Curtis Granderson

Thor LEFT Out There

Way back when the Mets used to be good, an old friend and I would always lament these days games. It wasn’t just because we had to intermittently listen to the game on the radio, but it was also because odd things tend to happen to the Mets in weekday day games. 

I was reminded of that a few weeks ago with that bizarre game against the Padres. With the way Noah Syndergaard started the game, I was afraid of another one of those games. In the first he let up two solo homeruns. The Mets got him the lead in the bottom of the first, and he gave it away in the third. 

It looked like this was going to be a high scoring game, and Thor would be lucky to get through five. The Mets upheld their end of the bargain by scoring 12 runs. The Rockies wouldn’t score past the third for a 12-3 final. Amazingly, Thir finished with five strikeouts, 2 walks, four hits, and three earned runs in seven innings. Good for Terry Collins for sticking with him. 

This may not have been the game in which he had his most impressive stuff or control, but it might’ve been his most impressive game to date. It’s one thing to win when it’s all working. It’s another to have a rough start with less than your best stuff and still find a way. This is the type of game where you say he could join Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey in being considered an ace. 

Offensively, the lefties were hitting on National Lefthanders’ DayCurtis Granderson went 1-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and a three run homer. Daniel Murphy went 1-5 with a run scored and an RBI double. Kelly Johnson went 3-4 with a double, a home run, a run scored, and three RBIs. Michael Conforto went 2-3 with a walk and three runs scored. The only left not in on the action?  Lucas Duda, who missed his third straight game with his back injury

It was also great to see Juan Lagares hit a pinch hit three run homer. He’s been going well pretty lately. It’ll be great to see him continue because the Mets could use his glove in the field everyday. 

On another note, you have to admit you feel great about this team right now. I’m sure there are fans still scared from 2007 and 2008, but this team isn’t that team. Plus, the Nationals aren’t the Phillies. The Mets swept the Rockies and made them look like a last place team. The Rockies beat the Nationals two out of three. 

I’m not guarantee in a division title, but I think it’s fine to feel confident and enjoy these games. Don’t let bad memories stop you from enjoying these new ones. 

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. 

Rockies Limit Their Chance to Win

Lucky for the Mets, the Colorado Rockies are more serious about Innings limits than they are. In his second career start, Jon Gray stymied the Mets offense for six innings. The only damage against him was a Travis d’Anaud second inning homerun. 

Now there’s no shame in getting shut down by Gray. He was the third overall pick in 2013. He was rated the 13th best prospect by Baseball Prospectus. He is a prized prospect that left the game after 75 pitches in six innings. 

After Gray was pulled, the Mets offense finally went to work against Justin Miller. d’Anaud got it started with a single. Michael Conforto and Ruben Tejada walked around a Juan Uribe pop out. Curtis Granderson worked the count full and was hit by ex-teammate Boone Logan’s pitch to tie the game. Daniel Murphy then hit a two RBI single just past old friend Jose Reyes to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. 

The Mets seventh not only gave the Mets the lead, but it also gave Jon Niese the win. Niese was good tonight. He only allowed a fourth inning two run opposite field homerun to Carlos Gonzalez, who could hit anything out of the ballpark right now. Niese deserved the win, and the Mets got it for him with that rally. 

Tyler Clippard worked a 1-2-3 eighth. Jeurys Familia followed with a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 31st save. As long as the starters go seven and hand it to these two, there will be a lot less agora this year.
Now no matter what happens tonight in Los Angeles, the Mets will keep their one game lead in the loss column, and I can wake up in my birthday with a first place Mets team. 

Why Conforto Needs to be Sent Down Now

We all know Michael Cuddyer is about to be activated from the DL. As anticipated, he will return to a reduced role, which to his credit, Cuddyer is accepting. Mostly, it seems like Cuddyer will PH and play against tough lefties in place of Lucas Duda or Curtis Granderson

What we don’t know is who is getting sent down to make room for Cuddyer: Eric Campbell or Michael Conforto. Sandy Alderson has made overtures that Conforto may stay up with the team. That’s a mistake. 

The first reason is you’re looking to win now. Here is Conforto’s overall triple slash line: .222/.326/.389. I know it’s a small sample size, but with him being drafted last year, there’s not much more to go on. If he’s sent down, I anticipate, the Mets will replace him with Kelly Johnson against righties and Juan Lagares against lefties. 

