Travis d’Arnaud

Mets Sweep Phillies & Collins Poor Managing Away

The hallmark of a good team is to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The Mets have now taken that to the extreme with their 12-1 record so far this year against the Phillies. The Mets had to overcome a lot tonight, including their manager. 

It didn’t start well for the Mets. Jon Niese was getting squeezed and frustrated. Then in the third inning he imploded. He allowed five runs putting the Mets in an early hole. Before the All Star Break, you couldn’t have counted have counted on the Mets scoring five runs in a week, let alone one game. 

However, the Mets now have a more completed. It showed as they overcame the five run deficit. In a month where the Mets have hit more homeruns in any other month in their history, the Mets used the long ball to get back in the game. In the fourth, Travis d’Arnaud hit a two run homer. In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes showed off his “Feats of Strength” with a two run homer. Finally, Kelly Johnson tied the game with a solo homerun in the fifth. It should be noted none of these three players were on the 25 man roster during the extreme offensive struggles in July. 

Both Niese and Aaron Harang would go six making it a battle of the bullpens. It was nice seeing Logan Verrett in the bullpen. However, I didn’t like how he was wasted. Terry Collins should’ve made a double switch with Verrett due up second. It made sense because Verrett can go multiple innings, especially with a short bullpen. 

Instead, Verrett only went one inning. This set up an inning where the Phillies got a chance to get a measure of revenge against Hansel Robles. They failed. Jeff Francoeur was robbed of an extra base hit on a diving stop by David Wright, who was good in the field today. Darin Ruf struck out again. Otherwise, Robles navigated around a one out double to get out of the inning.

Then in the ninth, Terry Collins went with Sean Gilmartin over Jeurys Familia. If Collins felt it was the right move because he needed a reliever to throw multiple innings, then he should’ve double switched when Verrett was in the game. Forget that: he should’ve double switched when Gilmartin came in the game because he was due up third in the tenth. If he was waiting for the save situation, it’s no excuse. You don’t risk losing a game without bringing in your best reliever. 

I think the answer might’ve been Collins wanted multiple innings from Gilmartin because HE LET GILMARTIN HIT FOR HIMSELF!  That’s inexcusable. The double switch is National League Managing 101. 

Just when I thought Collins was done making bad decisions, he takes out Gilmartin, and he puts in Carlos Torres. We then saw the greatest 1-3-1 out you’ll ever see:

Torres was brilliant. He pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, and he got the game winning rally started in the 13th. After he reached, Curtis Granderson singled in a tough AB. With one out Daniel Murphy came up in the same situation he did in the 11th. This time instead of hitting into a rally killing double play, he would hit a two RBI double down the left field line. 

Murphy moved to third on the throw, and he scored when Wright reached on an error. Wright would score on a Michael Conforto RBI single. The rally was ended by Ruben Tejada, who, somehow, was the only Met not to get a hit in this series played in this bandbox. Familia came in to close out the game with the final score of 9-5. Its funny seeing Torres bat for himself in the 13th, but not pitch in the inning. It’s a good thing Collins saved him for the save situation that never arose. 

It was a good win even if it was poorly managed. Again, Collins is making me nervous. I’ll enjoy the win even if I didn’t enjoy Collins’ very suspect managing. 

Bowa is Crazy

As I said last night, what Hansel Robles did last night was bush league because he threw the ball with the batter’s head down. Travis d’Arnaud tried to slow him down. Robles went ahead. 

Technically, Robles wasn’t wrong. The batter was in the box. The home plate umpire never called time. Instead, he called time AFTER the pitch was thrown. The pitch should’ve been called a strike. The home plate umpire lost control of the AB and then the game. 

Jeff Francoeur came out of the dugout looking to defend his teammate. Larry Bowa also came out of the dugout to . . . challenge Daniel Murphy?  Yup, he had a problem with Murphy’s bat flip from the PRIOR game. Finally, the umpire threw Bowa out of the game. I’m glad because the man was unhinged. People who have followed the game since his playing days are not surprised. 

I get the unwritten rules of the game. They exist to prevent hot heads like Larry Bowa and the obnoxious Larry Anderson from having pitchers throw at players heads. However, the problem is people like Bowa and Anderson use it as an excuse to throw at people’s heads. 

There is a right way and wrong way to play the game. Part of playing the right way is to address problems from a particular game within that game. After the supposed egregious bat flip, Murphy batted one more time in the ninth inning in a 16-7 game. That’s the time to drill him. 

The Phillies didn’t do it. They issue then became moot. Next time Bowa has a problem, he should direct his players to address it during the game. When he doesn’t, or if he’s overruled by the manager, he needs to shut up about it. He needs to respect the game. 

You do that by handling in game beefs within that game. I’m pretty sure there’s something about that in the unwritten rule book. 

