Jose Reyes

Teixeira Gets the Last Laugh

After tonight’s loss, the only person angrier than Mets fans was fake tough guy Mark Teixeira

In an interview earlier in the year with Carton and Governor Chris Christie, he admitted he would never charge the mound, but he sure is good at pulling a hissy fit.  

He would then have a very late slide into Neil Walker because sliding late into a defenseless player is tougher than being a man and facing off against Steven Matz.

It’s hard to imagine Matz throwing at Teixeira even though Teixeira hit a three run homer off of him in his prior at bat to break a 3-3 tie. Matz hadn’t had pinpoint control since he’s been dealing with the bone spurs, the ball was at Teixeira’s feet, and it was an extra base runner with the Mets trailing. In this pennant race, the Mets need all the wins they can get, and they’re not sacrificing games to exact revenge on a .195 hitter. 

Regardless, the Mets should not have been in that position. They were tattooing Yankees starter Chad Green starting with Curtis Granderson delivering the keynote address:

  
It was his 18th leadoff home run with the Mets breaking his tie with Jose Reyes

Granderson has a terrific night going 1-3 with two runs, one RBI, three walks, and a home run. The rest of tur a Mets offense?  Not so much. 

Wilmer Flores was halfway to a Joe Torre (four GIDPs in one game) by the third inning. He killed a first inning bases loaded rally by grounding into an inning ending double play. In the third it was only runners on first and second when he grounded into his inning ending double play. 
In the second, it was Walker who killed a rally with a double play. Given the amount if base runners were left on base, you knew it was going to come back and haunt the Mets. The Mets should’ve score much more than three runs in the first three innings, but what else is new?  

The team was 2-12 with runners in scoring position including Michael Conforto striking out in a big spot in the seventh when he represented the tying run, and Granderson had scored a run on a James Loney ground out to make it 6-4. He was amongst the biggest culprits of the night as six different Mets would leave multiple men on base:

  1. Neil Walker (2)
  2. Yoenis Cespedes (5)
  3. Jay Bruce (3) 
  4. James Loney (2)
  5. Michael Conforto (5)
  6. Wilmer Flores (5)

Between that and Matz allowing six earned over six innings of course the Mets weren’t going to win this one. 

To make matters worse, Teixeira would get the last laugh.  He got into Hansel Robleshead with Robles thinking Teixeira was stealing signs. Robles lost his concentration and his cool leading to a Starlin Castro infield RBI single to Robles. No, Asdrubal Cabrera doesn’t make that play. 

After an uncharacteristically poor performance, Robles was pulled while Teixeira and the third base coach were laughing at him. After Josh Edgin walked in a run against Didi Gregoriousthe only batter he faced, there would be three runs charged to Robles making it 9-4. 

That’s where it would remain as Luis Severino came on and shut down the Mets allowing one earned on one hit and one walk with five strikeouts in 4.1 innings. Walker would homer off Tyler Clippard in the ninth to provide some window dressing in a 9-5 loss. 

With Daniel Murphy going off again for the Nationals, the Mets are a season high 8.5 games out of first place. 

Game Notes: Bruce is now 0-8 with one walk and three strikeouts to begin his Mets career. Despite Collins’ you hit you play philosophy, Alejandro De AzaTravis d’Arnaud, and Matt Reynolds would sit. Cespedes shot an 83 before the game, and he would go  1-5 with two strikeouts in the game. 

Trading Dilson Herrera Was a Bad Idea

Coming into the season, the Mets were high on Dilson Herrera, and they viewed him as the second baseman of the near future.  It is why the Mets let postseason hero Daniel Murphy walk, and they eschewed other long term free agent options to trade for Neil Walker who was a year away from free agency.  However, the Mets made it perfectly clear they were willing to forego Herrera as the second baseman of the future if the right player came along.  That is why the Mets doggedly pursued Ben Zobrist in the offseason.  For the right piece or for the right price, the Mets were going to move on from Herrera to make the team better.

It is just hard to believe that player was Jay Bruce.

There is a lot to like about Bruce.  He is a traditional slugger who is leading the league in RBI.  He has a very affordable team option.  He is insurance against Yoenis Cespedes missing an extended period of time this year, and quite possibly insurance against him leaving in free agency.  He also helps with a sluggish Mets offense and with the Mets inability to hit with runners for scoring position.  He is also more of the same.

