Aug 01

It’s Rosario’s Time

Well folks, you got your wish as Amed Rosario will be in the Mets’ lineup tonight in Denver. The player GM Sandy Alderson refused to bring up until the white flag was officially raised on this season is supposed to represent the rebuilding of the team many thought could be heading to the World Series.

How good is Rosario?

ROSARIO: It's time. (AP)

ROSARIO: It’s time. (AP)

His .328 batting average tells us he can hit Triple-A pitching. Limited glimpses of him during spring training says he has the potential to become an elite defender. Minor league instructor Tim Teufel told The Post a lot when he said, “he’s not a finished product, yet,’’ yet admitted he might have become a little bored in the minors.

Getting bored and his Tweet literally screaming at the Mets to bring him up aren’t positive signs, but at 21 he gets a pass. Not every young player becomes a David Wright or Derek Jeter in that they always say the right things.

I called for the Mets to bring up Rosario nearly a month ago, but I appreciate part of Alderson’s reluctance. His inability to deal Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Jose Reyes creates a logjam in the infield, but that’s manager Terry Collins’ problem. However, limited playing opportunities for Cabrera might make it more difficult to trade him, unless the Mets are willing to nearly give him away.

Alderson’s problem in making trades is he continually holds out; his priority is to “win’’ the trade, which turns off other general managers. At least, that’s his reputation. It is the primary reason he couldn’t – thankfully – move Jay Bruce last winter.

The timing of the promotion is good with the Mets are on the road, which should give Rosario three games to get rid of the butterflies. Opening up at home, against the high-flying Dodgers, would have put undue pressure on him. It’s also a good time because it is August, and the competition will be sharper than in September when opposing rosters are littered with call-ups. That’s also why first baseman Dominic Smith’s promotion soon is important.

“We want to see what we have, so going into next season or going into the offseason we will have a better sense of what we need,’’ Alderson said yesterday on a conference call. “I think it’s important for guys like Rosario and Smith to get more than just playing time in September. To make it meaningful, it has to be a little bit longer than that, and against more regular-season competition as opposed to expanded rosters.’’

I suppose it is possible if Rosario is a bust for the next two months it might change the Mets’ thinking on Cabrera and Reyes. But, Rosario won’t play every day, said Alderson, because “he’s never played that many games in a year.’’

Huh? He’s 21. He’s not a pitcher. Sure, he should get a day off this weekend, just to clear his head from the call-up, but I want to see this guy play. I want to see what the Mets have.  I would play Rosario more in August when the competition is better and let him rest more in September.

What I also want to see is patience with him if he struggles at first. Give him a chance to experience and learn how to get out of slumps. Above all, the Mets – and the fans and media – should give him a little breathing room and acknowledge he’s one piece to the puzzle, he’s not a savior.

Look back within the past ten years at some of the prospects the Mets used, and burned out, with too high expectations: Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Gomez, Jenrry Mejia, Kaz Matsui and Ike Davis. You can even make cases to a lesser extent for Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and even Matt Harvey.

The expectations on all of these guys created a burden that was too heavy for them to carry. Let’s enjoy Rosario’s skills, but realize he alone won’t lift the Mets to the next level.

ON DECK:  Can Steven Matz snap out of his funk?

Jun 12

Cubs-Mets Is Opening Day II

Call Cubs-Mets Opening Day II.  The World Champion Cubs – something I never thought I’d write – are in tonight for a three-game series. After them, the Mets play the Nationals, Dodgers and Giants over a two-week stretch that will define their season.

The Mets are feeling good about themselves these days after winning three-of-four in Atlanta, and the returns of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo – who each worked seven strong in their starts – and Yoenis Cespedes, who ripped a pinch-hit grand slam.

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

CESPEDES: Mets need his bat. (AP)

“This is fun, you’re playing the world champs, you are playing arguably the best team in our division,” Collins said. “We’re a little healthier and having Ces back is big, but we’ve got to go pitch. It’s going to be a fun week. I just hope we go out and play well.”

In their last five games, Mets’ starters have given up three runs over 32.2 innings. However, none of those games include Jacob deGrom, tonight’s starter. DeGrom has given up 15 runs in his last two starts. We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month of starts, and if he doesn’t get back to that form the Mets can forget about sniffing the playoffs this year.

The big series, of course, is the four-game set against the Nationals. If they sweep that, then the Mets trail by only six games. That’s entirely doable.

However, for that series to mean anything they have to take care of business against Chicago as they can’t afford to fall any further behind. The Mets are fortunate in that they are playing a listless Cubs’ team that is only .500 at 31-31.

“We went through that last year,” Collins said of the Cubs. “Going to the World Series really beats up your pitching and as a team, it takes a while to get that energy back.”

The Mets seemed energized against the Braves, and they can’t afford any letdowns the rest of the way. These next two weeks will determine what they do at the trade deadline and whether there will be a summer worth watching.

ON DECK: What’s Wrong With DeGrom?

 

Jun 06

What Is Special About Mets?

