Oct 12

ALDS Highlight Many Differences Between Mets And Yankees

With Cleveland – and with it, Jay Bruce – eliminated from the playoffs, I’m guessing the worst possible World Series scenario for Mets fans would be the Yankees against the Nationals.

Mets fans clearly hate the Yankees for reasons we can all understand and embrace, and which was reinforced by their ALDS win over the Indians and define the differences of the franchises:

NO QUIT MENTALITY: After losing the first two games to Cleveland, the Yankees rallied to win the next three. Yes, 2015 was a magical year, but outside of that season that’s a characteristic we haven’t often seen from the Mets. We certainly didn’t see it in 2017.

FRONT OFFICE AGGRESSIVENESS: Despite already exceeding expectations at the deadline, Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn’t rest on the presumption it was already a successful season. The Yankees might have gotten by not doing anything at the deadline, but Cashman brought in third baseman Todd Frazier, and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Cashman also added Sonny Gray, although the early returns haven’t been good. You don’t need to be reminded what Mets GM Sandy Alderson did.

SUPPORTING THE MANAGER: Yankees manager Joe Girardi had an awful time in Game 2, but his team rallied behind him and he said “they had my back.’’ Nobody can say the Mets had Terry Collins’ back, especially Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey and all those unnamed sources in the Newsday article.

THE BULLPEN: The difference in the Yankees’ bullpen compared to that of the Mets is roughly the same separation of that between Ohio State and Rutgers. The Yankees might have the best pen remaining in the playoffs and could translate into another title.

YOUNG STUDS: Michael Conforto is the best the Mets have to offer, while Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are unproven. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ farm system has produced Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. Judge struck out 16 times in 24 plate appearances against the Indians, but I’m willing to bet he’ll be much better against the Astros.

STARTING PITCHING: Can we officially dismiss the notion the Mets have the best rotation – young or otherwise – in baseball? The Mets don’t even have the best rotation in New York, although I’m taking Jacob deGrom before any Big Apple pitcher.

REPLACING ICONS: Not long after Derek Jeter retired the Yankees made the aggressive trade for Didi Gregorius, who homered twice against Corey Kluber in Game 5. Meanwhile, David Wright has played in only 75 games over the past three years. The Mets’ contingency plan is Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera.

VETERAN PRESENCE: They are called the Baby Bombers, but the Yankees might not be here without Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and C.C. Sabathia. The Mets’ veterans? Well, Wright is recovering from surgery and the other vets were dealt at the deadline for a handful of non-descript pitching prospects.

OWNERSHIP: George is gone, but the Steinbrenner family is far more aggressive than Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Not even close.

If they were in the same division, the Mets would be 20 games behind the Yankees. That means Alderson has a lot of work ahead of him.

Oct 01

Collins’ Era Over, But Not Career With Mets

A season that began with high expectations, mercifully ended today for the Mets with an 11-0 rout by the Phillies, and with it the anticipated announcement of manager Terry Collins future.

With both Collins and GM Sandy Alderson saying the time was right for a change, the longest-tenured manager in franchise history at seven years announced he was “stepping down’’ to take an undefined role in the organization concentrating on player development and working with the managers in the minor league system.

COLLINS: Still with Mets (AP)

COLLINS: Still with Mets (AP)

As the Mets played out the string to finish a dismal 70-92, speculation of Collins’ future raged and boiled over in a vicious Newsday article that featured numerous anonymous quotes ripping the manager.

Through it all, Collins insisted he wouldn’t resign and wanted to stay in baseball. There was a tremendous negative backlash against Alderson and Mets’ ownership that makes me wonder what the Mets’ true motivation is in this decision.

Collins spoke with owner Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon prior to the game and it is then that it is believed the advisory role in the front office was offered.

“I don’t know if I had it in me right now,’’ Collins said, fighting back tears when asked if he would have accepted an offer to continue managing the Mets.

“But right now, I am going to get some rest and figure out how to help out down the road. … It’s been a blast, but it’s time. This is one of those years you want to forget. There’s a sour taste, but it’s in the best interest of the organization and I’ve always been a team player.’’

In this case, being a team player prevented the ugly scenario of Alderson having to fire Collins. You could tell what happened today was orchestrated, and if not offered a position Collins would have forced ownership to fire him.

So instead of falling on the sword to protect the emperor, Collins looked after himself. He wants to stay in baseball and he’s going to do that with the Mets in a teaching capacity. It’s not managing, but he’s still in the game.

It’s not what he wants, but it’s what he needs.

Speaking in his finest legalese, Alderson said: “From our standpoint, I think we are at the end of a seven-year run and we need to make a change in direction. That’s often a code phrase for changing positions and jobs and that I think is what we foresee here.”

Alderson said he’ll begin the interview process immediately from the pool of Robin Ventura, Kevin Long, Joe McEwing, Alex Cora, Bob Geren and Chip Hale.

But first, he’ll purge Collins’ staff, beginning with pitching coach Dan Warthen.

“That’s the unavoidable fallout from a change in manager is that coaching positions become question marks,’’ Alderson said. “Then we will start in earnest over the next few days [interviewing managerial candidates]. We certainly don’t want to waste any time.’’

That’s because Alderson has a lot of work to do beginning with the pitching staff decimated by injuries. Without those injuries, and those to David Wright, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, there could have been the playoffs for the third straight season and Collins might have been given an extension and a chance to improve on his 551-583 record with the Mets.

