Mets Merized Online » John Delcos http://metsmerizedonline.com Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:48:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Mets Give Us Many Reasons To Be Thankful http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/mets-give-us-many-reasons-to-be-thankful.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/mets-give-us-many-reasons-to-be-thankful.html/#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2016 20:25:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=227067 yogi berra casey stengel

As Mets fans, we have had a lot to be thankful for over the years. First and foremost, we have a team we care about deeply. They give us a release from our daily trials and pressures.

If you’re a shut-in, they give you entertainment and a sense of belonging to a greater entity. They make your day.

They are our team, unlike any other, and we are thankful for the passion in our hearts whenever we find our seat at Citi Field or turn on the television. For the next three hours, they entertain and sometimes frustrate us. But, we’ll always watch.

I don’t believe in the term “die hard Mets fan,’’ because dying means you eventually turn away from them. If you’re a fan, you always stay. Once you give your heart to them, you don’t take it back.

I also don’t believe in “long suffering Mets fan.” They might frustrate us, but we don’t watch to suffer. We watch in hope.

It’s why, on the day after Thanksgiving, you’re reading Mets blogs, you’re waiting for the Winter Meetings and the hope they’ll do something big, and you’re waiting for spring training.

Quite frankly, the Wilpons and GM Sandy Alderson, from their lofty perches, don’t understand what we do about the team they run.

It’s the holiday season and the order is Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Opening Day. Aren’t they the ones that really matter?

As a Mets fan, what are you most thankful for?

How about William Shea, who when the Dodgers and Giants left the city, fought to bring National League baseball back to New York?

You’re thankful for:

Catcher Hobie Landrith, the first player taken by the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft.

Casey Stengel, the Old Professor was the Mets’ first manager. His words made us dizzy as we watched that 120-loss team in 1962.

Don Zimmer, a Brooklyn Dodger who became an original Met.

Frank Thomas, the Mets’ first star and Ron Hunt, the first All-Star.

We’re thankful for the legends of Marvelous Marv Throneberry; Choo-Choo ColemanAl JacksonRoger CraigJim HickmanRoy McMillan and his specs; Jay Hook, the winning pitcher in the club’s first victory.

We’re thankful for the former stars who became Mets for a brief time: Richie AshburnGus BellDuke SniderYogi Berra, and, of course, Gil Hodges.

We’re thankful the Mets let us watch baseball once again in the Polo Grounds. And, we’re thankful for Shea Stadium, that when it opened in 1964 brought a bright and shiny toy for our team to play in.

Once state-of-the-art, even when Shea Stadium became cold, drafty and leaky, we’re thankful because it was our home.

We’re thankful for Hodges’ steadying hand that brought us the Miracle Mets of 1969, with the celebration at Shea Stadium. We’re thankful the Mets became baseball’s best “worst-to-first story.’’

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We’re thankful for 1969, and the brilliance that was Tom Seaver, a future Hall of Famer and the franchise’s greatest player.

We’re thankful that season also showcased Jerry Koosman’s guile; Jerry Grote’s toughness; Bud Harrelson’s steadiness at shortstop; Ed Kranepool, who struggled through the hard times to taste champagne; for Tommie Agee’s glove and power; for the addition of Donn Clendenon; and for the steady bat of Cleon Jones.

We’re thankful Hodges had the backbone to publicly discipline Jones, a turning point to that season.

We’re thankful we saw a real team in 1969, with many non-descript players had their moments. Al WeisRon SwobodaDon CardwellKen BoswellJ.C. MartinJoe Foy, and so many others.

We’re thankful we got to see Nolan Ryan in his Hall of Fame infancy that year.

We’re thankful for organist Jane Jarvis, sign-man Karl Ehrhardt, Banner Day, and the guy we sit next to for nine innings and talk Mets.

We’re also thankful for the second championship season, 1986, when victory was expected and featured one of the game’s greatest comebacks.

We’re thankful the immense talent that wooed us that summer: the brashness of manager Davey Johnson who predicted domination; Keith Hernandez’s leadership, a nifty glove and timely bat; the captaincy of Gary Carter that put the team over the top; the grit and toughness of Lenny DykstraWally Backman and Ray Knight; the prodigious power of Darryl Strawberry; and, of course, Mookie Wilson.

We’re thankful for Dwight Gooden’s mastery and the K Corner; Sid Fernandez’s overpowering stuff; and the calmness of Ron Darling and Bob Ojeda. We’re thankful for the deepest rotation in franchise history.

We’re thankful the “ball got through Buckner.”

Although they didn’t win, we’re thankful for the World Series runs in 1973, 2000 and 2015. Because, even in defeat, those teams brought thrills, joy and pride.

We’re thankful for so many more stars thrilled us, even if it was for a brief time: Lee Mazzilli and Rusty StaubJon Matlack and Al LeiterJohn Milner and Carlos DelgadoRoger McDowell and Jesse OroscoJohn Stearns and Felix MillanTug McGraw and David ConeHoward Johnson and Edgardo AlfonzoJose Reyes and Daniel MurphyHubie Brooks and John OlerudRey Ordonez and John FrancoDave Kingman and Rickey Henderson.

There are so many. You think of one and another comes to mind.

We’re thankful we got to see Willie Mays one more time in a New York uniform. He wasn’t vintage, but the memories of him were.

We’re thankful Carlos Beltran always busted his butt for us, even playing with a fractured face.

We’re thankful for Johan Santana’s willingness to take the ball and the night he finally gave us a no-hitter.

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We’re thankful to have a player who embodies the word “class,’’ and that is David Wright. We’re thankful we saw his development from prospect to All-Star. He means so much to us that we hurt when he hurts.

We’re thankful the game’s greatest hitting catcher, Mike Piazza, thought so much of his time here that he chose to wear a Mets’ cap into the Hall of Fame. There’s no greater honor a player can give to his city and fan base.

We’re thankful for the great rotations we’ve had, and for the future of the rotation we have now: Matt HarveyJacob deGromNoah SyndergaardSteven Matz and Zack Wheeler. They give us dreams.

We’re thankful for scintillating moments veteran journeymen pitchers R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon gave us. They gave us a chance to win every fifth day.

We’re thankful for Citi Field, one of baseball’s jewel stadiums. Hopefully, it will bring us the great moments Shea Stadium did.

We’re thankful for so many great plays, from Jones’ catch to end the `69 Series to the plays made by Agee and Swoboda that year. … For Staub playing with a busted shoulder in `73, and, Endy Chavez’s catch in the 2006 NLCS.

We’re thankful for the summer Yoenis Cespedes gave us in 2015 and wonder if he’ll be back for more.

We’re thankful for the enduring pictures and images spun by the words of Bob MurphyRalph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson. We’re thankful for Kiner’s stories and malapropos; Nelson’s sports coats and the soothing voice of Murph, especially after that win over the Phillies: “and the Mets win it … They win the damn thing.”

We’re thankful for that great broadcasting team, and the one we have now in Gary, Keith and Ron. We’re thankful Gary Cohen is staying.

We’re thankful for the voices when we’re in our cars or grilling on the deck: Howie Rose and Josh Lewin bring us to the game.

