May 02

Mets Wrap: Bruce Crushes Two; Granderson Sits

Jay Bruce, the Mets’ Most Valuable Player for April, continued his hot hitting driving in a career-high six runs on two homers – including a cosmetic ninth-inning grand slam – in tonight’s 9-7 loss at Atlanta.

Bruce, whom the Mets tried to trade over the winter, hit seven homers with 16 RBI in April.

“It doesn’t feel like a bandbox at all,” Bruce said on the Braves’ new stadium, SunTrust Park. “But, it seems like a good place to hit so far.”

You think?

When asked about the Mets’ offense, which has scored three or fewer runs in ten games so far, Bruce said: “We have to step up. I wouldn’t say that we need to try harder or try and do more. We just need to work and prepare and get ready to play.”

GRANDERSON SITS: Curtis Granderson, who is in a 1-for-32 funk, did not start, but appeared as a pinch-hitter. He took extra work and expects to play Wednesday night.

“There’s nothing really major going on wrong,” Granderson said in one head-scratching comment. “I’m not chasing pitches out of the zone. I’m getting to a decent amount of full counts. I’ve swung at strikes. I’ve done a lot of things that could put me into position to be successful. I just haven’t been successful.”

Oh, that explains it.

PEDRO QUESTIONS METS INJURIES: Former Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez, questioned all the pitching injuries of his former team.

“I never thought that the nucleus of young Mets pitchers were going to get hurt so early,” Martinez wrote on Twitter. “I’m not sure what’s up with the Mets and injuries.”

Somebody responded to the tweet, writing, “but [Jeff] Wilpon, the Mets’ COO, wanted to sell tickets for a matchup against the star Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis.’’

To which Martinez wrote back, saying Wilpon told him, “ `While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say.’ ”

EXTRA INNINGS: Travis d’Arnaud left the game in the sixth inning with a sore right wrist. … Wilmer Flores (infection in knee) began his rehab assignment at Triple-A Las Vegas. … Brandon Nimmo also played in a rehab game at Vegas. … Lucas Duda, whose rehab had a setback over the weekend, started hitting off a tee.

UP NEXT: Jacob deGrom (1-1, 2.84) starts against old friend Bartolo Colon (1-2, 5.59) tomorrow. The series finale is Thursday evening with Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.78) returning to his home area against lefty Jaime Garcia (1-1, 3.99).

Sep 26

Mets’ Wright Savors Moment He Thought He Lost

The last time David Wright tasted champagne with the Mets, he thought it was something he would grow accustomed to, like annual All-Star Games and feeling healthy. As a young star on a powerhouse team in New York, he thought he could duplicate what Derek Jeter had done with the Yankees.

It couldn’t be that hard, could it?

However, the years slowly passed, and at times frustratingly so. As the injuries and disappointments mounted as the teammates slowly departed – from Carlos Beltran, to Tom Glavine, to Pedro Martinez to Jose Reyes – Wright came to appreciate what he once had and at times thought he’d come to expect.

“I a??m not taking this one for granted,” Wright said in the Mets’ champagne-soaked clubhouse in Cincinnati, moments after the Mets clinched the sixth division title in franchise history with a 10-2 rout of the Reds. “I can’t even describe this. I can’t be more excited to be able to do it with this group of guys. I canâ??t be more proud.”

WRIGHT: Sweet celebration. (AP)

WRIGHT: Sweet celebration. (AP)

The Mets were going to the World Series in 2006, but Yadier Molina derailed them in the ninth inning of Game 7. The following year, the Mets coughed up a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining to lose on the season’s final day. They lost in the final weekend in 2008, the final year of Shea Stadium.

Willie Randolph was fired, then Jerry Manuel. Reyes left. Wright’s body started to break down, as did the financial solvency of the Wilpons. The fan base grew more than frustrated, it grew angry.

The Mets gambled on Wright over Reyes, and unbelievably, many fans who cheered Wright questioned why he would bother to stay when GM Sandy Alderson offered him an eight-year, $138-million package that was as much for his future production as it was for his past numbers and what he represented to the franchise.

Stung from the Madoff scandal, signing Wright was a goodwill gesture to Mets fans, who were staying away from the Wilpons’ jewel of a ballpark. Alderson promised Wright that with the Mets’ promising young pitching – including Matt Harvey, who surprisingly worked in the seventh inning today – and with patience, the franchise could be relevant and viable again.

“I’m especially happy for David,” Alderson said. “He made a commitment to us on faith.”

And, that faith is being rewarded.

“This is exactly what I dreamed of when I sat down with Sandy and Jeff Wilpon,” Wright said. “I wanted to celebrate with this organization. I bleed orange and blue.”

However, there were land mines along the way. Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2014 season, and back problems sidelined Wright for over four months this summer. Wright was asked if he ever thought this team couldn’t win, even as it struggled at mid-season.

“Never,” Wright emphatically said. “I looked at the way this team is built. This team is built to win not just now, but for the future.”

And, for Wright and the Mets, the future is now.

 

Mar 13

Mets Matters: Edgin Update; Wheeler Scratched: Mets Win Big

Mets lefty reliever Josh Edgin, as expected, sought a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews regarding Tommy John surgery. The MRI the Mets took will be sent to Andrews and examined. It will then be determined if Andrews needs to examine Edgin.

The current diagnosis is a stretched elbow irritated by a bone spur.

mets-matters logoEdgin told reporters Friday: “I’m looking at the second opinion as a mental thing to make the decision a little easier, whatever it may be. The best outcome is this rehab will work. I’m looking at it optimistically and prepared for both ends of the spectrum.’’

