In 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers went all-in. They traded their best prospects for CC Sabathia. They rode him hard down the stretch. They were doing everything to make the playoffs. They even fired their manager with 12 games left in the season. It might’ve been reactionary to a late losing streak. It might’ve been a response to their current manager being over his head.
Before continuing, I feel it’s important to note that Terry Collins is a good man. I also need to note, Collins should be commended for holding this team together when the season was seemingly falling apart. However, this is a different roster. There are different stakes.
The first issue is the lineup construction. Here’s last night’s lineup with their OBPs for this year and their career:
- Curtis Granderson .352/.340
- Yoenis Cespedes .328/.318
- Daniel Murphy .332/.333
- David Wright .377/.377
- Kelly Johnson .303/.330
- Travis d’Arnaud .348/.310
- Michael Conforto .360
- Ruben Tejada .331/.328
- Pitcher’s Spot
Note, I gave Johnson’s numbers against RHP because he’s being used as a platoon player. Due to the small sample size, I gave Conforto’s total OBP even though he’s a platoon player.
This lineup doesn’t make sense. You want higher OBP hitters ahead of the big bats. That’s why Cespedes should hit cleanup with Wright batting second. Wouldn’t you rather have Wright on base for one of Cespedes’ “Feats of Strength“? The answer is yes. It makes sense. Look at it this way: if Wright is going to single or double and Cespedes is going to hit a homerun, in which order would you like that to happen?
Now, I’ve heard the argument that the Mets have won seven in a row scoring a lot of runs; why change anything? My first response is that’s not a good reason. Just because the Mets scored a lot of runs doesn’t mean you couldn’t have scored more runs with a better lineup. My next response is you beat the two worst teams in the NL in their bandbox ballparks. They’re one and two in most runs allowed in the NL. OF COURSE YOU’RE GOING TO SCORE RUNS!
My other problem with Collins is the in-game strategy. He’s had some problems this season, but last night was a new low. It’s like he didn’t know you could double switch. When Logan Verrett could’ve given multiple innings with a short bullpen and no Tyler Clippard, Collins didn’t double switch him into the game. As a result, Verrett went one inning and was pinch hit for as we was due up second. This led to some more odd decisions.
With Sean Gilmartin due up third in the tenth, and Collins wanting multiple innings from him, he let Gilmartin bat even though he still had Wilmer Flores [standing ovation], Juan Uribe, and Anthony Recker on the bench. By the way, they never entered a game in which two relievers got an AB.
Then in the same inning it was so important to have Gilmartin in, Collins brought in Carlos Torres. I can’t imagine any situation in which it was alright for Gilmartin to bat and that includes his .400 batting average. The Mets won despite Collins’ terrible managing. Could you imagine if that happened in October against a much better team? The Mets probably won’t be as lucky as they were last night.
Look, Collins has done a nice job here. He was handed a thankless job, and he did a good job. In most seasons, the Mets outperformed their expectations. A few times, they were competitive to the point where we actually considered that they may make a deadline trade. Now, they have a real roster, and they may need a better manager.
The problem is who becomes the next manager. No, it’s not Wally Backman. You don’t turn to someone with no major league managerial experience now. I think the answer is Bob Geren. He has prior managerial experience, and he’s the bench coach. It would be a smoother transition.
Now, I understand if people want to keep Collins. As I’ve said, he has some positive attributes. However, if your reason is you want to keep the status quo because things are working now, I can’t agree with you. You make decisions to try to win the World Series, not seven games against bad baseball teams.
Seriously, when people are now advocating for Collins to be named the Manager of the Year, we should really be talking about if a change is necessary. When Collins can’t double switch and lets his relievers bat with good options in the bench, the time for a switch may have arrived.
The hallmark of a good team is to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The Mets have now taken that to the extreme with their 12-1 record so far this year against the Phillies. The Mets had to overcome a lot tonight, including their manager.
It didn’t start well for the Mets. Jon Niese was getting squeezed and frustrated. Then in the third inning he imploded. He allowed five runs putting the Mets in an early hole. Before the All Star Break, you couldn’t have counted have counted on the Mets scoring five runs in a week, let alone one game.
However, the Mets now have a more completed. It showed as they overcame the five run deficit. In a month where the Mets have hit more homeruns in any other month in their history, the Mets used the long ball to get back in the game. In the fourth, Travis d’Arnaud hit a two run homer. In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes showed off his “Feats of Strength” with a two run homer. Finally, Kelly Johnson tied the game with a solo homerun in the fifth. It should be noted none of these three players were on the 25 man roster during the extreme offensive struggles in July.
