Apr 12

Mets Not In “Panic City”

This column is in response to Adam Rubin’s question at the bottom of today’s Morning Briefing, I will say no. Rubin asked his readers if they were yet a resident of “Panic City,’’ what GM Sandy Alderson called some Mets fan when the team floundered last season before regrouping to reach the World Series.

SYNDERGAARD: Big start tonight. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Big start tonight. (Getty)

My readers know me for calling it straight. Many of them believe I might be too critical of the team. The over/under for Mets’ victories I posted Opening Day was 92, believing they could improve on last season by having Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes full time.

That’s still very possible.

It’s very easy to spot the problems six games into the season: the offense has not produced and their vaunted starting pitching hasn’t lived up to expectations. The bullpen was overworked in Matz’s start, but giving up three runs in 7.1 innings isn’t that bad.

The three best starts were made by Syndergaard in Kansas City, Jacob deGrom in the home opener and Bartolo Colon Saturday night. Matt Harvey has been roughed up twice and Matz was torched Monday night.

I want to go back to a column I posted earlier suggesting the rotation didn’t get enough work during spring training. Normally starters work about 30 innings during spring training, but no Met pitcher worked more than 15. This was done with the objective of protecting those young arms, and the immediate by-product has been location.

The only real concern here is with deGrom’s tight right lat muscle. Perhaps he wasn’t in his best condition before of the shortage of work. His velocity has been off. Is that injury or lack of work? We don’t know yet.

I posted last night I wasn’t concerned with Matz, but let’s go back early in spring training when he was worried about results and manager Terry Collins questioned whether he was in his best condition.

The lack of work will eventually resolve itself as the season continues. After all, they can’t go back to spring training.

Hopefully, Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen will learn from this and tweak their offseason and spring training workout programs. There’s nothing they can do now.

Offensively, we’re seeing signs of life from Cespedes and Wright.

Curtis Granderson hasn’t produced, but the same thing happened last year. His track record is he’ll get better. The Mets have only two homers in six games, but that will change. There have been too many strikeouts and missed scoring opportunities.

You can blame the weather, but it was just as cold for the Royals, Phillies and Marlins. It won’t get any easier tonight against Jose Fernandez or over the weekend in Cleveland.

We also should remember something Wright said at the start, and that’s the Mets will have a bullseye on their backs all year. Philadelphia and the Marlins, not surprisingly want a piece of the Mets. They were the National League champs, every team should want to knock them down a peg.

Tonight’s Mets’ lineup has only two hitters – Granderson and Lucas Duda – who were with the team all of 2015.

The others were either injured and missed significant time – Wright and d’Arnaud – or are in their first full seasons with the team. That would be Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera.

You can’t tell much about a team or a player after six games. Let’s see how things are at the end of the month. We all knew getting back to the Series wouldn’t be a breeze.

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Apr 10

Mets Wrap: Concern For DeGrom, Not Team

If you’re concerned about Jacob deGrom, fine, you should be. However, if you’re worried about the Mets’ sluggish start, it’s way too early to panic, although we all knew that after another loss fans would get antsy. It will be interesting to listen to the call-in radio shows tomorrow.

DeGROM: Next start is scratched. (AP)

DeGROM: Next start is scratched. (AP)

Prior to the game, the Mets announced deGrom will miss his Wednesday’s start because of tightness in his right lat. The Mets toyed with the idea of waiting until deGrom threw today, but when he reported continued soreness they did the prudent thing and scratched Wednesday’s start and said Logan Verrett would get the ball.

Hooray for common sense.

Steven Matz had a similar injury last year and was lost for two months. We heard all winter the essence of the Mets was their young pitching, and if they stayed healthy they should return to the playoffs.

Of course, this being the Mets, common sense has its limitations. There are still no plans for deGrom to undergo an MRI. I’ll say it again, that’s just not smart.

In deGrom, the Mets will be without a workhorse, but I would rather not have him for six innings Wednesday than lose him for two months or more.

“It’s improved, but not enough,” manager Terry Collins said.

Verrett was superb when he replaced Harvey last summer in Colorado. Other possibilities should deGrom’s injury be worse than anticipated are Sean Gilmartin and Rafael Montero. But for now, they need to get quality innings from Noah Syndergaard, Matz, Bartolo Colon and Harvey. They didn’t get them today from Harvey, who gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.

The key word was “quality,” and Harvey didn’t have it for his second start. However, I’m not worried about Harvey. He’s healthy. He was simply beaten, and will be beaten again. But, unless his elbow starts to bark, I’m not thinking about Harvey.

The problem has been the offense. Yoenis Cespedes homered today to break a 15-inning scoreless stretch. But, the Mets aren’t getting anything from Lucas Duca, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud. Actually, other than Michael Conforto and Neil Walker at the start of the week, they haven’t gotten much from anybody.

Yup, the Mets aren’t off to the start they hoped, and we all expected them to win the series against the Phillies. But, it has only been five games.

Unless there’s bad news about deGrom, just relax.

