Sep 30

Mets Extend Collins; 2014 Season Has Begun

The New York Mets’ offseason began this afternoon at Citi Field with the expected announcement of Terry Collins’ contract extended for two years plus an option.

General manager Sandy Alderson there were three criteria for the extension:

* That the team hustled for Collins even during the lean times. “The club played hard for Terry and I think that was evident for everyone to see,’’ Alderson said.

* That he overcame a lot in terms of injuries and trades, and the young players generally improved. “He has helped out younger players get better,’’ Alderson said. “He’s a great motivator.’’

* That although the record wasn’t acceptable, the team showed improvement and played .500 over the last 100 games.

Alderson, Collins, COO Jeff Wilpon and the other members of the front office and coaching staff, will fly to Port St. Lucie today and begin organizational meetings to evaluate available free agents and trade options; player evaluations; and determining a budget.

“We have in mind what we can spend,’’ Wilpon said.

Alderson named Matt Harvey’s injury as the greatest disappointment, but also named the regression of Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, and inability to build a solid bullpen.

Both Collins and Alderson cited the club’s losing record at home, with the former saying the club’s offensive approach was a significant factor.

“We can’t lead the National League in strikeouts if we’re not going to hit with power,’’ Collins said. “Our approach with two strikes has to get better.’’

The Mets’ holes include the rotation, where Alderson named Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee as the only givens; first base, which for now has Ike Davis and Lucas Duda as the primary candidates; shortstop, where Tejada struggled, was injured and went on the disabled list, and then after an extended period in the minor leagues, returned and broke his leg; and the adding a significant bat in the outfield.

As Collins, Alderson and Wilpon spoke to the media, the grounds crew was working on the field, which looked in pristine, almost Opening Day, condition.

“I’m honored to be able to continue what we started,’’ Collins said about the future, which included Opening Day 2014. “The nucleus of young talent in our organization really came to the forefront this year. There is no doubt in my mind that we are headed in the right direction. The won-lost record is not what any of us wanted and that’s what we have to change, beginning in 2014.’’

And, 2014, has already begun.

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Sep 29

Mets Wrap: Putting A Bow On 2013

The New York Mets had as nice a day as they could have hoped for on the afternoon in which they said good-bye to another season steeped in frustration.

Injuries to their two best players – David Wright and Matt Harvey – lengthy slumps and a patchwork outfield and bullpen all contributed to a fifth straight losing season.

WRIGHT and PIAZZA

WRIGHT and PIAZZA

Even so, the day had an element of joy as Mike Piazza was inducted into the franchise’s Hall of Fame.

“I look back now, in retrospect, and realize it was just fate. I was just meant to be here,’’ said Piazza about playing with the Mets.

“You know, you can talk about agents and numbers and arguments and who’s right and who’s wrong. But if you look at the big picture of life, you realize that sometimes there’s just a destiny in things.

“And I truly feel it was my plan to be here, in one way, shape or form. It may not have been the most beautiful journey at the time, but it was meant to be.’’

The Mets said good-bye to their season before a capacity Citi Field crowd, the largest since the All-Star Game. First, they cheered Piazza on a sun-drenched afternoon, and then as the Mets scored twice in the eighth inning to beat Milwaukee.

The victory, coupled with Philadelphia’s loss to Atlanta, gave the Mets third place in the NL East, something Wright embraced with a yawn.

“We’re still going home (Monday),’’ Wright said. “I guess finishing in third in the Central would have been good this year, because they’re going to the playoffs.

“Like I said, that’s just those little things that if you want to use that to make you feel better about yourself, then that’s fine. I don’t necessarily think it’s all that important.
“We finished with a win. That’s always nice. But the bottom line is we’re going home, just like the majority of the teams in the National League tomorrow. There’s not too much to smile about with that.’’

Perhaps not, but it does represent some progress, enough which should give Terry Collins a contract extension. General manager Sandy Alderson will address that issue in a noon press conference Monday.

Alderson could also get questions on Harvey’s rehab from an elbow tear, and his plans to answer the questions at first base – Ike Davis or Lucas Duda? – shortstop with Ruben Tejada’s regression, the bullpen and rotation.

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Sep 28

Mets Wrap: Numbers That Add To Another Loss

There are a lot of statistics to define the 2013 New York Mets. One is 40-41, the Mets’ record in games decided by two or fewer runs. The other is 32-24, their record at Citi Field after today’s 10-inning, 4-2 loss to Milwaukee.

It was the Mets’ third straight loss by a 4-2 score after winning five of six on the road. That inconsistency is also emblematic of how the Mets have played this season.

There are two ways to interpret the first statistic. With half their games decided by two runs – they are 28-28 in one-run games – the Mets have been competitive, which is an encouraging sign.

Not so encouraging is they haven’t been good enough to take the next step over the line. The 40 victories mean they’ve played well enough to stay in the game. That they’ve been that competitive is why manager Terry Collins will reportedly be offered a two-year extension.

To be that competitive considering the season-ending losses of Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell; the lengthy injury to David Wright; the horrific lack of production from Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda; a makeshift bullpen and outfield; Jon Niese’s off-year; and the trade of Marlon Byrd and John Buck.

All that and it is a wonder their record isn’t worse.

The 41 losses indicate breakdowns in the bullpen, defensive lapses a failure to hit in the clutch, plus all of the above.