Both Niese and Aaron Harang would go six making it a battle of the bullpens. It was nice seeing Logan Verrett in the bullpen. However, I didn’t like how he was wasted. Terry Collins should’ve made a double switch with Verrett due up second. It made sense because Verrett can go multiple innings, especially with a short bullpen.
Instead, Verrett only went one inning. This set up an inning where the Phillies got a chance to get a measure of revenge against Hansel Robles. They failed. Jeff Francoeur was robbed of an extra base hit on a diving stop by David Wright, who was good in the field today. Darin Ruf struck out again. Otherwise, Robles navigated around a one out double to get out of the inning.
Then in the ninth, Terry Collins went with Sean Gilmartin over Jeurys Familia. If Collins felt it was the right move because he needed a reliever to throw multiple innings, then he should’ve double switched when Verrett was in the game. Forget that: he should’ve double switched when Gilmartin came in the game because he was due up third in the tenth. If he was waiting for the save situation, it’s no excuse. You don’t risk losing a game without bringing in your best reliever.
I think the answer might’ve been Collins wanted multiple innings from Gilmartin because HE LET GILMARTIN HIT FOR HIMSELF! That’s inexcusable. The double switch is National League Managing 101.
Torres was brilliant. He pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, and he got the game winning rally started in the 13th. After he reached, Curtis Granderson singled in a tough AB. With one out Daniel Murphy came up in the same situation he did in the 11th. This time instead of hitting into a rally killing double play, he would hit a two RBI double down the left field line.
Murphy moved to third on the throw, and he scored when Wright reached on an error. Wright would score on a Michael Conforto RBI single. The rally was ended by Ruben Tejada, who, somehow, was the only Met not to get a hit in this series played in this bandbox. Familia came in to close out the game with the final score of 9-5. Its funny seeing Torres bat for himself in the 13th, but not pitch in the inning. It’s a good thing Collins saved him for the save situation that never arose.
It was a good win even if it was poorly managed. Again, Collins is making me nervous. I’ll enjoy the win even if I didn’t enjoy Collins’ very suspect managing.
Well, it wasn’t always pretty, but he responded with seven innings of shutout ball. He was in trouble in the first. He was aided by a double play in the first inning, but he gets credit for inducing the ground ball. There was trouble again in the fourth, but he fought through that as well. After that, it was fairly smooth sailing. Maybe he was inspired by the pregame Backstreet Boys concert? Whatever it was, the Mets desperately needed it.
Unlike Thor yesterday, he was able to hold onto his three run lead. It started in the first inning with a misplayed ball off the bat of Curtis Granderson. The Mets cashed in with a Daniel Murphy RBI ground after Granderson moved to third on Yoenis Cespedes‘ infield single. Cespedes would score on Michael Cuddyer‘s RBI double. The first inning scoring would end with a Michael Conforto RBI single.
These early runs would prove important as young Phillies starter, Jerad Eickhoff, would settle down after that. The Mets would not score another run off of him. However, as he surpassed 40 pitches in the first, he was only able to go six innings.
The Mets were able to add three more runs off of a putrid Phillies bullpen. In the sixth, Juan Uribe singled home Conforto. In the eighth, Cuddyer hit a two run homerun making the score 8-0. It should be noted again that Cuddyer is healthy and contributing.
Then in the eighth, the Mets sowed off their own putrid bullpen options. I don’t care if it’s a 20 run lead, you don’t let Eric O’Flaherty pitch to righties. He did. He couldn’t get them or the lefties out. He left with two down, runners on first and second and one already across home plate. Carlos Torres came in and promptly allowed a two run double.
Here’s where I think Terry Collins is starting to get better. He said enough of this nonsense and brought in Tyler Clippard. Clippard allowed an RBI single to Frenchy, but he then struck out Darnell Sweeney to put an end to the nonsense leaving the score at 6-4.
In the ninth, the Mets then did something good teams do. They tacked on a run by taking advantage of a mistake. When Juan Lagares reached on an E-6, Granderson moved him to third with a hustle double. When the sweep tag was applied, the ball dislodged from the second baseman’s mitt. An alert Lagares scored easily from third.
Cespedes then knocked in Granderson with an RBI triple. Cespedes then scored on a Murphy sac fly. Just like that the score was 9-4 removing the save situation permitting Collins to save Jeurys Familia. In place of Familia would be Clippard, who got to bat in the ninth, to permit him to record the four out save.
It should’ve been a surprise to no one that David Wright didn’t play. He’s not quite ready to play everyday, so I have no problem easing him back (pun intended). I’m shocked Logan Verrett did not pitch. There were multiple spots to use him in the eighth. He could’ve been used in the ninth to give Clippard a blow. Him not being used tonight makes me nervous. Very nervous.
