Brandon Nimmo

Mets Put Up No Challenge

This matchup was supposed to be Justin Verlander versus his heir apparent Noah Syndergaard. Instead, we got to see more of the struggling Syndergaard. 

In the first, Ian Kinsler would steal second and third off the battery of Syndergaard and Rene Rivera. He would then score on a Miguel Cabrera RBI ground out. 

Kelly Johnson gave Syndergaard and the Mets a 2-1 lead with a two run home run off Verlander in the fourth. That 2-1 lead would have been good enough for Syndergaard a couple of months ago. However, this diminished bone-chipped version of Syndergaard would give the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth. 
First, he allowed a long two run home run to Victor Martinez. The Tigers would continue the rally scoring another run on a James McCann RBI single. It should be noted that it was J.D. Martinez who scored on the play after doubling to right field. 

Jay Bruce made a strong throw to second, but Matt Reynolds laid down an awkward tag. Still, Reynolds held the tag on Martinez. Replays would show Martinez came off the bad, but Terry Collins would not challenge. Martinez would score later making it 4-2. It would prove to be the deciding run in the game. 

Syndergaard would make it through six innings throwing 112 pitches. His pitch count rose in part because he has issued a 10 pitch walk to Nick Castellanos and a nine pitch walk to Victor Martinez. It is indicative of Syndergaard’s location being off. Syndergaard’s final line was six innings, seven hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts. 

In contrast to Syndergaard, Verlander wouldn’t struggle. He dominanted the Mets over six innings allowing four hits, two runs, two earned, and one walk with nine strikeouts. Those nine gives him an American League leading 164 on the season. 

The Mets offense only mustered four hits until the ninth. The team had gone 0-3 with runners in scoring position. Even if you were to claim Verlander was that dominant, it does not explain why the Mets couldn’t do anything against a Tigers bullpen that entered the game with a 4.18 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP, and a .266 batting average against. 

Former Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez would come on and survive a Mets rally in the ninth. Neil Walker had a leadoff single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and to third on a Bruce ground out. He scored on a James Loney ground out ending the rally. The final score was 4-3 with the deciding run being scored Martinez, who would have been out if Collins challenged the play. 

Yet again, the Mets have failed to win back-to-back games. They haven’t done so since July 6th – July 7th. The Nationals won moving the Mets back to nine games out in the division. The Cardinals and Marlins are leading in their games. And, oh yeah, Gary Apple is terrible. 

Game Notes: Today’s game of center field musical chairs had Brandon Nimmo in center, Alejandro De Aza in left, and Curtis Granderson at DH. Michael Conforto sat even though it was a right-handed pitcher on the mound. 

Mets Bullpen Blows It Against the Fire Sale Yankees

With Brandon Nimmo being the guy almost traded away in the Jay Bruce trade, he was supposed to be the guy who hit the big homer tonight. In the second inning, Wilmer Flores reminded us all that it was his schtick:

The homer gave the Mets a 1-0 lead they would relinquish in the fourth inning on a Logan Verrett wild pitch allowing Didi Gregorious to score from third.  The Mets would fall behind 3-1 in the fifth. Brett Gardner doubled to right hitting the side wall permitting Rob Refsnyder to score from first.  Gardner would come around to score on a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI single. 

The Yankees should have been up by more, but Gardner killed a first inning rally with his legs:

The final line for Verrett would be five innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, three walks, and two strikeouts. 

The Mets got one back in the bottom of the fifth featuring their two young left-handed outfielders. Nimmo pinch hit for Verrett. He didn’t get his homer, but he hit a single to start a rally. He came around to score on a Michael Conforto one out RBI double off CC Sabathia. It was Conforto’s first ever regular season extra base hit off a left-handed pitcher. Conforto only got the chance because Justin Ruggiano was forced to leave the game with an injury. 

That set the stage for Matt Reynolds in the sixth. 

Flores led off with an excuse me infield single off Yankees reliever Richard BleierTravis d’Arnaud, who was not traded for Jonathan Lucroy, hit an opposite field single. d’Arnaud quietly had a good night going 2-5 with a run scored. That run scored would be on an absolute bomb off Reynolds’ bat giving the Mets a 5-3 lead. 