Against righties, Johnson has a career triple slash line of .243/.330/.420. Against lefties, Juan Lagares has a career triple slash line of .279/.325/.419. Admittedly, these numbers aren’t great (or even that good). However, these numbers are better than what Conforto is putting up right now. Also, if Cuddyer is playing against tough lefties in place of Granderson or Duda, you know the Mets will also bench Conforto. 

The second reason is you’re going to have to send him down eventually. David Wright is beginning rehab games tonight. Whenever he’s ready to be activated (I’ll have update on this later), another player will have to be sent down.  At that time, we know it’ll be the winner of the Conforto/Campbell showdown from today. Wouldn’t it behoove the Mets to send down Conforto to work on things now while there are still AAA games left to be played?  Campbell is who he is.  Conforto will get better. 

We know Conforto will be called up in September when rosters expand. Would it be better to have him playing part time for two weeks or would it be better to get closer attention in the minors?  Kevin Long has to spend time with everyone now. Let Jack Voigt give Conforto work closely with Conforto. This way when Conforto returns he will be even better for the stretch drive and playoffs. 

The last reason is he’s still a prospect. I agree there is some value to sitting on a major league bench. However, I think there is value in playing everyday. He’s been on the bench for 11 games. If he gets sent down now and called up in September, he will sit on a major league bench for an additional 31 games. Does he really need the additional 20 games on the bench?  These are 20 games that can be spent playing and improving.  Let him improve. 

Overall, I’ve been really impressed with Conforto. So much so that I want the Mets to maximize his potential. His potential isn’t getting maximized on a major league bench. Let’s put the best team out there and let Conforto improve. 

It’s Just One Game

Take a breath and repeat after me: “It’s just one game.”

Yeah, but the Rays ended the Mets seven game winning streak. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets blew a three run first inning lead after a hard fought win last night killing all momentum. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets road record this year has worsened to 21-33. 

“It’s just one game.”  

Noah Syndergaard continued his bad pitching on the road. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Nationals won tonight with a strong start from Stephen Strasburg, who just came off the DL. 

“It’s just one game.”

The Mets have Bartolo Colon going tomorrow against Chris Archer. 

Okay, you’re getting to me a little, but “it’s just one game.”

The Nationals have Max Scherzer going tomorrow, and the Mets only have a one God lead in the loss column. 

Ummmm . . . “it’s just one game?”

Ruben Tejada wasn’t good in the field AGAIN.

You’re right. I agree the Mets need a SS, but really all tonight was about was one loss. We can’t make it more than it was . . . even if some evidence points otherwise. 

Let’s look at some positives. The bullpen was good tonight, after having some missteps recently, especially Sean Gilmartin. Curtis Granderson continues to hit well. Also, it’s great that so many Mets fans attended the game that the Rays had to remove the tarps to open up additional seating. 

So yes, a 5-4 loss is tough especially when your young and budding ace seemingly takes a step back in only going four innings. It’s tough giving a game back in the division to a team like the Nationals, who just got a huge piece back. 

However, it’s a legitimate pennant race. It’s supposed to be fun. I know I get too caught up in the game to game nonsense. One day it looks like the division is a lock; the next it looks like all this trades were all for naught. 

Even if Colon and Tejada are playing tomorrow, I’m still excited. I hope you are too. Even if they lose tomorrow and the Nationaks win, just remember “it’s just one game,” and the Mets can bounce back tomorrow. 

Cespedes Will Leave for Greener Pasture$

I don’t understand who came up with the rumor that Yoenis Cespedes could resign with the Mets. It’s not going to happen. I don’t care that he said:

Keep in mind, the Tigers are optimistic the can resign him:

https://mobile.twitter.com/BNightengale/status/627222615459958785

The thing is Cespedes has said he wants to stay with the Mets and Tigers long term. You know where he really wants to go?  The same place every player wants to go . . . the team that offers him the most money. Think about it. Why would a Cuban defector want to go to Oakland?  It’s because they offered the most money. How much does Cespedes want?  Think big:

https://mobile.twitter.com/marccarig/status/628735472664227840

Even if this is what it’ll take to resign him, the Mets need to agree to that deal within five days after the World Series. My impression is if the Mets do offer it, Roc Nation will shop it around and get a better deal for Cespedes. 

