Mets Merized Online » Wild Card Thu, 11 Feb 2016 23:33:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Which Mets Ace Would Get The Ball In A One-Game Playoff? Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:00:26 +0000 harvey-degrom-2

The Mets have more than their fair share of terrific young pitching, and with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, they would have pocket aces should they get a chance to play a series in October.

But what if the Mets earn a Wild Card spot, and find themselves in a one-game playoff with a trip to the NLDS on the line? Joe D raised the question, so I’ll attempt to tackle it.

Before doing so, I must state the obvious (but often taken for granted)— both of these pitchers are phenomenal. If the Mets are running either of these guys out there, their chances to win are very good, and life will be very tough for the opposition. If there is a better option, the lesser option is still pretty damn good.

In addition, the Mets might not find themselves faced with a choice. If they end up with a Wild Card spot, they will likely have been fighting for it until the very end, which means they won’t have had a chance to rest their top pitchers at the end of the regular season to prepare them for the playoffs.

New York’s final three games are against the Nationals, so even if they fail to win the division, that might not be confirmed until the season’s final days. If one ace is unable to go, the decision will have been made easy for the Mets.

If deGrom and Harvey both pitch too close to the date of the Wild Card Game (which will likely be almost immediately after game 162), the Mets will have to go with a third option— assuming the strategy of having them split the game on short rest is off the table.

But for the sake of the argument, let’s say both are fully rested and ready to go with a win-or-go-home game against the other NL Wild Card team. Who should get the ball?

The Stats:


DeGrom: 10-6, 2.05 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 127 IP, 9.0 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 6.3 H/9, 0.6 HR/9 2.56 FIP (19 GS). Team is 12-7 in his starts.

Harvey: 9-7, 3.16 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 125 IP, 8.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 7.6 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.69 FIP (19 GS). Team is 11-8 in his starts.


DeGrom: 19-12, 2.39 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 268 IP, 9.1 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 6.9 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 2.62 FIP (41 GS)

Harvey: 21-17, 2.65 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 363 IP, 9.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 7.0 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 2.80 FIP (55 GS)

The Argument for deGrom:

DeGrom has been the better pitcher this season— better than Harvey, and probably better than anybody not named Zack Greinke. DeGrom also has a slight edge in terms of their career numbers. If the game is at Citi Field, deGrom’s 1.59 career ERA at home would only help his case. And Harvey might have more risk. How effective will Harvey still be come October in his first season back from Tommy John Surgery? Harvey has been very prone to the long-ball this year, how do we know it won’t come in a killer spot? Harvey has given up 4+ runs 5 times and 7 runs 2 times— how do we know he won’t pull a Tom Glavine with the season on the line? DeGrom has only allowed 4+ earned runs twice this year, and gives up fewer home runs.

Jacob has been the team’s best pitcher in 2015, so why not run him out there with the 2015 season on the line?

The Argument for Harvey:

Harvey hasn’t been as good as deGrom this season, but he has been good. His ERA is solid but not great— it would be great if not for a few catastrophic games. When he’s on top of his game, he’s better than deGrom, despite what the stats from their respective peaks (2013 for Matt, 2015 for Jacob) might suggest. Harvey’s 2013 FIP shows that he was even more dominant than his ERA would show, while the opposite is true for deGrom. And anybody who saw Matt pitch in 2013 can tell you that when Harvey has his best stuff, he’s the best pitcher East of wherever Clayton Kershaw happens to be at any given time.

Harvey hasn’t lost velocity, and he hasn’t been wild, but he has had struggles with his command in the zone at times since his return, which is why he hasn’t been able to put up the dominant stats we saw two years ago, and which is why he has made mistakes that have ended up in the seats. If Harvey can keep the ball in the park, he’ll win— his ERA in his 9 starts without a HR allowed is 1.35.

DeGrom isn’t without risk. How good will he be as he reaches the end of his first full season? How will he handle the big moment on the mound? Harvey has more of a bulldog mentality, which would likely serve him better with the season on the line (although deGrom certainly didn’t shrink from the spotlight in the All-Star Game).

Matt Harvey is the ace of this staff. For me, “Ace” carries a greater meaning than “best pitcher on the team” (which I think Harvey is, anyway). Unless he’s really struggling heading into the game, I’m giving him the ball when it matters most.


If the Dodgers had one game that determined their fate, they would almost certainly go with Kershaw over Greinke, even though Greinke has been better this year. For the same reason, I would go with Harvey— he’s our guy, and if he brings his best stuff, he’s our best option. That being said, the argument for deGrom is certainly very valid, possibly more so than the case for Harvey. As I said in the beginning, you really can’t go wrong with either pitcher. Harvey has more risk, but you don’t skip over your ace because of what might happen if he doesn’t have his best stuff. Give me Harvey.

Who would YOU start, and why?


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Mets Matters: Playoffs or Bust, A National Uprising Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:47:27 +0000 Anthony - Recker

Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie in 23 days. Here’s a selection of recent quotes, notes, and blurbs from around the Mets blogosphere.

Playoffs or Bust

The New York Mets will make the playoffs. Queue up the celebratory Bartolo Colon GIFs! Actually call this more of a “somebody has to do it” type of situation since the National League appears fairly wide open beyond the top 2-3 favorites. Last season the Mets won 79 games — (easy math) two away from .500. The Pirates and Giants won the two Wild Card spots at 88 wins.

In 2015 the Mets get back Matt Harvey to team with Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom in the rotation. Add “professional hitter” Michael Cuddyer to the lineup and the Mets aren’t exactly the train wreck people on social media love to make easy laughs about. Atlanta and Philadelphia are in the midst of tearing down their rosters, giving New York a little hope in the division. For whatever its worth, the Mets were two games better than the Marlins in 2014, another team that should also vie for a place in the Wild Card play-in game. - The Big Lead

National Deficit 

The Mets went 4-15 against the Nationals last season and 75-68 against everyone else. Was it dumb luck? Or was it a legitimate matchup problem that the Mets are going to need to iron out before they face the Nats on Opening Day?

General manager Sandy Alderson seemed to hint at the latter theory when addressing the situation last September, noting that the Nationals “have a quality player at virtually every position,” with an “excellent rotation” and a “great bullpen.” Now the Nats possess Scherzer as well, dampening any advantage that the Mets might have had with pitching matchups. Harvey, Wheeler and deGrom may be a standout top three, but so is Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg.

Because baseball is baseball, the Mets will probably do better than 4-15 against the Nationals this year. But most pundits expect Washington to blowtorch the rest of the National League East, and for good reason. Consider the numbers behind the Mets’ struggles against the Nats:

• David Wright has struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances against Strasburg and Zimmermann. That’s 63 percent higher than his career whiff rate.

• Last season, Lucas Duda hit zero of his career-high 30 homers against Washington. He holds a career .250 on-base percentage at Nationals Park.

• Over the past three seasons, four of Bobby Parnell‘s 10 blown saves have come against the Nationals. (That’s 40 percent of his blown saves in 11 percent of his total games.)

• Over the past three seasons, the Mets are a combined 15-41 (.268) against Washington.

