Fastballs by Jake

Personally, I love how quietly Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey are in this competition amongst themselves to be the ace of this staff. We shouldn’t be surprised the Mets have had two straight shut outs. Last night, Harvey allowed 4 hits and no walks with four strikeouts in eight innings. 

Tonight, deGrom was brilliant behind that brilliant fastball of his. He ended his last inning brilliantly with his 10th strikeout in the seventh. Overall, he allowed two hits with an uncharacteristic four walks. All the more remarkable, he didn’t allow a run with first and third with no out in the fifth (much of that due to poor Rockie base running). 

Offensively, Travis d’Arnaud is red hot going four for last nine. Michael Cuddyer played his second game in a row. He plated Juan Uribe, who had an RBI double of his own. We saw Yoenis Cespedes show a “Feat of Strength.”  Other than that, there was much not going on offensively.   This included a Michael Conforto pop-out in the seventh, when he pinch hit for deGrom. However, on a night with deGrom, three runs (3-0 final score) was all the Mets needed, especially with Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia locking down the win. 

I guess I should also mention Cespedes had quite the armband . . . 

  
. . . that just so happened to match the color of the new Rally Parakeet

  
Whether it’s the black cat in 1969, or the yellow parakeet in 2015, I’ll take all the help we can get. 

Montero & deGrom

Jacob deGrom is taking the mound tonight.  Mets fans are all excited for his start tonight.  Why shouldn’t we be.  The man has been “deGrominant,” whether it was him winning Rookie of the Year, his All Star Game appearance, or his terrific 2015 season.  How quickly we all forget that this was never supposed to happen.

When deGrom was first called-up to the Mets, he was supposed to be in the bullpen while Rafael Montero was supposed to be in the rotation.  As we know, deGrom had a strong rookie season, and in the beginning of 2015, it was Montero who was assigned to the bullpen (at least initially).  It turns out that would have been a colossal mistake.  In fact, this should make Mets fans question every pitching move this front office makes.

To be fair, Montero did enter last year ranked ahead of deGrom.  However, that is an independent rating of those two players.  Each organization should know their prospects better than fine sites like Baseball America.  Additionally, this is the same team that gave up on Collin McHugh, a very dependable major league starter for a team that wants to go to a six man rotation, for Eric Young, Jr., who is a part time player on an under .500 Braves team.

It didn’t stop there. Right before the season began, the Mets traded for Alex Torres, who pitched so well he’s in AAA right now. The cost was Cory Mazzoni, who was a prospect the Mets became frustrated with due to his injury history. It should be noted these were non-arm related injuries. Mazzoni has a decent repertoire that makes the 2011 former second round pick a back end starter or reliever. This is something the Mets need now. Instead, the Padres have the prospect and the Mets have dead weight. I just hope we don’t have another Heath Bell situation here. 

This is why I wasn’t happy with the Tyler Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes trades. These are both rentals, who aren’t resigning with the team. If the A’s didn’t trade Clippard to the Mets, then the Nationals overpay or Billy Beane finally accepts the Mets offer. Overall, this is bad negotiation. 

It’s also bad valuation of assets. Remember if not for injuries deGrom would be setting up for Jeurys Familia, or possibly closing while the Mets are figuring out the rotation on a sub .500 team. 

This is why I question this front office. People may disagree with me, but this is partially why I question their treatment of Michael Conforto and Kevin Plawecki. Given their other moves, I think they invite this skepticism. I hope I’m not the only one. 

What if Cuddyer’s Healthy?

With all of the hand-wringing over Michael Conforto, we’ve ignored other puzzling decisions by the Mets, namely:

https://mobile.twitter.com/msimonespn/status/631287918150049794

That’s right. Even though Curtis Granderson has had a real nice year, he’s not hitting lefties. This shouldn’t surprise anyone because he’s effectively been a platoon candidate throughout his career:

vs. RHP .269/.356/.504

vs. LHP .224/.294/.398

Now, since Terry Collins has an infatuation with leading off Juan Lagares, I would say this is a natural platoon. However, I shudder to think of Collins putting him in RF again with Yoenis Cespedes in center. Plus, Lagares is in that platoon with Conforto. 

Last night, Michael Cuddyer played his first game since coming off the DL, and he played well. He was 2-4 with two runs scored. On the first run, he scored from second on Carlos Gonzalez’s strong arm. In the eighth, he stole a base. In sum, he looked healthy. If he’s really healthy, he creates a good problem to have. 

He’s a professional hitter (an “ultimate pro“) with a career triple slash line of .277/.344/.462. Arguably, if healthy, he’s the best hitting OF currently on the team (I think it’s Cespedes).  In his career, he’s been deadly against lefties to the tune of .288/.376/.495. I think it’s a no-brained for him to platoon with Granderson, at a minimum. 

