Juan Uribe

Carlos Gomez – Because the Mets Are Counting on Justin Ruggiano

Reports are that Justin Ruggiano has begun his rehab assignment in Las Vegas.  It’s strange to think that is the case because Ruggiano was released from the Texas Rangers while he was in AAA before the Mets picked him up.  Apparently, it is because the Mets believed he was a better option in center field than just about anyone, including Michael Conforto.

It was an odd decision considering Ruggiano is not a particularly good defensive center fielder.  Over the course of his career, he has a -6.4 UZR and a -9 DRS.  If the Mets were looking to add him for offense for when the team faces left-handed pitching, their decision making is equally misguided as Ruggiano is a career .271/.334/.516 hitter against them.  Overall, the addition of Ruggiano could be classified as a bit of a panic move as Yoenis Cespedes is unable to play center field for the rest of the year, and Terry Collins has outright refused to play Conforto and Brandon Nimmo against left-handed pitchers.  Long story short, the Mets are without a true center fielder, especially when there is a lefty on the mound.  In some ways, the Mets signing Ruggiano was the team making the best out of a bad situation.

However, now there is a better center field option available as the Houston Astros have released Carlos Gomez.

Now, the Astros released Gomez as he has been terrible for them.  Since he joined them last year, Gomez has hit .221/.277/.342 as an Astro.  With each and every game, Gomez faltered, and he justified the Mets decision to void the trade to acquire him for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores due to concerns about his hip.  However, now, the Mets can acquire Gomez, and they should be interested.

From 2013 – 2015, Gomez averaged an 11.7 UZR and a 13 DRS in center field.  Now, his defense has slipped from his 2013 Gold Glove caliber season, but judging on the advanced defensive metrics, Gomez has been an average at worst defensive center fielder no matter what Collin McHugh thinks:

Look, Gomez is available because he has been a bad baseball player for the past year.  However, he is not that far removed from being a very productive major leaguer, and he is still only 30 years old.

If the Mets really want a right-handed bat as a platoon option, if the Mets want a player who still may have upside, and a player that can actually play center field, the Mets should go out and get Carlos Gomez.  But they won’t, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise as this is a team that truly believes Ty Kelly is currently a better option in the outfield than Conforto right now.  This is a team that passed over Juan Uribe to keep Kelly on the roster.

Passing on Gomez in favor of Ruggiano will become just the latest in a series of curious roster decisions the Mets have made this season.

Its Time – The Mets Should Fire Terry Collins

Normally, you don’t fire someone until you have a viable replacement in place. It’s not the prudent course of action, and ultimately, you can make matters worse by acting off raw emotion to quickly fire someone. However, it’s time. The Mets need to move on from Terry Collins despite the lack of an obvious suitable replacement.

This isn’t said lightly. It was his ability to manage the clubhouse that kept the team together last summer until the Mets could make the trades to add Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, and Yoenis Cespedes. Despite your impressions of his in-game management, Collins was the manager of a team that went to the World Series last year.

More than that, Collins appears to be a good man. He has written notes to Mets fans who are mourning the loss of a loved one. He stopped Spring Training practice so a young heart transplant survivor could meet his idols. Make no mistake, when you lose a human being of the caliber Collins is, your entire organization is worse off for it.

And yet, there comes a time when being a good person and past results need to be pushed aside. You need to focus on the job he’s doing and how he’s hurting the team.

This isn’t just about the Mets disappointing season thus far. You cannot pin a player underperforming on the manager alone even if Michael Conforto has regressed as the season progressed. Players certainly have to share in their responsibility as well. Furthermore, injuries have certainly played a part in this, and injuries cannot always be blamed on the manager.

It’s also not about Collins in-game management, which can be head-scratching at times. There are many factors at play to which we are not always privy. A player may feel under the weather or not ready to play in a game. Also, even if it may seem strange to people, a manager should be allowed to draw from 48 years of baseball experience to play a hunch every so often.

No, the reason why Collins needs to go is his decision making process and how it has hurt the team.

In April, there was his ill-advised decision to pitch Jim Henderson the day after he threw a career high 34 pitches. It was even worse when you consider Henderson is pitching in his first full season after having had his second shoulder surgery. Eventually, Henderson landed on the disabled list due to a shoulder impingement. Collins’ excuse for pitching Henderson was Henderson telling him before the game that “he felt great.

