Jul 20

Looking At Trade Assets Duda And Cabrera

The Yankees’ acquisition of Todd Frazier hasn’t completely torpedoed their chances of trading for Mets’ first baseman Lucas Duda.

It’s not a great chance, but still possible.

DUDA: Has trade value. (AP)

DUDA: Has trade value. (AP)

Duda homered in this afternoon’s 3-2 victory over St. Louis. He has three homers and three doubles with six RBI in the seven games since the All-Star break. He has value.

The Yankees would have been a perfect fit for Duda, who would have formed a powerful platoon with Greg Bird when the latter comes off the disabled list. Duda heard all the rumors.

“It’s basically just noise,’’ Duda told reporters. “Nothing happened yet. I’m still a Met. You can’t concern yourself with rumors or speculations. Come here ready to play every day, and have fun.’’

Duda has 17 homers and 36 RBI despite spending three weeks on the disabled list with a hyperextended left elbow. Although Duda is currently ranked seventh on the Mets’ all-time list with 124 homers, because of injuries he never developed into the player the Mets envisioned.

Currently, the Mets envision another first baseman of their future in Dominic Smith. Although Smith is unproven, don’t expect the Mets to bring back Duda – who will make $7.25 million this year – as insurance.

Insurance will be something any team landing Asdrubal Cabrera will get. The Mets will have Cabrera taking grounders at third base not with the idea of playing him there, but the intent of enhancing his trade value.

With Neil Walker due off the disabled list next week and Amed Rosario expected to be promoted after the trade deadline, where will Cabrera play? Assuming he is not traded.

“We’ve got to start to use a little bit of the versatility that those guys bring,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “And they’re all on board with it. Like Cabby said, ‘I’ll play wherever you need me to play.’ ’’

Cabrera has played well since he was moved to second last month. At the time, Cabrera said he wanted to be traded. He also said he’d move if the Mets picked up his $8.5-million option. It wasn’t the first time he made such a demand. He chirped the same thing when the Mets contemplated moving him to third so Jose Reyes could play shortstop.

However, with the Mets fading out of playoff contention, and Cabrera reading the tea leaves about his future, he realized versatility would enhance his value in the free-agent market.

“I know he said what he said in San Francisco,’’ Collins said. “One thing we try to get him to understand is that right now, there’s probably a larger market for a third baseman than there is for a second baseman at this particular point.

“So it would behoove him to have that option. Even though he hasn’t played over there, this guy’s hands are good enough that he can play anywhere.’’

Jul 18

Mets Wrap: Will Mets Talk Trade With Yankees?

Multiple reports have the Yankees reaching out to the Mets inquiring about first baseman Lucas Duda and reliever Addison Reed. With both Duda and Reed in their walk years, and the Mets not expected to break the bank on either, they might as well see what the Yankees will offer.

MONTERO: Defense lets him down. (AP)

MONTERO: Defense lets him down. (AP)

Since the Mets and Yankees rarely do business with each other, I  wouldn’t expect this one to materialize, but why not? If the White Sox can trade Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs, then why can’t the Mets deal with the Yankees? Both teams are paranoid about making a trade that would help the other and consequently be embarrassed.

We know the Yankees won’t be afraid to pursue a trade, especially with the Red Sox reportedly going after Todd Frazier and David Robertson. Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s reputation is that of trying to fleece the other team. Will that force the Yankees to walk away?

Duda, 31, is hitting .248 with 16 home runs and 34 RBI in 66 games this season. Reed, 28, has a 2.47 ERA and is 15-for-17 in save opportunities in 42 games.

DEFENSE LETS DOWN METS, MONTERO: The Mets committed three errors tonight accounting for three unearned runs to victimize Rafael Montero, who fell behind 4-0 after two innings, yet hung on to pitch another four innings.

It’s the second time he overcame a rough start to work deep into a game.

“After the second inning he could have let up, but didn’t,” said manager Terry Collins.

As for his team’s porous defense, Collins said: “In this league, you can’t give away outs or it will catch up to you. This is the major leagues and you have to make plays.”

 

Jul 18

Mets Wrap: Wheeler Unravels In Loss; Gets No Help From Pen

Sometimes too much is made of baseball’s specialized statistics, but one of them speaks volumes of the Mets’ Zack Wheeler. It all fell apart for Wheeler in the Cardinals’ six-run sixth inning, which raised his ERA for that particular inning this year to a lofty 13.50.

WHEELER: Sixth inning blues. (AP)

WHEELER: Sixth inning blues. (AP)

Outside of injuries that sidelined him for the past two years, what has primarily prevented Wheeler from reaching stardom has been high pitch counts, often culminating into hitting a wall in the sixth inning.

Such was the case again tonight, as Wheeler cruised through four innings, but things began to unravel in the fifth, and he completely lost it in the sixth, highlighted by a two-run homer by Paul DeJong and a RBI double by pitcher Adam Wainwright.

As puzzling as Wheeler has been was manager Terry Collins’ decision to send him out for the sixth inning, considering he walked the bases loaded in the fifth.

“He certainly didn’t look tired or like he was laboring,’’ Collins said.