“It’s baseball,’’ Collins said. “I have spent my whole life in it, and there’s good days, bad days, good weeks, bad weeks, good years and bad years. You have got to be able to deal with them all. You can’t just ride the wave all the time, so we’ll move on.”

Sep 25

Apple Doesn’t Rise On Record-Setting Homer

The Mets established a franchise record when Travis d’Arnaud hit the team’s 219th homer in the eighth inning. So, what accompanied the record-setting moment could best be described as “typical Mets’’ when the Home Run Apple failed to rise.

That prompted the scarce crowd to chant for the Apple, which resulted in a Bronx cheer when it finally was raised.

Just curious, but could the Apple have been damaged when Daniel Murphys homer struck the casing? It would have been apropos.

The homer gave the Mets a three-run lead, which turned out to be very important as the Braves scored twice in the ninth against Jeurys Familia.

Mets starters sharp: Chris Flexen’s line of four runs in five innings, looked worse than it really was. Three of those runs came in the sixth when Josh Smoker gave up those inherited runners, which was the decisive point in the 9-2 loss in Game 1 of the doubleheader.

What I don’t understand is why manager Terry Collins waited so long to replace Flexen. Why would Collins keep Flexen in the game to load the bases, with two of the runners coming on walks?

One criticism of Collins is that he has stuck with his starters too long, forcing the bullpen to enter with little-to-no wiggle room. Collins has to have a better understanding of how long his starters would pitch. He had to know Flexen wasn’t going to make it through the sixth after the leadoff hitter reached on a single.

In the second game, Seth Lugo struck out seven and gave up two hits in six scoreless innings.

Collins said Lugo will get another appearance to make another impression before the offseason, but wouldn’t say how.

If Collins sticks to the rotation order, it would be Saturday in Philadelphia, but he hasn’t defined how he’ll use Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey.

Sep 21

There’s No Use Pushing Syndergaard

Sure, it would be good to see Noah Syndergaard pitch again this season for the Mets, even if it is an inning of relief. However, that one inning won’t answer any important questions. It might even raise a couple if Syndergaard were to reinjure himself.

Ideally, the Mets wanted Syndergaard to start several times and build up to perhaps a dozen to 15 innings. That might have given the Mets an idea where Syndergaard stood in his rehab, and if nothing else, alleviate his anxiety.

That’s not happening now, but it doesn’t matter because those 15 innings would have only given the Mets an idea about Syndergaard’s partially torn lat muscle, but not answered fully all his questions.

After throwing 39 pitches in a simulated game Monday, Syndergaard could be given clearance to pitch. It’s really important to Syndergaard to get out there before the season ends a week from Sunday.

“It’s a personal thing for me,” Syndergaard told reporters. “I am getting really anxious. I spent three or four months rehabbing, and if at this point they are going to shut me down, what really was the whole point of all that? I feel I worked really hard in the rehab process and I just really want to get out there and prove I can come back from that kind of injury healthy.”

What was the whole point? It’s hard to believe he really said that, but then again, he’s said a lot of crazy things lately. When Syndergaard hurt himself, by his own stubbornness in first by bulking up without consulting the Mets, and secondly, with his refusal to undergo an MRI. His injury and lost season are totally on him.

If Syndergaard doesn’t pitch again this season, he’ll go into the winter with questions, and subsequently, spring training. That makes three significant questions including Zack Wheeler (stress reaction in his arm) and Steven Matz (elbow surgery).

“There is a process to get a player ready to play the game,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “The only way we know what we are looking at all winter long is to see where we are at the end of the year, such as with two guys who can’t pitch right now, we don’t know where we are with them down the road.’’

The Mets are trying to learn what they can with Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero.

That’s seven potential starters, each with a significant question. That’s what the Mets are all about these days, and pitching is supposed to be their strong suit. So, while it would be good to see Syndergaard pitch  again this year, it isn’t imperative.

Sep 18

Is Harvey’s Career With Mets Coming To An End?

Matt Harvey was hit hard again tonight, but the Mets aren’t entertaining any thoughts of pulling the plug on his redemption tour and starting fresh in the spring.

As of now, Harvey will take his 6.59 and rising ERA to the mound at least two more times.

HARVEY: Hammered again. (AP)

HARVEY: Hammered again. (AP)

“When somebody tells me why he shouldn’t, we’ll consider it,’’ manager Terry Collins said when asked if the Mets should think about shutting Harvey down. “What do we have to lose?”

Collins said Harvey was effective in the first two innings – despite falling behind 1-0 in the first – “but in the third inning he lost command of his stuff.’’

In particular, Harvey’s slider had no bite, and drifted over the plate and right into Giancarlo Stanton’s wheelhouse, where he crushed it some 450 feet for a monstrous three-run homer that broke open the game.

“Everything,’’ Harvey said when asked what wasn’t working. “It’s embarrassing. Everybody is watching. It’s terrible. There’s nothing to say. Nothing is good.’’

Even so, Harvey doesn’t want to shut it down.

“No,’’ he said. “This is my job. I have to keep going and try to get better.’’

Sometimes an ERA can be misleading, but not in Harvey’s case. In 14.1 innings since coming off the disabled list, Harvey has given up 21 runs on 32 hits. Overall this year, he has a 1.67 WHIP, so he’s been stinking up the place with the new analytics, too.

Amazingly, hitters are batting .290 against him, some 53 points higher than his career average.

I can see why Harvey wants to make his final two starts. But, will they be his final two starts as a Met?