Jul 10

Leave Keith Alone

If you spent any time on the Internet today, then you know this season is over for the Mets. Instead of talking about trading Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, the buzz was Keith Hernandez’s refusal to sign an autograph last night after his clinic for T-ballers.

Nobody was even bitching about Yoenis Cespedes. It was all about Hernandez not signing for a kid.

HERNANDEZ: Give him a break. (FOX)

HERNANDEZ: Give him a break. (FOX)

Hernandez was on the clock last night. Hernandez giving batting tips was part of an in-game feature and after the inning, he had to get back to the booth.

It’s his job and Hernandez, who, I’ve seen is very willing to sign, but doesn’t like to be bothered when he’s working.

The Mets or SNY should have had guides down there to escort Hernandez to the agent and ward off fans. There should have been an announcement no autographs would be signed.

If Hernandez signed one, he had to sign two, then three, then four, then when does it end?

The kid, unlike many I’ve seen, wasn’t obnoxious, and neither was Hernandez when he refused. Getting an autograph at Citi Field isn’t easy to do as you’re muscling your way into the position with other fans and there’s a shortage of time.

It pays to be polite, say please and thank you. I’ve seen fans stand behind the dugout and scream, “Hey Jeter, come here and sign this.’’ I’ve seen others who weren’t as polite when the player ignored them.

Don’t forget, when players are taking batting practice, they are working. Respect that.

The best way to get an autograph is to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with your photo or baseball card.

I wouldn’t send baseballs, bats, T-shirts or anything other than a flat photo. And, don’t bother with a long letter as it won’t get read and will be trashed.

I’ve seen plenty of players sit in front of their lockers to sign photos and cards. Most of them take this seriously and will likely respond.

But, if you send more than one item to be signed you’ll likely be mistaken as a trader and be ignored. If you have two items, send two envelopes.

Keith is usually kind and accommodating. He was working last night, so give him a break.

Jun 06

Nothing Wrong With Cabrera’s Decision To Bunt

It wasn’t a bad idea, but like most things with the Mets these days it didn’t work. It was Asdrubal Cabrera’s idea to bunt Brandon Nimmo to second in the eighth.

Like most things with the Mets these days, it was poorly executed.

Cabrera didn’t get the bunt down and lefty reliever Richard Bleier caught the bunt and doubled Nimmo off first to effectively end whatever chance the Mets had of beating Baltimore today.

“I saw the third baseman playing way back and I just tried to put the ball on the line,’’ Cabrera said.

That decision was criticized by some on SNY – not by Keith Hernandez, however – because Cabrera has been the Mets’ most consistent hitter. But, that’s in past tense.

No Met hitter has been remotely hot, or even lukewarm, so I don’t have any problem with Cabrera bunting. He was trying to advance a runner into scoring position, where few Mets have been during this losing streak which stands at six after today’s 1-0 loss to Baltimore, the team with the worst record in the majors.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway had no problem with Cabrera trying to make something for a team that has scored just seven runs during the losing streak, which is now 11 out of the last 13 games.

The Mets, who opened the season at 11-1 is now 27-32 and are facing a stretch until June 24 that they’ll play the Yankees (3 games), Braves (2), Diamondbacks (4), Rockies (4) and Dodgers (3).

That stretch will make-or-break their season.

Jun 05

Injury Updates On Syndergaard And Cespedes

The Mets received encouraging news today regarding Noah Syndergaard, and are hopeful about Yoenis Cespedes. Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland said barring a setback Syndergaard should be in line to start Sunday night’s game against the Yankees.

Syndergaard went on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his right index finger after a May 25 start in Milwaukee.

“As long as it doesn’t flare up in the next 24 hours, he should be fine,” Eiland said.

As far as Cespedes goes, he continues to thumb his nose at manager Mickey Callaway’s notion of accountability as he again refused to talk to the media after taking batting against Syndergaard.

The often-injured Cespedes, who missed 81 games last season, went on the disabled list May 16 with a mild strain of his right hip flexor.

Callaway said the Mets hope to have Cespedes run the bases and shag flies in the outfield prior to Wednesday afternoon’s game, “then we’ll go from there.”

Callaway wouldn’t say when Cespedes could return.

I was against Cespedes getting a four-year, $110-million contract for a myriad of reasons, including his injury history; failure to hustle at times; his moodiness [blowing off the media falls into this category]; and penchant for doing things his way.

As far as I’m concerned, the money would have been better spent elsewhere and the Mets don’t need his attitude.

Credit WOR’s Howie Rose for calling Cespedes’ refusal to talk as “silly,’’ and SNY’s Keith Hernandez for saying it was wrong and “that doesn’t wash with me.’’

On a positive note, Todd Frazier was activated from the disabled list after missing 24 games with a strained left hamstring and reliever Anthony Swarzak after missing two months with a strained left oblique.

“I guess I needed that time off,’’ said Frazier. “I’ve played through pain. This was one of those areas (hamstring) where you really can’t do that.’’

To make room on the roster, the Mets optioned pitcher Gerson Bautista to Triple-A Las Vegas and designated left-hander Buddy Baumann for assignment.

Apr 24

It’s Up To Harvey If Bullpen Works

Dave Righetti did it. So did Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz. Now, can Matt Harvey make the transition from the rotation to the bullpen? Harvey’s initial response – that he’s pissed off – wasn’t a positive sign, but his subsequent comments are more encouraging.

HARVEY: It's up to him.. (AP)

HARVEY: It’s up to him.. (AP)

Harvey, who will be available coming out of the bullpen starting Tuesday, was not happy about the decision.

“It’s the decision that they made,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I have to suck it up and go out there and do everything I can to get things back in gear. I don’t have to agree with it, but I have to go out there and do the best I can to get things going and do everything I can to help this team get back to where I believe I can help this team, and that’s as a starter.’’

Whether he makes it back as a starter remains to be seen, and actually is irrelevant. If Harvey concentrates solely on being a reliever, long or short, it might enhance his value this offseason.

The way the market was last year, relievers were signed earliest and that hold true next winter, as well.

Harvey doesn’t throw as hard as he used to – he’s gone from 96.5 mph., in 2015 to 92.6 mph., this season, which is acceptable for the pen, as long as the pitcher has secondary pitches, which he does.

Former Mets GM Jim Duquette, currently a commentator for SNY, said it is common when a starter moves to the pen that his velocity will increase. And, Harvey has a good enough slider. By all accounts, Harvey has the physical tools and his problem is psychological.

If the Mets concentrate on starting Harvey at the beginning of an inning and limit him getting up and down, he should get the appropriate warm-up time.

Physically, Harvey can do this. If he has the proper attitude and meets with success, this could be the start of the second part of his career. Others have done it, such as Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer [so Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland] have the experience in helping pitchers make the transition].

If Harvey stops thinking about starting and concentrates on being the best reliever possible, it could work. It’s up to him.

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.