This is a Mets team full of low OBP, high slugging outfielders – Bruce, Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Conforto.  With the exception of Cespedes, all of the Mets current outfield options are left-handed batters.  What this team doesn’t have is a center fielder.  Currently, the best defensive center fielder on the team is Alejandro De Aza.  While he is the team’s hottest hitter and best defender, it is hard to imagine he is going to be an everyday player while the team sits one of Granderson or Conforto everyday.  In sum, Bruce is a nice offensive upgrade, but he doesn’t solve the teams problems.  With that in mind, it seems like Herrera was a steep price to pay for someone that doesn’t solve what ails the team.

It’s also selling low on Herrera in what has been a tough year for him.  Herrera has gone from a .327/.382/.511 hitter to a .276/.327/.462 hitter in AAA this year.  He has had nagging shoulder issues, and he has fallen into some bad habits at the plate.  It has been the first time the 22 year old has struggled at the minor league level.  However, given the fact that he is still young for his level, and the fact that his struggles are closely associated with an injury, there is every reason to believe Herrera will rebound and become the All Star second baseman the Mets envisioned he would become.  That is a steep price to pay for a duplicative player that does not solve the Mets problems.

We are just seeing it now with Michael Fulmer in Detroit.  Fulmer was the big time prospect the Mets traded last year.  He is the leading Rookie of the Year contender, and he is certainly in the Cy Young conversation with him going 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP.  With each and every dominant start, it is a stark reminder how much the Mets need him this year with Matt Harvey‘s season ending surgery and Zack Wheeler being well behind schedule to return to the rotation.  Overall, the idea behind trading Fulmer was to trade from depth to acquire a missing piece . . . a missing piece that was an imperfect fit.  As we see last year, the Mets supposed depth was an allusion.

Now, the Mets did trade from depth with Herrera.  Gavin Cecchini could move from shortstop to second, which now seems to be his destiny with the meteoric rise of Amed RosarioWilmer Flores could move over there next year.  The Mets could always re-sign Neil Walker or another free agent or make another trade.  Depending on David Wright‘s health, Jose Reyes could move from third to second.  There are any number of factors at play, but as we see again this year, the Mets can never have enough depth as this team seems more snakebitten than any other team in the majors.  With that in mind, the Mets are now less deep at second base, and they are quite possibly without their best second base option for next year.

The Mets traded away another big time prospect for another slugging corner outfielder.  Hopefully, Bruce will have a similar effect on the Mets as Cespedes did last year.  The Mets are going to need that type of performance to help them get back to the postseason.  They are going to need that type of performance to help Mets fans forget about the player they gave away in Herrera.

Juan Uribe Reunion Might Be Worthwhile

One thing that is lost when evaluating a player is their impact on the clubhouse. The one thing we all saw with Juan Uribe with the Mets last year was he was a great clubhouse presence. 

He was the guy who walked into the clubhouse, and he suddenly owned the place. He was blaring the Backstreet Boys on the stereo.  He felt comfortable joking around with everyone including Captain David Wright. He also was on hand to remind everyone that baseball is the greatest sport in the world. It takes a well equipped man to act this way, and as we found out this year, Uribe is that kind of guy. 

The two time World Series winner’s impact on the 2015 Mets was understated. He kept that team both loose and focused. He helped that team win the division and go to the World Series. Uribe was having a similar impact on the Indians’ clubhouse this year until his release:

The reason why Uribe was released is he hasn’t been very good this year hitting .206/.259/.332 with nine doubles, seven homers, and 25 RBI in 73 games. That matches the lackluster production he had with the Mets in 44 games when he hit .219/.301/.430 with nine doubles, six homers, and 20 RBI. Fact is, Uribe is a 37 year old player who shouldn’t be playing everyday, nor should he be relied upon to provide offense. What you want him for is his presence. 

The Mets also should want him due to their rash of injuries. 

