Apr 09

Shouldn’t The Mets Always Play This Way?

Ron Darling made a big deal about Noah Syndergaard backing up a play at third base tonight in the fifth inning. In fact, SNY has been gushing non-stop how fundamentally sound the 8-1 Mets have been so far this season.

From their hustle and aggressive baserunning, to their situational hitting, to manufacturing runs without the benefit of the home run, to their defense, to their bullpen. SNY has been gushing non-stop and newspaper columnists are doing the same.

Their points are valid, but also painfully obvious. How the Mets are playing is how they should be playing all the time. It begs the question: Why weren’t they doing this for the past ten years?

Is it just Mickey Callaway? Was Terry Collins that bad? Although my head still hurts from him saying, “we are a home run hitting team.’’

That, of course, stemmed from GM Sandy Alderson’s love affair with analytics. However, as much as Major League Baseball seems married to sabermetrics and launch angles, and seemingly has abandoned the game’s traditions, it really remains a simple sport relying on pitching, defense and timely hitting, one-two-three, with home runs a distant fourth as a matter of importance.

SYNDERGAARD STRUGGLES: Syndergaard threw 46 pitches through four innings, then threw 44 combined in the fifth and sixth innings. For all the talk about Syndergaard being an overpowering pitcher – and at times he can be – he’ll never all he can be until he lowers his pitch count and goes deeper into games.

The same applies to Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, and to a lesser extent, Jacob deGrom.

We’re only nine games into the season and the Mets have already had two days off and a rainout, so their bullpen has not been taxed despite the starters not working long innings.

However, eventually, the starters will have to do better than the six innings Syndergaard gave them in tonight’s 4-2 victory.

SNY TAKES SHOT AT JETER: SNY took a not-so-subtle jab at Miami figure-head owner Derek Jeter after the third inning when it ran a montage of departed Marlins stars Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna with a sentimental ballad in the background.

EXTRA INNINGS: Assuming nothing happens and Zack Wheeler starts Wednesday’s game at Miami, it will mark the first the Mets’ highly-touted rotation. … I realize Hansel Robles gave up a homer to Bryce Harper the other day, but overall, he’s pitched very well. I liked that Callaway went right back to him. … It might be time to give Yoenis Cespedes a day off.  He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including with the bases loaded.

Mar 29

A Sad Day As Rusty Staub Passes

I woke up this morning with snow on the ground and immediately thought it’s way too early for Opening Day. I turned on the TV and was hit with the news of the passing of Rusty Staub and thought it’s too sad a day for Opening Day.

How can a day meant for new beginnings be overshadowed by such a sad event?

DZdPUxGXUAEX_kII wrote about Staub several weeks ago and recalled how gracious he was to me when I introduced myself to him at an airport, and it was heartwarming to hear of the remembrances of him from Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling today.

Hernandez spoke of Staub’s influence wihen he joined the Mets and helping him get acclimated to New York. Darling said Staub taught him how to be a better person.

Fighting back tears, Hernandez said: “He was a great, great  friend, and he’s in a better place.”

It is almost cliché to say he was a better person than player, but in his case, it could be true when you hear of his philanthropic gestures, most notably the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund.

“Rusty started more than just a charity – he started a family,’’ wrote chairman Stephen Dannhauser. “While many admire Rusty for his impressive record as a baseball player, it is his work off the field that truly made him one of the greats.  We will miss his laughter, friendship, and leadership, but we will work to carry on his mission through our continued stewardship of the charity he founded.’’

I urge you to log onto to the charity’s website, answerthecall.org for information on how to donate. Increments of $4 or $10, Staub’s numbers, would be a nice touch.

I know you all have your favorite Staub memories and ask you share them.

 

Oct 26

How About Darling As Pitching Coach?

I don’t know who is on Mickey Callaway‘s short list of pitching coach candidates, so I felt compelled to offer a suggestion. This guy knows pitching and is familiar with Mets’ pitchers and their problems over the years. Plus, he’s a combination of old school with a knowledge of analytics, and has strong ties to the Mets.

I’ve never asked Ron Darling if he has any interest in coaching, but he brings so much to the table. The current Mets pitchers are familiar with Darling and I presume he has their respect. He knows where Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have struggled and why they’ve been injured.

In addition, he could be a perfect buffer in helping Callaway get acclimated to New York. He could certainly help in bringing Callaway and his new staff together.

One thing I know about Darling after listening to him all these years is his disdain for walks, something that crippled Mets’ pitchers this season.

