Apr 21

Plawecki Era Begins As Mets Roll

We all knew the New York Mets would bring up catcher Kevin Plawecki this season. Unfortunately for Travis d’Arnaud, we didn’t think it would be before May.

Opportunities come in the strangest places, and Plawecki got his Tuesday night with d’Arnaud’s fractured right hand. He not only was in the line-up, but will also have the fulltime job until … whenever.

PLAWECKI: Good start in debut. (AP)

PLAWECKI: Good start in debut. (AP)

Reportedly, d’Arnaud will be out for at least three weeks. A lot can happen between now and then, but it is hard to believe Plawecki – two hits notwithstanding and his flawless handling of Jon Niese – will light it up in that span to where the Mets will decide he is the answer and d’Arnaud will be thought of in the past tense.

“I think I’ve taken some good strides in the right direction,’’ said Plawecki, who ripped a single to left in the Mets’ four-run fifth for his first major league hit. “Obviously, everything is still a work in progress, but I think I’ve come a long way.’’

It’s great he has confidence, but can we tone down the hysteria just a bit? If Plawecki, who was hitting just .216 with six RBI at Triple-A Las Vegas, is already better than d’Arnaud, he would have been brought up before now.

Manager Terry Collins said the Mets have had a good feeling about Plawecki, and that was before tonight’s 7-1 rout of Atlanta for their ninth straight victory.

“We all felt in spring training that if we lost Travis we would have something coming,” Collins said. “He’s going to be a big league player for a long time.”

However, can we stop with the Wally Pipp analogies? As with Matt Harvey, can we let him do something before putting him into the Hall of Fame? However, if Plawecki plays well, it could lead to some interesting scenarios. For example, would the Mets carry both and send out Anthony Recker?

Would they feel good enough about the impression Plawecki makes to prompt them to trade d’Arnaud? Probably not enough during this season, but perhaps to where it could help shape their off-season strategy.

However, as a catcher, there’s more than at the plate where the Mets are curious about Plawecki’s development. There’s also the matter of his ability to handle pitchers, play defense and throw out potential base stealers.

“I’m happy to get the first one out of the way and that we came out of it with a win,” said Plawecki, who plans to give the ball from his first hit to his parents, who were at the game. “I was happy to be able to contribute, and Niese made it easy for me.”

Plawecki, the Mets’ 2012 first-round pick, also said what most rookies say when they first come up, and that is he’s playing the same game he has been playing his entire life.

Well, not exactly, although tonight was pretty damn close.

Apr 15

Mets Game Wrap: Sweeping The Phils

Powered by home runs from Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud, the Mets completed a three-game sweep over Philadelphia with a 6-1 victory Wednesday night at Citi Field. The victory was the fourth straight for the Mets.

PITCHING:  Jon Niese was in, but most importantly pitched out of trouble all night, scattering nine hits in 6.1 innings. Niese also walked two and struck out four. However, as has been the case early this season, the bullpen pitched well with Carlos Torres going .2 of an inning and Alex Torres two innings. Neither reliever gave up a hit.

HITTING: Duda and d’Arnaud each popped their first homer of the young season. … Duda has five RBI in the last two games. … Curtis Granderson who had averaged two walks a game, collected two hits. … Juan Lagares also had two hits. … D’Arnaud is off to a strong start, hitting .333 with eight RBI in nine games. He hit second tonight. … Duda is hitting .353. … Eric Campbell, playing in place of David Wright, singled in his first at-bat.

UP NEXT: Florida comes into Citi Field tomorrow for the start of a four-game series. Dillion Gee (0-1, 9.00 ERA) starts for the Mets. Jarred Cosart (0-1, 1.50) will start for the Marlins.

 

Apr 14

Harvey Needs To Be Smarter For Mets

If you’re the Mets, you want more from Matt Harvey than he gave them last night. Yes, they won and he got the decision, but you need more from your ace.

You want Harvey to be sharper, but you need him to be smarter.

HARVEY: Frustrated despite win. (AP)

HARVEY: Frustrated despite win. (AP)

Harvey looked ordinary after starting with back-to-back strikeouts, but later missed on a couple of pitches in the “sweet spot,’’ zone on homers to lefty hitters Chase Utley and Cody Asche. That happens, but where Harvey was totally off was how he plunked Utley in retaliation for Phillies starter David Buchanan hitting Wilmer Flores and Michael Cuddyer.

Harvey said it was the situation of the game, but he wasn’t believable when he said he “got over amped it got away.”

