Apr 14

Note To Mets Fans: Wilpons Not Selling And Stop The Roll Call

Without question, Mets fans are among the most passionate and loyal around. I know that from this blog, from talking to many of you at spring training and at the ballpark.

Their passion was on display yesterday in several forms.

The first was the billboards directed at the Wilpons telling them to sell. That passion came at the cost of $6,000, which prompted manager Terry Collins to say: “You want to spend $6,000? Go feed the homeless.’’

Not the answer you wanted, but you got his attention. That the Wilpons would not comment also tells you they were aware.

However, I assure you being aware and responding the way you want are two different things. They know their fan base is discouraged and frustrated, but they will not sell. They are weathering the storm of the Madoff scandal, and if they didn’t sell then, they won’t sell know. It won’t happen.

They have an idea of how they want to run this team, and it doesn’t include wild spending anymore. What Sandy Alderson has done the past few years is how things will go.

Now, for the other display of passion yesterday, who couldn’t notice the roll call chants from center field?

That must stop. The roll call is a Yankees tradition and yesterday was a cheap imitation. How can any self-respecting Mets fan adopt a Yankees fan tradition?

Mets fans are better than that, so please … no more roll call. Do something original. Do something Metsian. Just don’t imitate the Yankees.

Apr 13

Mets’ DeGrom Could Be Best Of Young Starters

When we consider the potential of the Mets’ young pitching, Jacob deGrom might have the highest ceiling of all. Imagine what he could have done to the Phillies this afternoon had he been pitching with his best stuff.

DeGrom threw 6.1 scoreless innings in the Mets’ 2-0 Opening Day victory over Philadelphia, and did it with what he called a too-hard change-up, but with his usual spotless command.

DeGROM: Stuffs Phillies. (AP)

DeGROM: Stuffs Phillies. (AP)

“I didn’t think he had his “A” game,” manager Terry Collins said of deGrom, who gave up seven hits, one walk and with only three strikeouts.

“He competed,” Collins continued. “He didn’t let down. When he had to throw a strike he threw a strike.”

A pitcher will make roughly 34 starts in a complete season, and have dominating stuff in perhaps a third of them. When he can win when he’s a little off, it speaks volumes to what kind of pitcher he can be.

“It tells you he’s pretty good,” David Wright said. “It’s a sign he has good command.”

That deGrom only had three strikeouts meant his pitches had sharp, late-breaking movement because he was able to get the Phillies to put balls in play without getting a good swing at him.

“I thought about my game last year and I try to continue to get better,” said deGrom. “When you don’t have it, then it becomes a mental battle.”

DeGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, is now 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies. He’s turned out to be a reliable innings eater having gone at least six innings in his last 14 starts, the second longest streak in the majors.

The Mets are understandably proud of their young pitching, but for all the talk about Matt Harvey, deGrom has as much upside as any of them, and could be around the longest.

When it comes to Harvey, a popular school of thought is he’ll leave for the Yankees once he becomes a free agent. And, Zack Wheeler is currently on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready until late June of next year at the soonest. That means we won’t have a real picture until sometime in the 2017 season.

That leaves deGrom, who just might have the biggest upside of all.

 

Apr 13

Lagares Out Of Leadoff Spot

That was fast. The Mets’ Opening Day lineup features Curtis Granderson back in the leadoff spot and Juan Lagares dropped down to seventh. The move comes on the heels of Lagares going 0-for-5 Sunday in Atlanta.

LAGARES: Batting seventh. (AP)

LAGARES: Batting seventh. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins said he still has confidence in Lagares, who hit .359 in spring training.

“If he continues to swing the bat like he can, he’ll be in the leadoff spot,” Collins said of Lagares. “Right now, he’s struggling a little bit. So we kind of like where he’s at. We’ve got all the confidence in the world. When that confidence fades, we’ll find somebody else. But, right now, this guy is one of the real, real good players and an up-and-coming star in this game.”

After a strong spring training in which he worked on working the count and other aspects of leading off, Lagares began the season in the sixth spot in the order. The Mets insist they’ve considered the switch early in spring training, but puzzlingly didn’t act on it.

Lagares is admittedly struggling, batting .160, but then again Granderson is hitting .063.

While I understand the nuances of the leadoff hitter is assured of leading off an inning just once, and that when he’s batting it really doesn’t matter because he’s at the plate by himself. However, going into the season’s seventh game, Lagares is hitting in his third different spot in the order.

That indicates indecision.

Here’s today’s order for the Mets:

Curtis Granderson, rf

David Wright, 3b

Lucas Duda, 1b

Michael Cuddyer, lf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Juan Lagares, cf

Wilmer Flores, ss

Jacob deGrom, rhp

 

 

 

Apr 12

Lagares At Leadoff … Finally

Well, it’s about time the Mets wised up and used Juan Lagares in the leadoff spot. And, it doesn’t matter that he went 0-for-5 in Sunday’s 4-3 victory in Atlanta.

After six games Lagares is batting .160, with an identical on-base percentage. It isn’t a stretch to suggest his slow start was caused in large part by moving from first to sixth in the batting order, this after spending spring training working on hitting leadoff.

LAGARES: In leadoff spot. (AP)

LAGARES: In leadoff spot. (AP)

Both Lagares and the Mets sizzled offensively during spring training, but as Terry Collins pointed out, there is a difference between Florida and the regular season.

However, there must be some correlation for preparing for one role for six weeks and then suddenly changing. Athletes are creatures of habit and Lagares – whose strong 2014 season warranted a four-year extension – was obviously unsettled by the switch. As an impressionable young player, how could he not be?

Moving him was a mistake, whether it was Collins’ idea or GM Sandy Alderson’s, but even more absurd was Collins’ explanation he wanted Lagares to avoid the top of Washington’s rotation.

That couldn’t have been much of a confidence builder, and as a young player, that’s what he needs most.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

 

 

Apr 10

Whose Lineup Is It Really?

GM Sandy Alderson took a not-so subtle poke at Mets manager Terry Collins the other day when he interrupted the latter’s pregame press conference and said, “Hey, Terry, here’s your lineup for tomorrow.”

Now, I’m not saying Alderson handed Collins a lineup and said, “use this,” but I do believe he’s had a lot of influence in what is put on the field.

Curtis Granderson hitting first, David Wright second, projected leadoff hitter Juan Lagares sixth and the pitcher eighth is not what was practiced during spring training, and, of course, there are questions why?

The front office routinely talks with the manager about lineups, but I doubt a manager with far more job security would accept this influence, and definitely not the ribbing Alderson gave. Bruce Bochy wouldn’t have. Neither would have Joe Torre or Tony La Russa or Sparky Anderson.

All this seems to be a jab at Collins, whom Alderson said he wasn’t supportive of in his book. How can anybody not see that? Surely, it had to make Collins uncomfortable, although he wouldn’t say anything. How could he?

The Mets’ unconventional lineup has drawn attention throughout baseball, to which Alderson told reporters: “I think what happened is people were surprised by the lineup. People don’t like surprises, whether it’s the media or fans or other people in baseball who’ve got everything figured out. So when there’s a surprise like that, people are scrambling around for some sort of rationale or explanation. Sometimes it gets a little crazy. That’s what I chalk it up to — mostly.”

That’s one or the reasons why there is spring training as teams work to avoid surprises. Why practice something and then deviate?

It makes no sense.