Aug 28

High Flying Mets Due For Letdown Loss

Even after blowing another Matt Harvey start Friday night, a lot of things are breaking for the Mets these days and it is adding up to a wonderful summer. If it keeps going like this, it could be a great October.

For example:

HARVEY: Another no-decision. (Getty)

HARVEY: Another no-decision. (Getty)

* For most of his tenure as general manager, Sandy Alderson sat on his hands at the trade deadline, but this year brought in Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard.

Perhaps the most defining, at least in regard to the tweaking of the Mets, was when the Wilmer Flores-for-Carlos Gomez trade fell through and Alderson was able to get Cespedes.

In May and June, and much of July, the Mets hungered for runs. But they’ve been mashing lately, and despite falling behind by three runs and down to their last out, the Mets fought back and the game ended with the winning run on base. Still, four days after hitting a club record eight homers in Philly, they were able to do little with the 12 walks the Red Sox gave them. That can’t happen if they make the playoffs.

* Speaking of Clippard, he fell into the Mets’ hands after blockhead Jenrry Mejia‘s second drug suspension. The Mets have bullpen problems, but not having an eighth-inning set-up reliever could be devastating. Now, the problem is filling in the seventh and this is where not having Mejia hurts.

On Friday they were forced to go with Carlos Torres the day after he pitched multiple innings against the Phillies. Not wanting to extend Harvey and not comfortable with his bullpen options, the Mets had to stay with Torres. This will be an issue in the playoffs.

* After not having David Wright for nearly five months, he homered in his first at-bat, but more importantly has been able to catch up to the speed of the game defensively.

* After Harvey was skipped and given 11 days of rest, there was some wonder as how he would do Friday night against Boston, but six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts answered that question. Of course, in watching the Mets blow the game, the nagging question about monitoring innings resurfaced. If he stayed in for another inning could extra innings have been avoided?

Perhaps, but Collins made a point to emphasize that in the playoffs he would have stayed with Harvey.

So many good things have happened for the Mets lately, including losing on the same day Washington lost. The NL East isn’t a given because we’ve seen leads slip away before, but before that harrowing thought takes seed, first we must look at Friday night as a simple speed bump.

After all, Jacob deGrom is pitching Saturday.

 

Aug 20

Hopes And Expectations Not The Same For Wright

There are hopes and there are expectations, and they aren’t one of the same when it pertains to the Mets and David Wright. When Wright returns – perhaps within the week – we hope for him to stay healthy and perform like the All-Star he was. But, we can’t really expect it, can we?

Manager Terry Collins is already putting limits on Wright by telling reporters, “[he] won’t be that everyday guy until we know his back is 100 percent and that might not be until next spring.” That might be the most realistic thing Collins ever said about Wright.

WRIGHT: We want to see his smile. (AP)

WRIGHT: We want to see his smile. (AP)

From when Wright comes back and until the end of the season, the Mets might learn third base might be pushing it for him. We might learn because of the bending at the position, that third base might not be the place for him. Then what?

Wright might share time with Daniel Murphy and Juan Uribe, as the Mets’ infield will resemble a jig-saw puzzle with pieces strewn all over the table. Murphy, Kelly Johnson and Wilmer Flores could share second; Ruben Tejada and Flores would share shortstop. Johnson can spell anybody at any position.

“That is what happens when you get a lot of players that are pretty good,” Collins told reporters in Baltimore. “You’ve got to figure out how to get them all in the game at different times. Yeah, it will be a little bit of a challenge.”

However, if Wright is stable and hitting, he’ll get most of the time at third base. Everybody, even Collins, knows that to be true.

That’s the best case scenario for the Mets, regardless of Collins’ words or caution. That is what we’re hoping for, but can’t realistically expect.

Jul 31

Alderson Rallies At Deadline

After arguably one of the most frustrating 48-hour periods in franchise history, Mets GM Sandy Alderson rallied at the trade deadline by securing slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit for pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets get slugger. (AP)

The deal came on the heels of a trade Wednesday for Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez that culminated with Mets infielder Wilmer Flores – who, along with Zack Wheeler, was going to the Brewers – breaking down in tears while taking his position in the field. The next day, the Mets blew a six-run lead while losing to San Diego.

So, with the trade deadline ticking down, Alderson went for broke and came up with an enigma of a player who could be exactly what the Mets need – if his head is screwed on correctly – before he becomes a free agent after the season.

“We’re going for it,” Alderson said. “He’s a very dynamic player. We think he’s going to impact us in a number of different ways. But I think also just his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level — and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands. I think that this is the kind of player that could have a big impact both in terms of the game on the field and how the team is perceived.”

Cespedes had been linked to the Mets before, and Alderson is right, he can be a dynamic player. However, at 29, the Mets will be his fourth team. That’s a lot and raises questions, in particular: What’s wrong with him that somebody with that much talent can’t find a home?

