Mar 02

Collins: “Time To Get To Work”

So far it has been all fun and giggles for the Mets in the early days of spring training, but with the exhibition schedule to begin Thursday against the Nationals, manager Terry Collins said it’s time to get serious.

His timing was right. It shows he has his fingers on the pulse of his team.

COLLINS: Time to get to work.  (AP)

COLLINS: Time to get to work. (AP)

Six straight days of showing up in camp with a different car by Yoenis Cespedes is one thing. It’s his money and he can do what he wants with it. Then there was Cespedes shelling out $7,000 for a prize pig. Again, it’s his money and if he throws a BBQ for his teammates, well, that’s more team bonding.

The kicker came when Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard rode horses into camp yesterday. That was the kicker for Collins, who thought there might have been too much fooling around, if not a little bit of recklessness because after all, either one of those guys could have fallen off and gotten hurt.

“The fun time is over,” Collins told reporters. “It’s time to finally get ready for baseball.”

As far as Cespedes, Collins doesn’t have a problem with him having fun for now.

“He does his drills,” Collins said. “He works hard. He’s getting ready to play. He’s having a little fun for the time being. But, like I said, it’s time to get ready for baseball now.”

Feb 29

Mets’ Leadoff Options Without Granderson

Curtis Granderson missed today’s workout with what the Mets called a minor eye issue. They don’t seem concerned.

“He had something in his eye. He said he had something in it yesterday,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He came today. It was pretty red. So as a precaution — you know, pinkeye can be very contagious — we sent him to the eye doctor to see what it was. … He’ll be fine.”

GRANDERSON: Doesn't  practice today. (Getty)

GRANDERSON: Doesn’t practice today. (Getty)

Let’s hope so, but how fine will the Mets be if he were out for a substantial bit of time?

If Granderson is gone, who’ll become the leadoff hitter? Since the Mets so highly prize on-base percentage, let’s take a look at 2015 OBP of the position players see who could be the best candidate.

David Wright (.379): His OBP is higher than Granderson’s, but it is only over 152 at-bats. Wright could still be the best choice based on his .377 career on-base percentage coupled with his decline in power. Since he’s no longer projected as the third hitter, but second, why not? Wright has been known to steal a base, but you have to wonder how much his back would impact his speed.

Lucas Duda (.352): He has a worthy OBP, but he’s their clean-up hitter so that won’t work. Plus, he has no speed.

Travis d’Arnaud (.340): Catchers have hit high in the order before, and he has a decent OBP but not the speed.

Yoenis Cespedes (.337): He has a representative OBP and some speed, he’s one of their primary power sources. He and Duda have to be back-to-back in the order so this wouldn’t happen.

Michael Conforto (.336): If the Mets don’t platoon Conforto he could be an intriguing possibility. Plus, he has some power potential. If Conforto hits first, it would keep Wright batting second.

Ruben Tejada (.338): When Jose Reyes left Tejada was considered to hit leadoff. But, the Mets are paying Asdrubal Cabrera to play shortstop.

Neil Walker ( .328): Daniel Murphy‘s replacement would merit some consideration based on his OBP, but I believe Wright or Conforto would be better choices.

Asdrubal Cabrera (.315): As with Walker, there are better options.

Wilmer Flores (.295): Nope.

Juan Lagares (.289): He has the speed, but not the OBP. So, even in those games he does play there he’s not the guy.

After examining these numbers, I’m wondering if manager Terry Collins might consider batting Wright first and sandwiching Cespedes between Granderson and Duda. That would give the Mets three consecutive power hitters with 30-homer potential.

It’s worth a thought.

 

 

Feb 26

Hypothetical Terry Collins Address To Mets

By all accounts, Mets’ manager Terry Collins‘ address to his players today was positive with him stressing the expectations will be higher this season and they should embrace being the hunted. Using that information, I’ve put together a hypothetical speech Collins should have said to his team this morning prior to their first full-squad workout in Port St. Lucie.

“Good morning, gentlemen. It’s great to see all of you. Of course, most of you have been here now for several days, which tells me a lot. It tells me how serious you are about the work ahead of us, which it get back to the World Series and win it this time.

COLLINS: Starts another year. (AP)

COLLINS: Starts another year. (AP)

“I know we all remember how great it felt after we clinched in Cincinnati, and after we beat the Dodgers and Cubs. I also know how bad we all felt after we lost the World Series. I’m sure you thought about it during the winter. I want you to carry that feeling with you this summer and use it to your advantage.

“Yes, last year was great. But, last year is also last year. Last year doesn’t guarantee us anything this year. Washington will be better. The Cubs are better. The Giants are better. St. Louis is good. The Dodgers and Pirates are good. Nobody will hand us anything. We have to earn anything we get, and that begins with us taking care of our business.

“The media will say David Wright and Matt Harvey are the leaders of this team, and they will right … but only a point. To me, a leader isn’t just a player who produces in a big spot, but somebody whose teammates can rely on at all times. A leader is somebody who does his job. That means keeping your head in the game and keeping your focus at all times.

