Mets Start Six Shortstops And Come Up Well Short

Even with him being limited due to injuries, Steven Matz was still one of the better starting pitching options left for this team. However, with impending season ending surgery, he’s shut down, and the Mets went with recently activated off the disabled list Tommy Milone

Milone entered this game with a 7.91 ERA, 10.50 with the Mets, and he picked up where he left off with J.D. Martinez hitting a first inning three run homer. 

He allowed a Chris Ianetta one out double in the third. With Amed Rosario being unable to field an A.J. Pollock grounder, it was 4-0 Diamondbacks. 

The remaining two runs were on Milone. He allowed an Adam Rosales homer in the fourth and a Paul Goldschmidt RBI double in the fifth. 

At that point, it was 7-0 Diamondbacks. If you were still watching at that point, the question is why?

Michael Conforto missed the game with a thumb injury. Dominic Smith wasn’t in the lineup because the Diamondbacks started the left-handed Patrick Corbin, and Terry Collins apparently breaks out in hives and hyperventilates when he has to play a young left-handed hitter against a left-handed pitcher. Using the same logic, Collins played Matt Reynolds over Brandon Nimmo in right. 
Really, there were not many reasons to watch this game. Sure, things are bad right now with the Mets, but with the team they put on the field, this was downright unwatchable. Most 7-1 games are. 

The one run was a Rosario home run, his first at Citi Field. 

Other notable events was Gavin Cecchini going 1-2 at the plate and making a decent play in the field:

Of note, Cecchini has a base hit in every game he’s started this year. 

Kevin McGowan made his major league debut pitching 1.1 innings. He left the bases loaded in the seventh, and Hansel Robles walked in a run. 
Also of note, the Mets went with an all shortstop infield:

1B – Wilmer Flores 

2B – Gavin Cecchini

3B – Asdrubal Cabrera

SS – Amed Rosario

If you don’t think of Flores as a shortstop, then the all shortstop infield was accomplished with Reynolds moving from right to first in a double switch. 

If you do consider Flores a shortstop, then six of the Mets position players in the starting lineup were shortstops or former shortstops as Juan Lagares was originally signed as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. 

Admittedly, this is a rather long tangent, but these are the things you dwell on when your team is as listless and over-matched as the Mets were today. Trust me, this tangent was more interesting than anything that happened in the field tonight. 

There was a ninth inning rally against Matt Koch, one of the two relief prospects traded to obtain Addison Reed in 2015. where Smith hit a pinch hit RBI ground rule double making it 7-2. 

Andrew Chafin came on and allowed a Reynolds RBI groundout followed by a Rosario RBI triple to make it 7-4. 

This lead to the Diamondbacks bringing on Fernando Rodney to get the final out of the game. After he retired Cecchini, the tomfoolery was over. 

Game Notes: David Wright player a rehab game for St. Lucie. He was o-4 with two strikeouts as the DH. Jeurys Familia made a rehab appearance for Brooklyn throwing a scoreless inning. 

Directly Or Indirectly Jeff Wilpon Is To Blame For Steven Matz

Back in 2005, Pedro Martinez was having a Cy Young caliber season that was about to be cut short due to a toe injury.  From Rick Peterson to Willie Randolph to the training staff, they all agreed with the Mets out of the race, Pedro should shut it down for the rest of the year.  However, there was one person that didn’t agree – Jeff Wilpon.

As Pedro would later tell in his the eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon approached him telling him to pitch to help the Mets sell-out a September 22nd game against Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins.  Pedro protested leading to an argument where Pedro even offered to give back the rest of his contract.  Ultimately, he pitched because, as Wilpon told him, “While I’m the boss here, you’re going to have to do what I say.”  (Tyler Kepner, New York Times).

While we can never be sure of the root cause of the injury, this moment resonates as Pedro would suffer a torn rotator cuff making him unavailable for the 2006 postseason.  That was one of many what-ifs that happened that year.

Fast forward a decade.

Last year, Steven Matz had what was described as a massive bone spur the team knew needed to be removed surgically.  Rather than have the surgery right away, Matz was pumped full of cortisone shots, told to scrap the slider, and pitched until he could no longer pitch.  The odd thing is Matz initially didn’t want to go this route.

As Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported, “[Matz] was seriously considering surgery, and maybe even leaning that way, before a meeting with the Mets brass.”  Sound familiar?

During Spring Training this year, Matz had arm issues, which he self-described as a strained flexor tendon.  The team disagreed with an unnamed Mets official with knowledge of Matz’s medical care telling Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, “Our [doctors] found nothing wrong.”

The answer was once again to pitch through the pain and to abandon the slider.  Matz continued to pitch despite his elbow reportedly swelling to the size of a grapefruit.

One thing that is quite notable is a passage from Marc Carig’s Newsday column on the topic, “Matz insisted on powering through, perhaps in defiance of a reputation he’s gained for often being injured. And the Mets proceeded as if he were dealing with inflammation.”  More damning was this statement, “One source described a belief by some in the organization that Matz was simply learning to get over the ‘mental hurdle’ of pitching through pain.”

Certainly, this wasn’t the first time we’ve heard people discuss Matz needing to learn the difference between pitching through pain and pitching hurt.  Ron Darling has made the point a number of times during games.  His manager Terry Collins previously said Matz needed to learn how to pitch through his issues.  (Anthony Rieber, Newsday).

Seeing these comments, we should not be surprised the Mets were completely blind-sided by Matz’s recent ulnar nerve injury and need for surgery.  It is even less surprising considering the team and team doctors dealt with the same issue with Jacob deGrom.

Seeing this happen time and again, we all look to point the finger at someone.  Over the past decade, we have see a change at General Manager, manager, and pitching coach.  The Mets have been affiliated with the Hospital for Special Surgery, which is one of the top hospitals in the country.  Many will point to Ray Ramirez, but he is actually well-regarded in his field.  No, the issue is the Mets organizational culture.

In 2005, they forced Pedro to pitch.  In 2010, they were livid Carlos Beltran had knee surgery, which turned out to be a necessary and possibly career saving procedure.  Now, they have both pressured Matz to pitch and are surprised by his suffering as a result.  Really, the only thing that isn’t surprising is the Mets culture not changing over the past decade.  How can it with Jeff Wilpon still calling the shots?

Mets Energy Level Better, Still Lose

Late in the season, both Robert Gsellman and Yoenis Cespedes gave you reasons to question their commitment. 

Like he has most of his career, Cespedes has failed to hustle this year. While deemed acceptable when things are going well, this becomes an issue for everyone. 

When he comes to Gsellman, he basically said as much. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. When he was told Sandy Alderson said he needed to pitch better, Gsellman replied he didn’t care. 

On the field tonight against a very good Diamondbacks team, they were both very good. 

Gsellman was reminiscent of the pitcher we saw last year. He mostly kept the ball out of the air preventing him from being victimized by the long ball. With a much better defense behind him, which somehow included Wilmer Flores making some nice plays at third, Gsellman went deep into the game. 

In the odd chance the ball was in the air, the outfield got to those balls. This included Cespedes making not one but two hustle plays in the outfield. 

With the defense playing well behind him, and his sinker working, Gsellman arguably had his best start of the year. His final line was 6.1 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts. 

Even with that terrific outing, he still didn’t get the win because the Mets offense continued to squander their scoring opportunities against Taijuan Walker

The Mets could bring home Brandon Nimmo after he lead-off the top of the first with a double. 

Wilmer Flores and Dominic Smith lead off the second with consecutive singles. Amed Rosario  struck out. After Kevin Plawecki intentionally walked to load the bases, Gsellman struck out, and Nimmo lined out. 

Flores came up in the third with runners at first and second with one out, and he grounded into the 6-4-3 inning ending double play. 

Plawecki’s two out double in the fourth didn’t amount to anything with Gsellman hitting it back to the pitcher. 

Plawecki came up in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs. It would be runners on second and third after Rosario stole second. David Hernandez came on for Rubby De La Rosa, and he got Plawecki to tap it back to him to end the inning. 

Finally, the Mets broke through in the sixth. 

Travis d’Arnaud, who came on for Plawecki in a double switch in the top half of the inning, hit a lead-off double. Nimmo then sacrificed him to third. 
Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto then earned walks to load the bases putting the game in Cespedes’ hands. As noted above, he played this game with a different energy than he has been playing with for most of the season. 
Cespedes battled back from 0-2 against Archie Bradley to rip an RBI single past a diving Jake Lamb to tie the game. 

It only tied the game because David Peralta nailed Cabrera at the plate. It’s a tough play to pin blame on anyone. With it being so close, it was a good send by Glenn Sherlock. Likely, Cabrera would’ve been safe if his leg was on the ground instead of in the air. You can’t blame Cabrera because that was just tough luck. 

In any event, after a Flores foul out, this was now a battle of the bullpens. 

Jerry BlevinsPaul Sewald, and AJ Ramos did their jobs combining to pitch 2.2 scoreless innings helping send the game into extra innings. 

The Mets went to Erik Goeddel in a rare second straight day of work to pitch the 10th. In a rare appearance on consecutive days. We saw the reason why he rarely does this. 

Goeddel issued a lead-off walk to Gregor Blanco before allowing a game winning two run homer to A.J. Pollock:

https://twitter.com/citifieldhr/status/899824587944452096

The homer snapped a Meys bullpen 17.2 streak of not allowing an earned run. 

Mets still has a chance in the bottom of the 10th with the heart of the lineup due up against Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney

Conforto got the inning off on the right foot hitting an opposite field lead-off home run to pull the Meys within 3-2. That’s as close as the Mets got as Rodney set down Cespedes, Flores, and Smith to end the game. 

The main thing that really stood out today was the Mets played with a different energy. At this point in the season, it’s all we can reasonably expect. Well that and better situational hitting. 

When that happen, we will see a much better brand of baseball much like we saw tonight. 

GAME NOTES: Steven Matz is done for the year as he will undergo surgery to re-position his ulnar nerve. It is the same surgery Jacob deGrom underwent last year. 

Mets All Eclipse Team

With the solar eclipse happening, now is as good as any to create a Mets All-Time Solar Eclipse Team.  These are players who are included due to their names and not because of their exploits.  For example, the will be no Mike Piazza for his moon shots, or Luis Castillo for his losing a ball in the moon.

SP – Tim Redding

He is the great nephew of Joyce Randoph of Honeymooners fame where Ralph threatened to send Alice right to the moon,.

C – Chris Cannizzaro 

Cannizzaro is the name of a lunar crater

1B – Lucas Duda

Lucas means light giving

2B –Neil Walker

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon

3B – Ray Knight

Pretty self explanatory, first sun rays, and then night.

SS – Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal means helped by Baal.  Baal is a moon god

OF – Kevin Mitchell

Mitchell was one of the 12 men to walk on the moon

OF – Don Hahn

Hahn means rooster, which is an animal that crows at sunrise.

OF – Victor Diaz

His first and last name combined translate to day conqueror, which is effectively what the eclipse does.

Mets Fans Have Been Watching An Eclipse All Season

Right around this time, the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun bringing darkness across the country . . . or as Mets fans like to call it, the perfect euphemism for the 2017 season.

We’ve seen Noah Syndergaard go down for the season, and we are not sure when Jeurys Familia can come back.  Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were mishandled coming back from their injuries.  Steven Matz had another injury plagued year.  We never did get to see David Wright play this season, and we do not know if we will ever get to see him play again.

With the poor season the Mets are having, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Rene Rivera, and Neil Walker have been moved and are now playing for teams with an actual shot at the postseason.  The moves didn’t bring back much, and there were rumors the Mets were more interested in salary relief than anything causing fans to go back to a dark place they resided at the inception of the Madoff scandal.

The thing is, the eclipse today will last just a brief time.  Sandy Alderson has an entire offseason to get to work.  If ownership lets him spend the money, and with a little help on the health front, the Mets dark period will last just for the 2017 season.  If it is business as usual, this isn’t an eclipse – we’re back to the Dark Ages.

deGrom Frustrated Like We All Are 

Jacob deGrom is all of us. He watched the Mets play behind him all afternoon with no run support and poor defensive, and he just threw his hands up in the air. 

The play that caused it was a seventh inning Dee Gordon grounder to Amed Rosario. Like he did in his first game against the Rockies, Rosario did a glove tap, and that was the difference between safe and out. 

Before that play, Travis d’Arnaud took the easy route getting the out at first instead of attempting to go for a double play on a poor Adam Conley sacrifice bunt attempt. 

This was all prelude to another Giancarlo Stanton home run. If deGrom is Superman, Stanton is 245 pounds of Kryptonite. Stanton’s three run homer here was his fourth off deGrom in his career, and it gave the Marlins a 5-1 lead. 

Not to be outdone, Yoenis Cespedes dropped a flyball later that inning. It brought the boo birds out on a day he showed continued lack of hustle. At least, he hit a homer in the first. 

Marcell Ozuna single after the Cespedes two base error gave the Marlins a 6-1 lead. It was a disappointing start for deGrom, but that’s to be expected when he isn’t getting any help in the field or at the plate. 

His final line would be 6.1 innings, 10 hits, five runs, five earned, no walks, and eight strikeouts. 

When deGrom threw his arms up, something he later admitted he shouldn’t have done, he spoke for all Mets fans tired of seeing the same mistakes being repeated game-in and game-out. 

With d’Arnaud and Cespedes, it is more of the same. We see great defensive aspects to d’Arnaud’s game, but he just doesn’t trust his arm. For Cespedes, his lack of hustle borders on the pathological. 

At least with Rosario, the play was part of growing pains. Same goes for Dominic Smith going 0-3 with three strikeouts against the left-handed Conley. It certainly doesn’t help Terry Collins having him out of the lineup against left-handed pitching. 

It should be noted young players don’t just come with growing pains. They come with improvement. 

We saw that with Brandon Nimmo leading off the eighth with a pinch hit double and Michael Conforto following with a one out walk. This led to the Mets making a game of this, which was a nice departure from most Sunday games. 

Nimmo scored on a Cespedes double. Conforto scored on a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly, and Cespedes scored on a two out d’Arnaud RBI single. 

That made the score 6-4, which was as close as the Mets would get. 

Rosario struck out to end the eighth inning rally, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a game ending double play in the ninth. 

Like most Sunday games, this was a tough watch. It was tough seeing veterans continuing to have the same issues. The hope is that while these veterans never learned how to correct theirs, the young players like Smith and Rosario will. 

If they do, these tough games will all be worth it. If they do, the Mets may very well compete again next year.

Game Notes: Gavin Cecchini got the start at second. With his ninth inning single, he now has a base hit in all five games he’s started. 

Son’s First Post

My three year got a hold of my laptop when I stepped out of the room, and here’s his thoughts on the Mets:

john

 

 

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I’m sure many will say this is the best thing ever published on this blog. I tend to agree.

Montero Wins – Yes, Seriously, He Did

In his major league career, Rafael Montero had a staggering 2-13 record. You’d be hard-pressed to say that record was the result of his team failing to pick him up. To be fair, he’s usually been so poor, he never really gave his teammates a chance. That wasn’t the case tonight. 

Montero was great for five innings allowing the Marlins to just four hits and two walks. He then ran into some issues in the sixth beginning with the opposing pitcher, Vance Worley, getting a lead-off single. 

The Marlins then got a trade-off they take every day of the week with a Dee Gordon, who hit a fly ball Brandon Nimmo couldn’t get, but he was still able to get Worley at second. 

After a Giancarlo Stanton walk and a Christian Yelich strikeout, Montero was on the cusp of getting out of the inning unscathed. 

He seemed like he did when Marcel Ozuna hit a ball to left. Mets fans thought Yoenis Cespedes could get it. Keith Hernandez gave him a pass. In any event, it was 1-0, and the way Worley was going, it seemed like that was all the Marlins needed. 

That changed when Matt Reynolds pinch hit for Montero and earned a lead-off walk. That walk ignited the Mets offense. 

After the walk, Nimmo singled to set up runners at the corners with no outs. Asdrubal Cabrera then tied the game with a deep fly ball to right. 

Don Mattingly tried to stem the tide by bringing in Drew Steckenrider. It didn’t work. 
Runners were at the corners again after a Cespedes single and a Steckenrider wild pitch. In a tough at-bat, Michael Conforto hit a hard grounder that ate up Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. 

That became a 5-1 lead when Wilmer Flores hit a three run homer. 

If you thought the three run homer by Flores off a right was a surprise, the ensuing two run homer by Kevin Plawecki was a downright shock. 

That Plawecki homer put the cap on a seven run inning where the Mets batted around. It also put Montero in line to win just his third game of his career. With him getting two wins this year, this is his first major league season with more than just one win. 

After that, we got to see why Dominic Smith is so well regarded by the Mets. 

In the eighth, he made a diving stop to rob Yelich of a potential extra base hit . . .

. . . and he followed that with his first homer at Citi Field. 

He absolutely clobbered that ball hitting it beyond what were the original fences. 

Between Hansel Robles and Chasen Bradford, the Mets locked down the 8-1 win. 

By the way, for all of the Mets refusal to have even a decent defense, the team turned five double plays. The defense did its part, and as you see, when you’re this good defensively, even Montero looks very good. 

Game Notes: Rene Rivera was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. With him a Cub, and Curtis Granderson a Dodger, the Mets were able to call up Plawecki and activate Tommy Milone from the DL.  

