T.J. Rivera

Mets Lose In 3-1 Blowout

If we’re being honest, this isn’t the greatest Mets lineup even when the team is healthy. It’s full of guys who certainly can all hit the ball out of the ballpark, but it’s also full of players with poor on base percentages. When you lose Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes to injury the problems become even more exacerbated. 
Now, the Mets have the pitching to win games no matter who is in the lineup. We saw that in 2015 as the pitching and Curtis Granderson kept the team afloat playing near .500 ball until reinforcements arrived. 

In those games the Mets did win, they needed their pitcher’s to be great. At the state the Mets offense is now, the 2017 Mets are back to that point. Yesterday, Jacob deGrom was good. 

He was mowing the Nationals down for the first three innings until his wildness caught up to him in the fourth. A Daniel Murphy single was bracketed by walks to Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon loading the bases. 

The Mets got a bit lucky as the Nationals third base coach sent Murphy on the ensuing RBI single by Matt Wieters

In the fifth, the Nationals got to deGrom again. Adam Eaton and Trea Turner hit back-to-back one out doubles to make it 2-0. After Harper was just told to go to first base (essentially what the new intentional walk rule is), Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single to make it 3-0. 

The Nationals wouldn’t score again in the sixth thanks in large part to Granderson:

After getting the first two out, deGrom got in trouble again issuing yet another walk, this time to Eaton, and then allowing a single to Turner. At this point, Terry Collins turned to Josh Edgin to get the Mets out of the jam. Somewhat surprisingly, he did by striking out Harper. 

Overall, it was a tough day for deGrom who issued a career high six walks. He was obviously ramped up early getting it up to 98 MPH and recording a lot of strikeouts. The early adrenaline wore off, and deGrom was left throwing 94 MPH and missing his spots. This was an uncharacteristic start for deGrom. His final line was 5.2 innings, eight hits, three runs, three earned, six walks, and 10 strikeouts. 

Given the current state of the Mets offense, 3-0 might as well have been 30-0. This game was no different. 

For the second time this season, the Mets offense was no-hit through five innings. This time, it was done by Gio Gonzalez. Though the Mets offense looked overmatched and lifeless, they would break through in the sixth. 

Jose Reyes pinch hit for Edgin and worked a one out walk. Then, Juan Lagares broke up the no-hitter with a single. More than that, the Mets had a rally going. 

Michael Conforto didn’t help the narrative he can’t hit left-handed pitching by striking out and going hitless on the day. Where Conforto didn’t come through, a hobbled Asdrubal Cabrera did hitting an RBI single to make it 3-1. That was as close as the Mets would get. 
Jay Bruce and Neil Walker had back-to-back strikeouts ending the Mets only rally of the game. The offense then made a struggling Nationals bullpen look like the 1990 Nasty Boys. 
Blake TreinenEnny Romero, and Koda Glover did their best Norm CharltonRob DibbleRandy Myers impersonation to slam the door shut on the 3-1 victory. 
With that, the Mets are 8-10 and are in fourth place 4.5 back. They’re having trouble beating the Phillies and can’t even hit a poor Nationals bullpen. It’s still April, so it’s still early, but things do not look good right now. 

Game Notes: Cabrera tried to leg out an infield single in the fourth.  He was noticeably hobbled, and he came out to take his position right before the first pitch of the fifth inning. For the second day in a row, an injured Yoenis Cespedes informed the team he was too injured to pinch hit. Once again, Travis d’Arnaud was limited to pinch hitting duty. T.J. Rivera got the start at third base over a healthy Reyes. He was 0-3. 

Hard Fought Loss Is Still A Loss

As if the Mets weren’t injured enough, the team had a new rash of injuries heading into tonight’s game. 

Wilmer Flores and Lucas Duda went on the disabled list. Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes didn’t, but they couldn’t start. At least d’Arnaud was available to pinch hit. To make matters worse, Asdrubal Cabrera is now dealing with a hamstring injury keeping him out of the lineup, and Jacob deGrom woke up on the wrong side of the bed. 

With deGrom waking up with a stiff neck, he missed tonight’s start, and he probably needs someone to start for him tomorrow. 

With so many people out of the lineup, the Mets needed someone to step up. The Mets had people stepping up all over the place tonight. 

First was Matt Harvey who was the surprise starter. Harvey gave his team a chance to win pitching seven innings. His final line was seven innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, two walks, and two strikeouts. 

Harvey pitched well, but he was tripped up by the long ball. In the first inning, he grooved one to Bryce Harper who launched it for a two run homer. It was a strange site to see when you consider Harper couldn’t get a hit off pre-TOS Harvey. The third run off Harvey came off a Jose Lobaton solo shot in the fifth. 

Despite the two homers and the makeshift lineup, Harvey had a no decision.  

He was first helped by a Michael Conforto first inning blast off Tanner Roark‘s first pitch of the game:

The second and third runs came courtesy of Curtis Granderson. In the fourth, Granderson had a two out RBI single scoring Jay Bruce. He then tied the score in the sixth:

It was a terrific night for Granderson. Coming into the night, he was hitting .143/.197/.214. Just like he’s done in his entire Mets career, Granderson stepped up when the Mets needed him most going 2-4 with a run, two RBI, one walk, and the home run. 

The Mets nearly took the lead in the seventh. Zack Wheeler hit for Harvey and hit a pinch hit double. The Mets would load the bases, and the Nationals would go to Oliver Perez, who got Bruce to line out to end the inning. 

In the ninth, there was some craziness. Rene Rivera earned a lead-off walk off Joe Blanton, and Terry Collins opted to pinch run Robert Gsellman. T.J. Rivera then bunted Gsellman to second. 