The Mets would lose the lead with Terry Collins getting a little too cute in the eighth inning. 

With two lefties leading off the eighth, Collins turned to Jerry Blevins to start the inning. Blevins allowed a leadoff walk to Gardner before striking out Ellsbury. Collins then turned to Addison Reed, who is traditionally poor with inherited runners.  He was again tonight. 

Brian McCann greeted Reed with a single sending Gardner to third. Ronald Torreyes would take second on a wild pitch.  Gregorious would have a terrific at bat flaring a single into left field scoring both Gardner and Torreyes tying the game at 5-5. It was the first run Reed has allowed since June 23rd. 

Jeurys Familia struggled himself in the ninth. He couldn’t get a feel for the strikezone, and he was giving d’Arnaud a workout spiking his sinker. He was completely bailed out by Curtis Granderson who chased down a ball by the right field line flat of robbing Aaron Hicks of an extra base hit and possibly an RBI. 
Familia navigated his way out of the inning despite allowing the one out walk to Austin Romine. Romine stole second with Familia not paying him any attention. Romine could’ve taken third as d’Arnaud skipped it past Reynolds and into center field, but Romine didn’t notice it in time. Despite all that, Familia bore down and get out if the inning. 

Seth Lugo, the last man in the bullpen, wouldn’t be as lucky. He issued a four pitch walk to Ellsbury, and Mark Teixeira beat the shift with an opposite field single. Ben Gamel laid down a sac bunt Lugo fielded. However, he would reach safely as Rene Rivera, who was double switched into the game, somehow directed Lugo to go to third. Lugo couldn’t get the speedy Ellsbury at third. He would later score on a Starlin Castro sac fly to make it 6-5. 

That set the stage for new Yankee closer Dellin Betances. He was greeted with a Loney double, and he would move to third on a Reynolds sac bunt. It would take a home run to score Loney from third on s fly ball to the outfield. You’re also giving an out to Betances, who is a great reliever. 

Alejandro De Aza was then hit by a pitch. He took off for second on a Rivera ground out to Betances. Betances froze Loney and got Rivera at first. Granderson would then strikeout to end the game. The sac bunt was a strange move at best. 

It was an ugly 6-5 loss helped again with some odd late game Collins decisions. 

Game Notes: Steven Matz pinch hit for Erik Goeddel in the sixth, and he drew a pinch hit walk.  He was needed to pinch hit as the Mets were playing short due to trades, Yoenis Cespedes being unable to play with his quad injury, and the Mets refusal to DL Asdrubal Cabrera for one reason or another. 

Brandon Nimmo Is Going to Homer Tonight

Last year, the Mets seemingly had a trade in place for Carlos Gomez sending Citi Field abuzz, or in this day and age, I should say a-twitter.  Apparently, the only person who was unaware that a trade happened was the Mets manager Terry Collins who kept a crying Wilmer Flores in the field.

As we would subsequently discover, the trade would fall apart due to Gomez’s hip.  As a result, Flores and Zack Wheeler would remain New York Mets.  In the next game Flores would play, he would do this:

Today, Brandon Nimmo finds himself in a similar situation.  He was supposed to be part of the trade that sent Jay Bruce to the Mets.  As one of the Mets minor leaguers in the trade failed a physical, the deal had to be reworked.  The resulting deal was the Mets sending Dilson Herrera to the Reds instead of Nimmo.

As we saw with Wilmer Flores, the only possible result to this fiasco is Nimmo hitting a game winning home run tonight to beat the New York Yankees.

Mets July 2016 Report Card

The Mets entered June six back of the Nationals and a half a game ahead of the Marlins for the second Wild Card.  After a 13-13 month, which was their first month at or above .500 since April, the Mets find themselves 6.5 games back in the NL East race behind both the Nationals and the Marlins.  They not only trail the Marlins in the NL East race, but they are 2.5 games behind them for the last Wild Card spot.  The Mets have also fallen behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card race as well.

Bear in mind, these grades are on a curve. If a bench player gets an A and a position player gets a B, it doesn’t mean the bench player is having a better year. Rather, it means the bench player is performing better in his role.

Position Players

Travis d’Arnaud (D). It has been more of the same for d’Arnaud in July, and as such, the Mets were forced to inquire on Jonathan Lucroy at the trade deadline.  On the bright side, he began to hit for some power hitting two home runs.