That signals that what was Collins’ greatest strength is also his biggest weakness. He puts too much trust in his players leading Collins to sometimes play players when they shouldn’t be playing.

It was the big issue with Game 5 of the World Series. He let Matt Harvey talk his way back into the ninth inning despite Collins belief that the Mets should go to Jeurys Familia in that spot. That moment wasn’t about whether anyone thought it was the right move to let Harvey stay in the game. It was about Collins thinking it wasn’t he right move and his letting the player control the situtation.

Speaking of Familia, Collins recently overworked him as well. Over a six day stretch from July 22nd to July 27th, Familia had worked in four games throwing 76 pitches. He was tiring, and in his last appearance, Familia finally blew his first save. The following game the Mets got seven innings from Jacob deGrom, and the rest of the bullpen was fairly rested and ready to go. Instead, Collins went back to Familia who would blow his second save in a row. Collins’ excuse? He was going to sit Familia until Familia approached him pre-game and told him he was ready, willing, and able to pitch.

With Henderson, Harvey, and Familia, it appears that Collins is losing control to the players. That seemed all the more apparent during the Cespedes golfing drama. The Mets star player and key to their entire lineup had been hobbled for over a month due to a quad injury, and yet he continued to golf everyday. That was news to Collins who said, “I didn’t know he played golf until you guys brought it up. Had it been bothering him then, he would’ve said something about it, but not a word.” (Ryan Hatch, NJ.com).

It is not fair to blame Collins for Cespedes’ injury. It also isn’t fair to blame Collins for Cespedes playing golf. However, your star player is injured, and his injury is severely hampering your team. Doesn’t a manager have an obligation to speak with Cespedes knowing he is an avid golfer that played golf throughout the postseason last year despite having a shoulder injury?

On it’s own the Cespedes golf situation would be overblown as well as the aforementioned pitching decisions. If that was the only issue, you could argue Collins should be permitted to stay on as manager. However, his decision making this past week was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

On August 5th, the Mets lost a game 4-3. The fourth and decisive run was set-up by a J.D. Martinez double. Upon replay, it appeared that Matt Reynolds had held the tag on Martinez appeared to came off the bag. Reynolds looked into the dugout, but there would be no challenge. Now, that’s not necessarily Collins’ fault as he is relying upon the advise of the replay adviser. However, it was important to denote this when setting the stage for what happened the following night.

The Mets trailed the Tigers 7-6 in the top of the ninth. Jay Bruce started a two out rally in the top of of the ninth, and he would try to score from second off a Travis d’Arnaud single. Martinez would throw him out at the plate, and the Mets just walked off the field without challenging the play to see if there was a missed tag or if Jarrod Saltalamacchia was illegally blocking the plate. Why? As Collins said himself, “Because I didn’t think about it — that’s why. Plain and simple.” (Ken Davidoff, New York Post).

The Mets literally lose the game without that challenge. They lost the night before, in part, because they failed to challenge a play where it appeared Martinez was out at second. Even with all of that, Collins still didn’t at least try to challenge the play to try to get the tying run home.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was the matter of why Brandon Nimmo wasn’t pinch running for Bruce in that spot. Collins didn’t choose Nimmo as a pinch runner because he simply doesn’t know which one of his players is faster:

When you cede decision making to the players, when you fail to do everything possible to win games, and when you don’t fully know the capabilities of every player on your roster, it is time to go.

It’s Time to Fire Terry Collins

Normally, you don’t fire someone until you have a viable replacement in place. It’s not the prudent course of action, and ultimately, you can make matters worse by acting off raw emotion to quickly fire someone. However, it’s time. The Mets need to move on from Terry Collins despite the lack of an obvious suitable replacement.

This isn’t said lightly. It was his ability to manage the clubhouse that kept the team together last summer until the Mets could make the trades to add Kelly JohnsonJuan Uribe, and Yoenis Cespedes. Despite your impressions of his in-game management, Collins was the manager of a team that went to the World Series last year.

More than that, Collins appears to be a good man. He has written notes to Mets fans who are mourning the loss of a loved one. He stopped Spring Training practice so a young heart transplant survivor could meet his idols. Make no mistake, when you lose a human being of the caliber Collins is, your entire organization is worse off for it.

