May 21

Is Panic In The Mets’ DNA?

Sometimes, Mets manager Terry Collins sounds like a man who is trying to convince himself of something he’s not sure of, when he said, or vowed, his team would not panic.

As somebody who has been in on hundreds of such press briefings, I know why the topic of panic was raised. Believe me, it’s not because it’s New York and the media is prying. The question would be the same in Pittsburgh or Cleveland or even laid back San Diego. When you lose seven of ten games and nine games in the standings to your main division rival, nerves get frayed, no matter how loudly or vociferously, Collins denies it.

COLLINS: Looks concerned and should be. (AP)

COLLINS: Looks concerned and should be. (AP)

“There’s a lot – a lot – of baseball left,’’ Collins said last night. “There’s no sense of urgency here. We have things we have to continue to try to do. We have to continue to try to watch the workload of some guys. We need to continue to try to get healthy. But there’s no panic here, believe me. Not in the clubhouse. Not anyplace else.”

This is what Collins believes and I don’t doubt he thinks that way. He would be a fool to admit otherwise. That’s why I don’t get why some in my profession would even pose the question. They already know the answer.

I raised the issue yesterday the Mets are at a critical point to their season, and I did so because I’ve seen them fold before. Do you remember September of 2007 when they lost a seven-game lead to the Phillies with 17 games remaining?

Of course you do.

It has been in the Mets’ DNA to go into long, dry spells. That’s where they are now. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Reporters ask questions to find out.

The Mets’ primary issue now is a stagnant offense that has scored three or fewer runs in 16 of their past 22 games. Not surprisingly, they are 10-15 since their 11-game winning streak.

GM Sandy Alderson already said not to expect help from the outside, that the plan is to wait for David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud to return from the disabled list. There are other options, such as juggling the lineup, but that smacks of panic unless the move is justifiable, which it would be when Wright and d’Arnaud to come back.

The Mets don’t have a good bench, so benching somebody isn’t a great option. Plus, the guy they always look to sit is Wilmer Flores, who is their best home run hitter. Just who in their minor league system is an answer?

The Mets’ best option, as distasteful as this sounds because that’s been Alderson’s mantra, is to wait this out. Slumps happen in a 162-game schedule and that’s what’s going on with the Mets.

Getting out of a slump takes time, and I don’t know how patient the Mets will be. Unfortunately, neither does Collins.

However, when the story of this season is written, this period will be the watershed moment.


Mar 30

Mets Matters: Montero, Duda Shine; Muno Should Make Team

The Mets received six strong innings from Rafael Montero and Lucas Duda homered and drove in five runs in a 7-1 victory over Miami.

Michael Cuddyer hit his sixth homer of the spring for the Mets.

The Mets are deciding between Montero and Dillon Gee for the final spot in the rotation. The Mets also say they remain open to trading Gee.

The Mets are also considering a contract extension for Duda of possibly four years at $31 million.

mets-matters logoMETS ADD LEFTY RELIEVERS: The Mets addressed their void for a left-handed reliever by acquiring Alex Torres from San Diego for Cory Mazzoni and getting Jerry Blevins from Washington for Matt den Dekker. … Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin is expected to make the team.

EXTRA INNINGS: Owner Fred Wilpon addressed the team before the game, but would not comment on what he said. … It appears Daniel Murphy will open the season on the disabled list as he still isn’t running. … Unlike the circus that surrounded Matt Harvey’s rehab from Tommy John surgery last year, Zack Wheeler will work out in Port St. Lucie. He will visit the team when it plays in Atlanta and Miami. … It appears second baseman Danny Muno will make the Opening Day roster over Matt Reynolds.

UP NEXT: Jon Niese opposes Washington’s Gio Gonzalez Tuesday.

Mar 30

Mets Deal Den Dekker

Several hours after the Mets acquired lefty reliever Alex Torres from San Diego for pitcher Cory Mazzoni, they pulled off a second deal for Jerry Blevins from Washington for outfielder Matt den Dekker.

