Jul 15

Frazier Not Coming

Sure it would be a great story. But, I hate to rain on your parade, but Todd Frazier’s recent visit to Citi Field will be his only one this year. There’s no way the Mets will trade for Cincinnati’s All-Star third baseman.

Not happening, and for the same reasons we’ve always known. The Mets won’t trade their young stud pitchers, and without them there’s not enough chips to offer.

If the Reds were smart they’d sign him long-term, but let’s assume they aren’t and Frazier enters the free-agent market after the 2016 season. Well, he’ll be one of those guys who could break the bank. And, if the Mets live up to their reputation, they won’t be writing any checks.

Frazier, at 29, is having a marvelous season, and with David Wright, 32, having played at least 150 games only twice since 2008, he would be a terrific addition. Trouble is, a lot of other teams would think the same thing.

 

Jul 02

Collins Will Take Hit From Failures By Alderson And Ownership

The Mets’ Terry Collins isn’t a great manager, but far from a terrible one. The hitting slump continued today as the Mets scored only one run in being swept by the Chicago Cubs, which erased any positive thoughts garnered from sweeping the Reds.

April’s 11-game winning streak is forgotten; archived in Mets’ trivia.

ALDERSON: His manager is on the hot seat. (AP)

ALDERSON: His manager is on the hot seat. (AP)

With the Mets not hitting, there was nothing Jacob deGrom could do, although he was lucky he didn’t break his hand or a couple of fingers when he punched out a water cooler. That would have been typical Mets, wouldn’t it?

Collins told reporters after the game, “we have to lighten up a bit. … More guys fail in this game from fear than they do a lack of talent.”

Although Collins remains supportive of his team – and his players generally play hard for him – radio talk shows roast him on a regular basis, and stories are percolating about his future. One writer I greatly respect, Newsday’s David Lennon, did so in Thursday’s editions, and nailed it when he said pressure on Collins is “not fair, or right … but it’s reality.’’

Also reality is Collins isn’t getting help from ownership or general manager Sandy Alderson, who said in his book – that proclaimed him as the game’s smartest general manager – he didn’t have any confidence in his manager.

Nice, huh? What a way to instill confidence in your team. You say stuff like that when the manager is not under your employ. Do you think that didn’t go unnoticed by the players? It will certainly be brought up when the ax falls on Collins.

The Mets, a team whose rotation was largely put together by former general manager Omar Minaya, is good enough to win most games with even a little support. They haven’t gotten much, if any, this year. Of their 40 losses, 21 have been by two or fewer runs. They have been shut out nine times; and 29 times (including wins) scored two or fewer runs.

Yeah, that’s Collins’ fault.

Shouldn’t we instead dish blame on the Wilpons for not allowing for a budget needed to acquire a top-drawer hitter? Especially considering they received positive nods in the courts – not to mention a $167 million windfall – in the Madoff case.

Or, how about Alderson, whose only offensive acquisition of quality, was the project Curtis Granderson? The Mets have also had a long line of hitting coaches – they haven’t had a collective clue at the plate since firing Rick Down – with Kevin Long the latest not to reach them.

Yes, the Mets have had injuries, but all teams do. Washington has arguably been hit harder.

Ultimately it comes down to the players.

Collins can’t hit for his players, and as hard as he tries to pound fundamentals into them, it just hasn’t sunk in. Too many strikeouts, not enough walks, not enough situational hitting, and too many wasted at-bats.

The Mets’ team batting average is a league-low .232 by nine points. They have a paltry .297 on-base percentage. I don’t need any of the new sexy stats to tell me how badly they’ve hit. I see it with my own eyes.

Including today, they’ve scored 277 runs (3.4 a game). The Mets have also struck out 620 times (7.7).

No worries, things should be better when the Mets go into Los Angeles and face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Then, it’s on to San Francisco where they get Chris Heston, who threw a no-hitter at them at Citi Field, and Matt Cain.

By that time, they could be four games under .500, maybe more, heading into the All-Star break. Perhaps by then Alderson would make a trade or two, only as a seller and not a buyer.

Collins will eventually take the fall for Alderson’s inability to put a representative team on the field. Alderson wasn’t able to fill the void created by Wright’s injury. For years now, Alderson failed to bring in any quality hitters – or even one.

Instead, Alderson has worked on his comedy routine – several times at the expense of Wilmer Flores – with his latest quip calling the media and fans “residents of Panic City.’’

Of course, the condescending Alderson was telling us we’re not as smart as him. Sandy, I might not be able to build a watch, but I can tell time.