Kevin Plawecki (F). Plawecki was sent down to AAA, and he began hitting like everyone else in the Pacific Coast League.  The jury is still out on him.

Rene Rivera (B+).  While his defense has dipped a bit, Rivera has been absolutely raking.  He has clearly benefitted from facing left-hand pitching.  Still, he’s here to be the defensive backup, and he hasn’t been as great as he has been in year’s past.

Lucas Duda (Inc). He missed the entire month with his back injuries, and no one knows when or if he will be able to return in 2016.

James Loney (B). Loney has continued to hit, but his power numbers have regressed to the mean.  He still can’t hit lefties a lick.  Furthermore, his defense hasn’t been great.  His error in the Rockies game helped lead to a loss.

Neil Walker (C).  He was actually hitting worse in June than he had been in May and June, which is saying something.  He was even briefly benched by Terry Collins.  Then he woke up in the Rockies series, and yesterday he hit a home run that just might turn his and the Mets season around.

David Wright (Inc.).  Wright is not going to play again in 2016 due to the neck surgery.

Asdrubal Cabrera (C). Cabrera started out hot to start the month, but he cooled off.  As a result, he put up similar numbers that he did in May and June.  On the bright side, he did break his 0-32 streak with runners in scoring position.  He had a nasty injury yesterday that threatens to end his season early.

Wilmer Flores (B+).  Flores has continued to rake putting up numbers at an unprecedented.  This month he hit seven homers.  He has benefited greatly by mostly facing left-handed pitchers.  The Mets will need his versatility all the more as injuries mounted during the month.

Eric Campbell (Inc.) Campbell did not play in a game during the month, and the Mets are not likely to call him up again until rosters expand in September.

Matt Reynolds (Inc).  Reynolds only played in one game during the month before getting sent down to AAA.

Ty Kelly (Inc).  Kelly did not play in the majors during the month of July, and his 40 man roster spot appears tenuous.  If the Mets make a move for a position player, he will likely be the first to be removed from the roster.

Michael Conforto (C+)  After an initial hot streak when he came back up, he has cooled off, possibly in part to Terry Collins giving him inconsistent playing time again, and possibly in part to him having to learn center field and right field on the fly given Cespedes’ and Lagares’ injuries.  For what it’s worth, he has handled both defensive positions well.

Yoenis Cespedes (B+). While his power numbers have decreased with his injured quad, he has become more patient at the plate putting up a season high .392 OBP in July.  His power is still there with a .530 SLG; it’s just that those balls are doubles now instead of homers.  His injury has hurt the team as he can no longer play center.

Curtis Granderson (C-). Granderson had his second worst month of the season hitting .235/.337/.410, and he is not playing right field at the Gold Glove level he played it last year.

Juan Lagares (D). It turns out Lagares just couldn’t play through the torn ligament in his left thumb hitting .160/.263/.300.  He has shut it down, and he is going to get surgery to repair the problem.

Alejandro De Aza (A+). De Aza had an amazing month of July .300/.500/.531. As you can plainly see, he’s hitting everything including lefties.  It speaks a lot about both him and the Mets that he was their best offensive player during the month.

Brandon Nimmo (B-).  In 13 games, Nimmo was showed signs he could be a major league player in the near future in his two stints with the Mets.  Overall, he hit .229/.325/.314 with one huge home run.  For some reason, even with the gap in center field, Collins still refuses to let him play there.

Jose Reyes (C)  Reyes quickly acclimated to third defensively as he appeared to have been a very good defender at the position for years.  At the plate, he had some uncharacteristically good power numbers while struggling to get on base with a .239/.278/.493 batting line.  He has been unable to hit righties doing most of his damage against lefties.  He is currently on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, and it is unknown when he can return.

Justin Ruggiano (Inc). The Texas Rangers AAA castoff has played in only two games for the Mets going 1-4.

Pitchers

Matt Harvey (Inc).  Harvey only made one start in July before the Mets finally discovered he has thoracic outlet syndrome which may explain the struggles he has had all year.  Harvey had season ending surgery, and he will hopefully return in 2017.

