Sep 24

DeGrom Best Mets Have To Offer

There are two numbers that define an ace and today Jacob deGrom achieved one of them – that being 200 innings. Maybe next year he’ll get the other, which is 20 victories. Coming off surgery, deGrom is at 201.1 innings after throwing six in today’s 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.

DE GROM: Best Mets have to offer. (AP)

                      DE GROM: Best Mets have to offer. (AP)

“It’s definitely big for me,’’ deGrom said. “We’ve got plans to hopefully go to the World Series next year, and that’s something I wanted to get to, to know what it’s like to pitch that many innings in a year.’’

Twenty victories and 200-plus innings have always been the benchmark numbers that define an ace. Limiting it to the Mets, Tom Seaver won 20 games five times and reached 200 innings 16 times. Both numbers carry more weight than strikeouts, although 10 times he struck out at least 200 batters in a season.

DeGrom struck out 11 today to give him 239 on the season to go along with a 15-10 record, 3.53 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. All solid stats, but manager Terry Collins is just supporting his player when he said deGrom should be a Cy Young Award contender.

“They live by 200 innings,’’ Collins said of Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. “And I think you’re going to look up in a few years and that’s going to be Jacob deGrom’s motif. You know you’re going to get 200-plus out of him, and they’re going to be quality innings.’’

DeGrom has been one of the few bright spots for the Mets this season, and is unquestionably their ace, even more than Noah Syndergaard last year and Matt Harvey for a few months in 2013 ever were. With injuries to Syndergaard and Harvey, and to Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, deGrom has had to carry more than his own weight in the rotation.

If those arms pitch at full strength next season, the Mets have a chance to be competitive, but I think deGrom might be overreaching when he’s talking World Series in 2018. One thing for certain, however, if the Mets have any hope of playing meaningful baseball next September, they’ll need a stellar season from deGrom, maybe even 20 victories.

Sep 07

Harvey Takes Big Step; Nimmo Homers Twice

Matt Harvey didn’t have a great line, but was impressive nonetheless. The Reds got to Harvey for single runs in the first two innings, but he regrouped to throw three scoreless innings to win his first game in three months.

HARVEY: Needs to step up. (AP)

HARVEY: Major improvement. (AP)

What started as another potential blowout, ended in optimistic feelings. And, the Reds can hit, with five players having at least 20 homers.

The turnaround was a seven-pitch third inning, something we haven’t often seen from the one-time Mets’ ace. The Mets are searching for signs Harvey isn’t washed up at age 28, and if he can build on this, then maybe his future isn’t so bleak, after all.

To get him through five innings, it’s a huge step for him,’’ manager Terry Collins. “His command was a lot better. … He should feel good about himself. As the game wore on, he was better with his mechanics.’’

Consequently, he kept the ball down, and was effective with his secondary pitches, in particular, his slider.

“I’m not where I want to be with my mechanics, but it was a step in the right direction,’’ said Harvey. “I know it’s going to take time. It has been a rough two years. I felt it was good for me to get five innings.’’

Another positive was getting two shutout innings from Jeurys Familia.

“This guy has pitched in the World Series, so he’s familiar with pitching under pressure,’’ Collins said. “But, what’s more important is getting his arm strength back and putting that blood clot behind him.’’

NIMMO SHINES: Brandon Nimmo slugged two homers and made a spectacular lunging catch in left field. Juan Lagares also homered, and Jose Reyes’ two-run single put the Mets ahead to stay.

It will be interesting to see where Nimmo fits into the Mets’ outfield plans for next season.

You have to figure with the injury concerns surrounding Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Confortothat Nimmo will make the Opening Day roster

INJURY UPDATES: David Wright called his decision to have rotator cuff surgery a “no brainer, because I want to play catch with my kids.’’ Regarding retirement, Wright said he hasn’t thought when: “I have had enough. I still feel I have something more to give.’’ … Wilmer Flores underwent surgery to repair a broken nose and will be shut down for the remainder of the season. … Noah Syndergaard gave up three runs in two innings in his second rehab appearance. … Asdrubal Cabrera will undergo an MRI tomorrow on his hamstring.

