Jun 16

Scherzer Toys With Fading Mets

“It’s only June … it’s still early,” some people say when talk turns to the Mets already falling out of the pennant race and becoming sellers at the trade deadline.

However, what the calendar reads and what the NL East standings say are pretty much in sync after tonight’s 7-2 loss to the Nationals.

SCHERZER: Couldn't touch him. (AP)

SCHERZER: Couldn’t touch him. (AP)

After being blown away by Max Scherzer – and Steven Matz giving up three homers – the Mets find themselves 10.5 games behind the Nationals and 11 out of the wildcard, and their season slipping away.

Rapidly slipping away.

Realistically, the Mets needed to win three out of four, if not sweep this series, to have a chance to catch Washington. The best they can hope for now is a split, and they’ll face Stephen Strasburg tomorrow.

Mets’ hitters managed one run on four hits against Scherzer in eight innings and struck out ten times. If there was a turning point in the game it came in the second when the Mets had two on and nobody out, but Scherzer got Travis d’Arnaud to ground into a double play.

“You saw he got really locked in around the third inning,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “You can’t him to get the lead on you.”

Scherzer is now 7-4 lifetime against the Mets, including a 17-strikeout, no-hitter two years ago.

TRANSACTIONS: The Mets placed Juan Lagares and Matt Harvey on the 10-day disabled list and recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas infielder Matt Reynolds and outfielder Brandon Nimmo.

UP NEXT: Seth Lugo (1-0, 1.29) goes against Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 3.27) Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, Jacob deGrom (5-3, 4.33) starts against Joe Ross (3-2, 6.39).

Jan 08

Brief Comparisons Between Mets And Nationals

The Washington Nationals won 95 games last year and had a plus-151 run differential. While it is hard to project how many victories they’ll have this summer, they realistically should be good for at least 90 victories based on the following:

Bryce Harper had a miserable dropoff is batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Assuming he stays healthy his numbers should improve, at least enough to off-set any drop from Daniel Murphy.

The acquisition of outfielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox is expected to improve the offense, which also should be aided by a full season from Trea Turner. Together that should make up for the declines of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth.

However – and there’s always a however – the Nationals have issues.

Just as the Mets are optimistic in the comebacks of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, so are the Nationals expecting returns from Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross.

Washington couldn’t keep closer Mark Melancon, which puts them on a par with the Mets, who are expecting to be without closer Jeurys Familia for at least the first month. Both teams need to patch their bullpens.

In comparing the Nationals and Mets, Washington added to a 95-win team while New York basically kept the status quo and is banking heavily on their injured pitchers bouncing back.

 

 

 

 

Nov 16

Five Reasons Nationals Have Pressing Need For Cespedes

According to multiple reports, the Mets still covet Yoenis Cespedes, and their plan appears to wait him out as they did last winter and gamble he’ll fall back into their laps. It paid off because for all the lip service Cespedes gave for liking New York, he wasn’t enamored with the Nationals’ offer of deferred salary.

It worked once, so why not twice?

HARPER: Needs help. (AP)

HARPER: Needs help. (AP)

Last winter there were two serious players for Cespedes, the Mets and Nationals. However, this offseason, San Franciso, the Dodgers, Toronto and Yankees have also been linked to Cespedes with varying degrees of interest.

The Nationals, who despite the addition of Daniel Murphy, overtook the Mets in the NL East in 2016, but once again were unable to get past the division series. Such mounting frustration could entice the Nationals to be a major competitor for Cespedes.

If Cespedes winds up in Washington, the Nationals will likely move Jayson Werth from left to right and Bryce Harper from right to center. A projected middle-of-the-order with Werth, Murphy, Cespedes, Harper is more than imposing.

Here’s why this could be a burning issue for the Nationals:

Mounting frustration: The Nationals have consistently failed to get past the division series, and this must be gnawing at them. It sure does when watching Harper. For the Mets, their frustration stemmed from six losing seasons. However, it’s different for the Nationals, who won – and often easily – the NL East, but stumbled in the first round of the playoffs. They’ve acquired quality pitching, but their offense has been stagnant and needs an infusion. Murphy helped, but it wasn’t enough as Werth and Harper had down years. Cespedes could be that guy, and as an added bonus to Washington, when the other bats are producing it will take pressure off him.

Need a buffer for Werth: This is Werth’s final season of a seven-year, $126-million contract (he’ll get $21 this year). He hasn’t lived up to the money as they hoped and combined with the decline of Ryan Zimmerman (signed through 2019), the Nationals need to bolster their right-handed offense.