For his career, Cuddyer hits righties to the tune of .273/.330/.447. He’s much better against lefties. Here’s the Mets other OF options against righties (Granderson is above)

Yoenis Cespedes .277/.317/.478

Michael Conforto .206/.317/.382 (SSS)

Juan Lagares .253/.285/.336

What this tells us, is if Cuddyer is healthy, he needs to play everyday. I think it would be wise to ease him back, but I would not limit him to a strict platoon. This means, on offense alone, the OF against righties should be: Cuddyer LF, Cespedes CF, Granderson RF. Again, this indicates Conforto should be demoted. 

If Cuddyer’s not healthy, then the Mets need to figure something out with Granderson in RF. He did come through the past few nights against a lefty, but that was more about the reliever than him. 

I hope Cuddyer’s really healthy because he’ll be a huge boost to the offense as he was last night. If not, he should be Granderson’s caddy against lefties. 

Right now, with all of these interchangeable parts, Collins has to earn his money by putting the best team on the field. He can’t gamble because there is so much to lose right now. If Cuddyer’s healthy, a lot of the risk is removed and it makes Collins’ job a lot easier. It also makes the Mets a better team. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, WILMER FLORES!

Are the Mets Reckering Their Prospects?

I don’t understand what the Mets are doing with their prospects right now. First, they are actively stunting the development of Michael Conforto by keeping him in the majors and not playing him everyday. Keep in mind, this is a player, they didn’t want to call-up in the first place. 

Additionally, there is the constant noise over the six man rotation, but their young stud muffins are set to far exceed their innings limits.  Plus, these prized arms’ aches and pains are largely ignored until it becomes more serious. They even have Dan Warthen playing doctor. It’s inexcusable. 

Their treatment of Kevin Plawecki is almost as ponderous. I understand he might’ve been the best option at backup catcher, but it’s not like he’s been good. It’s just that Anthony Recker and Johnny Monell have been that bad. That was, in part, the rationale behind keeping Plawecki up when Travis d’Arnaud came off the DL on July 30th. Let’s see how that worked out for Plawecki:

  • 3 games played out of 11l
  • .111 average
  • 12 extra days of accumulated service time

In essence, the decision was just short of being a disaster. Plawecki is going to be a Super Two player. Overall, he’s hit .228/.283/.296. Those are ugly numbers, especially when he’s a .292/.368/.435 hitter in the minors. Obviously, he should’ve been in the minors trying to get better. For those that argue that there’s value sitting on a major league bench, it sure hasn’t helped him thus far. 

Plawecki probably would’ve benefitted from time in AAA making him a better player. d’Arnaud did the same last year, and he’s the better for it. Plawecki didn’t, and he’s worse off. The Mets catching situation is also worse off. 

Overall, the Mets prospects are worse off the past two years in how they’ve been handled. I only hope Plawecki and Conforto can overcome it because they have real promise . . . promise that isn’t being g cultivated by the Mets. 

The Full Harvey?

Befote tonight, even though Mets starters have thrown more innings than any other team, and yet, have no complete games to show for it. So much for innings limits, huh?

Tonight, Matt Harvey was yet again the real Matt Harvey. He could’ve gone for the complete game after having thrown only 97 pitches over eight innings. All night, there was only one hard hit ball against him. He had a 1-0 lead. He was lifted for Curtis Granderson

Granderson made Terry Collins looke good by drawing a bases loaded walk off of Boone LoganJuan Lagares, who was seemingly stranded on base in every inning, followed Granderson with a two RBI double expanding the lead to 4-0. 

There were other highlights tonight other than Harvey. Lagares had a great game going 3-5 with two doubles and two RBIs. Michael Cuddyer‘s knee looked healthy scoring a run from second on Ruben Tejada‘s sixth inning RBI single. He also had an eighth inning stolen base. He also looked alright in the OF. 

There was some bad news. First, Lucas Duda missed the game with a stiff back. Second, Michael Conforto sat showing Collins’ is going to platoon him (exactly why he should’ve been sent down). 

On another note: over the years, Mets fans have been hard on Collins. Much of it was justified. However, he was never as bad as Walt Weiss has been these past two games. 

Earlier in the game, he ordered Tejada be intentionally walked to bring up Harvey. In the sixth, with the game getting tighter, he had Chris Rusin try to pitch around him. Tejada was wise to him and knocked the go-ahead run to the right side. Also, in two straight games, he got stuck with Logan against a RHB. It didn’t burn him last night, but it did burn him tonight. 

Anyway, tonight was about Harvey, who is still getting better. That’s scary. On a personal note, I’d like to thank him for capping off a wonderful birthday with a tremendous pitching performance and a win. 

Dinner is Outback

I love steak. My steak of choice is the T-bone. I’ve been thinking of steak all day because: 1) I get to pick where we go out to eat tonight, and 2) David Wright‘s going to be a good guy and get steaks for the St. Lucie team:

https://mobile.twitter.com/whereskernan/status/630928401520566273

Ummm yeah. Outback isn’t exactly outdoing Michael Cuddyer’s chicken.  Outback is to steak like McDonalds is to Shake Shack. Sure, they’re both hamburgers, but one is in a different class than the other.  

