Oct 07

Mets’ Dismal Managerial Search

A show of hands please, who is exactly blown away by the Mets’ managerial search?

“Right now, we have a very long list,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said this week. “We will have it shortened after we have had internal discussions, and then talks with people outside the organization to make sure we have a list that is all inclusive and go from there.’’

GIRARDI: Mets should be so lucky. (AP)

GIRARDI: Mets should be so lucky. (AP)

The Mets’ current list stands at seven, which really means there’s no top candidate. Seriously, if you have seven choices you really have none. The list includes Robin Ventura, Kevin Long, Alex Cora, Joe McEwing, Sandy Alomar Jr.,, Bob Geren and Chip Hale.

From that group, who blows you away?

When Alderson said after the season those minor leaguers promoted at the end of the season – notably Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith – had holes in their game, had to make one wonder why they won’t consider Wally Backman.

Alderson’s first managerial search after the 2010 season which resulted in the hiring of Terry Collins lasted three weeks and there’s no reason to believe this one will last any shorter.

From that above group, only Ventura has had any success, and it was minimal at best, going 375-435 (.463) in five seasons with the Chicago White Sox (2012-2016). He had only one winning year, going 85-77 in his first season.

Of course, things can change, but there’s nothing on Ventura’s resume that suggests that will happen.

YANKEES FANS BACK TO NORMAL: By all accounts, the Yankees exceeded all expectations this season to reach the AL playoffs as a wild-card.

It’s premature to say the Yankees are back, but their fan base was in championship entitlement form this morning after listening to the radio call-in shows this morning, many calling for the manager’s head.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was roasted for several decisions, beginning with pulling C.C. Sabathia after 77 pitches, but most notably for not using a challenge in the bottom of the sixth when plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled Chad Green’s pitch clipped hitter Lonnie Chisenhall’s hand and not the bat knob as television replays did.

Chisenhall went to first to load the bases and set up Francisco Lindor’s grandslam, which pulled the Indians within 8-7.

After the game, Girardi said he didn’t challenge because he didn’t want to disrupt Green’s rhythm. It was clearly a panic response, one Girardi retracted today at Yankee Stadium.

“I screwed up,’’ Girardi told reporters today. “It’s a hard day for me, but I’ve got to move forward. … I feel horrible. Does it change the complexion of the game? Sure, it could have. … It’s a tough loss, a tough situation.’’

Girardi, of course, was ripped on social media, which was to be expected because Twitter and Instagram are the wild, wild west. However, what Girardi shouldn’t have had to endure was to get roasted by one of his own players.

Aroldis Chapman, who last year criticized how Cubs manager Joe Maddon used him in the World Series, liked an Instagram post that read: “Let’s hope Joe Girardi’s contract is not renewed after this season. He is a complete imbecile.’’

Chapman, of course, is blessed with the million-dollar arm but a 10-cent head. Here’s hoping the Yankees have the guts to fine him. The Yankees will bring back Girardi, who is a Manager of the Year candidate, but if they don’t the Mets should jump on him.

Chapman reportedly apologized, but what does it matter if it is already out there?

Reportedly, lost in all this is had Girardi challenged, it wouldn’t have been a called third strike, but the pitch would have to be replayed.

 

Aug 13

Mets’ Bright Spots In Lost Season

There are always a few rubies that can be found in this garbage dump of a Mets season. This year, the shiniest of the gems are Michael Conforto’s emergence of being a star and Jacob deGrom’s recovery from surgery to being an All-Star caliber starter.

The other highlights have been the production of traded Mets Jay Bruce and Addison Reed; the professionalism of Curtis Granderson; and promotions of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith.

Once a question to even make the Opening Day roster, Conforto began the season in a pinch-hitting role, but his success, coupled with Granderson’s slow start and injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, increased his playing time and subsequently run production to the point where he made his first All-Star team.

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

Conforto’s two-run homer gave him his 26th of the season, but more importantly, the Mets a two-run lead in the first inning, one they never relinquished in today’s 6-2 victory over the Phillies.

Conforto hit 12 homers last season, so his home run ceiling was just a hunch. Now, with 26, you would think 35 could be within reach with 47 games remaining.

