets before, and Alderson is right, he can be a dynamic player. However, at 29, the Mets will be his fourth team. That’s a lot and raises questions, in particular: What’s wrong with him that somebody with that much talent can’t find a home?

Cespedes is hitting .293 with 18 homers and 62 RBI, that would put him at the top of the Mets’ leaderboards.

Alderson has taken considerable criticism, including from me, about his inactivity, and I was especially vocal after the Gomez deal fell through. Numerous reports said it was financial, with the Mets wanting the Brewers to eat part of Gomez’s salary, which was highly plausible considering the Mets’ and Alderson’s reputation. However, today Alderson said it was concern about Gomez’s healthy, although the Houston Astros had no such problems. But, in fairness to the Mets, different medical staffs can have varying opinions.

Although I have concerns with Cespedes, he might not be here next season for it to become an issue. What’s important is that waiting for the Mets to act like a contender, they are doing just that – good for them.

 

 

 

Jul 27

Want Bruce For Mets

Of all the Mets’ trade rumors, I like the one involving Jay Bruce best. I am not thrilled with the prospects of trading for Yoenis Cespedes or Yasiel Puig, although I doubt the Dodgers will move the latter.

BRUCE: Want him for Mets. (AP)

BRUCE: Want him for Mets. (AP)

Cespedes is a headache waiting to happen, and Puig is already a man-child. Bruce is having somewhat of a bounce back season, but his numbers won’t approach what they were from 2011-2013, when he hit over 30 homers with 97 RBI in each of those seasons.

As for Troy Tulowitzki, why bother getting excited about something that will never happen? It has gotten to the point of being boring. And, Andrelton Simmons? That would be sweet, but that’s another pipe dream.

Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if GM Sandy Alderson’s team is leaking thoughts about Tulowitzki and Simmons just to keep the Mets’ over-anxious fan base at bay. It has been known to happen before. Both teams and agents have done it if they want to convey a message through the media.

However, Bruce is 28, which means he has plenty of rebound time. He becomes a free agent in 2017, if the team doesn’t exercise its option.

Bruce is currently in a 6-year, $51-million contract, which means he has the right to demand a trade after this season if he’s traded, which makes him a rental. Not crazy about that trade, especially if it is for Zack Wheeler.

If I could get Bruce for Wheeler straight up, and would be assured of keeping Bruce, then I would do it.

 

Jul 25

Collins Issues Ultimatum; Mets Respond To Rout Dodgers

Timing is everything for the Mets, so it shouldn’t be shocking on the night manager Terry Collins issued an ultimatum his players better hit or take to the bench, the offense exploded for season-highs in runs (15) and (21).

“They’ve been put on notice it’s time to pick it up,’’ Collins said.

And, picked it up they did to make it an easy night of it for Matt Harvey, who coasted to his ninth victory in a 15-2 rout of the Dodgers. It was one of those games that made you scurry to the record books.

So much happened for the Mets, who had scored 21 runs in their previous eight games since the All-Star break:

* Kelly Johnson had two hits, including a homer in his first game as a Met.

* Rookie Michael Conforto, making his second start, slashed four hits and walked.

* Lucas Duda, the Met who has struggled more than any other Met, ripped two homers.

* Kirk Nieuwenhuis, starting in place of Juan Lagares, ripped four hits and walked.

* Ruben Tejada has three hits and scored three runs.

* Daniel Murphy homered.

* Harvey helped his own cause with two hits and two RBI.

“If you want to stay in the lineup, you’ve got to start hitting,’’ Collins said. “Our pitching is good enough to keep us in any game. … I’ll tell you what: Whoever is swinging the bat is going to play. It’s about scoring some runs right now.’’

In the baseball vernacular, games like tonight are called laughers, and laugh they did. It has been a long time coming.

Of course, it’s baseball, and there’s no telling what can happen the next day. Tomorrow, the Mets face Zack Greinke.

Jul 25

No Question, Alderson Blew It With Turner

There have been numerous personnel mistakes made by Mets GM Sandy Alderson, and at the top includes the decision to cast away Justin Turner after the 2013 season in which he hit .280 with a .319 on-base percentage in 86 games in a reserve role.

TURNER: Alderson blew this decision. (AP)

TURNER: Alderson blew this decision. (AP)

Reportedly, the Mets – Alderson and manager Terry Collins – thought Turner didn’t hustle, but none of his teammates thought so.

Turner ripped the Mets and Jon Niese for two doubles and a homer Friday night, but he would not gloat, although he had every right.

“I mean, I don’t think I need to prove anything to them,’’ Turner told reporters after the game. “I don’t play for them anymore. I play for these guys, and I’m trying to prove it to my teammates and my coaching staff and the organization that I deserve the opportunity that I’m in.’’

The Mets traded two pitching prospects to Atlanta for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, but Turner’s .327 average and 43 RBI would lead the Mets, and his 13 homers would be second.

The Mets could have kept Turner for $800,000 last season, but are now paying over $3 million for Johnson and Uribe.

Turner hit seven homers with 43 RBI while batting .340 with a .404 on-base percentage in 109 games last year and was rewarded with a $2.5 contract for this year.

Turner clicked with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. For whatever reason, Turner figured it out in Los Angeles and is batting third. Alderson claims to like reclamation projects, but Turner is clearly better than Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.

It is safe to say, Alderson missed on this decision. Big time.