Montero Wins – Yes, Seriously, He Did

In his major league career, Rafael Montero had a staggering 2-13 record. You’d be hard-pressed to say that record was the result of his team failing to pick him up. To be fair, he’s usually been so poor, he never really gave his teammates a chance. That wasn’t the case tonight. 

Montero was great for five innings allowing the Marlins to just four hits and two walks. He then ran into some issues in the sixth beginning with the opposing pitcher, Vance Worley, getting a lead-off single. 

The Marlins then got a trade-off they take every day of the week with a Dee Gordon, who hit a fly ball Brandon Nimmo couldn’t get, but he was still able to get Worley at second. 

After a Giancarlo Stanton walk and a Christian Yelich strikeout, Montero was on the cusp of getting out of the inning unscathed. 

He seemed like he did when Marcel Ozuna hit a ball to left. Mets fans thought Yoenis Cespedes could get it. Keith Hernandez gave him a pass. In any event, it was 1-0, and the way Worley was going, it seemed like that was all the Marlins needed. 

That changed when Matt Reynolds pinch hit for Montero and earned a lead-off walk. That walk ignited the Mets offense. 

After the walk, Nimmo singled to set up runners at the corners with no outs. Asdrubal Cabrera then tied the game with a deep fly ball to right. 

Don Mattingly tried to stem the tide by bringing in Drew Steckenrider. It didn’t work. 
Runners were at the corners again after a Cespedes single and a Steckenrider wild pitch. In a tough at-bat, Michael Conforto hit a hard grounder that ate up Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. 

That became a 5-1 lead when Wilmer Flores hit a three run homer. 

If you thought the three run homer by Flores off a right was a surprise, the ensuing two run homer by Kevin Plawecki was a downright shock. 

That Plawecki homer put the cap on a seven run inning where the Mets batted around. It also put Montero in line to win just his third game of his career. With him getting two wins this year, this is his first major league season with more than just one win. 

After that, we got to see why Dominic Smith is so well regarded by the Mets. 

In the eighth, he made a diving stop to rob Yelich of a potential extra base hit . . .

. . . and he followed that with his first homer at Citi Field. 

He absolutely clobbered that ball hitting it beyond what were the original fences. 

Between Hansel Robles and Chasen Bradford, the Mets locked down the 7-1 win. 

By the way, for all of the Mets refusal to have even a decent defense, the team turned five double plays. The defense did its part, and as you see, when you’re this good defensively, even Montero looks very good. 

Game Notes: Rene Rivera was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. With him a Cub, and Curtis Granderson a Dodger, the Mets were able to call up Plawecki and activate Tommy Milone from the DL.  

Remaining Reasons To Watch The Mets

Right now, the Mets are just a bad baseball team.  When you are a fan of a bad baseball team, it is sometimes difficult to find seasons to watch.  Thankfully, there still remain reasons to watch the Mets:

Jacob deGrom – This year, deGrom has returned to pitching like an ace.  No, he may not be the guy he was in 2015, but he’s still a great pitcher.  You know with him on the mound the Mets have a chance to win the game.  With his ability, anything is possible.

Michael Conforto – We have been watching Conforto have one of the best, if not the best, season a young Mets player has ever had.  He will soon be the youngest Mets player to ever hit 30 homers.  He’s showing how special he is taking on more leadership responsibilities in the clubhouse.

Chris Flexen – Very quickly, Flexen has gone from over-matched to holding his own.  He’s just 23 and had just seven Double-A starts under his belt.  Just holding his own at this point is remarkable.  Sooner or later, he may just prove he belongs at this level.

Juan Lagares – One thing that really stood out in the Subway Series was this man can still play Gold Glove defense.  In fact, he might be the best outfielder in baseball with his league leading 34.0 UZR/150.  Metrics aside, it’s a joy to watch him play center field defense, and you never know when he is going to make his next great play.

Amed Rosario & Dominic Smith They have essentially been presented as this generations David Wright and Jose Reyes or Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.  If they’re at those levels, the Mets will quickly turn things around.  If they are truly this good, we won’t want to miss a minute of them playing.  To that end, we have already seen great defense from them, and they’ve already homered in the same game.

With that, there are five very good reasons to continue watching this team.  Other than that, we can watch because we’re Mets fans, and we love our team.  I know I watched the Jeff Torborg, Art Howe, or Jerry Manuel Mets teams, I can certainly watch this team.