We’re thankful for so many memories and for the memories to come.

Yes, with Thanksgiving gone and Christmas approaching, the Mets give us so many reasons to be thankful. Not the least of which is hope for 2017.

To see more of John’s writing check out the New York Mets Report

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Here’s Hoping Collins is Watching the Series and Taking Notes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/heres-hoping-collins-is-watching-the-series-and-taking-notes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/heres-hoping-collins-is-watching-the-series-and-taking-notes.html/#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2016 15:00:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=225630 andrew-miller-2

One thing we know about sports is everybody is a copycat, and here’s hoping Mets manager Terry Collins is taking notes. Something Indians manager Terry Francona has known for a long time – and putting to use this postseason – and what Collins seems to ignore is a game’s critical moment doesn’t always occur in the ninth inning.

Sometimes, it is in the sixth, seventh or eighth inning. Often during these critical situations, Collins will turn to Hansel Robles, or Jerry Blevins who is now a free agent, or any number of other forgettable names. For Francona, this postseason – and down the stretch for the Indians – he gave the ball to Andrew Miller.

Yes, it is the postseason, so don’t remind me of the obvious. And, yes, the postseason has built-in off days, but the point is clear, he has a stud and isn’t afraid to use him. Collins does not have Miller but does have Addison Reed, who led the National League with 40 holds.

Reed has been stretched out, so he can handle up to six outs. If anybody can do what Miller does it is Reed. Here’s another thing to consider, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman proved they have the mettle and can be used for more than three outs if they aren’t in the rotation.

I’d rather concentrate on using these three guys for multiple innings, than load up on mediocrity in the middle innings. In doing so, perhaps they can carry one less reliever and add a bench player. More than a few times last summer the Mets got caught with a short bench.

It has been a compelling World Series, and what Francona, and to a degree, Joe Maddon showed Sunday night with his use of Aroldis Chapman, is that there is another way to manage a bullpen. For the most part, the back end of the Mets’ bullpen has been very good, but it can be better.

Francona is counting on his starters for five or six innings before turning the game over to Miller and the rest of the Indians’ bullpen. With the uncertainty of the ability of the Mets’ starters to go past the sixth, Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen have some thinking to do this winter.

Let’s hope they are taking notes during the World Series.

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Have Injuries Shelved Long-Term Talks With Mets Pitchers http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/have-injuries-shelved-long-term-talks-with-mets-pitchers.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/have-injuries-shelved-long-term-talks-with-mets-pitchers.html/#comments Sun, 30 Oct 2016 11:51:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=225497 matz-degrom

For the past two years, signing the Mets’ young pitchers to long-term contracts seemed a paramount issue. Whom should they sign first, and for how much? Could they afford to sign two? In their wildest dreams, could they keep them all?

Last winter, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said signing one or two of his young starting pitchers to long-term extensions was something they were considering and that it was very doable. ”I think it could happen,” he said.

“When you’re talking about long-term deals with younger players, it needs to be a mutual interest in doing so, and typically we find out about that mutual interest a little bit later, closer to spring training or even spring training,” Alderson said. “We’ll see if that happens.”

Spring Training came and went. Now, with four pitchers coming off surgery, such talk now is but a whisper. We’re not hearing too much these days about extending Matt Harvey – who had shoulder surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome – and could bolt after the 2018 season for the Yankees or anybody else for that matter.

Steven Matz had surgery to repair bone spurs in his left elbow, and Jacob deGrom, who had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed the 2011 season, is recovering from a second surgery to treat a nerve issue in his elbow. Then there is Zack Wheeler, who had Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2015 and was supposed to ready by July, he has now missed two seasons and nobody can say for sure when we will see him again.

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We won’t know for sure how they are until the spring, but the recovery forecast is looking good for the Mets’ surgically-repaired pitchers as team doctors are saying they should all be ready when pitchers and catchers report. Where have we heard that before?

Even so, the Mets are likely to handle them all four with kid gloves which is why they are interested in bringing back Bartolo Colon even with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman ready, willing and able.

The Mets have seven young arms, but we’re no longer hearing talk about contract extensions. Whom should they sign first? Can they afford to sign two or three at a time? Who should they trade to plug holes elsewhere?

Do Harvey, Matz, deGrom and Wheeler have any significant trade value this offseason? Will teams risk dealing high-level prospects for damaged goods? Certainly, the Mets can’t command as much should they explore dealing one of them. From what I’ve seen of Sandy, he’s not the type that sells low.

Conventional wisdom has the Mets backing off long-term contract talks for now. While their potential might still be high, their proven production is not.

Then again, it wouldn’t hurt for the Mets to explore extensions now when their market value might not be as high as it could be in two or three years. Perhaps it’s a gamble worth considering.

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This Date In Mets History: Robin Ventura’s Grand Slam Single http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/this-date-in-mets-history-robin-venturas-grand-slam-single.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/this-date-in-mets-history-robin-venturas-grand-slam-single.html/#comments Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:00:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=224946 robin ventura

One of the players I most enjoyed covering was Robin Ventura for those two years he played for the Yankees. In a clubhouse full of stars and egos, Ventura was a voice of calm, reason and humorous relief.

I enjoyed stopping by his locker to shoot the breeze for a minute or two, talking about things other than baseball. Very smart, clever and possessing an insight on numerous issues. When there was the inevitable blow up or moment of absurdity, Ventura was always there to put it into perspective with a quip as short and hard-hitting as his swing.

Once I asked him about his fight with Nolan Ryan, and his response was he knew he had made a mistake halfway out to the mound, but couldn’t turn around. You’ll even notice in the video he slowed down.

Was it an embarrassing moment? Yes, but years later he handled it with humor. He even joined with Ryan to autograph photos of the brawl.

When I covered the Orioles and he was with the White Sox, I’d make time to go over to his clubhouse for a few moments. He was accessible to anybody who would take the time to ask a question.

Ventura loved his time with Mets which included the 2000 NL Championship and of course the World Series loss to the Yankees.

“It was a great time,” said Ventura, who played for the Mets from 1999-2001. “We enjoyed it as a family just being there. The Mets were very good to me. There’s part of it going back, seeing a lot of faces that you’re friends with and happy to see.”

 

His signature moment as a Met will always be the Grand Slam Single which happened 17 years ago today. It’s a a great memory and one that still gives many Mets fans goosebumps.

That night is one of the greatest team displays of enthusiasm outside of winning a championship I have ever seen. That, and the Piazza post 9-11 homer. Both were amazing to watch.

Ventura wasn’t a five-tool player, but was consistent and clutch. With a runner in scoring position you wanted him at the plate because he’d usually make contact.

Ventura was a .267 lifetime hitter and only once hit over .300, that being .301 in 1999, his first season with the Mets. Considering his 66-game hitting streak in college, I always wondered if he thought he should have hit for a higher average. He also hit 32 homers with a career-high 120 RBI in his first year with the Mets.

What the Mets wouldn’t give for a third baseman with that kind of production now.

Ventura had three solid years with the Mets, who, during that span had arguably one of the best defensive infields in history. Few balls got by Ventura, Rey OrdonezEdgardo Alfonzo and John Olerud.

