Aug 05

Suspensions From Jordany Valdespin To Alex Rodriguez Bring Different Reactions

One by one the names were read, but only one brought an immediate response from me: Jordany Valdespin of the New York Mets.

The reaction was two-fold. First laughter, because aren’t these supposed to be “performance enhancing drugs?’’ The second was this probably explains a lot about his behavior, which seemingly has been a permanent case of “Roid Rage.’’

VALDESPIN: Yup, he's the man.

VALDESPIN: Yup, he’s the man.

Of the 14 players suspended in Major League Baseball’s purge – that includes the 13 today and Ryan Braun,’’ only a handful have any significance.  The rest, including Valdespin, will fade away into trivia answers.

Braun, because he was the first and had been MLB’s pet target since getting off on a technicality the first time; Alex Rodriguez, because of the contract, it’s the Yankees and the scope of the penalty of 211 games; and Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta because their teams are in pennant races.

The rest? Who really cares? And, for some, I don’t care if it hurts their chances in free agency. Wasn’t Melky Cabrera rewarded with a two-year contract?

The current climate among the players is venomous, particularly towards Braun and Rodriguez. Much of that venom directed at Braun is because he lied, but if the players were honest with themselves, it would be because Braun rolled so easily.

When he escaped the first time it showed the flaws in the system, but also that the appeals process worked. When he caved so easily it gave credibility to Tony Bosch’s evidence, evidence purchased by Major League Baseball.

It makes me wonder if Braun’s “settlement’’ of 15 games longer than the pack was part of a deal, otherwise wouldn’t Bud Selig have hit him with Rodriguez-type numbers?

As for Rodriguez, at 38 and injured, his career is winding down, the rest of this season could be the final chapter of what would have been a Hall of Fame career. Rodriguez has to appeal for several reasons. He said he’s “fighting for his life,’’ but he’s also fighting for the rest of the players who regard him as selfish.

Ironically, Rodriguez’s appeal might be one of the least selfish things he’s done in his career because he’ll force Major League Baseball to show its hand and defend its actions, perhaps in Federal Court, and from there who knows what will become of the Joint Drug Agreement and the scope of Selig’s power.

Currently, it is unlimited, but if Rodriguez’s suspension is overturned or reduce, that’s a correction to Selig’s authority because it must be remembered these players were punished not for failing a drug test, but because of their connection to Biogenesis.

And, we don’t know the depth of that connection.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 04

Here’s A Plan For The Mets On How To Use Wilmer Flores

What is going on with the New York Mets and prospect Wilmer Flores? Can we even call him a prospect anymore?

His natural position is third base, but with David Wright on the disabled list they are not bringing up Flores.

FLORES: Could he play first?

FLORES: Could he play first?

It makes no sense unless the Mets have other plans for Flores. Reading between the lines, my guess is their long- range plan could be to play him at first base, which is where he recently worked at Triple-A Las Vegas following an ankle injury.

Reportedly, he’s back at second base, but why? They should play him at first for the rest of the minor league season to see if they have something there.

Flores has played all around the infield, but mostly at second base this season before the interlude at first base. Blocked from third because of Wright, and with Daniel Murphy playing better at second, and concerns about his lack of speed keeping him from the outfield, first base could be the logical conclusion.

Don’t the Mets see that?

It appears the Mets will give Davis the second half to find his way at the plate. If he doesn’t, but Flores shows something at first, their questions could be answered for them by not tendering Davis a contract and go into spring training next year with Flores competing with Josh Satin for the first base job.

Should Flores use the rest of the minor league season – and there’s not much left – to make a positive impression at first base, it will be interesting to see if the Mets send him somewhere this winter to work at that position.

The presumption is Flores can hit, evidenced by his .320 average with 14 homers and 85 RBI with Las Vegas. All that in just 412 at-bats.

Currently, Flores has little trade value, even as a prospect, because other teams also don’t know where to play him. And, American League teams prefer to use the designated hitter slot for veterans who have lost a step, or proven major league hitters stuck in a position logjam.

Flores is neither. The question is: Will he ever be a Met?