The Mets’ home record? Well, that’s just bad baseball.

Their overall record at home has been abysmal since Citi Field, and the sad thing is this year’s staff might have been the Mets’ best, even without Johan Santana.

When the Mets opened Citi Field, they moved into a cavernous stadium a promised a team build on pitching, speed and defense. Power was a fourth priority, and yet when the Mets’ needs are mentioned it always comes down to adding a power-hitting outfielder.

However, the most telling offensive stat isn’t their 130 homers – only the traded Byrd hit more than 20 – but 1,371 strikeouts. All those strikeouts add up to over 50 games without touching the ball.

Foul balls excluded.

All those strikeouts is yet another statistic that defines this summer, the Mets’ fifth straight losing season and fifth consecutive with a drop in attendance.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 27

Tact Not A Virtue Of Mets’ Terry Collins

Tact is not a strong suit of New York Mets manager Terry Collins when it comes to dealing with the media.

Collins has had several abrasive moments this season, notably when he said he didn’t care what the fans thought during in the Jordany Valdespin episode. Everything about the Valdespin incident was handled poorly, which I partially attribute to Collins’ lame duck status. Collins immediately spun into damage control and it didn’t hurt when the team started playing better soon after.

COLLINS: Lighten up.

COLLINS: Lighten up.

Then there was his dumbfounded denial of ever hearing of Matt Harvey’s sore forearm that led to his elbow injury. The manager gets an injury report from the training staff whenever a player has treatment, so Collins knew. Denial about injuries is not the way to go.

He’s had two more the past few weeks.

The first was when Ruben Tejada went down with a broken leg in the ninth inning of the Mets’ furious rally to beat San Francisco. Tejada was injured in the top of the ninth, yet finished the inning on the field. There was no announcement in the press box about the injury, and also no surprise when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

After the game, toward the end of the questioning session, a reporter asked how Tejada was feeling.

“He broke his leg,’’ snapped Collins, in a demeanor that elicited muffled laughter because nobody knew and the impression was the manager was being sarcastic.

Collins’ first words after every game, to alleviate any confusion, should be an updated injury report. The questions will be asked, so get it out of the way. The reporter asked an innocuous question because the Mets made no announcement and Collins didn’t volunteer the injury.

Lastly, last night came his barbed response to the question whether he would consider giving Dillon Gee an inning so he could reach the 200-inning milestone, something the pitcher deeply covets.

“Why?’’ Collins said. “I mean, seriously? I don’t think so.’’

He never said why he wouldn’t.

Collins was accused in his managerial stint with the Angels of not being in touch with his players. How could he not know this was important to Gee? If the concern was injury related, then say so. Or, he could have said something along the lines of “that’s 200 innings as a starter, it would cheapen the milestone to give him an inning as a reliever.’’

Instead, Collins came off as condescending. He’s been around long enough to know the question would be asked, so he should have had a better answer. The appearance was he was surprised, and bothered, by the question.

If all else fails, he could have simply said, “I don’t know. That’s something I will have to discuss with Dillon.’’

It is expected Collins will get an extension. Hopefully, he’ll come back more tactful and less sensitive.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 22

Mets Wrap: Whether They Finish Third Or Fourth, Mets Have Plenty Of Questions

In the grand scheme, we won’t know for years to what degree finishing third or fourth will impact the New York Mets in regards to their draft position and subsequent pick. Will finishing third give them a lesser pick and deprive them of selecting the next Derek Jeter?

Nobody can project with any accuracy baseball draft picks. Even No. 1s have been busts. And, David Wright is right in his line of reasoning it really doesn’t matter where you finish if there are no playoffs?

COLLINS: One of many questions. (AP)

COLLINS: One of many questions. (AP)

However, considering the expectations, the abundance of injuries, and dreadful second-half offense which led from a slide of seven games under .500 to their current position of 13 under, finishing strong the last week, and in third, couldn’t hurt in laying the groundwork for next year.

However, whether it is third or fourth, it will not reduce the number of issues for the 2014 Mets. Sweeping the Phillies this weekend might give them a feel-good confidence heading into the offseason, but does not eliminate their immediate off-season issues:

1) How long will they string Terry Collins along, or will they do the right thing and make an announcement the day after the season finale, or that Sunday?

2) The Mets have been saying for years this is the offseason they will spend, if so, how much?

Will Matt Harvey opt for surgery or go into the season riding a gamble?

Regardless of Harvey’s decision, will the Mets add a veteran starter, because as of now they have just three plus Aaron Harang?

Is there something to worry about after Zack Wheeler was shut down for the year after tightness in his shoulder following Saturday’s start?

GM Sandy Alderson has been trying to build a bullpen for three years. Will this be a fourth?

Will they cut ties with Ike Davis or extend this torturous experiment into next spring?

Should they pass on tendering Davis a contract for 2014, how confident are they in Lucas Duda or do they need to add a first baseman?

Are they confident of Bobby Parnell’s recovery from surgery, or will they feel the need to add a closer?

Will they decide to see what they have in Ruben Tejada in spring training or add a shortstop?

Is their outfield plan to platoon Matt den Dekker and Juan Lagares in center field or have them both play in the outfield?

What is their satisfaction level with Eric Young, knowing if they replace him it will be in left field and as a leadoff hitter?

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos