Mar 03

Alderson: Will He Act Like 90 Wins Are Possible?

We shall see if the New York Mets are capable of winning the 90 games general manager Sandy Alderson believes.

I like manager Terry Collins’ response to his players they should take it as a compliment. That’s one way to look at things. Another is if 90 is possible, are then the expectations that of a 90-win team?

ALDERSON: Dances the dance.

ALDERSON: Dances the dance.

While Alderson expects his players to play like 90-win players, and Collins to manage like a 90-win manager, I wonder if that extends to him and Fred Wilpon.

Reportedly, Wilpon said “they’d better in 90 games.’’ If so, will Wilpon he give Alderson the go-ahead to get what is needed at the trade deadline? Just wondering.

For his part, how can Alderson believe 90 wins are possible when he has issues at first base, shortstop, in the outfield and in the bullpen, not to mention an unproven catcher and without his best pitcher?

I also can’t help but wonder how long a leash Alderson will give Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada. In each of the past two seasons the Mets dragged their feet when Davis floundered early. Ninety-win teams don’t just carry struggling players at first base and shortstop, and when they have to make a move they do it, and fast.

 

 

Mar 03

Mets Today: Syndergaard To Start Against Braves

One of the bright spots for the New York Mets this spring is pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is coming off a two-inning, five-strikeout performance in last Thursday’s intrasquad game.

Today, he’ll face Atlanta at the Disney complex near Orlando.

“I kind of shocked myself a little bit,’’ Syndergaard said of his intrasquad outing. “I wasn’t expecting that my first time out there.’’

Syndergaard, who stands an imposing 6-foot-5, throws a nasty curveball and 97 mph., fastball. That’s a good beginning, but to become an effective major league starter, he’ll need a third pitch.

“I’m excited, a little nervous at the same time,’’ Syndergaard said of today’s exhibition start. “It’s the first time facing a real big-league lineup. I’m going to go out there and do what I can. It’s still a game. They’re still playing baseball out there.’’

The Mets don’t anticipate bringing up Syndergaard until mid-June, instead, going with Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan, as the fifth-starter candidate to open the season.

At the start of spring training, Jenrry Mejia was also listed as a fifth-starter possibility, but there appears a growing sentiment that won’t happen and he could end up in the bullpen or minor leagues. Mejia is recovering from elbow surgery.

In addition:

* Also scheduled to pitch today are Jacob deGrom, Miguel Socolovich, Gonzalez Germen, Josh Edgin and Jeff Walters.

* With Ruben Tejada day-to-day with a strained left hamstring, Wilmer Flores is expected to play shortstop today after Omar Quintanilla.

* Expect outfielder Eric Young to see time today.

ON DECK:  If Sandy Alderson expects the Mets to be a 90-win team, does that mean he’ll make moves like a 90-win franchise?

 

 

Feb 28

Does Sandy Alderson Really Believe 90 Wins Is Possible For Mets?

Does Sandy Alderson really believe the New York Mets are capable of winning 90 games this season?

Reportedly, that’s what Alderson told his staff in an internal meeting this week. He has not made such a decree to the media.

ALDERSON: What's he thinking?

ALDERSON: What’s he thinking?

Ninety wins last year would have tied the Mets with Cincinnati for the last wild-card spot. It would have put them in the playoffs in 2012; tied them with St. Louis for a wild card in 2011; tied them with Milwaukee for a wild card in 2008; and tied them for the NL East lead with Philadelphia in 2007.

That last season, you’ll recall the Mets coughed up a seven-game lead with 17 remaining, losing in the season finale to Miami at Shea Stadium.

David Wright doesn’t mind the projection.

“I love the fact that Sandy is confident in us,’’ Wright said. “I think 90 is challenging, it’s attainable and it’s a good starting point for us.

“You know, number goals, it’s tough to come out and say, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. We’re going to do that.’ But I think 90 is a good starting point for giving us something to shoot for and getting guys to understand that mediocrity is not going to be acceptable.’’

A lot of things must break right for the Mets to win 16 more games than last year, which is roughly a 20-percent improvement, despite the loss of Matt Harvey:

* They must remain injury free with their key players.

* Jonathon Niese, who already has a shoulder issue, must win a lot more games than the eight he did last year.

* Zack Wheeler must continue to develop.

* Dillon Gee can’t afford a drop for last season’s 199 innings.

* Bartolo Colon needs another solid year.

* There must be consistency from the fifth starter.

* There must be stability in the bullpen, beginning with Bobby Parnell’s recovery.

* It would be nice to see something from Travis d’Arnaud.

* Ike Davis needs to show he can play this game.

* There must be dramatic improvement at shortstop, whether from Ruben Tejada, or whomever they might bring in.

* Wright needs to re-establish himself as a dominant run producer, so .300, 30 and 100 has to happen.

* Curtis Granderson can’t afford to morph into another Jason Bay.

* All those homers Chris Young used to hit, well, he has to hit them again.

* There should be a breakout years from either Eric Young or Juan Lagares.

* They must have a winning record at home, in one-run games and within the division, all areas in which they struggled the past few years.

Ninety victories is a bold prediction. Meanwhile, I was thinking .500 – which is one more win a month –would be substantial improvement.

With all the variables listed above, I wonder what gives Alderson confidence to think 90 wins are possible. I also wonder what Terry Collins must think.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.

 

Feb 27

The Mets’ Ambivalence Towards Ruben Tejada Opens Door For Flores

Of all the young New York Mets, the one I am most interested in seeing is Wilmer Flores, especially at shortstop. While Ruben Tejada is the starter by default, Flores has a legitimate shot with a strong spring to grab a job.

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

As the Mets monitor Stephen Drew’s interest and Seattle for Nick Franklin’s availability, it is clear they aren’t sold on Tejada. That makes it no better time than now for Flores to surface.

As team officials continue to portray Tejada as the most likely starter on Opening Day, they acknowledge those two other possibilities and are showing a declining enthusiasm for the incumbent.

A hot spring from Flores could make things interesting if the Mets don’t make an acquisition, especially if he shows something defensively.

The rap on Flores is he doesn’t have the first-step quickness in moving laterally. He also doesn’t have a lot of speed, but shortstops don’t have to be fast. Flores attended the same Michigan fitness camp as Tejada and reports are he improved his straight-ahead speed and lateral quickness.

However, for the offensively-challenged Mets, Flores’ upside is greater than Tejada’s. Flores drove in 13 runs in 27 games last season, which projected over a 162-game schedule is 78 RBI. In contrast, Tejada’s 162-game average is a mere 40.

In addition, as a spray hitter, Tejada’s career on-base percentage is only .323 and his 162-game average is 87 strikeouts.

Flores played shortstop in the minors until 2011, but because of the range issue, the Mets started playing him at third, second and first. All this begs the question: With all the ways prospects are measured, couldn’t they have figured out his range limitations?

Flores’ value to the Mets would be to show something at shortstop, because he is a man without a position and despite his supposed offensive abilities, never hit more than 18 homers (2012) in the minors.

His best season was at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013 when he hit .321 with a .357 on-base percentage, 15 homers and 86 RBI.

As the Mets consider Drew and Franklin – neither is imminent – this is the perfect time for Flores to make a statement.

Although Flores has experienced every position in the infield, shortstop is the one with the most potential for a breakthrough. Barring injuries, he won’t supplant David Wright at third or Daniel Murphy at second this year.

Who knows what could happen at first base? I floated the idea last year they might cut loose both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda and go with Flores at first base.

That’s not imminent, either.

 

Feb 26

Wrapping Up The Day: Niese Gets MRI; Starting Rotation Announced; Shortstop Unsettled

Jonathon Niese, designated to be the New York Mets’ Opening Day starter, was sent to New York for a MRI on his sore shoulder.

Niese suffered a rotator cuff injury last year, but the team said this pain was in a different area of the shoulder.

Niese’s first exhibition start was to be March 4 against Houston, but that’s not going to happen. The Mets won’t have any word on Niese’s return until after the MRI is read.

In addition:

* Niese is scheduled to the Opening Day starter against Washington, March 31. Of course, that’s contingent on how much time he will miss. He’s to be followed by Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee (also against Washington) and Zack Wheeler and the fifth starter (Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lannan or Jenrry Mejia (against Cincinnati). The Mets’ first two series are at home.

* Colon (tightness in his calf) and outfielder Eric Young (tightness in his side) were held out of practice today.

* General manger Sandy Alderson acknowledges Stephen Drew being a “fit’’ for the Mets at shortstop, but said he’s asking too much,

* Terry Collins said Wilmer Flores will get time at shortstop, but as of now the job belongs to Ruben Tejada.

* Outfielder Matt den Dekker is slowed by a stomach ailment.

* Mejia will oppose Gee in Thursday’s intrasquad game.