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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Aug 02

Mets Wrap: Rosario’s Misplay In Ninth Spoils Debut

All eyes were on Amed Rosario, whose Major League debut had mixed reviews tonight in Denver. The future of the Mets singled in four at-bats, but the game came down to his misplay of DJ LeMahieu’s hard grounder.

With Charlie Blackmon on first, LeMahieu grounded a ball to shortstop. Rosario took a quick step toward the bag, then broke back to his right. The ball deflected off his glove, but the Rockies had two runners on with no outs, and Nolan Arenado followed with a single to center to give Colorado a 5-4 victory.

ROSARIO and WALKER: Veteran schools rookie. (SNY)

ROSARIO and WALKER: Veteran schools rookie. (SNY)

Manager Terry Collins refused to throw Rosario under the bus, saying he didn’t know who was supposed to cover the bag, that Rosario and second baseman Neil Walker would decide before the pitch who was to cover the base.

However, basic fundamentals with a right-handed hitter at the plate dictate the second baseman cover the bag, but the only problem was Walker wasn’t close to the base.

After the game, both Walker and Jay Bruce met with Rosario to tell him to shake it off.

“It really means a lot,’’ Rosario said through a translator. “I’ve already shaken it off. I’ll come in tomorrow with a fresh mindset.’’

Collins said Rosario handled himself well the entire game, and didn’t hang his head.

“If you get caught, you get caught,’’ Collins said. “He’ll be fine. He shouldn’t be upset about not making the play. I thought he handled himself well. He’ll be fine.’’

Rosario collected his first major league hit in the eighth, just beating shortstop Trevor Story‘s throw wide of first. The play could’ve been scored an error, as a good throw would have gotten Rosario.

BRUCE KEEPS SLUGGING: They say there wasn’t a market for corner outfielders, but do you mean to say there wasn’t one AL contender that couldn’t have used Bruce as a DH?

Bruce hit his 28th homer tonight to temporarily give the Mets a 4-3 lead in the eighth. Don’t forget the home team gets to bat, too, and against that bullpen.

“Jay Bruce is a good player,’’ Collins said. “He comes to play every day. People just don’t give him enough credit.’’

GM Sandy Alderson is still trying to make a waiver deal for Bruce, but if the Mets are to contend as he hopes next season they’ll need to replace his power.

Bruce also had a RBI double.

MATZ LOSES IT QUICKLY: Steven Matz flirted with a no-hitter through four innings, pitched shutout ball after five, but four batters into the sixth was out of the game and losing after giving up a three-run homer to Arenado.

Matz said he threw the ball better tonight, but fell back into some bad habits in the sixth.

 

Aug 01

Today’s Question: Will Matz Snap Out Of It?

While all eyes will be on Amed Rosario tonight – and rightfully so – don’t forget to sneak a peak at Steven Matz. The Mets say they are a little concerned with Matz, who has a staggering 14.18 ERA over his last four starts and hasn’t worked longer than five innings in any of them. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span. Can he snap out of it tonight against the powerful Rockies in their launching pad of a stadium in Coors Field.

There are a half-dozen other teams Matz would rather face, and in just as many ballparks.

MATZ:  Something isn't right. (AP)

MATZ: Something isn’t right. (AP)

Matz pitched most of last season with a bone spur in his left elbow, and after four months went on the DL for the rest of the year with shoulder tightness, presumably from altering his mechanics as compensation. He spent the first two months of this year on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

It’s highly plausible the Mets pushed him last season or this year and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball. Matz is throwing hard, but of the three velocity isn’t as important and location and movement. Instead of sinking or tailing away, Matz’s pitches stay over the middle of the plate, making it easier for them to be hit – or crushed.

“You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut,” Collins said. “We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz said if feels good, but didn’t we hear the same refrain from Matt Harvey, or Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler?

Should Matz get shelled tonight, it would be easy to blame Coors Field and the Rockies. It would also be foolish.

Jul 27

Interest In Mets’ Assets As Trade Deadline Nears

Once again, the Mets haven’t been able to trade Jay Bruce, and that could turn out to be a good thing. Bruce’s year suggest he could bring a lot in return, and even he said the “Mets would be crazy,’’ not to trade him. That could help the Mets in the long run if they are able to re-sign him in the offseason.

Reportedly, Colorado had interest in both him and Addison Reed, but they likely won’t move on the latter after acquiring All-Star closer Pat Neshek from the Phillies for three prospects.

BRUCE: Little interest. (AP)

BRUCE: Little interest. (AP)

Perhaps the Rockies won’t be able to meet whatever the Mets are asking for after what they paid in prospects for Neshek. The Mets say they believe they will be able to compete next season, so that means they prefer players who are major league ready. However, the Rockies, who would be in the wild-card if the season ended today, won’t want to weaken their current 25-man roster by trading multiple players for Bruce.

