Apr 27

Mets Must Understand Manufacturing Runs Still Important

Terry Collins likes to say the Mets are a “home run hitting team built on power.’’ It makes me uneasy when I hear that because history is full of teams built on power that didn’t win.

Sure, it’s great the Mets can come back with one swing as they did with Yoenis Cespedes Tuesday night. One pitch, one swing and BAM, the game was tied.

HARVEY: Goes tonight. (Getty)

HARVEY: Goes tonight. (Getty)

It was the first time this year the Mets came from behind to win.

Power is a great weapon in any team’s overall arsenal, but it is not the most important. History tells us most champions are built on pitching, defense and timely hitting.

People like to counter with the Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle Yankees. However, those teams also had solid pitching and balanced lineups.

It’s also been that way with baseball’s recent champions: Kansas City, San Francisco, St. Louis and Boston. The Red Sox had power, but they wouldn’t have won without pitching.

When the Mets moved into Citi Field, they promised to build their teams on pitching, speed and defense. So far, it has been their young pitching and power.

The Mets have little speed and their defense has been better than expected. This season they surged because of pitching and power, but remember they hammered the suspect rotations of Philadelphia, Atlanta and Cincinnati. They also spent three games each in the bandboxes in Cleveland, Philly and Atlanta.

How long will this surge continue?

Will it go away against the Giants this weekend? Or will it fade against the Dodgers, Nationals and White Sox in May? Hot pitching always trumps hitting.

Sorry stat geeks, it has been that way from the beginning and will remain that way. That’s was the foundation of the Mets’ championship teams in 1969 and 1986.

Why do you think the Mets relish talking about Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Wednesday night’s starter, Matt Harvey?

They do so because they realize pitching is more important. The Mets are third in the majors with 29 homers hit, but more importantly rank first in homers allowed, giving up just seven.

Collins likes to say his team doesn’t have a lot of speed and doesn’t bunt. It’s another way of saying the Mets are poor in situational hitting and can’t manufacture runs.

Power is not sustainable. It fades. The ability to manufacture runs over time is far more important.

Don’t think so? In the 19 games the Mets have played, they:

* Are 4-4 in one-run games.

* Have struck out 174 times, and average of 9.2 a game. That’s the equivalent of going three innings without putting the ball in play.

* They have stranded 140 runners, or an average of 7.4 a game. That’s a little less than a run an inning.

Sooner or later, their inability to manufacture runs and put the ball in play will catch up to them.

History says it will regardless of the new wave numbers.


Apr 10

Today In Mets’ History: Agee Hits Monster Homer

The Mets aren’t noted for the home run in their history, but one of the franchise’s signature long ball moments happened on this day in 1969 when center fielder Tommie Agee went into the left field upper deck in Shea Stadium against Montreal’s Larry Jaster in a 4-2 victory.

timmie-agee-home-run-spot-400x306The Mets commemorated the drive by painting a disc on the concourse where the ball hit. It really is a long way from the plate.

Agee went 2-for-4 for two RBI hitting in the leadoff spot. He finished that season with a .271 average and 26 homers and 76 RBI, but what Mets fans most remember from Agee that year was Game 3 of the World Series against Baltimore when he homered and made two magnificent game-saving catches. VIDEO

Agee hit 82 of his 130 career homers during his five years with the Mets. Agee also played for Cleveland, the White Sox, Houston and St. Louis. The Mets traded him to the Astros for Rich Chiles and Buddy Harris after the 1972 season.

Please follow me on Twitter.

Jan 19

Mets Playing Cespedes Game Correctly

Greetings all.

Sorry for not being around the past few days, but this recovery business is taking longer and more grueling than I thought.

CESPEDES: Mets playing this the right way. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Mets playing this the right way. (Getty)

Spring training is a month away and hopefully I’ll be closer to being on my game by then. I can’t begin to express how much I want to be there. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

With that in mind, I’d like to weigh in on Yoenis Cespedes – again.

