Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the shortstop, Wilmer Flores!

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the shortstop, Wilmer Flores!

Magic Number is 12

Yesterday, the problem was finding out who to pick for 14 in this series with the paucity of choices. Today’s selection was an abundance of good choices. 

There was Roberto Alomar‘s disappointing tenure. I’m sure there are Mets fans that would’ve picked Willie Randolph, but he was decent with the Mets in the last year of a good career. Furthermore, I was higher on him as a manager than most people. I remember that Jeff Kent was hated by Mets fans, except the ones in my household. 

When fans booed Kent, my Dad was baffled. When he saw Kent, he saw a terrific player. My Dad was right. Kent played well in his five years as a Met. Kent would win the 2000 NL MVP and finish his career with the most homeruns by a second baseman. However, all of that happened elsewhere. Why elsewhere? Well, the Mets made an idiotic trade including him and Jose Vizcaino for Carlos Baerga and today’s selection, Alvaro Espinoza:

  
Espinoza was not a great major league player, but truth be told, he was at his best in those 48 games with the Mets. So, why pick him?  He was part of a trade that ditched a possible Hall of Fame second baseman for a player fading fast in Baerga. Neither player was of much help, especially in a 1996 season when the Mets finished 71-91. 

Baerga’s numbers dropped steadily his three years in New York, and he couldn’t stay on second base.  He would be gone before the glory years of 1999 and 2000, but you know who would reappear in 2000?  Vizcaino. The man who put an end to Game 1 of the 2000 World Series. He was in that position due to Timo Perez‘s lack of hustle and Armando Benitez once again caving in from the pressure. 

So I picked Esponiza more as a symbolic gesture as a reminder that the trade for the star usually doesn’t work in the Mets history. I think that reminder is quite aprospros this season. 

With that in mind, please join me in offering a hat tip to Magic Number 12, Alvaro Espinoza. 

Harder to Hit Than Spell Syndergaard

After skipping his last start, the Mets brought Noah Syndergaard to the mound. After shaking off some rust and allowing a first inning run, he was completely dominant.

His fastball was consistently between 98-100. He mixed in his breaking pitches keeping the Braves off balance all night. His final line was seven innings, two hits, eight strikeouts, and one earned. All of this was just on 94 pitches. He looked like an ace. He looked like someone that needs to be pitching in October

His fellow rookie, Michael Conforto, backed him up in the field. As Keith Law would say:

Conforto made some nice plays including this gem (even if the runner should’ve been called safe):

The Mets needs to be good in the field because the Braves were great in the field including turning four double plays. 

Unfortunately, Thor did not get the win even if Yoenis Cespedes hit another homerun in the eighth to get a 4-1 lead. Tyler Clippard imploded and allowed a game tying three run homer in the eighth. It’s hard to get on him with his great he’s been. The Mets would return the favor by giving him a cultured win. 

Travis d’Arnaud continued to be d’Man. He went 3-4 with an RBI, and he started the game winning rally with a ninth inning ground rule double. Eric Young, Jr. would pinch run and score on Kelly Johnson‘s RBI single. Johnson would score by beating Andrelton Simmons‘ throw him on Cespedes’ bases loaded fielder’s choice giving the Mets a 6-4 lead. 
Jeurys Familia would make it stand up with his 41st save of the year. He’s been dominant this year, and the Mets have been dominating lately. They now sit at 81 wins guaranteeing they will not have a losing season. 

I think I speak for everyone when I say that finishing above .500 is the least of the Mets goals right now. 

I Don’t Know What to Make of Collins

Terry Collins came into this season as a lame duck manager. That can be poison going into a year. A lot of that was alleviated by the Mets 11game winning streak in April. Then the injuries came. 

On April 14thDavid Wright went on the DL with a hamstring, but we would later learn it could be much worse. On April 19thTravis d’Arnaud went to the DL with a right hand fracture. He would come off the DL on June 10th, and he would return to the DL on June 23rdJerry Blevins went on the DL with a broken forearm on the same day as d’Arnaud’s first DL stint. On June 5thDaniel Murphy went on the DL with a left quad injury. 

These injuries were on top of season ending injuries to Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin. The Mets lost Jenrry Mejia first two injury on Opening Day and then to a steroids suspension. Rafael Montero was first an option in the bullpen and then the rotation. He went on the DL with a shoulder injury and would never pitch again. Dillon Gee was in and out of the rotation, and he went on the DL. Eventually, he went into the doghouse. 

There was also the issues of ineffectiveness. Lucas Duda started out hot, and then got really, really cold. He had trouble carrying the offense. It’s no wonder his back went outKirk Nieuwenhuis was terrible, and he was traded to the Angels. When Nieuwenhuis flopped with the Angels, the Mets and their dreadful offense took him back. Of course, Michael Cuddyer had a typical first year with the Mets. 

Through all of this, Collins kept it together. It was a miracle. The Mets should not have been in position to make trades. They were in a small part because the Nationals didn’t run away with it. A larger part was Collins holding it together. Then when he finally had a real MLB roster, his abilities as a tactician into question. 

He started making questionable choices, and he cost his team some games. Then the season defining series against the Nationals. Collins said he was treating it like a playoff series. He made a number of moves. He was brilliant. However, it leaves me to question which is the true Terry Collins. Is he the man that is better at getting the most out of a team?  Is he a guy that can jeopardize a game with questionable moves?  Is he the guy that can pull it together to make all the right moves when a series is in the line?

Is he all these things?  I don’t know.  Part of the reason why is this is Collins first real pennant race as the team to beat. Another reason is he’s never had a team this good. Finally, he’s never been in the playoffs. He’s going to get his chance now. 

