Ruben Tejada

Hello Reyes My Old Friend

Last night, Jose Reyes returned to Citi Field . . . again. This is the third jersey Reyes has worn at Citi Fiels since Sandy Alderson informed him the Mets weren’t interested in resigning him. 

Reyes hasn’t killed the Mets since he left. In 22 games against them, he’s only hit .229/.298/.325.  Last night, he went 1-4 and was picked off of first base. However since his departure, the Mets have been unable to resolve their SS situation. We were reminded of this as Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] played SS twice (is he becoming Bartolo Colon’s personal SS?) and Ruben Tejada, who was terrible in the field on Saturday, played once against the Rays. Overall, since Reyes left the Mets after the 2011 season, here are the Mets’ SS by games played (as per Baseball Almanac):

  1. Ruben Tejada – 281
  2. Omar Quntanilla – 168
  3. Wilmer Flores – 125
  4. Ronny Cedeno – 27
  5. Justin Turner – 10
  6. Jordany Valdespin
  7. Eric Campbell – 2
  8. Wilfredo Tovar – 1
  9. David Wright – 1

This is why I begged the Mets to bring Reyes back to New York. It would at least end the pattern of: 1) give Tejada the job; 2) Tejada over exposed or not able to play SS everyday; 3) look for another poor solution and repeat. It’s insane that Quintanilla has played the second most games in the above list. 

The Mets are in first place right now with a SS problem. The job, yet again, belongs to Tejada. As the information shows, it won’t be for long. This is why I hope the Mets make a move for a SS prior to the August 31 waiver trade deadline. I really hope that player is Reyes. I know we’re stuck with Tejada. 

Rockies Limit Their Chance to Win

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

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

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

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

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

Ray of Hope

Now that was special. Even with Jacob deGrom and Tyler Clippard unable to keep the game tied, the Mets found a way. 

First, Juan Uribe ties the game with a homer after this game started to look like the Grady Sizemore Show (homerun and stole a homerun from Wilmer Flores). After deGrom gave up a James Loney homer, Daniel Murphy hits a game tying homerun. Tyler Clippard gave up the lead on an Evan Longoria homerun that just skipped off the top of the right center field wall. 

In the ninth, after Lucas Duda reached in an error and moved over on a wild pitch, Michael Conforto had the biggest hit of his young career (in a terrific AB) with a hustle RBI double to tie the game. He was moved over to third in a Travis d’Arnaud infield single and scored the go-ahead run when Flores served the ball into right [standing ovation]. 

Jeurys Familia closed out the game to secure the 4-3 win. In an odd sequence it took the Mets a few times to record the first out. Uribe was aggressive in fielding balls in front of third, but the umpire correctly called the ball foul each time. 

With Clippard getting the win, when in actuality all he did was put the Mets on the brink of losing, I thought of how my thinking has evolved on wins. As I’ve stated before, I’m generally more open and accepting of Sabermetrics. I do think the pitcher wins are an overrated stat. For example, the horrendous Bartolo Colon is tied for the team lead in wins with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.  Luckily, no one on the Mets side had a loss to put in their ledger tonight. 

Some other fun notes:

  1. The sound of the crowd made it sound like a home game;
  2. It was great seeing Dwighg Gooden at the game; and 
  3. Terry Collins shows he’s delirious with some of these lineups 

With the DH, he had his lefty platoon lineup out there which meant Conforto and Kelly Johnson (2B). He had Uribe and his defense at third. However, I don’t understand Flores at SS instead of Ruben Tejada. Collins brought in Juan Lagares for defense in the ninth. He should’ve done the same with Tejada. At least the mistake didn’t cost the Mets the game. 

In other great news, the Rockies beat the Nationals to extend the Mets lead to 2.5 games (two in the loss). Tonight was a great night for baseball and an even better night to be a Mets fan. 