I recently wrote I believed the Mets still had a shot at re-signing Cespedes if they practiced patience and let the market come back to them. The Cespedes market shrunk by two teams this week when Baltimore brought back Chris Davis and Detroit signed Justin Upton.

The Angels were reportedly interested, but the luxury tax is putting them off. That in itself should dispel the notion there’s such a thing as free agency. (That’s another column for another day.)

However, that doesn’t mean the Cespedes market has completely dried up. Houston, the White Sox, Atlanta and the Mets are reportedly still in play.

Neither the Mets nor the White Sox want to go longer than three years, and both would prefer less. If the Mets continue to play the waiting game, Cespedes might fall back into their laps.

However, there are reasons why Cespedes remains on the market: he has a career .319 on-base percentage, which should concern Mets GM Sandy Alderson; at 30, he’s already played with four teams; there’s questions about his persona; his reported opening salary demands of seven years and $150 million scared teams out of the box; what he did for the Mets is considered a fluke by some; and finally, there’s always the possibility he might lose his incentive with a long-term deal.

Clearly, the Mets are aware of those flaws, which should put them off. But, if they really want Cespedes, they need to keep waiting.

And, hold to their guns of not giving more than three years. And, be willing to accept they could get burned.

Dec 07

Former Met Murphy’s Potential Landing Spots

On the first day of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, there’s considerable speculation as to where 2015 playoff slugger Daniel Murphy could land. But, back to the Mets isn’t one of them, despite them saying he’s still on their radar. If he were, they would have given him more than a qualifying offer.

The Mets can’t be a serious contender because of their stated preference for Ben Zobrist and several internal options, among them Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera.

MURPHY: Where will he go. (AP)

MURPHY: Where will he go. (AP)

Not surprisingly, many of the potential teams having an interest, or need, for Murphy are in the American League, where he could also get at-bats as a designated hitter.

The Angels are among them, but they could also be players for Zobrist. At one time, it was thought the Dodgers could be interested, but they just signed Chase Utley.

Murphy to the Yankees is always in play, but they are saying no. As I wrote with Zobrist, I take their denials with a grain of salt.

If I were Murphy, I would seriously look at Baltimore as he could develop that October show of power in bandbox Camden Yards. Murphy could play first, second and third for the Orioles.

He could also do the same for the White Sox and Indians.

ON DECK: Mets need power, but not Yoenis Cespedes.

Apr 08

Today In Mets History: Seaver Wins Behind Kingman, Torre

On this date in 1975, backed by Dave Kingman’s first homer as a Met and Joe Torre’s RBI single, Tom Seaver out-dueled Steve Carlton to defeat Philadelphia, 2-1, on Opening Day at Shea Stadium.

SEAVER: Beats Carlton in classic.

SEAVER: Beats Carlton in classic.

Felix Milan lead off the ninth with a single to right, moved to second on a walk to John Milner and scored on Torre’s single to left.

You know about Seaver, the greatest player in franchise history and a Hall of Famer with 311 career victories, with 198 coming as a Met. He also pitched for Cincinnati (acquired in a 1977 trade from the Mets), the White Sox and Boston.

Hard to believe Tom Terrific is 70 years old.

Torre played three seasons for the Mets (1975-77) and become their manager in 1977. He played 18 years in the majors and finished with 2,324 hits and a .297 average.

Torre managed five seasons with the Mets (winning 286 games), three with Atlanta, six with the Cardinals, three with Los Angeles, and 12 with the Yankees, where his teams won 1,173 games, six pennants and four World Series titles. Those numbers with Yankees sent him into the Hall of Fame.

As for Kingman, the overall No. 1 pick with the Giants, played six years for the Mets, with whom he hit 154 of his 442 career homers. He also played for San Francisco, Oakland, the Cubs, San Diego, California Angels and Yankees before retiring after the 1986 season.

While Seaver and Torre are in Cooperstown, it would have been interesting to see if Kingman would have made it had he hit 500 home runs.


ON DECK: Previewing Jacob deGrom‘s first start.