Nov 10

Mets Should Go With Smith At First

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Mets’ need for a first baseman and where Dominic Smith fits into their plans. By any numerical system – conventional statistics or analytics – Smith did not have a good debut with the Mets last summer.

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

SMITH: Give him a real chance. (AP)

Smith, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, exceeded his rookie status in 49 games and 167 at-bats last season. He hit .198 with a .262 on-base percentage and .658 OPS. However, those are just numbers, just like his 49 strikeouts (matching the number of games played) and only 14 walks. However, of his 33 hits, nine were homers.

All this has led to columns about the Mets going after Eric Hosmer or reuniting with Jay Bruce – cue singer: “To dream, the impossible dream.’’ – or maybe Carlos Santana, Logan Morrison or Adam Lind.

Smith will earn the major league minimum of $507,500.

Of all the names mentioned, Washington’s Lind, who earned $500,000 last season, is the one most likely to fit into GM Sandy Alderson’s budget. However, Lind has a lifetime .272 average with 200 homers, including 14 last year, so the Mets shouldn’t be so eager to celebrate – or write any checks.

At 34, Lind is probably looking at his last contract. That he also played in 25 games in the outfield last year could work to the Mets’ advantage. His age means he’ll be more likely to accept a one-year deal.

At 31, Santana, who hit 23 homers with 79 RBI for Cleveland, earned $12 million last year. He’ll be looking for at least a three-year deal. He’s too expensive.

At 30, Morrison, would be a great addition. He hit 38 homers with 85 RBI, but would want significantly more than the $2.5 million he made last year with Tampa Bay. Morrison is reported to be interested in Kansas City as the Royals will lose Hosmer.

As for Bruce, it is reported he wants $90 million over five years, but has a lower estimated landing price of $40 million over three years.

Either way, that’s too rich for Alderson’s blood.

All the names linked to the Mets are predicated on them being as competitive as Alderson believes. If they really are – and I’ve heard of nobody other than Alderson who thinks that way – then go for it.

The Mets won 70 games last year and one NL Scout thinks they’ll be lucky to win 80 in 2017, which won’t do it.

“They have too many holes,’’ the scout said. “Even if all their pitching issues work out for them, they just don’t have enough to contend. They need a second baseman and third baseman, and who knows how Amed Rosario will pan out over a full year? There’s also questions at catcher and first base, plus there are concerns about the health of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.’’

With a reported $30 million Alderson has to spend, and a large part of that will go in arbitration cases (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores.

So, where does that leave us with Smith?

I don’t think the Mets will be as good as Alderson thinks, but you already knew that, being the negative SOB that I am. If the Mets were a player away and money wasn’t an issue, I’d say go for it.

But, they aren’t.

The Mets will be lucky to finish .500, so why not go with Smith and Flores? Let’s give Smith at least to the All-Star break to see what he has, or platoon him with Flores.

In what figures to be another losing season, let’s see if they can find a nugget in Smith. It’s a better option than throwing a lot of money at a player who won’t turn things around and will be gone in a couple of years.

Aug 21

No Surprise, Matz To Have Season-Ending Elbow Surgery

As much as Steven Matz and the Mets tried to convince us to the contrary, the team finally admitted something was wrong with the left-hander’s arm and placed him on the disabled list with surgery expected to follow.

MATZ: Done for year. (AP)

MATZ: Done for year. (AP)

It only took eight lousy starts to convince GM Sandy Alderson to finally seek the exam that revealed a ulnar nerve condition that if it doesn’t respond to a cortisone injection and more than two weeks of rest, will have season-ending surgery.

Matz’s condition is similar to Jacob deGrom’s last year, but we all know people respond differently from surgery, so it is only a guess he’ll be ready for spring training.

“I think it’s something [Matz] has had to deal with and we felt this was the best time to address it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “I am sure some of the issues have kept him from being the pitcher we know he can be.’’

Translated, Collins’ quote tells us: 1) this has been bothering Matz for a long time, and 2) don’t believe it when Mets’ management, or their pitchers, say there’s nothing wrong.

Since July 9, Matz is 0-6 with a 10.19 ERA, numbers to be expected considering opponents are hitting .385 against him with seven homers. Matz, 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA overall, joins Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo on the disabled list.

“There’s no guarantees, especially with young, power pitching, that you are going to say these guys are all going to be healthy throughout the season,’’ Collins said. “We came into this season saying we were prepared for it, because we had seven guys. Five of them went down. I just think you need to keep as much pitching around as you possibly can because you never know when you are going to need it.’’

EXTRA INNINGS: Robert Gsellman was superb in his second start since coming off the disabled list, giving up one run on five hits in 6.1 innings. … Matt Harvey gave up two runs in three innings for Double-A Binghamton in his second rehab start. … Jeurys Familia is scheduled to make consecutive appearances Tuesday and Wednesday, and barring complications could be activated this weekend when the Mets are in Washington. … Yoenis Cespedes has ten RBI in his last 11 games.

 

Aug 18

Today’s Question: What Carnage Will Stanton Bring To Mets?

After being mauled the past four games by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Mets now get the luxury of facing a career franchise killer Giancarlo Stanton.

So, today’s question is: What kind of damage will Stanton do this weekend against Mets pitchers, Chris Flexen, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom?

If the Marlins were a playoff contender this year, Stanton might be the NL MVP frontrunner. He just might win it regardless, especially if he comes close to 60 homers.