If we know anything about baseball, it’s that past performance cannot reliably predict future success. But if the Mets want to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years, they’ll need to figure out some way to win in Washington. - Anthony DiComo,

Bring In The Lefty

Veteran lefty reliever Dana Eveland reportedly has signed with the Boston Red Sox, leaving the competition for a second left-hander to complement Josh Edgin in the Mets bullpen relatively thin.

The competitors for that role should include Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, re-signed Scott Rice, plus farmhands Darin GorskiDario Alvarez and Jack Leathersich. Alternatively, Sandy Alderson has indicated the Mets may just go with six righties plus Edgin in the bullpen.

In the latter scenario, Edgin would be in line for extreme usage. And that doesn’t bode well for his health, given that predecessors in that rolePedro Feliciano, Tim Byrdak and Rice all required shoulder surgery after being heavily used because of a lack of a capable complement.

Of course, the Mets conceivably could acquire a left-handed reliever in a deal involving Dillon Gee, who figures to be traded this month. – Adam Rubin, ESPN

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Cyclones Win Wild Walkoff On Hit-By-Pitch Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:44:41 +0000 Scarlyn Reyes turned in 7.0 innings of two-run ball. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Scarlyn Reyes turned in 7.0 innings of two-run ball. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In a game that featured three wild pitches in the same inning leading to a critical run, it was a fitting end that the Brooklyn Cyclones earned a victory on a walkoff bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.

The Cyclones (40-31) needed 11 innings to defeat the Staten Island Yankees 3-2 at MCU Park in Coney Island Wednesday night, but the win keeps Brooklyn 2.0 games ahead of the Connecticut Tigers in the Wild Card race with five games left to play.

Brooklyn rebounded from a rough patch in the middle of the season to now be 25-12 over its last 37 games and has outscored its opponents 169-116 in that stretch. Not surprisingly, this stretch coincides with the addition of Mets’ first-round draft pick Michael Conforto to the lineup.

Conforto was 4-for-5 Wednesday night with a run scored. The team is now 18-2 when he scores at least one run. The first rounder now has 16 multi-hit games this season, including five in his last seven games.

“This was a huge one for us,” said Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa. “They all are at this stage of the game. You can’t say enough about our pitching, which has been good all year.”

Right-hander Scarlyn Reyes made his sixth start of the season, and after surrendering a first-inning run, he settled in nicely over the next five frames.

With the Cyclones leading 2-1 in top of seventh, Reyes wound up striking out the side. However, after giving up a leadoff single, he threw three wild pitches, allowing the tying-run to come around easily.

Reyes finished with seven strikeouts in 7.0 innings but was tagged with a no-decision.

Both teams couldn’t muster anything offensively over the next four innings. Cyclones’ lefty relievers Kelly Secrest, Shane Bay and Brad Wieck turned in another dominant combined relief effort to keep Brooklyn in the game.

The Cyclones loaded the bases in the bottom of the 11th inning with only one out. To that point, the team had struggled all game with runners in scoring position.

But it was the 18-year-old Amed Rosario who was hit by a pitch to force in the winning run.

Brooklyn heads upstate Thursday to open a three-game game series against the Tri-City Valleycats, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Houston Astros. Martires Arias takes the ball for Brooklyn looking to improve upon his 2-0 record with a 1.10 ERA. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Cyclones control their own destiny with five games to play. If the team can hold on, the first round of the New York-Penn League playoffs would open Wednesday, Sept. 2 at MCU Park.

“We’re two up with five to play,” Gamboa said. “We just have to keep playing.”

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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Mets COO Jeff Wilpon Sees Wild Card In 2014, Believes In Sandy Fri, 07 Feb 2014 16:10:34 +0000 jeff wilpon winter meetings

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon spoke with Mike Lupica of ESPN New York 98.7 FM and told him that he expects the club to be in the mix for a Wild Card this year.

“My expectation is that we improve on last year. In our last 100 games we played at .500 and if we can do that this year and we get to mid-August and September, the Mets will be right in the mix to get one of those wild cards.”

Wilpon says the plan is to stick with Sandy Alderson’s long-term plan, and but believes the Mets will be fine without Matt Harvey because of the pipeline of young arms on the way.

“We did get hit with Matt Harvey, but our plan is still in place. We still have a pipeline of young power arms that are coming. A bunch of them people know about, but some others they don’t know about. But there are many good pitchers that are in the system that we have stockpiled. We can’t replace Matt Harvey, but we can stem the gap until he returns, hopefully as good as he was before.”

“We believe in Sandy’s plan. We believe where we’re going. We believe that we have young guys that are going to step up. It’s not like we are relying on one player who we hope does it, we have a bunch of guys. Hope isn’t the best business plan, but that’s where we are right now.”

Wilpon thinks Travis d’Arnaud could be good if he just learns to exhale and know that the catching job is his, and he loves many of the young players expected to make the roster and rattled off about a dozen names.

“Things are looking up and Mets fans should be excited to come see some of these young guys perform because they have something to play for. Come out and root these young guys on”

Wilpon deflected questions about signing Stephen Drew and where the Mets were financially, but expects this team to play meaningful games in September with or without Drew.

Presented By Diehards

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MMO Fan Shot: A Mets Wild Card Spot May Be Two Moves Away Thu, 16 Jan 2014 15:04:10 +0000 Kendrys+Morales

An MMO Fan Shot by reader CyYout

Following remarks by Sandy Alderson that a trade at this point in the offseason is unlikely, with most mutually-beneficial scenarios for an exchange explored, it seems the only way to improve the team by addition is by signing free agents.

Alderson has made clear he is still looking for an innings eater in the rotation to compete with the young guns for that fifth spot and also for a veteran presence in the bullpen, preferably a late-inning option.

As most fans know, as it has been discussed endlessly on these boards, the Mets could also benefit, at least in the short term, from an upgrade at first base and shortstop.

Many think that Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, young players with a track record of success who are probably just as likely to turn it around as they are to repeat their 2013 performances, deserve another crack at nailing down their positions. While I think that is an acceptable decision, and would still go into the season full of optimism, there are two players who would legitimize the lineup and go a long way toward giving the Mets an outside chance at a wild card this year.


The first is Stephen Drew, who while not an elite player, brings above-average defense, and after a career year in 2013, significant offensive upside to the position. The second, Kendrys Morales, has been labeled as DH and unsuited to handle a full-time role at first base in the National League. But for all his time at DH, he has also played plenty of games at first base, and can generally be considered only a minor defensive liability at worst. At 30 years of age, in my opinion, he still has youth and the athleticism that comes with it, to handle the field for a full season. Not much needs to be said about his bat, which has always been a middle-of-the-order presence and consistently productive.

The benefits of having two upgraded positions also comes with secondary benefits for the rest of the Mets players individually. Pitchers won’t feel they need to pitch a perfect game for a chance to win as was the case with Matt Harvey and last year’s anemic offense.

Similarly, Davis and Tejada will not have the added pressure of needing to perform on the biggest stage in the biggest market and can continue their development; Davis’ success in Las Vegas after his demotion mid-summer is a testament to the fact kinks are better worked out before the curtain goes up at showtime. If Davis does find success again, his value increases as a trade candidate, or he will be better-prepared to handle a promotion if the occasion arises. Which brings me to my next point.

