Aug 23

Things Falling Into Place For Mets

Maybe there are omens, if you believe in such things, but there is so much to like about what’s happening for the Mets, and it could be personified by Logan Verrett. Not only did the Mets get five innings from Verrett in his start for Matt Harvey, but got eight strong – with eight strikes in today’s series clinching win over the Rockies.

Things don’t often fall into place the way did for the Mets today. After a rocky first inning Verrett settled down to where you thought you were actually seeing Harvey. Funny line from Verrett, telling Harvey, “I don’t know why everybody is freaking out because everybody knows I’m a better pitcher than you.”

Not only did the Mets rest Harvey, but got a victory and their first sweep of the Rockies in Coors Field. For one day at least, Verrett made us believe this innings-saving program with Harvey might just work after all.

Conventional wisdom had the Mets sending down Verrett to Triple-A Las Vegas after the game, but he was so impressive the Mets optioned out left reliever Dario Alvarez instead. Verrett also gives manager Terry Collins a reliable choice should he need to rest Harvey again or Noah Syndergaard. As a manager, you don’t want to do a lot of searching in September.

The Mets’ bullpen – evidenced by the first two games of the Colorado series – has been shaky lately, but Verrett can offer stability.

There were other season-falling-into-place signs for the Mets this week.

All right, I thought they dragged their feet placing Lucas Duda on the disabled list, but they appear to be surviving his absence. Daniel Murphy, who supposedly can’t play defense, started a key double play. Speaking of defense, Wilmer Flores – with tears out of his eyes – is showing he can play shortstop when he has to. He saved a run, today.

And, the more I see him, the more I like Yoenis Cespedes. He made two scintillating plays in center field that undoubtedly saved a few runs. Since the Mets got him their offense has transformed into something to be feared.

I didn’t think GM Sandy Alderson had it in him, but getting Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Tyler Clippard jumpstarted this team.

Once struggling for runs, the Mets are scoring at a rate where the pressure was lessened on Michael Conforto, and will be for David Wright when he’s activated from the disabled list Monday in Philadelphia. The Mets need Wright to be Wright, but with the way the Mets are hitting – thanks in large part to Cespedes – they can ease him back. The last thing the Mets want is for Wright to force things, and if the offense keeps producing it makes things easier for Wright.

And, with Uribe, they have a reliable option at third. Uribe, with the Latin pitchers, can be a calming influence. He was today with Hansel Robles.

The Mets are a season-high 11 games over .500 as they go to Philadelphia. However, these Phillies are a different bunch than the team the Mets have beaten up on this year.

The Mets have pitched well all season, recently started to hit and their defense is better. If Verrett can stabilize the bullpen when he’s not pitching eight strong, then the Mets could be doing more than playing meaningful games in September.

They could be playing meaningful games in October, and wouldn’t that be sweet.


Aug 12

Contend And They Will Come?

For years we heard complaints as long as the Wilpons put out a mediocre product on the field there was no reason for fans to come out to Citi Field. In fact, there were pockets of protesters calling for boycotts of the Mets because the Wilpons weren’t putting out a representative team on the field.

Well, the Mets are winning – with Jacob deGrom‘s shutout of the Rockies tonight they are now ten games over .500 – but they aren’t coming. I’m not here to sell tickets for the Mets, but c’mon people, deGrom shuts out the Rockies tonight and Matt Harvey shut them out last night, but where’s the love?

Only 27,000 tonight and 25,000 last night isn’t much. Actually, for a first-place team it is barely anything. While attendance usually spikes the year after a team wins, there are plenty of tickets available. Your team is playing winning, exciting baseball; it is in first place; it’s summer in New York; and the selection of your seats figure to be better now then next year at this time.

The complaints for not supporting the Mets previously were fair, but fair is fair. Although they took their time doing so, the Mets did make several moves to improve themselves. Yes, there have been a limited amount of home games, and the Rockies aren’t the greatest draw, and hopefully the last two nights have been an aberration, but your ball club is in a pennant race and it is the best time to be a fan of the Mets.

You demanded, and rightfully so, of the Wilpons to put up or shut up. Well, now it’s time to support your team at the ball park. It’s a fun team to watch and they deserve it.



Jul 28

Pointless Second Guessing Begins After Tulowitzki-Reyes Trade

In the wake of the Troy Tulowitzki-Jose Reyes deal comes the predictable second-guessing on why the Mets weren’t active for either. Reportedly, they asked about Tulowitzki, but we’ve been hearing that for years. Maybe the Rockies didn’t call the Mets for a last chance to make a deal simply because they knew they wouldn’t bite.

And, they shouldn’t have. And, they shouldn’t have gone after Reyes, either.

REYES: Reunion would have been bad idea. (AP)

REYES: Reunion would have been bad idea. (AP)

They were smart to pass on both and for similar reasons, primarily health and financial. Both have injury histories in recent years and the Mets already have a $20-million-a-year player who is breaking down in David Wright.

For a rebuilding team, why add another?

Nobody knows what prospects the Mets dangled, but they were wise not to spend their blue-chip pitchers. With the prime prospects off the table, it boiled down to lower-tier prospects and perhaps the Rockies liked what the Blue Jays offered over what the Mets were willing to spend. When it comes to prospects, it’s all subjective.

I know Mets fans are enamored with both players, and either would have been a good fit four or five years ago. Times change. Either player, healthy and in their prime, would have been terrific, but the Mets weren’t willing to pay the price. And, both are health risks and Reyes is past his prime.

Tulowitzki is having an All-Star season, but I keep waiting for the release he’s going back on the DL. He’s 30, but hasn’t played in as many as 150 games since 2009.