I’m not one to spend someone else’s money, but I’m sure Wright and his $20 million could afford something better than Outback.  According to Yelp!, there are Ruth’s Chris Steakhouses within an hour of the ballpark. Now that’s a steak dinner. 

Before making his choice, Wright should remember that one day Dom Smith may one day be his teammate, and he may be preventing Wright from accumulating throwing errors. If Wright doesn’t go the Ruth’s Chris route, he can at least say he’s not providing steak, but rather he’s providing this: 

  
Now that right there is a reason to go to Outback. 

All kidding aside, I think it’s awesome Wright is buying the minor leaguers dinner. Minor Leaguers notoriously make little money, so I’m sure this meal is welcome. Also, this will give them some additional time to pick his brain to see what it takes to be a great major league player. 

Seemingly, Wright has nothing to gain from this, and this is what makes it such a great gesture. With all the negativity going on in and out of the world of sports, it’s great to hear a story like this. It makes it easier to root for Wright. It’ll be better rooting for him when he’s back in New York. 

Hello Reyes My Old Friend

Last night, Jose Reyes returned to Citi Field . . . again. This is the third jersey Reyes has worn at Citi Fiels since Sandy Alderson informed him the Mets weren’t interested in resigning him. 

Reyes hasn’t killed the Mets since he left. In 22 games against them, he’s only hit .229/.298/.325.  Last night, he went 1-4 and was picked off of first base. However since his departure, the Mets have been unable to resolve their SS situation. We were reminded of this as Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] played SS twice (is he becoming Bartolo Colon’s personal SS?) and Ruben Tejada, who was terrible in the field on Saturday, played once against the Rays. Overall, since Reyes left the Mets after the 2011 season, here are the Mets’ SS by games played (as per Baseball Almanac):

  1. Ruben Tejada – 281
  2. Omar Quntanilla – 168
  3. Wilmer Flores – 125
  4. Ronny Cedeno – 27
  5. Justin Turner – 10
  6. Jordany Valdespin
  7. Eric Campbell – 2
  8. Wilfredo Tovar – 1
  9. David Wright – 1

This is why I begged the Mets to bring Reyes back to New York. It would at least end the pattern of: 1) give Tejada the job; 2) Tejada over exposed or not able to play SS everyday; 3) look for another poor solution and repeat. It’s insane that Quintanilla has played the second most games in the above list. 

The Mets are in first place right now with a SS problem. The job, yet again, belongs to Tejada. As the information shows, it won’t be for long. This is why I hope the Mets make a move for a SS prior to the August 31 waiver trade deadline. I really hope that player is Reyes. I know we’re stuck with Tejada. 

Are the Mets All-In?

Rarely, if ever, do you see the Mets go all-in on a season. In fact, the only time I remember it happening was 1999 when Steve Phillips traded everyone to try to improve the team after just missing out on the playoffs in 1998. 

Watching that 1999 team was probably the most fun I had watching baseball. With that season came so many highlights including the Al Leiter two-hitter in the Wild Card play-in gamePratt’s All Folks, and the Grand Slam Single. The season ended cruelly with Kenny Rogers . . . . 

If you remember, that year the Mets gave away Jason Isringhausen for Billy Taylor.  As we know Taylor had no regular season impact and was left off the playoff roster.  It also saw Octavio Dotel get called up too soon and stay in the majors too long to the tune of a 5.38 ERA. He was warming in the bullpen when Kenny Rogers . . . .

This year, the Mets are seemingly all-in like they were in 1999. They gave up their two best prospects who have not appeared in the majors this year. In exchange the Mets received two and a half months of Tyler Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes, who is leaving as a free agent. Because of deplorable offense, Michael Conforto was rushed to the majors, and the Mets won’t send him back down

Look, I understand going all-in. It led to a run in 1999, and to a certain extent 2000. However, in order to go all-in, you don’t hedge your bets. 

For starters, that means ending the innings limits nonsense. First of all, the underlying theorem was proven incorrect. Second, the rotation is set up nicely the rest of the year if it’s left unadulterated. Third, Steven Matz must go to the bullpen upon his return from the DL. 

If the Mets make the playoffs, he will be in the bullpen anyway (if he makes the postseason roster). He can be like the 2006 Adam Wainwright or the 2008 David Price out there. This will help him and the Mets. If you put him in the rotation, you mess up the rotation and you endanger the opportunity that Matz can be effective in the postseason as a reliever. 

If the Mets are truly all-in as their trades and treatment of Conforto suggest, Matz will be a reliever. If the Mets put him in the rotation and try spot starts or a six man rotation in September, then they should’ve sent down Conforto. You can’t go half way in being all-in. 

Let’s hope no matter what they do, it works out to their benefit. Let’s also hope we’re talking potential postseason roster moves instead. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, WILMER FLORES!