Sep 17

Gsellman Has Positive Audition For 2018

Today, he was the good Robert Gsellman. The Mets will take every start what they got from Gsellman – one unearned run in seven innings – but unfortunately for both parties, he has only provided glimpses of today’s production every other start at best.

“Just trying to finish strong for these guys so we can have some good momentum heading into next spring,’’ Gsellman told reporters after the Mets’ 5-1 victory over the Braves. “Just trying to keep it rolling.’’

GSELLMAN: Makes 2018 statement. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Makes 2018 statement. (AP)

Gsellman, like Seth Lugo, came up at midseason in 2016 and joined an injury-ravaged rotation to pitch the Mets into the playoffs. However, because of the combination of injuries and poor performance, neither have pitched to expectations, or even to where they have defined roles heading into spring training.

Gsellman should get another two starts, and if he duplicates today’s production, he would have to be considered for a rotation spot. In addition to his line, Gsellman did two things that were positive. The first was going seven innings because length defines a starter.

The second, and this was the most important thing I took from the game, came in the seventh after a pair of Amed Rosario errors, when he pitched out of it with only one run against him. When a starter can limit damage him that late in the game when he’s getting tired, that’s about as positive as you can get.

“I thought I worked well out of it,” Gsellman said. “I tried to pick up Rosario. We all make mistakes.”

As of now, Jacob deGrom, who beat the Braves Saturday, is the only given in next season’s rotation. Noah Syndergaard’s rehab took another step backward and the Mets don’t know if he’ll get into a game this season. Matt Harvey has been hit hard in his rehab games. Harvey lost two of his three starts this month with a 12.19 ERA and 20 hits allowed.

Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler won’t pitch again until next spring. Rafael Montero took the loss, but pitched well Friday against the Braves.

So, in looking at next year, deGrom is the only answered question. Gsellman and Montero pitched well this weekend to make their cases for next season, but nothing definitive.

Aug 21

No Surprise, Matz To Have Season-Ending Elbow Surgery

As much as Steven Matz and the Mets tried to convince us to the contrary, the team finally admitted something was wrong with the left-hander’s arm and placed him on the disabled list with surgery expected to follow.

MATZ: Done for year. (AP)

MATZ: Done for year. (AP)

It only took eight lousy starts to convince GM Sandy Alderson to finally seek the exam that revealed a ulnar nerve condition that if it doesn’t respond to a cortisone injection and more than two weeks of rest, will have season-ending surgery.

Matz’s condition is similar to Jacob deGrom’s last year, but we all know people respond differently from surgery, so it is only a guess he’ll be ready for spring training.

“I think it’s something [Matz] has had to deal with and we felt this was the best time to address it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “I am sure some of the issues have kept him from being the pitcher we know he can be.’’

Translated, Collins’ quote tells us: 1) this has been bothering Matz for a long time, and 2) don’t believe it when Mets’ management, or their pitchers, say there’s nothing wrong.

Since July 9, Matz is 0-6 with a 10.19 ERA, numbers to be expected considering opponents are hitting .385 against him with seven homers. Matz, 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA overall, joins Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo on the disabled list.

“There’s no guarantees, especially with young, power pitching, that you are going to say these guys are all going to be healthy throughout the season,’’ Collins said. “We came into this season saying we were prepared for it, because we had seven guys. Five of them went down. I just think you need to keep as much pitching around as you possibly can because you never know when you are going to need it.’’

EXTRA INNINGS: Robert Gsellman was superb in his second start since coming off the disabled list, giving up one run on five hits in 6.1 innings. … Matt Harvey gave up two runs in three innings for Double-A Binghamton in his second rehab start. … Jeurys Familia is scheduled to make consecutive appearances Tuesday and Wednesday, and barring complications could be activated this weekend when the Mets are in Washington. … Yoenis Cespedes has ten RBI in his last 11 games.

 

Aug 19

Granderson Trade Officially Closes Mets’ Window

The Mets’ Great Salary Dump of 2017 continued today when the Mets traded Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash. Dealing Granderson marked the symbolic closing of the Mets’ window of contention.

The Mets signed Granderson to a four-year, $60-million contract in 2013, and with their young pitching, they promised to be a contender. It wouldn’t be until 2015 that they overachieved and not only reached the playoffs but made it to the World Series.

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

GRANDERSON: Trade closes Mets window. (AP)

They lost in the wild-card game last year but were heavy favorites to return to October – with many thinking the World Series – this season.

I ask: If injuries were the number one cause of the failure this season, doesn’t it stand to reason that with a little tweaking added to the present core, then how far off could the Mets be for 2018? That’s with, or without, David Wright.

That GM Sandy Alderson would cast off so many of the Mets’ veteran assets is only indicative how poorly he constructed this team. Granderson, combined with Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and soon to be Rene Rivera, adds up to six future free agents after this season.

It stands to reason Alderson wouldn’t bring back all of them. But, to not bring back any of them is simply poor management.

You don’t construct your roster to have eight expiring contracts – don’t forget Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera – at the same time. That’s 33 percent of your roster. And, coupled with casting off Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, and that’s just a terrible job by the man whose biographer refers to him as the game’s smartest general manager.

Maybe you don’t keep them all, but if you’re telling the public your goal is to compete, you try to keep the core together. Of all the remnants the Mets received in return, only AJ Ramos – projected in a set-up reliever role – figure to make the 2018 roster.

Turner, for spiteful reasons, brought nothing from the Dodgers. He’s an All-Star who could win the NL batting title this year. Murphy, of course, walked because they wouldn’t spend the money.

Hell, that’s the case with all of them.

The Mets threw good money after bad with trading for and extending Walker when they could have kept Murphy.

Duda, well he was only keeping the seat warm for Dominic Smith. Reed could have been extended when Jeurys Familia was first suspended, then injured. Bruce was signed as a hedge in case the Mets didn’t re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, who, so far, has turned out to be a bust.

Cespedes has been a health and hustling concern each of the past two years. Having Bruce’s 29 homers would be needed next season.

And, still, Alderson tells us he expects the Mets to compete next year. That is, if the three of the core rotation that is on the disabled list return healthy next year, and a fourth – Steven Matz – rights himself.

Ex-Mets Granderson and Turner could meet ex-Met Murphy or ex-Met Rivera, who was claimed on waivers by the Cubs, in the NLCS for the right to possibly meet ex-Mets Bruce or Reed in the World Series.

As it is now, the Mets have only Jacob deGrom from that vaunted rotation. What can you count on from Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Matz? Remember, that rotation has yet to pitch in turn since 2013.

Their best player is Michael Conforto, but they don’t have a set position for him. Smith and Amed Rosario are promising questions. They refuse to play Wilmer Flores full time and Wright can’t be counted on.

The bullpen outside of Jerry Blevins is awful. Do you really trust Ramos and Familia? Don’t tell me you trust Hansel Robles.

I think Rosario could be a star, but as with what happened with Conforto, there could be growing pains. I like Smith, but he needs to get into shape. How will Rosario and Smith fare in a full major league schedule?

So, in looking at the Mets’ current roster, I only trust Conforto, deGrom and Blevins. Everybody else is a question or a black hole.

We know the Mets won’t be big spenders this winter as all their money is tied up wet-nursing Cespedes. There won’t be big-name help coming in from the outside. So, you’re delusional if you think they really would go after Manny Machado or Evan Longoria.

The Mets window to compete opened when they signed Granderson. It officially closed today.

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 01

Today’s Question: Will Matz Snap Out Of It?

While all eyes will be on Amed Rosario tonight – and rightfully so – don’t forget to sneak a peak at Steven Matz. The Mets say they are a little concerned with Matz, who has a staggering 14.18 ERA over his last four starts and hasn’t worked longer than five innings in any of them. He’s 0-3 with a no-decision in that span. Can he snap out of it tonight against the powerful Rockies in their launching pad of a stadium in Coors Field.

There are a half-dozen other teams Matz would rather face, and in just as many ballparks.

MATZ:  Something isn't right. (AP)

MATZ: Something isn’t right. (AP)

Matz pitched most of last season with a bone spur in his left elbow, and after four months went on the DL for the rest of the year with shoulder tightness, presumably from altering his mechanics as compensation. He spent the first two months of this year on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

It’s highly plausible the Mets pushed him last season or this year and he aggravated something. Perhaps he hit a wall and has a dead arm. That seems likely because manager Terry Collins said there’s no movement on his fastball. Matz is throwing hard, but of the three velocity isn’t as important and location and movement. Instead of sinking or tailing away, Matz’s pitches stay over the middle of the plate, making it easier for them to be hit – or crushed.

“You look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center-cut,” Collins said. “We have to get the ball off the middle of the plate.’’

Matz said if feels good, but didn’t we hear the same refrain from Matt Harvey, or Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler?

Should Matz get shelled tonight, it would be easy to blame Coors Field and the Rockies. It would also be foolish.