I’ve long advocated Conforto should hit third in the order, ahead of Cespedes, and hopefully manager Terry Collins will keep him there. I also like that even with the trade of Bruce, Collins is keeping Conforto in center field. If the rest of the season is about laying the foundation for 2018, then hit Conforto third and in center and leave him there – hopefully, for the next dozen years.

Conforto’s last five hits have been homers, and since the All-Star break has 12 homers with 23 RBI.

As for deGrom, he took a line drive off his pitching arm Thursday, but all indications are he’ll make his next start, Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. DeGrom is 13-5 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. The word “ace,’’ gets thrown around a lot, but it’s clear cut when talking about deGrom, who works fast, and despite an overpowering fastball, more importantly has excellent command of all of his pitches.

With Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey on the disabled list, and Steven Matz struggling and winless in over a month, deGrom has been the rotation’s workhorse

The Mets are clearly in a rebuild, salary dump mode, which is why Bruce, Reed, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are gone, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Granderson could soon follow. Jose Reyes will stay to be Rosario’s caddy.

Bruce hit 29 homers with 75 RBI to lead the Mets, and has already made an impact with the Indians, going 5-for-12 with three RBI. You can describe Bruce, Reed, Walker and Granderson as consummate professionals.

Rosario booted a play in his debut that cost the Mets a game, but Bruce and Walker were seen in the dugout giving him counsel on what he should have done differently.

As for Granderson, he’s still being shopped, and maybe raised his value with three more hits today, including a two-run homer. He won’t be re-signed for 2018 and it is puzzling why there isn’t more interest. Granderson has four homers and nine RBI over his last ten games.

With Granderson, Bruce and the other veterans with expiring contracts assuredly not going to be here next season, the future belongs to Conforto, Rosario and Smith.

They, along with deGrom, give the Mets something to build on for next year.

 

Aug 11

Rosario, Smith Give Mets Glimpse Of Future

The Mets got a glimpse of their future tonight and had to like what they saw.

On a night when Dominic Smith made his major league debut, wearing the crown was Amed Rosario, who ripped three hits, including his first career homer, a game winner.

ROSARIO: Hits game-winner. (AP)

ROSARIO: Hits game-winner. (AP)

Oh, by the way, Michael Conforto hit another home run.

Rosario, who has been a major leaguer for all of 11 days, sounded like a veteran when talking about his breakout game.

“Even though I’ve had a couple of bad days lately,’’ Rosario said through an interpreter, “this helped my confidence.’’

Rosario has been a bundle of energy since his long-awaited promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas. His defense, hustle and speed have been a spark.

You don’t hear this often from a rookie with less than two weeks into his career, but Rosario said he was concerned about his slow start at the plate, in particular, his high strikeout rate. So, he has been working with hitting coach Kevin Long on trying to shorten his swing to cut down on his swing and using all parts of the field.

It worked tonight.

“He’s still very aggressive,’’ manager Terry Collins said, indicating a slow start didn’t intimidate him. “He’s played great. He listens. He’s going to be good.’’

And, he believes the same thing for Smith, who struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat, then singled to center in his second. That’s learning.

“He was nervous. It was quite easy to see,’’ Collins said. “But, he’ll be like Rosario and will calm down.’’

The Mets will still be defined by their young pitching. Jacob deGrom was superb on Thursday, but took a line drive off his pitching arm in the seventh inning and had to leave the game. He’s still expected to pitch Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Matt Harvey is on the disabled list, but is about to start his rehab assignment. Noah Syndergaard is also on the disabled list, as is Zack Wheeler. The Mets hope they will all return in the season’s final six weeks so they know where they stand heading into the offseason.

Then, there is Saturday’s starter, Steven Matz who has been in a downfall funk over the past month. The Mets hope to find some answers about him, also.

All of them, save deGrom, have significant questions, as do Smith and Rosario, but all have very high ceilings if they are healthy.

Then, there is All-Star Conforto, who hit his 25th homer, while batting clean-up, while playing center. Where he plays and hits in the order could change, but he has star written all over him.

So do the others.