Both Olerud and Ventura would later play for the Yankees. When they left the Yankees, I always believed I’d see both of them again managing in a major league dugout. I’m still waiting on Olerud.

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Wild Card Roster Decisions Loom For Alderson and Collins http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/wild-card-roster-decisions-loom-for-alderson-and-collins.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/wild-card-roster-decisions-loom-for-alderson-and-collins.html/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2016 19:12:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=224340 Alderson sandy Terry collins

There are a lot of things Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins will consider over the next two days as they construct their postseason roster in preparation for the wild-card game against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, at Citi Field.

Collins has been spoiled with access to 40 players since September 1. Now, they’ll face Madison Bumgarner with 25.

Here are the questions Alderson must answer:

CATCHER: Could they consider carrying a third catcher in Kevin Plawecki? They could go this way because in the one game format Collins shouldn’t hesitate to use a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. Plus, in the back of his mind should be the prospect of extra innings.

FIRST BASE: Who starts? The early word is Lucas Duda could get the start over James Loney with the thinking he might have one good swing in him. We’ve heard a lot about the possibility of Eric Campbell. Even if he doesn’t start, he should be there because he represents a right-handed pinch-hit option.

OUTFIELD: Jay BruceCurtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes will be the starters. However, the recent play of Juan Lagares introduced an element nobody considered two weeks ago. Lagares has shown he can swing the bat, so if he’s carried, who will the Mets choose between Michael Conforto and Alejandro De Aza? There’s no way Collins would favor De Aza’s defense over Bruce’s bat, but he could choose him over Conforto.

STARTERS: They will carry three, Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon and one of Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman. Why three? Because what happens if Syndergaard were to get injured or shelled early in the game?

BULLPEN: Since the opponent is the Giants, who are heavy with left-handed hitters, will the Mets go with an extra lefty like Josh Edgin? The rest of the pen would include Jerry BlevinsHansel RoblesFernando SalasJosh SmokerAddison Reed and Jeurys Familia.

One thing is undeniable, the Mets bullpen is one of the best in the game with Salas, Reed and Familia holding down the 7th, 8th and 9th inning roles.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, the Giants bullpen has been an absolute disaster with not one reliable arm they could count on. If the Mets could get past Bumgarner and into the Giants bullpen early, could be Game Over for Bochy and Co.

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Lugo and Gsellman Give Mets Sense of Comfort Heading Into Offseason http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/lugo-and-gsellman-give-mets-sense-of-comfort-heading-into-offseason.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/lugo-and-gsellman-give-mets-sense-of-comfort-heading-into-offseason.html/#comments Thu, 15 Sep 2016 12:19:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222955 robert-gsellman

The Mets got all they could have hoped for this afternoon – and season – from Robert Gsellman. The Mets’ rookie, who along with Seth Lugo kept them in the wild-card race and was again superb Wednesday afternoon.

Gsellman threw 5.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts, but couldn’t overcome his anemic offense in the 1-0 loss to the Washington Nationals.

“We didn’t lose any ground,” was manager Terry Collins’ backwards logic because the National League’s wild-card race remained stagnant because both St. Louis and San Francisco also lost.

“I thought he threw the ball very well,” Collins said. “He threw strikes. He had the sinker working and had worked both sides. He didn’t have anything to work with.”

Gsellman and Lugo weren’t on the Mets’ radar entering the season, but they have kept them afloat with both Jacob deGrom (forearm) and Steven Matz (shoulder) still on the disabled list.

Their performances should give the Mets a sense of comfort heading into the offseason and next year, but it is somewhat limited considering the myriad of pitching questions they’ll have this winter:

* How well will Matt Harvey recover from his shoulder surgery?

* As well as Lugo and Gsellman have pitched, has their window been open enough to give the Mets a definitive idea of what they can expect in 2017, and in what roles?

* How well will Matz recover from his expected elbow surgery?

* Will Noah Syndergaard’s bone spur require surgery, and if so, how will he recover?

* With all this in mind, will they bring back Bartolo Colon?

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Alderson Unconcerned About Who’s Not Here http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/alderson-unconcerned-about-whos-not-here.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/alderson-unconcerned-about-whos-not-here.html/#comments Sat, 10 Sep 2016 14:32:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222603 sandy alderson

Recent history tells us when Mets’ brass speculates on the return of injured players, it usually takes longer than announced. So, when GM Sandy Alderson refused to comment Friday on the progress of Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, I can’t help but conclude they aren’t coming back anytime soon.

“I’m not going to talk about them,” Alderson said. “The players who have gotten us here are the players who are healthy and the players who have performed. It doesn’t do anybody any good about talking about when, or if, certain players are going to come back.”

DeGrom threw on flat ground Friday. He’ll throw on flat ground again in a couple of days. Then, in a few days, he’ll throw off the mound, which should be in a week.

So, with me doing what Alderson won’t, I’m guessing the Mets will skip deGrom’s spot in the rotation at least twice.

Matz, who will throw off the mound Saturday, is slightly ahead of deGrom. Assuming all goes well, he’ll go off the mound again in several days. The best case scenario for him will be after next weekend’s series against Minnesota.

Figuring that time frame for both, each could get about two or three starts before the end of the season.

Until then, the Mets will continue with Robert Gsellman, who have up four runs Friday in Atlanta, and Seth Lugo, who has a blister and will be pushed back to Sunday.

“We have the players who we have,” Alderson said. “We hope they continue to do the same job they’ve done. It’s really not constructive to talk about the players who aren’t here, or the players who aren’t close to being here. Talking about injuries is history.”

The operative words being “aren’t close to being here.’’

If they were, Alderson would have said so. Right?

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Mets Matters: Reynolds Rakes With One Eye Open http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/met-matters-reynolds-rakes-with-one-eye-open.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/met-matters-reynolds-rakes-with-one-eye-open.html/#comments Tue, 06 Sep 2016 12:30:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222238 bartolo colon 2

To a player, every year is an audition for the next, and here’s hoping the Mets are taking copious notes on Bartolo Colon. With how well he’s pitched, how ravaged the rotation has been, and the uncertainty of Zack Wheeler’s future, it should be a given re-signing Colon is a priority.

It doesn’t matter he’s 43, or can’t throw his fastball through a wall, or the ceiling of their younger pitchers, Colon knows how to pitch. Colon knows what he has, or more importantly, what he doesn’t possess.

“We had a man on the mound,” manager Terry Collins said. “Nothing fazes him. He gave us what he always does, which is quality innings. He’s an amazing guy.

“Every fifth day he takes the baseball. You don’t have to worry about pitch counts. You don’t have to worry about innings. All he does is make pitches.”

But, none of those pitches were more important than in the third and sixth innings when the Reds had a runner on third with no outs, and twice came away empty. That enabled the half-asleep Mets’ offense time to wake up with three tack-on runs to beat the Reds, 5-0, on Labor Day.

With the victory, the Mets kept heat on St. Louis for the second wild-card and moved to six-games over .500 (72-66), a level they hadn’t been since the night of July 27 when they lost to the Cardinals as Jeurys Familia blew his first save of the season.

The Mets, save Colon, who flew in Sunday afternoon, were dog tired after playing a night game and flying in well past midnight. The Mets were asking Colon to carry them, which he has done now for three seasons.

On Aug. 19, the Mets fell two games below .500 with a loss in San Francisco. Colon beat the Giants the next day to jumpstart the Mets on a stretch where they have won 12 of their next 16 games.

During that stretch, Colon won three games at a time when the Mets lost Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom from the rotation.

Colon gave up five hits and a walk in six scoreless innings to raise his record to a team-high 13-7 with a 3.22 ERA. Colon does it by keeping the Reds off balance by working quickly and staying ahead in the count with a fastball that didn’t stray much over 90 mph.

It’s something the vaunted Mets youthful rotation should benefit from as Colon gives them a pitching clinic every five days. In essence, he’s an active pitching coach.

“If you don’t learn stuff watching him pitch, you’re wasting your time,” Collins said.

For the bargain basement cost of $7.25 million, Colon leads the rotation in wins (13), starts (28) and innings pitched (164.2).

Colon doesn’t fit the prototype, but all he does is come through and that’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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REYNOLDS RAKES: While everybody was tired, probably nobody was more drained than Matt Reynolds, who flew all night from Salt Lake City and arrived a few hours before game time.

Reynolds caught the red-eye from Salt Lake City to catch a connection in Boston before heading to Cincinnati. And, it didn’t help he was seated next to one of those obnoxious fliers who insist on talking non-stop.

Reynolds drove in two runs on three hits, including a homer, to lead an offense that rested Yoenis CespedesJose ReyesCurtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera (he appeared as a pinch-hitter and singled).

“I just wanted to go out there and play and have fun,’’ Reynolds told SNY. “I didn’t try to put too much pressure on myself.”

Reynolds said a key was an adjustment he made in Triple-A to move closer to the plate, which forced him to shorten his swing.

BULLPEN STRONG AGAIN: Before this season is over, the Mets’ bullpen will throw a pile of innings, perhaps too many for Collins’ liking.

Collins was able to rest Addison Reed and Familia, who were both used in a non-save situation the night before.

Collins got an inning from the recently-and-frequently abused Hansel Robles; two-thirds of an inning from Jerry Blevins; and 1.1 innings from the recently acquired Fernando Salas.

BRUCE RETURNS HOME: Cincinnati will always be home to Jay Bruce, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his return to Great American Ballpark.

The Reds honored Bruce prior to the game with a video tribute and made a donation to his foundation that supports children with development disabilities.

“It was good. It was a bit odd,” said Bruce. “The Reds took the time to welcome me back. It was what I expected out of this organization. They treated me great the whole time I was here.”

EXTRA INNINGS: Kelly Johnson hit his tenth homer. In looking ahead, the Mets need to seriously consider bringing back Johnson, who doesn’t appear ready to retire. … Wilmer Flores had an interesting day, getting thrown out at second trying to stretch a single and at third attempting to stretch a double. I admit, I was hoping to see him try for an inside-the-park homer. C’mon, admit it, so were you. … The shutout was the Mets’ 11th of the year.

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Mets Matters: Gsellman Is Fearless, Conforto the Center of Attraction http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-matters-gsellman-is-fearless-conforto-the-center-of-attraction.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-matters-gsellman-is-fearless-conforto-the-center-of-attraction.html/#comments Sun, 04 Sep 2016 14:30:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222083 robert gsellman 2

Should the Mets prevail over the pack and clinch a wild-card berth, considerable credit should go to their nondescript spot starters who have combined to keep them afloat while injuries sideline their heralded young arms.

Robert Gsellman is the latest, giving up one run in six innings in the Mets’ 3-1 victory over Washington. It was Gsellman’s second victory. Seth Lugo, Sunday’s starter, has won twice; Gabriel Ynoa has a win; Rafael Montero, Tuesday’s starter in place of Jacob deGrom, threw five scoreless innings to take a no-decision against Miami; and Josh Smoker has a victory in relief.

“The young energy has picked us up a lot,” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said.

To say “pick up” might be an oversimplification. That’s six wins in games they would have been favored to lose, so instead of possibly being below .500, they are now a game behind St. Louis for the second wild card.

It wasn’t as if Gsellman was overpowering. Instead, the Nationals had him reeling a couple of times, but he composed himself to minimize the damage.

Washington had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning, but Gsellman held the Nationals to a sacrifice fly.

“The game could change in the first inning,” Gsellman said. “[I just want to] take a deep breath and don’t try to get too ahead of yourself.’’

Another key moment came in the fourth when the Nationals put the first two runners on, but Gsellman regrouped to get the next three hitters, including fielding Tanner Roark’s bunt to force a runner at third.

“I think it’s a tribute to his make-up,” Collins said. “That [first inning] was a big inning for him by limiting the damage. … I’ve been hearing what kind of stuff he has and we’re seeing it.”

There’s a fearlessness with this young right-hander that has come through in his first two starts.  Gsellman has consistently owned the inside of the plate and last night, he wasn’t afraid to let the meat of the Nationals’ lineup know it. That’s something that will serve him well.

michael conforto

The Mets also received a key defensive play from Michael Conforto when he made a diving catch of Daniel Murphy‘s sinking liner.

Conforto is showing some solid instincts in center field and his play has exceeded expectations thus far.

“For a guy who hasn’t played a lot in center field, that’s taking a huge chance,” Collins said. “That ball bounces by him, it’s an easy triple, if not an inside-the-park home run. It’s a credit to his makeup and the fact he’s not afraid to try to make a big play.”

Conforto also had a solid night at the plate, reaching base four times and settling for a double off the top of the wall in left that would have been a home run in most ballparks.

GRANDERSON COMES THROUGH: If there has been a recurring theme this season it has been the Mets’ inability to hit with RISP, particularly Curtis Granderson, who broke a 1-for-31 slide in that situation with a two-run single in the third.

Even so, one of the Mets’ most head-scratching statistics this season is Granderson’s 22 homers with only 40 RBI.

It’s staggering when you think about it.

INJURY UPDATES: Steven Matz is expected to resume throwing Monday in Port St. Lucie. He’s on the disabled list with an impingement in his shoulder. … Lucas Duda(back) is swinging at soft-toss pitches and could take batting practice by the end of the week. The Mets say he could return this season. … Zack Wheeler has been shut down for the rest of the year with a strained right flexor muscle. … Neil Walker’s microdiscectomy surgery is expected this week.

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Mets Banking That Extra Rest Will Right Jacob deGrom http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-banking-that-extra-rest-will-right-jacob-degrom.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-banking-that-extra-rest-will-right-jacob-degrom.html/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 16:37:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=221697 jacob degrom

Jacob deGrom didn’t start last night because GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins believe he’s been off his last two starts – 13 runs on 25 hits – due to fatigue.

Let’s hope they are right, because if it is anything else the Mets might be sunk. It’s staggering to think any pitcher could be tagged like that, much less deGrom.

