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.

 

Apr 08

The Bizarre World Of The Mets’ Batting Order

Welcome to the sometimes puzzling, and often maddening world of the New York Mets, where one can’t help but wonder how long before the Sandy Alderson-Terry Collins inevitable explosion.

Tick, tick, tick …

ALDERSON: What color is the sky in his world? (AP)

ALDERSON: What color is the sky in his world? (AP)

From now on I should refer to Alderson as the Mets’ general manager/manager because he seems hell bent on undermining Collins. The Mets’ lineup, bizarre to say the least, is there again for the baseball world to laugh at in the second game of the season.

Here goes and I hope you’re not eating:

Curtis Granderson, rf: One of the few legitimate Mets’ power hitters is at the top of the order instead of the middle where he would benefit from more RBI opportunities. That he walked twice Opening Day is irrelevant.

David Wright, 3b: Normally a team’s best hitter – the combination of power and average – bats third, yet Wright, who is coming off a strong spring training is second. Until Monday, he hadn’t hit there since 2010.

Lucas Duda, 1b: Yes, he had two RBI Monday, but he’s coming off a 30-homer season and is the club’s best power hitter. That means fourth.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: He needs to bat fifth to separate lefty hitters Duda and Granderson. Did the Mets really sign him to be a clean-up hitter?

Daniel Murphy, 2b: I can buy, in part, the reasoning of batting Murphy lower to give him more RBI chances. But, he’s not a power hitter and batting second would offer the best protection to a potential base stealer.

Juan Lagares, cf: After spending all spring trying to develop into a leadoff hitter – and he did a good job – they yank him from that role and bury him sixth. By the way, he is that potential base stealer. But, he’s not likely to do much running this low in the order.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Off all the slots in the order, this makes the most sense. But, he’s certainly not the type of hitter that can take pitches to help Lagares.

Jacob deGrom, rhp: Yes, they are doing with the nonsense of batting the pitcher eighth. This was Tony La Russa’s attempt to re-invent the wheel. Question: If La Russa was such a genius, why didn’t more manager follow his lead with this? By the way, Alderson and La Russa worked together in Oakland, so it is clear to see whose fingerprints are all over this.

Wilmer Flores, ss: Supposedly, Flores is an offensive player, yet he’s buried ninth.

I’m not blaming Collins for this, because it is obvious this isn’t his call.

 

 

Mar 30

Good Games From Montero And Duda Raise Questions

Two pertinent Mets’ issues surfaced in today’s 7-1 rout of the Marlins. The most urgent is the competition for a starter’s spot between Rafael Montero and Dillon Gee. The second is the idea of giving Lucas Duda a contract extension.

DUDA: Are Mets talking long-term? (AP)

DUDA: Are Mets talking long-term? (AP)

Coming on the heels of Gee’s strong outing Sunday, Montero was equally dominating today against Miami with six scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and no walks with six strikeouts.

The assumption is Gee would get the starter job, which is what Terry Collins said after Zack Wheeler’s season-ending elbow injury. However, the Mets have dragged their feet on making an official announcement, and now there are reports they are trying again to deal Gee.

Considering the fragility of starting pitching, and clear questions surrounding their bullpen – of which Montero would be more effective – the prudent decision would be to commit to Gee in the rotation.

As for the 29-year-old Duda, there are reports of a four-year, $31-million contract. Duda is coming off a 30-homer, 92-RBI season and will make $4.2 million this year. He went deep today and drove in five runs, so you might think Duda’s agents at the Beverly Hills Sports Council will be putting in a call to GM Sandy Alderson soon.

Reportedly, Duda’s people are interested in talking this week, but don’t want to negotiate during the season. The Mets don’t operate well when under the gun like that, which is probably a good thing.

Normally, I’d be in for signing Duda long term, but you must remember he’s only had one good season. I’m not sure one good year is worth a four-year deal.

If he does it again, then sure, but the price will go up.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

Mar 24

Mets’ Handling Of Harvey’s Starts Leads To Speculation

On one hand, I admire Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s veiled attempt at honesty. He admitted today the decision not to start Matt Harvey over Jacob deGrom for the Mets’ home opener is partially based on ticket sales. The Citi Field home opener will likely draw a full house anyway, so the Mets are saving Harvey for later in the homestand.

HARVEY: Already there are questions. (MLB)

HARVEY: Already there are questions. (MLB)

Alderson explained to reporters the timing of when to pitch Harvey: “Look, we take a lot of things into account. I think the first and foremost is: Does any pitcher deserve to pitch in a game of that sort? And I think that was the primary focus. You’re assuming people are more interested in seeing Harvey pitch than Jacob. That’s probably true, but not something that I would acknowledge.’’

Of course, he won’t because the Mets’ decision spoke for itself. Alderson also acknowledged other considerations and didn’t discount ticket sales. How the Mets handled announcing their starting rotation and saving Harvey for later in the first homestand screams several things, and none of them very good:

* The front office isn’t on the same page with manager Terry Collins. But, if that’s not the case, then Collins – as I suggested Monday – isn’t being decisive. There have been reports Alderson and Collins aren’t working in harmony and this doesn’t discount that thinking.

* The indecision when Harvey would make his first two starts indicates they don’t have a definitive plan to limit his innings. They will fly by the seat of their pants and hope for the best, just like many of us thought all along. Frankly, I believe the Mets are afraid to annoy Harvey, who has already shown little regard for management’s decisions. If they are thinking placating Harvey now will give them an edge when he becomes a free agent, they are kidding themselves.

* If weather is a factor as suggested by saving Harvey for the afternoon game in Washington instead of Opening Day, that raises concerns about his physical status. The Mets are banking on a warmer day for the season’s third game instead of the first. If it’s really cold in Washington when he’s scheduled to pitch, will the Mets pull him? Either he’s ready or he’s not. It’s not that hard. If that’s the case, then why not keep him in Florida for an extended spring training and bring him up in May? If they did that, then both the weather and Harvey’s innings become moot points. They obviously won’t as to not alienate Harvey.

* If saving Harvey for later in the first homestand is so the Mets can sell a few more tickets, that tells you how financially solvent they are heading into the season. What difference will those extra tickets make? How will that money be spent? Harvey might be the Mets’ best pitching draw, but he’s no Tom Seaver or Dwight Gooden in that regard. That’s penny pinching and it tells you they really aren’t ready to compete, because that costs money.

Basically, we’re talking about several thousand extra dollars. If that’s going to make that much of a difference, then the Mets aren’t ready to get off the porch and run with the big dogs.