Keep in mind the Mets didn’t magically become flush with cash. They’re actually going to have to pay David Wright next year. I can’t imagine the Mets going from asking the Athletics (twice) and Braves to kick in money on a trade and then spending like drunken sailors next year. 

Also, the Mets have a pending logjam in the outfield next year. Curtis Granderson will be making $16 million. Michael Cuddyer will be making $12.5 million. Juan Lagares will be making $2.5 million. Michael Conforto has already found his way to the majors and may be in the mix next year. Plus, Brandon Nimmo is not far away. 

They’ll have to move someone to make room for Cespedes, and they won’t have enough time to do it. They’ll also have to determine what to do with Daniel Murphy, who is a free agent. I think the Mets might’ve initially been inclined to let him walk. However, with the second base uncertainty and David Wright’s back, they may look to bring him back. 

So, Mets’ fans need to enjoy Cespedes now because he won’t be back. Hopefully, he will get a bump in salary after a good postseason, maybe even a World Series title.  That is our best case scenario. 

Outta Hand

Now, we’ve seen these Mets for the past 50 plus seasons. They face a spot starter, emergency starter, or rookie pitcher, and they struggle at the plate. Tonight, it was Brad Hand. 

Personally, I knew the Mets were in for a tough night when I saw Angel Hernandez on the mound. For the uninitiated, the Mets have a history with him. This is mostly because he’s a bad umpire. 

Luckily, Jon Niese pitched very well. He kept this team in the game while they struggled against the 1-2, 5.12 ERA Hand.  In fact, the Mets didn’t score until Adam Conley came in the game. It took a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] double and nice slide (good job by Niese directing him where to slide) to tie the game on the Ruben Tejada single. 

For the second time this year, Eric Campbell bailed out Terry Collins for some questionable moves. Collins had Flores bunt with two on and no out in the eighth. Flores popped out [polite applause], and Tejada couldn’t deliver. Campbell then got the go-ahead bloop hit, right over the outstretched hands of Hechavarria, scoring Lucas Duda.  Juan Lagares gave some breathing room with a two run RBI triple. The rally ended with a Curtis Granderson RBI double, which stretched the lead to 5-1. 

Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia had a bumpy eighth and ninth respectively. However, they didn’t give up a run. 

Despite winning this game, Collins’ decision making was very questionable. Look, I know I’ve been the one pounding the drum that Terry Collins has been using the platoon system; however, you cannot use it to sit Michael Conforto. When he was called up, the Mets took on the responsibility of playing him everyday. If he’s not going to play everyday, they should bring up Darrell Ceciliani. 

No matter what the Nationals do tonight (they’re currently tied at three in the eighth), the Mets will remain in sole possession of first place. Just don’t tell Bryce Harper. 

Did the Mets Just Duda That?

On Friday at 3:00 P.M., things were about as bleak as it could be this season. The Carlos Gomez trade fell apart, and there seemed to be bickering as to whether it was due to Gomez’s hip or the Mets’ finances. On Thursday, the Mets’ bullpen inexplicably blew a six run lead

Then it seemed the Mets would add Jay Bruce until they didn’t. It sure looked like the Mets were never going to add a bat. Worst yet, the Nationals were coming into NY after previously taking 2/3 from the stud muffins. This was a Nationals team that went 15-4 against the Mets last year. 

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes. The attention around the Mets changed from despair to hope. This hope continued to grow throughout the weekend. 

On Friday, it was a dominant Matt Harvey and an emotionally satisfying Wilmer Flores’ walk off homerun. On Saturday, it was the Lucas Duda Fireworks Show. Tonight, Thor was once again the story. Thor went eight innings with two two earned and nine strikeouts. 

Thor made the homerun barrage in the third to stand up. On back-to-back pitches, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy homered. After Cespedes’ first hit as a Met, Duda capped off the five run inning with a homerun of his own. Tyler Clippard, in for Jeurys Familia (who pitched two days in a row), recorded his first save as a Mets. 

The Mets have flipped the script. They swept the Nationals and are now tied for first place in the NL East. I’m so excited that I’ll ignore they’re one behind in the loss column. The Mets are now 38-18 at home. Surprisingly, they’re 7-6 against the Nationals this season.  

The Mets are in a dead heat with the Nationaks and have six head-to-head match ups with them. They have an easy second half schedule. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Mets are in the driver’s seat in the NL East. We’ve waited seven years for this, and so far, it’s been worth the wait. Lets Go Mets!