Outta Hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mets Make Wrong Move in Calling up Conforto

When I first started this blog, much of the focus at that time was on why everyone thought Michael Conforto should be called up to the majors. Back then, it was assumed the Mets were not going to add offense thereby making him the only source of offense available. We’re not in this world right now. 

After the trade deadline moves, the Mets now have a major league roster of major league hitters.  So far, Terry Collins has shown he intends to play the following everyday: Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada. Curtis Granderson, and Yoenis Cespedes. Prior to the Cespedes trade, he seemed to have a Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Juan Lagares platoon, but he seems to have done away with that. 

Once the Cespedes trade was completed, Granderson and Cespedes have played CF. In turn, Lagares and Nieuwenhuis have been on the bench.  Kelly Johnson has played a corner outfield position in those games. These are the games Nieuwenhuis would’ve started as the Nationals were throwing righties. We now know Nieuwenhuis is injured

However, what we don’t know is if Collins has eschewed the CF platoon for more offense. If so, I’m not sure that was the right move with the return of Duda’s bat, Granderson continuing his good year, and Cespedes’ bat. They are  no longer as desperate for offense as they used to be. Now, they need to sure up their outfield defense, especially when their pitchers give up a lot of flyballs. To his credit, Collins is using Lagares as a late inning defensive replacement. 

With Nieuwenhuis going on the DL, his spot on the roster has gone to Conforto, who must play everyday. If he’s not playing everyday, he needs to be in Las Vegas. This means the Mets OF for two weeks, minimum, must have Conforto in left, Cespedes in center, and Granderson in right (barring Michael Cuddyer coming off the DL). At the very least, Conforto is a step up from Johnson defensively. However, it is nowhere enough of an upgrade to justify sitting Lagares’ glove. 

The natural question is who should the Mets have called up, if not Conforto. That’s the problem. For all the moves, there are still some holes in this organization, especially from a depth perspective. Begrudgingly, I would’ve called up Darrell Ceciliani. You don’t need him to play everyday, and he can play all three OF positions. 

I would further endorse this decision as it seemed the Mets were fine with Johnson playing the corner outfield positions during the biggest series of the year. Let Ceciliani be the 25th man while the major leaguers play everyday. Let Conforto play everyday in the minors and come up in September for the stretch drive (like they should do with Kevin Plawecki). 

So while I initially endorsed calling up Conforto, I am now against it. My opinion has nothing to do with his 0-12 streak. He looks like he can play. I was very impressed with him.  I’m just saying the dynamic of this team has changed and so has the need for him. I only wish the Mets would change their mindset. 

Jacob cyGrom

Even after the trades and last night’s increased run production, pitching is the main focus of the team. Front and center has been Jacob deGrom. Last year the question was if he had been up long enough to win Rookie of the Year (he was). This year it is whether the voters will vote for him for Cy Young over the other pitchers who have previously won the Cy Young award. 

On Sunday, he arguably made his strongest statement to date that he should be the Cy Young Award winner in the National League. He went 7.2 scoreless with eight strikeouts to lower his ERA to 2.05. He beat Zack Greinke, whose had a ridiculous 45.2 scoreless inning streak was ended by the Mets of all teams. 

deGrom left to a standing ovation in the eighth and handed the ball to Jeurys Familia for the four out save. It was exactly how you would draw it up . . . only Familia (who should not have pitched last night) blew the save. Luckily, he would be bailed out by Jenrry Mejia, who navigated the 10th inning, Curtis Granderson, who hit a leadoff double in the 10th, and Juan Uribe, who rocketed a game winning RBI double scoring Granderson. For how good Familia has been this year, it was good the team bailed him out. 

On offense, you can’t complain when you end a lengthy scoring streak to a pitcher the caliber of Greinke. Both runs off Greinke may have been a gift with a Joc Pederson error setting up the first run and Greinke hitting Conforto with the bases loaded for the second run, but the Mets took advantage of the opportunities. 

