Jul 27

Mets Do As Well As Can Be Expected In Duda Trade

Since they weren’t going to bring back Lucas Duda anyway, the Mets did about as well as could be expected in today’s trade to Tampa Bay for Triple-A pitching prospect Drew Smith.

Duda had been linked to the Yankees and Seattle, and with the Rays, he has a chance to make the playoffs for a third straight season.

DUDA: Traded to Rays. (AP)

DUDA: Traded to Rays. (AP)

It wasn’t too long ago that the Mets chose Duda over Ike Davis, both high-strikeout first basemen with plenty of power. Duda ranks seventh on the Mets all-time homer list with 125. While it is unfair, Duda’s Mets’ legacy will be his wild throw to the plate in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.

“I’m excited to join the Rays. They’re in the hunt,’’ Duda told reporters in San Diego. “Kind of mixed emotions. There are guys here I’ve grown pretty close to, and [the Mets] are a first-class organization. I was very proud to be a New York Met, and I’m gonna be very proud to be on the Tampa Bay Rays.’’

With his power, Duda would fit in well with the Rays, who have the DH in the American League. He is hitting .246 with 17 homers and 37 RBI.

Trading Duda opens the door for Dominic Smith’s promotion to the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas, but until he gets here they have other options, namely Jay Bruce, who is in the lineup tonight in San Diego, T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores and even Neil Walker. Playing Bruce at first also enables the Mets to play Curtis Granderson in center, until they trade him.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Dom,’’ the ever classy Duda said. “I hope he becomes a 10-year All-Star.’’

Duda will be a free agent this winter.

In Smith, 23, the Mets will add to their bullpen, which will be important especially if the Mets are successful in dealing Addison Reed. Smith was a third-round pick by Detroit in 2015 and traded to Tampa Bay in April. He has pitched for four minor league teams in the Rays’ organization and compiled a 1-2 record with a 1.60 ERA and seven saves in 31 games.

 

Jul 22

Mets Wrap: Cespedes Lets Down Mets

For somebody who professes his love for Mets fans and New York City, Yoenis Cespedes sure has a funny way of showing it.

CESPEDES: What was he thinking?  (AP)

CESPEDES: What was he thinking? (AP)

What else can you conclude after Cespedes’ comments to The San Francisco Chronicle that pledged his loyalty to the Oakland Athletics and their manager Bob Melvin, at the expense of the team that will pay him $110 million over four years and Terry Collins, the manager who has consistently had his back?

Whether it be apologizing for Cespedes not hustling or playing golf when he was injured and should have been rehabbing, Collins always supported his left fielder.

Cespedes said he wanted to end his career with Oakland, the team he started for in 2012.

“I don’t know how many years I’m going to play, but I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland,’’ Cespedes said. “I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but that’s my goal. I still love the A’s. They were the first team to give me an opportunity to play in the big leagues. I love Oakland all the time.’’

Cespedes said his comments were a “misrepresentation,’’ and blamed the reporter.

Cespedes can claim innocence all he wants, but he’s been around long enough to know what’s going on and how to handle such questioning.

And, as much as he respects Melvin, he has to be smart enough to know that if he calls “the best manager for me so far … I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin.’’

Is Cespedes that naïve to think that wasn’t going to get back to Collins?

Cespedes has been all about damage control since, saying, “this is my home, this is my team, nothing has changed.’’

And, regarding Collins, Cespedes said: “With respect to the comments I made about their manager, he’s a great manager, that does not take away from my relationship with Terry.”

Whatever Cespedes’ relationship is with Collins these days, it would be a lot better if he had more than 22 RBI.

FLORES DOES IT AGAIN: Wilmer Flores was waiting on a fastball, and when he got it he completely erased a five-run deficit with a home run in ninth inning to give the Mets a 6-5 victory tonight over the Athletics.

“I was looking for a fastball. I have to be ready for that,’’ Flores said of his approach facing reliever Simon Castro.

The Mets fell behind 5-0 but clawed back into the game with a four-run sixth that began with a double by Flores.

