Jun 25

Striking Similarities Between This Year And Last For Mets

The similarities between this year and last are striking and the struggling Mets can only hope the results will be the same, which would be a long jaunt into October. Last year on this date, the Mets were floundering at 37-37 and 3.5 games behind the also struggling Washington Nationals.

CESPEDES: Bad on the bases.  (Getty)

CESPEDES: Bad on the bases. (Getty)

The Mets entered Saturday’s game in Atlanta with a better record (39-33) and closer to the Nationals (three games behind) than last season, yet there is a growing sense of urgency. Things would be a lot worse if the Nationals haven’t lost seven straight games.

Last summer GM Sandy Alderson was under pressure to revive the Mets’ listless offense, which was without David Wright, by making a trade – that turned out to be for Yoenis Cespedes – and bringing up Michael Conforto.

This year, with Wright again on the disabled list, the Mets hope to jumpstart their stagnant offense by bringing back Jose Reyes – which nobody expects will have an impact similar to Cespedes – and bringing up Brandon Nimmo and sending down Conforto.

When Conforto came up last year, he made an immediate positive impression, which didn’t go away until May of this year. Manager Terry Collins said when he saw Conforto had a “deer in the headlights” look Friday night, he knew it was time to make a move. The numbers screamed the same with an average of .107 over his last 25 games.

“I think in talking with the coaching staff and the manager, we just felt that, look, this is counterproductive and what we need to do is get him to Las Vegas, get his swing back, and then hopefully get him back here within a relatively short period of time,” Alderson told reporters.

What does that mean?

As much as I want to see what Nimmo can do, I don’t like the idea of him going back down right away, because we all know he’s not here to ride the bench. I’m also not crazy about the Mets’ thinking as to Nimmo’s future. He played center at Vegas, and although Cespedes is a Gold Glove Award winning left field, Nimmo will play left and Cespedes will stay in center.

Nimmo, after traveling most of the night – which only reinforces the notion the Mets need their Triple-A team to be closer – was on the bench tonight and is expected to start Sunday.

Speaking of playing out of position, Reyes is expected to play third and possibly some center, where he’s never played before on this level. At one time Reyes was a prolific base stealer who was stellar at shortstop. Those days are gone.

“Do we expect him to win the National League battle title this year the way he did in 2011? No,” Alderson said. “Has he lost a step maybe? Is he the premier shortstop that he once was? It doesn’t really matter – he’s not going to play shortstop. So we’ve taken all of those things into account. We think he can help us. You know, from a motivational standpoint, I don’t think we would be able to find a player who is more determined, more highly motivated to perform than Jose is today.”

The motivation comes in Reyes’ desire to save his career after a domestic violence incident that landed him a 50-game suspension.

“He understands the mistake he made and has taken responsibility for it,” Alderson said. “But at the same time, he doesn’t deserve to be ostracized.”

While Reyes isn’t the same player he once was, it’s a safe bet he’s still better on the bases than Cespedes, who was picked off first Friday night without diving back which resulted in a twisted ankle. And Saturday he dogged it and was thrown out at second going in standing up.

Both were mind cramps, which is also similar to 2015. However, if Cespedes gets the benefit of doubt and was injured and couldn’t slide, he shouldn’t have been in the lineup.

That’s on Collins and Alderson.

 

Jun 18

Mets Need Granderson To Go On A Tear

Mets manager Terry Collins spoke with tempered confidence Saturday afternoon regarding his team’s slide in the NL East over the past three weeks, going from tied to six games behind the Washington Nationals.

GRANDERSON: Need him to take control. (Getty)

GRANDERSON: Need him to take control. (Getty)

The Mets face the Nationals seven times over the next three weeks.

“We’ll be ready for it,” Collins told reporters about the two series that could determine the rest of the season for the Mets.

They might be ready, but also short-handed with David Wright likely gone for the season and Lucas Duda out indefinitely. There are performance leaders and clubhouse leaders. If you believe in the latter, who will replace Wright?

“We’re going to miss David’s presence,” Collins said. “We’ve got to pick up the slack, not just on the field but in the clubhouse.”

When a manager speaks of the need for players to step up, both on the field and in the emotional sense, it means he really doesn’t have anybody obvious he can lean on.

Yoenis Cespedes can carry a team on his back as he proved last summer. His homer Saturday night put a charge into the Mets. However, there are times he loses focus and becomes lackadaisical. Neil Walker is also capable, who carried the Mets in April? However, and this is important, just how much weight will their words and gestures carry considering both could be gone after the season?

It won’t be Lucas Duda, who is on the disabled list with no timetable for his return. And, when he does play, he’s extremely quiet.

It is essential a team leader is productive. Who listens to your words if you can’t back it up? Right now that rules out Michael Conforto, who is starting to hit some balls hard, but has been in a dreadful slump since the end of April.

