Jun 17

The Mets Rally In Ninth To Beat D-Backs Showing They Have A Pulse

It’s premature to suggest the Mets turned things around, but it isn’t going out on a limb to say that with their last two games in Arizona this is best they have felt about themselves since late April.

On Saturday, Steven Matz pitched brilliantly with his fourth quality start in his last five games. He was helped by Michael Conforto, who drove in four runs with a three-run homer and double, in a 5-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

NIMMO: Delivers again. (SNY)

NIMMO: Delivers again. (SNY)

Today, Zack Wheeler continued his strong pitching, and the offense scored four runs after two outs in the ninth on Brandon Nimmo’s three-run homer and Asdrubal Cabrera’s solo drive.

“It’s been a while,” Nimmo said. “And so for us to get that second win in a row, on a big hit, that’s really good for our positivity going forward, our momentum going forward. Like I said, I don’t know what it means for our future. I hope this team keeps fighting.”

Outside of Nimmo’s homer, the Mets’ biggest hit was a bunt single by Jose Reyes, who then scored on Jose Bautista’s double.

“I just put it down and ran, man,” said Reyes. “It means a lot, because I feel like I contributed today. I contributed to the ballclub. I contributed to this win.”

Unbelievably, Nimmo followed with his homer.

“It felt like a weight had been lifted off us,” said Nimmo, who has arguably been the Mets’ best player this season.

Wheeler certainly thinks so, saying: “It’s a fresh breath of air. We needed that hit and he came through for us at the right time. He’s becoming a very good player for us.”

With the two victories, the Mets are now eight games under .500 as they travel to Colorado to face the Rockies.

Denver has always been a tough place for the Mets to play, but there have been a lot of things trending up for them, notably Nimmo and Conforto, the latter is showing breakout signs.

The starting pitching with Wheeler, Matz and Jacob deGrom has been strong, and the bullpen has been effective over the past two games.

Yeah, it’s been only two games, but streaks start with the smallest steps.

Jun 06

Nothing Wrong With Cabrera’s Decision To Bunt

It wasn’t a bad idea, but like most things with the Mets these days it didn’t work. It was Asdrubal Cabrera’s idea to bunt Brandon Nimmo to second in the eighth.

Like most things with the Mets these days, it was poorly executed.

Cabrera didn’t get the bunt down and lefty reliever Richard Bleier caught the bunt and doubled Nimmo off first to effectively end whatever chance the Mets had of beating Baltimore today.

“I saw the third baseman playing way back and I just tried to put the ball on the line,’’ Cabrera said.

That decision was criticized by some on SNY – not by Keith Hernandez, however – because Cabrera has been the Mets’ most consistent hitter. But, that’s in past tense.

No Met hitter has been remotely hot, or even lukewarm, so I don’t have any problem with Cabrera bunting. He was trying to advance a runner into scoring position, where few Mets have been during this losing streak which stands at six after today’s 1-0 loss to Baltimore, the team with the worst record in the majors.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway had no problem with Cabrera trying to make something for a team that has scored just seven runs during the losing streak, which is now 11 out of the last 13 games.

The Mets, who opened the season at 11-1 is now 27-32 and are facing a stretch until June 24 that they’ll play the Yankees (3 games), Braves (2), Diamondbacks (4), Rockies (4) and Dodgers (3).

That stretch will make-or-break their season.

May 06

Mets Do Right Thing And Will Skip DeGrom

The Mets did two things right during their lost homestand. The first was long overdue when they designated Matt Harvey for assignment Friday. There hasn’t been a hint of remorse or regret from the Mets, or words of being missed by his former teammates.

The second came prior to the Rockies completing their sweep of the Mets today with the announcement – perhaps overdue, but certainly expected – Jacob deGrom will miss tomorrow’s start in Cincinnati.

This came the day after the Mets said he would stay in the rotation.

“The more and more we thought about it, we have to make sure that he’s totally fine,” manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. “He feels no pain and he wanted to pitch tomorrow.”

Coming up from Triple-A Las Vegas to take deGrom’s spot in the rotation against Cincinnati will be P.J. Conlon, who is killing it with a 1-2 record and 6.75 ERA in five starts this season. Last season, at Double-A Binghamton, he was 8-9 with a 3.38 ERA.

DeGrom is 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA in seven starts for the Mets.

“I said I felt like I could go, but I think the bigger picture is what we’re looking at,” deGrom said. “If you go out there and something happens, you end up missing five starts, vs. skipping one and making sure everything is fine. After talking to them, I understand the decision. Erring on the side of caution is what we’re doing.”

DeGrom will throw a 50-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, but will have intermittent rest to simulate real game conditions. Barring a setback, he will throw a bullpen session Friday before his next start.

DeGrom was injured swinging a bat last Wednesday against Atlanta.

 

Aug 20

DeGrom And Cespedes Demonstrate Leadership In Different Ways

As today’s game unraveled for the Mets in the seventh the topic of leadership was brought out by broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez.

Cohen was right to call out Yoenis Cespedes’ lackadaisical approach on Christian Yelichs fly down the line in left. Hernandez was also right in saying Cespedes should have used two hands.

