Rene Rivera

Do the Mets Need a Catcher?

Is this situation from 2015 or 2016?  Travis d’Arnaud suffers an injury that is going to keep him on the DL for an extended period of time. The Mets then turn to Kevin Plawecki, who just doesn’t hit. 

It’s like Groundhog Day except no one is laughing. 

When d’Arnaud is on the field, he’s a terrific catcher. He’s good defensively, and he’s a good hitter. However, he has trouble staying on the field. Call it bad luck or him being injury prone, but the fact remains, he had trouble staying on the field. Now, he has a shoulder injury, and there’s no telling when he can return to the Mets. 

In his place is Plawecki, who is squandering his chance to become the Mets starting catcher again. Last year, he hit a woeful .219/.280/.296 in 73 games. There were reasons from that stemming from his being rushed to the majors and his dizziness. However, last year, he got major league experience and time to work with a terrific hitting coach in Kevin Long. He had offseason sinus surgery to alleviate his dizziness issues. Despite all of that, we’re seeing more of the same from Plawecki. 

Plawecki has hit .167/.348/.167 since d’Arnaud’s injury. Yes, it’s a very small 18 at bat sample size, but he hasn’t shown any improvement since last year. He still can’t hit the breaking ball. He’s still a pull hitter who doesn’t hit the ball hard. In short, Plawecki is still overmatched by major league pitching. 

If this continues, the Mets are going to have a hole at catcher they are going to have to address. 

Until such time, the Mets are going to have to continue to try to develop Plawecki at the major league level. Ironically, Terry Collins previously said the Mets can’t develop players at the major league level because the Mets are a win-now team. It was his justification for not wanting to play Michael Conforto against lefties. Now, the Mets have no choice. 

They have no choice because Rene Rivera can’t hit (despite his HR yesterday), and Johnny Monell is Johnny Monell. Furthermore, the trade market is yet to develop. The likely target would be Jonathan Lucroy, who is a good offensive and defensive catcher on the last year of his deal. However, with the Carlos Gomez debacle of yesteryear, it’s hard to imagine the Mets and Brewers pulling the trigger on a trade again this year. 

Whatever the answer may be the Mets are going to have to find it fast. Sooner or later, d’Arnaud is going to have to stay in the field, and Plawecki is going to have to hit major league pitching. They are the weak link in what is a win-now team. This team can win the World Series. Hopefully, the catchers won’t stand in the way of that.

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

Matz Dominates the Braves

Terry Collins must be relieved that for the second straight day, a Braves pitcher got the better of a Mets starter. Last night, it was Matt Wisler only allowing one hit in eight innings against a struggling Matt Harvey. Today, it was Jhoulys Chacin getting the better of Steven Matz

With two outs in the third, Chacin singled off of Matz. It would put the game in a completely different perspective. 

Instead of Collins agonizing again whether or not to leave Matz in during a no-hitter, he could manage it like any other game. Strange enough, Collins said before the game if he was presented with another Johan Santana situation, especially with a young pitcher, he wouldn’t hesitate to pull him. Collins did pull Matz after he threw his 106th pitch. At that point, Matz had thrown 7.2 innings, and he just allowed his second hit. Matz was just terrific. In addition to the two hits, he allowed no runs, no walks, and he struck out eight. 

Matz has completely recovered from his awful first start. Matz is now 4-1. He’s lowered his ERA from 37.80 to 2.89. Matz is showing why many had him as an early favorite for the Rookie of the Year Award. 

While Matz dominated the Braves from the mound, the Mets batters dominated at the plate:

By the way, who had Rene Rivera as the first Mets catcher to homer this year in their office pool?

The other homers came from Asdrubal Cabrera and Lucas Duda, who hit two. Overall, the Mets completely dominated the Braves like we should all reasonably expect. The final score of 8-0 was deceptive. It made the game appear closer than it was. 

Game Notes: This was the Mets third shut out of the year. The Mets have now won six consecutive series. This is the first time they’ve done that since 2006. 

Mets April 2016 Report Card

The Mets finished an interesting month that saw them finish 15-7. Over the course of the month, they received contributions from everyone, well almost everyone. They finished in second place only a half game behind the Nationals. 

Below are the first month grades for each of the Mets players. 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  (F). Overall, d’Arnaud struggled offensively and defensively. He’s on the DL now with a shoulder injury. It’s the worst possible start to the season he could’ve had. 