And yet, there comes a time when being a good person and past results need to be pushed aside. You need to focus on the job he’s doing and how he’s hurting the team.

This isn’t just about the Mets disappointing season thus far.  You cannot pin a player underperforming on the manager alone even if Michael Conforto has regressed as the season progressed.  Players certainly have to share in their responsibility as well.  Furthermore, injuries have certainly played a part in this, and injuries cannot always be blamed on the manager.

It’s also not about Collins in-game management, which can be head-scratching at times.  There are many factors at play to which we are not always privy.  A player may feel under the weather or not ready to play in a game.  Also, even if it may seem strange to people, a manager should be allowed to draw from 48 years of baseball experience to play a hunch every so often.

No, the reason why Collins needs to go is his decision making process and how it has hurt the team.

In April, there was his ill-advised decision to pitch Jim Henderson the day after he threw a career high 34 pitches.  It was even worse when you consider Henderson is pitching in his first full season after having had his second shoulder surgery.  Eventually, Henderson landed on the disabled list due to a shoulder impingement.  Collins’ excuse for pitching Henderson was Henderson telling him before the game that “he felt great.

That signals that what was Collins’ greatest strength is also his biggest weakness.  He puts too much trust in his players leading Collins to sometimes play players when they shouldn’t be playing.

It was the big issue with Game 5 of the World Series.  He let Matt Harvey talk his way back into the ninth inning despite Collins belief that the Mets should go to Jeurys Familia in that spot.  That moment wasn’t about whether anyone thought it was the right move to let Harvey stay in the game.  It was about Collins thinking it wasn’t he right move and his letting the player control the situtation.

Speaking of Familia, Collins recently overworked him as well.  Over a six day stretch from July 22nd to July 27th, Familia had worked in four games throwing 76 pitches.  He was tiring, and in his last appearance, Familia finally blew his first save.  The following game the Mets got seven innings from Jacob deGrom, and the rest of the bullpen was fairly rested and ready to go.  Instead, Collins went back to Familia who would blow his second save in a row.  Collins’ excuse?  He was going to sit Familia until Familia approached him pre-game and told him he was ready, willing, and able to pitch.

With Henderson, Harvey, and Familia, it appears that Collins is losing control to the players.  That seemed all the more apparent during the Cespedes golfing drama.  The Mets star player and key to their entire lineup had been hobbled for over a month due to a quad injury, and yet he continued to golf everyday.  That was news to Collins who said, “I didn’t know he played golf until you guys brought it up. Had it been bothering him then, he would’ve said something about it, but not a word.”  (Ryan Hatch, NJ.com).

It is not fair to blame Collins for Cespedes’ injury.  It also isn’t fair to blame Collins for Cespedes playing golf.  However, your star player is injured, and his injury is severely hampering your team.  Doesn’t a manager have an obligation to speak with Cespedes knowing he is an avid golfer that played golf throughout the postseason last year despite having a shoulder injury?

On it’s own the Cespedes golf situation would be overblown as well as the aforementioned pitching decisions.  If that was the only issue, you could argue Collins should be permitted to stay on as manager.  However, his decision making this past week was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

On August 5th, the Mets lost a game 4-3.  The fourth and decisive run was set-up by a J.D. Martinez double.  Upon replay, it appeared that Matt Reynolds had held the tag on Martinez appeared to came off the bag.  Reynolds looked into the dugout, but there would be no challenge.  Now, that’s not necessarily Collins’ fault as he is relying upon the advise of the replay adviser.  However, it was important to denote this when setting the stage for what happened the following night.

The Mets trailed the Tigers 7-6 in the top of the ninth.  Jay Bruce started a two out rally in the top of of the ninth, and he would try to score from second off a Travis d’Arnaud single.  Martinez would throw him out at the plate, and the Mets just walked off the field without challenging the play to see if there was a missed tag or if Jarrod Saltalamacchia was illegally blocking the plate.  Why?  As Collins said himself, “Because I didn’t think about it — that’s why. Plain and simple.”  (Ken Davidoff, New York Post).

The Mets literally lose the game without that challenge.  They lost the night before, in part, because they failed to challenge a play where it appeared Martinez was out at second.  Even with all of that, Collins still didn’t at least try to challenge the play to try to get the tying run home.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was the matter of why Brandon Nimmo wasn’t pinch running for Bruce in that spot.  Collins didn’t choose Nimmo as a pinch runner because he simply doesn’t know which one of his players is faster:

When you cede decision making to the players, when you fail to do everything possible to win games, and when you don’t fully know the capabilities of every player on your roster, it is time to go.

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

Who To Trade?

Last year, the Mets parted with number of pitching prospects in a drive to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2006.  Over the course of this past year, we have seen some of them actually pitching in the major leagues:

  • In 16 starts for the Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP.  He is the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and he should receive some Cy Young Award votes at the end of the season.
  • The Tigers traded Luis Cessa in the offseason to the New York Yankees.  Cessa has pitched briefly out of the bullpen for the Yankees this year.  In his six appearances, he has pitched 13.2 innings going 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.244 WHIP.
  • The Atlanta Braves do not seem quite sure what to make of John Gant and his quirky delivery, but they seem to be convinced he’s a major league caliber pitcher.  Out of the bullpen, Gant has made seven appearances with no record, a 6.17 ERA, and a 1.714 WHIP.  As a starter, Gant has performed considerably better going 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP.

As we know, the Mets got Yoenis Cespedes for Fulmer and Cessa.  Gant was part of a trade that netted the Mets Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.  The Mets also made trades of varying success to obtain Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, and Eric O’Flaherty.  Overall, the Mets gave up valuable pieces to obtain major league players that helped them win the National League Pennant.

As of right now, the Mets are in a similar situation to where they were last season.  They need to assess what they need (starter, reliever, and right handed bat off the bench) and what they are willing to trade to obtain those pieces.  Sooner or later, the right player is going to come along, and the Mets are going to have to decide whether to trade next year’s Fulmer for this year’s Cespedes.  The issue becomes who do you and who do you not trade.  Here is a look at the Mets top prospects teams are sure to be inquiring about.

Amed Rosario

Each and every team is going to inquire on Rosario, and the answer time and time again is going to be no.  It’s for good reason as well.  When the Mets signed him out of the Dominican Republic, his defense was seen as a given, but there were concerns about his bat.  Rosario has put many of those concerns to bed by hitting .321/.372/.464 with 19 doubles, 12 triples, three homers and 56 RBI between St. Lucie and Binghamton.  He was a Florida State Leauge All Star, on the Team World Roster for the Future’s Game, and he was named MLB.com‘s 18th best prospect.  Unless you are talking a Mike Trout trade, Rosario is off the table.

Dominic Smith

This is where things start to get a little interesting as Smith has really taken off since Rosario joined him in AA hitting .336/.398/.626 with five doubles, one triples, eight homers and 27 RBI.  Smith is starting to show the power that could take him from a very good prospect to an elite prospect with the ranks of Rosario.  Already, Smith is a plus defender at first base, and he has the ability to drive the ball gap-to-gap.  If you trade him, you could be trading away the next John Olerud or worse if his power game continues to develop.  If you keep him, you risk him becoming the next James Loney.  Yes, Loney has been a quality major league first baseman, but Loney should never be what stands between you and getting an All Star or difference maker at the trade deadline that could put the team over the top.

Dilson Herrera

It seems that since Herrera came to the Mets in the Marlon Byrd trade, he was touted as the Mets second baseman of the future.  He was someone who could handle the position well defensively while being a real force at the plate.  He showed that he has unique power for the position.  Due to injuries in 2014, the Mets brought him up from AA to play in the majors.  Last year, he was seen as an offensive spark when a number of players went down due to injury.  This year he hasn’t been a consideration at all.  He has struggled in AAA hitting .277/.331/.471 in the Pacific Coast League which is a hitter’s league.  Part of that might be teams figuring him out.  Part of that may be him dealing with a shoulder injury sapping him of some of his offensive ability and having him fall into bad habits at the plate.  He is less patient at the plate, and he is lunging for balls he wouldn’t last year.  If you move him, you are moving the guy that could be a multiple time All Star.  If you don’t, you just might be hanging onto a guy that may never figure it out.

Gavin Cecchini

Cecchini is in a tough position in the Mets organization.  He isn’t seen as good a prospect at short as Rosario, and he has had some trouble handling the position at Cashman Field, who has an infield that is not kind to infielders.  He’s a good hitter hitting .315/.392/.441 with 18 doubles, two triples, five homers, and 40 RBI, and he reminds you of a right-handed Daniel Murphy at the plate.  However, he is not considered as good of an offensive prospect as an Herrera.  Furthermore, his bat does not have the power profile that would play at third or the outfield.  By many accounts, Cecchini will play in the majors one day.  What you don’t know is what he will be.  Will he be the next Murphy at the plate with similar defensive versatility?  With that in mind, will he develop power as he gets older and fills out like Murphy did?  Will he turn into the next Matt Reynolds – a major league utility player?  Again, you don’t want to lose the next Murphy for a rental, but you also don’t want to miss out on someone because you wnated to keep another Reynolds or Joe McEwing type of player.

Kevin Plawecki

Most Mets fans would jump at the opportunity to trade him.  He hasn’t hit at all in the majors despite given extended looks on two different occassions.  However, Plawecki has been a good defensive catcher and pitch framer.  He was also once considered a prospect who could push Travis d’Arnaud for playing time.  Keep in mind that since his demotion, Plawecki is hitting .291/.347/.512 with four doubles, five homers, and 21 RBI in 27 games.  These numbers aren’t exciting, especially in the Pacific Coast League, but it shows he is starting to become more patient at the plate and more selective swinging at pitches.  Also keep in mind that catcher is a position that players tend to develop later in their careers than other positions.  Plawecki could still very well be the Mets catcher of the future, or he could be a solid backup.  He may not be the type of player who should hold up a deal, but he definitively is a player you want to protect if at all possible.

Ultimately, it seems like one of the aforementioned players are going to have to be traded if the Mets want to acquire an impact player like Jonathan Lucroy.  However, they need to be very careful about which one.

In an ideal world, Rosario and Smith are non-starters.  These are two players who are excelling in AA at a young age, and they appear primed to contribute to the Mets sooner than expected.  You do not ever want to give up a Rosario or a Smith.  These players should prove to be fixtures in the Mets lineup for ten plus years.  Still, you’re going to have to give up someone if you are going to want to add that last piece who could put the Mets over the top in 2016.

That piece appears to be between Herrera and Cecchini.  The Mets may very well have a preference between these two players, and coming into this season, it seemed like Herrera.  However, that does not mean they still feel the same way, nor does it mean that other teams think similarly.  Regardless of how the Mets feel, a team may force their hand to trade one or the other to hopefully trade for this year’s version of Yoenis Cespedes.  In the end, it seems like the Mets will be giving up a Herrera or a Cecchini like they did with Fulmer last year if they want to make a move.

The hope is that the player has the impact Cespedes did last year and that the Mets take the next step and win the 2016 World Series.

Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Minors

 

Mets Have to be Better

You can look at any aspect from this game and say the Mets have to be better. That’s always the case when you lose a game. That goes double when you lose to what may be a historically bad Braves team. 

For starters, Matt Harvey regressed after three terrific starts. His location was off, and the Braves made him pay. Harvey’s final line was six innings, seven hits, four earned, two walks, and five strikeouts. Ultimately, it may not have mattered, but you have to scratch your head at Terry Collins starting Kevin Plawecki over Rene Rivera

Now, the Mets could’ve picked up Harvey tonight as they were facing former Mets prospect John Gant and his odd windup tonight: 

It looks difficult to hit, right?  Well, it hadn’t been the case this year with Gant having entered the game with a 5.63 ERA and a 1.750 WHIP. Naturally, Gant turned it around tonight pitching 6.2 innings allowing only two hits, one earned, and two walks with five strikeouts. 

Gant had the sinker working that makes him an intriguing prospect. It’s why the Braves did a good job getting him as one of the pieces in the Juan Uribe/Kelly Johnson trade. For what it’s worth Johnson was 0-2 with a walk against Gant. 

That’s how the night went for pretty much all of the Mets except Curtis Granderson who was 2-4 while scoring the only run of the game for the Mets in the first. There were a few stop and starts over the night, but the Mets were not cashing in on their opportunities. Most notably, the Mets had bases-loaded in the seventh, and Collins turned to Wilmer Flores, who couldn’t grip a bat yesterday, to pinch hit for Alejandro De Aza, who was originally announced go pinch hit for Antonio Bastardo, as the Braves brought the lefty Hunter Cervenka. Flores struck out as it’s hard to play with one hand. 

The offense and pitching wasn’t the Mets only failing. In the eighth, Yoenis Cespedes bobbled a ball in the outfield. The play allowed Chase d’ArnaudTravis‘ brother, to score even though he had already stopped at third. It went down as an unearned run to Erik Goeddel

As if all of this wasn’t enough, James Loney made a bush league play on the bases that led to a game ending inning ending double play. On a Plawecki grounder, Loney slide into second. His slide wasn’t enough to break out the double play, so he lunged his elbow towards Jace Peterson‘s crotch. Even though Plawecki would’ve been safe by a mile, it was correctly ruled a game ending double play.

With that, Gant had his first career win, and Harvey had his major league leading ninth loss. It was a bad loss that was hard to watch. Across the board, the Mets need to be better than this. 

Should the Mets Bring Jimmy Rollins Onboard?

Jimmy Rollins has been a career .264/.324/.418 hitter.  In the prime of his career, he was a .286/.342/.468 hitter.  In 2007, he predicted the Phillies would win the NL East, and he backed it up by being the MVP that year.  He was a clubhouse leader on a Phillies team that went to the postseason five straight years and won the 2008 World Series.  He’s won four Gold Gloves at shortstop.  Rollins has been a very good major league player.  The problem is Rollins isn’t that player anymore.

Last year, Rollins hit .224/.285/.358 in 144 games with the Dodgers.  There’s no sugar coating it.  Rollins wasn’t good last year.  It’s why the Dodgers called up Corey Seager at the end of the year, and why Rollins and Seager split time at shortstop during the NLDS.  Despite his struggles, Rollins was able to latch on with the Chicago White Sox this year.  In 41 games, Rollins hit .221/.295/.329.  It is no wonder why for the second straight year Rollins has been pushed aside for a shortstop prospect.  This year it was Tim Anderson, and this year it came much quicker.  Rollins has been designated for assignment.  He’s now 37 years old, and he is facing the very real prospect that his career might be over.

It might be time for the Mets to throw Rollins a lifeline.

Even with how poor Rollins is playing, he’s still a better player than what they have.  With the Kelly Johnson addition, the Mets have one spot left on the bench that is going to Matt Reynolds.  Even in a two year spiral, Rollins is playing better than Reynolds.  Additionally, Rollins has been a proven leader on a World Series winning team.  As we saw last year with Juan Uribe, you cannot add enough veteran bench pieces to a team that has World Series aspirations.

Now, one thing that is obvious is Mets fans don’t like Rollins.  They don’t like anyone from those Phillies teams especially Chase Utley.  With that said, Mets fans will get over it if Rollins is a positive contributor.  The Mets fans had no issue with Orel Hershiser in 1999, and they had no issue with Orlando Hernandez a/k/a El Duque in 2006.  There were no issues with Kelly Johnson either last year or this year.  Ultimately, all Mets fans want is to win.  They will cheer whoever helps them win.  That includes Jimmy Rollins.

Overall, the Mets should look into adding Jimmy Rollins into the mix.

Checking-in on the Players the Mets Traded

Over the past year, the Mets have made a number of trades to not only help them go to the World Series last year, but also to help them become World Series contenders again this year.  With Neil Walker returning to Pittsburgh to not one but two standing ovations, and the draft scheduled for later today  it seems like today is a good day to take a cursory view of how the players the Mets traded away are faring.

Kelly Johnson & Juan Uribe for Robert Whalen & John Gant

Robert Whalen – Whalen has made 11 starts for the Atlanta Braves AA affiliate going 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP.  At the time of the trade, Whalen was seen as a back of the rotation starter, and his performance this year should not change those impressions.

John Gant – Despite never having pitched above AAA before this season, Gant got a cup of coffee early on with the Braves showing off his very unorthodox delivery.  He predictably struggled pitching to a 6.17 ERA and a 1.714 WHIP in seven appearances.  Gant was sent back down to AAA where he has pitched better.  In eight appearances, he has a 3.14 ERA and a 1.233 WHIP.  He appears on track for another promotion before the year is over, especially with the way the Braves want to sell everything.

Tyler Clippard for Casey Meisner

Casey Meisner – The 20 year old Meisner pitched well for Oakland’s Advance A affiliate pitching going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.052 WHIP in seven starts.  This year, for the first time in his brief career, Meisner is struggling going 0-9 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.645 WHIP in 11 starts.  At 21, Meisner is still young for his league, and he is still walking too many batters.  If Meiser can make the ncecessary adjustments, he can get back on track to being the mid to top of the rotation starter he was projected to be.

Yoenis Cespedes for Michael Fulmer & Luis Cessa

Michael Fulmer – Fulmer only received three AAA starts before the Tigers felt compelled to bring him up to help fix a beleaguered rotation that included former Met Mike Pelfrey.  Fulmer has shown himself to be every bit the ace people anticipated he might be one day.  He has gone 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.175 WHIP.  In his last four starts, he is 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA and a 0.635 WHIP.

Luis Cessa – Cessa was actually traded to the Yankees in the offseason, and he made his major league debut with them.  In his three appearances, he had a 2.57 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP.  In the minors, he has been in the rotation with less success.  In his five starts (with one relief appearance), he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.214 WHIP.  Ultimately, Cessa has the stuff to be either a back end of the rotation pitcher or a middle reliever.  His brief cup of coffee with the Yankees has shown he does have the ability to pitch in the majors.

Eric O’Flaherty for Dawrin Frias

Dawrin Frias – After the conclusion of the 2015 season, Frias become a minor league free agent.  To date, no one has signed him.

Addison Reed for Miller Diaz & Matt Koch

Miller Diaz – Diaz is struggling mightily for the Arizona Diamondback’s high A affiliate going 0-1 with a 7.76 ERA and 2.414 WHIP in 15 games (inlcuding three starts).  Diaz was seen as nothing more than a major league reliever, at best, and these statistics make that proposition a stretch.

Matt Koch – Koch is having another strong year in AA.  In his five starts, he is 0-2 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP.  While Koch was seen as a bullpen piece, if he keeps improving the way he has, he may have a shot to stick with the back end of someone’s rotation.

Neil Walker for Jon Niese

Jon Niese – Niese’s early season struggles have seemed to go by the wayside.  While he started the year 3-1 with a 5.94 ERA and a 1.680 WHIP, he has settled down and pitched much better of late.  We just saw him pitch seven innings in beating the Mets. In his last six starts, he is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.141 WHIP.

For the most part, the players the Mets traded are playing well. It shows the Mets gave up valuable pieces for the quality players they received. The hope is the Mets have enough trade assets this year to swing a deal or two like they did last year.

Loney Shows the Mets Learned Their Lesson from Last Year

Last year, the Mets watched their lead in the NL East dissipate while the front office failed to make a move to address some big holes. The biggest of those was third base due to the discovery David Wright suffered from spinal stenosis. No one could accurately pinpoint whether Wright could return or be an effective player. 

Despite this, the Mets allowed Eric Campbell play the majority of games at third base in Wright’s absence. Worse yet, due to a rash of injuries, he was hitting in the middle of the lineup. The Mets were fortunate the season didn’t come off the rails before they started making moves. The moves started with getting Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. At a minimum, they were two bona fide major league players. Their acquisition helped turn the Mets season around. 

This year’s Mets team is not in the same dire straits as the 2015 team. However, with Lucas Duda‘s stress fracture, they once again have to deal with a player’s back putting them on the DL. They’ve also had to deal with a Campbell playing the majority of the games in the injured player’s stead. No more. 

On Saturday, the Mets obtained James Loney from the Padres for cash considerations. The only thing that needs to happen for this trade to be a success is for Loney to hit better than the .169/.286/.255 Campbell is hitting. As a career .285/.338/.411 hitter, Loney should be able to accomplish that. Overall, the real question with Loney isn’t if he’s better; the real question is what can Mets fans expect. 