Wheeler said he lost the feel for his curveball and it wasn’t spinning out of his hand the way it should.

Asdrubal Cabrera robbed Jedd Gyorko of a two-run single to get out of the inning. Instead of being grateful, Collins pushed the envelope with Wheeler in the sixth.

Collins not only made a mistake in trusting Wheeler, but compounded it by keeping him in after DeJong’s homer, and doubled down on that mistake by bringing in Hansel Robles, who promptly gave up a three-run to Tommy Phan.

“It was my fault,’’ said Wheeler, who was stand-up and refused to throw his bullpen under the bus. “I should have made my pitches and gotten out of it.’’

Wheeler gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks in 5.1 innings and has gone eight straight starts without a victory.

So, after routing Colorado in the first two games coming out of the All-Star break, Mets’ pitchers Steven Matz and Wheeler were routed themselves.

“You can’t go on a run if you don’t get consistent pitching,’’ said Collins, stating the obvious.

Meanwhile, prior to the game, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey played catch on flat ground. Both were pleased, but it was only catch.

Of course, what Collins couldn’t say is he stuck with Wheeler and went to Robles because GM Sandy Alderson gave him no other alternative.

Jul 16

Mets Wrap: What’s Wrong With Matz?

The Mets know what was wrong today with Steven Matz, but what they don’t know is why. Matz gave up seven runs on nine hits in one-plus innings in the worst start of his short career.

After Matz put the Mets in a 7-0 second-inning hole, pitching coach Dan Warthen went to the video tape and reported back to manager Terry Collins that everything was out over the plate.

MATZ: What's wrong? (AP)

MATZ: What’s wrong? (AP)

That told Collins that although Matz was throwing hard, his pitches lacked movement and his location wasn’t there.

“I don’t care how good your stuff is, you can’t do that in this league,’’ Collins said.

The Rockies scored four in the first and three in the second on Nolan Arenado‘s homer.

Matz seemed shell-shocked.

“It all happened so quick, to be honest,’’ Matz said. “The balls were just over the heart of the plate, and they were able to get their barrels to it. I was giving them a chance with where I was missing.

“It’s just not the way you write it up. It’s frustrating, but I’ve got to flush it. I got another start coming up in five days, and I’ve got to prepare for that and try and learn from my mistakes here and just keep going.’’

But, he said something similar after the Cardinals ripped him in his last start prior to the break. Considering, this funk hit Matz all at once, and that he spent the first two months of the season on the disabled list following elbow surgery, possibly he hit a physical wall.

It’s been two bad starts. Will there be a third?

Jul 10

Something Not Right With Cespedes

In analyzing the Mets’ first half, manager Terry Collins said what many of us speculated all along – that Yoenis Cespedes is not playing at full strength.

Was he rushed off the disabled list following his hamstring injury? That seems to be the case as Cespedes looks stagnant at the plate with little to no leg drive, and I’ve forgotten the last time he ran full steam.

CESPEDES: Something isn't right.  (AP)

CESPEDES: Something isn’t right. (AP)

“He is just not getting the barrel to the ball,’’ Collins said. “I can’t explain it. I think it tells you: You miss a lot of time, this is a hard game, especially when everybody else is in shape and you’re trying to get there.

“It tells you the importance of rehabs and all the at-bats, which you try to accumulate on the side, which he had a bunch of in Florida. I tip my hat to him, he couldn’t run, but yet he got at-bats.

“He’s just not hitting. You have to stay healthy. You cannot play this game at 75 percent. The league is too good.’’

There’s so much wrong in what Collins said. One, if Cespedes can’t run, he shouldn’t have been taking at-bats in Florida. So much of hitting is with the legs and if you’re not strong enough to run you’re not strong enough to hit.

And, if Cespedes is only at 75 percent, why isn’t he on the disabled list, or at least rested more often?

Since Cespedes isn’t talking these days, one can only guess what is going on.

I’m thinking he feels obligated to play because of the contract. He pushed himself because with all the time he missed he would feel guilty asking for time off.

Cespedes was hitting the first ten days after coming off the DL, but in his past 11 games is hitting .133 with no extra-base hits over a stretch of 46 plate appearances. Overall, he’s batting .265 with nine homers and only 19 RBI, 17 extra-base hits and only 13 walks with 27 strikeouts. His OPS has steadily declined from .942 in 2015 to .884 last year to .822 this season.

He’s certainly not living up to the $110-million contract the Mets will pay him through 2020.

Cespedes’ build is tightly wound, making him susceptible to muscle pulls and the Mets have not treated him properly. When he was initially injured in late April, instead of going on the 10-day disabled list, he missed three games, then was hurried back to play two games against Atlanta only to blow out the hamstring in the second game.

Cespedes finally went on the DL, April 28 until June 10. When he came back the Mets said they would periodically rest him, but that rest came roughly once a week, which probably wasn’t enough.

But, as the Mets were struggling, what was Cespedes to do, tell Collins he couldn’t play? And, Collins, of course, instead of being proactive, took Cespedes at his word he was fine.

Only he isn’t, and neither are the Mets.