Kevin Plawecki (C-). Plawecki has only seen limited duty.  While he did get a big game winning hit in his second start of the year, he hasn’t done much from that point forward. Furthermore, he’s not making a case he’s fit to take over full time for d’Arnaud whenever he does come back. 

Rene Rivera (Inc). He played in only one game.

Lucas Duda (C-). While Duda did have one hit streak, he hasn’t done much in other games. He had a .294 OBP. He’s not seeing the results from his new leg kick. At least he did throw out a runner at home. 

Neil Walker (A+). He led the league with nine homers. He’s even hitting lefties. Walker has been far better than anyone could’ve expected. 

David Wright (B). Wright went from being a corpse to being the Wright of old to just old. He’s having problems on his throws. With all that said, he’s still getting on base at a decent .354 clip, and he remains the Mets best 3B option. 

Asdrubal Cabrera (A). Cabrera has been better than expected. He’s hit like he did in the second half last year. Even if his range is limited, he’s made every play he should’ve made at SS. 

Wilmer Flores (D). He was woeful at the plate hitting .107/.194/.214. This grade would’ve been lower except he’s only played in 12 games, and he’s shown himself to be a terrific defensive first baseman. 

Eric Campbell (F). He’s seen even less time than Flores, but he’s also done less on those opportunities. 

Michael Conforto (A). He’s consistently been the Mets best player. When Terry Collins moved him to the third spot in the lineup, both he and the team took off. Even more amazing is the fact he has the potential to do more. 

Yoenis Cespedes (B+). Cespedes had a rough start to the season, but he seems back to the form he was in last year. In the field, he still shows limited range for center while still having that cannon of an arm. 

Curtis Granderson (B-). Granderson experienced the same slow start he experienced last year but without the walks. He’s started to turn things around and return to his 2015 form. 

Juan Lagares (A). He’s hitting lefties and his incredible defense has returned. 

Alejandro De Aza (C) Aside from one incredible game in Cleveland, De Aza hasn’t hit much. However, when you play limited time that one game does carry a lot of weight. 

Pitchers 

Matt Harvey (D). This was the year he was supposed to completely fulfill his potential as the staff ace. So far, he’s 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA. There may be a million valid excuses for the slow start, but ultimately we’re judged by performance. On the bright side, he’s pitched much better his last two times out. 

Jacob deGrom (A). With decreased velocity and troubles at home, the results are still where they are supposed to be. 

Noah Syndergaard (A+). He’s throwing harder than anyone in the majors, and in a very short time frame, he’s become the staff ace. 

Steven Matz (B). His last three games were spectacular. However, his first start was horrendous, and it really jammed up the bullpen. 

Bartolo Colon (B+). He’s back doing Bartolo Colon things out there from great defensive plays to the helmet flying off his head when he swings. He’s poised to eat up innings again while feasting on lesser competition. 

Logan Verrett (A+). When deGrom couldn’t pitch, he stepped in and made two great starts. He’s also pitched well out of the bullpen.

Jeurys Familia (B-). He’s perfect in save chances, but he’s been shaky at times. He’s allowing more baserunners than usual.  In his last three outings, he does seem to be returning to form. 

Addison Reed (A-). Reed has recoded six holds and one save. His WHIP is 0.973 and his K/9 is 11.7. Would’ve been an A except for one blown save in Cleveland and one rough appearance on Saturday. 

Jim Henderson (A-). Henderson went from non-roster invitee to locking down the seventh inning. He’s been all the Mets could’ve asked for and more. His WHIP is a little high, and as we saw from Collins, he’s susceptible to overuse. 

Hansel Robles (A). Collins has asked him to pitch on seemingly every situation imaginable, and he’s succeeded. 

Jerry Blevins (A). He’s really a LOOGY, and he’s limited lefties to a .158/.158/.211 batting line. When he’s been asked to do more, he’s performed admirably. 

Antonio Bastardo (A). We’re a month into the season, and he still has no clear cut role. Based upon his usage, it appears Terry Collins views him as the worst reliever in the bullpen. Even with all of that, he has pitched very well. He sports a 2.61 ERA. 

Rafael Montero (F). He’s only appeared in two games, but he was dreadful in those two games. He sports a seemingly low 11.57 ERA. It was clear Collins didn’t trust him in the bullpen. Montero the went out and proved Collins right. 

Manager

Terry Collins (C-). His team struggled to start the year, but he got things on track. He’s managed Wright’s back, and he’s found ways to get his reserves into games to keep them fresh. With that said, his early lineups were ponderous, and things didn’t turn around until he fixed the lineup. Additionally, his use of Henderson was egregious.