Plus, when it really counted, Granderson and Uribe came through in the 10th. It was nice to see the Mets come through despite Ruben Tejada’s awful bunt failing to move up Granderson. You have to give it to Sandy, his two acquisitions came through in their first two games. 

As I suspected, Collins used a platoon with his left-handed bats to start the game: Johnson, Murphy, and Nieuwenhuis. Uribe came in late for defense and made a nice play in the ninth that Murphy would not have made. Collins may still yet eschew this platoon system, but he kept his promise that players who produce will play. Those three produced yesterday, and they played today. 

The Mets now move on to a softer part of the schedule. Even if the Mets don’t make another move, they now seem ready to compete in this pennant race. Lets Go Mets. 

Sandy Finally Able to Sift through the Trade Market

The Mets are finally getting the roster help they need. We all know about Michael Conforto being called up. Now, Sandy Alderdon has finally made a trade adding Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. 

For Mets fans rightfully bemoaning the loss of Justin Turner, the Mets have effectively replaced his career average of .288/.351/.422. My only qualm is this deal was probably available for a while, but they finally pulled the trigger after fans were apoplectic after the Kershaw game. I only hope this is not too little too late. 

Juan Uribe is likely to become the third baseman, which he has predominantly played since 2011. He’s hitting .272/.331/.409, which may not seem like much but it’s infinitely better than what they have. He’s known as a good clubhouse guy. I also like the tidbit from Josh Lewin that he plays in the World Series every five years, which would be this year. I know things like that aren’t determinative, but it’s the kind of thing that can give a team confidence (similar to the addition of Darryl Hamilton in 1999). 

Kelly Johnson is an unspectacular yet major league caliber player. He is a classic utility man, who has spent time predominantly in the OF but has also played 1B, 2B, and 3B. If he’s coming off the bench, which I assume he will, it’s a solid addition. 

The three questions resulting from this trade are: 1) what is the new infield alignment; 2) who goes off the roster; and 3) what did the Mets give up?

Personally, I would put Wilmer Flores and his .249/.282/.381 (135 AB without a HR) on the bench. However, the Mets seem to be forever infatuated with him, so I don’t think that will happen. I think the only thing that is for certain is Uribe is the everyday 3B. I think the Mets may try Flores at SS, where he was terrible, with Murphy back at 2B. 

The other option is to sit Murphy, which I’m not sure is prudent because even in a down year he’s better than Flores. They could muck the whole thing up and sit Duda and put Murphy at 1B. That’s the biggest mistake because you need Duda to snap out of it if you’re going anywhere. 

As to the second question, the only player who’s obvious to be sent down is Danny Muno. The other choice will probably be Eric Campbell, who is the only other bench player with options. Additionally, Campbell’s job is assumed by Johnson, a more capable player. UPDATE: Mets designated John Mayberry, Jr. for assignment (in my opinion that’s the right move). 

Lastly, I know nothing of these prospects, which is a good thing because it means they didn’t give up one of their better prospects. If you are interested in learning about them, here is a blurb on John Gant and another on Rob Whalen

The Mets still need a LOOGY and a SS. However, this trade added two major leaguers to a bench all under the Mendoza line. I think Uribe is a placeholder and not a solution. This trade makes more sense if Wright is indeed coming back this year. It was a solid but not great move.  

Realistic Immediate Moves

The Mets offense is officially offensive. As I tweeted last night, their runs per game is as follows:

April 4.35 runs per game

May 3.54 runs per game

June 2.96 runs per game

July 2.87 runs per game. 

This is unsustainable and had led to a -16 run differential. Things need to be fixed quickly to reverse these trends or the Mets run the risk of letting the season get away. For the purposes of this post, I’ll take the front office at face value and assume a trade can’t be competed just yet. Also, I’m not going to waste my breath here about bringing Conforto up to the majors (that’s for another time). The front office has made it clear he’s not getting called up. However, that does not mean something can’t be done now. 