From his perspective, deGrom initially said he didn’t feel tired, but later admitted the rest could help. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

DeGrom said he’s physically fine, with no residual effects from a strained lat muscle that briefly sidelined him early in the season. DeGrom is still throwing high heat.

So, why is he pitching like his double in the Geico commercial?

Of the three, velocity, command and movement, deGrom knows throwing hard is the least important.

“It’s hard to get results when you throw everything right down the middle,” deGrom said after getting ripped in his last start in St. Louis. “That’s what it is. I’m missing down the middle and these are big league hitters and that’s what they do.”

If deGrom misses when throwing inside, the pitch tails over the middle. If he’s aiming for the outside corner, it just sits there.

Pitching is all about location, and lately deGrom is living in a bad neighborhood. Hopefully, this extra rest relocates him back to his peak level of performance.

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Of Course the Mets Should Bring Back Their Stopper Bartolo Colon http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/of-course-the-mets-should-bring-back-their-stopper-bartolo-colon.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/of-course-the-mets-should-bring-back-their-stopper-bartolo-colon.html/#comments Sun, 21 Aug 2016 17:21:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=221051 bartolo colon 2

Sometime this winter, GM Sandy Alderson will have to make a decision – yes or no – on several players.  Bartolo Colon will be one of them, and when he does, I hope he remembers today.

With the Mets in dire need of a victory Saturday afternoon to pull them out of their most recent funk, Colon was magnificent working into the seventh in beating the Giants, 9-5.

Colon is now 11-7, including 6-1 after a loss. That’s well worth the $11 million he makes this season. There are a lot of numbers used to evaluate a pitcher, but record after a loss is especially significant.

Will the Mets bring Colon back for a fourth season? I don’t know. Should they? I think so, and not for the comic relief, which is another way of saying he alleviates tension, and there certainly has been a lot of that this year.

Colon held the Giants to a pair of runs in 6.1 innings. of work on Saturday Of his 25 starts, he’s worked into the sixth 16 times and into the seventh nine times.

Did I mention he’s 43?

The Mets brought Colon back for this season with the idea of moving him to the bullpen in July when it was hoped Zack Wheeler would come off the DL. Wheeler could be shut down for the rest of the season after a third setback this season as he seeks to return from Tommy John surgery. Next year is pure speculation for Wheeler.

That’s also the operative word for Matt Harvey, who underwent shoulder surgery. Not to mention Steven Matz, who will undergo surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow after the season, and is now having shoulder issues. Noah Syndergaard also has a bone spur issue that could necessitate surgery.

Of their core five of young arms that was supposed to make the National League playoffs the “Mets Invitational,” Jacob deGrom is the only one you can say with any confidence will be on the 2017 Opening Day roster. Nobody throws the “ace” word in Colon’s direction, but one can’t deny he’s been the stopper in this rotation.

So, why wouldn’t you bring back Colon?

Speaking of players returning, the Mets have far less control over Yoenis Cespedes, who drove in three runs with two homers and a double. He also sent a third ball to the warning track.

It’s a double-edged sword for the Mets with Cespedes. They need him to go on a tear similar to last year if they are to make a playoff run.

However, the hotter Cespedes gets, and with the free-agent market for right-handed hitters next year paltry at best, it increases the odds of him opting out and going on the market. There’s no reason why he wouldn’t.

The Mets would have him for the next two years for $50 million if he decides to stay. But, if he tests the market it will cost the Mets much more, at least double that amount. And based on that alone why wouldn’t he test the market again?

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Hansel Robles Gets Rattled Again http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/hansel-robles-gets-rattled-again.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/hansel-robles-gets-rattled-again.html/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2016 14:00:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220154 hansel robles

The Mets still haven’t won back-to-back games since before the All-Star break. This time, the fault goes to Hansel Robles for kicking away another winnable effort by Steven Matz.

Robles threw 32 pitches – few of them good – as he gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning in the seventh of Tuesday night’s 5-3 loss to Arizona at Citi Field.

The Mets had taken a 3-2 lead in the sixth on Neil Walker’s two-run homer to give Matz a chance at the win.

However, manager Terry Collins allowed Robles to stay in the game to walk two hitters and give up three hits. The Diamondbacks also executed a double-steal It’s a close game, so it’s hard to understand Collins’ logic for leaving an ineffective reliever in the game that long.

“You saw him fall behind in some counts,” Collins said. “He had been so good. You think you have the perfect set-up. He just didn’t get it done.”

This is the second implosion for Robles in his last three relief appearances. He gave up three runs on three hits and two walks last week against the New York Yankees.

The Mets made acquiring a reliever a top priority last month and ended up signing Jon Niese at the trade deadline.

Reportedly, they have placed a waiver claim on a bullpen arm according to the Daily News, but no buzz on who or if they are close to completing a waiver trade.

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Can Mets Afford To Let Walker Walk? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/can-mets-afford-to-let-walker-walk.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/can-mets-afford-to-let-walker-walk.html/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2016 11:00:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=219987 neil walker

Just when it looked as if things couldn’t get bleaker for the Mets, Neil Walker rescued them Sunday afternoon with a two-run, ninth-inning homer.

It wasn’t the first time Walker picked up the Mets by the scruff of the neck this season, and it made me wonder if Walker will be around to save them in 2017. He’s free to leave after this season and there’s been no word on what the Mets’ plans are, but Walker is starting to feel right at home he told Kristie Ackert of the Daily News.

“I’d never lived in New York, I wasn’t sure what that was going to be like. I wasn’t sure how I would handle all the media and everything that goes with a big market team.

“But, honestly, it’s been great. I couldn’t be happier with everything. I’ve enjoyed the change. I love my teammates, the coaches and all the people here. I could not be more excited about this team and it’s future.”

The Mets were lucky to get him from Pittsburgh after Daniel Murphy left last winter. Ben Zobrist was their first choice, but they were never going to afford him. GM Sandy Alderson let Murphy walk for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which was budding phenom and second baseman of the future Dilson Herrera. Well, Herrera now is in Cincinnati’s farm system.

If they let Walker go as they did Murphy, they will be forced to find a second baseman. Will they go outside? Will it be Wilmer Flores, whom they never want to give a fair chance? Will it be Jose Reyes? Will they bring back Kelly Johnson or try Matt Reynolds?

Whoever they choose, it’s unlikely he’ll match Walker’s production, which will become even more important should Yoenis Cespedes opt out and leave. That would be roughly 55 homers and 180 RBI they’d need to replace. What Walker did Sunday is to remind us how important he has been to the Mets and the fragility of their offense.

As has been the case with the Mets a lot lately, the game boiled down to the late innings. Manager Terry Collins pulled Jacob deGrom with the bases loaded, two outs and a one-run lead in the seventh, but Jerry Blevins couldn’t keep Detroit from tying the game and the Mets were in danger of being swept and falling further behind in the wild-card race.

However, the Tigers ran themselves out of the eighth inning to set up Walker’s 19th homer, a drive well into the right-field seats that carried the Mets to a 3-1 victory.

Walker Neil

After a sizzling April, Walker went into a dismal slump, but he regained his stroke after the All-Star break and took a .489 stretch (22-for-45) into the game. With Cespedes basically a non-entity since early July, Walker has kept the Mets afloat; he has three homers and nine RBI over his last dozen games.