The following is the Mets’ lineup for their series finale with Kansas City:

Eric Young, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Josh Satin, 3B

Marlon Byrd, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Juan Lagares, CF

John Buck, C

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Zack Wheeler, RHP

LINEUP THOUGHTS: There was speculation the Mets would move Murphy to third and play Eric Young at second, but that’s not the case and that’s a good thing. Young and Murphy are settled into their positions, and with Wright out, why make a move that impacts three positions instead of one? … I still like Lagares batting second and dropping down Murphy into a RBI slot. With the way he’s hitting he’s better in the fifth slot than Davis.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 03

Mets Mishandle Wright’s Injury; Lands On Disabled List

The New York Mets posted their lineup on a bulletin board opposite the door opening into their vast clubhouse and missing is David Wright’s name.

He shouldn’t have been in Friday’s lineup either, and also not in Thursday’s lineup.

WRIGHT: Limping off the field. (AP)

WRIGHT: Limping off the field. (AP)

Once again, the Mets mishandled an injury that has the potential to turn significant. Wright, playing with tightness in his right hamstring this week, strained that hamstring last night and was placed on the disabled list this morning.

As I always say when it comes to Met injuries, bet the over, and don’t think this will just be two weeks.

I wrote prior to the game Wright should sit. It pleases me none to say, “I told you so.’’ Then again, I don’t have to say it to veteran Met watchers as they know, regardless of the manager or GM, injuries and the Mets are never a good mix.

Wright several times – including a slight fracture in his back last year – Ike Davis, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jon Niese and Johan Santana were not handled properly. Beltran was so frustrated and distrustful of how he was being treated that he had surgery on his own.

Actually, that didn’t work out too badly for him, did it?

Earlier this week, Dr. Terry Collins suggested Wright might have been dehydrated.

It has been said nobody knows a player’s body like himself and there is some degree of truth to that, but it is not complete. Nothing ever is.

Wright is notorious for playing through pain, as evidenced by playing for a month with the fracture in his back. If the doctors would had let him, he would have tried to play after being beaned by Matt Cain.

In explaining the play, Collins told reporters: “He just wanted to get extended to try to help us win a baseball game, that’s what it’s all about.’’

Not so fast. Let’s not write this off on Wright busting his butt to make a play. We know that’s what Wright is all about.

But, players are kids. You can’t always trust them, especially when it comes to injuries. These guys have such an ingrained loyalty to their teammates – most of them, anyway, with the exception of say Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, but that’s another issue – that they will play through the pain.

And, players aren’t doctors. What they feel and what they know are two different things.

Since players can’t trust themselves, it comes down to the team, especially the trainers and manager. Nobody ever knows when a hamstring will go, but when there’s tightness or soreness, you always have to judge on the side of caution.

I know Collins wants to win, but this one has to be on him. He should have rested Wright from the beginning and had him undergo some kind of treatment.

If he had, he wouldn’t writing in Justin Turner’s name at third for today.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Eric Young, LF

Juan Lagares, CF

Josh Satin, 1B

Marlon Byrd, RF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Justin Turner, 3B

Anthony Recker, C

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Jeremy Hefner, RHP

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 02

Using Zack Wheeler Out Of The Bullpen Is A Bad Idea

There are bad ideas and really bad ideas, and the New York Mets considering using Zack Wheeler out of the bullpen falls into the latter category.

WHEELER: Leave him alone. (AP)

WHEELER: Leave him alone. (AP)

Wheeler has thrown a combined 114.1 minors-and-majors innings this season with a cutoff number at 180. With the intent of limiting his innings, manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen are mulling using Wheeler out of the bullpen.

This is a bad idea on so many levels, beginning with the up-and-down nature of a reliever. The Mets will say they will only use Wheeler at the start of an inning, but that’s no guarantee. It is still a change in routine and they must scrap this idea immediately.

The Mets’ goal of winning as many games as possible in the second half and limiting Wheeler and Matt Harvey aren’t mutually compatible. The best way to achieve their goal of making a .500 run is to not change their pitching, which has been good.

Pitchers are creatures of habit and Wheeler hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen since 2010. For the past three years, he’s worked in the routine of a starter. Bouncing from starter to reliever in the middle of a season is never a good idea. The Mets should know that by now with Jenrry Mejia, who went from reliever to starter and ended up having Tommy John surgery.

