Jul 22

What Was Collins’ Real Responsibility?

It was a nice gesture on the part of manager Terry Collins to accept blame for the Mets’ 4-3 loss at Washington. But, to what degree was Collins at fault?

PARNELL: Doesn't have it. (AP)

PARNELL: Doesn’t have it. (AP)

Collins volunteered it should have been on him because he didn’t stall long enough for Jeurys Familia to warm up while Bobby Parnell struggled in the eighth inning. Now, that’s getting a little too precise.

“That’s all on me. It’s not on Bobby. He’s been throwing the ball great,” Collins told reporters. “I could have let Jeurys get looser. I could have delayed the game a little bit and let him get loose.”

The need to stall would have been alleviated if Collins followed a set plan to get his closer ready. The Mets have three relievers with closer experience. The mistake wasn’t in not stalling, but in not getting Familia up sooner and for not pulling Parnell when he clearly didn’t have it.

Parnell was stand-up about it, saying he did’t pitch well, which was spot on.

Parnell was handed a two-run lead in the eighth, but after one out he walked Ian Desmond – always a critical mistake – and gave up a two-run single to Matt den Dekker. After Tyler Moore lined out, Parnell threw a wild pitch that put two runners in scoring position, where they scored on a game-tying two-run single by Michael Taylor.

Danny Espinosa followed with a RBI double for the game-winner, which put the Mets at 2-4 since the break.

The need to stall came about because Collins, pitching coach Dan Warthen and bullpen coach Ricky Bones – pick any of the three – didn’t get Familia up until after den Dekker reached base. Familia has to know he needs to start loosening up after the first runner got on base.

It’s simple bullpen management. It has to be automatic, which makes stalling a moot issue. Stalling is playing around; what the Mets needed was a concrete strategy, which they didn’t have.

Hey, you’re the Mets. You don’t fool around by stalling. You have an idea of what you need to do and just do it.


Jul 22

Tejada Shining At Most Important Time

In 2012, the Mets’ first year without Jose Reyes as their shortstop, they gambled on Ruben Tejada. Nobody thought Tejada could duplicate Reyes’ dynamic style of play, but if he would give them something offensively, with his defense they could live with him.

TEJADA: Coming through. (AP)

TEJADA: Coming through. (AP)

Tejada was superb that season hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. In fact, the Mets thought so highly of Tejada, at that time manager Terry Collins believed he could be the leadoff hitter the team so desperately needed.

Sure, the window is small, but since reshuffling their infield by putting Tejada to short, Wilmer Flores to second and Daniel Murphy to third, Tejada has produced. Maybe he has produced to the point where Collins might revisit the leadoff hitter idea, which could move Curtis Granderson‘s bat to the middle of the order.

Tejada worked his at-bat in the ninth the way he played in 2012. Tejada had a superb eight-pitch at-bat against Tanner Roark by fouling off five pitches before a RBI single to right that extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Can this last? Tejada is hitting .333 since July 3 to raise his average from .236 to .254.

Again, Tejada’s window has been small, but for now at least shortstop doesn’t have the same sense of urgency, and last night he and the Mets were fun to watch.


Jul 07

Might Be Time To Shut Down Ailing Cuddyer

The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who didn’t start Tuesday because of a sore knee. The knee has been barking lately and contributed to him hitting .100 with no RBI over his last 13 games.

images-3With four games remaining in the first half, perhaps it would be a good time to shut Cuddyer down until the second half. The time off might do him a world of good and help rejuvenate him.

Ideally, I’d like to see the Mets replace him with Michael Conforto.

I mean, why not?

Cuddyer isn’t giving the struggling Mets’ offense any production and certainly isn’t scaring any pitchers. If the Mets are to make a second-half run they’ll need a productive Cuddyer which would only come when he’s healthy.

As for Conforto, if he can show he hit at this level that would give the Mets another weapon.

With the All-Star break and Thursday’s off-day, that’s five days that would go towards a DL stint. That’s not five games.

This switch could have the two-fold effect of resting Cuddyer and giving the Mets a look at Conforto. It’s a win-win.

