Jun 05

Mets Wrap: Dillon Gee, Marlon Byrd Power Rout Of Nationals

It hasn’t happened often this season, but tonight the Mets received strong pitching from Dillon Gee and top-to-bottom hitting to rout the Washington Nationals, 10-1. It was just the third time this year the Mets scored in double-figures.

GEE: Another strong start. (AP)

GEE: Another strong start. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Gee was again superb to beg the question: Why should he be moved from the rotation to make room for Zack Wheeler? Gee have up a run and struck out seven in seven innings. He gave up nine hits and walked a batter, but managed to escape trouble. … Greg Burke and Robert Carson each threw a scoreless inning.

AT THE PLATE: Marlon Byrd hit two homers and David Wright added one. … The Mets had 15 hits to match a season high, including going 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position. … Every starter, including Gee, had at least one hit. … Byrd and Anthony Recker drove in three runs each.

THEY SAID IT: “We needed one bad. Been in our share of close games. To have a game where you can take a breath and relax was important for us.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on getting a blowout victory.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5: Combined hits for Recker and Juan Lagares, both of whom entered the game hitting less than .200. … For Lagares, he had a career-high three hits.

METS MATTERS: Jon Niese threw a successful bullpen session and said he’ll be ready to make Saturday’s start against Miami at Citi Field. “How I felt then and today is night and day,’’ Niese said. … Lagares is expected to get another start Thursday.

ON DECK: Shaun Marcum (0-6) goes against Gio Gonzalez.

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Jun 05

Mets Matters: Is Kirk Nieuwenhuis An Upgrade?

I don’t understand all the hating of Rick Ankiel. Sure, he strikes out a lot, but he was brought here to plug a hole in the Mets’ shoddy outfield defense and hit the occasional home run. That, he’s done.

His throw in the ninth inning last night would have nailed Ryan Zimmerman at second had shortstop Omar Quintanilla been in position and stayed with the play. Had the play been made, perhaps the Mets would have won, but the point is no other outfielder’s throw would have made it close.

NIEUWENHUIS: On Mets' radar. (AP)

NIEUWENHUIS: On Mets’ radar. (AP)

I am all for playing the young players in a lost season, but Juan Lagares isn’t the answer. He has been clearly overmatched, but could get a chance against lefty Gio Gonzalez, who’ll replace Stephen Strasburg Thursday.

Terry Collins said Kirk Nieuwenhuis in back in the Mets’ thinking for a promotion, and I say, to do what? Strike out. The Mets already have enough of those hitters, including, Ankiel.

The rap on Triple-A Las Vegas is the climate makes it conducive for the long ball. That’s what Collins told Zack Wheeler, saying there would be less a premium on numbers. Using the same reasoning, why should Nieuwenhuis’ recent power surge of eight homers in 14 games – giving him ten overall – be regarded differently?

For his power, Nieuwenhuis only has 18 RBI, an indication he’s not hitting with runners in scoring position. Nieuwenhuis is still striking out at an alarming rate to prove he still doesn’t get it. He has more strikeouts (34) than hits (32) in 133 at-bats.

I don’t see where that is an upgrade.

PITCHING INJURY UPDATES: Jon Niese, who was scratched from his last start with shoulder tendinitis will throw in the bullpen this afternoon.

Niese hopes to start Saturday against Miami, but that is clearly in doubt. If his shoulder doesn’t respond, Niese could find himself on the disabled list.

Several weeks ago, Collins said back-to-back cold weather starts in Minnesota and Denver caused Niese’s back to tighten. It is possible this is a residual effect.

Also, Jeurys Familia will undergo surgery on his right elbow today to remove a bone spur.

PATRIOTIC OBLIGATION: As they always do when in Washington, the Mets will visit Walter Reed National Military Center this afternoon.

There are no reported exemptions from owner Fred Wilpon’s traditional, and urgent, request of his players.

IN TROUBLE: Cesar Puello isn’t in the major leagues, but the Double-A Binghamton outfielder is facing a suspension in the Biogenesis case now that founder Tony Bosch is willing to list names.

ON DECK: Tonight’s game.

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Jun 05

After Sleeping On It: Mets Should Deal Shaun Marcum

Conventional wisdom has either Jeremy Hefner or Dillon Gee losing their rotation spot when Zack Wheeler is promoted.

Why just them?

MARCUM: Time to trade him. (AP)

MARCUM: Time to trade him. (AP)

After sleeping on it, considering Hefner’s strong start in Washington last night, my choice would be to deal Shaun Marcum.

Marcum has gone six-plus innings in his last four starts to show signs he’s coming around physically. Of the three, Marcum has been the least effective, but his name isn’t mentioned because he’s making $4 million.

Marcum threw a strong six innings against the Marlins until he unraveled in the seventh. But, if you’re a contender trying to fill out the back end of your rotation, you’d be happy with six innings.

Realistically, the Mets might have to delay this decision until they get a read on Jon Niese’s sore shoulder. Niese will throw today, but if he’s not ready he could miss another start or go on the disabled list.

However, should Niese be fine, I’m still for dealing Marcum, and economics are part of the reason as his salary would be palatable to a team looking to add. On a side note, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read where the Mets might be buyers in July. Have they not been watching this team?