A coincidence? Perhaps, but why take the chance? Considering how the Mets handled Wheeler with kid gloves, thrusting him into a new role is counter productive. It might be different if the Mets were in a pennant race, but they are not.

Figuring ten more starts they should simply cut Wheeler at six innings a game and do not deviate under any circumstances. That would give him 174.1 innings, just under the limit. This way, it keeps Wheeler in his normal routine and eliminate the different strain on his arm caused by working in relief. A starter has a set program, but a reliever does not.

San Francisco used Tim Lincecum out of the pen last year, but he’s a veteran more capable of making the adjustment than Wheeler.

Currently, the Mets are operating with a six-man rotation, which could go back to five once Jonathan Niese comes off the disabled list. The Mets have not said they’ll continue with six when Niese returns. Doing so might not be a bad idea because it would accomplish the dual  purposes of monitoring Wheeler and Harvey, not to mention protecting Niese.

If the Mets go down to five, it would give Wheeler and Harvey additional turns. In that case, they should be skipped or pushed back a turn, which is preferable to shaving innings piecemeal..

The Mets haven’t said whether they will have an innings limit on Wheeler and Harvey next season, but if they do, they should map out their plan from the beginning than doing so mid-stream.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 02

Mets Languish Behind Small Market Royals And Pirates

It wasn’t that long ago when New York Mets’ fans and media criticized the team’s lack of aggressiveness in the free-agent market with the smug comment: “This is New York, we’re not the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates.’’

The Pirates are in first place in the NL Central and might be the season’s best story, while the Royals take a nine-game hitting streak into this oddly-time interleague series – Kansas City’s first trip to Queens since 2002. If the Mets and Royals were in the same division, they would be 6.5 games better than the Mets. Meanwhile, the Pirates would have a 10.5-game lead on the Mets.

The Royals are doing it with great defense, timely hitting sprinkled in amongst a few stars.

Also interesting is left fielder Alex Gordon, who switched from third base and has won a couple of Gold Gloves. My first through was if Gordon can switch position and become solid player, if not a star, then what about Wilmer Flores?

Flores’ roots are at shortstop, a position requiring athletic ability. I don’t know where he fits in, but he hits too much to languish in the minor leagues. Omar Quintanilla has cooled and the organization is far from enamored with Ruben Tejada, so, what’s the harm in trying?

When a player switches positions, it is always easier to move from infield to outfield, than the other way around.

OFFENSE STAGNANT: The Mets limp home from their 3-5 trip no doubt aggravated it could have been 7-1 with some timely hitting – or any hitting at all, for that matter.

The Mets scored 11 against the Nationals in the first game of the trip, but only 15 over the next seven games. Four times they scored only one run or were shutout.

“We don’t drive runs in. There’s no secret,’’ Terry Collins said as the Mets packed up to return home. “If I knew what it was, we’d fix it. Guys don’t drive them in. We’re not driving them in. That’s pretty much the basic line.’’

Collins then went on to say something totally confusing, saying: “There’s nothing wrong with the approach. We’re just not taking good swings on the pitches we can hit.’’

Here’s a bulletin for Collins: They are missing those pitches because the approach is off, whether it be mechanical or mental. Something is not clicking.

It isn’t for Ike Davis, who only had five hits on the trip and stranded six runners Thursday. He’s hitting better than he was prior to going down to Las Vegas, but largely remains unproductive.

WRIGHT HAS TIGHT HAMMY: David Wright has been playing with tightness in his right hamstring. Collins said Wright understands himself better than anybody, but Collins needs to understand him, too.

Wright would try to play if he had an arrow shot through his thigh. This is a man who played nearly a month with a fracture in his lower back.

Wright said he can play, invoking the standard player cliché, that if this were the playoffs it wouldn’t be an issue. But, these aren’t the playoffs.

To risk losing Wright for several weeks or longer if he blows out his hamstring is just plan stupid. Sit him for a couple of games to be sure.

SIX-MAN ROTATION IN JEOPARDY: You knew the Mets weren’t going to go long with a six-man rotation cycle.

Jonathan Niese threw four shutout innings Thursday and said he needs on more start. When he’s ready they certainly won’t go to seven.

Carlos Torres is likely to move to the bullpen.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos