Sep 19

Mets Offense As Bad As The Numbers Say

The Mets were shut out for the 12th time this season tonight in Philadelphia, which along with injuries and their bullpen, accurately defines the Mets’ most serious deficiency this summer.

The offensive breakdowns can be attributed to injuries primarily to Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.

The rankings, for lack of a better word, are just ugly. With ten games remaining, they rank:

26th in runs scored with 646, with only the Padres, Giants and Marlins in the National League behind them.

27th in hits with 1,212, ahead of the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Padres.

18th in doubles with 246, 52 behind league leader Atlanta.

19th in homers with 164.

21st in RBI with 619.

12th highest with 1,301 strikeouts, which has long been a franchise problem.

22nd with 64 stolen bases.

28th in batting average at .236.

21st in on-base percentage at .312.

24th with a .704 OPS.

24th in total bases with 2,014.

19th in extra-base hits with 442.

It has been said you can make statistics say anything you want, but there’s no way you can make them say the Mets have had a good year at the plate.

WHEELER SHUTDOWN: As suggested here a few days ago, the Mets have shut down Zack Wheeler for the remainder of the season. Manager Mickey Callaway said Wheeler has nothing left to prove.

“We’re really excited about the year he had, and we feel like we’d probably be taking the best care of him we can if we shut him down at this point,” Callaway said.

Corey Oswalt will take Wheeler’s spot in the rotation, beginning Saturday in Washington.

Wheeler didn’t pitch in 2015-16 following Tommy John surgery and had last year cut short with stress on his arm. After a rocky start this year, he has a 9-1 record and 1.68 ERA in 11 starts in the second half.

“[My] body after this long is starting to wear down a little bit,” Wheeler said. “But if I really needed to for the playoff push or something, I could definitely go out there and finish it up. That’s not why I’m stopping. It’s just being smart, really.

“I’ve done some thinking, and I wish the first part of the season was more like the second part. Obviously, I think overall it was a good season for me. A bit of a learning experience at the beginning. I made some adjustments, and I was able to take off the second half.”

TEBOW TO RETURN: Tim Tebow is expected to return to the Mets organization in 2019.

Tebow underwent season-ending surgery on his right hand in July to repair a fractured hamate bone. In 84 games at Class AA Binghamton, Tebow hit .273 with six homers and 36 RBI and started as the DH in the Eastern League All-Star Game.

 

Jul 26

Mets Have To Believe Cespedes’ Days Are Over

Sure, the Mets caught a bad break in losing Yoenis Cespedes for the rest of this season and probably up to August of next year. However, the one thing the Mets must resist is the notation to think ”he’ll come back to superstar form in 2020.”

CESPEDES: His days with Mets are over. (AP)

CESPEDES: His days with Mets are over. (AP)

They have to avoid that line of thought because, after all, these are the Mets we’re talking about, so everything breaking right usually doesn’t happen. The best position for the Mets is to learn from their David Wright experience and just move on.

They have to believe they got the best of Cespedes, but with that means they have to accept the worse. They have to believe Cespedes is gone forever, and everything they might get from him in the future is a bonus.

But, they can’t believe they never collect on that bonus.

Assistant general manager John Ricco said the Mets won’t alter their short-term plans to accommodate losing Cespedes, and they shouldn’t change their long-term plans, either.

”Certainly, when you don’t have one of your best players on the field, you have to look at your team differently,” Ricco said, when asked if Cespedes’ surgery changes the Mets’ long-term strategy. ”At this point, we just found this information out in the last day or so. I think it’s a little bit too quick to speculate as to how we’re going to change our plan moving forward.”

He’s right on that. Trading somebody like Jacob deGrom for a power bat in the outfield isn’t the prudent move now, because where the Mets are situated today, losing a solid arm in exchange for a handful of home runs won’t make them any better. And certainly, it won’t elevate them to contender status.

Even with a healthy and productive Cespedes, the Mets aren’t a contender. The Mets shouldn’t concentrate on acquiring a Cespedes-type bat until they do reach contending status.

And, it isn’t imminent.

Currently, the Mets’ outfield consists of Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Jose Bautista. When he returns, throw Jay Bruce into that mix. This isn’t to say the Mets don’t need a healthy and productive Cespedes, but they can’t count on that now.

Or ever again.

Jul 25

Cespedes Done Until Next June At Earliest

The Mets, who have spent the better part of this lost season hoping Yoenis Cespedes would return from the disabled list, don’t have that problem any longer.

Cespedes returned from the disabled list Friday to homer against the Yankees, then dropped an even bigger bombshell after the game when he said he would need surgery on both heels and could miss up to ten months.

That would put his return at early June, but after assistant general manager John Ricco said today the Mets agreed he’ll have two surgeries three months apart that could put his return next year to sometime in August.

The official diagnosis was calcifications around both Achilles tendons and bone spurs on each heel.

But, you’re the Mets you might not even expect to see Cespedes at all next year.

After the 2016 season, Cespedes signed a four-year, $110 million contract, but by the time this year is over he will have played in just 119 of a potential 324 games. What’s even more aggravating is Ricco knew of Cespedes’ heel problems when they signed him in November of 2016, a test run season for him in which he was injured and played in only 132 games.

Cespedes, at his press conference today at Citi Field, said through an interpreter: ‘’Nobody would like to go through surgery at any time. I try to do my best to stay on the field and play a lot, but we exhausted all of the conservative treatment options. … I was not able to be on the field and play the same way I used to.”

The 32-year-old Cespedes missed 81 games last season, and went on the disabled list, May 14, with a hip flexor strain and missed nine weeks. The Mets believe the calcification in Cespedes’ heels forced him to change is running style resulting in the hip flexor strain.

“The general consensus is the pain he is feeling in his heels has definitely contributed to a change in his running style, because he is trying to avoid what is causing the pain,” Ricco said. “And that can certainly lead to other lower-extremity issues, whether they be the quad, hamstring or the hip. You get to the point where that doesn’t make any sense, because you’re just going to stay in that cycle.

“We had him checked out by the doctors, and they’ve agreed that we’ve exhausted the conservative options. Now, surgery is really the only way to resolve this issue.”

Ricco did say the Mets had an insurance on Cespedes similar to the one they took out on David Wright. That policy enables the Mets to recoup up to 75 percent of the $20 million Wright makes annually. Ricco wouldn’t say how the Mets would spend the money recovered through insurance.

“We haven’t gone down the road to what this means toward our plan moving forward,” Ricco said. “Generally, we don’t get into details of the insurance policy.”

 

Jul 22

Lack Of Communication Defines Mets’ Relationship With Cespedes

No, I can’t tell you with any certainty what is going on with the Mets or Yoenis Cespedes, these days. Nobody can. Not even Cespedes, although he does have a lot of explaining to do.

Actually, so do the Mets trio of general managers, not to mention COO Jeff Wilpon. The caveat is it will be preferable to get truthful explanations, not those that defy comprehension.

CESPEDES: No communication with Mets. (AP)

CESPEDES: No communication with Mets. (AP)

Or even logic.

Cespedes, after missing over 50 games with a strained hip flexor, returned from the DL Friday night and homered against the Yankees, then after the game said he needed surgery to treat dual heel calcifications and could miss up to ten months, which, if he went under the knife tomorrow could return next June.

Manager Mickey Callaway said “I’m not quite sure what he said,’’ about Cespedes’ bombshell announcement, but does it really matter? This was way above Callaway’s paygrade and should have been addressed way before Yankee Stadium Friday.

For example, who was the doctor who told Cespedes he needed surgery, and when did he tell him? It stands to reason this was a doctor not affiliated with the Mets, because if it was wouldn’t he/she have warned the front office Cespedes wasn’t ready to be promoted or cleared to return?

You would think so.

Also, when was Cespedes given this prognosis? Was it before Cespedes volunteered to play first base? Kind of convenient if it was, because wouldn’t it be just like Cespedes to make us feel good about him one moment just before he pulls the rug out from under us the next?

