Apr 13

Mets Game Thread: Lagares’ Hustle Breaks Ice

The Mets took a 1-0 lead off Aaron Harang in the fourth when Daniel Murphy doubled, took third on Travis d’Arnaud’s fly to right and scored on Juan Lagares’ line drive off the pitcher’s glove. The squirted away from Harang, but Lagares hustled to beat the throw to first. Lagares then stole second and took third on catcher Carlos Ruiz’s wild throw.

The inning ended on Wilmer Flores’ fly out to center.

Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom has given up three hits in four innings.

Mets 1, Phillies 0 (5)

Apr 13

Alderson Says Not Bailing On Flores

While I don’t always agree with Mets GM Sandy Alderson, I liked what he did today when he expressed confidence in struggling shortstop Wilmer Flores.

The master of the deadpan obvious, Alderson said of Flores’ first week that, “It hasn’t been super,” noting three errors and a .158 batting average. Even so, Alderson didn’t put on notice the player he has frequently criticized.

“He’s made some good plays. He’s made some mistakes,” Alderson said. “He hasn’t hit yet, but that’s true of about six or seven of our guys. Wilmer is one of those guys that doesn’t let things bother him typically. As long as we don’t get to the point where we allow that to affect him then I think he’ll be fine.”

Confidence is a fragile thing in sports, and while Flores is having a bad start, we’re just a week into the season.

Apr 11

Mets Week In Review: An Encouraging Start

If the Mets play out this season as they did their first week, I’ll take it. In a heartbeat I would take it.

mets-logoball-2They are 2-2 after four games, which is .500, the bullseye placed on their back. They played four tight, taut games, that if the breaks went a different way could have put them at 0-4.

The upside is they could also just as easily be at 4-0, which is the beauty of it all.

A clutch hit here or there by the Nationals against Bartolo Colon or Matt Harvey puts a different spin on the week. Just as easily, however, a tighter defense last night and a better pitch from Jacob deGrom spins the week another way.

What we can take out of the first week is the Mets figure to be a team that should tay in every game, and I’ll take that any time because it should mean being there in the end, which is another way of saying they will play meaningful baseball in September.

And, you must do that before you can play meaningful games in October, and isn’t that what we all want – regardless of who makes out the lineup card?

Here’s what I took from the first week:

* Bartolo Colon has something left in his tank. He overcame a rough first inning to beat Washington to show us all there’s nothing wrong with a little age.

* Something the Mets haven’t consistently done in recent seasons was to capitalize on opportunities, which is what they did in both their victories over the Nationals. So, when in doubt, hitting the ball to Ian Desmond is a good strategy.

* Matt Harvey is pitching with a chip on his shoulder aimed at those who tend to judge him on more than what he does on the mound. If that’s his motivation, so be it. Just keep pitching this way and all will be well. Do that and let the Mets worry about keeping him from the Yankees in the future.

* The bullpen is better than advertised. Rafael Montero took the loss Friday night in Atlanta, but the loss lies on Wilmer Flores’ errant throws, a bad decision by David Wright and not hitting in the clutch. Having fundamental breakdowns is how the Mets will likely lose most of their games this season. It will be maddening, but, then again, that’s the Mets.

* A week in and we haven’t seen a lot of power, and that’s probably the way it will go all season. This team needs Lucas Duda’s home run bat.

* Injuries helped shape the Opening Day roster and as always will play a significant role. The Mets lost Josh Edgin and Zack Wheeler before the season started, then lost Jenrry Mejia on Opening Day.

* An underlying theme this week has been the lineup. Whether it is all Terry Collins and not from above – which I doubt – it hasn’t produced an offensive explosion, and it has left Juan Lagares, the projected leadoff hitter, in a funk. He’s not the only one, as Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Flores are also running in mud. Wright, Duda and Travis d’Arnaud are having strong starts, but then again, it has been only four games.

* The closeness of the games is a good sign, but it should also be a nagging reminder of the red flag of their thin bench. Eventually, they’ll have a game when they’ll be caught short.

No, it hasn’t been a great start – although the starting pitching has been a positive – but we’ve seen far worse from the Mets. It has been an encouraging start, and if they are standing at .500 six months from now I’ll have a hunger for much more from them.

And, isn’t that what we want?

Apr 08

The Bizarre World Of The Mets’ Batting Order

Welcome to the sometimes puzzling, and often maddening world of the New York Mets, where one can’t help but wonder how long before the Sandy Alderson-Terry Collins inevitable explosion.

Tick, tick, tick …

ALDERSON: What color is the sky in his world? (AP)

ALDERSON: What color is the sky in his world? (AP)

From now on I should refer to Alderson as the Mets’ general manager/manager because he seems hell bent on undermining Collins. The Mets’ lineup, bizarre to say the least, is there again for the baseball world to laugh at in the second game of the season.