Aug 19

Granderson Trade Officially Closes Mets’ Window

The Mets’ Great Salary Dump of 2017 continued today when the Mets traded Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash. Dealing Granderson marked the symbolic closing of the Mets’ window of contention.

The Mets signed Granderson to a four-year, $60-million contract in 2013, and with their young pitching, they promised to be a contender. It wouldn’t be until 2015 that they overachieved and not only reached the playoffs but made it to the World Series.

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

They lost in the wild-card game last year but were heavy favorites to return to October – with many thinking the World Series – this season.

I ask: If injuries were the number one cause of the failure this season, doesn’t it stand to reason that with a little tweaking added to the present core, then how far off could the Mets be for 2018? That’s with, or without, David Wright.

That GM Sandy Alderson would cast off so many of the Mets’ veteran assets is only indicative how poorly he constructed this team. Granderson, combined with Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and soon to be Rene Rivera, adds up to six future free agents after this season.

It stands to reason Alderson wouldn’t bring back all of them. But, to not bring back any of them is simply poor management.

You don’t construct your roster to have eight expiring contracts – don’t forget Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera – at the same time. That’s 33 percent of your roster. And, coupled with casting off Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, and that’s just a terrible job by the man whose biographer refers to him as the game’s smartest general manager.

Maybe you don’t keep them all, but if you’re telling the public your goal is to compete, you try to keep the core together. Of all the remnants the Mets received in return, only AJ Ramos – projected in a set-up reliever role – figure to make the 2018 roster.

Turner, for spiteful reasons, brought nothing from the Dodgers. He’s an All-Star who could win the NL batting title this year. Murphy, of course, walked because they wouldn’t spend the money.

Hell, that’s the case with all of them.

The Mets threw good money after bad with trading for and extending Walker when they could have kept Murphy.

Duda, well he was only keeping the seat warm for Dominic Smith. Reed could have been extended when Jeurys Familia was first suspended, then injured. Bruce was signed as a hedge in case the Mets didn’t re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, who, so far, has turned out to be a bust.

Cespedes has been a health and hustling concern each of the past two years. Having Bruce’s 29 homers would be needed next season.

And, still, Alderson tells us he expects the Mets to compete next year. That is, if the three of the core rotation that is on the disabled list return healthy next year, and a fourth – Steven Matz – rights himself.

Ex-Mets Granderson and Turner could meet ex-Met Murphy or ex-Met Rivera, who was claimed on waivers by the Cubs, in the NLCS for the right to possibly meet ex-Mets Bruce or Reed in the World Series.

As it is now, the Mets have only Jacob deGrom from that vaunted rotation. What can you count on from Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Matz? Remember, that rotation has yet to pitch in turn since 2013.

Their best player is Michael Conforto, but they don’t have a set position for him. Smith and Amed Rosario are promising questions. They refuse to play Wilmer Flores full time and Wright can’t be counted on.

The bullpen outside of Jerry Blevins is awful. Do you really trust Ramos and Familia? Don’t tell me you trust Hansel Robles.

I think Rosario could be a star, but as with what happened with Conforto, there could be growing pains. I like Smith, but he needs to get into shape. How will Rosario and Smith fare in a full major league schedule?

So, in looking at the Mets’ current roster, I only trust Conforto, deGrom and Blevins. Everybody else is a question or a black hole.

We know the Mets won’t be big spenders this winter as all their money is tied up wet-nursing Cespedes. There won’t be big-name help coming in from the outside. So, you’re delusional if you think they really would go after Manny Machado or Evan Longoria.

The Mets window to compete opened when they signed Granderson. It officially closed today.

Aug 15

Why Not Trade Grandy To Nationals Or Yankees?

If the Mets are hell bent on trading Curtis Granderson, and they can get something decent in return in the form of a prospect or not having to pay any part of the $4 million remaining on his salary, I have no problem with them dealing him to the Yankees or Nationals.

Why not?

GRANDERSON: Why not trade him to Nats? (AP)

GRANDERSON: Why not trade him to Nats? (AP)

The season is over and if what they get back can help the Mets, what’s the problem? What I think is stupid is the Mets possibly missing out on a deal for Granderson because they want him for the Subway Series.  Could that really be a reason not to trade him now?

Granderson will be a free agent after the season and said he’ll retire if he can’t find a good deal as a player. So, what are the odds he’ll come back to bite the Mets next year?