Everybody knows when a pitcher throws at a hitter he does by throwing behind him. Utley knew it; he never made a move toward Harvey and didn’t even stare him down, unlike what the pitcher did with him.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to admit it as that means an automatic fine, if not a suspension.

Harvey was clearly not happy with the home run, or the RBI single, to Utley. His pitch count was slowly rising – another 90-plus pitches in six innings – and he was getting frustrated. You could see it on his face when the cameras caught him in the dugout.

One expected retaliation, but Harvey must be smarter in picking his spots. Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez – as you expect them – weren’t happy with Harvey. The other apologists at SNY, from Nelson Figueroa on down couldn’t bow enough to him.

Harvey definitely seems off after the delay on the challenge, which the Mets waited to do. You either make the call or you don’t, but you don’t make your pitcher wait and get out of rhythm.

Harvey missed on the home run pitches, but by inches. He’s walked only one hitter in his two starts compared to 17 strikeouts, so you know he can locate when he has to. It was clear that ball didn’t get away; Harvey knew where it was going.

In a close game and a runner on third, you don’t hit Utley. It was blatantly obvious. What if the umpire ejected him right there? What if he missed and the runner scored?

This came right after pitching coach Dan Warthen went to the mound, and there was no way he told Harvey to hit Utley. Harvey, as he frequently likes to do, acted on his own.

Earlier today I wrote how Harvey’s presence gives the Mets a chance to win. Tonight, he gave them a chance to lose.

Harvey actions weren’t the lone dark spot on what was a bright night in a bizarre game at Citi Field.

In the long term, David Wright had to leave the game with a pulled hamstring sustained while stealing second in the eighth inning.

“A couple of feet before I got to the bag I felt my hamstring grab,” Wright said. “I thought I could stretch it out but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made a couple of years ago.”

Wright will undergo a MRI Wednesday morning and the Mets are expected to bring up Eric Campbell from Triple-A Las Vegas.

 

 

Apr 14

April 14, Mets Lineup Vs. Phillies

Here’s tonight’s batting order for the Mets against Philadelphia:

Curtis Granderson, rf: I don’t want him here, but he’s among the leaders in walks which gives him a healthy on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3b: Still think he should hit third, but he’s hitting and that’s what counts. He’ll stay here for awhile.

Lucas Duda, 1b: His stroke seems a lot shorter and quicker. He’s poised for another big year.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: I like him behind Duda.

Daniel Murphy, 2b: I understand the idea of wanting to give him more RBI opportunities, but it’s not happening right now.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Probably the hottest hitting Met right now.

Juan Lagares, cf: I want to see him batting leadoff, but average and on-base percentage says he doesn’t deserve hitting first.

Wilmer Flores, ss: He’s probably under the most pressure to get going. His approach seems better the past few days.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Don’t you get the impression from him that he should not only pitch, but hit clean-up like the typical high school star?

 

 

Apr 13

Lagares Out Of Leadoff Spot

That was fast. The Mets’ Opening Day lineup features Curtis Granderson back in the leadoff spot and Juan Lagares dropped down to seventh. The move comes on the heels of Lagares going 0-for-5 Sunday in Atlanta.

LAGARES: Batting seventh. (AP)

LAGARES: Batting seventh. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins said he still has confidence in Lagares, who hit .359 in spring training.

“If he continues to swing the bat like he can, he’ll be in the leadoff spot,” Collins said of Lagares. “Right now, he’s struggling a little bit. So we kind of like where he’s at. We’ve got all the confidence in the world. When that confidence fades, we’ll find somebody else. But, right now, this guy is one of the real, real good players and an up-and-coming star in this game.”

After a strong spring training in which he worked on working the count and other aspects of leading off, Lagares began the season in the sixth spot in the order. The Mets insist they’ve considered the switch early in spring training, but puzzlingly didn’t act on it.

Lagares is admittedly struggling, batting .160, but then again Granderson is hitting .063.

While I understand the nuances of the leadoff hitter is assured of leading off an inning just once, and that when he’s batting it really doesn’t matter because he’s at the plate by himself. However, going into the season’s seventh game, Lagares is hitting in his third different spot in the order.

That indicates indecision.

Here’s today’s order for the Mets:

Curtis Granderson, rf

David Wright, 3b

Lucas Duda, 1b

Michael Cuddyer, lf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Juan Lagares, cf

Wilmer Flores, ss

Jacob deGrom, rhp