Walker approached his at-bat against Francisco Rodriguez wanting to get a fastball early and stay away from the closer’s put-away changeup.

“You hope he leaves something up in the zone and that’s what I got,” Walker said. “With most closers you want to get to them early in the count because they have a devastating out pitch.”

Considering the Mets’ overall lack of prowess hitting with RISP and their injuries, one shudders to think where they would be without Walker. For one thing, it’s doubtful they would be three games over .500.

Walker has been crucial to the Mets’ hanging around, and as dismal as they have played, they are one good week from getting a foothold in the wild card race. They are currently nine games behind Washington in the NL East, so that boat is pulling out of the harbor. Still, the wild card is possible, as they trail the second slot by just 1.5 games.

Ackert spoke to a team source who said that with Herrera gone, the Mets would “make a good run” at trying to re-sign Walker – who said the Mets have not approached him about the future, but he’s very open to the idea.

“When I say I am excited about the future here, I don’t just mean what I think we can still do this season,” Walker said. “I like the players we have here, I like what I think we are building for this season and for years to come. I’d like to be a part of it.”

Like Murphy last offseason. Walker will be the top offensive second baseman this Winter. But unlike Murphy, Walker can actually field his position adequately and he has stabilized the team’s infield defense. How should the Mets play this? Letting him walk seems like a bad idea right now. And I’n not sure any of our internal options have half the upside and ceiling Dilson Herrera had.

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What’s Up With Noah Syndergaard? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/whats-up-with-noah-syndergaard.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/whats-up-with-noah-syndergaard.html/#comments Sat, 06 Aug 2016 11:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=219863 noah syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard only gave up four runs Friday night, and it is an oversimplification to say the problem is the Mets didn’t score for him. But, something just isn’t right.

The issue isn’t him not being able to throw hard. He still throws very hard, but velocity isn’t the most important variable for a pitcher. A successful pitcher needs movement, location and velocity, with speed being the third most important of the three. You can even drop that to fourth if you want to include having a variety of secondary pitches.

While throwing in the high 90s and even touching triple digits in the Mets’ 4-3 loss at Detroit, Syndergaard, as he has been for much of the second half – or at least since the issue of his bone spur surfaced – is far from pitch efficient.

Syndergaard threw 112 pitches, but only worked six innings. It was the fourth straight game in which he threw over 100 pitches yet didn’t go past the sixth. He hasn’t gone seven innings since July 3; of his 21 starts, he’s gone seven or more innings just eight times.

“My pitch counts get escalated within the first three innings and I go, ‘Crap, I better get some quick outs here and save the bullpen.’ It’s nice to be able to go six, but I’d like to be able to go deeper into the game with a lot more ease.”

I don’t care Syndergaard is throwing a lot of pitches; I care he’s not as efficient as he used to be and that he’s not been as effective with them. He seems to be running in place.

“It has been a battle,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He’s had to work very hard. You have to learn how to pitch at this level and through tough times.”

While much is made of Syndergaard’s overpowering stuff, he’s only had four double-digit strikeout games with his last being June 15 against Pittsburgh nine starts ago.

We’ve been hearing a lot of the high number of foul balls off him (26 tonight), which comes from not being able to put away hitters. His curveball didn’t surface until the fifth inning. Until then, it was mostly straight fastballs – mostly to the outside against right-handed pitchers.

“I’m thinking right now I’m trying to be too fine with my pitches,” Syndergaard said. “It’s like I’m throwing darts out there. It’s frustrating because the past month I feel that I have the stuff to dominate, but it hasn’t been clicking.”

Do you remember when Syndergaard went high and tight during the World Series? Then he challenged the Royals saying they could find him 60 feet, six inches from the plate? Remember the swagger?

Collins insists Syndergaard still has that swagger, but you rarely see him work the inner half of the plate. You don’t see that biting slider. Where’s the hook from Hell?

“I would say he just hasn’t put anybody away,” Collins said before the game. “He’s allowing them to stay in the counts. He isn’t necessarily falling behind, but they’ll foul a couple of balls off, so it just keeps them in the count instead of putting them away.”

The problem isn’t 100 percent the bone spur because the velocity is still there, but it makes you wonder if the discomfort prevents him from being what he needs to be, and what he has been.

Syndergaard, who is winless in his last five starts, is still a young and exciting talent, but last night he was not as polished as Justin Verlander who has been one of the best for years. Hope Thor was taking notes.

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Yoenis Cespedes Heading To DL, Brandon Nimmo Recalled http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/yoenis-cespedes-heading-to-dl-brandon-nimmo-recalled.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/yoenis-cespedes-heading-to-dl-brandon-nimmo-recalled.html/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2016 02:40:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=219625 yoenis cespedes

Updated 10:30 PM

After Wednesday night’s loss to the New York Yankees, manager Terry Collins announced to reporters that Yoenis Cespedes is headed to the DL and that Brandon Nimmo has been recalled.

Cespedes said he aggravated his quad in his final at-bat tonight. ”I haven’t been able to contribute,” he told reporters after the game. He said he really needs to finally rest his quad.

Terrible turn of events for the Mets, but hardly surprising.

What Cespedes has needed more than anything is a week straight of rest, but he kept getting used in odd calls and situations.

Now Cespedes will get at least two weeks off if not more depending on the severity of this setback.

Too bad, and just when the team traded highly regarded second base prospect Dilson Herrera to add that big bat to protect Cespedes in the lineup in Jay Bruce.

So nearly a month after first straining his quad, the Mets are finally placing him on the DL.

Original Report – 10:00 AM

Jacob deGrom was superb on Tuesday night, but what I will take out of this game most – outside of Jay Bruce’s debut and a much needed victory – was Terry Collins’ decision to pinch-hit Yoenis Cespedes for Alejandro De Aza in the seventh inning.

The Mets were up by five at the time, so why bat for the player who homered and is your best defensive center fielder?

Cespedes’ RBI infield single was a moot point and foolish risk in my opinion.

“I just wanted to get him an at-bat,” said Collins, as if Cespedes somehow would forget how to hit before starting as the designated hitter on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

“I felt a little discomfort running down the line,” Cespedes said after the game. “But once I got back in the dugout it felt better.”

After running full throttle to beat out the hit, he was pulled and Curtis Granderson came in as a pinch-runner.

“Once I take a couple days off I feel better,” Cespedes said. “But once I go full speed, I feel the pain again.”

Luckily, Cespedes didn’t seriously hurt himself, but what if he had re-injured his strained quad? Why take that chance with the game seemingly out of reach? What was the benefit or the logic for that matter?

Sometimes, Collins makes me scratch my head and wonder. Other times he makes me want to throw a shoe at the TV.

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July In Review: Loney and Reed Shine, Walker Heating Up http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/july-in-review-loney-and-reed-shine-walker-heating-up.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/july-in-review-loney-and-reed-shine-walker-heating-up.html/#comments Tue, 02 Aug 2016 15:36:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=219537 loney flores

Just as the Mets closed June so too did they end July by winning at home in the month’s final game to snap a four-game losing streak. Despite winning Sunday and Neil Walker suddenly hot again, the Mets’ offense has been in a three-month slide.