Here goes and I hope you’re not eating:

Curtis Granderson, rf: One of the few legitimate Mets’ power hitters is at the top of the order instead of the middle where he would benefit from more RBI opportunities. That he walked twice Opening Day is irrelevant.

David Wright, 3b: Normally a team’s best hitter – the combination of power and average – bats third, yet Wright, who is coming off a strong spring training is second. Until Monday, he hadn’t hit there since 2010.

Lucas Duda, 1b: Yes, he had two RBI Monday, but he’s coming off a 30-homer season and is the club’s best power hitter. That means fourth.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: He needs to bat fifth to separate lefty hitters Duda and Granderson. Did the Mets really sign him to be a clean-up hitter?

Daniel Murphy, 2b: I can buy, in part, the reasoning of batting Murphy lower to give him more RBI chances. But, he’s not a power hitter and batting second would offer the best protection to a potential base stealer.

Juan Lagares, cf: After spending all spring trying to develop into a leadoff hitter – and he did a good job – they yank him from that role and bury him sixth. By the way, he is that potential base stealer. But, he’s not likely to do much running this low in the order.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Off all the slots in the order, this makes the most sense. But, he’s certainly not the type of hitter that can take pitches to help Lagares.

Jacob deGrom, rhp: Yes, they are doing with the nonsense of batting the pitcher eighth. This was Tony La Russa’s attempt to re-invent the wheel. Question: If La Russa was such a genius, why didn’t more manager follow his lead with this? By the way, Alderson and La Russa worked together in Oakland, so it is clear to see whose fingerprints are all over this.

Wilmer Flores, ss: Supposedly, Flores is an offensive player, yet he’s buried ninth.

I’m not blaming Collins for this, because it is obvious this isn’t his call.



Mar 27

What’s Collins Really Thinking With His Lineup?

Here’s why I have trouble taking the Mets seriously at times. In today’s game against St. Louis, manager Terry Collins plans to bat Matt Harvey eighth.

Theoretically, it would enable him to bat Juan Lagares ninth followed by Curtis Granderson and David Wright.

COLLINS: What's he really thinking?

COLLINS: What’s he really thinking?

“I know in our market it’s a big issue. It’ll be a headline, back-page story,’’ Collins told reporters the other day. “But I’ll just do it to see what it looks like. Nothing more than that.’’

So, why do it then? That question becomes more pertinent when you consider the rest of the lineup.

First of all, if this is done to bunch your speed at the top of the order, you can do it the traditional way. The problem is Lagares isn’t even in the lineup, so the initial point is automatically defeated. Traditionally – and why is it tradition is such a taboo word in baseball these days? – a team’s best hitter, which is the combination of average and power, bats third. And, with the Mets that is Wright.

Today, it is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who admittedly has had a good spring, but will open the season on the bench. Collins also has Michael Cuddyer clean-up and Wilmer Flores fifth – where neither will be during the season – Eric Campbell at first and Danny Muno at second. Campbell is a role player and Muno likely won’t make the team.

Spring training is in part used to experiment. Fine, but it you’re going to experiment then at least do it in such a way that you’ll get somewhat of an idea of how things will be in the season.

Here’s today’s Mets’ lineup:

Curtis Granderson, rf: Will bat leadoff only if Lagares can’t do the job, which means that’s another issue.

David Wright, 3b: Is having a good spring and should bat third until he proves he can’t.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf: Will make the team in part because he’s had a good spring, but also because he’s out of options.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: Won’t hit clean-up as that’s reserved for Lucas Duda. We’ll see how long he lasts in left field.

Wilmer Flores, ss: Is playing with a bruised foot. Let’s hope he doesn’t get re-injured. Even so, I can’t see him hitting this high in the order.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: He hasn’t had a great spring hitting, but I can see him in the sixth slot at times.

Eric Campbell, 1b: Valuable role player.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Yes, the DH is used to spread out at-bats, but they hit in the National League. How many games did the Mets lose because their pitcher was an automatic out or couldn’t advance a runner? Bottom line: The batters should hit more during spring training.

Danny Muno, 2b: Is making a push to make the team, however if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready then Ruben Tejada should be playing more at the end of spring training.

So, there you have it, the Mets’ order one-through-nine. Of the nine spots, only d’Arnaud at sixth seems like something they’ll do during the season.

Collins has wasted today’s batting order and made today a joke. Is that what he really wanted to do, or is he sending a message to GM Sandy Alderson? And, what could that message be? Perhaps that he doesn’t have a legitimate leadoff hitter? Or that Granderson really isn’t a good fit for this team?

I’m sure there are others, and you don’t have to look that hard.