As for Reyes, there were a multitude of reasons why the Mets let him walk after the 2011 season: 1) it was a choice between him or Wright as to whom to give the $100-million contract; 2) Reyes, a player who makes his living with his legs, was showing break-down signs; 3) they knew Reyes wanted every last dollar.

Only once since 2008 did Reyes play in as many as 150 games, and that was 2012, his first year with the Marlins when he played in 160. The next year, because of another leg injury, he played in 93 his first season with Toronto.

You rarely saw Reyes run in the second half of the 2011 season, his last in New York. That’s because he went on the DL twice with leg injuries and was saving himself for the free-agent market. That he left his final game on his own after locking up the NL batting crown was indicative of how much he wanted to leave, and his whining the Mets never pursued him was just for show. Point is, Reyes only wanted to stay if the Mets broke the bank and begged him, and the Mets wanted him to leave. They did make a reasonable offer (less than $100 million) but didn’t chase him.

Reyes is 32 and his best running years are behind him, as including this year he has 61 steals in the past three years. He has a .322 on-base percentage with a 38-17 strikeouts-walks ratio, not good for a leadoff hitter.

I know Mets fans like Reyes, and for a time he put on a dynamic show. Yes, he’s the franchise’s best ever shortstop, but you have to wonder why he’s on his fourth team since 2011.

It has been said some of the best trades are the ones you don’t make and such is the case with both players.

May 05

Let’s Knock It Off With Mets And Tulowitzki

One more time: Troy Tulowitzki won’t be coming to the Mets? Not now, and probably not ever. The recent two-game benching of Wilmer Flores brought the predictable “the Mets need to get Tulowitzki” columns and calls on the call-in shows.

They could have gotten Tulowitzki a long time ago if they caved to the Rockies’ demands for either Steven Matz or Noah Syndergaard, and another prospect. There would also be the matter of being willing to pay the $115-plus million remaining on Tulowitzki’s contract. And, on more thing, the Mets would have to be willing to gamble with his recent injury history.

TULOWITZKI: Get off Fantasy Island. (AP)

TULOWITZKI: Get off Fantasy Island. (AP)

We all know the Mets’ thinking on giving up their young pitching; paying huge salaries and trading for players with tainted backgrounds.

With Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and possibly Jon Niese probably not coming back next year, and Zack Wheeler not being ready until June if not later, it stands to reason the Mets will need Syndergaard or Matz. They aren’t going anywhere.

Also, the Mets remain out front with their desires to cut salary evidenced by trade speculation surrounding Gee and Daniel Murphy. They certainly aren’t going to take on Tulowitzki’s contract.

The talented columnist Ken Davidoff mentioned Tulowitzki in a column today, but was upfront saying the Mets could get him if they wanted to cave. I’m thinking he mentioned him to citing the obvious as opposed to really believing they should go after him.

He also mentioned several other shortstops they could get, but only after paying a hefty price, including Alexei Ramirez (White Sox), Asdrubal Cabrera (Tampa Bay), Starlin Castro (Cubs) and Jimmy Rollins (Dodgers).

Cabrera and Rollins play for teams that could compete, so you have to wonder why they would want to deal them. Any of those four would be pricey.

My preference is to give Flores the opportunity to prove he can play. His defense has been atrocious and directly responsible for one loss at least, and possibly, two. I’m not convinced he can’t turn it around and hope he gets the chance.

Will he make it?

I honestly don’t know, but neither does anybody else, either, including the Mets.

What I do know is the Mets will regret it if they get fleeced in trades for any of these guys, especially Tulowitzki.

Dec 20

One More Time: Tulowitzki Not Happening

OK, one more time: Troy Tulowitzki is not coming to the Mets.

Yes, yes, yes … there have been reports this week the Mets and Rockies are talking. I am sure they’ve spoken since the Winter Meetings. They could be exchanging holiday greetings, or talking about the weather, or trading fantasy football players, but serious dialogue about Tulowitzki isn’t one of the topics.

TULOWITZKI: Keep on dreaming.

TULOWITZKI: Keep on dreaming.

To understand why it won’t happen one must first ask:  Why do the Rockies want to deal him?

It begins with health, and here there aren’t any guarantees. A healthy Tulowitzki would be great to have, but he’s coming off hip surgery that puts his power potential in question. The Mets don’t have to look any further than across town at Alex Rodriguez to understand how a bum hip makes even great players, well, bums.

Couple his questionable health with the $118 million he is owed over the next six years, and you begin to comprehend why the Rockies want to start over. Sure, they’ll have to assume some of his contract to get another team to take him off their hands, but not nearly enough to make the Mets bite.

Having played at least 140 games only once in the past five years makes him a high-risk gamble. Sandy Alderson has spent his tenure as the Mets’ general manager paring down payroll. That’s why he was brought here.

Say what you want about the Wilpons and their budget, but understand that’s not going to change. It just won’t, and it especially won’t with a high-risk gamble with the cost of one or two of their young stud pitchers, even if one of them isn’t Matt Harvey.

The Rockies are concerned about his injury history, salary and want a talented bunch of prospects in return. Given that, those are the same reasons the Mets should run away.

But you say, look at his numbers at Citi Field. OK, I will. Let’s see, five homers, 11 RBI, a .438 batting average and 1.368 OPS in 58 plate appearances over 14 games. Hmm, well, that is impressive, but it’s not the ballpark as much as it is the Mets’ pitching he’s faced over the years.

Understand, he won’t be facing that pitching if he comes here. If you’re hung up on seeing Tulowitzki play at Citi Field, the Rockies will be in for the start of a four-game series, Aug. 10.

Plenty of tickets are available.