Jul 03

Player Mets Avoid Playing, Conforto, Is All-Star

The first thing I thought of when I heard Michael Conforto would be the Mets’ representative in the All-Star Game was: Isn’t this the guy they don’t want to play?

The guy GM Sandy Alderson didn’t want to bring up, and manager Terry Collins doesn’t want to start, will be in Miami next week, hopefully for the first of many All-Star appearances. And, hopefully, when he rejoins the Mets, Collins will find a place for him in his outfield.

CONFORTO: Player Mets don't want to play is All-Star?

CONFORTO: Player Mets don’t want to play is All-Star?

Perhaps the Mets will clear a spot for him by trading Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, but what they do this week in Washington and St. Louis will determine whether they are buyers or sellers.

Yoenis Cespedes, foolishly re-signed by Alderson, has a no-trade clause in his four-year, $110-million contract so he isn’t going anywhere.

Conforto began the season coming off the bench, primarily as a pinch-hitter, but moved into the starting lineup when Cespedes was injured (his injury history, along with his salary and the Mets’ other needs are why I didn’t want him back).

Conforto started hitting the way he did at the end of the 2015 season and in April of 2016 before he tailed). At the time, Collins proclaimed him as the Mets’ No. 3 hitter of the future. He dropped off again this season, then sustained a bruise bone when he was struck by a pitch last week in San Francisco.

“I really didn’t think back to that,’’ Conforto told reporters of his role coming out of spring training. “Really, what I thought back to was the hard work that I’ve put in this offseason and in spring training. I always had a feeling that even if I didn’t start with the team, I knew I was going to make an impact at some point.’’

Conforto is hitting .285 with a .405 on-base percentage and .356 with 26 RBI with runners in scoring position.

“Obviously, last year was a learning experience for me and something I had to go through,’’ Conforto said. “I look at it as part of my journey. … You have to let it fuel your fire, which is definitely something it did for me.’’

 

Jun 30

DeGrom Aces Phillies

There can be no doubt if the Mets are to salvage their season, if not make a run, they’ll need more of the same from Jacob deGrom, who pitched like the ace he is in keeping his team hot.

The Mets have now won six of their last seven games tonight in beating the Phillies, 2-1, at Citi Field, to pull within five games of .500.

De GROM: Aces Phillies. (AP)

De GROM: Aces Phillies. (AP)

“Going into LA was a wake-up call for us,’’ deGrom said. “We got our teeth kicked in. We know we had to play better. If we’re going to do it, we’re running out of time.”

Getting going means beating the teams you’re supposed to, which includes the Giants and Phillies.

This still could turn into a “trap series,’’ if the Mets stumble the next two days, but deGrom wouldn’t let that happen tonight. DeGrom had to be dog tired as the Mets’ flight from Miami didn’t land in New York until after 4:30 a.m.

DeGrom has turned things around since back-to-back starts when he gave up 15 runs. Since then, he’s gone 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA, walking only eight but with 31 strikeouts.

“He’s in a groove for sure,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He’s such a competitor. He won’t give in and throw one over the middle.’’

DeGrom’s fastball was superb tonight, but he also commanded his secondary pitches well, particularly his slider early in the game and his change-up in the later innings.

DeGrom, who had worked at least eight innings in his last three starts, worked seven innings and gave up one run on three hits and one walk. DeGrom, who had a string of double-digit strikeout games earlier this year, but not recently, struck out 12, which contributed to his higher than normal pitch count of 111. It is the sixth time this year he struck out at least ten.

“I was able to throw it tonight when I needed to and where I needed to,’’ deGrom said of his change-up. “My fastball command was good tonight. I was able to control it on both sides of the plate. Everything worked off the fastball tonight.’’

STILL NO CONFORTO: Today is Day Five without Michael Conforto and he’s still not close to coming back after being struck on his left wrist by a pitch last Sunday in San Francisco.

And yet, the Mets refuse to put him on the 10-day disabled list and continue to play shorthanded.

The only reason I can come up with is the Mets are reluctant to pay the major league salary to whoever would come up from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace him, even if it is only for ten days.

That’s speculation on my part, but would anybody really be surprised?

“There’s no break,’’ Collins said. “It’s the bone bruise that is causing him problems. He tried to swing the bat today and he had trouble.’’

CESPEDES SLUMPING: One of the ramifications of not having Conforto available is not being able to rest Yoenis Cespedes, who, with a broken-bat single in the eighth has four hits in his last 24 at-bats.

Of course, would it kill the Mets to start Brandon Nimmo for a game?

THINKING ABOUT COLON: The Mets are kicking the tires on bringing back Bartolo Colon, who was designated for assignment by the Braves.