Stanton has 11 homers with 21 RBI for August after having 12 homers with 23 RBI in July.

Overall, he has 32 homers with 71 RBI and a .903 OPS against the Mets, with five homers and ten RBI coming this season. Six games remain between the two teams.

Stanton is three years into a 13-year, $325-million contract with the Marlins.

 

Aug 13

Mets’ Bright Spots In Lost Season

There are always a few rubies that can be found in this garbage dump of a Mets season. This year, the shiniest of the gems are Michael Conforto’s emergence of being a star and Jacob deGrom’s recovery from surgery to being an All-Star caliber starter.

The other highlights have been the production of traded Mets Jay Bruce and Addison Reed; the professionalism of Curtis Granderson; and promotions of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith.

Once a question to even make the Opening Day roster, Conforto began the season in a pinch-hitting role, but his success, coupled with Granderson’s slow start and injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, increased his playing time and subsequently run production to the point where he made his first All-Star team.

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

Conforto’s two-run homer gave him his 26th of the season, but more importantly, the Mets a two-run lead in the first inning, one they never relinquished in today’s 6-2 victory over the Phillies.

Conforto hit 12 homers last season, so his home run ceiling was just a hunch. Now, with 26, you would think 35 could be within reach with 47 games remaining.

I’ve long advocated Conforto should hit third in the order, ahead of Cespedes, and hopefully manager Terry Collins will keep him there. I also like that even with the trade of Bruce, Collins is keeping Conforto in center field. If the rest of the season is about laying the foundation for 2018, then hit Conforto third and in center and leave him there – hopefully, for the next dozen years.

Conforto’s last five hits have been homers, and since the All-Star break has 12 homers with 23 RBI.

As for deGrom, he took a line drive off his pitching arm Thursday, but all indications are he’ll make his next start, Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. DeGrom is 13-5 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. The word “ace,’’ gets thrown around a lot, but it’s clear cut when talking about deGrom, who works fast, and despite an overpowering fastball, more importantly has excellent command of all of his pitches.

With Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey on the disabled list, and Steven Matz struggling and winless in over a month, deGrom has been the rotation’s workhorse

The Mets are clearly in a rebuild, salary dump mode, which is why Bruce, Reed, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are gone, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Granderson could soon follow. Jose Reyes will stay to be Rosario’s caddy.

Bruce hit 29 homers with 75 RBI to lead the Mets, and has already made an impact with the Indians, going 5-for-12 with three RBI. You can describe Bruce, Reed, Walker and Granderson as consummate professionals.

Rosario booted a play in his debut that cost the Mets a game, but Bruce and Walker were seen in the dugout giving him counsel on what he should have done differently.

As for Granderson, he’s still being shopped, and maybe raised his value with three more hits today, including a two-run homer. He won’t be re-signed for 2018 and it is puzzling why there isn’t more interest. Granderson has four homers and nine RBI over his last ten games.

With Granderson, Bruce and the other veterans with expiring contracts assuredly not going to be here next season, the future belongs to Conforto, Rosario and Smith.

They, along with deGrom, give the Mets something to build on for next year.

 

Aug 08

Harvey Makes Progress In Rehab; Mets Beat Rangers

The Mets finally received some positive pitching news today with Matt Harveys pain-free, 20-pitch live batting practice session. Harvey’s last start was June 14, a four-inning stint against the Cubs.

HARVEY: Makes progress.  (AP)

HARVEY: Makes progress. (AP)

Live batting practice usually comes prior to a rehab assignment, so if he doesn’t feel anything tomorrow, he could make a minor-league start this weekend. Assuming all goes well, Harvey could make three or four starts before the end of the year.

“My goal is to get out there as soon as I can and get as many starts as I can,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I felt great. It was nice to get on the mound again. A little rusty at first, but at the end, I was able to get the ball down.

“My arm is moving the proper way. It was finally fun to throw a baseball again.’’

It has been a long time since Harvey had any fun pitching, perhaps the eighth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. It’s not his 4-3 record, but his 5.25 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 35 walks in 70.1 innings that has frustrated Harvey.

That, and whether he’ll ever approach the potential expected of him when he became an All-Star and cult hero in 2013. If nothing else, both Harvey and the Mets want to ascertain where he physically fits heading into the offseason.

THE GAME:  Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d’Arnaud homered to give Chris Flexen his first major league victory, 5-4, over Texas tonight at Citi Field.

Flexen (1-1), in his third career start, pitched 5.2 innings and gave up three on four hits, three walks and one hit batter while striking out four. For good measure, he also registered his career hit with a fifth-inning double.

For Conforto, it was his career-high 23rd homer and sixth leading off a game.

A NEW GIG FOR IKE: Former Mets first baseman Ike Davis is trying to make it back to the majors as a situational lefty reliever in the Dodgers farm system.

Davis, 30, struck out the side his one inning of work in the Arizona League.

Davis pitched for Arizona State in college and made two scoreless relief appearances for Oakland in 2015. His fastball has been clocked at 92 mph.

EXTRA INNINGS: With their win, the Mets snapped a four-game and improved to 26-31 at home. … Conforto’s leadoff homer was the Mets’ tenth to lead the majors. …

Since the All-Star break, Conforto is batting .313 (30-96) with nine home runs and 17 RBI. … D’Arnaud’s homer was his tenth. … Neil Walker started his first career game at first. … AJ Ramos converted his first save opportunity since joining the Mets.