The fact is both Drew and Morales turned down qualifying offers, which immediately made them unmarketable to a majority of teams unwilling to give up a first-round pick for them. However, since the Mets have their 2014 first-round pick protected, and have relinquished their second-round pick for Granderson, these players would only cost a third and fourth-round pick, respectively. They are also likely willing to commit to a short-term deal for a reasonable salary considering the lack of a market if it gets late enough in the game.

Many fans would rather wait for next offseason to get a shortstop in the event, and inevitability as some fans see it, that Tejada continues to regress. Though there is a stronger shortstop free agent class next year, there will also be more competition with teams like the Yankees presumably in the market as well. And it could also cost a first-round pick if the Mets are good enough this year to avoid a bottom-third record, which could very well happen considering the already-upgraded offense and the promotion and progress of young players like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, and Noah Syndergaard, among others.

Finally, the Mets could potentially benefit from Drew and Morales leaving the team after a one or two-year contract. If the Mets made qualifying offers to both and were turned down they would be entitled to a first-round compensation pick for each. Or better yet, if a team got desperate at the trading deadline, which is when teams become desperate, Alderson could use his best talent and find some nice prospects in return.

Ultimately, every move comes with risks, and not making a move at all might be the riskiest. In my opinion, these two players can do what the front office has been wanting all along. To improve the team now without mortgaging away the future.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader CyYout. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Colon Signing Could Elevate Mets To Wild Card Contender Status Thu, 12 Dec 2013 02:50:26 +0000 LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Who knew? The New York Mets were straight with us when they said they weren’t finished as they announced the signing of Bartolo Colon today to a two-year, $20-million contract.

Just like that, the Mets addressed a massive hole in their rotation. Should the 40-year-old Colon pitch anything like he did last year with Oakland, the Mets all of a sudden must be elevated to at least wild-card contender status. Yes, I said it.

bartolo colonSeriously, they’ve added enough, and if their existing talent improves, the Mets can realistically be expected to be better. They didn’t add young, vibrant expensive names, but added enough talent to where they should be taken seriously.

They aren’t on a par with Washington and Atlanta for the NL East Division lead, but the additions of Curtis Granderson and Colon should be worth at least seven more victories this season, and perhaps more when Matt Harvey returns in 2015.

The Mets won 74 games last year, and reaching .500 would take at least one more victory a month, which is entirely doable. With two wild card slots, .500 or slightly better will make October possible.

Colon’s age is somewhat of a gamble, because, after all, how long can he go? Even so, he’s been an innings-eater, which is exactly what the Mets need. Colon was second in the AL in ERA at 2.65 and finished sixth in the Cy Young balloting.

The Mets’ rotation now consists of Colon, Jon NieseZack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. Each comes with questions:

* Colon: He can’t last forever, but has showed no signs of breaking down. Three straight solid seasons that no Met can boast over the last five years.

* Niese: He’s coming off shoulder surgery and has an injury history in his short career. But there’s no doubting his bulldog mentality on the mound and desire to win games.

* Wheeler: Manager Terry Collins said Wheeler could be capable of 200 innings. That’s a little ambitious considering the leash Harvey was on last year, but if he develops as hoped the Mets will have something special.

* Gee: Pitched 199 innings last year. Can he do it again? Why not? Gee is underrated, but a valuable commodity.

Colon brings a lot to the table, including a calming, veteran presence that can only benefit Wheeler and Harvey next season.

What he also does is buy time until Noah Syndergaard is ready. The Mets still need a fifth starter, which could be Jenrry Mejia if he’s healthy, or they could force-feed Rafael Montero. (That wouldn’t be a bad thing.)

In another development, Seattle signed Corey Hart away from Milwaukee, which leaves the Brewers needing a first baseman. Yes, the Brewers have been linked to Ike Davis, but word is they want to make a run at Tampa Bay first baseman James Loney.

Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are all in the market for first basemen.

I don’t expect the Mets to deal Davis by the end of the week, but then again, nobody anticipated them landing a name starter this week.

* Joe D. contributed to part of this report.

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What Would It Take For Mets To Win A Wild Card In 2014? Wed, 30 Oct 2013 15:15:05 +0000 What would it take this offseason for the Mets to contend for a Wild Card in 2014 as Sandy Alderson asserts?

XtreemJon Niese and Zack Wheeler need to step up and find some way to alleviate the loss of Matt Harvey as best they can. You can’t replace the best pitcher in the game, but they have to try.

DrDooby – I believe that adding one impact outfielder (like Choo, Beltran, Ellsbury), a legit starting shortstop (like Drew, Peralta or via trade Y. Escobar or A.Ramirez), a quality mid-rotation veteran staring pitcher (like Arroyo, Feldman or Nolasco) and one outfield bat with pop (like M.Byrd, C.Hart, N.Cruz as free agents or maybe M.Cuddyer or J.Willingham via trade) would give the Mets a legit shot at contending. Those would be four legit average to above average major leaguers to replace mostly replacement level fringy guys. If Wheeler & d´Arnaud make significant progress, the young power pitching depth in both the rotation & bullpen proves adept over the course of the season, and the Mets manage to avoid serious long term injuries beyond Harvey, they have a very legit chance to contend in that case with a roster that – on paper – should be improved by 10-14 wins.

Kirk – I don’t think there’s much of anything Alderson can do to make this team a wild card contender in 2014. I’d just like to see him focus on signing solid players to reasonable contracts similar to what the Red Sox did last offseason. A few smart additions coupled with the development of our current crop of players could lead to a vast improvement in the standings and perhaps catching lightening in a bottle and making the playoffs.

Satish – We need actual improvement at multiple fields. I say the bullpen and maybe the rotation can be looked at as general strengths, so a guy like Jacoby Ellsbury or Carlos Beltran should be signed (not a fan of Choo). If a guy like Jhonny Peralta gets signed, which would be great, we’d still need more to compete. It’s sad, however, that I feel like we’re not in the running for more than one free agent — and we might not sign a single one.

Barry – I think the Mets need to add between 5 and 8 new players to the 25-man roster, at least 3 of whom can be penciled in as starters in the outfield, shortstop, or pitching rotation with the others competing for possible starting jobs/platoon/ backup with the holdovers. These can come via free agency, trades, Rule 5 drafts, or even their own minor league system (Montero, Syndergaard, Flores?). Of course, whether I am confident or just think that the Mets have an outside chance of making the playoffs depends on who they are.

Tommy – We need to somehow acquire an elite bat, and I’m talking somebody like Carlos Gonzalez, not Shin-Soo Choo. If we trade for a CarGo-type player, it will make a big difference. After that, I would also need to see the Mets acquire a second top-level player (Choo? Ellsbury?) or two solid–but-not-elite bats like Jhonny Peralta or JJ Hardy (through trade or free agency). Carlos Beltran and Marlon Byrd should also be considered. If Curtis Granderson is willing to take a short-term deal to re-establish his value, the Mets should explore that avenue as well. Do we have the money for these signings? Do we have the trade chips for these deals? Probably not, especially after our “surplus pitching” was blown up by several elbow injuries. But this is what it would take for me.

* * * * * * * *

What I want to see more than a futile attempt to chase a wild card, is something that Sandy Alderson hasn’t been able to provide in three offseasons already – to add just one proven MLB hitter that will be with the team when we are ready to compete again.

Had we added one legitimate everyday outfielder last offseason, and a shortstop to replace Jose Reyes the offseason before that, we’d only have 3-4 holes to fill instead of 5-7.

I’m not looking for some pie-in-the-sky offseason or for us to fix every problem in one fell swoop. That’s unrealistic. I just want to see us improve one player or position at a time – at the very least. I don’t believe that’s asking a lot.

As Sandy enters the final year of his contract, I’m surprised that someone who was supposed to be among the best in baseball in finding and securing undervalued talent, has the team with more voids to fill than when he took over. I don’t think anyone expected that even with all the financial problems that have hovered over this team.

One of the reasons I was glad to see Sandy Alderson get the job as Mets GM, was because I felt he was the best chance the Mets had to add solid major league hitters to the team without needing a $140 million dollar payroll to do it. That was the bill of goods we had been sold.

But instead here he is, about to wrap up his four-year deal (there’s still a team option year), and our offense is more impotent now than ever before. With a front office whose focus was supposed to be on reducing strikeouts and getting on base more, we are now among the worst in both those categories. I never expected that in a million years – especially after three full seasons in the bag. That’s not what I signed up for.

To answer the question about what it would take to compete for a Wild Card in 2014, I find that almost impossible to answer. There’s just so much work to do now and it’s because we have no viable holdovers offensively that were bought in by this front office. I find that very disappointing.

The owner of the team himself mentioned only third base as far as what positions he thought the team was set at, on Tuesday. One position out of eight (excluding pitchers) – and that’s based on the optimistic view of the team’s own COO.

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Four Prospects Who Give Us Reason To Hope Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:51:05 +0000 mets top prospects

It’s not very often that mainstream media paints the Mets in a positive, or better yet, glowing light. So in those rare instances when they do, I like to point it out here on MMO. I give you Chris Cwik of CBS Sports.

Chris is doing a team by team review of each minor league system and pointing out which prospects are the ones to keep an eye on this season. It’s not a top prospect list, but instead a preview of which prospects are ready to breakthrough, which one is almost ready, and the one sleeper in the group.

Impact Players

Travis d’Arnaud

Travis d'Arnaud (NY Times)In acquiring d’Arnaud, the Mets can fill one of the weakest spots in their lineup almost immediately. He can probably force his way onto the 25-man roster and potentially a starting spot with a good spring, but the team also brought in John Buck in case d’Arnaud needs more time. The 24-year-old d’Arnaud will hit for power. Over the last two seasons, he has 37 home runs over 769 minor-league plate appearances. If there’s a reason for concern, it’s whether d’Arnaud can hold up over a full season. He has missed a lot of time throughout his minor-league career, playing in 100+ games just twice in six seasons. When healthy, he’ll be one of the better hitting catchers in baseball.

RHP Zack Wheeler

zack wheeler spring trainingIn one of the biggest steals in recent memory, the Mets received one of the best pitching prospects in baseball from San Francisco for a half-season of Carlos Beltran. The 22-year-old Wheeler has always been mentioned with Matt Harvey as the future top-of-the-rotation for the team, but Wheeler has typically ranked higher on prospect lists. There’s a good chance that Mets fans will see both players in the big-league rotation before this season ends. While Harvey might begin the year in the team’s rotation, Wheeler is more likely slated for Triple-A. If there’s one flaw in his game thus far, it’s his command. Wheeler walked 11.9 percent of hitters in Triple-A last year. But, given his age, he’s already way ahead of most pitchers his age.

Future Star

RHP Noah Syndergaard

noah syndergaardThe other big name in the Dickey deal was the fire-balling Syndergaard. He is just 20 years old and hasn’t pitched above Single-A yet. In 103 2/3 innings last year, Syndergaard had a 2.60 ERA and struck out nearly 30 percent of hitters. He’s known for having a nice fastball and a decent change-up but needs to develop a breaking ball if he wants to reach the majors as a starter. Given his age, Syndergaard has plenty of time to work things out. In a perfect world, he’ll team with Harvey and Wheeler to make up one heck of a trio at the top of the Mets’ rotation. It’s still going to take Syndergaard a couple of seasons before he’s ready to pitch in the majors, so fans will need to be patient with him.

Wild Card

SS Gavin Cecchini

gavin cecchiniIt typically takes a number of years before a high school draftee is able to force his way onto a major-league roster. While Cecchini is likely in that boat, the fact that he’s expected to stay at shortstop makes him an intriguing guy to watch this season. The Mets selected the shortstop with the 12th pick in last year’s draft, and he managed to receive 218 plate appearances in the lowest levels of the minors last season. The team is slated to start Ruben Tejada at short this season and has no viable prospects waiting in the wings. It would probably be foolish to expect to see him on the team during the upcoming season, but it’s worth noting that he could be on the fast track if he performs well.

The Future

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Mets May Need To Add Three Starting Outfielders For 2013 Tue, 07 Aug 2012 15:00:21 +0000 Right now the Mets outfield situation is a disaster. Who would have thought that not one single player would solidify himself this season as a starter for 2013. Just about everyone we have thrown out there has left something to be desired. There is still time for that to change, but time is running out quickly.

The Amazin: Where would we be without Scott Hairston?  He is so scary good against lefties that he bats cleanup for us against them. Scott has arguably been the best signing by Sandy Alderson in the two years since he arrived. However, he is basically a one trick pony and is mostly a dead pull hitter. As the season has gone along he has started to go the other way more, and has recently been driving the ball to right field. Hairston is a guaranteed keeper for 2013 if the price is right. But even Alderson acknowledged last week that Hairston may have priced himself out of the Mets plans for 2013. Sadly, Hariston is really not a starter and is much better suited to thrive off the bench.

The Good: Kirk Nieuwenhuis did a great job for the first few months.  He put on a nice display offensively showing both home run and gap power, not to mention batting for a nice average. His defense was outstanding and he showed he may even be better than Torres in center. After a while the league began to catch up to him and he appeared overmatched at the plate. It eventually led to a demotion to Triple-A to work things out. Now things are up in the air about whether he can contribute consistently at this level or if he will just be another bench option.

Andres Torres has been solid, but not spectacular defensively. But offensively, Torres has been spotty. He has not been the threat on the bases we had hoped for, totaling just 10 steals and 37 runs scored on the season. Torres was initially brought in to be a table-setter at the top of the order, but instead he only bats there on occasion. That said, Torres has been on kind of a tear of late, batting .323 in the last 30 days and .345 in the last ten games with an .873 OPS. He has been a force against left-handed pitching and has a slash of .304/.427/.441 in 124 plate appearances against them this season.

The Dude’s power went out in 2012

The Average: Lucas Duda did not hit like he did last season. His power numbers came in spurts, and his defense was…..well……we won’t go there. He tried to learn the outfield at the Major League level and that has proven to be a difficult task for him. He still has a very good shot to earn a spot next season, but he needs to improve drastically on the defensive side. His offense also left much to be desired. He showed flashes of what we hoped he would be, but for the most part was very inconsistent. He had extended slumps and long power outages. His bat needed to make up for his poor defense, but that was far from what happened. The Dude Abides in the minors for now.