The Mets have already lost Wright, Jose ReyesLucas Duda, and Asdrubal Cabrera to injury. No one can guarantee when or if any of these players can return. In the interim, the Mets have unproven, but playing well, Matt Reynolds at shortstop alongside hot hitting, but still susceptible to right-hand pitching, Wilmer Flores at third. The short bench makes the Mets play James Loney everyday despite him being unable to hit left-handed pitching. Additionally, the Mets are now carrying Ty Kelly on the bench. 

At a minimum, Uribe is a much better option off the bench than Kelly. Also, with his ability to play both second and third, he opens up some platoon options thereby allowing the Mets to maximize their offense against left-handed pitching (even if he’s been better against righties this year). 

Overall, given the current state of the Mets, Uribe is a viable option for the Mets. He’s even more attractive when you consider how valuable he is in the clubhouse. Once he’s available, the Mets should go out and bring him back for another World Series run. 

Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Merized Online

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.

Jonathan Lucroy & Jay Bruce Trades Won’t Fix the Mets

Last year, the Mets were coming off an absolutely brutal loss to the San Diego Padres on the eve of the trade deadline. As the team blew a 7-1 lead, it seemed like all hope was lost. 

However, the Mets front office didn’t share the same sense of diapair. They were active on the phones trying to improve a team that was three games behind the Nationals. They were a team who had an extremely weak August schedule. They were a team in the mend with Travis d’ArnaudMichael Cuddyer, and David Wright expected to return from the disabled list. 

It was a good team getting healthy facing a favorable schedule ready for a three game set at home against the first place Nationals. It was behind this backdrop that the Yoenis Cespedes trade happened. 

Seeing Cespedes hobbled out there is a stark reminder that this year is not last year. This is a Mets team that isn’t getting healthy. In fact, they’re falling like flies. Here is a list of the players currently on the disabled list:

  1. David Wright
  2. Lucas Duda
  3. Matt Harvey
  4. Juan Lagares
  5. Jose Reyes
  6. Jim Henderson

This does not include Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz who both have bone spurs in their pitching elbows that will need to be surgically removed in the offseason. 

This list also does not even include Asdrubal Cabrera who left yesterday’s game with what is initially being described as a strained patellar tendon. He seems as if he’s bound for the disabled list. With Cabrera going down, it will create another hole in not just the lineup, but with the defense. 

With Cespedes’ injury and Lagares’ surgery, the Mets are left scrambling to find a center fielder. They have tried Curtis Granderson out there, and after one game, the Mets saw enough. Against righties, the Mets have tried Michael Conforto in center, and he has held his own. Just recently, the Mets signed Justin Ruggiano, who was playing in AAA before being released by the Rangers.

With Cabrera injured and seemingly bound for the disabled list, it leaves the Mets scrambling to find adequate defenders at the two most important defensive positions. It will also mean Neil Walker, who has hit .234/.316/.343 since May 1st, will be the only starting infielder remaining from the Opening Day Lineup. 

By no means is Walker the only one struggling:

Curtis Granderson

  • 2015 – .259/.364/.457 with 33 doubles, two triples, 26 homers, and 70 RBI
  • 2016 – .234/.326/.431 with 16 doubles, four triples, 16 homers, and 29 RBI

Michael Conforto

  • 2015 – .270/.335/.506 with 14 doubles, nine homers, and 26 RBI
  • 2016 – .225/.303/.419 with 14 doubles, or triple, 10 homers, homers, and 30 RBI

Travis d’Arnaud

  • 2015 – .268/.340/.485 with 14 doubles, one triple, 12 homers, and 42 RBI
  • 2016 – .249/.290/.321 with five doubles, two homers, and 10 RBI

All across the diamond, the Mets are dealing with injuries, under performance, or both. According to Baseball Reference, the Mets have the lowest team WAR at shortstop, third base, and right field among National League teams in the playoff hunt. 

Further exacerbating the Mets struggles is their August schedule. There are the four emotionally charged Subway Series games along with series against the Tigers, Giants, Cardinals, and Marlins. There is s short West Coast trip. The combined record of their opponents is 416-369, which is good for a .530 winning percentage. With this schedule and the state of the Mets roster, things can fall apart quickly. 

In reality, neither Jonathan Lucroy nor Jay Bruce help these problems. They do not solve the defensive gap at short or center. They cannot heal the players on the disabled list. They cannot make the schedule any easier. No, the only thing they can do is to join the Mets and play well. 