For starters, the Mets are getting a player in decline. In each of the past three three years his batting average, OBP, and slugging declined. Last year, he only hit .280/.332/.357 with four homers in 104 games. Regardless of his struggles last year, he’s a platoon bat that has hit .254/.302/.351 against lefties. It was even worse last year with him hitting .226/.258/.310 against lefties. 

Loney’s defense has also declined. He was once considered a good defender at first, but the numbers over recent years suggest he’s living on his reputation. For the better part of three years, his defense has declined. Last year, he posted a -2.4 UZR, -2 DRS, and a -0.7 dWAR. In essence, he went from a good to very good first baseman to slightly below par. 

From this, you can see why the Rays released their second highest paid player in Spring Training. You can see why he could only get a minor league deal. The Mets were very fortunate that was the case. Despite all of Loney’s faults, he’s still better than what the Mets had. 

Who knows?  Maybe Loney has a renaissance. Maybe his working with Kevin Long will help him hit better. Whatever the case, he’s bound to hit better than Campbell.  Whatever the case, he’s going to be the Mets best first base option until Duda returns. 

Last year, the Mets didn’t make this move. They did this year, and the team is a lot better off for it.  No matter what his faults are, Loney is a terrific addition. 

Mets Power Their Way Back into Form

It’s amazing how a well constructed lineup and the offense exploding in one inning can make you feel a lot better about the Mets. 

The biggest surprise was seeing Michael Conforto batting third moving Yoenis Cespedes and the rest of the lineup one spot down in the order. Conforto promptly rewarded Terry Collins’ faith by hitting a first inning homerun. 

In the game changing fifth inning, the Mets sent all nine batters to the plate, and they would show off their Feats of Strength starting with Alejandro De Aza‘s blast off Indians starter Cody Anderson. The Mets would score five runs off three homers surpassing their 2016 total:

In addition to De Aza, Cespedes and Neil Walker homered in the fifth. Walker hit his batting right-handed to boot. When Walker’s hitting from the right side, you know it’s a good night. 

Right now, Cespedes is just scorching hot. He’s not August 2015 hot, but he’s hot. He was 3-5 with a run, double, homerun, and two RBI. He’s once again showing us all he can carry an offense when he gets hot. 

Bartolo Colon was the beneficiary of all these runs. For most of the night, it looked like he would need each and every single one of those runs and more. In the first, Colon gave up what was initially ruled a two run homerun to Carlos Santana. Upon review, it was ruled just foul, and Santana was able to navigate his way out of the first with the game tied 1-1. 

That’s how most of the game went for Colon. He was in and out of trouble for most of the night. With that said, he was able to pitch 5.1 innings allowing eight hits, two runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. He was bailed out of the sixth inning jam by Antonio Bastardo, who pitched a perfect 1.1 innings. Hansel Robles pitched a scoreless seventh. Addison Reed pitched a scoreless eighth, and was thrown out there for the ninth with no save situation on the line. 

For some reason with a four run lead, Collins still wouldn’t pitch Rafael Montero. After Santana finally got his two run homerun off Reed with two outs in the ninth, Collins tabbed Jeurys Familia to pitch in his fourth straight game and get the save. He struggled with his location and command. Familia allowed consecutive hits, which couple with a d’Arnaud passed ball, made the game 6-5. After walking Uribe, who represented the go-ahead run, Jose Ramirez popped out. Familia somehow managed to preserve the 6-5 win. 

With the 6-2 win, Colon not only got his 219th win against the team with whom he broke into the majors, but he also tied former Met and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez for the second most wins for a Dominican born pitcher. Hall of Famer Juan Marichal has the most with 243. 

While Wednesday was a breath of fresh air for just getting off the snide, tonight was a much better night. The Mets offense showed their capabilities by out get together good at bats, collecting hits, and hitting for power. 

Game Notes: The Mets had two runners thrown out at the plate. The second was De Aza trying to score from first on a single. De Aza was the surprise starter in CF with Cespedes DHing due to a sore knee from jumping in the stands. Like Colon, it was a homecoming for Asdrubal Cabrera as well. He had a nice night going 1-3 with a walk, strikeout, and hit by pitch. Curtis Granderson had a well hit single in his final at bat, which he desperately needed. Travis d’Arnaud is still struggling going 0-4 with a strikeout. Old friend Juan Uribe went 3-4 with a double and a walk.