May 09

Mets Bat Out Of Order; Lose Again

If what happened to the Mets today in Cincinnati isn’t hitting rock bottom, well, it should be. It doesn’t get much worse than a major league team batting order, which is what occurred in the first inning of today’s 2-1 loss in ten innings to the Reds.

The lineup card coach given the umpires prior to the game by coach Ruben Amaro Jr., has Asdrubal Cabrera second and Wilmer Flores third, which was different than the one publicly. That one had Flores second and Cabrera third, which is how they appeared at the plate when Cabrera blooped a two-out double to left with Jay Bruce coming up.

After the double, Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman, informed the umpires of the discrepancy and Bruce was called out.

This should be double-checked by the bench coach, Gary Disarcina, but Callaway wouldn’t throw his coach under the bus.

“I’m responsible for that,’’ Callaway said. “It probably cost us the game.’’

Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, but stuff like this shouldn’t happen.

However, to Callaway’s credit, he got in front of it and accepted full responsibility. Rather than make excuses or blame somebody else, Callaway held himself accountable.

I’m sure nobody is happy with what’s going on with the Mets these days, but how Callaway took the blame is something that shouldn’t get lost on his team.

Wheeler Clicks With Mesoraco: Zack Wheeler and newly-acquired catcher Devin Mesoraco are off to a good start in their working relationship. With Mesoraco, who was acquired Monday for Matt Harvey, behind the plate today, Wheeler was sharp in a loss to Cincinnati.

Wheeler retired 12 straight Reds from the second through fifth innings but unraveled in the sixth. Even so, after giving up an RBI single to Joey Votto, Wheeler got out of a bases-loaded jam with only that one run given up.

Wheeler gave up one run on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in six innings in his best outing since giving up one run in seven innings, April 11, at Miami.

“I felt good,’’ Wheeler said. “I was able to hit my spots today. I did feel like I was moving a little bit quicker. I felt comfortable with him behind the plate. We were both on the same page.’’

Callaway Not Giving Up On Hitters: The Mets had a chance to win today not because of their offense, but because of Wheeler, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo pitching picked them up today.

“Our hitters will come around,” Callaway said. “We did and dig and dig, but sometimes you don’t have an answer. We’ll figure it out.”

With the exception of Cabrera’s .319 average, no Mets starter was hitting higher than Brandon Nimmo’s .255 today. Even so, Callaway is trying to be positive.

“If I were to get angry and yell at people it wouldn’t be productive,’’ Callaway said. “I think the guys have been going about things the right way and we haven’t been winning.’’

Extra Innings: Yoenis Cespedes didn’t start, but grounded out batting for Seth Lugo in the tenth. … The Mets are off tomorrow, then start a three-game series in Philadelphia. The Mets are 40-17 in their last 57 games in Philly, and have outscored the Phillies 307-186 in that span.

May 08

Mets Get Catcher For Harvey

The Mets did better than anybody expected today when they acquired catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash for Matt Harvey, who had been designated for assignment Saturday.

Catching has been a Mets’ weakness since injuries to Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud landed each on the disabled list. Mesoraco was activated for tonight’s game in Cincinnati.

The Reds will pay the remainder of Mesoraco’s $13.125 million salary and the Mets will pay the balance of Harvey’s $5.625 million contract.

Harvey will join the Reds this week in Los Angeles.

Immediate speculation, which makes a lot of sense considering Harvey will be a free agent this winter, is for the Reds to hope they can turn him around and try to trade him at the July 31 deadline. The Reds are in last place in the NL Central and it’s clear they won’t sign Harvey this offseason.

Mesoraco, 29, an All-Star in 2014, was hitting .220 with one homer and three RBI for the Reds this season. Injuries limited him to 113 games since the start of the 2015 season.

The Mets had no alternative but to DFA Harvey after he refused a minor league assignment to figure out his mechanics. In eight games, he was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA this season. Harvey was 34-37 lifetime for the Mets.

The only thing wrong with trading Harvey is that the Mets didn’t do it sooner, like after the 2015 season when he had some real value.

DeGrom Aces Bullpen: Jacob deGrom had a good up-and-down bullpen session today and is on schedule to start Sunday in Philadelphia. DeGrom hyperextended his right elbow swinging the bat last Wednesday against Atlanta.

“I feel like I am good to go,’’ deGrom said.

DeGrom is not expected to bat against the Phillies.

Frazier Goes On DL: Third baseman Todd Frazier was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Frazier is batting .237 with five homers and 21 RBI. In addition, reliever Anthony Swarzak was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Nov 01

What History Will Be Written Tonight?

Home runs and extra-inning games don’t necessarily define a great World Series. Those things, plus a tight and compelling Game 7 – which could also have aces Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel working out of the bullpen – could lift the 2017 World Series into the category of classic.

Sometime after midnight, and probably for the sixth time during this Series after the sixth inning, MLB will have a new champion, and the 39th crowned after a Game 7.

“This is the biggest stage, the best stage, an opportunity to win the World Series in Game 7,’’ said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.

Hinch’s ace, Justin Verlander, the loser in Game 6 who could be available for a batter or two tonight, said Game 7 was inevitable.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, said the same: “It seems fitting. You’ve got the two best teams in baseball going head to head. Like we’ve talked about from the beginning, these two teams mirror one another. And the compete and fight in both teams is the most important thing I see as similarities.’’