What I’m getting less and less nervous about is the division. With the Nationals loss, the Mets are now up 6.5 games with six head-to-head match ups remaining. The Nationals no longer have their own fate in their hands.
Sometimes it’s hard to get a read on what Terry Collins is doing with the lineup. Even with all the moves, Collins has stuck by Curtis Granderson. He’s been the leadoff hitter for a majority of the season. Only recently, he has moved him down in the lineup against lefties. In those scenarios, he’s gone with his preference of leading off Juan Lagares and batting Granderson second.
There’s a lot of merit to moving Granderson lower in the lineup. For his career, he has a triple slash of .223/.293/.397. That’s terrible especially when compared to his triple slash line against righties of .270/.356/.505. These splits are even more pronounced this season with .159/.202/.253 against lefties and .286/.388/.524 against righties. In sum, he’s great against righties and terrible against lefties.
Now, Michael Cuddyer has had a rough first year with the Mets similar to Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and seemingly every free agent signing the Mets have ever made. Regardless of the rough year, he’s has a triple slash of .240/.293/.623 against lefties. Surprisingly, these numbers are worse than his numbers against righties. For his career, Cuddyer hits lefties to the tune of .288/.376/.494.
The only other option would be Michael Conforto, but the Mets don’t seem inclined to permit him to play against lefties.
Now here’s where Sabermetrics come into conflict with the need for a player to have the faith of his manager and the clubhouse. For the season, Granderson is hitting .257/.348/.459. It’s much higher than what he’s hitting against lefties, but it’s also considerably lower than what he’s hitting off of righties. What we don’t know is what his numbers would be if he only batted against righties.
We don’t know if playing everyday keeps him sharp. We don’t know if having the faith of his manager and team helps propel his terrific numbers against righties. Fact is, there’s a lot we don’t know about managing and running a team. It’s easy for me to say Granderson must sit against lefties, but I don’t know the full impact of that decision.
What I do know is that Granderson is having a good year, and the Mets shouldn’t do anything to mess this up. If Granderson needs to play everyday, let him play everyday.
Today is the day David Wright comes off the DL. We know he will play 3B. We don’t know much more than that.
Actually that’s not entirely true. We know Curtis Granderson will hit leadoff except when there’s a lefty in the mound. Then Juan Lagares will hit leadoff. We also know Terry Collins wants Wright batting second. We know there’s a platoon system. I also assume we know the pitcher is batting ninth. I also assume Collins will try to alternate lefties and righties in the lineup. We’ll see later today, but I presume the lineup against righties would look like this:
- Granderson RF
- Wright 3B
- Murphy 1B
- Cespedes CF
- Johnson 2B
- d’Arnaud C
- Conforto LF
- Tejada SS
Against lefties, the lineup may look like this:
- Lagares CF
- Wright 3B
- Murphy 2B
- Cespedes LF
- Granderdon RF
- Cuddyer 1B
- d’Arnaud C
- Tejada SS
Of course, Collins likes to tweak it here and there to get Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] some ABs. I can also see him batting Granderson second against lefties with Wright third and Murphy fifth. I also assume Anthony Recker bats eighth when he plays.
Anyway, with the rough time Collins has been having, it’s hard to completely judge how he’ll map up the lineup. This is especially evident with him batting Juan Uribe cleanup. With Wright only playing four games in a row, there will be plenty of chances to do that. Overall, the challenge is not just setting the lineup, but it’s also keeping everyone engaged. Furthermore, it’s about keeping Wright healthy.
When Lucas Duda comes BACK, there will be some real challenges getting ABs for Uribe and Johnson. If argue the real challenge them would be making sure Collins doesn’t give them regular ABs and let the best players play.
On August 10th, with Michael Cuddyer coming off the DL, the Mets had to decide whether to send down Eric Campbell or Michael Conforto. It seemed both would have to be sent down anyway. Most believed that when David Wright came off the DL, the other player would have to be sent down to AAA.
I thought it should’ve been Conforto for many reasons. Principally, I thought if you’re going to have to send him down anyway, why not do it sooner to let him really work on some things in AAA where he can get more focused attention. In his infinite wisdom, Mark Simon basically said that we should worry about the second move when the time comes:
It turns out he was right. No one should be surprised because he’s a smart guy and a fantastic follow. Anyway, he’s right because things are a little haywire with the Mets right now.
The bullpen is a mess right now. Logan Verrett was initially called up to take Bobby Parnell‘s spot in the bullpen. In reality, he was called up for one short relief appearance on his throw day and to make a spot start on Sunday so the team can skip Matt Harvey‘s Sunday start.