Jacob deGrom (B+).  In a month where the Mets needed someone to step up, degrom heeded the call posting a 3-1 record with a 2.27 ERA including his first shutout.  However, he did have a clunker against the Marlins who are now ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.

Noah Syndergaard (B). Syndergaard has lost some velocity and movement on his pitches since it was discovered he is dealing with a bone spur in his pitching elbow.  For the month, he was a respectable 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA.  The main cause for concern is his walks have gone up.

Steven Matz (C-). Matz has been clearly bothered by the bone spurs, but he is starting to learn how to pitch effectively with him.  He rebounded from a terrible June to post a 1-4 record with a 3.19 ERA.

Bartolo Colon (D-). Aside from one good start in the second end of the double header against the Cardinals, Colon has had a miserable month with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.347 WHIP.

Logan Verrett (B-). Verrett was thrust into the starting rotation with the Harvey season ending injury.  He has performed well enough as a starter going 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA and 1.240 WHIP that the Mets did not feel compelled to go out and get a starter during the trade deadline or call up a pitcher like Gabriel Ynoa to take his place in the rotation.

Jeurys Familia (C-) Familia was walking a tightrope for a while with his struggling command, and he finally blew two saves in back-to-back appearances that were just devastating.

Addison Reed (A+).  In 13 innings, only five people reached base against him, and none of them scored.

Jim Henderson (Inc).  Henderson is still on the disabled list, and he suffered a leg injury during his rehab stint.  There is no telling when or if he will be able to return.

Hansel Robles (A+). When the Mets were looking for a veteran seventh inning reliever, Robles just went out there and took the job.  In 10 appearances he was 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA.

Jerry Blevins (A).  Aside from his last game when he had a minor hiccup, Blevins had a terrific July allowing just two hits and one earned run in 13 appearances.

Antonio Bastardo (F). Bastardo seemed to be slowly turning things around in non-pressure situtations.  However, as we saw Carlos Gonzalez launch one near the Shea Bridge, Bastardo cannot be relied upon in any game that is remotely close.

Rafael Montero (Inc.) Didn’t pitch in the majors in June as he’s been demoted to AA.

Sean Gilmartin (Inc.)  Gilmartin is on the seven day disabled list with a shoulder injury.  There is no timetable for his return.

Erik Goeddel (F).  Goeddel really struggled in the month of July posting a 6.10 ERA in 11 appearances.

Seth Lugo (B) He was electric in this first three appearances even making Anthony Rizzo look silly by striking him out with a curveball that hit Rizzo’s foot.  He has been solid since then, but he has come back to earth a bit.  For the month, he has a 2.60 ERA and a 0.968 WHIP.  He would be helped by getting regular work.

Terry Collins (F). While it could be argued he has been dealing with an injury plagued roster (he has), Collins still does not make sound decisions on a day-in and day-out basis.  For the man who said, the Mets couldn’t be in a position to both win-now and develop players like Conforto, he has managed to do neither.  He also seemingly alienated his players at the All Start Game.

The RISP Issue

Time and time again, we have all seen the Mets fail to get a base hit with a runner in scoring position.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Mets woeful .207 team batting average with runners in scoring position is the worst in all of Major League Baseball.  It is 53 points lower than the .260 league average and 89 points lower than the St. Louis Cardinals .296 team batting average with runners in scoring position.  It gets worse.  The Mets have a .288 team OPB with runners in scoring position, which is again the worst in the Major Leagues.  This is 49 points lower than the league average .337 OBP with runners in scoring position, and it is 90 points lower than the St. Louis Cardinals league leading .378 team OBP with runners in scoring position.

At this point, what usually follows is a debate between traditional fans and fans that follow more of a stats based approach.  Traditional fans believe hitting with runners in scoring position is a real skill set, and if a team is unable to hit with runners in scoring position, a team will be unable to score runs.  Stat based fans will tell you hitting with runners in scoring position isn’t an actual skill, and like anything else, everything tends to regress to the mean.  Regardless of your point-of-view, all fans tend to subscribe to the back of the baseball card concept wherein players tend to play to their seasonal averages on a year-in and year-out basis.  With that common ground in mind, here are how the current Mets players have fared with runners in scoring position along with the amount of times they have come up this year with a runner in scoring position:

Player PA 2016 Career
Asdrubal Cabrera 70 .180 .256
Eric Campbell 19 .125 .168
Yoenis Cespedes 70 .254 .301
Michael Conforto 56 .250 .256
Travis d’Arnaud 24 .182 .224
Alejandro De Aza 23 .050 .294
Lucas Duda 34 .185 .235
Wilmer Flores 41 .297 .270
Curtis Granderson 73 .274 .242
Kelly Johnson 50 .214 .261
Ty Kelly 10 .111 .111
Juan Lagares 21 .158 .271
James Loney 37 .281 .302
Brandon Nimmo 11 .200 .200
Kevin Plawecki 30 .240 .274
Jose Reyes 8 .167 .285
Matt Reynolds 12 .250 .250
Rene Rivera 31 .259 .235
Neil Walker 75 .254 .276
David Wright 38 .226 .293

* Kelly Johnson’s stats includes his 2016 stats from his 49 games with the Braves this year

While much of the ills of the season has been pinned on Campbell, Kelly, and Reynolds, the three of them have combine for only 41 plate appearances with runners in scoring position.  To that end, another scapegoat, De Aza, has not hit whatsoever with runners in scoring position.  These four batters have combined for 63 plate appearances which is still less than the plate appearances the either Cabrera, Cespedes, Granderson, or Walker have had individually this year.

Of that group, Granderson is the only batter who is hitting well with runners in scoring position.  In fact, he is the only one who is hitting higher than his career average with runners in scoring position.  Considering the fact that Cabrera has not gotten a hit with a runner in scoring position since April, it should be no surprise that he is the biggest culprit of the group.

The one encouraging sign is that most of these Mets players are underachieving with runners in scoring position. If these players finish the rest of the year producing at the rate they have done throughout their careers, this Mets team will start to score many more runs. 

 

Baseball Needs to Implement a Seven Day Disabled List

All Alejandro De Aza and Eric Campbell jokes aside, how many times has this Mets team played a game with a full 25 man roster at its disposal?  Given the fact that Hansel Robles had to serve a two game suspension to start the season, it didn’t even happen on Opening Day.

There have been several occasions where Mets players have gotten nicked up forcing the Mets to make the decision of whether they should play with a short-handed roster for a few games or whether they should put that player on the disabled list.  Time and again, the Mets have understandably gone with a short roster as it is better to be without an important player for a game or two rather than being without an important piece for a 13-15 game stretch.  With the Mets in a tight race for one of the two Wild Cards and them trying to claw their way back into the race for the National League East race, they do not want to lose a player like Yoenis Cespedes for two weeks even as he is now clearly hobbled out there with his right quad injury.

Instead, the Mets will put Cespedes in left field hoping that he can manage his injury while Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto, who had struggled in part to due a wrist injury that required a cortisone shot, try to hold down center field in the interim.  Keep in mind this isn’t the first time that Cespedes has been nicked up this year.  Earlier in the year, he was dealing with a hip issue that sapped him of some of his power.  The Mets tried to give him a day here and there, but ultimately, they had to run him out there as he is the most important hitter in that lineup.  Cespedes isn’t the only Mets player who dealt with injuries the Mets tried to navigate without a disabled list stint.

With Conforto and De Aza struggling in June, the Mets tried to avoid putting Juan Lagares on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his left thumb as the team needed his defense and his bat in the lineup.  Asdrubal Cabrera has played much of the season with a knee injury that has troubled him since Spring Training.  There was a stretch where Robles pitched through a sprained ankle.  Steven Matz has the bone spurs in his elbow, and he could clearly benefit from a little breather to give his arm a bit of a break.

Putting teams in a position where they have to play with short-handed rosters is not good for the team.  It’s not good for baseball or its fans. Regardless of your favorite team, when you sit down to watch a game, you want to see two teams at their best face-off. But that doesn’t always happen. Part of the reason is the current disabled list rules are antiquated.

The current disabled list system has been in place for 26 years. In 1990, MLB had added a 60 day disabled list to go in conjuction with the already existing 15 day disabled list. It replaced a system that had been in place for 24 years to reflect how baseball had changed.

And baseball has changed since 1990 especially with the banning of amphetamines and other PED substances. Whether true or not, it seems players get nicked up a little more frequently than they did a decade or so ago.