From his perspective, Bruce, who has 25 homers, knows he could be an asset to a team, and recently told Newsday, “I feel like this is the most consistent I’ve been, which is huge. I pride myself on playing every single day, preparing, being ready to go, being the guy you can count on to post, and being a quality piece to a winning team. Individually this year, so far I’ve done that.’’

Bruce, a free agent this offseason, will make $5 million over the balance of this year. That, plus a player, could make for an expensive rental. It also must be remembered that Bruce’s production must be replaced if the Mets are to be competitive in 2018.

Whether the money goes to Bruce or his replacement, it should cost more than the $13 million he is getting this year.

Not surprisingly, Reed has drawn the most interest as closers always generate a premium. The Mets have also received calls about Reed from Milwaukee, the Dodgers and Boston.

Reed will also be a free agent this winter, and with how well he’s replaced Jeurys Familia, will likely command a contract in excess of the $7.75 million he’s making this year. The Mets are hoping Familia, who is making $7.425 million this offseason, will rebound from surgery to remove a blood clot in his shoulder, and won’t want to spend over a combined $15 million for the back end of their bullpen.

Of course, if they expect to contend, they’ll need to replace Reed, and there’s no guarantee Familia will return to his 40-save form.

In addition to Reed, Boston inquired into Asdrubal Cabrera, because they are unsold on 20-year-old prospect Rafael Devers at third base. T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores are also on Boston’s radar.

Also, calling the Mets are the Chicago Cubs, who are asking about Seth Lugo and catcher Rene Rivera.

Lugo is 5-2 with a 4.10 ERA in eight starts, with the last three being defined as quality starts [at least three runs in six innings or more]. Lugo came up in the second half last year to help the Mets get into the playoffs.

He entered spring training this season as depth for the Mets’ “young and vaunted rotation,’’ but started the year on the disabled list after being injured in the World Baseball Classic.

However, considering Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman currently on the disabled list, and Steven Matz pitching poorly, the Mets shouldn’t be all that eager to deal Lugo.

The Cubs’ interest in Rivera stems from cutting ties with Miguel Montero in early July.

There has been no reported no to little interest in first baseman Lucas Duda, outfielder Curtis Granderson and infielder Jose Reyes.

The Mets hope things could change between now and Monday.

 

Jul 15

Mets Wrap: Bruce Proves His Worth

Jay Bruce continues to show why the Mets should, and shouldn’t, trade him. Bruce’s three-run, first-inning homer, to center was the catalyst in tonight’s 9-3 mauling of the Rockies.

It’s been only two games against a struggling team, so let’s not go overboard on the Mets so far in the second half. That includes rushing to trade the Mets’ most productive hitter, whose 24th homer puts him on pace for 44 homers and 114 RBI.

BRUCE: Most valuable Met. (AP)

BRUCE: Most valuable Met. (AP)

That makes the 30-year outfielder attractive not only to a contender in search of a bat, but also to the Mets in the future as a complement to Yoenis Cespedes, but also a safety net should his injury problems persist.

Quite simply, if the Mets will be contenders next season as they believe, they’ll need to either bring back Bruce or replace his production which won’t come cheap.

Bruce will make $13.1-million this season and will be a free-agent this winter in the off-season, and I’m guessing could be re-signed for $80-million over four years. He’ll draw interest in the trade market, but his contract has a limited no-trade clause that blocks deals to contenders Arizona, Boston, Cleveland, Minnesota, the Yankees and Tampa Bay, and also-rans Miami and Oakland.

The Mets could offer Bruce a one-year qualifying offer, which would either keep him around for another season or net them a draft pick.

LUGO DOES IT ALL: Seth Lugo had one of those Little League games tonight, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings with five strikeouts, and also hitting a home run in the third.

Got a huge laugh when Lugo returned to the dugout to receive the silent treatment. Lugo took it all in stride, including giving air high-fives.

With Jacob deGrom going eight innings Friday and with Lugo’s effort, the Mets’ bullpen has worked just 3.1 innings in the series.

“He got ahead of hitters, changed speeds and kept the ball out of the middle of the plate,’’ was how Collins explained Lugo’s success.

CESPEDES LEAVES GAME: Cespedes left the game in the sixth inning when he jammed his left hip attempting to make a diving catch.

“It was more precautionary than anything,’’ manager Terry Collins said when asked his reasoning for taking Cespedes out of the game. “He felt something in his hip. I doubt he’ll be in there tomorrow.’’

Cespedes said through an interpreter that he left the game because of the score, and believes he’ll be able to play, “but if they want to give me the day off I’ll gladly take it.’’

CARGO DROPOFF: Do you remember when the Mets, before acquiring Cespedes, were interested in Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez? He’s fallen on hard times lately, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts tonight to see his average drop to .215.

EXTRA INNINGS: Lucas Duda, who like Bruce, will be on the block once the Mets officially put up the “For Sale,’’ sign, drove in two runs with a double. … Mets’ hitters struck out nine times, including four by Michael Conforto.Jose Reyes stayed hot with two hits, including his ninth homer in the eighth.