DE GROM: Words spoke louder than pitching. (AP)

       DE GROM: Words spoke louder than pitching. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins, of course, apologized for Cespedes, calling him “as a good a left fielder as there is in the game and he has a Gold Glove to show for it,’’ but the bottom line is if Cespedes hustled he wouldn’t have been put in the position where he had to reach for the ball.

Lack of hustle earlier played a role in the third when Dee Gordon’s shallow pop fly fell in front of Cespedes. Cohen called out Cespedes, saying he doesn’t dive or slide for balls, stemming from when he hurt his right hip in a mid-July game against Colorado.

What Cohen didn’t say is had Cespedes hustled against the Rockies he wouldn’t have had to make an awkward slide that injured his hip.

Cespedes recovered to get Adam Conley on a force play at second. Gordon, however, quickly stole second and scored on Yelich’s single off Wilmer Flores’ glove. Safe to say Conley, the pitcher, wouldn’t have done the same.

The topic turned to the lack of veteran leadership after Cespedes’ error in the seventh. While some players – like David Wright – develop into vocal leaders, I maintain ALL players have leadership potential regardless of their personalities.

Leadership comes from the basic concept of doing your job so your teammates know they can rely on you. That means knowing your responsibility on every play, whether at the plate or in the field. That means hustling on every play, not when the mood strikes. It means running out every grounder.

It means knowing your opponent. It wasn’t an error, but Amed Rosario can’t take his time throwing to first when Gordon is the runner. Leadership also comes from taking accountability, which is what Rosario did.

“I got a little overconfident on that play,’’ Rosario said, referring to his habit of double-pumping before throwing. “I take 100 percent (responsibility). I’m learning from every play. This will teach me not do that in the future.’’

Had Rosario made the play, the Mets could have intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton. Instead, Jacob deGrom was forced to pitch to Stanton, who hit the first pitch for a three-run homer.

A lot was made about Rosario’s play, but deGrom wouldn’t pile on, despite being visibly frustrated and putting him arms up. One could understand if deGrom lost his concentration on the pitch to Stanton.

“I don’t think so,’’ deGrom said, then demonstrated what being a leader is all about when he pointed the finger at himself.

“I can’t show my emotions like that. He plays hard so I don’t think it will happen again. That’s on me, I made a bad pitch. I have to do a better job.’’

DeGrom did what leaders do, which is assume responsibility. He knows that as a pitcher, that regardless of what happens behind him, he’s still responsible for throwing the next pitch. He also recognized nothing can be gained by throwing a rookie under the bus.

DeGrom’s day was done after that pitch, but not the Mets’ poor play. The next batter, Yelich, lifted a lazy fly to left, and after Cespedes’ error, ended up on second where he scored on Marcell Ozunas single.

Cespedes drove in two runs with a homer and double, but gave them back with his poor hustle and defense.

There are 40 games remaining in this lost season and much is made about exposing the young players to how the game is played on the major league level. Today they learned a lesson about leadership from both deGrom and Cespedes.

From deGrom’s words after the game and Cespedes’ actions during it.

 

Aug 03

Rosario Should Be Hitting Leadoff

The early returns on Amed Rosario are good, giving us a positive glimpse into 2018. With the Mets looking toward next season, with his speed shouldn’t Rosario be leading off?

ROSARIO: Hit him leadoff. (AP)

ROSARIO: Hit him leadoff. (AP)

Rosario has proven he can field the position, and his speed gives him the range the Mets haven’t had since Jose Reyes ten years ago. In three games, he already has two triples, going into third standing up both times. Speed can’t be taught. While that’s been impressive, what I like most about him has been his hustle coming out of the box.

I hope that never goes away.

Rosario should bat first with Michael Conforto dropped to third, which is a prime run-producing spot in the order. That’s the way it will be next year, so why not do it now?

The Mets have him batting seventh to alleviate the pressure of leading off.  But, I want him to experience the pressure to see how he handles it. How he deals with the pressures of leading off is something the Mets need to learn. And, he needs to hit first to learn how to handle that spot in the order, which includes being selective, working the count, bunting and stealing.

That’s what they are doing with playing Conforto is playing center field, which is where he’ll play next year assuming Jay Bruce is brought back. Conforto – who is the Mets’ best fundamental hitter – should be hitting third, with Yoenis Cespedes clean-up and Bruce fifth.

Since the Mets are gearing up for 2018, that should also mean Hansel Robles shouldn’t see the ninth inning. Yesterday I wrote how manager Terry Collins should return if he wants. I also wrote my primary criticism of Collins has been how he handles the bullpen, and that was the case in today’s 5-4 loss to the Rockies, on a bases-loaded walk from Robles, his third walk of the inning. He also hit a batter.

Robles seemed to injure his groin in the eighth, but he threw a couple of warm-ups and stayed in to strike out Trevor Story.

Collins had other options besides Robles, who never should have come out for the ninth, and definitely should have been pulled after he hit Jonathan Lucroy with a pitch leading off.

Robles has been a weak link for much of the season, and we won’t see him in the ninth next year, so why did we have to see him today?

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