The Horrific: Jason Bay has lost his way. He can’t make consistent contact, he seems scared at the plate, and teams are now walking players to get to him. Even when he hits the ball on the barrel it dies at the warning track and lands in the outfielder’s glove. In 149 plate appearances, Bay is batting .154/.248/.245, and he has a .696 career OPS with the Mets since signing his $66 million dollar deal.

The Wild Card: Jordany Valdespin has the most dynamic skill set of any Major League ready player we have on our 40-man roster. He came up as an infielder, but with Murphy and Tejada raking it appears his future may be in the outfield. He has the skills to play out there and with nobody set to man a particular spot in 2013, he basically has his pick of where he wants to play. All he has to do it hit and play a decent outfield and he should be a shoe in as a starter in 2013. If he takes a nose dive offensively in the second then we are in big trouble.

We still have two months left to go, so hopefully some of these players can rebound a bit to show the Mets brass that they should still be considered for a spot on the 2013 roster. Someone needs to step up, because it will be really difficult to bring in three starters from the outside.

Thoughts from Joe D.

We are in dire straits when it comes to the outfield. Two of our potential options for 2013, Lucas Duda and Jordany Valdespin are not even outfielders by trade. While the athletically gifted Valdespin has a chance to evolve into an average centerfielder, let’s not ignore the fact he’s batting .260 with a .288 OBP and is hitting .172 in his last ten games. Lets also not ignore the fact that Torres will be 35 next season, or that Hairston probably wont be back. Jason Bay? As long as he’s still here, you have to count him in for 2013. He makes more than Castillo and Perez combined and cutting him won’t be as easy as it was cutting them two. There was supposed to be the money saved from not bringing back Reyes… Where did that money go? I haven’t seen it, have you? Nobody is on the way in the minors. Den Dekker might be a September callup in 2013. Wilmer Flores is still bouncing around all over the infield and the thought of him as a potential left fielder and replacement for Jason Bay hasn’t even crossed their mind yet. The outfield is a mess right now.

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Young Shines, Cedeno Drives In Five, As Mets Pummel The Giants 9-1 Thu, 02 Aug 2012 23:48:52 +0000

I’ll get to the recap in a minute, but first I gotta tell you something funny before I forget. I was on the phone with a buddy of mine on Tuesday night and we were lamenting the fact that the trade deadline came and went without so much as a peep from Sandy Alderson. Surprise, surprise, right?

He goes on to tell me how he wishes the Mets turn it around and by some miracle come to within a half game of a Wild Card spot with one game left for all the marbles – game number 162.

“Then Jason Bay goes 0-for-5 with five strikeouts, three with the bases loaded”, he said.

“Daniel Murphy makes two huge errors, Josh Thole has two passed balls and allows three stolen bases, Jon Rauch walks three straight batters, Ramon Ramirez relieves him and walks in two runs before being replaced by Frank Francisco who allows a walk-off grand slam on the first pitch he throws to Jose Reyes to complete the Marlins 7-6 comeback over the Mets and deny them the post season.”

Okay, I didn’t remember all the exact details, but it was a crazy, nightmarish scenario like that. We both started cracking up before saying goodbye and ending the call.

Well, with that in mind, here’s today’s Happy Recap… :-)

Cheer Up, Terry… Things Are Looking Up…

Break up the Mets! The Amazins’ won again this afternoon and beat the Giants 9-1 to grab their first series win of the second half.

It looks like the Mets are fired up again and have won three of their last four games since GM Sandy Alderson pointed to their recent poor performance as reason for him to take a different tact and shift into 2013 mode.

Chris Young, who had been struggling mightily of late, was in a word – OUTSTANDING. He delivered what was arguably his best performance of the year as he stymied the Giants offense for seven innings before being removed for a pinch hitter in the eight. Young allowed one run on four hits, walked none and struck out four. He was dominating right from the start - retiring 11 of the first 13 batters he faced, The only blemish was a sac-fly after a Melky Cabrera leadoff triple.

If Young keeps pitching like this, I fear he may become “too pricey” for the Mets to keep. :-D

Who among you scoffed when you saw Ronny Cedeno’s name penciled into today’s starting lineup at second base. Come on, admit it, lets see those hands…

Making a rare start at second base, Cedeno delivered a huge performance going 3-for-5 with two doubles and a whopping five runs-batted in!

Where was Daniel Murphy you ask? Well he was at first base of course and chipped in with two big hits, driving in a run with one of them, while scoring a pair.

Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit except for Rob Johnson who went 0-for-5 and stranded six runners. Yikes!

Even Jason Bay got into the act with a soft single in the first inning to drive in two runs – the first two runs of the game. He then proceeded to take the rest of the game off at the plate. <cough> <cough>

Anyhow, that’s the gist of everything.

The Mets save some face, show some fight, produce some resiliency, and now fly into San Diego for a weekend series to duke it out with one of the worst teams in the league. A sweep and the Mets are right back in the Wild Card race. Believe it.

And a very hearty Lets Go Mets to all of you…

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Malaise Setting In As Listless Mets Fall To Nationals 5-2 Wed, 25 Jul 2012 03:02:02 +0000 Oh no, not another Joe D. game recap…

Embrace the horror my friends. Nothing we do now will change anything. The time to strike was when the Mets were winning and they needed a general manager who could sustain that glorious run when the Mets never spent a day under ,500 and staked a solid claim on the National League Wild Card. You snooze, you lose. Sandman fell asleep at the switch.

SANDMAN: Surely, you must have been expecting me…

So the Mets go down 5-2. R.A. Dickey pitched good enough to win, but as you know that’s never good enough to win in a second half that feels like an episode of the Outer Limits. Dickey’s streak comes to an end as he notches only his second loss of the season.

Jordany Valdespin hit another pinch-hit home run in the game. He has five now which leads the majors and set a new single season record for the Mets that was once owned by Danny Heep and Mark Carreon-My-Wayward-Son.

“Hi there, little fella.”

The Mets have now dropped 11 of their last 12 games and tomorrow they face the monumental task of facing pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg.

In what can only be described as a David and Goliath matchup, the Mets will counter with Jeremy Hefner. And wouldn’t you know it, just as in the Biblical version the contest begins at high noon.

Why Didn’t You Do Something!!!

All the good that these high-spirited and extremely motivated Mets accomplished in the first half is fast becoming a distant memory. They have fallen from the top seed in the National League Wild Card standings all the way to fifth place in 13 days, but as bad as thing look, the Mets are still within reach. They’ve had a couple of pretty good runs already this season. But with a GM who did nothing to help the bullpen when things were good, why would he lift a finger to help the team now when things look bleak?

The Mets are a dead carcass on the side of the road right now.  Sorry to be such a downer, but it’s true.

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What Are We Willing To Give Up In A Trade? Fri, 06 Jul 2012 18:25:11 +0000

Everywhere you look, baseball analysts and fans alike are saying the Mets will need a significant bullpen upgrade in order to make a playoff push.

Though Sandy Alderson brought in Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez, it may take a different cast of characters to get the job done consistently in the late innings.

Yes, the starting pitching has been terrific, but especially down the stretch, the Mets need to be able to close out wins—something that they’ve had trouble with all season.