Of course, for the over two months Cespedes was on the DL, he said nothing to the media, which is consistent with his prima donna attitude. Sometime during those two months, somebody got into Cespedes’ head about his feet.

If I’m the Mets I’m doing two things: 1) wondering if the Mets have any legal grounds in which to void Cespedes’ contract and if they do not, whether they would attempt to buy him out.

After all, it is clear he doesn’t want to play for the Mets, and if he undergoes surgery on his heels, he will miss at least another five months if he has the good sense to have the procedure immediately.

But, that would entail Cespedes and the Mets acting in concert, but there’s a total disconnect between the factions.

It will never happen.

“I don’t think it’s a disconnect,’’ said assistant GM John Ricco. “It’s not like he has been saying this for months and we just haven’t been listening. For the first to our knowledge, the first he even was considering this surgery was when he said it on Friday.”

If that’s the case, then it is clear the Mets haven’t been talking with Cespedes recently. Isn’t that what is the very disconnect between the Mets and Cespedes?

 

Jul 19

Mets Top Five Second Half Questions

We know this is a lost season for the Mets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t face four significant questions in the second half. How they answer them could determine whether they will be competitive next year or five seasons from now:

SYNDERGAARD: Not going anywhere.  (SNY)

SYNDERGAARD: Not going anywhere. (SNY)

1. QUESTION: Who will run the show?

ANSWER: In the wake of GM Sandy Alderson’s absence, the trio of assistants John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi will do the daily lifting, but the major decisions will be made by COO Jeff Wilpon. It’s up to you to determine if that’s good or bad. If the Mets are to make an exhaustive GM search in the offseason, it would likely preclude any major trades between now and July 31. One assumption we can make is if the Mets go outside for a general manager it would stand to reason the new hire will want to name his own manager and Mickey Callaway will be let go.

2. QUESTION: What becomes of the Mets aces?

ANSWER: It’s not likely neither Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will be traded by the current GM trio. Those decisions aren’t made by out-going general managers. There’s been some talk of Zack Wheeler and/or Steven Matz being traded, but I don’t think that will happen, either. The Mets take their time building up to making major decisions, and if I’m Wilpon and know I’m going to name a new GM, then I want that hire to assess where the club is positioned in the short term. Personally, if the Mets get, and stay, healthy, I can see them improving in 2019, but I can’t see them competing. That’s just too big of a leap to make.

3. QUESTION: Who will be gone by the end of the month?

ANSWER: The two biggest reported names on the block are Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera. Closers are especially at a premium, so Familia might be the best move to make. Cabrera is having a solid season, and there are several teams needing a second/third baseman. With Dustin Pedroia injured, the Red Sox can use a second baseman. Wilmer Flores is being showcased, but tears alone won’t keep him in Queens this time. They could always trade Jay Bruce again, but he’s injured. I can also see they taking calls about Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. If they aren’t going to play him, then Dominic Smith has to either be traded or sent to the minors. Yoenis Cespedes has a no-trade clause, so he’s not going anywhere. Lefty reliever Jerry Blevins could also be dealt.

4. QUESTION: What’s going on with Cespedes?

ANSWER: He played nine innings at first base in a rehab game yesterday. First base is an intriguing because of his legs. Cespedes, 32, has been on the DL with a strained right hip flexor since May 16. He’s expected to be activated from the DL on Friday, but with Cespedes, you never know. With this being a lost season, the Mets might as well see what he can do at first base. Cespedes has been a dismal signing, and this is his chance to salvage his career in New York. The Mets are an organization void of young talent, but if Cespedes plays first for the rest of this season and next year, it could stunt the development of the franchise’s second-ranked prospect, Peter Alonso. Chances are we’ll see Alonso as a late-season call-up. Either way, it seems like the end of the line for Smith.

5. QUESTION: Will we see The Captain this year?

ANSWER: For a while, there was thought we might see David Wright before Cespedes. Wright has been throwing and taking batting practice, and there’s speculation he might return this season. Still, there’s no timetable for his return. If not, there’s always next spring training.