It’s funny that with no new contract, this could be Collins first and last chance at a World Series. I hope he gets it. Not just because I’m a Mets fan, but because he’s a good man. He’s spent his life in baseball, and he has earned his chance. 

I just hope when the time comes we see the Collins that managed against the Nationals. 

NOTE: hat tip to @koosman2pointOh for his suggestion on this post. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, Wilmer Flores!

Magic Number is 14

Considering the fact that only three Mets have worn the number 14, I thought it might be hard to keep up my Magic Number series.

First and foremost, including Gil Hodges was a non-starter. Sure, he was an original Met. That meant he played on the worst team in MLB history. He also turned the franchise around as a manager and was in the dugout when the Miracle Mets won the 1969 World Series. He also died too young. Lastly, the number 14 was retired in his honor. 

One of Hodges’ players on the ’69 Mets was Ron Swoboda. That was also a non-starter as he was a key member of the 1969 team. I know he wore 4 that year, but that was because Hodges took it back. In any event, the infusion of Swoboda would’ve been nonsense with this catch (1:24 mark):

That left Ken Boyer:

  
Now, Boyer is a borderline Hall of Famer. However, in the great tradition of Mets acquisitions, he was better elsewhere, much better. 

Boyer might have been a five time Gd Gliver, an MVP, and seven time All Star, but he was an also-ran with the Mets. A career .287/.349/.462 hitter would hit .266/.304/.415 in 1966 and .235/.335/.355 in 1967 before he was traded to the White Sox. He was not Ken Boyer in Flushing. 

In 1966, the Mets finished in ninth place (the penultimate place) with a 66-95 record. In 1967, the Mets finished in last place with a 61-101 record. Boyer was a sign of the rough times. assured, he could be in the Hall, but certainly not fur his play with the Mets. 

So without further ado, let’s all offer a hat tip to Magic Number 14, Ken Boyer. 

Mets 1-2 Punch Their Way to a Win

This was the Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes Show. With the offense scuffling tonight, they accounted for four of the Mets five runs. It showed why Cespedes receives the MVP talk while Granderson is truly the Mets’ MVP. 

In the third, Granderson walked and scored on a Cespedes double. In the fifth, Granderson scored on a balk after being moved to second on a Cespedes single and Daniel Murphy ground out (he was absolutely robbed of an RBI double by Freddie Freeman. He scored for the last time on a laser homerun by Cespedes in the ninth. 

Even though Steven Matz looked to be fitting himself and an inconsistent umpire, he only allowed one earned run in five innings. While Matz may not have been great, it was impressive he was able to get though five innings. 

Erik Goeddel pitched a 1-2-3 sixth despite letting up two deep fly balls. Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, further showing he’s the seventh inning guy. Tyler Clippard did his usual good work in the eighth. Jeurys Familia recorded his 40th save securing the 5-1 win. 

The only concern from the game was Murphy’s leg. He probably would’ve been safe on Freeman’s play if he was able to run full speed. As Keith Hernandez pointed out, Murphy seemed to be slow and since after his seventh inning single. Terry Collins may need to find him a couple of more days. 

Overall, it was an ugly win, but a win nevertheless. It was good enough to increase the lead to 8.5 games. 

Before the game, the Braves had a nice ceremony commemorating 9/11. They even showed the Mike Piazza homerun, which happened against them. They also wore the First Responder caps in batting practice, which they will auction off for charity. While I’ll criticize the Mets players and MLB, I’ll compliment the Braves here. 

The Braves also had a wonderful rendition of “God Bless America.”  They represented baseball and the country well. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the short stop, Wilmer Flores!


Please note, this was not posted at its usual time as I felt it was not appropriate to do so during the moments of silence. 

Quick Pitching Robles

Initially, Hansel Robles was supposed to be a stop gap when Jerry Blevins was injured. He was only supposed to be up until the Mets could find a left-handed replacement. He was only supposed to be up until Vic Black and Bobby Parnell was ready. 

He was recommended by Wally Backman because he was “really throwing the ball good.”  Terry Collins liked him from Spring Training because he had a good arm, and how he responded to his demotion. It’s probably why he was promoted over seemingly more logical options like Jack Leathersich and Zack Thornton

Well, Robles has stuck. He’s shown a 94+ MPH fastball. He’s striking out a little more than one batter per inning. He’s 1.014 WHIP is pretty good. However, none of that is his trademark. His trademark is his quick pitch. A page right out of the LaTroy Hawkins handbook. There’s no stopping him, not even his catcher, Travis d’Arnaud

Once the batter is in the box, he’s pitching. There’s nothing illegal about it, but boy dies it get the opposition hopping mad. He’s psyching out the opponents. He’s getting better. 

Robles was good in the first half limiting batters to a triple slash line of .214/.287/.321. In the second half, he’s only allowed a triple slash line of .171/.236/.427. His WHIP dropped from 1.191 to 0.845. He’s gone from 7.5 K/9 to 11.8. What’s even better is he has no platoon splits. That’s not true. He had a bit of a reverse platoon split. Righties are hitting .215/.300/.430, and lefties are hitting .153/.190/.271. 

If not for the Addison Reed addition, Robles would be the leading candidate for the seventh inning. Now?  He’s the top guy in the pen in the sixth inning and pressure situations. He’s pretty much a lock for the postseason roster. Not too bad for a guy who was never supposed to be here and never was supposed to stick. 

I’m looking forward to him quick pitching the Mets to a World Series title.