The Mets end July ranking third in the NL in homers with 132, 11th in on-base percentage (.305), 13th in RBI (365), 14th in runs scored (375) and last in average (.238).  Here are some of the month’s notables:

JULY MVP

James Loney has been a terrific replacement for Lucas Duda, whose return timetable remains uncertain. His defense has been magnificent, and he’s been a presence at the plate, hitting .282 with six homers, 21 RBI and a .337 on-base percentage. And in July, when both Yoenis Cespedes and Walker struggled, Loney hit .291 with three homers and 11 RBI.

PITCHER OF THE MONTH

Addison Reed has arguably been one of GM Sandy Alderson’s best acquisitions. He leads the NL with 26 holds, including 10 for July along with a 0.00 ERA for the month. He struck out 16 in 12 innings, and gave up only four hits. Overall, he has a 1.81 ERA and 0.45 WHIP.

KEY GAME OF THE MONTH

There have been several significant games, and but I’m leaning toward Friday’s 6-1 loss to the Rockies in which the Mets had two on with nobody out and reliever Scott Oberg entered to get three outs on three pitches. I could have gone with any of Jeurys Familia‘s two blown saves, or even Sunday, but I chose this one because of Collins’ post-game message.

“We have a good team,” Collins said. “We’re going through a rough time right now. We’re not dead. We’re still in the hunt. We need to lighten it up and have some fun. … We have to stop worrying about some of the bad things and concentrate on some of the good things.”

KEY MOVE OF THE MONTH

When Walker was in the midst of a horrid slump, Collins opted to sit him down for a couple of games. The turnaround wasn’t immediate, but he responded by going 12-for-22 so far on the home stand, including a three-run homer Sunday.

RED FLAGS ENDURED

We learned in July that both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz have been pitching with bone spurs in their elbows. Both have had rising pitch counts, but so far they haven’t missed any time, and that bodes well for the organization.

Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen are experimenting by cutting their between-starts sessions and pre-game warm-ups. So far, so good.

HEALTH ISSUES

Look for Cabrera to go on the disabled list and replaced by Matt Reynolds. He’ll join Reyes and Juan Lagares, who went on the DL last week. … Yoenis Cespedes has a strained right quad. Frankly, I’d put him on the DL now and see what two weeks of solid rest might do, rather than have him go at half-speed and risk losing him at the end of August or September. … Syndergaard and Matz are dealing with bone spurs and bear constant watching. … Matt Harvey is gone for the year and nobody knows exactly when Zack Wheeler will return but late August seems like a safe bet. … We see David Wright watching games from the bullpen. … The speculated return date for Duda keeps being pushed back, … Remember reliever Jim Henderson? Still no word when he’ll return.

BY THE NUMBERS

2: Blown saves by Familia after converting 52 straight.

3: Players put on the DL (Reyes, Lagares and Harvey).

13: Games during the month in which they scored three runs or less.

8: Victories by a starting pitcher for the month.

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This is the Jose Reyes the Mets Were Hoping For http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/this-is-the-jose-reyes-the-mets-were-hoping-for.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/this-is-the-jose-reyes-the-mets-were-hoping-for.html/#comments Sat, 23 Jul 2016 11:00:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=218432 jose reyes

The Mets gambled on bringing back Jose Reyes because they needed a leadoff hitter to spark their listless offense. What they envisioned came to fruition Friday night in Miami in what truly can be described as a must-win game.

Reyes ripped three hits, scored two runs, drove in another, stole a base and had several sparkling defensive plays in a 5-3 victory to pull them within a half-game of the Marlins for the final wild-card spot.

“I needed to step up my game a little bit and set the tone,” Reyes said after the game. “We know we had to win the first game of the series because they have Jose Fernandez going tomorrow and he’s one of the best pitchers in the league.”

The Mets’ offense still has holes, but if Reyes keeps having games like Friday’s, the leadoff spot won’t be one of them.

“This guy produces runs,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “We have a lot of games left to play and hopefully he’ll be a big part of our line-up. … Hopefully, he’ll have a lot more like this.”

Reyes did commit a throwing error, but overall his defense at third has exceeded expectations, and the more comfortable he gets the even better he will be.

There were many out there who felt Jose Reyes was done as a player including the guys in the Mets broadcast booth, but clearly Reyes has shown he still has plenty of fuel left in the tank.

More games like Friday’s and the decision to bring back No. 7 may end up being the second best move of the 2016 season for Sandy Alderson after re-signing Yoenis Cespedes. 

In his last six games, Reyes is 7-for-23 with two walks, two doubles, a triple, four runs scored and three stolen bases. It reads like a vintage Jose Reyes week straight out of 2006.

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Steven Matz Had His Watershed Moment http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/steven-matz-had-his-watershed-moment.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/steven-matz-had-his-watershed-moment.html/#comments Fri, 27 May 2016 13:00:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213065 steven matz

There comes a time in every player’s path from prospect to star when he faces a watershed test he must pass, which is what happened to Mets pitcher Steven Matz Wednesday afternoon in Washington. Hopefully, it will be something Matz will wistfully recall down the road, perhaps before any All-Star and playoff games.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen immediately recognized it and told manager Terry Collins, “we’re going to see what the kid is made of.”

The Mets were hanging to a slim 2-0 lead when the Nationals had a runner on with two outs in the eighth. Collins knew it, too, when he glanced into the Nationals’ dugout and saw Bryce Harper, the 2015 NL MVP, selecting a bat.

Matz was at 100 pitches and this was his last inning regardless and Collins had a warmed-up Jerry Blevins in the bullpen. The conventional choice, one Collins has frequently made in the past, was to go to the mound with his hand extended for the ball and pat Matz on the back.

Instead, Collins nodded to Warthen and did nothing.

“When you have a young player in certain situations, you have to challenge him,” Collins would say to reporters. “If he’s going to be a big winner for us, he’s got to learn to get the big out.”

It was an important gesture Collins and it was more than symbolic. It was one of confidence not lost on the young left-hander. It might turn out to be the most important decision Collins will make this season.

“It definitely means something,” said Matz, now 7-1 this year and already 11-1 in his young career. “As a competitor, you don’t want to come out in that situation. And for your manager to have faith in you to leave you out to face arguably the greatest hitter in the game right now, it’s pretty awesome.”

And, awesome was Matz’s response as he threw four more pitches – all fastballs – to wrap up his gem, the last one to get Harper to meekly ground out to second. From the other dugout, Nationals manager Dusty Baker made a comparison Mets’ fans should appreciate.

“You don’t see many lefties like that,” Baker told reporters. “He was very determined. He’s a good athlete. He reminded me of Jon Matlack back in my day, with the Mets. He was throwing the heck out of the ball, working quick. He threw a heck of a game. A heck of a game.”

Yeah, “heck” was a good term for Baker to use. We can go on for a long time raving about Matz, but for now Mets’ fans should settle for being grateful to have him.