Terry Collins said it best when he told reporters in Washington about Wheeler: “He’s not going to be the savior. There are a lot of pieces that have to work. One guy is not going to turn this around, of course. It takes 25.’’

Yes, it does. We could go on for hours discussing the Mets’ weaknesses and needs, but for the sake of this argument, let’s keep it to the rotation.

Matt Harvey and Niese, assuming the latter is healthy, are safe. The way Hefner and Gee are pitching, they could attract interest, but have manageable salaries, something the Mets covet. If either are dealt, that opens another hole.

Marcum, meanwhile, is gone after this season. If Wheeler proves he’s ready, there would be no reason to entertain bringing Marcum back, so strike when the iron is at least lukewarm to see what they can get.

Hefner and Gee are worth keeping.

Hefner was brilliant Tuesday night in another hard-luck no-decision, one of four he’s had while throwing a quality start. He had another in a loss. Overall, he’s given the Mets at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts.

The Mets would be ecstatic to get that from Wheeler.

Gee hasn’t been as sharp, but is coming off his best start of the season last week against the Yankees when he gave up one run in seven innings. Overall, the Mets have won four of his last six starts, so he must be doing something right. Gee worked six innings or better in 13 of 17 starts last season, so there’s a track record of productivity.

Keep Hefner and Gee, who might be valuable in the future and deal Marcum, who’ll be a one-year Met at best.

ON DECK: Mets Matters notebook.

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Jun 04

Mets Wrap: Another Jeremy Hefner Start Wasted

Once again, the Mets wasted a strong Jeremy Hefner, this time when Bobby Parnell blew a save by giving up three hits and a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. With the 3-2 loss, the Mets have dropped four straight. Not quite the encore they hoped for after winning four straight from the Yankees.

ON THE MOUND: Hefner will be a hard act for Dillon Gee to follow Wednesday. Hefner gave up one run on four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. … Brandon Lyon pitched a perfect eighth, but Parnell pitched far from a perfect ninth.

AT THE PLATE: Omar Quintanilla had two more hits, including a two-run triple in the fifth. … Jordany Valdespin had the Mets’ two other hits against Jordan Zimmerman.

THEY SAID IT: “Jeremy pitched another very good game. He pitched very well. He got us where we wanted to.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on Jeremy Hefner.

BY THE NUMBERS:  30: Games in which the Mets scored three or fewer runs.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee goes against Dan Haren Wednesday night.

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

Jun 04

David Wright Personifies Slumping Mets’ Offense

We’ve seen this before from David Wright, a hot start cools and descends into a frigid abyss where he’s consumed by mechanical flaws borne out of a major psychological problem – the need to carry the Mets on his shoulders.

We can’t blame it on the pressures of being captain, as he’s fallen into this trap before, notably last season said manager Terry Collins, whose lineup includes as many as six starters hitting below .240. Teams can’t win with such limited production, and Wright can’t catch the free-falling Mets, who come into Washington tonight ten games under .500 and 11 ½ games behind the first place Braves.

WRIGHT: Where did this swing go?

       WRIGHT: Where did this swing go?

“He did it in the second half of last year, too,’’ Collins told reporters after the Mets were crushed in a three-game series in Florida. “When things started to go bad last year, he took it upon himself to be the guy to get us out of it.’’

The slide begins with a gradual expansion of the strike zone; the balls Wright once resisted off the plate he’s now chasing. The walks decline; the strikeouts increase. His average plummets.

Instead of driving the ball to center and right field, Wright falls into the habit of trying to pull, with the results often pop-ups and weak ground balls. His swing is now long and slow instead of short and quick. The more he tries to break out of it the more suffocating becomes the slump. There is such a thing as pressing and that’s what’s happening to Wright the past two weeks with a .163 average, .241 on-base percentage with one homer and two RBI.

Wright alluded to his problems after the Yankees series when he said: “I’m maybe trying to do a little too much and trying to make things happen. … I can’t be going up there and getting myself out or swinging at pitcher’s pitches early in the count.’’

However, that’s what he’s doing and it defines the futility and anguish of a slump. Wright hasn’t yet reached Ike Davis proportions, but is headed in that direction.

On some teams, a slumping player can be camouflaged, or at least protected, if others in the lineup are hitting. However, Daniel Murphy is the only one and he doesn’t do it with power. Considering his track record, Davis’ homer Sunday must be looked at as an aberration and not a sign of a breakout. Lucas Duda has 10 homers, but only 20 RBI, which the more you think about it is hard to believe. It’s almost unfathomable.

Collectively, the Mets are averaging less than four runs a game and hold the major league’s worst team average at .227. Their hitters are averaging under ten strikeouts a game.

At one time, you might have been able to say, “where would they be without Wright?’’

Well, they have him and only three teams in the major leagues hold a worse record than the 22-32 Mets. There are a lot of numbers that define how poorly they are playing, but what I find most discouraging is the Marlins have won just 16 games this year, with six coming against the Mets.

You’re tempted to think it can’t get much worse than this, but you realize as a Met fan, it can.

ON DECK: Looking at Washington series.

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