Cabrera then pinch hit for Addison Reed and drew a walk. Given his hamstring issues, Collins sent out Kevin Plawecki to pinch run for him. No, it didn’t make sense to do this and force the pitcher’s spot to come up earlier in the lineup, but nothing in this inning made much sense. 

In the long run, Blanton worked his way out of the inning. Another side effect of the inning, Collins’ mechanations led to the pitcher’s spot coming up three spots earlier in the lineup. He did that in a game where the Mets had a short bench. Just an inexcusable move. 

The Mets certainly could’ve benefitted from better managing as the pitcher’s spot did come up in the bottom of the 11th with the Mets down 4-3. 

The Mets were down 4-3 because Jeurys Familia is still rusty. Keep in mind, he only made two relief appearances in the minors before his suspension was over. 

After Josh Smoker allowed a lead-off double to Harper, Murphy was intentionally walked, and Familia entered the game. He threw a wild pitch allowing Harper to go to third. It didn’t matter much as he issued back-to-back walks to Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner to force in a run. Familia settled down after that, but it was too late. The Nationals took the lead. 

Shawn Kelley came on in the 11th and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. With that, the Mets fought valiantly, but still lost. They’re now under .500, and who knows who will be healthy enough to play tomorrow. 

Game Notes: Daniel Murphy‘s 19 game hitting streak came to an end. He was 0-4, and he was intentionally walked in the 11th. Apparently, Reed wore the wrong hat during his appearance. 

Please Don’t Mess Around With These Injuries

One of the best things to come out of the past offseason was Major League Baseball shortening the stint on the disabled list from 15 days to 10 day.  Presumably, that change made it easier for teams to place their players on the disabled list to allow them to recover.  Someone should tell that to the Mets.

Last night, with the Lucas Duda injury and Wilmer Flores infection, Jay Bruce was forced to play first base for the first time since he played three games there in 2014.¬† That also put Juan Lagares in the position of being the team’s lone back-up outfielder and middle infielder.¬† Lagares was initially signed by the Mets as a shortstop, but he has not played the middle infield since he played six innings for the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats as a 20 yeard old in 2009.¬† To put it in perspective how long ago that was, back in 2009, Citi Field just opened, and Daniel Murphy was considered a left fielder.

When Cespedes had to leave the game with a hamstring injury after running the bases in the fifth inning, the Mets were in trouble.¬† If the game were to go deep into extra innings, the Mets were likely going to have to consider which infield position other than first could Kevin Plawecki handle.¬† They might have followed through with the plan to put Zack Wheeler at first base like it was contemplated during the 16 inning game.¬† If things got bad enough, the team might have had to lean on Jacob deGrom‘s experience as a collegiate shortstop.

Simply put, this is unacceptable.  Year-in and year-out the Mets find themselves in this position, and they are more than willing to play with short benches with players not even available to pinch hit.  Worse yet, they ask players to do too much.

Last year, the Mets saw Asdrubal Cabrera deal with a knee injury all season.  From the middle of May until the end of July, he was hobbled and struggling.  Over that stretch, he hit .232/.285/.436.  The Mets finally put him on the disabled list so he could rest his knee.  He responded by becoming the 2015 Yoenis Cespedes and willing the Mets to the postseason hitting .345/.406/.635 over the final 41 games of the season.

Speaking of Cespedes, the Mets were also stubborn about putting him on the disabled list.  On July 8th, he suffered an injured quad.  He would not go on the disabled list, and he would not play in another game until July 17th.  When he did play, he was noticeably hobbled.  From July 17th to August 3rd, Cespedes hit just .205/.302/.318 in 14 games before the Mets finally put him on the disabled list.  When he came back, he hit .259/.335/.490 over the final 38 games of the season.

Then there was Michael Conforto.  We are not quite sure when he was injured, but we do know that he received a cortisone shot in June of last year.  Clearly something was bothering him as Conforto went from the best hitter on the team in April to a guy who hit just .174/.267/.330 for the rest of the year.  Instead of a disabled list stint, the Mets treated him to multiple demotions to Triple-A, where he absolutely raked, and being stuck to the bench for far too long stretches.  Perhaps if the Mets put him on the disabled list, his second season would have gone much differently, and the Bruce trade might not have been necessary.

You would think the Mets would have learned from that, but they clearly haven’t as they are already repeating the same mistakes.

While it is not ideal with six of the next nine games coming against the Nationals, the Mets can definitively get away with Bruce at first with an outfield of Conforto-Lagares-Curtis Granderson from left to right.  While it does not have the offensive punch you would like, that is a really good defensive outfield.  On the infield, the Mets could recall T.J. Rivera, who showed the Mets last year he has a place in the major leagues.  The Mets could even get bold by calling up Gavin Cecchini to play second and moving Neil Walker to third.  At a minimum, it would get a struggling Jose Reyes out of the lineup.  It could also allow the Mets to pick and choose their spots with Reyes to allow him to be an effective pinch hitter or pinch runner in late game situations.

The overriding point is the Mets have talent on the 40 man roster even if Duda and Cespedes went on the disabled list.¬† With the Mets throwing Noah Syndergaard, deGrom, and Matt Harvey, the Mets can still win a fair share of those games to keep the team afloat until Duda and Cespedes are ready to return to the lineup.¬† In fact, the team might be better off because you’d rather have two healthy sluggers mashing all season than two injured players trying to find a way to produce to their normal levels.

That is something that didn’t work last year, and we can’t expect it to work this year.¬† It’s about time the Mets learned how to properly utilize the disabled list and field a team of healthy players.