However, if the Mets don’t get healthy or start playing better, there’s no point in adding Lucroy or Bruce. They don’t solve the Mets real problems, and they likely don’t put the Mets over the top. 

With that in mind, there’s no sense on buying at the deadline. You’re just purging prospects to help acquire players who will most likely not be difference makers. There’s also no sense to selling because this is a talented team that needs to find that next gear. 

With that in mind, as frustrating as it might be, the Mets best option might be to stand pat. 

Mike Piazza’s Number 31 Officially Retired

It was a muggy and rainy day that might’ve lead to the game being called on any other night. 

  
But they weren’t going to call this game as it was the night the Mets were retiring Mike Piazza‘s number 31. With the 31 inside a home plate mowed into centerfield, the Mets were ready, and nothing was going to stop the night. 

  
The ceremony was just about perfect with a video featuring Piazza standing at the spot home plate once stood at Shea Stadium 

  
We had to visit it after the game. 

Then Piazza would come through the Mets dugout that seemed to have most of the players there, and the crowd erupted. 

  
Every little touch was perfect from the aforementioned 31 in centerfield to his 31 prominently featured on the Home Run Apple. 

  

The video introducing him was spot on making sure to put an emphasis on his post 9/11 home run 

The only thing missing from the tribute was Mets fans giving him a curtain call after he homered off former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez

Speaking of former teammates, there was some surprise that there weren’t more of his old Mets teammates there. Frankly, I was shocked there was no John Franco, but you don’t know the scheduling issues that would prevent people from coming. For example, you know White Sox manager Robin Ventura would never be able to make it. 

You still didn’t notice it too much with who was there. There was old fan favorite Cliff Floyd. The best Mets second baseman of all time Edgardo Alfonzo.  The last player there was the first Mets pitcher Piazza ever caught, Al Leiter. Since leaving the Mets, Leiter was never treated properly by Mets fans for how great a Met he was, but on this day, he would be with a loud standing ovation. Then we finally saw the number unveiled:

  
 Piazza then had to speak. Many times, he seemed speechless at the outpouring of affection he received. Other times, Mets fans would not even let him speak during his speech:

Piazza honored everyone including the fans. He took in the moment as Mets fans did as well. His induction to Cooperstown was a coronation, but this was a celebration with 42,207 of his closest friends. There would be no roomfor booing as Piazza would remind the fans when he brought up the Wilpons. That’s the power of Piazza – he can get the fans to stop booing the Wilpons. 

He gave a poignant speech letting the fans know that for as long as his 31 hangs in Citi Field, he will be with all of us. As he parted, he tried to inspire everyone saying that whenever the team needs inspiration, they need only look up to left field and remember that old Mikey is with them. 

After he threw out the first pitch from home plate to Leiter, it was game time 

  
Yes, there were some jokes about Piazza not doing it to Alfonzo at second. The real joke was what followed. The team either didn’t listen or was too undermanned to draw from these inspirational words. 

The game itself. It was never going to match the beauty of that ceremony, but it didn’t need to be that ugly. The team never heeded his parting advice. 

Given how the Mets have been playing, and the lineup that was put out there, the loss was no surprise. The Mets starter AAA cast-off Justin Ruggiano in center, a reall defensively challenged Kelly Johnson at first, a 43 year old Bartolo Colon on three days rest, and of course Neil Walker.  Not even facing the worst starter in baseball Jorge De La Rosa could revive this offense. 

It was just a brutal game that saw Terry Collins get tossed in the fourth, and frankly, most Mets fans didn’t stay for much longer than that it a 7-2 loss. 

Overall, the only thing worse than the loss was knowing that Tom Seaver was physically unable to attend the ceremony. It was still a great night, and years from now, I will always remember seeing this for the first time. 

  
 Game Notes: Jose Reyes was put on the DL before the game. 

Latest Mets Trade Rumors

With the trade deadline Monday, there are going to be a number of rumors involving the Mets as the Mets were very active in the trade market last year, and they are in the thick of the Wild Card race.  Now, with the Marlins making the first big deadline trade acquiring Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea, Fox Sports Jon Morosi believes it will get the ball rolling with a number of teams, like the Mets, making a number of deals.