With that in mind, baseball should shorten the disabled list from 15 games to seven games. It should be noted baseball already has a seven day disabled list for concussions. It should be further noted there is a seven day disabled list in the minor leagues.

Speaking of minor leaguers, those players aren’t getting as much of a chance with the current 15 day disabled list. Right now, the Mets are trying to navigate through Cespedes’ quad injury while a player like Brandon Nimmo is playing in AAA. If there was a seven day disabled list, the Mets might be more inclined to utilize it so their best player could get healthy. It would give the Mets a full 25 man roster at their disposal. It would make them a better team, which in turn, would make for a better product for the fans to watch.

All that would need to happen for fans to see a better product is for baseball to implement the seven day disabled list.  It already exists for concussions and the minors. It should be in place for all of baseball regardless of injury.

Mets Biggest Trade Deadline Acquisition 

Now that the All Star Game has come and gone and the non-waiver trade deadline two weeks away, Major League Baseball is in full pennant drive mode. Teams are assessing their needs and targeting the players who could fulfill those needs. Given the state of the Mets offense, the team needs a bat more than anything. Fortunately for them, they don’t need to go outside the organization to acquire that player as the team is recalling Michael Conforto

If Conforto is the player he is supposed to be, the player we’ve seen glimpses of, it’s doubtful any team could add a player who will have the impact he could have on the Mets. 

When Conforto was called-up last year, he hit a respectable .270/.335/.506 with nine homers and 26 RBI in 56 games. Extrapolating that over a full 162 game season, Conforto would’ve had 26 homers and 75 RBI. Seeing Conforto over the course of the second half last year coupled with his play in the postseason, that seemed like it was his floor. 

Conforto’s April seemed to justify everyone’s high expectations. Conforto jumped out of the gate hitting .365/.442/.676 with four homers and 18 RBI. He was on pace to hit 29 homers and 133 RBI. Those numbers may seem unrealistic in a player’s first full season, especially for a player who never played in AAA, but they didn’t for Conforto. He was that good of a hitter. 

Conforto forced Terry Collins to move him up to the third spot in the order. He was clearly the team’s second best hitter behind only Yoenis Cespedes. Conforto was well on his way until disaster struck. 

From May 1st on, Conforto would hit .148/.217/.303. He would only get eight hits in his last 75 at bats.  Everyone had a theory as to what happened. Some blamed the platoon system getting him out of a rhythmn. Others thought the game Madison Bumgarner dominated him and the rest of the Mets lineup got into his head. There was also the cortisone shot he needed in his wrist and his falling into bad habits at the plate. Whatever the case, he all but forced the Mets hands, and he was demoted to the minor leagues. 

To his credit, Conforto put the work in he needed to down in AAA, and he has seemingly returned to the player he was; the player we all thought he could be. During his first ever stint in AAA, Conforto hit .344/.420/.623 with three homers and 15 RBI in 16 games.  While his manager Wally Backman did sit him against two lefties, Conforto did get at bats against lefties going 6-16 with three walks and four RBI. More importantly, Conforto got back to being more patient at the plate and using the whole field more. 

Additionally, Conforto played some games in right field thereby giving Collins’ more outfield alignment options, which should hopefully ensure Juan Lagares never again steps foot in any position other than center field.  It should also help Collins figure things out with Cespedes stating he needs to play more left field with his injured quad. 

Overall, Conforto has done what he needed to do in the minors. He’s ready to come back. He’s coming back at the right time too with Cespedes’ balky right leg and  Brandon Nimmo struggling. 

Conforto should be an even bigger boost to the Mets than he was last year. In fact, given what we’ve seen, given what he’s capable of doing, he will help the Mets more than any player any team adds to their major league roster prior to the trade deadline. 