Somebody asked me the other day if I thought the Mets were done for the year. As a follower of pennant races, I don’t like giving up on a season this early. I mean, it is only June. We’ve seen teams come from farther behind and later in the season to reach the World Series, so it could happen.

CESPEDES: He won't be enough. (AP)

CESPEDES: He won’t be enough. (AP)

However, before we can give up on the 2017 Mets, we must ask ourselves is there anything special about this team that makes one wonder if it has the capability becoming a historical icon.

Even when Yoenis Cespedes returns, he’s not enough to turn around the Mets, not with their multitude of pitching problems. Pitching was supposed to carry the Mets, but none of their vaunted young power arms have more than five victories. How can that be?

Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are due off the disabled list this weekend, with the side benefit of transferring Robert Gsellman to the bullpen. There is nothing guaranteed about either development. There’s also the unknown about Matt Harvey recovery from thoracic surgery and now Jacob deGrom is having issues.

And, no, we can’t expect Noah Syndergaard and/or Jeurys Familia to return this year.

Among the hitters, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud and Jose Reyes are all having off years with no signs of turning things around.

There are too many Mets battling injuries and struggling through off years to believe they can all come together to salvage this summer.

 

 

May 17

Today’s Question: What Version Will Mets Get From Harvey Today?

Today’s Question: Will the real Matt Harvey, or the version he claims to be step up?

Arizona was where it all began for Harvey, who struck out 11 Diamondbacks in his major league debut late in the lost season that was 2012. He had poise that day, an explosive fastball, and above all, devastating command.

HARVEY: Who is the real Harvey? (AP)

HARVEY: Who is the real Harvey? (AP)

The Mets crowed about what they had, and they had the right. Harvey finished the year at 3-5, but with a 2.73 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

A few short months later, Harvey masked the pain in his right forearm, and when the injury was finally revealed, he, along with coaxing of ownership, let their future start in the All-Star Game.

He was brilliant that night in Citi Field, but a few weeks later the burning in his elbow needed to be cooled by Tommy John surgery. We can gloss over the pettiness in his sparring with management about whether to have surgery, went to have it, and where he should rehab.

He fought the Mets at every turn, and when he came back in 2015 he fought with them over his innings limit.

Then there was Game 5 of the World Series.

Now, Harvey goes to the mound with a 31-31 career record and more questions than answers. Harvey goes in with a three-game losing streak and suspension on his most recent resume.

“You get to the point where you don’t sit here and say, ‘I hope I get this’ and ‘I hope I get that,’ ” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “You just send him out there and you hope he’s getting back to what Matt Harvey is. That’s what I’m looking for: improvement. That’s it.”

What is the real Matt Harvey? Well, on-the-field he’s been underachieving with average numbers. Off-the-field he’s still caught up with an arrogant sense of entitlement whose act is wearing thin.

He received no public support from his teammates, which is rare in a baseball clubhouse. That’s partly because he’s done nothing lately to prove to his teammates he’s worth the trouble.

That’s the heart of the matter.

 

May 17

Alderson Must Take Responsibility Of Mets’ Pitching Collapse

Going against Zack Greinke, it was expected the Mets’ losing streak would reach six, and this morning the fingers would start being pointed.

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

What didn’t happen in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to Arizona was another bullpen meltdown. If you want to call it a moral victory, go for it. I looked for moral victories in the standings and the only thing I could were the regular ones, which have them six games under .500 and nine games behind Washington.

But, wasn’t this team supposed to be a World Series contender if not win the whole thing? They sure were, because many; including GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets possessed the game’s best pitching.

I never bought into that because it simply wasn’t true. How could it be if the vaunted five of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler had never started a complete cycle in the rotation?

How could it be if there isn’t a 20-game winner among the group?

How could it be if they only have two with at least 30 victories (deGrom 32-23) and Harvey (31-31), with Syndergaard (24-18), Wheeler (20-18) and Matz (13-8) to follow? That’s not greatness, that’s potential.

How could it be, if four entered the season coming off significant surgery, and a fifth – Syndergaard – currently on the 60-day DL?

Wishful thinking is nice to have, but building on it is like a house of cards, capable of collapsing at the slightest nudge or breeze.

The Mets tried to build a group of back-ups, but Seth Lugo is on the DL, Robert Gsellman needs be optioned or sent to the bullpen to work on his mechanic, and Rafael Montero can’t find the plate.

New acquisition Tommy Milone was passable tonight, but you don’t win on passable. The best thing Milone did was work into the sixth, which was followed by Paul Sewald (1.1 innings), Fernando Salas (0.2 innings) and Jerry Blevins (0.1) not allowing a run.

The pen worked just 2.1 innings, but most nights it goes three or four, if not longer.

When fingers are pointed, they are initially directed at manager Terry Collins, but that’s too easy. It’s also too easy to blame pitching coach Dan Warthen. In finding out who is responsible for the Mets’ pitching problems, we must look at the nature of the injuries, and who acquiesced in the handling of Harvey and Syndergaard.

That would be general manager Sandy Alderson.