The Dodgers won 104 games this season, while the Astros won 101 games. It is the first time since 1970 – Orioles vs. Reds – that both teams won over 100 games.

This World Series has had just about everything. Outstanding pitching and explosive offense. It has had great defense and crappy defense. It has had stars, both on the field and in the stands – although a few less shots of celebrities would be nice.

There’s been so much to like about this Series. The one thing it hasn’t had is former Mets start Carlos Beltran delivering in the clutch.

Maybe we’ll get that tonight.

Apr 10

Bruce Red Hot; Value Enhanced

How can you not feel good for Jay Bruce? Booed by when he floundered last year following the trade that brought him from Cincinnati and into a pennant race, and whom GM Sandy Alderson desperately wanted to trade over the winter, has emerged as the Mets’ hottest hitter.

And, it isn’t close.

BRUCE: Sizzling (AP)

BRUCE: Sizzling (AP)

It started with three walks on Opening Day and continued Monday night in Philadelphia with a pair of homers in a 4-3 victory over the Phillies.

Bruce hit a solo drive off Phillies starter Jared Eickhoff to pull the Mets within 2-1 in the fourth, then put them ahead with a two-run drive off his image on the video board against reliever Joely Rodriguez.

“I think it is an approach,” was how Bruce explained his hot start to reporters. “I concentrate on being ready. Every day, I go into the game looking for the right pitches and taking a good swing.”

Bruce insisted he wasn’t daunted by the pressures of playing in New York when he struggled last summer, and that he didn’t want to leave his new team.

And, Alderson shouldn’t be in any hurry to deal Bruce, even if those teams that played hardball with him over the winter start calling him now.

It’s early, but Bruce leads the Mets with four homers and six RBI, and overall, they aren’t hitting, and in each of the last two seasons, they went into lengthy hitting droughts in the second half.

Quite simply, there will be a time this summer when the Mets have to count on Bruce carrying them the way he did the Reds for so many years.

Bruce, who has had 30-plus homers in four of his last six years, was moved to the clean-up slot to replace Curtis Granderson, and will likely remain there in the foreseeable future as the latter struggles.

Bruce, 30 is making $13.1 million this year, while the 36-year old Granderson is pulling in $15 million, which could give him a greater long-term value to the Mets.

Granderson has more of an immediate value to the Mets because he can play center field. However, that shouldn’t last too long because Juan Lagares will be coming off the disabled list shortly, at which time Michael Conforto will be shipped to Triple-A Las Vegas.

The Mets will need Bruce this year, and likely they’ll need him next year. I can’t see the Mets bringing back both Bruce and Granderson. If they don’t bring back either, having just Lagares and Conforto next season to complement Yoenis Cespedes probably won’t be good enough and the Mets could go shopping again in July.

Meanwhile, at 37 next season, the Mets could lowball Granderson and bring him back for less in 2018. However, they couldn’t pull that off with Bruce because after a good year, his free-agent market value would he higher than Granderson’s.

 

Dec 28

Top Six Mets’ Storylines For 2016

The season didn’t turn out the way for the Mets the way many hoped. Too many injuries and too few hits with runners in scoring position will do that to a team. There were numerous storylines from this summer, but I’ve narrowed it down to five. I’m sure you have others, but these are mine:

SYNDERGAARD: Pitched big in WC Game. (FOX)

SYNDERGAARD: Pitched big in WC Game. (FOX)

Mets lose wild-card heartbreaker: San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner and the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard were brilliant in one of the most well-pitched games in Wild-Card history. Syndergaard threw seven scoreless and Bumgarner went nine in the Giants’ 3-0 victory won by Conor Gillaspie three-run homer in the ninth.

The loss prevented a playoff rematch between the Mets and Cubs, and of course, kept them from returning to the World Series.

Injuries derail rotation: The highly-anticipated return of Zack Wheeler to the rotation in July and switch of Bartolo Colon to the bullpen never materialized. One by one they went down until three more went down with surgery: Matt Harvey (shoulder), Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz (elbows).

Syndergaard was also hindered with an elbow spur. Injuries always produce opportunities, and this time Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman took advantage.

Piazza enters Hall of Fame: Catcher Mike Piazza was clearly the summer’s feel-good moment with his induction into the Hall of Fame. While there have been many players with links to the Mets that are in Cooperstown, Piazza and Tom Seaver are the only ones who went in as Mets.

Wright’s back limits him to 38 games: For the second straight summer, David Wright’s injured back scuttled his season that put his career in jeopardy.

Wright is progressing on schedule, but we’ll not know about him until spring training.

Cespedes and Walker power offense: Bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and signing Neil Walker were the Mets’ two biggest off-season moves last winter, and together they combined for over 50 homers.

The Mets will bring both back for next year (Cespedes is signed for four years), which just about completes their off-season shopping.

Mets trade for Bruce: With injuries sapping the Mets’ offense – including those to Cespedes and Walker – GM Sandy Alderson pulled the trigger and traded for Reds outfielder Jay Bruce.

Bruce struggled for most of the second half, but finished with a strong ten-day to close the season. Alderson made a big thing of having Bruce as insurance if they couldn’t bring back Cespedes, and if they could they would deal him.

Well, they signed Cespedes to a four-year, $110-million package, then turned around to find no interest in Bruce and might not be able to deal him until spring training, if at all.