Aug 12

Three Mets’ Storylines: Bullpen Gives Them Chance, But Fall Short

It obviously wasn’t what the Mets wanted – their fourth straight loss to drop under .500 – but it was something they needed, which was a game in which they didn’t lie down after a terrible start.

After Thursday’s beat down to Arizona, Mets manager Terry Collins went on a four-minute rant, threatening his players with jobs and vowed, “starting [Friday] we’re going to get after it.”

VERRETT: Ripped. (AP)

VERRETT: Ripped. (AP)

It didn’t start that way as the Padres ripped starter Logan Verrett for five runs in the first inning, and took an 8-2 lead in the third before hanging on to win, 8-6, Friday night at Citi Field.

The Mets almost overcame four homers off Verrett and stayed alive because their bullpen retired 19 straight, which allowed them to climb back with Jay Bruce’s RBI single in the fifth; and RBI hits by Matt Reynolds and Ty Kelly, and Wilmer Flores’ run-scoring grounder in the sixth.

It was the first time they scored that many runs in an inning since four in the fifth inning last Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

They lost, but after the Arizona series, there was a sign of a pulse.

“I was very impressed,” Collins said of his team’s effort. “I saw a lot more energy. I saw some passion. I saw better at-bats. I was very impressed with how they went about it.”

That was the biggest thing to take from the game, with the other storylines being Verrett and Travis d’Arnaud.

VERRETT ROCKED: Verrett was mauled for five runs in the first and eight in 2.2 innings in what was considered an audition to stay in the rotation.

Verrett has had some good moments, but his last two starts haven’t been good and the pre-game speculation was if he pitched poorly he would be out of the rotation.

But, to replaced by whom?

“We’re going to make a change,” Collins said. “If his knee is OK, it will be Jon Niese.”

WE HAVE D’ARNAUD SIGHTING: Collins pinch-hit for d’Arnaud in the ninth inning leading to speculation – including by me – the Mets were cooling on him.

D’Arnaud sat Thursday but was back in the lineup Friday and went 3-for-4, including his fourth homer, and drove in two runs and scored two.

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Aug 04

Three Mets’ Storylines: Colon Is Headliner

There’s not much more one can say about Bartolo Colon that hasn’t been said, so let’s pile on more of the superlatives we’ve been saying in his three years with the Mets.

COLON: Leads rotation. (AP)

COLON: Leads rotation. (AP)

Colon, despite averaging about 10 mph., less on his fastball than Noah Syndergaard, was stupendous in Thursday night’s 4-1 victory at Yankee Stadium. The guy is 43, but the Mets’ most durable starter and leads the rotation he wasn’t even supposed to be a part of at this time with ten victories.

“I didn’t see myself being a starter at this point,” Colon told an interpreter. “I think just from conversations we’ve had, I saw myself in the bullpen at this point of the season. Thank God I’ve had that opportunity.”

Colon threw 90 pitches, of which 84 were fastballs, which is an extraordinary ratio. He gave up one run on six hits with no walks in 6.2 innings.

“I thought maybe had his best stuff of the year,” manager Terry Collins said. “It’s amazing what he’s done.”

What he’s done is keep the Mets in the wild-card race. They trail St. Louis and Miami for the second wild-card spot by one game heading into a three-game series in Detroit.

The two other Mets’ storylines were Jay Bruce’s three-run homer and the steady contributions of Kelly Johnson.

BRUCE IS LOOSE: The newly-acquired Mets’ right fielder broke his 0-for-10 start with the team with a three-run homer in the fifth inning to give the cruising Colon a 4-0 lead.

“I told some guys it felt like my first major league home run running around the bases,” Bruce said. “It was good to make an impact that way. It ended up being a big spot.”

And, with Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list, there will be a lot more big spots for Bruce.

“I try to think small,” said Bruce about his approach with runners on base. “I don’t try to do too much and put added pressure on myself.”

JOHNSON COMES UP BIG: Johnson gave the Mets a spark last year after coming over from the Braves last year, and he’s been doing it again in his second stint with them.

Johnson homered in the fifth and made a nifty play to start a game-ending double play.

It takes stars like Cespedes and Bruce to carry a team, but the contributions of guys like Johnson can’t be underestimated.

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