It’s easy to say the Mets need a bullpen upgrade, but it’s a tougher task to think how they will acquire one of these arms.

There are a few decent options available, some of whom will have a higher price tag than others.

The Houston Astros will likely float relievers Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers on the market. The Astros have been rebuilding for a few years, so the team will certainly be looking for young prospects in return.

Huston Street is also an intriguing option, especially since he can slide into the closer’s role. Francisco showed some improvement before his recent placing on the disabled list, but Street is a proven commodity in the ninth inning.

Street and Mets bench coach Bob Geren apparently don’t have a great relationship from their days with the Oakland A’s, but he still can be a good fit. However, the Padres may have a high asking price for the All-Star.

Brad Lidge, who was recently designated for assignment by the Nationals, would come cheap, but there’s a reason he’d be cheap: He’s injury-prone and has been ineffective. I think the Mets would be better off staying away from Lidge.

There are likely a few other options out there, but what would the Mets be willing to give up to acquire one or more of these available arms?

Frankly, if teams start asking for one of the Mets high-profile starting pitching prospects, the Mets should look elsewhere. Promoting Jenrry Mejia would be a better option than losing part of the future.

It’s going to be a tough call for Alderson and company, especially since more teams will consider themselves “contenders” based on the new wild card spot.

So would you rather part ways with a few top prospects to make an immediate playoff run or move forward with what we have in order to save the team’s future?

Feel free to list some possible trade proposals or other bullpen targets the Mets should explore.

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If There Is A 5th Playoff Spot, Can Mets Contend? Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:04:26 +0000 Today was supposed to be the deadline that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig finalized the plans to expand the playoff structure to include two wild card teams.

However, scheduling and logistics remain areas open for debate, which has halted the process.

Still, if MLB agrees to expand the postseason, it increases each team’s chances by one spot. The two wild card teams would play a one-game playoff to see who advances to the Division Series.

Where do the 2012 Mets stack up in the discussion if the NL playoffs were to include five instead of four teams?

MetsJust looking at the NL East, many analysts have slated the Mets to finish last in the division. That is partly because of the current team on paper, but it’s also a result of the strengths of the other four teams. The Marlins and Nationals have improved, while the Phillies and Braves—the top two teams from 2011—have remained basically the same.

All four of these teams have a legitimate chance to trump the Mets for a spot in the postseason.

In the NL Central, the Cardinals still look like the favorite even without Albert Pujols. The Brewers lost Prince Fielder and are facing a possible 50-game suspension from Ryan Braun but still have solid pitching.

The Reds may turn a few heads this season, but they are a team like the Mets in that many different factors have to be perfect for them to contend all season.

The Pirates and Cubs are still rebuilding, and the Astros shouldn’t be a factor in their final year in the NL.

The NL West may be interesting. The Diamondbacks are fresh off a division title, but the Giants are hungry to repeat their 2010 success. The Rockies will rely on many inexperienced starting pitchers, while the Dodgers and Padres figure to bring up the rear in the division.

So if I had to rank the NL teams based on what they look like on paper, here’s my ranking: Phillies, Cardinals, Giants, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Braves, Nationals, Reds, Mets, Rockies, Dodgers, Pirates, Cubs, Padres and Astros.

The Mets are 10th based on this ranking, so they would have to finish ahead of five other competitive teams to earn that final spot.

Doing so would likely be a tall order this season, if this playoff structure were to be accepted. But since the Mets play in a tough division, maybe the new playoff structure can help them down the road, when the team figures to be back on track.

But hey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You have to play the games. Maybe we are in store for a few surprises—not just from the Mets but from any of the NL teams.

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Are You Wild About Another Wild Card? Tue, 31 Jan 2012 18:53:20 +0000

Ronald Blum of the Denver Post reported yesterday that commissioner Bud Selig expects baseball to expand its playoffs this season.

“I really believe we’ll have the wild card for 2012, this year,” Selig said Friday night in Chicago at a White Sox fan festival. “Clubs really want it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card this year.”

“We’re working on dates right now. That’ll all take place. It looks to me like we’ll have it because I’ve told everybody we have to have it. It’ll be exciting. One-game playoff, it will start the playoffs in a very exciting manner,” he said.

I’m surprised that this is still lingering with Opening Day about two months away.

Under the new format, whenever it begins, the non-division winners in each league with the two-best records will be the wild-cards, meaning a third-place team could for the first time win the World Series. In other words, it’s possible for three teams to come from the NL East or any other division.

I think it’s going to lead to some wild finishes that will make last year’s exciting finish to the regular season seem mild in comparison.


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Crucial 10 Game Homestand Faces Mets Starting Tonight! Mon, 01 Aug 2011 19:30:15 +0000

With the Mets 7 1/2 games behind the wild card leading Atlanta Braves, but still having two months to go in the season, I’m not one to give up and give in concerning the Amazin’s playoff chances here in 2011. After the trade of closer Francisco Rodriguez the night of the All-Star game, and then just a few short weeks later with the trade of the resurgent Carlos Beltran many saw this as this team “waving of the white flag.”

Has it begun to slip people’s minds that the New York Mets, yes, the New York Mets have the most road wins in Major League Baseball at 33. Isn’t the formula for a playoff team to play .500 ball on the road, which the Mets have certainly done to this point compiling a road record of 33-27, and to win 50+ games at home? If that’s not the conventional formula for a team to make the playoffs, than I don’t know what is.

Now, I understand the Mets are a dismal 22-26 at home, they’ve had their share of struggles at Citi Field this season, don’t get me wrong. That being said, with the 4th place Florida Marlins coming to town, the 5th place San Diego Padres of the NL West coming in for a 4-game series, and the wild card leading Atlanta Braves coming to town to wrap up this 10-game home stand, this is the point in the season where the Mets have every opportunity to make up some serious ground in the wild card standings and remain a serious factor coming down the stretch if they can seize the opportunity.

That being said, the Mets are just 3-5 against the Marlins this year, but coming back home and playing at Citi Field for the first time in nearly two weeks, I strongly believe this team will hit the ground running and end their mini two-game skid tonight. While the Mets have not seen the San Diego Padres this year, they will see the Pads not only this home stand, but next road trip as well. As for the Amazin’s record against the Braves, all the Mets have done since dropping the first two contests against the Bravos this season, is go an impressive 5-2 versus the NL wild card leaders.

Let’s not forget this team is coming off a bitter sweet road trip that appeared like it was a soap opera in some ways. It was a 10 day swing which began with the Mets getting the face of the franchise back, David Wright. It was a trip which had the team answering question after question on when Carlos Beltran would be dealt, until that day finally came midway through the series with the Cincinnati Reds. It was a trip where the Mets completed their first 4-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati for the first time in their 50 year history.

The Mets have done the hard part by winning on the road, if they can take advantage of two of the weaker teams in the league coming to town, and find a way to win the final series again the Braves, who’s to say this team is not a serious contender or factor in the wild card race? Until this team starts to serious fall out of the race, and by that I mean 10+ games than I’m not going to give up hope or faith in this pesky bunch.

This has been a team all season long that has refused to quit, has refused to throw in the towel, and has had that never say die attitude. Manager Terry Collins is one not to roll over and give in, I think we’ve all seen that with the Mets play on the field and it has to be a testament to both Collins, as well as GM Sandy Alderson.