It won’t be a pitcher as they play once every five games, and in the Mets’ case, are generally quiet.

The obvious candidate to me is Curtis Granderson, who is warming up after a slow start and has an outgoing personality. If the Mets are to turn it around, they need Granderson to grab this team by the scruff of the neck and shake it awake.

 

Apr 21

Today In Mets’ History: Gee Stuffs Nationals

On this date in 2013, Dillon Gee and four relievers combined to shut out the Washington Nationals, 2-0, at Citi Field. With the victory, the Mets moved over .500 at 9-8.

They wouldn’t stay there long.

GEE: A solid Met. (AP)

GEE: A solid Met. (AP

David Wright and Lucas Duda are the only starting position players from that game still on the team.

Gee threw a solid )game, giving up three hits with six strikeouts in 5.2 innings. LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Lyon, Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell threw a combined 3.1 scoreless innings.

Catcher John Buck homered off the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmerman in the second and Mike Baxter hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Wright in the fourth.

Gee had a lot of these games for the Mets, where he’d make a solid spot start, but he never impressed them enough to get a real opportunity to make the rotation.

Mets fans should remember Gee as a solid pro who always took the ball regardless of the circumstances.

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Apr 03

Mets’ Over/Unders

What’s baseball without numbers? Every team has its significant statistics, and the following are the over/under stats for your 2016 Mets. The most important number, or course, is victories and that’s where we begin with last year’s 90 victories:

Every team has its significant statistics, and the following are the over/under stats for your 2016 Mets. The most important number, or course, is victories and that’s where we begin with last year’s 90 victories:

 

92: Wins by Mets.

90: Wins by Washington Nationals.

20: Victories by Matt Harvey.

Tonight: When Harvey breaks media silence.

5: Drama issues by Harvey (he already has one).

17: Victories by Jacob deGrom.

16: Victories by Noah Syndergaard.

14: Victories by Steven Matz.

200: Innings pitched by Harvey.

200: Innings pitched by deGrom.

200: Innings pitched by Syndergaard.

20: Starts by Bartolo Colon.

July 15: Date Zack Wheeler brought up.

12: Starts made by Wheeler.

8: Number of pitchers who will start for Mets this summer.

13: Number of different relievers used by Mets.

40: Saves by Jeurys Familia.

7: Blown saves by Familia.

120: Games played by David Wright.

14: Homers by Wright.

33: Homers by Lucas Duda.

96: RBI by Duda.

.285: Neil Walker batting average.

10: Errors at shortstop by Asdrubal Cabrera.

17: Homers by Wilmer Flores off the bench.

15: Games started at shortstop by Flores.

95: Walks by Curtis Granderson.

28: Homers by Granderson.

35: Homers by Yoenis Cespedes.

100: RBI by Cespedes.

9: Errors by Cespedes.

450: At-bats by Michael Conforto.

50: At-bats by Conforto vs. left-handers.

.280: Conforto batting average.

10: Mets victories over Nationals.

4: Mets victories over Cubs.

3: Mets victories over Yankees.

13: Mets victories in April.

115: Games started by Travis d’Arnaud.

18: Homers by d’Arnaud.

12: Runners caught stealing by d’Arnaud.

22: Times Mets use disabled list.

8: Number of different Mets to hit double-digit homers.

7: Longest winning streak by Mets.

6: Longest losing streak by Mets.

2: Playoff series won by Mets.

4 million: Attendance at Citi Field.

8: Playoff games at Citi Field.

.335: Daniel Murphy batting average vs. Mets.

4: Murphy homers vs. Mets.

3: Mets to make All-Star team.

43: Players the Mets will use this year.

 

ON DECK:  Mets should be happy to watch KC celebrate.

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Jan 22

Mets To Lose Cespedes To Nationals

We can boil the Mets’ pursuit of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a simple conclusion: If they really wanted him they would have him. Pure and simple, he was theirs for the taking. The Mets said they wanted him, but on the cheap. They played things correctly and tried to let the market come to them, but that won’t happen.

That’s the risk one takes when you gamble.

CESPEDES:  Going to Nats. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Going to Nats. (Getty)

The Mets weren’t willing to give Cespedes more than three years, but reports are the Washington Nationals have a five-year, $100-million offer on the table. There’s no way the Mets could compete with that, nor should they for a myriad of reasons, beginning with the economics and including his mercurial personality and that he faded in the playoffs. There’s also the matter of him playing with four teams by age 30.

The Nationals will be his fifth in an 18-month span. Things could be finalized today.

I agreed with the Mets’ rope-a-dope approach simply because that was the only card they could play considering they wanted to do this cheaply. Conversely, the Nationals made runs at Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, in addition to signing Daniel Murphy.

Washington has clearly been more aggressive than the Mets this offseason, with GM Sandy Alderson going on the belief his young rotation will be enough to carry them back to the World Series.

Will that gamble pay off?