Time To Call Up Gavin Cecchini

This may seem irrational. It’s most likely premature, but in reality, the Mets can’t keep languishing away with Jose Reyes at third base.  Last night should be the last straw. 

In the game, Reyes dropped a routine flyball that set the stage for the game tying rally. He got on base, and then he was caught between first and second on a pitch in the dirt. He got lucky that Cesar Hernandez hit him in the back. 

It’s at the point where Reyes can’t make routine baseball plays. He’s fighting it. He’s hitting .100/.182/.140. Those numbers are unfathomably low. It’s really difficult to justify playing him right now. 

He’s fortunate that Wilmer Flores is a platoon bat that can’t hit right-handed pitching. He’s also lucky that Flores is also a poor fielder. T.J. Rivera is also a poor fielder at third base. Rivera is also stuck in Triple-A until next week, and he doesn’t draw enough walks to play everyday. 

This leaves the Mets looking for out of the box options. Even if the Mets were to bring back Kelly Johnson, he still needs time to get ready for the season. 

The common refrain is for Amed Rosario. It’s still too soon for him. The Mets likely don’t want to call him up before the Super Two deadline. Moreover, he only has 51 plate appearances above Double-A.  He still needs more time. 

That leaves the Mets looking at Gavin Cecchini

The Mets 2012 first round draft pick has thrived in Triple-A. Entering last night’s game, he played 130 levels in Triple-A hitting .320/.389/.451 with 31 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 62 RBI, and seven stolen bases. 

During Cecchini’s cup of coffee with the Mets last September, he showed he wasn’t intimidated playing in the majors. In four games, he was 2-6 with two doubles and two RBI. 

The issue with Cecchini is where does he play?  With his throwing issues and the rise of Rosario, he had been moved to second. The plan was also to have him work at and expose him to short and third this year. 

The early returns of Cecchini at second are good. He’s played well at the position, and he has started the season playing 12 errorless games. The issue is the Mets have a second baseman in Neil Walker

On that front, the Mets could move Walker to third base. Entering the season, Walker indicated he would be willing to play wherever the Mets needed him to play. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com). Given Reyes’ play, Walker may be needed at third. 

The other option could be playing Cecchini at third. However, with so little time there, and the concerns over his past throwing errors, Cecchini is probably not the best bet for third. Then again, it’s hard to argue that the Mets have there right now is any better. 

Yes, this is a drastic move, but seeing Reyes play and with David Wright likely not close to returning, the Mets have little choice but to pursue the drastic measure. The choices now are really either continue playing Reyes, play a guy who can’t hit right-handed pitching, or roll the dice on a former first round pick. 

At a minimum, it’s hard to argue Cecchini would be any worse. In fact, if Cecchini were to go 1-5 every night while playing mediocre defense, he would be an immeasurable improvement over Reyes.  For that reason alone, it’s time to give Cecchini a chance. 

Despite Losing Mets Accomplished Primary Objective 

A baseball season is 162 games. While you want to win each and every game, there are games where there may be a goal other than just winning a game. After last night’s 16 inning victory leading to Josh Smoker and Hansel Robles being unavailable tonight was one of those nights.

The pen was limited and exhausted meaning Noah Syndergaard had to go deep in the game. Syndergaard mostly accomplished his job lasting six innings. 

It seemed as if Syndergaard was pitching more to contact than usual. It reflected in the first inning rally that saw a Gordon lead off single, error, and sacrifice fly to put the Marlins up 1-0. 

Despite that rally, Syndergaard was mostly effective with a final line of 6.0 innings, six hits, two runs, one earned, no walks, and four strike outs. He got through six having thrown just 87 pitches. As it turns out, he was lifted with his finger nail tearing off:

The Marlins needed their starter to go as deep just as much as the Mets did. However, with a Mets offense working the count against Edison Volquez, and with him pitching on short rest with today’s scheduled starter Adam Conley, he would only last 4.2 innings. 

Unfortunately, the Mets couldn’t take full advantage of Volquez. In the third, the Mets loaded the bases with one out. Michael Conforto, starting in place of Yoenis Cespedes because Cespedes has the flu, hit a deep sacrifice fly scoring Curtis Granderson.

It was the only run they’d score in the inning, but at least it tied the score up at one. 

The Mets took the lead in the fifth with Lucas Duda absolutely crushing a home run to deep center:

Unfortunately, Syndergaard couldn’t hold onto the lead. In the bottom of the inning, he allowed three straight one out singles to Miguel RojasTyler Moore, and Dee Gordon to tie the game. 

The runners would advance on a J.T. Realmuto groundout putting runners on second and third with two out. That’s when Thor reached back and struck out Christian Yelich with a 100 MPH fastball. 

The Mets had a chance to get Syndergaard the lead back , and they squandered it. Jose Reyes earned a lead-off walk, and he a advanced to third on Syndergaard’s sacrifice bunt. The Mets couldn’t push Reyes, and the team wouldn’t get another real chance. 

For the first time all season, Reyes had a good game going 1-2 with two walks. With the game, Reyes’ batting average is now at .100. 

For the second straight game, it was a battle of the bullpens. The difference was the Mets did not definitively have the upper hand with the tired and unavailable arms. 

In the seventh, Rafael Montero hit into trouble loading the bases with one out. At that point, Terry Collins brought in Jerry Blevins to get both Yelich out and get out of the jam. Blevins would with a little help from Conforto:

Now, despite T.J. Rivera being sent down to make room for Sean Gilmartin, Collins decided to go with Josh Edgin to pitch the final two innings. Collins did this despite Edgin’s early season struggles and the fact that it was Gilmartin’s turn in the Las Vegas rotation. 

