Feb 07

Looking At Mets’ Early Schedule

Since the Super Bowl is considered a national holiday, I’ve always considered it the end of the winter holiday season, and consequently “baseball season” begins tomorrow. So, I figure this is a good time to fast-forward to the Mets’ April schedule.

I’ll bitch about this later, but the first game of the season shouldn’t be interleague. However, if it is going to be that way, then why not make the first series be against the World Series opponents? I mean, if MLB is hell bent on interleague play, then this should be a new Opening Day tradition. It won’t be because the schedule is released before the end of the World Series.

OK, there are two games against the Royals on the road, followed by three-game series at home against the Phillies and Marlins.

That’s followed by three games at Cleveland – the Indians have one of the best rotations in the sport – and three more against at Philly and Atlanta.

The Mets end April with three games with Cincinnati and two with the Giants, who also have one of the game’s best rotations.

A key last year was the Mets’ fast start, highlighted by the long winning streak that put them 10 games over .500 to give them a solid buffer to help hold of the Nationals later in the summer. The Mets need to do the same this year as they have a considerably tougher May schedule with a game against San Francisco, seven against the Dodgers and six against Washington.

That’s 14 games against playoff caliber teams.

As for the Super Bowl, I am pulling for the Broncos.

 

Jan 13

Top Ten Reasons Why Mets Can Return To World Series

As they are presently constructed, can the Mets return to the World Series? Why, of course. They are the defending National League champions, and while they haven’t gotten the big bopper they wanted, they still bring a formidable team to spring training.

Here are ten reasons why the Mets, if they stay healthy, can have another October:

1. They learned from 2015:

As Kansas City proved last season following their 2014 Series loss to San Francisco, a team can learn from defeat. From manager Terry Collins on down, the Mets will be better for the experience. They know what it takes to get there and you can’t buy what those five games against the Royals gave them. Not to mention the series against Chicago and Los Angeles.

HARVEY: I'm betting on 20 (Getty)

HARVEY: I’m betting on 20 (Getty)

2. The experience of Game 5:

Believe me on this, Matt Harvey is seething over Game 5. I’m not buying the Mets have the best rotation in the game until one of those wonder kids win 20 games. You’ll read it here first, but I think this is the year Harvey wins 20. I’m guessing he’s more than motivated, and with the restrictions from Tommy John surgery behind him, this could be a special year.

3. A full year with that rotation:

I don’t know if there will be innings restrictions on Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz – or Zack Wheeler when he comes off the disabled list. What I do know is if these guys are as special as advertised, I’m betting they learned from 2015. And, don’t forget, the Mets will have Matz and Syndergaard for a full season.

4. A full year from The Captain:

Assuming David Wright is healthy, and there’s no reason to figure otherwise, the Mets will have him for the full summer. He missed over four months last year, and missed them at a time when the offense struggled. Will he return to All-Star status? That might be a reach, but if he’s healthy and consistent, the Mets will be better.

5. The closer must have learned something:

Jeurys Familia had a breakout year, but didn’t have the smoothest postseason. He could have the potential to consistently save 40 games. That’s precious production. Personally, I’m glad he blew that Series game. Mariano Rivera said the best thing to happen in his career is when Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar Jr., homered off him in the 1997 playoffs. Rivera went on to become the game’s greatest closer.

6. They have a deeper bullpen:

Former closer Jenrry Mejia, when he comes off his suspension, will provide depth. They’ll also have Addison Reed for a full season, and hopefully a healthy Josh Edgin. And, once Wheeler returns, Bartolo Colon will go to the bullpen, where he excelled in the postseason. Hopefully, Hansel Robles will do some maturing. Lefty Jerry Blevins is back from missing last year with a broken. Logan Verrett provides depth, and can even spot start. The most intriguing spring training project with be Rafael Montero.

7. A better keystone combination:

The Mets’ defense up the middle is better with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrerra and second baseman Neil Walker. Offensively, replacing Daniel Murphy with Walker is a wash. Cabrerra is on a par with Wilmer Flores at the plate and is an upgrade in the field. Flores will add depth on the bench and give Collins more opportunities to rest Wright.

8. Left-handed power:

I never liked Curtis Granderson leading off, but love his ability to draw walks. He also hit 26 homers, but would he have more RBI if he batted in the middle of the order? It’s more than possible. Lucas Duda hit 27 homers last year after 30 in 2014. Why does it seem they all came in the same week? He still strikes out too much (138), but had a good on-base percentage (.352). Duda’s numbers should improve with more playing time (only 471 at-bats in 135 games). More consistency would be better, but I’ll take the 27 homers any way I can get them.

9. They have deeper catching:

Kevin Plawecki is here to stay, but could he force Travis d’Arnaud out of town? That will be interesting situation that could play itself out. d’Arnaud showed offensive promise when he came off the disabled list, but his inability to throw out base runners in the playoffs proved to be a glaring weakness. Having Plawecki around for an entire season will give Collins a chance to platoon him, especially against teams that like to run.

10. The kid in left:

Or, should I say that “budding star” in left? I’m among the many who are high on Micheal Conforto. Hopefully, Collins won’t fall into the trap of sitting him against lefties. He needs to play against everybody. If he’s the real deal, the Mets have something special.