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Is Bringing Santana Back This Season Worth The Risk? Sun, 24 Jul 2011 19:55:36 +0000 Johan Santana threw a bullpen session today at Sun Lite Stadium in front of Terry Collins, John Debus, and Randy Niemann.

According to the NY Times, Santana said he felt good after throwing 45 pitches in the bullpen Sunday morning, paving the way for him to begin pitching in minor-league rehabilitation games.

If Santana’s surgically repaired left shoulder feels fine Monday, it is likely he will pitch in a minor-league game Wednesday.

“That’s what we’re looking for,” Santana said. “As of right now, it’s a wait-and-see mode. We’ll see how it is tomorrow and go from there.”

Right now, the Mets are not gaining any ground on the Braves in the NL Wild Card standings.  With the loss last night against the Marlins, the Mets are still 8 1/2 games back of the Braves for the final spot in the postseason.  As the Mets continue to gain no ground whatsoever on the Wild Card race, is it really worth bringing Santana back this season? 

It’s great to see Johan doing well in his rehab, and I am impressed with how the Mets have handled his rehab, but at the same time the Mets smight want to play it safe and take a more conservative approach with the left-hander. 

It would be better for him to continue rehabbing his arm and then come back fully healthy in 2012.

Who needs Johan to return this season and run the risk of him getting injured again?

What are your thoughts? 

Would you bring Johan Santana back this season? 

Do you think the Mets are doing the right thing by bringing him back to pitch this season?

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Alderson Not Expecting Much From Johan Santana in 2011 Fri, 15 Jul 2011 20:14:33 +0000

The New York Mets have been without their ace Johan Santana the entire season and the rotation has held their own, to say the least. With speculation surrounding a Santana return possibly in mid-August, which still remains a long shot at this point, many have wondered just who may be the odd man out in the rotation?

Well all the speculation and rumors may have just been ended before they had a serious chance to begin. According to Dan Martin of the New York Post, while the 32-year-old Santana has begun his spring training in Port St. Luice, the Mets and GM Sandy Alderson aren’t expecting the former two-time Cy Young award winner to make any contributions, at least not in 2011.

With the Mets still 7 1/2 games back in the wild card race and the rotation remaining the strong point of this team, as the lineup still waits for the returns of Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Ike Davis, I think this a case of the Mets being cautious and protecting their investment for the long term.

I think the Mets have gotten more than they could have ever expected from starters Chris Capuano as well as Dillon Gee who was seen as an afterthought in spring training as a serious threat to crack the rotation.

Combine those two hurlers with R.A. Dickey, Jonathon Niese, and Mike Pelfrey who has pitched much better of late, the Mets rotation is shaping up quite nicely, so unless this team can make a serious run in the next few weeks, I believe Santana will be held out as long possible.

I’m sure the Mets would like to get a few starts from Johan at some point this season, whether it’s in the heat of a wild card race or not, manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen perhaps more than anyone would like to see what Johan Santana can be going forward in his career as a New York Met.

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Could Beltran Be Texas Bound? Mon, 27 Jun 2011 19:19:45 +0000’s Jon Heyman reports via Twitter that the Rangers are interested in Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran  and could make a move for him soon after the All Star break. Rotoworld writes,

Serious trade talks probably won’t get underway until after the All-Star break and plenty of other teams will be in the running to snag Beltran, who has maintained his health this season while batting .278/.372/.480 with 10 home runs and 49 RBI in 76 games.

Beltran’s $18.5MM salary and full no-trade clause, as well as the Mets’ status as wild card contenders, could be obstacles in a trade writes WFAN.

Beltran and the Rangers seem like an odd couple for a trade, especially since they are seemingly set at the outfield corners with Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. But the Rangers still see Beltran as a viable center fielder and intend to give him plenty of time as a DH.

It’s gonna be tough to see Beltran go, but I also don’t think he gets moved if the Mets keep hanging around a Wild Card berth.

The Mets are 4.5 games back in the Wild Card standings with just six teams now in front of them. But not too long ago, there were eleven teams ahead of them so they’ve really made some significant gains since June 1st.

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From Left Field: Two Down, Four To Go Thu, 02 Jun 2011 00:13:17 +0000 Today is June 1st, so that marks the one-third point of the season.

The Mets are eight games behind the Phillies for first place in the NL East and 6.5 games behind the Florida Marlins for the Wild Card.

While some claim it’s still too early to be scoreboard watching, I believe every game counts, especially when you’re the team trying to make up the most ground.

The thing about this year in both leagues is that very few teams are running away with their respective divisions, other than the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. The Yankees hold a 2.0 game lead over the Red Sox; the Rangers hold a 1.5 game lead over the Mariners; the Phillies are leading the Marlins by just 1.5 games; The Cardinals are up 2.5 games on the Brewers; and the Diamondbacks surprisingly lead the Giants by 0.5 games.

Many teams are hovering around the .500 plateau, so all it takes for the Mets is to string together 5-6 wins in a row and they are right back in the race.

However, the Mets brass must seriously analyze what they have with this team.

Sure, the Mets can hover around .500 and maybe even make a run that puts them within a few games of the Wild Card. But is the team good enough right now to compete with the Phillies, Marlins, Cardinals or other strong NL teams?

If the Mets fall out of the race early, they’ll no doubt be sellers. Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Francisco Rodriguez and a few others could be sent packing.

But even if the Mets are hanging in the race, they still may be sellers. If the organization feels that it still doesn’t have the talent to make a run even if the Mets are playing good baseball, the trade chips may fall anyway in preparation for next year.

The decision would be a very tough one if the Mets are in this position. Therefore, I would either like to see the Mets play out of their minds (which seems unlikely) or slip far enough out of contention so that they start fresh.

What I don’t want to see is the team play decent baseball and hang in the race and then do one of the following things: 1) Trade their stars when they actually have a chance to win the Wild Card or 2) Act as buyers at the deadline only to falter big time over the final two months.

We shall see what unfolds as the team gets healthy, but since no one is pulling away, the Mets may find themselves firmly in the pack.

If they do, some very difficult decisions will be looming.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

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It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up Mon, 12 Jul 2010 16:25:59 +0000 The All-Star Game isn’t until tomorrow, but my thoughts have already turned to the post-Break schedule for the Mets.  The Mets are one of nine teams in the hotly contested National League playoff race.  The other eight teams are either leading their respective divisions, leading the Wild Card race or within two games of the Wild Card leader.  The Mets will play six of those eight teams between July 15 (the first game after the Break) and August 15.  That one-month stretch of games will go a long way towards determining whether the Mets are pretenders or contenders in the National League.

Let’s take a look at the schedule and break down the upcoming month of games for the Mets:

July 15-18:  4 games at San Francisco (playoff contender)

July 19-21:  3 games at Arizona

July 22-25:  4 games at Los Angeles (Wild Card co-leader)

July 27-29:  3 games vs. St. Louis (playoff contender)

July 30-Aug. 1:  3 games vs. Arizona

Aug. 2-4:  3 games at Atlanta (best record in the NL)

Aug. 6-8:  3 games at Philadelphia (playoff contender)

Aug. 10-12:  3 games vs. Colorado (Wild Card co-leader)

Aug. 13-15:  3 games vs. Philadelphia (playoff contender)

The Mets begin their second half schedule with their longest road trip of the year, an 11-game jaunt through California and Arizona.  The series in Arizona must be looked at similar to their two series against Baltimore and Cleveland last month.  The Mets were doing poorly on the road before those series but they didn’t play down to the level of their competition.  They won all six games against the Orioles and Indians and gained ground in the playoff race.