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsmerizedonline.com

First Half Mets Minor League Offensive Leaders

Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are either at or have already had their All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league hitter named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:

Class A – Columbia Fireflies

Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets

AA – Binghamton Mets

AAA – Las Vegas 51s

Organizational Leaders

  • AVG: T.J. Rivera LV (.348)
  • OBP: Vinny Siena COL & STL (.413)
  • SLG: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
  • OPS: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
  • R: Travis Taijeron (61)
  • H: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (107)
  • 2B: Travis Taijeron LV (35)
  • 3B: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (11)
  • HR: Johnny Monell LV (14)
  • RBI: Travis Taijeron LV (69)
  • SB: Champ Stuart STL & BNG (26)

* stats are updated through July 13, 2016

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net

 

Highlighting Terry Collins’ Poor First Half

With homefield advantage on the line and the Mets in playoff position, Terry Collins managed the All Star Game like seemingly every other manager has previously managed the All Star Game.  He put more of a premium on getting all the players in the game than winning the game.  Well, everyone except his own players Jeurys Familia and Bartolo Colon.  Other than the Mets players apparently being upset at this, it is hard to criticize Collins for how he managed the All Star Game.  Still, there are many managerial decisions Collins has made in the first half of the season that invite scrutiny.

First and foremost, there is the way he handled Michael Conforto.  First, he didn’t let him get any time playing right field in Spring Training.  The end result of that was Collins putting Juan Lagares in right and Yoenis Cespedes in center on days that Curtis Granderson was given the day off.  There really is no excuse for putting Lagares, possibly the defensive center fielder in the game, anywhere but center.

The other mistake is not letting Conforto hit against lefties until Madison Bumgarner took the mound.  Collins was hampering his development by doing that.  At the end of the day, this is the Mets best position player prospect, and in many ways, he was the second best hitter on the team.  Collins was willing to sacrifice all that to get Lagares’ bat in the lineup instead of sitting an older Granderson who had the very platoon splits that worried Collins.  By the way, Granderson is also 35 years old and could use the occasional day or two off.  Conforto’s season began to fall apart, and he needed to be sent down to AAA.  By the way, Collins is making the same mistake with Brandon Nimmo.  However, it’s even worse with Nimmo as he’s doing it to get Alejandro De Aza‘s bat in the lineup.

While on the topic of developing players, Kevin Plawecki has faltered for yet another season under Collins’ tutelage.  Last year, there were a number of excuses why Plawecki didn’t succeed from his being rushed to the majors to his sinus issues.  This year, he had no such excuses, and he still didn’t produce.  While Plawecki deserves a large amount of the blame, Collins certainly deserves some of it, especially when his position with Conforto is that he is not here to help players develop as major leaguers when the Mets have a win-now team.

Another major issue this year was Collins’ handing of Jim Henderson.  Henderson was a feel good story that turned into a potential nightmare.  The day after Henderson threw a career high 34 pitches, which is puzzling in its own right, Collins used Henderson to pitch in the very next game.  He did it despite knowing that Henderson needed to be handled lightly due to his having two shoulder surgeries.  He did it even after watching what happened with Johan Santana.  Collins knew all of this, and yet he used Henderson in that spot as he said an April 13th game, the eighth game of the season, was deemed to be a must win game.  Henderson’s production fell off after that, and now he is on the disabled list.

There was also his handling of Noah Syndergaard.  Last year, the Mets wanted to initiate a six man rotation to alleviate some of the early innings Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom pitched early in the season.  The idea was to both keep them healthy and keep them fresh for the length of the season.  To be fair, Collins use of Syndergaard in any one particular start has not been egregious.  However, it was curious how he shoehorned Syndergaard into a relief appearance after Syndergaard was ejected throwing at Chase Utley.  The Mets had an opportunity to rest their ace until his next start.  Instead, Syndergaard got the adrenaline going and was ramped up in a relief appearance on his throw day.  By the way, in Syndergaard’s last start his fastball velocity dropped to 91 MPH, and he left the game with a dead arm.

Speaking of how he is handling pitching, it is amazing that Collins took part in talking Steven Matz out of opting for season ending surgery to address the bone spurs in his elbow that has clearly hampered his pitching.  Not only was Collins willing to risk Matz suffering a more severe injury, he’s also willing to put a limited pitcher on the mound every fifth day.  Keep in mind that since the bone spurs became an issue, Matz has been 0-3 with a 5.05 ERA and a 1.430 WHIP.  His slider usage has dropped from 13% to 3% of the time.  It’s always troubling when a manager doesn’t protect his players.  It’s even worse when he doesn’t protect the young injured ones.