It was a messy eighth that saw Edgin allow a lead-off single to Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna was then erased when Justin Bour grounded into the 6-6-3 double play. Right after that, Edgin hit Derek Dietrich with a pitch. Forunately, Edgin was able to escape the inning by striking out Ichiro Suzuki

In the ninth, Edgin wasn’t so lucky. He gave up a lead-off walk to Rojas, who would score from first on a walk-off two out double by Realmuto. 

While Bruce was hustling, his lack of range showed on the play.  It also didn’t help the ball took a huge hop off the wall. Bruce had zero chance to throw out Rojas. It’s possible if that was someone else out there, they get to the ball quicker. However, it’s likely Rojas scores there no matter who was in right. 

While you wanted the win, the Mets came out of that game only needing to use Blevins. To that end, the game was a successful one for the Mets even if it wasn’t a victorious one. 

Game Notes: It appears Granderson is the new lead-off hitter with his leading off the fourth time this year. Reyes returned to the line-up after a mental health day. Neil Walker got the day off, and Wilmer Flores got his first start of the year against a right-handed pitcher. Flores was 0-4. 

D’Arnaud’s Sweet 16

When you play 16 innings, the game takes many twists and turns. Tonight’s game was that and then some. It was full of clutch hits, clutch fielding, gutsy pitching, and bizarre managerial moves. 

This was just a classic Terry Collins game. He made a series of bizarre moves. As usual, they surrounded use of his pitching staff, but today was an extra treat because it wasn’t just limited to the pitching staff. 

From the beginning, it was apparent Robert Gsellman didn’t really have it. In the first, he walked two and eventually allowed a grand slam to Marcell Ozuna putting the Mets down 4-0 before anyone could blink. 

With the Mets offense humming with the series in Philadelphia, the Mets immediately tied the game in the top of the second. 

Travis d’Arnaud hit a bases clearing three RBI triple, and he’d come around to score on a Curtis Granderson two out RBI single. 

The Mets got the lead when Yoenis Cespedes and Wilmer Flores, batting clean-up and playing first with the Marlins starting the lefty Wei-Yin Chen hit back-to-back homers.

 Cespedes’ homer was absolutely annihilated:

With the two run lead, Collins made his first strange move of the game. While Flores started due to the lefty, T.J. Rivera started at third to give Jose Reyes a mental health day. Heading into the bottom of the fourth, with Chen only going three innings, Collins lifted Rivera for Lucas Duda

Obviously, Collins was just itching to shorten his bench with the activation of Juan Lagares from the DL giving him a full bench. Why Lagares didn’t start with this deep outfield and with a lefty on the mound is also bizarre in and of itself. Despite that, the Mets carried a 6-4 lead into the fourth. 

Cespedes added another homer in the fifth for good measure giving the Mets a 7-4 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. 

Gsellman struggled just like the first. The Marlins quickly loaded the bases, and he walked Christian Yelich pulling the Marlins within two. Giancarlo Stanton hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Marlins within one. 

It was only at this point that Collins went to the pen. With the left-handed hitting Justin Bour coming to the plate in an absolutely pivotal moment, Collins went to Josh Edgin instead of Jerry Blevins

Bour doubled to tie the game. Ozuna was intentionally walked. Derek Dietrich then singled to give the Marlins an 8-7 lead. The Marlins probably would’ve done more damage, but on the Dietrich single, Jay Bruce nailed Bour trying to score from second. 

The Marlins got their revenge in the seventh.  Cespedes took first after he struck out on a wild pitch. He then appeared to score from first to tie the game on a Bruce double:

Naturally, Angel Hernandez got the call wrong necessitating the replay showing Ozuna nailed Cespedes at the plate. Between this play, the grand slam, and all the other plays we’ve seen from Ozuna, he’s become an extremely annoying player along the lines of Willie Harris, except Ozuna is a much better player. 

The Mets were still undeterred. In the top of the eighth, d’Arnaud got on with a two out single. Michael Conforto who has hit every chance he’s been given this year got his latest chance pinch hitting for Blevins. Conforto would double in d’Arnaud to tie the game at eight. 

The battle of the bullpens continued, and it became a war of attrition. 

With the exception of the two lefties, Edgin and Blevins, each reliever pitched over one inning. This includes Josh Smoker who really stepped up for the Mets. Smoker would throw 38 pitches over three scoreless innings. It was an outstanding appearance. Considering his struggles going over an inning last year and his struggles this year, it was simply incredible. 

In the top of the 15th, with the bench already empty to the point that Rene Rivera was playing first base, Jacob deGrom pinch hit for Smoker and struck out.

This left the Mets with no other choice but to put Hansel Robles in the game. Understandably, Collins was hesitant to use Robles with him pitching three straight days and four out of the last five. 

While the Mets plated eight runs, it was not as if everyone was hitting. Asdrubal Cabrera took an ugly 0-7. His double play partner Neil Walker was 1-7. 

Conversely, Cespedes, Flores, Bruce, and d’Arnaud was great. While Cespedes had the two home runs, d’Arnaud was the best of them all. 

In the 16th, having run out of pitchers Don Mattingly turned to tomorrow’s scheduled starter Adam Conley to pitch the 16th Despite, Conley being fresh and having dominated the Mets, and despite d’Arnaud having caught 15 innings, d’Arnaud hit the game winning homer. It was the Mets first hit since the 10th inning. 

By far, this was d’Arnaud’s most memorable game as a Met. He was 4-6 with three runs, a triple, a homer, and four RBI. This was the second game this week he came one hit short of the cycle.