The worst-case scenario is surgery, but if it is done it should be shortly so Edgin is ready for next season.

WHEELER SCRATCHED: Zack Wheeler was scratched for Saturday’s start against Washington because of a tender elbow and blister.

Wheeler will not have an MRI.

Meanwhile, Vic Black underwent a MRI on his throwing shoulder.

Not sure why pictures were taken on Black and not Wheeler.

METS ROUT BRAVES: The Mets scored five runs in the first inning and Wilmer Flores hit a three-run homer in the third to power the Mets.

Flores’ homer was part of a 3-for-4 day. Curtis Granderson added two hits and Matt den Dekker walked three times.

Jon Niese started and struck out three in 3.2 innings.

LAWSUIT SETTLED: The Mets settled their lawsuit with Leigh Castergine, who was fired, Aug. 26, 2014, after four years of employment.

She alleged sexual harassment from COO Jeff Wilpon, claiming she was fired because Wilpon was “morally opposed’’ to her being unmarried and pregnant.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and the parties stated in a joint statement: “The parties have decided to resolve this matter, which has brought more attention to the workplace environment for women in sports and will result in the organization being more attentive to the important issues raised by women in sports. Additionally, we are both committed to the further development and encouragement of female executives in our industry. Both sides? have agreed to have no further comments.’’

ROSTER MOVES: Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, both first-round picks, and catching prospect Xorge Carrillo were reassigned to the minor league camp. … The Mets have 54 players in camp, including Bobby Parnell and Edgin, both of whom are ticketed for the disabled list.

Mar 13

Memo To Alderson: Stop Treating Mets Fans Like Chumps

I understand as a longtime baseball executive, Mets GM Sandy Alderson knows more about the inner workings of the sport, and his team, than I do.

By definition, he has to.

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

However, I am not stupid, and I don’t think my readers are, either. Sandy, I don’t know how to build a watch, but I know how to tell time.

And, the time has come to say again Mets fans are loyal and passionate, and don’t deserve to be treated like idiots, because they are not.

In the book, “Baseball Maverick,’’ Steve Kettmann – who covered the Oakland Athletics – revealed a disturbing nugget about Alderson.

Alderson said: “Madoff wasn’t even a topic of conversation in my interview for the Mets job. I didn’t raise it. Maybe I should have. The bottom line is, I would have taken the job anyway. It just added to the challenge.’’

The reason Alderson didn’t ask about Madoff is because it wasn’t a real job interview. Of course, Alderson was going to take the job. Alderson was gift-wrapped to the Wilpons by commissioner Bud Selig, and Madoff was a non-issue.

As part of his job in the commissioner’s office, Alderson was re-assigned to be Mets’ general manager.

The Alderson-Selig-Wilpon relationship was too cozy and underscored the deserved criticism of the former commissioner in that he gave Wilpon a free pass. In doing so, it also highlighted his biased handling of the Frank McCourt case when he owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. Selig disliked McCourt intensely and wanted him out, even though his handling of the Dodgers was not as clumsy as Wilpon has been sometimes with the Mets.

Regarding the Mets’ finances over the past four years, Alderson told reporters yesterday payroll has increased by $15 million over last year. It irritates me no end to hear Alderson say the Mets’ payroll is of no relevance to him.

“I never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us,” Alderson said. “I haven’t talked about it recently. I haven’t talked about it in the past. I don’t intend to. It’s not relevant to me.”

Let’s get this straight. Alderson is the GM of a major league baseball team and the payroll doesn’t matter to him. What then is relevant to him?

For a New York franchise supposedly on the upswing, that $15 million is a drop in the bucket, and didn’t do anything to upgrade: shortstop, the lefty situation in the bullpen and the offense.

The Mets are going with the hope of cheap patchwork from outside – Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry – the hope of injured players on the mend – David Wright and Matt Harvey – and hope of young players making progress, namely Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares and Jacob deGrom.

But, as I’ve said before, hoping is not a viable strategy.

 

Oct 23

Why Mets Can’t Attract Quality Free Agents

The Mets’ inability to hire a hitting coach illustrates indecision, which is one of several reasons why marquee free agents won’t come here.

Among the others:

New York: The city can be daunting for someone who only experienced it in a hotel room and stadium. It is very expensive to live here, crowded and there’s the media crush.

The Yankees: Considering the above factors, if a player is willing to come, there’s no contest when the Yankees are also interested, as they will always pay more.

Money: The Mets’ track record under Sandy Alderson is to stay away from big money contracts, which is also why a trade for a guy like Troy Tulowitzki and subsequent contract extension will never happen.

Commitment to winning: The Mets’ reputation in the sport is they are not willing to go the extra mile to bring in good-to-great players because of the cost. That might also come to play down the road when it comes to dealing with Matt Harvey.

Youth: The Mets are rebuilding and many veterans not hanging on for a paycheck don’t want to be a part of that situation.

Continuity: Since their last World Series appearance in 2000, the Mets have had four general managers and five managers, which doesn’t promote commitment. For example, the Mets have manager Terry Collins to only a one-year extension.

Treatment of players: Players talk and often gripe. The issue over Carlos Beltran’s surgery, circumstances around Jose Reyes’ departure, and trade of R.A. Dickey all raised red flags about how the organization handles key issues. And, don’t think for a second the bickering between Harvey and management doesn’t raise questions.

Wilpon Situation: Players and agents aren’t stupid. They are aware of the Wilpon’s financial situation and how it impacts the team. They know there will be low-ball offers and salary dumps can come at any time.

Hiring a hitting coach should be a simple matter, especially when others have done the same with former Mets’ coaches.

 

When it comes to the Mets, for those on the outside looking in, perception is reality.