Blevins, 31, was 2-3 with a 4.87 ERA in 64 games. Den Dekker was not going to make the team as a reserve outfielder because Kirk Nieuwenhuis is out of options and is having an outstanding spring.

The Mets have been in dire need of a left-handed reliever since Josh Edgin underwent Tommy John surgery.

They have already optioned Scott Rice to the minor leagues and are expected to do the same with Dario Alvarez.

However, Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin could still make the team.

ON DECK: Strong games today by Rafael Montero and Lucas Duda raise questions.

Mar 30

Mets Add Lefty Reliever

The Mets addressed their need for a lefty-handed reliever today with the acquisition of Alex Torres from San Diego for Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later. Time will tell whether they definitively answered the question.

Torres is 27, which is a good sign, and went 2-1 with a 3.33 ERA last year. However, it is interesting to note he held right-handed hitters to a .209 average (sixth best in the NL among lefty relievers), but left-handed batters hit .256 against him.

A very promising stat is he stranded 39 of 44 runners, which was the fourth-best percentage in the majors.

Torres was a rookie in 2013 with Tampa Bay and went 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA.

His numbers and age appear to be positive. However, with the Padres figuring to be competitive, what’s wrong with him if he’s traded twice in his first two years in the major leagues?


Feb 28

Today In Mets History: Dave Kingman Signed

On this day in Mets’ history in 1975, the contract of outfielder and first baseman Dave Kingman was purchased from the San Francisco Giants. The 6-foot-6 Kingman, nicknamed Kong for his prodigious strength and power, was to give the Mets the fearsome hitter they had never had this early in their existence.

“He was going to make us a winner,’’ said Joe, a life-long Mets’ fan. “He had such awesome power. We had never had a guy like that before.’’

KINGMAN: Hit 154 homers at a Met.

KINGMAN: Hit 154 homers at a Met.

During his 17-year career, Kingman played six seasons with the Mets, more than any other team. He gave the Mets the power they wanted with 154 home runs. However, the all-or-nothing Kingman also hit .219 with a .287 on-base percentage, and with only 389 RBI and just 211 walks in comparison to 672 strikeouts. He had more strikeouts than hits (509) with the Mets.

In addition to the San Francisco and the Mets, Kingman played for Oakland, the Cubs, San Diego, the Angels and Yankees. Kingman had two stints with the Mets (1975-77 and 1981-83).

Kingman also struck out a lot in his interactions with fans and the media. Of all the things Kingman is known for, perhaps most disturbing was sending a live rat to Susan Fornoff, a female reporter covering the Athletics.

Kingman hit 30 or more homers seven times, including 48 in 1979 with the Cubs and 37 in 1982 with the Mets, when he lead the National League in homers.

Kingman also struck out 1,816 times – an average of 152 times a season – and in 14 years struck out at least 100 times, and eight times fanned at least 125 times. Only once, in 1985, did he draw as many as 60 walks.

History is filled with numerous all-or-nothing sluggers like Kingman, such as Adam Dunn, Greg Vaughn, Frank Howard, Rob Deer, Mark Reynolds and a case can also be made to lump former Met George Foster into that group.

Kingman’s 154 homers ranks fifth on the club’s all-time list, behind Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, Mike Piazza and Howard Johnson.

Kingman finished with 442 career homers and speaking at the closing of Shea Stadium, said if he played longer: “I’m sure I could have hit 500 (home runs). That’s all right. I’m very happy with (my career). I enjoyed my time in the big leagues.’’

Prior to the steroid era, 500 homers used to be an automatic ticket into the Hall of Fame, along with 300 pitching victories and 3,000 hits. Had Kingman played two more years and reached that milestone he would have been an interesting test case.

As a Hall of Fame voter, I wouldn’t give him my vote because his numbers other than homers were terribly weak and non-deserving.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s news and notes.