WHEELER TORCHED: Zack Wheeler continued his troubles, giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks with six strikeouts in five innings.

Wheeler gave up two homers, including to Matt Joyce on the game’s second pitch. He has now given up 17 homers.

Wheeler hasn’t won a game since May 20, nine starts ago.

TRADE CHIPS: Asdrubal Cabrera started at third base for the first time this season and had two hits. The Mets want to showcase Cabrera at third. … Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer, his 25th of the season. … Lucas Duda tied the game with a pinch-hit single in the eighth. … Addison Reed has drawn interest from the Dodgers and Yankees.

 

Jul 21

Here’s Hoping Flores Gets Traded

It was two years ago next week when Wilmer Flores carved out a niche in Mets lore when he openly wept on the field after hearing a report he had been traded. Flores endeared himself to Mets fans everywhere that night because he showed the fans he was a player who genuinely wanted to play here.

How could you not cheer for a guy like that? How can you not cheer for a guy who showed such human emotions?

FLORES: The night he became a Mets' icon.  (AP)

FLORES: The night he became a Mets’ icon. (AP)

The trade to Milwaukee fell through and he remained in Queens, but his situation only briefly changed for the better regarding playing time. Off the field, there was still a shameful lack of respect from GM Sandy Alderson, who made him a butt of jokes on his stand up tour, and manager Terry Collins, who never trusted him enough to give him a position full-time.

However, in those moments when he did play – when Lucas Duda and David Wright were injured – Flores showed streaky power. He did so again yesterday with a pinch-hit homer in the win over St. Louis.

I always liked Flores, even before the tears, and openly advocated the Mets work him into a regular playing rotation. Now, I want the Mets to trade him. To Boston. To Houston. To Milwaukee, again. To any team where he’ll get a chance to play.

The Mets will soon move out Asdrubal Cabrera to make room for, and keep him away from, Amed Rosario. And, maybe they’ll trade Duda to make room for Dominic Smith. Neil Walker will soon be coming off the disabled list, and a midseason slump cost Flores his at-bats in favor of T.J. Rivera.

And, Flores? He’ll get moved to the bench where we won’t see him for ten more days. Collins never gave Flores a chance to work his way out of his slump; he wouldn’t work Flores into a rotation when all the infielders were coming off some kind of injury; he’ll bury him again.

Ken Davidoff, the talented baseball columnist for The New York Post, quoted a baseball scout on Flores and Rivera: “I like them more as fringe everyday players. Maybe guys you plug in for two weeks, or maybe even two months. But I wouldn’t be comfortable with them in a six-month situation for the full season.’’

That’s understandable because Flores has never been given more than a month to play. He tore things up earlier this season, then, like all players eventually do, tailed off. Hey, even Aaron Judge has cooled.

That’s the essence of a full baseball season. There will be stretches where everything falls in and others where even scorched balls are caught. His defense has never been good, but couldn’t that because he’s never been given a fulltime position? That’s the same way it was with Daniel Murphy.

Nobody knows what Flores can do for a full season because he’s never gotten the chance. Collins and Alderson put him in position where he’s always looking over his shoulder.

Flores can play adequately anywhere in the infield and has shown he can hit right-handed pitching. He can tear up lefties.

Flores was a valuable piece in the playoff runs of 2015 and 2016, and surely, can help a contender. Boston is in desperate need of a third baseman and the Yankees can still use a first baseman.

Flores can help either, but the hope here is he is traded by the deadline to a team that appreciates his value and will let him play.

Give him 550 at-bats before you tell me he can’t play.

 

Jul 18

Mets Wrap: Will Mets Talk Trade With Yankees?

Multiple reports have the Yankees reaching out to the Mets inquiring about first baseman Lucas Duda and reliever Addison Reed. With both Duda and Reed in their walk years, and the Mets not expected to break the bank on either, they might as well see what the Yankees will offer.