Other Mets with great games were Cespedes with the two homers, Bruce going 3-7 and nailing a runner at the plate, and the entire bullpen not named Josh Edgin. 

After Edgin, everyone stepped up and pitched scoreless inning after scoreless inning. Given their respective usages this year, asking most of them to pitch over an inning, and some of their early season struggles, this was an absolutely amazing group performance from that pen. 

It wasn’t easy in a game where nothing was easy. Ozuna, an absolute pest, made a very loud final out with Lagare catching it right in front of the center field wall. 

It should be noted Collins elected to have Robles pitch to Ozuna with two outs and Conley on deck. Sure, you’re loathe to put the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on base, but the pitcher was on deck!  This game was a classic example of winning despite your manager. 

Robles despite having nothing pitched two innings and got the win in the 9-8 win. This is a special win that signifies just how special this team could be. 

Game Notes: The game lasted 5:38. Even with d’Arnaud behind the plate, the Marlins did not attempt a stolen base. Reyes pinch hit for Edgin in the sixth and singled. Despite starting the game 0-7, Asdrubal Cabrera extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 16th inning single. His double play partner Neil Walker similarly struggled going 1-7. Mets have won consecutive games despite giving up a grand slam in both games. 

Rosario Won’t Come Up Until June At The Earliest

With no one realistically knowing when David Wright can play again or what he could contribute and Jose Reyes struggling mightily, the question becomes when you dip into the minor leagues to bring up reinforcements. 

The answer is likely Friday, June 9th. 

Why that date?  Well, it is likely the Mets will try to avoid risking taking one of their big prospects and allow them to reach Super Two status. For those that qualify for Super Two status, they get an extra year or arbitration. That means a young player gets four years of arbitration instead of three. That means for one year instead of making near the league minimum, they’re making real major league money. They also have a higher base for future arbitration years. 

While the date changes each year, and while it is an over generalization, Fangraphs notes teams are usually safe waiting 65 service days, i.e. days on the roster. With Opening Day having been Monday, April 3rd, 65 days later is June 8th. With that being an off-day, the hypothetical player would be activated on June 9th. 

Now, let’s be more specific. We all know the player most fans want to see called-up is Amed Rosario. Not only is Rosario the top prospect in the Mets farm system, but according to ESPN Insider Keith Law, Rosario is the top prospect in the game. 

But Rosario is more than that. He represents hope. He represents the future. He represents what could be the spark this team in a way Michael Conforto was for a 2015 Mets team that went all the way to the World Series. 

However, it is still way too early to pull that trigger. For starters, Conforto was not called up to the majors until July 24th, and that was only because others failed, and Michael Cuddyer went on the disabled list. 

Right now, Reyes is struggling, but we can’t say he’s failed nine games into the season. Even if you did, both T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores have done enough to at least earn an opportunity to fail should the Mets finally decide Reyes isn’t the answer. 

You’re going to need time to parse through Reyes, Rivera, and Flores. More importantly, Rosario is going to need time as well. Overall, Rosario has only played 61 games above Single-A. 

The other issue is where does Rosario play. It’s easy to say he’ll play short and Asdrubal Cabrera will move to third, but the Mets appear to like Cabrera at short. Therefore, Rosario may need to play third. The plan is to get him in a game at third base once every 10+ games. 

For the Mets to even contemplate Rosario at third, they have to be comfortable he can play the position. At this time, there’s no guarantee he can.  You can really only gauge when he plays the position. That’s going to take some time. 

As of the moment, the first place Mets have time to let the situation sort itself out. They can wait for both Reyes and Rosario to figure out what they need to figure out in order to succeed against major league pitching. They can wait until the Super Two timeline has passed. 

And who knows when Wright comes back?  If he does, this conversation about Rosario is moot. If he doesn’t come back in time, we all sit and wait for someone to establish themselves. 

If someone doesn’t do it by mid-June, the Mets may very well call-up Rosario. However, in all likelihood, the Mets wait just a little longer. 

Reyes Cannot Hit Lead-Off Anymore

After the game last night, Terry Collins joked, “I’ve got the FBI looking for the real Jose Reyes right now.”  

Instead of having the FBI look for Reyes, Collins should have the FBI look for a better option at third base and to bat lead-off. 

Now, no one can reasonably believe that Reyes is as bad as his current 1-27 streak. Even with Reyes fighting it since Spring Training, you’d expect him to at least beat out a throw with his speed. Reyes is better than this.

And yet, Reyes still isn’t good enough to be asked to play everyday and lead-off. Since Reyes’ career year in 2011 when he became the first ever Mets player to win a batting title, Reyes has been on a decline. That decline has been accelerated the past three years. 

Consider during his first go-round with the Mets, Reyes was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 25 doubles, 11 triples, nine homers, 47 RBI, and 41 stolen bases a season.  In that time, he accumulated 27.9 WAR. However, Reyes was more than just stats He was a dynamic shortstop whose exuberance pumped up the team and the crowd. 

Since leaving the Mets, Reyes has been a .281/.331/.410 hitter who has averaged 21 doubles, four triples, eight homers, 37 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. The bulk of those stats come from Reyes first year in both Miami and Toronto. The numbers get worse from there.

In the last three seasons, Reyes is a .279/.321/.400 hitter who averages 24 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 43 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. 

Now, with Reyes coming back to the Mets last year, the narrative was Reyes would be rejuvenated by playing for the Mets again. As we see with Reyes’ 1-27 streak this season, that has been proven false. 