 

Jan 12

Collins Learns And Moves On From Game 5

Mets manager Terry Collins allowed himself three days to stew on his decision to let Matt Harvey pitch – and kick away – the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. Undoubtedly, he’ll relive that decision when spring training begins in little over a month.

COLLINS: Trusted Harvey. (AP)

COLLINS: Trusted Harvey. (AP)

In the MLB Network documentary, “Terry Collins: A Life In Baseball,” which airs Tuesday night, he said: “I had my bad three days. You’ve got to move on.”

I never thought Collins should have let Harvey stay in, thinking he went away from his principles. But, it was Collins’ decision, not mine, and he has to live with what happened. We have no way of knowing what would have happened had Jeurys Familia entered the game. It isn’t a slam dunk Familia would have saved the game. Afterall, he already blew a save in the Series.

Even had Familia saved the game, the Royals would have had a 3-2 Series lead with Games 6 and 7 in Kansas City. There were no guarantees.

“I don’t know what would have happened, after [Game 5],” Collins said on the show. “But, in my mind , we should’ve made the change. … I trusted this young man. I think the world of him . I still do. We made it. It didn’t work. You’ve got to move forward from it.”

Collins has spent his entire life around baseball, and knows everything is a learning experience. Collins went against what he thought was best and trusted his player.

Here’s hoping he learned from that and will become a better manager for it.

 

Nov 02

Collins Falls On Sword For Harvey

There are plenty of fingers to he pointed in defeat, but the only thing I can blame Terry Collins for was not following his gut. He wanted to pull Matt Harvey; he wanted to give the ball to his snake bit closer Jeurys Familia with a clean inning.

“No way,’’ Harvey screamed at the manager who tried to protect him all year. And in defeat, Collins trusted him again.

“He said, `I want this game. I want it bad,’ ’’ Collins said. “I let my heart get in the way of my gut. … It was inexcusable.’’

HARVEY: ``No way.'' Yes, way. (Getty)

HARVEY: “No way.” Yes, way. (Getty)

If Collins stayed with his gut and the Mets bullpen blew it, he would have been vilified. If Collins pulled Harvey after the walk and the bullpen blew it then, he would have been roasted for that.

“If you’re going to send him out there for one hitter, you shouldn’t sent him out there at all,’’ Collins said.

But, it wasn’t just that decision. The Mets’ defense played poorly; the bullpen was always on shaky ground; and the offense, well, it didn’t exist. Four hits tonight were not going to get it done.

Collins accepted responsibility, but there were others to share blame.

In the end, nobody expected the Mets to get this far, and I’m talking about more than reaching the World Series. Entering the season, the goal was to get to .500. They lapped that expectation.

As the Royals celebrated in the middle of the infield and Citi Field grew quiet, the TV cameras focused on David Wright, who stared blankly to the field.

All I could think about was how empty he felt, and I hoped he would feel that way for a long time as it is a feeling to build on.

 

Oct 31

Mets’ Future Free Agents On Team

It was there for the taking, but the Mets wouldn’t have anything to do with victory and let Game 4 of the World Series slip away from them like a ground ball under Daniel Murphy’s glove.

Oh, wait, that actually did happen.

MURPHY: Critical error. (AP)

MURPHY: Critical error. (AP)

“You can’t give a good team extra outs,’’ said dumbfounded Mets manager Terry Collins, who also contributed to the late-inning collapse in Saturday night’s 5-3 loss to the Royals, the team that won’t die.

In the end, the likely end to the Mets’ 2015 postseason came down to three players who probably won’t be here next season for not making the plays when they needed to most.

Tyler Clippard, Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes did nothing to endear themselves to Mets’ fans and GM Sandy Alderson.

However, let’s first start with Collins, who pulled Bartolo Colon before going with hot reliever Addison Reed in the seventh. You go with your hot hand and Collins should have stayed with Colon and ride him until he gave up a base runner before going to Reed.

Reed was terrific, but the template backfired on Collins when Clippard walked two in the eighth. First of all, Collins should have gone with Jeurys Familia for a two-inning save. Only trouble is Collins was reluctant to go with Familia because he had worked an inning Friday night in a blowout win in Game 3. That was lame. This time of year, your closer has to work two, maybe three nights in a row.

So, not having Familia in there falls on Collins. Also falling on Collins is not pulling Clippard after the first walk. At this stage, Clippard gets one runner before he’s pulled.

Then came a grounder to Murphy. The snake of a grounder slithered under his glove and the game was tied. Then it totally slipped away from the Mets.

“Jeurys did his job, I didn’t do mine,’’ said the always stand-up Murphy. “I misplayed it. There’s no excuse for it. We lost the ballgame because of it.’’

The Mets put the tying runs on base in the ninth, but Cespedes was doubled off first on a soft liner to third baseman Michael Moustakas. Despite a runner on base ahead of him, Cespedes was running.

Where was he going? What was he thinking?

Later, he offered the lame excuse. “I thought it was going to touch the grass,’’ Cespedes said. “I didn’t think it would be a double play.’’

I don’t blame Murphy as errors happen. I don’t really blame Clippard because wildness happens. However, neither Collins nor Cespedes had their heads in the game when they needed to most.

That’s why the Mets are 27 outs from winter.