Here’s what happened today:

GAME #5:  Phillies 5, at Mets 2.  Record: 2-3.

SUMMARY: After the news about deGrom, the Mets’ offense was supposed to rally around Harvey. Maybe next time. Harvey clocked at 97 mph., in his first appearance on the mound since Game 5 of the World Series. It wasn’t as if Harvey was mauled as he gave up a run on a sacrifice fly and later a two-run homer to Odubel Herrera.

KEY MOMENT: Herrera’s homer.

THUMBS UP: Cespedes homered and singled to show breakout signs. … Reliever Jim Henderson continued to perform and now has seven strikeouts in three perfect innings.

THUMBS DOWN: Pretty much everything else. … Granderson is 1-for-20. … The Mets had four hits Sunday after getting just three Saturday. … Harvey is now 0-for-2 with a 4.63 ERA.

INJURY UPDATES: No word as to when deGrom will throw next. DeGrom will remain with the Mets until wife Stacey delivers. She is five days late. … Lefty relieverJosh Edgin gave up one run in two-thirds of an inning in a rehab assignment in the Florida State League. Edgin’s projected return date in May 1. … Zack Wheeler is scheduled to have a minor surgical procedure Tuesday to remove an undissolved stitch in his right forearm. Wheeler’s return date is July 1.

QUOTEBOOK: “I would say it’s quite a bit better today. I think we’re going to err on the side of caution, though, this early in the season.” – deGrom on his lat injury.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1.29: Mets ERA, fourth best in the NL;  .192: Mets batting average, second worst in NL?

NEXT FOR METS: Matz will make his first start of the season Monday against Miami at Citi Field.

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Apr 10

Today In Mets’ History: Agee Hits Monster Homer

The Mets aren’t noted for the home run in their history, but one of the franchise’s signature long ball moments happened on this day in 1969 when center fielder Tommie Agee went into the left field upper deck in Shea Stadium against Montreal’s Larry Jaster in a 4-2 victory.

timmie-agee-home-run-spot-400x306The Mets commemorated the drive by painting a disc on the concourse where the ball hit. It really is a long way from the plate.

Agee went 2-for-4 for two RBI hitting in the leadoff spot. He finished that season with a .271 average and 26 homers and 76 RBI, but what Mets fans most remember from Agee that year was Game 3 of the World Series against Baltimore when he homered and made two magnificent game-saving catches. VIDEO

Agee hit 82 of his 130 career homers during his five years with the Mets. Agee also played for Cleveland, the White Sox, Houston and St. Louis. The Mets traded him to the Astros for Rich Chiles and Buddy Harris after the 1972 season.

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Apr 09

Today In Mets’ HIstory: Carter Hits OD Game-Winning Homer

On this date in 1985, the Mets’ drive to, as manager Davey Johnson said, “to dominate,” began with Gary Carter‘s 10th-inning Opening Day homer gave them a 6-5 victory over St. Louis at Shea Stadium.

Carter Gary Plaque_NBL_0The Mets acquired Carter in an offseason trade with Montreal for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans.

The Mets’ championship team of 1986 was built around draft picks Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, but the trades for Carter and Keith Hernandez were largely regarded as the final pieces of the puzzle.

The Mets finished second to St. Louis in 1985, but the die had been cast. During spring training in 1986, Johnson said the Mets would “dominate,” that year. The Mets cruised through the regular season, outlasted Houston to win the NLCS with a dramatic win in extra-innings. That was a crucial win because Mike Scott – who was clearly in the Mets’ head – was the Astros’ Game 7 starter.

The Mets rallied to win Game 6 of the World Series in another epic game, to set up Game 7. The Mets came from behind to win that game, also. Carter hit .276 in the World Series with two homers and nine RBI.

Carter played only five years with the Mets and released after the 1989 season. He played three more years in the majors with San Francisco (1990), Los Angeles (1991) and retired after the 1992 season with a farewell tour with Montreal.

After falling short in several votes, Carter was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Carter died, February 16, 2012.

ON DECK: Mets Should Skip DeGrom’s Next Start

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Apr 05

Today In Mets’ History: Trade For Rusty Staub

On this date in 1972, the Mets acquired one of the most popular players in franchise history when they traded outfielder Ken Singleton and infielders Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen to Montreal for All-Star right fielder Rusty Staub.

STAUB: Mets favorite. (Topps)

STAUB: Mets favorite. (Topps)

Injuries limited Staub to just 66 games that season, but he played a significant role in leading the Mets to the World Series in 1973. An enduring image from that postseason is Staub injuring his shoulder after running into an outfield wall and not being able to throw.

A six-time All-Star, Staub played 23 years in the Major Leagues, with nine of them with the Mets, in which he hit .276 with 75 homers and 399 RBI. Staub didn’t reach the All-Star Game with the Mets, but did so with Houston, Montreal and Detroit.

Staub retired with 2,716 hits (292 homers) and a .279 average.

ON DECK: Mets Today. Blog doings.

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