The Jonathan Lucroy Sweepstakes

According to ESPN’s Jerry Krasnick, the Tigers are out on the Jonathan Lucroy Sweepstakes.  This might be one of the reasons the Brewers have re-engaged the Mets on Lucroy.  As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal’s Tom Haudricourt reported, the Brewers aren’t getting the offers they thought they would receive in exchange for Lucroy, and they also want to make sure they canvass the area to make sure they get the best possible return they can get for the catcher.

Lucroy would be a huge upgrade over what Travis d’Arnaud has provided the Mets this season.  So far this year, d’Arnaud is hitting .246/.299/.333 with five doubles, two homers, and 10 RBI.  Additionally, d’Arnaud has already had a stint on the disabled list.  Lucroy has been the second best catcher in baseball this season hitting .300/.361/.486 with 17 doubles, three triples, 13 homers, and 50 RBI.  It is not much of a surprise that the Brewers already rejected a straight up deal of Lucroy for d’Arnaud.  According to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers informed the Mets that they want some high end prospects in addition to d’Arnaud in exchange for Lucroy.  In order to get those prospects, Haudricourt says the Brewers would consider bundling Lucroy with one or two of their coveted relievers, which include Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith.

The Mets will have to get creative as, according to ESPN’s Adam Rubin, the Mets do not anticipate either Amed Rosario or Dominic Smith.  Further complicating matters is, as MMO and Mets Minors own Michael Mayer reports, Dilson Herrera has been dealing with a sore shoulder causing him to miss the last four games.

Trade With the Tampa Bay Rays

According to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, the Rays will trade Steve Pearce prior to the trade deadline, and it appears that Matt Moore is the pitcher they will most likely be willing to trade.

According to Crasnick, the Mets are very interested in Rays’ Steve Pearce.  In his career, Pearce has predominantly played first base and outfield.  However, the Rays have not played him in the outfield this year.  Instead, he has played mostly first base with some time at second, third, an DH.

Pearce would certainly fulfill a need for the Mets as he is hitting .312/.384/.528 with 11 doubles, one triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI on the year.  He has hit a respectable .288/.348/.452 against righties, but he is flat out mashing lefties hitting .377/.476/.736 against lefties.  The Mets could desperately use him given some of the splits we have seen with the Mets starters against lefties:

This does not even include Neil Walker who is hitting lefties well this year, but is still a career .262/.320/.357 career hitter against lefties.  Given the injuries to Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes as well as Juan Lagares again being put on the disabled list with the torn ligament in his left thumb, the Mets are going to have to play two or more of the aforementioned players against lefties.

The Mets could also have some interest in Matt Moore, who is 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.269 WHIP in 21 starts.  Moore would be an upgrade over Logan Verrett, and he could be insurance against Steven Matz and the bone spurs in his left elbow.

However, the chances of the Mets acquiring either player is not particularly good at the moment as the Rays intend to drive a hard bargain.  According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Rays asked for Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto in exchange for Moore and Jake Odorizzi.

Relief Help

The Mets were earlier linked briefly to Jon Niese given Matt Harvey‘s season ending surgery.  However, it does not appear as if those talks have gotten anywhere beyond the preliminary stages at this point.  Now, the struggling Niese is in the bullpen alongside Pirates closer Mark Melancon. Melancon is having another strong year as the Pirates closer going 1-1 with a 1.51 ERA and a 0.960 WHIP while recording 30 saves.

According to Rosenthal, the Nationals have been in active trade discussion with the Pirates about Melancon after Jonathan Papelbon has had a rough stretch to the season.  Rosenthal further reports trading the pending free agent Melancon would not signal the team is waiving the white flag.  Instead, the Pirates remain active on the trade market themselves, and they intend to replace Melancon with either Tony Watson or former Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz.

Frankly, it wouldn’t be a trade deadline unless the Nationals were trying to displace their closer.   According to Rosenthal, the Nationals are also in on Royals closer Wade Davis, who is having another great year recording 21 saves while recording a 1.60 ERA and a 1.099 WHIP.

Neither Melancon nor Davis have been linked to the Mets.