Relations with the Yankees are frigid at best following the Jay Bruce and Neil Walker trades, so that’s a long shot at best. However, with Bryce Harper out indefinitely, the Nationals have more of a need.

Of course, the Mets would rather not trade within the division, but they have already gotten their money’s worth out of Granderson’s four-year, $60-million contract, so why not?

It might be fun to see Granderson match up against Bruce in the World Series.

 

Aug 14

A Good Game, But Still Interleague Play

It was well played, but tonight’s Mets-Yankees game was still interleague, so it only gets a half-hearted thumbs-up. I make no apologies, I can’t stand interleague play.

If it is a true rivalry game, then I’d rather see the Mets play the Nationals, the Braves, or even the Phillies. Then again, it would be nice to see a dozen more games in Citizens Bank Park.

Hell, I’d rather see them play another four games with the Dodgers than four with the Yankees this week.

There are so many reasons why interleague play doesn’t make it for me:

No integrity to schedule: Interleague play coupled with the unbalanced schedule means teams in the same league don’t travel the same course to the playoffs. That’s not an issue when everybody plays the same schedule, home and away.

I’m sorry, but 19 games a year against the Nationals, Braves, Phillies and Marlins is just too damn much.

Speaking of the schedule, does it make sense for the Angels to play three games at Citi Field while the Yankees are only in for two? Or the Mets in Seattle for three games, but only two games in the Bronx?

There are so many complications with the current schedule, such as teams playing out of their leagues and divisions in April, when the schedule is prone to rainouts. That the Yankees had to wait out a three-hour-plus rain delay because the Tigers made only one trip to New York is simply the epitome of arrogance and taking their fans for granted.

Commissioner Rob Manfred, like Bud Selig before him, is so hell bent on cutting three minutes from the time of game – and selling T-shirts in China and Europe, that he ignores the basic structure that served the sport well for over a century.

Regarding the Mets and Yankees, the two teams are competing for different objectives, so what’s the point of these games? It has been said a baseball season is a marathon, but with different schedules how fair is it for one team to run 26 miles while another runs only 25?

Attendance and original premise are irrelevant: There are only four teams playing in antiquated stadiums – Boston, the Cubs, Tampa Bay and Oakland – with the Athletics and Rays hurting at the gate.

Interleague play was introduced as a gimmick to boost attendance, with some critics of Selig saying it was to have the Cubs play in Milwaukee. But, with nearly everybody playing in new stadiums, attendance is rarely an issue.

Another selling point for tearing the fabric of the game was for the fan in Cleveland to watch the Padres. But, with cable TV and the various MLB packages, viewers in Wyoming can see most any team at most any time.

Different rules: Can you imagine an AFC team getting to use a two-point conversion with NFC teams not being able to? There’s simply no good reason why the NL doesn’t have the DH while the AL teams do. It is ridiculous this still goes on, especially in the World Series.

It doesn’t work everywhere: I can appreciate the premise in New York, Chicago and maybe Los Angeles. Weak arguments can be made for Cleveland-Cincinnati, Baltimore-Washington, St. Louis-Kansas City and San Francisco-Oakland. But, who are the “natural interleague rivals’’ for Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Arizona, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Diego? Or, Minnesota and Detroit?

Unless a player is returning to face his former team – or the teams in question are having outstanding seasons, what’s the appeal of Twins-Pirates, or Mets-Mariners, or Marlins-Tigers?

I’m old school: Call me what you will, but I grew up watching baseball a certain way. I respect and appreciate, but I have yet to hear an argument interleague play is for the betterment of the game.

The 2000 World Series was special, it was an event. but everything since just didn’t do it for me. I mean other than Shawn Estes throwing behind Roger Clemens. Yeah, that was interesting.

MONTERO SHARP: Rafael Montero was as good tonight as we’ve ever seen him, giving up two runs in six innings, which by every stretch was a quality start.

Montero gave up five hits and two walks with six strikeouts, so he was adept at pitching out of trouble. What was most impressive about him was how he challenged Yankee hitters inside with his fastball, including Aaron Judge, whom he struck out in the first.

Judge did get a measure of revenge with a game-tying homer in the sixth.