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.

Jul 14

DeGrom Overpowering In Winning Sixth Straight

GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets are willing to trade viable players, but if they deal their two most valuable assets it could prevent them from fielding a competitive team for next year.

The Mets believe they can contend in 2018 if the pitching Alderson termed as “lousy’’ rebounds. That would entail the healthy returns of Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, both of whom are close to throwing.

“This is not a tear down situation,’’ Alderson said prior to tonight’s 14-2 rout of the Rockies. “This is what I believe is a pause button. We’re going to have a lot of players that are free agents at the end of the year. A lot of payroll will become available. We’re not looking to rebuild, we’re looking to make sure we have a nucleus of a competitive team going into next year.’’

De GROM: Overpowering tonight. (AP)

De GROM: Overpowering tonight. (AP)

But, just how competitive will they be if they deal Jay Bruce and/or Addison Reed? If they do, won’t they be searching for power – especially from the left side – if they trade Bruce? And, if they don’t, and aren’t able to re-sign him, how will they replace his power? Certainly not with Brandon Nimmo.

Pitching is always at a premium, and a reliever/closer the quality of Reed should fetch a decent return. However, trading Reed would officially raise the white flag on the season. The Mets should get Jeurys Familia back, but to what degree? Should they deal Reed and Familia not return to form, that puts the Mets in the market for a closer.

Alderson said he’s willing to listen to overtures on any player, even Jacob deGrom, who has been linked to Houston.

“I think that’s a possibility, only because you never quite know what’s going to be presented,’’ Alderson said. “But I’d say that that sort of trade is exceedingly unlikely.’’

DeGROM SPECTACULAR: DeGrom was magnificent tonight, giving up two runs on four hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts in eight innings in winning his sixth straight game.

It was deGrom’s fifth straight start of at least seven innings, and his ninth start overall of that length. It was also his seventh game with double-digits in strikeouts.

DeGrom had an overpowering fastball and command of his secondary pitches.

OTHER THOUGHTS FROM TONIGHT: Michael Conforto started in center over Curtis Granderson, which is how things will likely to be barring an injury. Conforto drove in four runs on a single and a three-run homer. Of course, whatever trade value Granderson has left will be diminished if he sits for three weeks. … Yoenis Cespedes had four hits, and looked great running on his double and an infield single. … The Mets rapped out 19 hits, their second most this season. … Jose Reyes had three hits to raise his average to .221. Reyes’ time will be cut once Amed Rosario is brought up, or when Neil Walker is activated from the disabled list (in roughly two weeks) and if Asdrubal Cabrera moves back to short. The trade values of Reyes and Cabrera is limited and neither is expected to be brought back next season.

Jul 09

Collins Expresses Hope At The Break

Today’s Mets’ buzzword is “energy.’’ Mets manager Terry Collins, in talking about his team’s poor first half, bemoaned their lack of energy.

“We have to get energy back,’’ Collins said. “We aren’t playing with energy. We have to put a streak together, starting Friday.’’

COLLINS: Still has hope. (AP)

COLLINS: Still has hope. (AP)

At the break, the Mets are eight games under .500, 12 games behind Washington in the NL East, and 10 games behind the second wild-card Colorado with six teams to jump.

The Mets have been a string of bad optics from spring training until today. But, they are still alive.

I look at a potential pennant race from two angles. One, for a team to be in a race it has to be playing .500 ball and the Mets are eight games under. Secondly, there is enough time remaining with them being 12 games behind with 12 weeks remaining. As long as they can pick up one game a week it can be done. Mathematically, they are alive, but can they make a run? Have they demonstrated any signs of turning around their season?

So far, they have not.

There have been numerous times when they were on the cusp of making a move but stepped back. That trend started in April when after winning five straight, they lost 10 of 11.

They came out of that slide by winning the first two games of a three-game series in Washington and had Noah Syndergaard going in the final game. The Mets still had a chance with their ace gong.

However, that was the day Syndergaard, after refusing an MRI, tore his lat muscle and the Mets were routed 23-5. That was the singular most important moment of the first half.

From there, the Mets showed the resilience that marked their playoff pushes in the past two years. They went on to win six of eight to get back to .500 and give the perception anything was possible.

However, one of those two losses came when Matt Harvey was suspended and spot starter Adam Wilk was shelled by Miami. Syndergaard’s injury and Harvey’s suspension were two watershed moments from the first half.

However, the underlying theme of the first half was injuries, beginning with losing David Wright. Also going down were Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Juan Lagares, Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman, Harvey and Yoenis Cespedes.

Considering all that, it’s amazing they aren’t 20 games back.

“Well, pretty much the record speaks for itself,’’ said Collins. “No matter if you said, ‘Geez, we played without a lot of big pieces.’ We are not happy with where we are, certainly, so we’ve got to use this time to reassess what we’ve got to do in the second half and hopefully we start getting some of the pieces back.’’