The Final Cost

As we see with the ask for Lucroy, the prices are going to be steep at the trading deadline.  In reality, the only thing that helps the Mets chances there is the fact that the Mets are not on Lucroy’s no trade list.    Perhaps the most discouraging sign of all is Passan’s latest report that the Phillies could obtain three to four prospects in exchange for Jeremy Hellickson.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online

Jeurys Familia & Terry Collins Blew This Game

There were two reasons to believe that the Mets were going to win today’s game against the Rockies.  The first was that since July 10th, the Mets have alternated wins and losses, and the Mets lost last night.  The second reason was that Jacob deGrom was taking the hill during a day game, and deGrom is the Dayman having gone 15-3 with a 1.63 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP in day games.  In his last start, deGrom threw a complete game shut out.

With that in mind, you knew a Rockies team who played a night game was not going to do any damage against deGrom.  They didn’t as deGrom pitched seven scoreless innings allowing just five hits and walk one while striking out six.  Trevor Story was the only Rockies baserunner to reach second base, and no Rockies even reached third against him.  Seemingly, the only reason deGrom was lifted from the game having thrown 97 pitches was to get some more offense.

The Mets were in need of it as well.  The team didn’t have Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup due to injury.  Michael Conforto was sitting because the Rockies were starting the left-hander Tyler Anderson.  That meant Alejandro De Aza, and his extremely poor splits against lefties, was in the starting lineup.  Furthermore, Rene Rivera was starting over Travis d’Arnaud.  It was a weak lineup that featured the still struggling Neil Walker was batting cleanup.  It should then come as no surprise that heading towards deGrom’s spot in the lineup in the seventh inning, the Mets were only up 1-0.

That run would be scored on a Rene Rivera two out RBI double scoring James Loney from first.  Perhaps inspired how the Sid Bream-esque Loney was able to score from first, Rivera was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple.  He made the ill-advised last out of an inning at third base.  Even with that, he had a terrific day going 3-3 with two doubles and an RBI.  It was Rivera who would leadoff the seventh inning with a single off Rockies reliever and former Rays teammate Jake McGee starting a curious chain of events.

De Aza followed Rivera’s single with a double to deep left-center field.  That double would have scored anyone other than Rivera.  Still, the Mets had runners at second and third with no outs.  Terry Collins then made the bold choice of using Cespedes as a decoy.  The Rockies took the bait walking Cespedes to load the bases.  As Cespedes had a flare-up of his quad before the game preventing him from playing the field, he would be lifted for the pinch runner Steven Matz.  It was a defendable position considering with his bone spurs there was no way Matz would ever pitch in this game, and he has decent speed.  Furthermore, the Mets did not want to waste their bench any further.  After Collins made two very good and defendable decisions, he began to make some baffling decisions.

The Rockies would bring in the right-handed reliever Scott Oberg into the game to pitch to Juan Lagares.  Rather than keeping Lagares, his best defensive center fielder, in a tight 1-0 game, Collins went to his bench.  Instead of going with Michael Conforto, the best hitter he had on the bench, Collins went to Kelly Johnson for some reason or other.  At this point, the Mets struggles with runners in scoring position would really become magnified.  Johnson would hit into a fielder’s choice with Story choosing to take the force out at home.  Bases were still loaded, but now with one out.  Granderson would chase a ball in the dirt to strike out putting it all on Wilmer Flores to come through.  He didn’t.  He hit a shallow popout to the center fielder Charlie Blackmon to end the inning.  The Mets had bases loaded with no outs, and they still could not score.

The Mets were very fortunate they have an incredible bullpen that would hold onto this lead.  Despite pregame overtures that Jeurys Familia would be unavailable for today’s game, Collins went to Addison Reed in the eighth.  Reed would record two outs and would allow a single to DJ LeMahieu.  Collins then lifted Reed for Jerry Blevins, who struck out Carlos Gonzalez to get out of the inning.