MONTERO: Defense lets him down. (AP)

MONTERO: Defense lets him down. (AP)

Since the Mets and Yankees rarely do business with each other, I  wouldn’t expect this one to materialize, but why not? If the White Sox can trade Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs, then why can’t the Mets deal with the Yankees? Both teams are paranoid about making a trade that would help the other and consequently be embarrassed.

We know the Yankees won’t be afraid to pursue a trade, especially with the Red Sox reportedly going after Todd Frazier and David Robertson. Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s reputation is that of trying to fleece the other team. Will that force the Yankees to walk away?

Duda, 31, is hitting .248 with 16 home runs and 34 RBI in 66 games this season. Reed, 28, has a 2.47 ERA and is 15-for-17 in save opportunities in 42 games.

DEFENSE LETS DOWN METS, MONTERO: The Mets committed three errors tonight accounting for three unearned runs to victimize Rafael Montero, who fell behind 4-0 after two innings, yet hung on to pitch another four innings.

It’s the second time he overcame a rough start to work deep into a game.

“After the second inning he could have let up, but didn’t,” said manager Terry Collins.

As for his team’s porous defense, Collins said: “In this league, you can’t give away outs or it will catch up to you. This is the major leagues and you have to make plays.”

 

Jul 15

Mets Wrap: Bruce Proves His Worth

Jay Bruce continues to show why the Mets should, and shouldn’t, trade him. Bruce’s three-run, first-inning homer, to center was the catalyst in tonight’s 9-3 mauling of the Rockies.

It’s been only two games against a struggling team, so let’s not go overboard on the Mets so far in the second half. That includes rushing to trade the Mets’ most productive hitter, whose 24th homer puts him on pace for 44 homers and 114 RBI.

BRUCE: Most valuable Met. (AP)

BRUCE: Most valuable Met. (AP)

That makes the 30-year outfielder attractive not only to a contender in search of a bat, but also to the Mets in the future as a complement to Yoenis Cespedes, but also a safety net should his injury problems persist.

Quite simply, if the Mets will be contenders next season as they believe, they’ll need to either bring back Bruce or replace his production which won’t come cheap.

Bruce will make $13.1-million this season and will be a free-agent this winter in the off-season, and I’m guessing could be re-signed for $80-million over four years. He’ll draw interest in the trade market, but his contract has a limited no-trade clause that blocks deals to contenders Arizona, Boston, Cleveland, Minnesota, the Yankees and Tampa Bay, and also-rans Miami and Oakland.

The Mets could offer Bruce a one-year qualifying offer, which would either keep him around for another season or net them a draft pick.

LUGO DOES IT ALL: Seth Lugo had one of those Little League games tonight, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings with five strikeouts, and also hitting a home run in the third.

Got a huge laugh when Lugo returned to the dugout to receive the silent treatment. Lugo took it all in stride, including giving air high-fives.

With Jacob deGrom going eight innings Friday and with Lugo’s effort, the Mets’ bullpen has worked just 3.1 innings in the series.

“He got ahead of hitters, changed speeds and kept the ball out of the middle of the plate,’’ was how Collins explained Lugo’s success.

CESPEDES LEAVES GAME: Cespedes left the game in the sixth inning when he jammed his left hip attempting to make a diving catch.

“It was more precautionary than anything,’’ manager Terry Collins said when asked his reasoning for taking Cespedes out of the game. “He felt something in his hip. I doubt he’ll be in there tomorrow.’’

Cespedes said through an interpreter that he left the game because of the score, and believes he’ll be able to play, “but if they want to give me the day off I’ll gladly take it.’’

CARGO DROPOFF: Do you remember when the Mets, before acquiring Cespedes, were interested in Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez? He’s fallen on hard times lately, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts tonight to see his average drop to .215.

EXTRA INNINGS: Lucas Duda, who like Bruce, will be on the block once the Mets officially put up the “For Sale,’’ sign, drove in two runs with a double. … Mets’ hitters struck out nine times, including four by Michael Conforto.Jose Reyes stayed hot with two hits, including his ninth homer in the eighth.