Cespedes is hitting .293 with 18 homers and 62 RBI, that would put him at the top of the Mets’ leaderboards.

Alderson has taken considerable criticism, including from me, about his inactivity, and I was especially vocal after the Gomez deal fell through. Numerous reports said it was financial, with the Mets wanting the Brewers to eat part of Gomez’s salary, which was highly plausible considering the Mets’ and Alderson’s reputation. However, today Alderson said it was concern about Gomez’s healthy, although the Houston Astros had no such problems. But, in fairness to the Mets, different medical staffs can have varying opinions.

Although I have concerns with Cespedes, he might not be here next season for it to become an issue. What’s important is that waiting for the Mets to act like a contender, they are doing just that – good for them.

 

 

 

Jul 25

No Question, Alderson Blew It With Turner

There have been numerous personnel mistakes made by Mets GM Sandy Alderson, and at the top includes the decision to cast away Justin Turner after the 2013 season in which he hit .280 with a .319 on-base percentage in 86 games in a reserve role.

TURNER: Alderson blew this decision. (AP)

TURNER: Alderson blew this decision. (AP)

Reportedly, the Mets – Alderson and manager Terry Collins – thought Turner didn’t hustle, but none of his teammates thought so.

Turner ripped the Mets and Jon Niese for two doubles and a homer Friday night, but he would not gloat, although he had every right.

“I mean, I don’t think I need to prove anything to them,’’ Turner told reporters after the game. “I don’t play for them anymore. I play for these guys, and I’m trying to prove it to my teammates and my coaching staff and the organization that I deserve the opportunity that I’m in.’’

The Mets traded two pitching prospects to Atlanta for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, but Turner’s .327 average and 43 RBI would lead the Mets, and his 13 homers would be second.

The Mets could have kept Turner for $800,000 last season, but are now paying over $3 million for Johnson and Uribe.

Turner hit seven homers with 43 RBI while batting .340 with a .404 on-base percentage in 109 games last year and was rewarded with a $2.5 contract for this year.

Turner clicked with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. For whatever reason, Turner figured it out in Los Angeles and is batting third. Alderson claims to like reclamation projects, but Turner is clearly better than Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.

It is safe to say, Alderson missed on this decision. Big time.

Jul 24

The Mets Add Conforto; Deal With Braves Pending

Michael Conforto was lifting weights when his minor league manager, Pedro Lopez, approached him with a cell phone to inform him of his promotion to the Mets. Now, comes the part of trying to withstand the temptation to lift the Mets.

Of course, that’s easier said then done, especially with the numbers screaming this is a team in desperate need of help. After Friday’s 7-2 loss to the Dodgers the Mets are losers of six of their last eight games. They have the worst team batting average in the majors at .233 and next to last in runs scored with 331.

Yes, the Mets are a team in need and along with the much-anticipated promotion of Conforto, they were on the verge of swinging a deal with Atlanta for third baseman Juan Uribe and left-handed hitting utility player Kelly Johnson.

Conforto, at least, seems to have his head screwed on straight regarding expectations.

“I haven’t played in big league games,’’ Conforto said. “So really there’s no way for me to really know if I’m ready.’’

Conforto is here because Michael Cuddyer was finally placed on the disabled list with a sore knee. That decision came at least three weeks too late by GM Sandy Alderson.

Alderson, as usual, spoke legalese when it came to talking about Conforto’s expectations, saying there was thought he would “super dramatically,’’ upgrade the Mets’ production. Conforto was hitless but drove in the Mets’ first run with a groundout.

Maybe Alderson was attempting to take the pressure off Conforto, but the game’s smartest general manager, according to his auto-biography, couched everything.

Alderson said the promotion might have occurred without Cuddyer’s injury, but since it was tied to a player going on the disabled list there was no guarantee how long he would stay up here. Alderson also said the promotion was no connection as to how active the Mets will be on the trade market.

By the end of the game, the Mets hadn’t announced the trade that would send pitching prospects Michael Gant and Rob Whalen to the Braves.

Figuring it does, the Mets could play Uribe at third, move Daniel Murphy back to second and Wilmer Flores back to shortstop. Of course, that means Ruben Tejada will likely return to the bench.

Johnson, who can also play both outfield positions as well as the infield, is hitting .275 with nine homers and 34 RBI, numbers which could arguably make him the Mets’ best hitter.

Do Conforto, Uribe and Johnson make the Mets decidedly better?

Not really.

Uribe, who is hitting .272 with eight homers and 23 RBI, this year with Atlanta and the Dodgers, and Johnson, bring with them batting averages that would put them at the top of Mets, but they are essentially complementary players. And, Conforto, whom Alderson didn’t want to bring up in the first place, remains a Double-A prospect.

You could say they make the Mets better because what has been here has been so bad.

That’s not really that comforting, is it?

Surely, there has to be more. There just has to be.