And, what you’re doing isn’t working.

If Collins goes, you should, also.

Jun 28

Matz Makes It All Right For One Day

Quality start doesn’t even begin to describe what Steven Matz gave the Mets today at Citi Field in his major league debut. His pitching, power and poise highlighted a 7-2 victory over Cincinnati. He also broke up a double play and started one after fielding a hard comebacker to the mound.

“He was as good as advertised,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He was ready for this. It was time. … He was ready to show he belonged.’’

MATZ: Shines in debut. (AP)

MATZ: Shines in debut. (AP)

Matz was making his major league debut five years removed from Tommy John surgery; after the Mets toyed with the decision to bring him up; and, after more than a three-hour delay so the Mets could finish a 2-1 victory over the Reds in a completion of suspension game.

“The more time I had, the more the anxiety went away,’’ said Matz, a sign of his composure.

His composure also surfaced when his first pitch of the game was something out of “Bull Durham,’’ a fastball to the backstop. On his fifth pitch, Tony Phillips hit a replay-reviewed homer.

Matz set the Reds down in order in the second and then, using Las Vegas teammate Matt Reynolds’ bat, ripped a two-run double. He would later hit a hit-and-run single and two-run single.

All the while, he toyed with the Reds on the mound, giving up two runs – Todd Frazier also hit a solo homer – on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 7.2 innings.

Matz went further in his debut than Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler went in theirs.

While Harvey grew up rooting for the Yankees, Matz’s childhood passion growing up on Long Island was the Mets and spent many nights at Shea Stadium. Of course, the Mets want to play on that emotional attachment and as the team struggled through the past month there was a growing groundswell for his promotion. And, for the Mets, it was to attract more than the 130 family and friend he could sometimes hear from the stands.

There’s speculation the Mets promoted Matz to divert frustrated their fan base from their recent plunge in the NL East standings and a woeful offensive slide. That’s for another day, as this one was to enjoy a glimpse into a promising future.

However, while it was gray at Citi Field, there was a glimmer of sunlight, and he wore No. 32.

Oct 21

This Series Could Be Special

For as long as I have loved baseball, first as a Little Leaguer with an active imagination, and then as a journalist covering the game I was not good enough to play on the major league level, the World Series always held a special place for me.

I remember bits and pieces of the 1969 Series, but confess I was shocked like most of the country. I admit to playing hooky from school to watch the 1970 Series, but maybe it served me right because I pulled for the Reds.

searchMy favorite Series was the 1975 Red Sox-Reds. Although disappointed in the outcome, it was compelling because of it went seven and Game Six was arguably the best game in history. There was Bernie Carbo’s game-tying homer; Carlton Fisk’s game-winner; and Dwight Evans’ game saving catch.

One of the great stories coming from that Series was Pete Rose telling Fisk something along the lines of, “this is a great game, isn’t it?’’

Next up was Twins-Braves with the classic Jack Morris-John Smoltz Game 7. If not the Fisk game, maybe this was history’s best.

I covered all the Yankees’ titles under Joe Torre, but the most dramatic of them was one they lost, in 2001, to Arizona. Go figure, perhaps the worst throw of Mariano Rivera’s career was after fielding that bunt in the ninth inning of Game 7.

A lot of historic homers were hit in that Series, but my favorite moments the fans chanting Paul O’Neill’s name; the bald eagle Challenger scattering the Yankees before the anthem; and George Bush throwing a ceremonial pitch perfect strike.

Each Series has its defining moment or story line, and I can only imagine what it will be this year.

Some match-ups are more compelling than others, but Giants-Royals – regardless of what ESPN says – will be a Series worthy of our attention. There was actually a Sports Center lead-in actually daring to ask if these teams “deserved,’’ to be there.

The fact is, baseball itself bears responsibility for the appearance of an “unworthy’’ match-up because it tampers with the integrity of its season with interleague play and the unbalanced schedule forcing teams to run different courses to the finish line.

However, these teams, based on being a wild-card entry, each played an additional game. They took on all comers – each having to beat the team with the best record in their league.

They also play the game the way it should be, with pitching, defense, timely hitting and solid bullpens. Both can also hit the long ball when needed, but neither survive by the homer, which is refreshing.

I believe this one has the capability of going seven, which defines “classic,’’ to me. Both teams have reason to believe they can be considered a team of destiny.

I can’t wait to find out which one.