There is also the curious drop in production this team has had since May 1st.  Here’s how some of the Mets best hitters have fared since that point:

April Since
Curtis Granderson .241/.347/.471 .238/.335/.453
Neil Walker .307/.337/.625 .232/.318/.345
Asdrubal Cabrera .300/.364/.400 .249/.305/.435
Michael Conforto .365/.442/.676 .148/.217/.303

Now, there are many factors to this including some of these players getting nicked up a bit.  There’s something to be sad for the natural ebbs and flows of a season as well.  There should be some note about the injuries to the players surrounding them.  However, with all that said, these players have had a significant drop off in production under Collins’ watch.  Whether it was helping them make adjustments and finding days for them to get the rest they needed, Collins didn’t do that as their manager.

There have been other issues dealing with Collins in-game management that could be highlighted as well.  To be fair and balanced, it should be pointed out that Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, Matt Reynolds, and Rene Rivera have played far more games than the Mets ever wanted or expected them to play.  It’s hard to expect a manager to win under those circumstances.  It should also be noted that there were significant injuries to David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Matt Harvey which have further weakened the Mets.

Through all of that, Collins still has the Mets in a position to make the postseason.  If he makes better decisions, and the Mets begin playing better, they should be in the postseason, and with that pitching staff, they still have a legitimate chance to return to the World Series.

Terry Collins Repeating his Michael Conforto Mistakes with Brandon Nimmo

With the Nationals starting a left-handed pitcher in Gio Gonzalez, Terry Collins was going to start Juan Lagares no matter what.  On the one hand, Collins will tell you he wants Lagares’ bat in the lineup against lefties.  In reality, Collins just doesn’t trust young left-handed hitters against left-handed pitching.

With that in mind, when Collins filled out the lineup card yesterday, he had Lagares in center, Curtis Granderson in right, and Alejandro De Aza in left.  Collins started De Aza despite the fact that De Aza entered the game hitting .181/.252/.276.  He started De Aza despite the fact that De Aza is a career .235/.299/.350 hitter against lefties.  Looking at these numbers and just how poorly De Aza has played this entire year, Collins decided to start De Aza.  In a shock to no one, De Aza was 0-3 on the day in a game that the Mets lost 3-2.  There is really no justification for this decision other than the unsupported notion that Nimmo can not hit lefties.

Before his call-up, Nimmo was hitting .338/.338/.500 in 74 at bats against lefties.  Given these stats, it’s fair to assume that Nimmo would be a better bet to hit a lefty than De Aza would.  However, Collins isn’t willing to give him the chance.  He would rather hamper a player’s development and stick with a veteran who has already proved he cannot do the job.  It’s the same thing Collins did last year with Michael Cuddyer and Michael Conforto.

Last year, Cuddyer was just a shell of himself.  He needed core muscle surgery.  He had a knee injury that plagued him all year.  Through all of it, Cuddyer hit just .259/.309/.391.  It was a far cry from the career .277/.344/.461 career hitter he was.  Despite Cuddyer showing he no longer could play up to the level he once could, Collins decided it was better to play him against lefties than it was to play the rookie Conforto who was hitting well in the majors.  Collins made this decision despite the fact that Conforto was hitting .333/.414/.490 against lefties in AA.  Still, for whatever reason Collins could conjure, he determined that Conforto was not able to hit lefties at the major league level.  The idea got so stuck in his head that Collins followed the same plan coming into this season.

Then suddenly it happened.  Conforto was no longer able to hit left-handed pitching he had not seen in quite a while.  In 2016, Conforto hit .091/.128/.091 in his 44 at bats against lefties this season.  This would then become part of a greater overall issue where Conforto stopped hitting all together.  The seminal moment was the time Collins actually let Conforto hit against a lefty.  In true Collins’ fashion, the lefty he chose was Madison Bumgarner.  Conforto would go 0-5 on the day.  He then went into a prolonged slump that saw him hit .148/.217/.303 over his next 44 games.  In that span, Conforto went from hitting .365/.442/.676 on the season to hitting .222/.296/.431.  The Mets were all but forced to send him down to the minors and call-up the left-hand hitting Nimmo.

Sure enough, Collins is repeating the same mistakes with Nimmo as he did with Conforto.  Last year, it was to get Cuddyer at bats.  This year, it is to get De Aza at bats.  It didn’t make sense then, and it makes less sense now.