Reyes is a 33 year old player in decline. He’s more in decline as a left-handed batter as he has been a .225/.276/.347 hitter. 

When you can’t hit right-handed pitching anymore, you can’t play everyday. When you have a .321 OBP over the past three seasons, you can’t hit leadoff. 

The issue here is that this is a problem with no easy solution. Wilmer Flores has the same issues against right-handed pitching. Many Mets fans solution would be to platoon him with Kelly Johnson, but Johnson is still a free agent. 

T.J. Rivera was a big part of the Mets push to the Wild Card last year, but it’s doubtful he can play everyday as his aggressiveness at the plate has suppressed his OBP in his minor league career. 
It’s probably still too early to consider Gavin Cecchini or Amed Rosario to get the call-up. No one can reasonably say when David Wright will return. 

And with that, the Mets are likely out of third base options. Arguably, Reyes is still the best option at third base. That argument gets harder and harder to defend with each out he makes. 

One thing that is indefensible is batting him lead-off. His .321 OBP over the past three years demands he hit lower in the lineup. His struggles this season beg for it to happen sooner rather than later. 

In his place, the Mets can literally pick anyone else as they cannot possibly be this poor. Ideally, that someone would also play third base. Unfortunately, that player does not exist, at least right now. 

Perhaps that player will be discovered as part of the FBI investigation. 

Bruce And The Homers Just Keep On Coming

Coming into this game, Jacob deGrom never lost against the Philliew. He was 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA against them. During a 31 pitch first inning that appeared to be in jeopardy. 

deGrom loaded the bases with one out. He first allowed a Michael Saunders RBI single, and then he issued a bases loaded walk to Cameron Rupp making it 2-0. With the Mets offense sputtering, the game was close to being over before it started. 

deGrom bore down, and he got Brock Stassi to ground into the inning ending 1-2-3 double play. The Phillies wouldn’t touch deGrom again. 

deGrom’s final line was six innings, six hits, two runs, two earned, two walks, and three strikeouts. 

It took a while, but the Mets would finally get him off the hook. At least this time, it was understandable Jerad Eickhoff had his good curveball, and he was dealing.

Fortunately, the Mets have Jay Bruce

Bruce homered in the fourth, and he started a rally with a lead-off walk in the seventh. Curtis Granderson followed with an infield single, and Bruce moved to third on the Cesar Hernandez throwing error. 

Bruce then scored on the Neil Walker sacrifice fly. Rupp couldn’t handle Odubel Herrera‘s throw home, and Granderson moved to second. He would stay there. 

First, Travis d’Arnaud flew out to right. It was his second rally he helped kill. In the second inning, with runners on first and second and no outs, d’Arnaud grounded into the inning ending double play. 

After the d’Arnaud fly out, Collins made a choice everyone second guessed. 

During the d’Arnaud at-bat, Michael Conforto was in the on deck circle apparently ready to pinch hit for deGrom. The Phillies countered by having Joely Rodriguez. This scared Collins enough to pull back Conforto and pinch hit T.J. Rivera

Actually no, that was the right move. Instead Collins went to Wilmer Flores and his career .252/.286/.372 batting line against right-handed pitching. He predictably flew out to end the inning. 

With the Mets rally ending meekly, it was questionable if anything would wake them up. Enter Edubray Ramos

After getting out Jose Reyes because that’s what everyone does, he faced Asdrubal Cabrera, and he promptly threw it behind Cabrera’s head. Why may you ask? Well, he was upset about last year’s bat flip:

https://mobile.twitter.com/byjameswagner/status/851605774522601474

Tempers flared. The benches were warned. Cabrera walked then Yoenis Cespedes struck out. The Phillies finally got Rodriguez in to pitch to Bruce who hit his second home run of the game:

The home run gave the Mets a 4-2 lead, and gave Jerry Blevins the win. 

Blevins had entered the game in the seventh with two on and two out because Josh Smoker was struggling and because Herrera was coming to the plate. 

Blevins would throw a terrible pitch wide and in the dirt. d’Arnaud was able to knock it down, and he tried to nail Herandez, who strayed a little too far from second. d’Arnaud’s throw almost went into center. Cabrera made a great play to snag it. 

While this was happening, Howie Kendrick broke for second and had to retreat. Cabrera nailed Kendrick for tour routine 2-6-3 put out. 

In the eighth, Blevins ran into trouble putting runners on first and second with no out. Collins summoned Hansel Robles to pitch to Rupp apparently in the spirit of the Ramos-Cabrera matchup. Robles got Rupp to hit into the 6-4-3 double play. Walker impressively stood in to turn that double play. 

Addison Reed came on for his second save opportunity. He allowed a lead-off home run to Stassi and a line out single. Reed was fighting it with his fastball, but he finally struck out Kendrick to end the game and put the 4-3 win in the books. 

It was a good win for the Mets. It was better that Bruce got his bat going again. It was better the Mets didn’t stand down when Cabrera was thrown at. 

Game Notes: Reyes is now hitting .037. Bruce is tied for the major league lead with four homers. 

Terry Collins Poor April 2017 Decisions

This year marks the seventh year Terry Collins has been the Mets manager. In those seven years, he has left a wake of horrible decisions and the careers of some players, namely Scott Rice and Jim Henderson.

Collins seems to be in rare form in what he had previously said was going to be his last before retirement. Already this year, he has made some poor and dangerous decisions.

Now, some like starting¬†Jay Bruce¬†over¬†Michael Conforto¬†is an organizational decision.¬† Some decisions are designed to give players a mental and physical day of rest, and they should not be over-analyzed.¬† However, many others, as you’ll see below, fall under the purview of Collins poor managing:

Opening Day – 4/3

Mets 6 – Braves 0

Collins sets out a lineup that makes little sense including batting his second worse OBP guy in Jose Reyes lead-off. He also made a strategical blunder hitting Bruce ahead of Lucas Duda. The issues there are more detailed here.

