Jul 02

Mets Lose, But Montero Gives Encouraging Effort

C’mon, you really didn’t think Rafael Montero would be solid four games in a row, did you? Probably the Mets didn’t think he would, either. However, it wasn’t a total loss for Montero despite the Mets losing, 7-1, today to the Phillies.

MONTERO: Helps save bullpen. (AP)

MONTERO: Helps save bullpen. (AP)

The Phillies got to Montero for four runs in the second, but he hung around and took the Mets into the seventh. In the big picture, Montero’s 6.1 innings – coming on the heels of Zack Wheeler’s cameo appearance yesterday – helped save the bullpen with the Nationals series coming up.

“That was it,’’ manager Terry Collins said of the second. “He had a bad inning. After that, he kept attacking the zone. He kept us right there. … I trust him because he’s throwing strikes.’’

Montero gave the Mets a chance to win, which is all you can expect from a relatively inexperienced pitcher.

Command has always been a problem from Montero, but he only walked two hitters – consecutive batters in the sixth – which enabled him to work into the seventh. Montero gave up four runs on eight hits with six strikeouts.

In previous games, Montero’s problems would escalate, but today he regrouped after the second to give the Mets more than they could have expected.

“It would have been easy for him to throw up his hands and feel sorry for himself,’’ Collins said. “But, he bore down and kept us in the game.’’

However, the Mets managed one hit against rookie Nick Pivetta.

GRANDERSON SITS: The red-hot Curtis Granderson didn’t play because of tightness in his left hip. Granderson was originally in the starting lineup but was scratched after complaining of a tight hip.

“He tried to hit, but couldn’t,’’ Collins said, leading to speculation he might not be available to face Stephan Strasburg Monday in Washington.

CESPEDES COLD: If Granderson hadn’t come up lame, today would have been a good day to rest Yoenis Cespedes, who is on a 3-for-21 slide.

Cespedes has looked overmatched – if not tired – at the plate and has been chasing pitches low-and-away.

“He’s human,’’ Collins said of Cespedes’ struggles. “Everybody who has ever played this game is going to have [bad days]. Yoenis Cespedes will turn it around. He’s too good a player.’’

NATIONALS NEXT: This is probably as good a time as any to face the Nationals. Trea Turner is out indefinitely with a broken wrist and their bullpen has blown 13 save opportunities. The Mets also catch a break in not facing Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez.

Jun 29

Mets Getting What They Want From Tebow

I just got a call from a radio station wanting to talk about Tim Tebow. The question was: Was this just a promotion or does he have a real chance of playing in the major leagues?

Today is June 29 and a California radio station wants to talk about Tebow. To me, that’s what the Mets wanted and why they are paying Tebow minor league dollars, which isn’t much.

I don’t know if Tebow has the ability to play in the majors, but I do know, from what everybody says, that he’s sincere in what he’s doing.

For the Mets it is a feel good story. It’s better than asking what is wrong with the Mets? When will Noah Syndergaard be back? What about Matt Harvey? Will David Wright ever play again? Will Terry Collins be fired?

Every time you want to write off Tebow, he does something. Divine intervention? Who knows?

But, we’re talking about the Mets and it is positive for once. That’s what they wanted.

Jun 25

Montero Pitches Big For Mets

Rafael Montero made us wonder before, but could this time be different? Not only was Montero terrific in beating the Giants, but Sunday was his third straight solid outing.

With three starters on the disabled list, and the Mets trying to salvage something from their season, this is about as good a piece of news they can currently expect.

MONTERO:  Solid again.  (AP)

MONTERO: Solid again. (AP)

“This is what we were hoping to see from him,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He didn’t shy away. I hope this is what we’re going to see from here on from him. Hopefully, this is a huge wake-up call that he can pitch in this league.’’

After giving one run in 3.2 innings against the Dodgers, and three scoreless against the Nationals, Montero gave up one run in 5.2 innings today to earn his second career victory, beating the Giants, 8-2.