Harper window closing: Harper is salary arbitration eligible for 2017, but will be a free agent after that season. This is a guy who’ll command major bucks. The Nationals must prepare to lose him, and Cespedes could be their safety net.

Don’t want to waste pitching: The Nationals have a strong staff with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and much like the Mets with their young rotation, they don’t want to waste their prime years.

Sticking it to the Mets: As they did with Daniel Murphy, the Nationals would relish the opportunity to stick it to the Mets. To the Nationals, 2015 was a fluke, and in their collective minds this is a chance to restore their world order. Of course, it is up to the Mets to prevent this, but it will cost them.

Please follow me on Twitter

Sep 04

Mets’ Spat With Boras Over Harvey Expected

Who can really be surprised the Mets and agent Scott Boras are at odds over Matt Harvey? In this case, I’d love to tell you I told you so, but I told you so.

Word predictably surfaced this week Boras told the Mets to shut down his client at 180 innings, which is 13.2 less than he has now. Why is Boras throwing out a number? Quite simply because Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins – in all their wisdom – failed to do so at the start of the season and instead decided to go with monitoring his innings with a “play it by ear” format.

BORAS: In dispute with Mets. (AP)

BORAS: In dispute with Mets over Harvey. (Getty).

Reportedly, Boras contacted Alderson with his demands the end of last month. Alderson should tell Boras, in no uncertain terms, he and not Boras runs the Mets.

Alderson told CBS Sports: “For a guy to say to us on the 29th of August, `180 innings and then you’re going to shut him down … don’t call me seven months later and tell me you’re pulling the rug out from under me, not after all we’ve done to protect the player.’ ”

The Mets have done a lot, including throwing over 110 pitches just once. But, they could have done more, such as not permitting him to pitch in the “sore throat” game and not allowing him to pitch into the ninth in a blowout win over the Yankees.

If the Mets defined a plan of limiting Harvey to six innings, it would have saved them 18.1 innings over 14 starts. That total would be more if they shaved one start every two months.

Times have changed and agents have considerably more power in a team’s inner workings than ever before, and it’s not for the better. It’s just the way it is.

The Mets could have handled this better, but that’s something we say frequently about the Alderson regime. But, dealing with Boras is always tenuous at best. This is clearly about money – or, future money – which defines Boras.

Boras’ concern over Harvey’s health is disingenuous, because if he really cared he would have told his client to quit his complaining about the six-man rotation, which is designed to protect the pitcher.

The agent isn’t thinking about the Mets, or the playoffs, but solely his client and the prospects of what he will bring first in arbitration, and later, free agency. The less Harvey throws now, the greater the chance Harvey remains healthy and will cash in.

If you think this is a problem now, just imagine how things will be when Harvey becomes a free agent in 2019.

Aug 06

Mets In Nationals’ Heads

The Mets aren’t saying, but I would guess they were thrilled to hear of the comments made by Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth this week.

On the heels of being swept by the Mets, Nationals outfielder – and NL MVP frontrunner – Harper, when asked about the Mets, snapped: “I don’t give a crap about what the Mets are doing.’’

CLiTBzaUMAE6ODqHarper is diving into braggadocio, but with the Nationals trailing the Mets by two games, he sounds like a man trying to quell his own doubts.

Same goes for Werth, who all but discounts the Mets when he said the NL East still belongs to the Nationals, that it is their division to lose.

“I think it’s a matter of time really,’’ Werth said. “We’re a great second-half team. … Half our team has been hurt all year. That’s the reality of it. When we all get back, we’re right there, in first place.

“We’re [two games out] But I think going forward we can get all back healthy and get rolling and it’s our division to lose.’’

He might end up being right, but pennants aren’t won in the papers; they are won on the field and currently the Mets have the Nationals’ attention, regardless of what their players say.

Both Harper and Werth speak with a sense of entitlement, that all they have to do is show up. It is reminiscent of the Nationals’ front office when it shut down Stephen Strasburg at the end of the 2012 season, acting under the assumption the playoffs were a given.

They are not.

It doesn’t work that way, and the mere fact they are commenting about the Mets, seemingly by-passing them as threats is interesting. The Mets, wisely haven’t responded. Nor should they.

That the Nationals are talking tells me the Mets are in their heads. And, will stay there for a while.

The teams have six games remaining with each other, Sept. 7-9 in Washington and Oct. 2-4 at Citi Field.

Interesting doesn’t begin to describe it.