And, for Collins’ unconventional, yet essential decision of loyalty to trust him.

As Matz’ career hopefully progresses to stardom, this will be a moment he will frequently recall.

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Opposing Teams Running On Syndergaard http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/opposing-teams-running-on-syndergaard.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/opposing-teams-running-on-syndergaard.html/#comments Mon, 02 May 2016 11:00:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210900 noah syndergaard 2

Like a shark senses blood in the water, a team will jump all over a pitcher when it detects a weakness, especially when it’s somebody such as the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, who doesn’t have many.

The book on Syndergaard is you can run on him. No, make that you can run all over him – that is, if you can get on base.

Runners have been successful in all ten of their stolen base attempts against Syndergaard, but what the Mets have to figure out is if it is a big deal or something they can live with.

The Giants’ running game resulted in four runs in San Francisco’s 6-1 victory Sunday over the Mets.

“We have to do a better job of holding runners,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He can’t be that slow to the plate. He can’t be that deliberate. What I don’t want is to get him out of sync.’’

Scoreless going into the fourth, the Giants had runners on the corners with one our following singles by Matt Duffy and Buster Posey. With the count full, Giants manager Bruce Bochy sent Posey to stay out of the double play, which undoubtedly would have been the case on Brandon Belt’s hard-hit ball to second.

So, instead of being out of the inning with no runs, the Giants scratched out a manufactured run, andHunter Pence followed with a two-run homer.

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The Giants eked out another run off Syndergaard in the sixth when Duffy singled and stole second. After a walk to Belt chased Syndergaard in favor of Hansel Robles. Pence followed with a RBI single to pad Madison Bumgarner’s lead.

“The last few starts I haven’t felt very comfortable on the mound in terms mechanically, which is allowing base runners to get better jumps as I make my delivery towards home plate,” said Syndergaard. It’s just a slight mechanical issue that I’m still trying to work on.”

Syndergaard allowed three steals Sunday – the Giants stole four overall – and five in his previous start against Cincinnati. In his short 15-start career, runners have stolen 27 bases in 29 attempts.

Collins said Syndergaard could incorporate a slide-step to the plate, which is harder for runners to time. The downside is a possible loss in velocity, or worse.

“You don’t want him to lose command,’’ Collins said.

Another downside of a slide step is it could force Syndergaard to tip his pitches, telling the hitter a fastball is coming.

As it is, if a runner gets on against Syndergaard, especially a speed guy leading off an inning, it’s almost a sure double.

Syndergaard is a rising star, but his Achilles Heel is not being able to hold runners. It hurt him Sunday, and will continue to do so in games in which he doesn’t have his best stuff or when the Mets don’t hit.

It’s a flaw that can be corrected, but pitching coach Dan Warthen isn’t likely to make any major mechanical adjustments during the season. This is something the Mets will work on with Syndergaard during spring training.

Or, they could decide Syndergaard is pretty good now the way he is and don’t want to mess with him.

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Collins Runs For Mayor of Panic City http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/collins-runs-for-mayor-of-panic-city.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/collins-runs-for-mayor-of-panic-city.html/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 03:12:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=209640 terry-collins

Less than 24 hours after calling the baseball season a marathon, Mets managerTerry Collins decided to run for mayor of Panic City. Moments after his sluggish Mets beat Miami, 2-1, to snap a four-game losing streak, Collins went off in a press conference, calling the victory “a game we had to have.”

When the season is less than ten games old, there’s no such thing as a “must win” game. How can there be when there are 154 games left to be played? On Opening Day, I wrote this season would be Collins’ toughest job of his career because it carried with it the weight of expectations.

He has not dealt with this slow start well.

Collins handled the Mets masterfully last season in guiding them to the World Series through the landmines of a key injury to David Wright, the innings-flap concerning Matt Harvey, and nearly a two-month offensive slump. There were other pitfalls, but Collins wouldn’t let his team step into them.

This afternoon he stepped into one himself. It’s not so much admitting he reads and listens to the media and fans, but in conceding it is getting to him. No manager should ever admit to that, especially on April 13.

“I’m worried about the perception there’s no energy here,” Collins told reporters in response to a question why he considered today’s game so important this early in the season. “That’s completely not true. I’m not deaf. I’m not blind. I hear what people are saying. I’ve been hearing that we’re not prepared, that we’re overconfident and it made me sick to my stomach.”

“We’re trying. People better understand we’re out to win. We care. We’re going to get this going. We had to send the message that this team is as dedicated this year as it was last year. I thought it was important for our fan base to stay excited. I thought today was a game we had to win. We need to show people we need business.”

That’s why he played Wright in an afternoon game following a night game; why he rode reliever Jim Henderson on the day after he threw a career high 34 pitches; why he used Jeurys Familia for a five-out save for the third straight game. He said he would have done things differently if the Mets were 5-2 going into the game instead of 2-5.

That’s amazing. It is absurd.

Things haven’t gone for the Mets the way we’ve wanted or expected, but we’re eight games into this season. It’s foolish to think they can’t turn things around. Collins has been around long enough to know a hot week can change the outlook of a team.

He said he didn’t want people to have the perception they weren’t prepared. Instead, after Collins’ melt down the perception is one of panic – not from the media but from him – and that’s far worse.

Follow me on Twitter at @jdelcos

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Ruben Tejada Is Always There For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/ruben-tejada-is-always-there-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/ruben-tejada-is-always-there-for-the-mets.html/#comments Sat, 12 Mar 2016 14:37:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=207660 ruben tejada

Depth was to be a Mets’ strong point this year, and it will come into play a lot earlier than anticipated with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera expected to miss at least two weeks or more and quite possibly the start of the season with a strained patella tendon in his left knee. Ruben Tejada, who lost his job after Cabrera was acquired and recently has been the subject of trade rumors to St. Louis, is suddenly important again.

“Cabrera may not be ready for opening day, and that’s one of the reasons we have the depth on our roster that we have now,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Friday. “If he’s ready in three or four weeks, it’s essentially the first week of the season and we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Cabrera was in New York Friday at the Hospital for Special Surgery to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection. He was injured Thursday when he was running the bases and didn’t slide.

“I was running – with the fly ball to second, and thinking slide,” Cabrera said. “I saw the bad throw, so I tried to stay up. I felt something in my knee. It’s sore right now.”

With Cabrera in the first season of a two-year, $18.5 million contract, the Mets hoped to unload Tejada – who will make $3 million in 2016 – for a prospect before losing him to free-agency next winter.

Timing is everything, and right now it isn’t good for Cabrera. It’s better for Tejada, and it could be good in the long run for the Mets. When Cabrera returns – and there are no setbacks – and if Tejada plays well and proves his leg is sound, it could enhance his trade value.

Manager Terry Collins said that the would use Tejada along with Wilmer Flores and Matt Reynolds at shortstop to replace Cabrera. But Tejada is clearly at the top of the list and the 26-year old infielder says his right leg is fully healed.

“If they give me the opportunity, I will be ready to play every time,” Tejada said. “I come here ready. You never know what happens. If something happens right now and they need me there, I’ll be there.”

It seems like Tejada is always there for the Mets.

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