With the bullpen being short, the Mets decided they needed to call-up Dario Alvarez. I don’t know much about him. I’m not putting much stock in his performance last year. It was a small sample size. However, he was ranked as the Mets #22 ranked prospect. After a good start in Binghampton, he moved to Las Vegas where he’s been dominant with a 1.08 ERA, a 0.60 WHIP, and 16.20 K/9. This may turn out to be a great decision especially since Alvarez is a LHP.
Now, the Mets need to make a make room for Alvarez. Throughout the game on Friday, Gary Cohen suggested it would be Conforto. With him having to go down on Monday and the Rockies throwing a LHP on Saturday, meaning Conforto wouldn’t play, it seemed to be the right move. Then, as Mark Simon said, things began to work themselves out.”
First, Bartolo Colon was hit on the wrist and has a large bump there. It was severe enough that it merited getting an x-ray. Luckily, it’s not broken, but Colon said it did affect his pitching. He doesn’t want to have to skip a start, but I’m not ruling it out at this point. At some point, the Mets may need to consider putting him on the DL.
Speaking of the DL, Lucas Duda had to be pulled from the game with an aggravation of the same back injury. According to Adam Rubin, it may be Duda who winds up on the DL. It should be noted with the Mets not putting Duda on the DL when the problem first arose, they got a PH appearance, two games at DH, and six full innings at 1B. If he was initially placed on the DL, he would’ve been ready to come back on August 28th. Presumably, he would’ve been in better shape and not susceptible to a relapse. Instead, the Mets will get three games from Duda between August 13th and September 6th. Yet again, they’ve botched an injury situation.
With Duda presumably going to the DL, Conforto gets a reprieve. I wish the Mets would let him bat against lefties. It doesn’t make sense that they don’t, especially when they let Curtis Granderson do it. However, that’s another argument to re-hash at another time.
Let’s hope Colon and Duda get better. Let’s hope Conforto begins to produce better than his .224/.333/.448 triple slash line. Let’s hope Alvarez is effective. Mostly, let’s hope the Mets start reacting better to player injuries.
I’ve made it well known that I don’t think Bartolo Colon is a good pitcher anymore. Normally, I’d be apoplectic over his giving up seven earned in 3.2 innings.
Actually, you know what? I am apoplectic over it. Look at the photo. They had to ice and rub him just to get him out there. If you were watching it on TV, you saw that bump on his wrist get bigger and bigger. He should’ve been taken out when he was hit on the wrist in the second inning.
I don’t care if you’re one of the stud muffins or a bad 42 year old pitcher, the team does not have the right to put a player out there and risk significant injury. I’m even more incredulous because the Mets have a short bullpen and want to skip Matt Harvey‘s Sunday start. Also, if the Mets want a six man rotation, I’m certain that included Colon and not Logan Verrett.
Lucky for the Mets, Yoenis Cespedes unleashed his “Feats of Strength.” He went 5-6 with a stolen base, double, three homeruns (one grand slam) and seven RBIs. Two homers were to CF and the other went to RF. it would’ve been 6-6 if not for a terrific running catch by Carlos Gonzalez in the ninth. Going into the ninth, Cespedes had a chance for the HR Cycle (solo, two run, three run, grand slam). The Murphy SF took care of that. He was also a triple short of the cycle. Car-Go’s catch took care of that.
The rest you need to know? the six inning, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto hit solo homeruns off former Met Gonzalez German. Sean Gilmartin was marginally effective and got the win. Hansel Robles wasn’t good, but he only gave up one run. The Mets added an insurance run in the eighth with a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] RBI double scoring Cespedes (who else?). Daniel Murphy would knock in the last run with a ninth inning sacrifice fly. Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia locked down the eighth and ninth to secure the 14-9 win.
It’s funny with everything going on tonight, the thing that threw me for a loop was seeing Jose Reyes bat second. The only other person not to put Reyes in the leading spot was Jerry Manuel. That’s not good company for Walt Weis.
Overall, my favorite part of the night was in the top of the sixth. Despite burning a challenge earlier in the game, Walt Weiss came out to challenge a safe call on a Curtis Granderson stolen base attempt. It was a little ironic because the early failed challenge involved Granderson throwing out Nick Hundley at the plate to end the fifth inning. I think the umpires got the call wrong even if it was upheld on replay.
Anyway, Walt Weiss has no challenges left. It doesn’t stop him. The umpires went forward with the replay, which did confirm the call. Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez were livid and rightfully so. There were a few times I thought Keith was going to drop an expletive. In this mess of a game it gave me a chuckle.
The win gave me a smile. I have a huge grin due to the Nationals loss, and the Mets expanding their lead to five games.
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’ Day. Curtis 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.
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.
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.