Both the starters and bullpen have ERAs north of five, and there are no guarantees when, or if, they’ll get Syndergaard and Harvey back, and if so, how well they’ll perform. The same applies to Familia.

The Mets will be forced to decide if they’ll be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline. However, before that, they have to figure if they’ll get Syndergaard and Harvey back.

If they believe they’ll be back this season, then they have to be buyers. If they don’t, and GM Sandy Alderson has already decided his positions on Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Duda, Walker and others for 2018, then they have to be sellers.

The key players are their best offensive player, Bruce, and their closer, Reed. If either is dealt, Alderson would have surrendered on the season.

“If you want to talk about what we saw the last few months, I’ll go back to what we saw in the last 12 months,’’ Collins said when asked if the Mets had it in them. “We saw a team, last year, that when they were challenged they rose up. So, I think it’s in their DNA that they can do it again. We’ll find out.’’

The Mets open the second half with a ten-game homestand against the Rockies, Cardinals and Oakland.

Jun 30

Mets Beware Of Trap Series

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression of a “trap series,’’ and the Mets are cruising into one this weekend at home against the Phillies, owners of the worst record in the sport.

DE GROM: Needs to keep things rolling.  (AP)

DE GROM: Needs to keep things rolling. (AP)

Sandwiched between the end of a road trip they closed by winning five of six games and a three-game series in Washington, the Mets could be in a precarious situation should they take the Phillies lightly.

After being swept in a four-game series in Los Angeles, the Mets were staring into the abyss. Instead, they swept the Giants – it still counts in the standings – and won two of three in Miami, a place where they traditionally have trouble.

Seth Lugo pitched brilliantly for six innings last night and the Mets have Jacob deGrom going tonight.

“We’re hoping our pitching is starting to fall in place right now,’’ Collins said Thursday in Miami. “And if it does, we’ve got an exciting second half ahead of us.’’

If the Mets sweep the Phillies, they then travel to Washington, whom they trail by 10.5 games. They made up wild-card ground this last week and trail Colorado by 9.5 games for the second wild card. They open the second half with three games against the Rockies at Citi Field.

However, to catch the Rockies they must first leapfrog the Cardinals, whom they play seven times over the next two weeks.

That’s a lot of looking ahead, and sometimes when you look too far ahead you miss what’s right in front of your face. And, we’ve seen this before from the Mets. Just when they start feeling good about themselves they walk into the door.

Jay Bruce said last night the Mets haven’t been consistent, and “we need to play great baseball’’ if they are to have a chance.

The Mets said all the right things. Yes, the Mets talk a good game. Now they have to play a good game. Beginning tonight.

Jun 24

Mets Fans Must Remember He’s Not Reyes Of Old

By game time Saturday, expect the Mets to have re-signed Jose Reyes, who was placed on outright release waivers by the Rockies on Thursday. Some team could sign Reyes before the Saturday’s 1 p.m., deadline, but doing so would put it on the hook for the $39 million owed him. We can safely assume the Mets wouldn’t be that team.

REYES: On verge of coming back. (AP)

REYES: On verge of coming back. (AP)

The Mets plan to use Reyes at third and possibly give him some time in the outfield, manager Terry Collins told reporters in Atlanta.

“We took Matt Reynolds and put him out there with no experience at all,” Collins said of using Reynolds in the outfield on Wednesday. “This guy is as good an athlete as certainly Matt is. He’s got the arm. He’s got the foot speed for it. These are just things we’re tossing around.”

The Mets will likely use Reyes in the leadoff role and drop Curtis Granderson to the middle of the order where he’d hit back-to-back with Yoenis Cespedes. The idea is to put speed at the top of the order, although Reyes isn’t the base stealer he used to be.

Of course, he would back up Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop when he needs a day off. Of course, before Reyes plays anywhere, he might go to Triple-A Las Vegas since he hasn’t played in a game since June 12.

In speaking about Reyes, Collins spoke in the past tense.

“He was a great player,” Collins said. “I haven’t seen him in recent years, but he did a lot of things. He was a good hitter. He could fly. He’s got a great arm. He played very good shortstop. He brought a lot to the party.

“One of the things that probably caught my imagination was his joy of playing in New York. He loved it. That’s why he moved there. He loved being there. He loved playing in New York. It’s a tough place, because you’re going to have some bad times and some bad days. …  In my time around him, he was a joy to be around. I just hope if it works out that he’s that same guy.”

Well, he’s not, and that’s something Mets’ fans should understand. In his prime, Reyes was a batting champion and a prolific base stealer. He’s not that player any more, but he hasn’t lost all his skills. He can still fill a void and help a team like the Mets who are in need of an of an offensive jumpstart.

Reyes can help, but we should be guarded in our thinking of how much.