After Noah Syndergaard left the game with a blister, Collins turned to fifth starter Robert Gsellman for an inning in a 6-0 blowout instead of Rafael Montero, who could have benefited from a pressure free outing to build his confidence.

April 5th

Braves 3 – Mets 1

It’s not Collins’ fault the bullpen blew the lead, and he had to rip through his pen in an extra inning game. However, going to Montero over¬†Josh Smoker¬†was a poor decision. Smoker is just a one inning pitcher. He can’t be the last guy up. Also, he’s better than Montero, and as such, he shouldn’t pitched first.

Also, in extras, Collins turned to¬†Ty Kelly¬†over¬†T.J. Rivera¬†and¬†Wilmer Flores¬†with two outs and the winning run on second. In 2016, Kelly hit .179 off right-handed pitching to Flores’ .232 and Rivera’s .386. Another factor is with Conforto already having pinch hit, Kelly was the last OF on the bench.

April 6th

Mets 6 – Braves 2

No issues.

April 7th

Marlins 7 – Mets 2

You could argue Collins should’ve lifted¬†Zack Wheeler¬†before the fourth as he labored in ever inning except the first, but focusing too much on this may be picking nits at this point.¬† What was really peculiar was it was obvious the Mets were going to need someone to soak up innings with Wheeler’s short outing.¬† Last year, Smoker proved he is not a multiple inning reliever.¬† Despite that being the case, Collins turned to Smoker over Montero or Hansel Robles, who are two pitchers that can go deep in relief.¬† These are the types of decisions that exhaust bullpens.

April 8th

Marlins 8 – Mets 1

With Gsellman going five, Collins had to go deeper in the pen that he would’ve liked. He went too deep when he brought in Montero. The previous day Montero threw 35 pitches over 2.2 innings. On Wednesday, Montero threw 35 pitches over 1.2 innings. That‚Äôs 70 pitches over 4.2 innings without much rest. Montero struggled leading Collins to bring in¬†Fernando Salas¬†who has now appeared in four of the Mets five games himself.

April 9th

Mets 5 – Marlins 2

No issues.

April 10th

Mets 4 – Phillies 3

In the top of the seventh with the score tied at two, Collins put Conforto in the on deck circle, and the Phillies countered by having Joely Rodriguez warm-up.  By Collins tipping his hand a bit, he was forced to make the choice of Conforto against the left-handed pitcher or to go with one of his right-handed bench options to pinch hit for Jacob deGrom.

Now, there is a lot of small sample size bias, but Collins options where Conforto (.129/.191/.145 vs. LHP), Flores (.252/.286/.372 vs. RHP), and Rivera (.386/.397/.600 vs. RHP).  Again, there are small sample sizes, but based upon the information you would say your best bet is Rivera against Jerad Eickhoff.  Instead, Collins went with Flores, who flew out to end the inning and the rally.

One other small note.¬† Based upon the relative production of the Mets players, putting Bruce in the clean-up spot was a defensible and probably the smart move.¬† It’s more than just production, Bruce just looks better at the plate than anyone in the lineup right now.¬† However, according to Collins, Bruce was moved up in the lineup because he was hot.¬† Of course, Bruce wasn’t as he was in the midst of a 2-14 streak.

It’s a problem when the manager is making a move predicated on a faulty premise.¬† It does not matter if it was the right move or it worked out.¬† The problem is the reasoning behind it was flawed.

April 11th

Mets 14 – Phillies 4

No issues.

April 12th

Mets 5 – Phillies 4

To be fair, the following isn’t necessarily a critique of Collins.¬† It really is a critique of most baseball managers.¬† With the Mets up 5-0, and Zack Wheeler loading the bases, Collins summoned Hansel Robles to the mound.¬† While Gary and Ron Darling were harping on it being his third consecutive game, he had only pitched two innings and threw just 20 pitches in that stretch.¬† It’s really difficult to infer Robles was tired.

Rather, the issue is why don’t you use Fernando Salas in that spot?¬† He’s well rested, and he’s arguably your second best reliever right now.¬† This really was the biggest out of the game.¬† The Mets get the out here, and they go to the seventh up 5-0.¬† From there, you can go with some of your lesser arms to close out the game.

Instead, Collins went with his best reliever that wasn’t his 7th, 8th, or 9th inning guy.¬† This is what every manager does in this spot, so this is not unique to Collins.¬† Another point to be made here is Collins going to Robles is justifiable as Robles is a good relief pitcher, and he has bailed the Mets out of similar situations in the past.¬† Again, this is more of a critique of major league managers as a whole than just Collins.

April 13th

Mets 9 – Marlins 8 (16)

Well, this was a long game leaving Collins to make a lot of curious moves that helped lead to this being a 16 inning game that exhausted the Mets bullpen.

Despite the Mets facing a left-handed pitcher in Wei-Yin Chen, the Mets playing a large outfield, and the Mets rushing him back from the disabled list, Juan Lagares was not in the starting lineup.

After four innings, Collins lifted T.J. Rivera from the game for no reason at all.  There were no injury issues or defensive problems.  This move indirectly led to Rene Rivera playing first base in extra innings and Jacob deGrom having to make a pinch hitting appearance.

In the fifth, despite Gsellman not having anything, Collins pushed him, and the results were terrible.  Collins then turned to his worst reliever in Josh Edgin to help Gsellman get out of the jam.  The end result was the Marlins not only erasing a three run deficit, but also taking an 8-7 lead.