“It means knowing what to do in the field before the pitch is thrown. It means not giving away at-bats. When we weren’t hitting last year it was mostly because we gave away too many at-bats. We have to do a better job of moving up runners, we have to be more aggressive on the bases and we have to take advantage of opportunities when we get them. Remember, nobody will give us anything.

“It’s a long season and we’re going to need everybody at one time or another. So, when your name is called you have to be ready to play.

“Last season taught us a lot of things. It taught us how great winning can feel. It also told us how bad losing can feel. Above all else, last year taught us how difficult winning can be and we’ll need everybody if we’re going to achieve what we want to do.”

Collins isn’t a rah-rah type, so there wasn’t any “win it for the Gipper,” emotion. So, all this is what he might have said to his team. Collins isn’t one to single players out in a team meeting. He’ll likely meet with his players individually. Hopefully, he’ll stress to Wright the need for him to be honest about how he feels and not fight him about rest.

And, along those lines, and you knew I would get to this eventually, in speaking to Harvey they would have to relive that ninth inning of Game 5. I hope Collins made Harvey understand he went against his better judgment when he let back out for the ninth inning. But, Collins let Harvey stay in the game because he trusted him.

That being said, I hope Collins made it known Harvey would have to regain that trust. And, that would start with Harvey not fighting his decisions when it comes to taking him out of a game.

 

Feb 25

Harvey: “I Want To Be Part Of The Mets.”

Speaking to ESPN today, Matt Harvey said what Mets’ fans have wanted to hear for a long time. Several issues were glossed over in the interview, but the essential nugget was Harvey saying he wants to stay with the Mets. He didn’t say anything about home-team discounts or what it would take, but just saying that is cause for hope.

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

Harvey addressed the innings controversy ignited by agent Scott Boras by very diplomatically, saying, “as a young player, you want to play this game for a long time. I want to be part of the Mets and help this organization get to where we want to be.”

As for Boras, last year Harvey defiantly supported him by saying he hired the fire-balling agent to maximize his career, so naturally, speculation was – which I admit was voiced here – he’d take the last dollar and bolt for his childhood team, the Yankees. Harvey said the main issue Boras focused on was, “is helping this team getting as far as we can and not only getting there for one year but getting there multiple times.”

For that to happen, serious precautions needed to be taken to protect his arm, which generated a conflict between Harvey and his agent, his doctor and Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins.

“As a young guy you want to have a long career,” Harvey said. “ A doctor is telling you one thing, but as a competitor you want to be out there.”

When Boras leaked the innings story, Harvey, who was coming off Tommy John surgery, was to be shut down at 180 innings. Instead, and not without some tension, he threw 216. Unfortunately for him and the Mets, he didn’t reach 217, which would have been the ninth inning of Game 5.

Of course, as we all remember, manager Collins went against his better judgment and acquiesced to Harvey’s demand to remain in the game. He expended a lot of energy arguing with Collins and sprinting to the mound to start the ninth. Perhaps that’s when he ran of juice.

After reflecting on that night, Harvey admitting “some heartbreak and some sadness” and said: “Nobody wants to lose. Nobody is trying to lose. It’s one of those things. Once you sit back and realize what we did and what we’re capable of for years to come, and with who we have, and getting [Yoenis] Cespedes back, and getting a healthy David Wright, followed by the starting staff we have. It was a great experience for us. Something we can learn from, but not dwell on, but really pick up from where we left off and finish what we started.”

It’s spring training, a time for new beginnings, and with that comes the hope Harvey really wants to stay here and possibly the Mets can keep the band together.

Would be nice.

 

Feb 24

Wright, Collins Talk Playing Time

Mets manager Terry Collins met with David Wright today to begin discussing limiting his playing time during spring training and the season. Not surprisingly, a definitive games number was not reached.

WRIGHT: Talks limits with Collins. (AP)

WRIGHT: Talks limits with Collins. (AP)

It will begin by limiting his exhibition at-bats and time in the batting cage. During the season, Wright could sit in an afternoon game after a night game. However, there was no mention in sitting him in a game before, or after, an off day.

“It went great because he’s David Wright,” Collins told reporters.“It was all about the scheduling. It was all about what needed to take place before he’s in games. And David obviously was on board with it.”

GM Sandy Alderson set a target of 130 games for Wright, who missed four months last year with spinal stenosis, but that won’t appear to be the case.

“As much as I’ve tried to be in the lineup as much as possible, I think that I understand it’s probably best for me and best for the team where I get some rest because of the condition of my back,” Wright said. “I like to play. I think Terry is just trying to be proactive. And he’s trying to look out for me and look out for the long term.

“I felt like we did a good job last year, toward the end of the year, spacing out rest. I think this is going to be a little different because you’re starting in February rather than only having to worry about a couple of months doing this. So I think he just wants to get out in front of it and be a little bit more proactive and maybe help me look out for myself.”

Of that was Wright talking so you know he’s not going to complain. That’s just not his style. But, these are the Mets we’re talking about, and I bet you thought of Matt Harvey and his innings limit last year. I sure did. I just hope this was just the beginning and there will be further talks and this won’t be forgotten.

Wright’s health is too important.