You are welcome, Sandy. Glad I could help.



Jun 13

Mets Can’t Count On Wright’s Return

When Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he would consider trading for strictly a third baseman, he might as well have said he’s not expecting David Wright to return any time soon, or at all this year. That is how they should handle it.

The Mets said Wright would stay in California for the next several weeks. If his rehab progresses, then it won’t be until after the All-Star break before he’ll even see minor league games. If you figure at least three weeks of games, then we’re talking into August before he’s activated.

FREESE: Available. (AP)

FREESE: Available. (AP)

By that time the trade deadline will have passed. And, of course, we have no idea of how he’ll play when he comes back, or if there will be a setback.

Alderson told Newsday he has to be open to trading for a third baseman.

“Would we consider a third baseman who can’t do anything else?’’ Alderson said. “Under the circumstances, yeah, we probably would. But we’re not just looking for any third baseman. It has to be something we think is an improvement that doesn’t cost us significantly.’’

Translation: They don’t want to pay.

The current flavor of the month is Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez, which is a bad idea on several levels. The 36-year-old Ramirez, who indicated he will retire after the season, is hitting only .211 with seven homers and 19 RBI. For that, Ramirez is being paid $14 million.

The Mets don’t want to trade a significant prospect and assume that much salary. So, unless the Brewers get bowled over by an offer, they are likely to wait this out until the end of July, figuring somebody might bite.

Milwaukee probably won’t eat a significant portion of Ramirez’s salary unless they get a decent prospect. The better the prospect, the more of Ramirez’s contract they’ll assume.

The third baseman I’m most intrigued with is the Angels’ David Freese, who will be a free agent this winter. The 32-year-old Freese is making $6.4 million, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot of money.

What the Angels want in return is uncertain, but he’s the guy I would want, and if it turns out Wright won’t come back, or is moved to the outfield next year, Freese could hang around for a few years. The problem, as it always is with the Mets, is how much they are willing to pay in terms of players and salary.

It seems they want to pay prospective free agents as if they are college students on an internship, meaning they don’t want to pay.


May 27

Flores Not Mets’ Biggest Flaw

Critics of the Mets, and there are many, are missing the point when it comes to Wilmer Flores. I just read somewhere of a list of the Mets’ biggest flaws, and of course, Flores is right up there as they point to his errors.

FLORES: Comes through in clutch. (AP)

FLORES: Comes through in clutch. (AP)

Unquestionably, Flores is a flawed player, but who isn’t? He’s in the lineup for his bat, plain and simple. That’s it. Nobody expects him to be Ozzie Smith, or Cal Ripken, or Jimmy Rollins in the field. Yes, he has problems with errors, mostly throwing and his range is limited.

But, the Mets knew that going in. Flores is in the lineup because of his hitting potential. Like Daniel Murphy, he’s a player without a natural position and the Mets needed to find a place for him to play. He will improve with more work, playing time and better positioning. He’ll never be Ripken, but he’ll get the job done.

Flores is starting to hit, evidenced by six RBI in his last three games. Last night he tied the game with a sacrifice fly and won it with a single. How many of you were complaining about him then? Or when he hit that homer earlier in the week?

Not many, I presume.

One of the best things manager Terry Collins has done is to not panic when Flores throws one away. Unlike GM Sandy Alderson, who has thrown quite a few verbal daggers at Flores, Collins has stayed the course, which is something I was concerned about before the season started.

“He realizes there’s going to be a day that you’re going to make an error,” Collins told reporters last night. “He’s got to play through that. And I think he’s doing that. You’re starting to see a guy who is going to start swinging the bat like we know he can. He’s going to put up some offensive numbers that people are going to be pretty impressed by.”

In the end, Flores will win more games for the Mets with his bat than he will cost them with his glove.

Sure, I wish he were better defensively, but so does he. Yes, he’s flawed, but he’s not the biggest on a team of flaws.

As a Mets’ fan, I would be less concerned with trying to replace the team’s leading home run hitter, and more concerned with David Wright‘s injury … the bullpen … cracks in the starting rotation … and an overall lack of hitting.

ON DECK: Today’s lineup.