First: Transfer Wright to the 60 day disabled list. He’s been gone for 60 days already. Not putting him on the 60 day DL is roster mismanagement. Once Wright is put on the 60 day DL, the Mets can call up someone not in the 40 man roster. 

Second: Call up Matt Reynolds (he’s not on the 40 man roster) and install him as the everyday SS. Let’s face it – since the day the Mets refused to resign Reyes, Tejada had been given several chances to become the everyday SS and failed. In this latest attempt, he had a triple slash line of .255/.322/.360 and a UZR of 0.8, i.e. he is bad at the plate and average in the field. CORRECTION: after posting this I learned Matt Reynolds is on the 7 day DL

Reynolds had a triple slash line of .270/.327/.410. I wasn’t able to find his UZR information, but scouts seem optimistic on his defense. If Reynolds minor league stats carry over, the Mets improve the SS position and the bench. If they don’t translate (the PCL is a hitter’s league after all), he had a cup of coffee. It’s not like his production would be so bad as to justify carrying Eric Campbell on the roster (side note: I’m sorry because Campbell works hard and really tries to help the team).  I know Reynolds isn’t on the 40 man roster, but so what?  Are you really afraid of losing 

Third: Outright Alex Torres and recall Logan Verrett. This would leave the Mets with only one lefty in the pen, Sean Gilmartin, who is not a LOOGY. However, Torres isn’t effective against lefties. Lately, he hadn’t been effective at all. In a small sample size, Verrett has been largely effective for the Mets. 

Fourth: Recall Dilson Herrera, bench Wilmer Flores, and release John Mayberry, Jr. In his last 10 games, Herrera is hitting .359 with a .390 OBP. He’s hot. Flores has been bad defensively and at the plate. However, he does have some pop in his bat and could be an effective PH. To make room for Herrera, Mayberry should be released. He just hasn’t hit. He’s taking up a valuable roster spot right now. 

Fifth: Call up Travis Taijeron and send down Danny Muno. I know I joked yesterday about Taijeron and the Mets need for more minor leaguers. However, this post is seeking drastic measures to help this team, which is best done by eliminating most of the bench. This season Taijeron’s triple slash is an eye opening .271/.395/.523. Why hasn’t he been called up?  Well he is not a highly thought of prospect having been drafted in the 11th round in 2011. Why send down Muno?  He’s bad at baseball. Travis Taijeron is not in the 40 man roster, but I am comfortable exposing Wilfredo Tovar to waivers. 

With all the machinations, the Mets have mostly retooled their bench (except Nieuwenhuis and Recker) and they find out what they have in Reynolds and Taijeron. Also, it creates a spot for with Nimmo or Conforto in AAA and possibly Gavin Cecchini as well. Maybe I’m wrong, but at least this is something. 

Harvey Just Not Good Enough

The Mets offense has averaged 2.87 runs in the month of July. Murphy was horrid in the field. Lagares has either lost a step or is playing out of position. The Nationals came to play and the Mets didn’t. Doesn’t matter. If you’re Matt Harvey and you want to be the ace, games like Monday don’t happen.

I can point to all the things that went wrong leading to the 5 runs scored while he was pitching, but the fact his he set up two of the scoring rallies by allowing Espinosa to get on and walking Harper. Should Murphy had made the play or at least knocked it down?  Probably. Should Mayberry have been charging the ball better than Cuddyer can right now?  Definitely. Should Tejada have had a clue and thought about Harper at third?  Yes. Does Lagares catch that Robinson double last year?  I think so.

However, I also think it’s fair to say too much has been thrust on Harvey. Most pitchers falter the year coming back from Tommy John surgery only to round into form the next year. (for e.g. Adam Wainwright). Unfortunately, with the way this roster is constructed, Harvey cannot learn his way back. He has to be THE MATT HARVEY now.

I have faith he’ll dominate next week against the Nationals.  My faith is based upon his will to compete and his ability.  I only hope by then the Mets have something to play for, and the Mets are at least competent at the plate and in the field.