Familia would come on in the ninth on a day he was supposedly unavailable, and a day after he blew his first save in approximately one year.  Of course, it wouldn’t be easy as it never is with the Mets.  Story would hit a leadoff single, and he would steal second.  Rivera was late on the throw, and it got through the infield.  Familia would then walk David Dahl on a 3-2 count.  Daniel Descalso was sent up there to lay down a sacrifice.  With two strikes, he laid down a bunt spinning towards the line.  Rivera let it go as it seemed as if it was going to go foul giving Familia the strikeout.  Instead, the ball stopped dead on the line loading the bases with no outs.

It seemed like Familia would get out of it for a split second.  He struck out Tony Wolters to get the first out.  Then Cristhian Adames hit a ball that Loney just booted.  The Mets weren’t going to turn two, but the Mets could’ve recorded at least one out.  With that, Story would score the game tying run.  With Blackmon at the plate, Familia spiked a ball at the edge of the grass that just ate up Rivera behind the plate.  The wild pitch allowed Dahl to score the tying run.  At that point, Familia intentionally walked Blackmon, and Collins lifted him from a game he shouldn’t have been used in the first place.  Hansel Robles then came on and get the Mets out of the inning without any further damage.  Maybe, just maybe, he should’ve pitched in the eighth or ninth rather than a tired Familia who Collins had declared was not available for this game.

When you peruse the official statistics for this game, you will see Familia blew the save and took the loss.  That is true.  However, it was a series of curious late inning decisions by Collins that really set the stage for this loss.  It is quite fitting the very Kelly Johnson Collins had to bring into the game would make the final out in the ninth.

Game Notes: A night after going 3-3 with a walk, Walker was 3-4 on the day.  It appears like his deep two and a half month slump might be coming to an end.

A Bizarre Split Doubleheader 

You knew it was going to be a strange day when Keith Hernandez showed up during the first end of the doubleheader wearing an Underdog shirt:

  

We would then see Noah Syndergaard give up an unearned run in the second when Syndergaard made an errant throw allowing Yadier Molina to score. The Cardinals scored a run that inning without a ball leaving the infield. Perhaps stranger than that was seeking Jedd Gyorko hit a two run bomb to left the following inning to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead. For the day, Syndergaard would pitch six innings allowing three runs, two earned, and three walks with eight strikeouts. 

Of course, all of the Mets offense would come off a Rene Rivera two run homer in the fourth. After that hilarity would ensue. 

There was Curtis Granderson of all people throwing out a runner at the plate (with the really throw from Kelly Johnson). It’s bizarre that the Cardinals sent Matt Adams, who just might be slower than James Loney. It’s even stranger when you consider that earlier in the game the human windmill Tim Teufel held Jose Reyes at third when he could’ve scored off a Yoenis Cespedes two out double. 

Speaking of Cespedes, he had quite the juggling act in the outfield in the sixth: 

Then there were the curious decisions like Terry Collins keeping Wilmer Flores on the bench while sending James Loney and Johnson up to bat in the eighth against Cardinals lefty Kevin Siegrist. They weren’t able to muster a rally. 

The Mets would start a rally in the ninth with a Granderson leadoff single off new Cardinals closer Seung-hwan Oh. That rally would end when Granderson tagged up on Cardinals center fielder Tommy Pham after a deep Cespedes fly out:

After a Loney fly out, the Mets lost 3-2. The second game of the doubleheader would be much calmer, but it would still nevertheless be strange. 

For starters, the spark plug of the Mets offense in the game was Alejandro De Aza. De Aza would go 1-1 with a double, a walk with two runs. Even more bizarre is that he would be driven in both times by Asdrubal Cabrera

In the third, Cabrera followed a De Aza double with a double of his own striking an 0 for his last 697,597,475,491 streak (actually, it was 0-32). In the fifth, Cabrera would hit a sac fly to score De Aza from third. 

The other run would score when Loney hit into a fourth inning double play scoring Flores. Flores was on third because he hit a leadoff double, and he moved to third when Randal Grichuk flat out dropped a ball in right field off the bat of Neil Walker. Considering how he’s been playing lately, it’s just about the only way Walker can reach base. He would go 0-2 with a walk on the night. 

These three runs were enough for Bartolo Colon who was terrific tonight after pitching to a 7.36 ERA and allowing batters to hit .338/.386/.662 against him over his last three starts. Naturally, on this night, Colon only allowed one earned on three hits with no walks and eighth strikeouts. Of course, he would out pitch Syndergaard tonight in the Mets 3-1 win. 