Atlanta has ten days to either trade, release outright or assign him to the minor leagues (won’t happen). After which, the player becomes a free agent.

“He’s still a member of the Braves,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said when asked about Colon.

EXTRA INNINGS: Lucas Duda is still weakened with flu-like symptoms and was a late scratch. … Addison Reed has converted save opportunities in the last two games. … Curtis Granderson singled to extend his hitting streak to nine games. … Zack Wheeler will come off the disabled list and start Saturday.

 

Jun 27

Mets Lose Game And Gsellman

One of the more puzzling aspects of the Mets has been the regression of Robert Gsellman. The Mets might not have made the playoffs last season if not for Gsellman. He hasn’t pitched well this year and left tonight’s game after three innings with a hamstring injury.

“It’s a hamstring, so it will be a little while,’’ manager Terry Collins said when asked about how long Gsellman might be out.

GSELLMAN: Has strained hammy. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Has strained hammy. (AP)

Gsellman, who entered the game having given up 15 runs in his previous two starts, gave up three runs in the first inning and was replaced by Paul Sewald, who pitched three scoreless innings in relief. Sewald, of course, won’t be available Wednesday night.

There’s no telling how long Gsellman will be out, but the disabled list isn’t out of the question. If Gsellman goes on the disabled list, he’ll be sixth Mets starter to be disabled this season, joining Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler.

When you add David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda, it’s amazing they are only eight games under .500 this year.

“It’s a little frustrating to see them keep going down,’’ Collins said.

GRANDERSON’S VALUE SPIKING: Whatever Curtis Granderson’s trade value is, it probably is as high as it is going to be.

Granderson hit his third leadoff homer in this road trip, and the 21st as a Met to extend his franchise record.

Granderson can play each of the outfield positions and would fit in well for a contender either as a spot starter or off the bench.

CONFORTO DOESN’T PLAY: Michael Conforto did not play because of a bruised left wrist after being hit by a pitch Sunday in San Francisco.

Collins hoped Conforto would be available to pinch-hit, but had difficulty holding the bat.

“At this stage, I don’t know how long he’ll be out,’’ Collins said.

Jun 26

Don’t Read Too Much Into Giants’ Sweep

In most seasons, the Mets sweeping the Giants in San Francisco would be something to get excited about, but this isn’t most years. To emphasize how bad the Giants are this season, they were just swept by the Mets, and we know how bad they have been.

This weekend was just the Mets’ third series victory of the month, and they’ll need to reel off a dozen more in a row if they are to turn this season around.

The Mets’ next two series are against Miami and Philadelphia – they are 4-6 and 4-2 against, respectively – before back-to-back three-game series in Washington and St. Louis before the break.

The Marlins and Cardinals always play the Mets tough, and I’m certainly not counting on them beating the Nationals.

Against the three division leaders and the one wild-card team they have played, the Mets are 5-19. After the break until the trade deadline, the Mets have three games against what is now the second wild card – Colorado – four more against St. Louis, and four at San Diego and three at Seattle.

Daunting is an understatement, so I’m not reading too much into the Mets fun in the Bay Area.

May 08

Mets Lineup, Vs. Giants, May 8

The Mets attempt to rebound from to the pummeling Giancarlo Stanton gave them, and the embarrassment that has been Matt Harvey’s behavior, tonight at home against San Francisco.

Here’s tonight’s batting order for the Mets:

Michael Conforto, LF: .357 (5-14) lifetime vs. Giants … .545 (6-11) with RISP … hitting .333 with six homers and 15 RBI in the leadoff spot.

T.J. Rivera, 1B: .400 (2-5) lifetime vs. Giants … .333 (3-9) with RISP … hitting .364 in last nine games.

Jay Bruce, RF: .295 (59-200) lifetime vs. Giants … .423 (11-26) with RISP … Hit seven homers with 16 RBI in April.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: .224 (11-49) lifetime vs. Giants … .000 (0-7) with RISP … activated from DL, May 2.

Neil Walker, 2B: .322 (47-146) lifetime vs. Giants … .391 (9-23) with RISP … has 94 homers since 2012, most of any second baseman in NL.

Jose Reyes, SS: .304 (63-207) lifetime vs. Giants … .222 (4-18) with RISP … has reached base in 12 straight games/

Rene Rivera, C: .231 (12-52) lifetime vs. Giants … .500 (5-10) with RISP … hit .429 during last homestand.

Juan Lagares , CF: .283 (15-53) lifetime vs. Giants … .250 (1-4) with RISP … last homer was July 15, 2016 at Philly.

Jacob deGrom, RHP: Is 3-1 with 3.42 ERA lifetime vs. Giants. … Is third in NL with 49 strikeouts. …  Beat Atlanta, 16-5, May 3 in last start.