Dec 10

Hot Stove Update: Angels Deal Trumbo, Twins Closing In On Arroyo

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox

Brett Anderson to the Rockies

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Rockies are acquiring Anderson from the A’s in return for left-hander Drew Pomeranz and right-hander Chris Jensen. The A’s had a glut of starting pitchers and it was clear Anderson would be the one to go.

I always though the A’s would get more for Anderson. Not too sure they accomplished anything more than moving some salary. ($8 million)

REDS

Twins Definitely Still In On Arroyo, Mets and Reds Interested

Talks between the Minnesota Twins and the agent for Bronson Arroyo are reportedly intensifying according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The Twins were bent on revamping their rotation this offseason and have already signed free agents Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. They are definitely still in, writes LaVelle E. Neal.

Walt Jocketty of the Reds told reporters that he met with Arroyo’s agent, Terry Bross, today. Arroyo is reportedly looking for a three-year deal and while the Mets have said they are interested, they also said yesterday that they are not looking to sign any pitcher to multiple year deals. They have yet to meet with Arroyo.

Arroyo, 37, is one of the most consistent pitchers in the game and wasn’t given a one-year qualifying offer by the Cincinnati Reds, which adds to his appeal. He has tossed 200 or more innings for eight straight seasons and last year he posted a 3.79 ERA in hitter friendly Great American.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels

D’Backs Get Trumbo, Angels Get Steal

The Diamondbacks have acquired slugger Mark Trumbo from the Angels in a three-team deal with the White Sox, first reported by Jon Heyman.

The Angels would send Trumbo and two players to be named later to Arizona, while centerfielder Adam Eaton goes to Chicago, and pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago land in Anaheim.

I’ve got to say that I love this from the Angels’ perspective.

Trumbo, 27, is coming off a .234/.294/.453 season and while he did hit 34 home runs in 2013, his other metrics point to a decline and defensively he’s below average no matter where he plays.

Skaggs is very highly regarded prospect. The 22-year-old lefty has produced a 3.34 ERA in 87 minor league starts and was a 40th-overall pick of the 2009 draft. Coming into this season, he was ranked as the 9th best prospect by Jonathan Mayo.

Santiago, 25, is a nice catch too. In parts of three big-league seasons, he a 3.41 ERA in 27 starts and a 51 relief appearances.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

Mets Won’t Go More Than Two Years On Drew

According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox are planning to wait the market out to see what develops for Stephen Drew before considering a definitive offer for the shortstop, reports WEEI. There is some thought throughout baseball that Drew’s market might be limited due to the fact that any team — other than the Red Sox — would be required to surrender a draft pick.

The Mets have long been tied to the 31-year-old shortstop, but for now will stay on the sidelines unless they are able to clear more payroll flexibility by unloading Ike Davis or Daniel Murphy or both. Sandy ratcheted down expectations that the team would make another big splash like Granderson. But MMO’s John Delcos reports that if the price is right Sandy will pounce.Apparently that right price would be no more than a two year deal according to Mets beat writers.

corey hart

Brewers Say They Gotta have Hart

Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel spoke with Corey Hart’s agent, Jeff Berry, who told him that the Brewers have made Hart “a priority” in terms of trying to re-sign the slugging first baseman. At the same time, Berry made it clear there is interest from many teams.

“There’s a tremendous relationship between Corey and the Milwaukee Brewers,” said Berry, who is attending baseball’s winter meetings. “He was their longest-tenured player. It’s a tremendous organization with tremendous people that Corey and his family have grown up with.”

“That said, there has to be a fit for both sides. We’re certainly open to doing that. The Brewers, as always have been very communicative. They have made Corey a priority. We’ll see how it all plays out. We will meet with all the (interested) teams. There’s interest in Corey from many teams.”

It’s well documented that Hart’s preference is to stay with the Brewers and he offered to take less money for a deal with them.

Though Hart missed the entire 2013 season after undergoing surgeries on both knees, Berry said he is healthy now and ready to play. How much concern there is from the Brewers or other teams about his knees going forward will determine what kinds of deals are offered.

Last week, a source told MMO that the New York Mets had not contacted Hart or made any offer to the former Brewers first baseman after several rumors surfaced hat the Mets were very interested.

“There’s been a few teams, but the Mets are not one of them.”

The 31-year old slugger also admitted that he has lost 20 pounds while rehabbing his knees and believes that bodes well for a return to the outfield.

Over his previous three seasons entering his lost 2013 campaign, Hart has hit .280 with an .857 OPS and has averaged 30 homers. Hart’s versatility will certainly be a big part of his appeal in addition to his righthanded power.

mmo