I don’t know what Callaway is thinking, but it’s worth putting a call into Darling to find out what he’s thinking.

Oct 27

Today In Mets’ History: Knight Named MVP To Complete Series Win Over Boston

While we all remember the ball that got by Bill Buckner in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, but sometimes we forget Game 7 also produced a memorable comeback.

Ray Knight's Homer Wins World Ser

                 Ray Knight’s Homer Lead Mets

Perhaps it is because after Game 6 winning the title seemed a foregone conclusion. The Mets steamrolled through the regular season – coming out of spring training manager Davey Johnson said they would dominate – much the way the Cubs did this year.

The Red Sox hardly seemed devastated from their meltdown as they took a 3-0 lead in the second against Ron Darling on back-to-back homers to lead off the inning by Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman, and Wade Boggs’ RBI single.

Meanwhile, Red Sox left-hander Bruce Hurst was on his way to being named Series MVP until the sixth, when the Mets pulled within 3-2 on Keith Hernandez’s RBI single and Gary Carter’s run-producing groundout.

Ray Knight tied the game, 3-3, when he lead off the seventh with a homer off Calvin Schiraldi. The Mets increased their lead to 6-3 later that inning on Rafael Santana’s RBI single and Hernandez’s sacrifice fly.

However, the Red Sox pecked away for two runs in the eighth, but the Mets responded in their half of the inning on Darryl Strawberry’s homer and Jesse Orosco’s RBI single.

While the Mets were tormenting Boston’s bullpen, one question hung over Shea Stadium, and that was why the Red Sox didn’t go to their Game 6 starter, Roger Clemens, for an inning or two?

It might have been pushing things, but Schiraldi spit the bit in Game 6, as did Bob Stanley. Boston used five relievers in the last two innings, so it really never had a chance.

Knight, who drove in five runs and hit .391 (9-for-23), was named Series MVP.

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May 25

Mets Opt To Keep Harvey In Rotation

As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, the same can be said of a Matt Harvey start.

Harvey has been awful most of this season, so I would have sent him to the minor leagues for a couple of starts. However, Mets manager Terry Collins – after conferring with GM Sandy Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen – said enough was seen to let Harvey make his next start, Monday, against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Gets another chance.  (AP)

HARVEY: Gets another chance. (AP)

It isn’t the first time I disagree with a Collins decision and won’t be the last.

Harvey opened the game with three scoreless innings, but as has been the case with him this year, he lost it in the middle innings giving up five runs on three homers in the Mets’ 7-4 loss to the Nationals.

It could have been worse, but a diving play by Neil Walker in the second thwarted a potential big inning.

“You saw the game,” catcher Kevin Plawecki told reporters wanting to know what is wrong with Harvey.

“`Even though his command wasn’t good, we saw great movement on his fastball,” began Collins’ explanation of why Harvey is getting another chance. “His velocity was up. There was tightness in his slider. These are all things we haven’t seen in his last couple of starts.

“We have to quit looking at the negatives and start looking at some positives. We’re going to try to build on it and see what he’s like next Monday. … This guy is too big a piece to write-off.”

Although I would have done it differently, I do applaud Collins’ loyalty toward his player, even when it backfired on him before.

Collins wouldn’t speculate as to what might happen with Harvey if he bombs again; most likely more drama. Collins certainly won’t say this is his last chance before Vegas because that put added stress on him.

Collins ruled out the disabled list because there apparently is nothing wrong with him, although players have been stashed there before. Reportedly, the minor leagues and bullpen weren’t options, but pushing him back was discussed.

Former Mets pitcher turned SNY analyst Ron Darling disagreed, saying he didn’t see much to build on, saying his slider looked good only 30% on the time and it is no big deal for a pitcher to amp it up occasionally.

Darling also criticized Harvey for not speaking after the game, saying “he lost some street cred’’ in the clubhouse, because it forced his teammates – in particular, Plawecki – to clean up his mess.

“His teammates are thinking, `we’re not here to clean up your mess, you clean up your own mess.’

“Part of being a professional athlete is you have to answer the questions,’’ Darling said.

Collins didn’t comment on Harvey’s unprofessional silent act, but Nationals manager Dusty Baker noticed.

“`It’s his prerogative to do what he wants to do,” said Baker, probably recalling his time when Barry Bonds was on his team. “`If he [doesn’t want to talk], he doesn’t have to talk. But he’s making it harder on himself. New York will eat you up.”

The nibbling has begun.

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