Jun 26

DeGrom Doesn’t Erase Issues Surrounding Mets

As great as Jacob deGrom was for the Mets Thursday, one lone start is not enough to create the perception of them as a playoff team. DeGrom’s eight scoreless innings enabled the Mets to beat Milwaukee, 2-0, at Miller Park, but did nothing to diminish the growing number of questions swirling around his team.

DE GROM: Brilliant Thursday. (AP)

DE GROM: Brilliant Thursday. (AP)

The Mets were 36-30 when their road trip began, and their record is now 37-37. In the end, all the Mets’ 11-game winning streak in April did was prevent the bottom from totally falling out. The Mets scored 11 runs during their 1-7 trip. They were shut out twice and scored more than two runs once. Five of those seven losses were by two or fewer runs.

It tells you two things that the Mets are 19-18 in games decided by two or fewer runs: 1) they are competitive team, which is what the front office promised, and 2) they are still too flawed to reach the next level.

Playoff caliber teams win close games and the Mets simply aren’t winning enough. But, if you had been told before the season that the Mets would be sitting in second place at .500 at the end of June you would have signed up for it in a heartbeat.

However, their improbable 11-game winning streak ratcheted the expectations of the Mets. What was once competing for a wild card spot changed to winning the division and going deep into the playoffs. It’s not that way any more.

However, this trip illustrates flaws the Mets haven’t been able to overcome:

* The Mets can’t win on the road, evidenced by an 11-26 record away from Citi Field. DeGrom can’t win them all, so there’s no sign this will change.

* The Mets can’t score. They have a minus-18 runs differential. In contrast, the Nationals have a plus-28 runs differential and scored 58 more runs. Like the Mets, the Nationals had early-season injuries, but they’ve been able to overcome them. They are 3.5 games ahead of the Mets and if that lead increases by much in the next 15 games prior to the All-Star break, they won’t be caught.

* The infield defense is atrocious. The best alignment has Wilmer Flores at third base or second, with Ruben Tejada at shortstop. There have been reports the Mets could be moving toward that thinking, but nothing official.

* We keep hearing rumblings Steven Matz will be promoted, and with that again the possibility of a six-man rotation. However, Matz does nothing to improve their offense, and the resulting demotion of Jon Niese only diminishes is already minimal trade value.

* The Mets have been hamstrung by injuries, with Travis d’Arnaud going back on the disabled list and David Wright not having any timetable for his return.

Finally, there is growing speculation manager Terry Collins’ job security is tenuous, which unfortunately is the way of the world. Collins unquestionably has flaws, but the real fault for the Mets’ slide since they were 15-5 has to be directed at ownership, which won’t spend, and GM Sandy Alderson, which hasn’t proven he can make the big trade.

There is a sense of urgency from the Mets’ fan base to do something, to do anything, but the Wilpons and Alderson don’t seem to be listening.

Jun 24

Collins Will Be Scapegoat If Mets’ Fall Continues

The Mets’ season hasn’t exactly slipped away, but it seems that way with the fruits from an 11-game winning streak having all but slipped away.

Most likely if this season totally turns to dust, it will be manager Terry Collins who will be the fall guy. Already vultures, those talking heads and those calling in to talk with them, are circling the dying body of another Mets’ season.

COLLINS: Out on limb. (AP)

COLLINS: Out on limb. (AP)

Do I think the Mets can right themselves, turn this summer around and make a run at the playoffs? Yes, I do.

Do I believe they will do so? No, I do not.

I don’t because I can’t see the Mets doing anything of significance in adding a power bat to their line-up. And, I don’t have faith David Wright will come back soon, and in top form if he does. I also don’t see much coming in the second half from Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer.

The Wilpons, despite getting a near $170 windfall in the Madoff case, aren’t about to spend, and I have no confidence GM Sandy Alderson – even with the financial resources – will make a trade.

There are also serious concerns about the bullpen and defense.

The Mets used injuries, and deservedly so, as a reason to extend Collins’ contract. That could work again, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Alderson is already on record saying he doesn’t have faith in Collins and with him getting heat of his own, sacking the manager will protect him.


Jun 23

Playing The Blame Game With Mets’ Hitting

Once ten games over .500, the Mets are a team dangerously close to having an even ledger should they lose tonight to Milwaukee, a team they should have pushed around in Citi Field, but did not.