Lucas Duda Provides the Fireworks

In case you didn’t know, Lucas Duda made sure you knew tonight was Fireworks Night. I told you Duda is awesome

His first homerun broke up the no-hitter. The second homerun let deGrom off the hook. deGrom deserved to be let off the hook too. He didn’t have his best stuff, and he was fighting it all night. However, he gave the team six solid innings, allowed only two runs, and gave the team a chance to win. Duda took advantage of that chance. 

As if the two homers weren’t enough, Duda also doubled in Curtis Granderson in the eighth. In this inning, we saw the impact of Yoenis Cespedes’ presence in the lineup. After Granderson’s double and Daniel Murphy grounded out to the pitcher, Cespedes was intentionally walked. Before tonight there was no one in the Mets’ lineup who would’ve merited that. Instead of now feeling pressure to be the entire offense, Duda was able to relax and deliver . . . and boy did he deliver. 

After Hansel Robles shut the door in the right and Duda single-handedly carried the offense to a 3-2 lead, Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut in the ninth. This looked like the Familia of the first half. 

My only qualm tonight was the lineup. It looked like Terry Collins was still drunk from celebrating last night’s win and the Cespedes acquisition. I know we all love the Wilmer Flores’ story, but this is a pennant race, and you need to field your best team (even if he almost hit a HR). That team has an outfield alignment of Cespedes in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Juan Lagares in center, and Granderson in right. The only time you want Kelly Johnson in RF right now is when he’s signing autographs before the game. 

Luckily, this didn’t hurt the Mets. Also, it was good to see Collins put in Lagares late for defense.   It was better to see Duda’s offense and Familia’ dominance again. It’s even better to be a game out with Noah Syndergaard tomorrow. Lets Go Mets!

Thor is the Story

There was a lot of stories and distractions today around the Mets. First, there were fans clamoring for the return of Jose Reyes. Then the Mets made it clear they had no interest in Reyes. Next, David Wright resumed baseball activities. Finally, Jenrry Mejia embarrassed Major League Baseball, the Mets, and himself with his second PED suspension THIS YEAR!

Noah Syndergaard took the mound Tuesday night and made himself the story. He was perfect through six innings, and he finished with an incredible line of 8.0 innings pitched, 9 strikeouts, 3 hits, and no walks. 

After Thor allowed the first single to potential trade target Will Venable, he allowed an infield single to Yangervis Solarte. On the Solarte single, Ruben Tejada tried to do too much. Rather than smother the ball, he tried a glove flip to Daniel Murphy to try to get the force out. Instead of a Web Gem, Tejada nearly put the ball into right field. Venable advanced to third on the play.  It was 2-0 with runners on first and third with no outs. 

Thor then threw down the gauntlet (sorry comic book fans if this is mixing metaphors). He got Matt Kemp to pop out and induced Justin Upton, another trade target, to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Despite having only thrown 107 pitches, Thor was lifted after eight innings (perhaps due to the innings limit dilemma). Tyler Clippard made his Mets debut and worked his way around a leadoff double. 

After this inning, I finally put my son to bed. Growing up, there was a rule in my household: bed time was suspended until a Mets’ pitcher allowed their first hit. The longest bed time reprieve I remember was David Cone losing a no-hitter on a dribbler down the third base line that refused to go foul. I knew my son wouldn’t remember seeing Thir pitch a perfect game, but I would remember watching it with him. That would’ve made it all the more special maybe next time. 

When setting today’s lineup, Terry generally followed the platoon system. With the righty Shields on the mound, Collins went with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Daniel Murphy. However, after his walk-off hit on Sunday, Juan Uribe was in the lineup. It should be noted that coming into the game Uribe had gone 2/5 with one walk and a triple against Shields. 

My belief is that this is the Mets’ best defensive infield alignment. Incredibly, Murphy was the defensive star of the game making two nice defensive plays whe the no-hitter was still viable. 

Kudos is also due to Lucas Duda, who hit a mammoth two run homerun in the first inning. It appears the pressure is off and the power is back. His other outs were hard hit balls. Curtis Granderson put the game away with a two run homerun in the eighth. 

However, the story of the game and th day was Thor, who pitched like an ace. It seems the stud muffins are pushing each other to be better. It’s incredible, and it’s the type of thing that drives a team towards the postseason.