The Mets tied it and the game went 16 innings.  Over the course of those innings, the bullpen was absolutely exhausted which will have far reaching implications in the short and long term.

April 14th

Marlins 3 – Mets 2

To be fair, after a 16 inning game, the Mets did not have a lot of options available in the bullpen.¬† However, it is puzzling why Collins would go with Edgin, who has struggled most of the season, over a fully rested Sean Gilmartin who was brought up for the sole purpose of helping the bullpen.¬† Putting Edgin in for two innings essentially conceded the game.¬† That’s effectively what happened.

April 15th

Marlins 5 – Mets 4

After ONE decent game this season, Collins just rushed ahead and put Reyes back in the lead-off spot.¬† In response, Reyes was 0-3 with a walk.¬† It didn’t prevent the Mets from taking a lead, but again, it shows Collins’ poor though process.

In the eighth, the Mets had Jerry Blevins warming in bullpen when Christian Yelich walked to the plate.  Now, you can argue that Salas is the eighth inning reliever until Jeurys Familia returns, and this is his spot.  However, when you have Blevins warming up, you have him pitch to the left-handed batter in key situtations.  Instead, Salas allowed a game tying home run followed by a go-ahead home run to Giancarlo Stanton.

April 16th

Marlins 4 – Mets 2

No issues.

April 18th

Phillies 6  РMets 2 (10)

For most of the game, it appeared as if Collins was managing a pretty good game.¬† The most egregious error was batting d’Arnaud behind Reyes, who can’t hit right now, and Walker, who can’t hit as a left-handed batter right now.¬† However, you can excuse that when you consider Collins has to manage a clubhouse and respect veterans.

I’d go so far as to argue Collins deftly managed the bullpen last night.¬† That was until the 10th inning.¬† With a fully rested Sean Gilmartin and a Montero who seemingly gets worse with each and every outing, you simply cannot go to Montero in that spot.¬† It is essentially waiving a white flag.¬† And you know what, that’s exactly what Collins did.

The Phillies quickly had runners on first and second because, well, Montero was pitching.¬† You’re in the 10th inning, and the Mets have no hit at all in the game, you absolutely have to bring your infield in.¬† For some reason, Collins didn’t.¬† It would up not mattering because Montero allowed a sacrifice to the deepest part of right field, but still, how do you not bring your infield in in that spot?¬† It’s an egregious error perhaps more egregious than the Reyes one that lead to the game going into extra innings.

April 19th

Mets 5 – Phillies 4

You could argue that Reyes hitting seventh in front of d’Arnaud is a pressing issue, or his presence in the lineup might be one as well.¬† However, you have to consider Collins has to manage personalities in that clubhouse, and he has to at least consider the impact batting Reyes eighth may have.¬† Right now, this is an area where Collins should get some latitude.

Another thing to note, keeping Gsellman in to bunt and pitch to the first batter in the eighth was a defensible move.¬† The bench was short with Duda and d’Arnaud coming out of the game due to injury.¬† Also, the bullpen has been overworked.¬† Even saving them from having to get one batter is a help right now.

Accordingly, there were no issues with last night’s game.

April 20th

Phillies 6 – Mets 4

People want to harp on Familia throwing 30 pitches in the ninth, but the bullpen has been exhausted, and the Mets really didn’t give him work in the minors.¬† There were no issues with this game.

April 21st

Nationals 4 – Mets 3 (11)

Collins was extremely limited because of the injuries, and yet, he still managed to work a way around that excuse.¬† In the ninth, Collins used Gsellman to pinch run for Rene Rivera.¬† With Lagares in the game already due to the Cespedes’ injury, Collins had to go to his pitchers for pinch running and pinch hitting opportunities, so this was certainly understandable.¬† What happened after wasn’t.

First and foremost, Collins asked T.J. Rivera to lay down a bunt.¬† Now, analytical people would say this was the wrong move because the sacrifice bunt in that situation actually decreases the chances of your scoring.¬† They’re right, but there’s more to that.¬† Behind Rivera is the pitcher’s spot meaning you are going to have to have one of your players too injured to start the game enter as a pinch hitter.¬† That player was Cabrera.

Cabrera worked out a walk.¬† Once his foot touched second, Kevin Plawecki was already coming into the game as a pinch runner.¬† Why Collins just didn’t put Plawecki, the more experienced base runner, in for Rivera is certainly questionable.¬† There’s another matter to consider.¬† Plawecki was the last player on the bench who could play the field.¬† This meant that if the Mets didn’t score here, the pitcher’s spot in the order was going to come up sooner.¬† This meant that d’Arnaud had to pinch hit in the bottom of the 11th.

It should be noted d’Arnaud was so injured he couldn’t start the game.¬† It should also be noted when the game was tied in the seventh, Collins had turned to Wheeler to pinch hit.¬† There’s not congruent thought that can come from all of this.

April 22nd

Nationals 3 – Mets 1

Collins playing Cabrera in this game was a poor decision.¬† Cabrera was so hobbled the night before he couldn’t run the bases.¬† In this game, you saw why.¬† He was clearly hobbled and had even more difficulty getting around than he usually does.¬† He was noticeably in pain, and he was playing on a slick field.¬† There was an incident in the fifth inning where he tried to leg out an infield single, and it looked like he was going to need help to get off the field.¬† Cabrera would come out to take his position just before the beginning of the next half inning.

April 23rd

Nationals 6 – Mets 3

Other than a clearly hobbled and limited Cabrera playing again, no issues.