Command has always been a problem for Montero. He only walked two Giants, but only 61 of his 104 pitches were strikes, which leaves plenty of room for improvement.

If there was a signature moment, it came in the sixth. The Giants had runners on first and second with nobody out and he busted a fastball in off the fists of Buster Posey, popped out into a double play. It was a pitch thrown with confidence because if Montero missed and the pitch tailed over the plate Posey could have crushed it and change the complexion of the game.

Zack Wheeler will be eligible to come off the disabled list in a week, but if he’s not ready Montero could slot in again.

And, this time Collins won’t have to cross his fingers.

 

 

 

Jun 24

Mets Should Honor Cabrera’s Demand And Move On

So much for Asdrubal Cabrera being the ultimate team player. That boat pretty much sailed when he told Mets manager Terry Collins that he wanted to be traded because he was unhappy about being moved to second.

Actually, the boat might have started leaving the harbor when he told Collins he didn’t want to play third.

CABRERA: Time to move on. (AP)

CABRERA: Time to move on. (AP)

Cabrera is a major league player who has previously played second base and if his manager wants him to play second base he should play it, and if he had a problem with the request he should address it in private and not on TV.

He has to be smarter.

Moaning about moving to a new position is one thing, but attempting to blackmail the Mets that he’d move if they pick up his extension is another.

Very tacky, and if the Mets were smart they’d acquiesce to Cabrera’s emotional demands and move on. His range is shot, he’s been hampered by injuries, and he’s not hitting … it is time to move on.

Collins’ request wasn’t outrageous, but it was misplaced. Late June isn’t time to experiment. Cabrera shouldn’t be at second, if anything, to get his bat in the line-up everyday Wilmer Flores should get that chance. If not Flores, then T.Y. Rivera, instead.

Cabrera had a nice run with the Mets, but it’s time for a chance at shortstop. And, Jose Reyes isn’t the answer, either.

Jun 20

Today’s Question: What’s Wrong With Zack Wheeler?

The ancient Greeks may have had their idea of tragedy, but they never had to stay up until 2 to watch the Mets. How does a team hit four home runs and score six runs against the sport’s best pitcher, but lose the game?

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

Actually, it’s very simple when your starting pitcher gives up seven runs and lasts only two innings. That’s Zack Wheeler, who lasted 1.2 innings and gave up eight runs in his previous start. That’s 15 runs in 3.2 innings.

Concerned is an understatement.

“When you’ve got that kind of stuff and you’re getting hit like [Wheeler] is getting hit, there is something wrong and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He’s too good. He’s got too good of stuff.’’

But “stuff’’ is too broad a term. Stuff is more than throwing hard. It includes movement, location and command of his secondary pitches.

“Honestly, I haven’t had off-speed pitches all year, and now it’s starting to catch up to me,’’ Wheeler said. “Those guys get scouting reports and now it’s starting to catch up to me. It’s easy [for hitters] when you can’t throw off-speed for strikes and you’re just throwing fastballs.’’

And, fastballs with little movement that hang out over the plate get crushed. But, it might not be just one issue.  Wheeler’s problems can be attributed to a myriad of circumstances:

HEALTH: Wheeler said he’s fine, but Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey each said they were all right and both are on the disabled list.

Mets’ pitchers are notorious for withholding physical ailments and trying to pitch through discomfort, so it wouldn’t surprise me if something crops up with Wheeler.

HITTING A WALL: Wheeler missed the last two seasons following Tommy John surgery and a complicated healing process. It’s quite possible he’s hit a wall.

The solution for that could be to shut him down for his next start and give him time to rest.

TIPPING PITCHES: Collins said they’ll look at video in an attempt to spot any mechanical issues. While they are at it, examine the tape carefully to spot any giveaways to what’s coming.

The Dodgers’ first five hitters swung the bat like they knew the pitch.

Something isn’t right with Wheeler and the Mets’ would be wise for him to skip a start as they search for answers.