Sep 21

Ten Reasons Why Mets Won’t Collapse

A week ago today the Mets held a 9.5-game lead over the Nationals and we were talking about magic numbers. There were columns, including those written here, suggesting Matt Harvey’s limitations weren’t a big concern because the Mets opened a huge gap in the NL East and the Nationals were floundering.

After Sunday night’s disaster in Flushing the Mets’ lead is six games with 13 games remaining. Three of those games are with Washington the final weekend of the season.

WRIGHT: We'll see that smile in October. Trust me. (AP)

WRIGHT: We’ll see that smile in October. Trust me. (AP)

Despite growing anxiousness, I don’t see the Mets coughing up their lead, regardless of Harvey’s innings situation, and here’s why:

1. It’s hard to believe the Mets will have another collapse like 2007, or even 2008. Three dramatic collapses in less than ten years is almost impossible to comprehend. I mean, what are the odds? History won’t repeat itself.

2. There are a core of veterans that are real leaders who won’t let it happen. David Wright, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson are veterans with a clue. You can add Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson to the list.

3. The Mets folded in 2007 because of their bullpen, but despite what happened Sunday, it is significantly better this year. Jeurys Familia is a dominating closer, and if Tyler Clippard gets over his back problems, the 2015 back end is much better. Addison Reed is a plus.

4. Yoenis Cespedes is in a dreadful slump. Better to get that out of the way now. If he can turn it on again it will work wonders with the offense.

5. The starting pitching everybody raved about is going through a rough stretch, but Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are just too good to go into a group free fall.

6. Bartolo Colon seems oblivious to pressure. He’s been strong this month and I don’t see signs of him letting up.

7. With the exception of the final weekend, the schedule is working in the Mets’ favor.

8. They have a group of young, talented players in Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto who are having solid seasons. Plus, Lucas Duda is showing breakout signs.

9. The 2007 team had chemistry issues and there were a segment of players not happy with then-manager Willie Randolph. Plus, the front office wasn’t behind Randolph, evidenced by assistant general manager Tony Bernazard spying in the clubhouse. There’s a disconnect between manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson, the players generally like and respect Collins. They haven’t quit on him. There are no dogs or cancers on this team.

10. While there’s a sense of anxiousness, these Mets have played too good for so long for there to be another free-fall into winter.

None of this is to suggest the Mets don’t have issues. They do, and I’ll get to them later this week, but for now just relax as this season will be over soon enough, and in a good way.

Sep 18

From Matz To Duda, A Lot To Like About Mets

There are several things to take out of Friday’s Mets-Yankees game, none of which pertains to so-called bragging rights. Tell me, does anybody really believe in that?

The first is Steven Matz. All along, I’ve advocated leaving Matz out of the playoff rotation, simply because I didn’t believe he has the experience to pitch in that high-pressure atmosphere. Now, the playoffs are more intense than the Yankees, but Matz showed a lot tonight.

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

After a rocky first inning, which included a leadoff walk, Matz turned in a masterful performance. He went after hitters and pitched ahead in the count. He never pitched afraid.

I like Matz and still think the Mets might have something there as a lefty specialist in the playoffs, but know they won’t go there. Where they might go, and this would be delicious, would be to pass over Matt Harvey because of his “innings limits,’’ and go with Matz.

That would be terrifically ironic.

Also important was the revival of Lucas Duda with a mammoth homer and double. He would have also had a single if not for the shift. The Mets have crushed the ball since the Yoenis Cespedes trade, but widely absent in that power display has been Duda. When the playoffs arrive, they’ll need power from the left side.

Speaking of which, Daniel Murphy hit another clutch homer tonight for the go-ahead run. He also hit a game-tying homer on the last road trip in Atlanta, and prior to that, a key homer in Miami.

Murphy, by the way, is a scream with a great sense of humor. After his triple did you notice how he pushed away third baseman Chase Headley’s glove? Just a funny moment in a tense evening. How can you not love that stuff?

I can’t help but think that with the development of Wilmer Flores as a second baseman, and with David Wright seemingly healthy, the Mets won’t bring back Murphy. That becomes even more probable if they earmark money for Cespedes and their young pictures.

Finally, there was Addison Reed, who has been overpowering in his bid for becoming the seventh-inning answer.

As a devout interleague play hater, I took nothing out of beating the Yankees. However, I saw a lot to like in preparation for October.

Sep 08

Mets Lineup, Sept. 8, at Nationals

Here’s the Mets’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Nationals in Washington:
LINEUP COMMENTS:  Welcome back Lucas Duda. Interesting that he’s hitting fifth and not cleanup. … Glad to see Conforto still playing. When the time comes, I want to see him in there against lefties.


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.