Eleven-game winning streaks are to be built on, not used as a safe haven to play mediocre ball. For a team unable to score runs, Jon Niese is not the guy you want on the mound tonight.

The Mets have blown two 1-0 starts from Matt Harvey and one from Jacob deGrom. They have lost 16 of their 35 games by two runs or less. Had they won half those games they would be 44-27, good for first in the NL East and with the second best record in baseball behind the computer-hacking St. Louis Cardinals.

Hitting coach Kevin Long is basically saying, “these things happen and we just have to break out of it.’’

If you think that’s an oversimplification, it is not.

There’s no help coming from the minors; they won’t trade any of their young starting pitching for a big bat; the pitchers they would trade, Dillon Gee, Niese and Bartolo Colon, nobody really wants, at least not now; and they don’t have any position players to deal.

You can blame the Wilpons for not opening their check book last winter, or you can blame Sandy Alderson for not doing anything significant in the offseason. You can certainly blame the hitters for not producing. You can also blame Terry Collins, because after all, blaming the manager always seems like the easy option.

There’s a lot of blame to go around, but precious little hope right now.

Jun 10

Giants Light Up Dark Knight

Another game, another bunch of homers hit – no, make that crushed – off the Mets’ Matt Harvey.

The Giants looked comfortable in slugging three homers off Harvey and ripping him for seven runs. It was the second time in four starts he was blistered for seven runs.

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

Harvey (now 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA) has given up 12 homers and 24 extra-base hits overall in 12 starts. After Harvey was rocked for 11 runs in consecutive losses to Pittsburgh and Miami, manager Terry Collins suggested the problem was a dead arm.

Harvey quickly dismissed that stock theory for when a pitcher gets torched a couple of times, which made sense because he was clocked in the mid-90s and including the Marlins game, threw over 100 pitches in back-to-back starts.

So, what’s the problem? Why has Harvey given up eight homers in his last four starts, after giving up eight homers in his previous 26?

First, consider Wednesday was Harvey’s 48th career start, which puts him in the equivalent of his second full season, which is when the real learning takes place. And, don’t forget, the hitters are learning, too.

We also must remember he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and perhaps his arm isn’t what he would want. His breaking pitches, in particular his slider, don’t have the same bite they had in 2013 when he was an All-Star and achieved cult status.

We must also look at his walks. He’s only walked 14, which is a great stat, but it also means his pitches are usually in the strike zone. Although he still throws hard, Harvey must recognize he can’t get by simply throwing heat. It also suggests his pitches, although thrown hard, don’t have the darting movement needed.

Knowing Harvey’s control is exceptional; hitters don’t hang around to fall behind in the count. Harvey has given up three homers on the first pitch (overall hitters are batting .450 off him on the first pitch). He’s also given up five homers after being behind 1-0 in the count.

So, it isn’t just one thing, but several contributing factors to why hitters are lighting up the “Dark Knight.’’


Jun 08

Mets Need Another Parnell Injury If They Want To Keep Him

The New York Mets’ injury news continues to get worse. Former closer Bobby Parnell’s 30-day maximum rehab assignment stay expires Wednesday, at which time the Mets are obligated to activate him from the disabled list.

PARNELL:  Due back soon (AP)

PARNELL: Due back soon (AP)

If this scenario sounds familiar to Mets’ fans that’s because it is – they went through this several years ago when they didn’t want to bring back Oliver Perez. You remember how well that worked out, don’t you? The Mets were forced to activate Perez otherwise he would have exercised his right to become an immediate free agent. The Mets would loved to have traded him, but knew they’d get nothing in return.

Parnell, who underwent Tommy John surgery, April 8, 2014, has not done well in his rehab. Parnell’s fastball, a 96 mph., average with the Mets, but had touched 100 mph., is at 92 mph.

Going for the reach as he often does, manager Terry Collins said he’s hoping adrenaline will add some steam to his fastball.

While at Double-A Binghamton, Parnell was 0-2 with a 14.21 ERA in seven games. In 6.1 innings, he’s given up 11 hits and six walks. Parnell is clearly not ready to return to the Mets, and more to the point, bringing him back now would only weaken the team.

While the best thing would be to keep him on the disabled list, the Mets don’t have that option. They could try to trade him, but would get nothing, and nobody will deal for an injured pitcher with a $3.7 million contract.

The Mets could release Parnell, but that won’t happen. As is often the case with the Mets, their best option is to hope – that they can find some other injury and stash him back on the disabled list.