Finally, in the sixth inning, things began to calm down. Collins made a curious decision to allow Colon to bat in the sixth with the bases loaded and two outs. Collins eschewed the chance to blow the game open. 

Then in the eighth and ninth, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia shut down the Cardinals to preserve the win. 

After all that craziness, the Mets and Cardinals split the doubleheader. The end result was nothing changed between them in the Wild Card standings. The Mets stayed a half game up on the Cardinals with the runner game tomorrow. 

Game Notes: Josh Smoker was called up to be the 26th man in the second game of the doubleheader. He would not make an appearance. 

Great Day to Be a Mets Fan

On a typical Sunday, I’ll catch the first few innings on the car radio. Not today. We got out of the house earlier than usual to ensure we’d be home in time for my son and I to watch not only the Mets game, but also Mike Piazza‘s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Everywhere we went, Mets were talking about how excited they were for both an important game against the Marlins, but also to see Piazza join Tom Seaver as the only Mets players in the Hall of Fame. My son got caught up in the excitement as well singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Meet the Mets.”  However, he was most excited when he got his lemonade. Check that, he took my peach jalapeño sticking me with the Strawberry one. 

  
It’s a big Mets day, I’ll call it my Darryl Strawberry one. 

Naturally, we started with the Mets game as Piazza wasn’t at the podium. By the way, God bless whoever created picture-in-picture. The Mets game got off to a great start with Michael Conforto showing that he just might be able to play well in center field:

Then, in the third, Jose Reyes would hit a two out RBI triple scoring Conforto, who was actually in scoring position. The Mets had a 1-0 lead, and soon it would be time to tune in to watch Piazza officially become a Hall of Famer:

  
His speech was perfect. 

He touched on everything you would want him to touch upon.  He spoke glowingly about his boyhood idol Mike Schmidt and how Johnny Bench was the standard bearer at the position.  He thanked everyone on the Dodgers including Tommy LaSordaEric Karros, and Tom Candiotti. He talks about how great it was growing up as a Dodger before talking poignantly about what it meant to him to be a Met. 

He talked about how John Franco welcomed him into his home and gave him his #31. He talked about his on and off the field relationship with Al Leiter. He spoke about how clutch Edgardo Alfonzo was making it easier for him to do what he did, which was hit big homers including the post 9/11 home run. 

But like the most of the speech, Piazza deflected the attention away from himself. Instead, he talked about the real heroes were those that gave their lives on 9/11. Much like the moment he hit that home run, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – Cooperstown, yours, and mine. 

His acknowledgment of Mets fans was also touching. It’s something that’s not always seen in Hall of Fame speeches. It was touching to hear he loved us as we loved him.

All while this was happening, Steven Matz was back in form, and he was mowing down the Marlins. I barely noticed him pitching six innings allowing four runs, none earned, and two walks with six strikeouts. By the time, I was fully re-engaged in the game I mostly ignored in the picture-in-picture, Hansel Robles was on the mound. 

Robles did what he has done for most of the year and shut down the opposition. He seems to have been given the seventh inning job, and he has it locked down. 

In the top of the eighth, the Mets finally got some insurance. Yoenis Cespedes singled home Alejandro De Aza, who had reached base on a wild pitch by Kyle Barraclough after striking out. Seriously, how else would De Aza reach base?  James Loney singled home Curtis Granderson. The Mets seemed poised for more after a Kelly Johnson walk. However, Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a force out with Cespedes out at home (initially ruled safe, but it was overturned on replay) making him 0-32 in his last 32 at bats with runners in scoring position. Juan Lagares then lined out to end the rally. 

Lagares had come on for defense in place of Conforto in the seventh. Conforto has played well before the seventh showing he could be a viable option going forward. He also had a nice day at the plate going 2-2 with a run scored. 

After eight, it was 3-0 Mets which was a lot more support than Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia needed. Reed and Familia shut the door giving the Mets a 3-0 win putting them a half-game behind the Marlins. It was Familia’s 34th straight save this year and 51 straight dating back to last year. 

It put the end to what was a great day to be a Mets fan.