Likewise, the upcoming series in Arizona, sandwiched between two series against playoff contenders, must be gone into with a sense of “we’re better than you and we’re going to prove it”.  Although winning two out of three on the road is usually considered a success, I believe the Mets can and should take all three games in Arizona.  The Diamondbacks have nothing to play for in the NL West, other than to showcase some talent that may be used in deals at the trading deadline.  The Mets have won 16 of their last 19 games played in Arizona going back to 2004.  They can’t settle for anything less than a sweep.

Meanwhile, the two series wrapped around the Diamondbacks series are a little tougher to look at.  The Giants have been hot of late, winning six of their last seven games going into the All-Star Break.  Of course, those games were against the Brewers and Nationals, two teams with a combined record of 79-99.  However, the Giants have held their own against the NL East this year, going 12-6 against them, despite losing two out of three to the Mets at Citi Field back in May.  The Giants are 25-17 at AT&T Park this season, but the Mets have Carlos Beltran coming back for this series.  His return will not only boost the lineup, it could also give them a sense of completeness that they haven’t felt in quite some time (assuming Jose Reyes is ready to play).  For now, I will accept a split of the four-game series, but I’m really hoping for three out of four.

Will the real Los Angeles Dodgers please stand up?  Are they the team that went into Citi Field back in April and got swept by the Mets in a series that included John Maine’s sole victory of the season?  Are they the team that blistered their way through the National League in May and June, going 23-7 over a 30-game stretch to temporarily take over the division lead from the Padres?  Or are they the mediocre team we’ve seen since then, winning series against non-contending teams (Diamondbacks, Marlins, Cubs), while losing series to playoff contenders (Red Sox, Angels, Yankees)?  The Mets have to take the Dodgers seriously even though they’ve been more streaky and slumpy this year than Jeff Francoeur.  To add to the confusion, the Dodgers are great at home (28-18), but horrible against the NL East (5-11).  It’s a tough call, but I think the Mets will split the four games in LA, which makes sense considering the split personality the Dodgers seem to have this year.

From there, the Mets will come back home to the friendly confines of Citi Field.  They will face the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks.  Again, the only option with Arizona is a sweep, especially at home.  Anything less than three victories would be unacceptable.  The series with Arizona will coincide with the trading deadline, so it’ll be interesting to see where the Mets are in the standings during this series and who they end up acquiring, if they acquire anyone at all.

For the series against the Cardinals, it’ll all boil down to pitching.  The Cardinals have a great one-two punch in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, while the Mets currently have one great puncher in Johan Santana.  However, the Cardinals are just as poor on the road as the Mets are and they will be the road team in this series.  I’m hoping the Mets can take two out of three in this series, but wouldn’t be surprised if the Cardinals’ pitching holds the Mets to just one win in the series similar to the way the Braves’ pitching did this past weekend.

Speaking of the Braves, following their short homestand against St. Louis and Arizona, the Mets take their show on the road to face their hated division rivals in Atlanta and Philadelphia.  That road trip could make or break this team more than the 11-game trip after the All-Star Break could.  The Mets know that losing both of these series could drop them back into third place in the division (a place where they might be already if they don’t get off to a quick start after the Break).  They will need to split these six games at the very least.  Losing a minimum of four games on this road trip could prove devastating.

Finally, this tough stretch of games ends with a six-game homestand against the Rockies and Phillies.  The Rockies are doing what the Rockies do best, and that is going on a run that takes them from the bottom of the division to the top of the Wild Card race.  A month ago, the Rockies were a .500 team, sitting in fourth place because the Diamondbacks had a no vacancy sign in last place.  Since then, they have been one of the hottest teams in baseball, going 19-9 and moving into a tie with the Dodgers for the Wild Card lead, after the Mets had held the Wild Card lead for weeks.  In their month-long run to the top, they have won series from contenders like the Red Sox, Giants and Padres (twice) and swept the Cardinals.  The Rockies will not be a pushover, even with the series taking place at Citi Field, especially if the Mets have to face Cy Young Award favorite Ubaldo Jimenez, who may be closing in on 20 wins by the time the Rockies travel to New York.  I’ll be cautiously optimistic when I say that the Mets will win two out of three against the Rockies, but will be prepared for them to lose two out of three.

As for the Phillies, they will certainly have their last series at Citi Field on their minds when they return to New York.  In what might have been the highlight of the Mets’ season so far, the Phillies came into New York and left with nothing, as in no runs on the scoreboard.  The three-game shutout of the Phillies gave the Mets hope and has given fuel to their post-season push, but to expect something like that again would be ridiculous.  Even to expect another three-game sweep might be too much.  The Phillies just swept a four-game series from the NL Central division leading Reds, the same team that came into Citi Field and took two out of three from the Mets last week.  Despite the injuries that have wiped out most of their infield, the Phillies have remained in contention all year and will continue to do so.  Just like the series with the Rockies, I’ll say I want the Mets to win two out of three, but will not be surprised if they lose two out of three.  I’m expecting a split of the six-game homestand with the Rockies and the Phillies.

The Mets will begin their post-Break schedule by playing 29 games against mostly contending teams.  Having a losing record over that stretch would surely damage their post-season chances.  Using all my fingers and toes, I have tallied up the wins and losses I expect from the Mets over this month-long stretch of games following the All-Star Break.  My caveman math has given the Mets an 18-11 record over that stretch, which of course, includes six wins in six games over the Diamondbacks.  Failure to sweep both series against Arizona would change things drastically, but I have confidence in the Mets that they can pull it off.  Of course, that means I’m also saying that the Mets will barely have a winning record against all the other teams they play during this tough stretch of games.

Getting Carlos Beltran back into the lineup on Thursday, along with the return of Jose Reyes will make the offense whole again.  Hopefully, this will prevent many extended periods where the Mets go into a hitting slump (like during the just-completed 2-4 homestand). The combination of the upgraded offense, Johan Santana’s resurgence and perhaps a little help at the trading deadline (if it is a starting pitcher, Omar Minaya can’t just acquire him just to make an acquisition.  He has to be someone who will improve the rotation immediately.  Please, no more Victor Zambrano-like deals!) can help the Mets approach the 18-11 post-Break record I’m calling for them to have.

After that 29-game stretch, the Mets will spend the next two weeks playing Houston, Pittsburgh, Florida and Houston again.  All three teams have fallen out of contention in the National League.  All four series are winnable series.  The Mets should feast on these teams, but of course, feasting on paper and feasting on the field are two different things.

It’s time to put up or shut up for the Mets after the All-Star Break.  The next month’s schedule is going to tell us a lot about this team.  Either things could spiral out of control or we’ll prove we belong to be mentioned with the big boys of the National League.  Get ready for the second half of the season.  Regardless of what happens, it’s sure to be one fun ride!

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