Thor Forgets His Hammer

Everyone can talk about the home-road splits with Noah Syndergaard. However, if you think of yourself as a future ace, you don’t have games like Thor had tonight. 

He was handed a 3-0 lead by another “Feat of Strength” by Yoenis Cespedes and Thor’s own RBI single. He gave it back and couldn’t make it past the fifth inning. This was important because the Mets have a really short bullpen. Normally, you’d ask your starter to get some extra innings with a short bullpen. The smarts couldn’t do that because of the phantom innings limit issue. 

What we have instead was another day with a Mets reliever going multiple innings.  Today, it was Hansel Robles‘ turn (more on him later).  He pitched well only allowing one of the inherited runners from Eric O’Flaherty to score. I’m assuming the Mets will not have him and Sean Gilmartin available. Plus Logan Verrett will only be available for one inning. This is not the situation you want to be in with Bartolo Colon on the mound tomorrow, reagardless of his health

Thor was bailed out in the top of the sixth when Travis d’Arnaud, who was inexplicably batting eighth, received an RBI from a bases loaded walk to tie the game. Michael Cuddyer then pinch hit for Thor and hit a two run single to put the Mets up 6-4. This is the latest example showing Cuddyer may still have something to contribute

Tyler Clippard had a rough eighth inning. He left 1st and 2nd with two outs for Jeurys Familia, who came on for the four out save. He induced a groundballs to David Wright to get out of the jam unscathed. He then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the 6-5 win. Now with Familia going four outs for a save, we now have to question his availability for tomorrow. 
Back to Robles. What he did was bush league. It was bush league not because he quick pitched. It was bush league because Cody Asche‘s head was down when he threw the ball. The Phillies dugout was rightfully upset. Normally, I’d argue that Jeff Francoeur should’ve been ejected, but he was protecting his teammate. The dugouts emptied, but neither team really crossed the lines. 

My overall issue is with the home plate umpire. You either instruct the batter to get in the box or have your hands up the whole time to let Robles know he can’t throw a pitch. The umpire needs to be aware Robles likes to quick pitch, and he needs to umpire the game accordingly. 

It should also be noted that Wright’s second game back wasn’t as successful as his first. He didn’t look as good at the plate. He swung at a lot of balls off the plate and out of the strike zone. Overall, he went 0-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. On the bright side, he was better in the field. Regardless, like last night, this was just one game, and I still have faith in him

Ironically, despite the predicament Thor left the Mets in, he notched his first career road win. The Mets have problems to deal with tomorrow with an even shorter bullpen and no Wright tomorrow. At least they took care of business tonight and still lead the divisio by 5.5 games. Let’s enjoy tonight and worry about tomorrow. 

The Wright Stuff

It’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the story lines from this game, and there were many. However, win, lose, or draw, this game was always going to be about David Wright‘s return. He started his return with a bang . . . or should I say a blast:

What a way to start!  He would finish the game going 2-5 with that homerun, a walk, three runs, and an RBI. He also made two errors in the field. Hey, he isn’t perfect. I’m willing to let him get up to game speed. We all know he’s going to work to get better and be better. Surrounding Wright’s return was quite an interesting game. 

While Wright was rising to the occasion, Jacob deGrom wasn’t ready for today. He had his worst outing in terms of innings pitched and runs allowed. His ugly line was 2.2 innings, 8 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs (6 earned). He left the game down 7-2. Sean Gilmartin would come in and save not only deGrom, but also a depleted bullpen. He would go 3.1 innings striking out four and holding the Phillies to seven runs. That was important because the Mets offense was about to go off again in a bandbox. 

The team tied team records with eight homeruns and 15 extra base hits. Here’s the collection of homeruns:

  1. David Wright (solo, 2nd inning)
  2. Juan Lagares (solo, 3rd inning)
  3. Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] (2 run, 4th inning)
  4. Travis d’Arnaud (464′, solo, 4th inning)
  5. Wilmer Flores (3 run, 5th inning)
  6. Michael Cuddyer (solo, 5th inning)
  7. Daniel Murphy (2 run, 6th inning)
  8. Yoenis Cespedes (2 run, 9th inning)

It wasn’t until d’Arnaud’s two run double in the sixth that the Mets scored a run without hitting a homerun. It was the Murphy 9th inning double that broke the record, but it was the Cespedes’ “Feats of Strength” that put the cap on the evening. Overall, the Mets treated Citizens Bank Park so much like Coors Field that they scored 14+ runs for the third time in four games. They would win 16-7. 

In fact, things went so well from the Mets from the fourth inning on that Hansel Robles pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. Even Eric O’Flaherty had a 1-2-3 inning getting one righty and two lefties out. Carlos Torres‘ ninth inning was even fairly uneventful. 

Also, even with the questionable lineup, Terry Collins had a good game. He got deGrom out in time. He rode Gilmartin as long as he could, especially with the short bullpen. I’m not going to disagree with him leaving Wright in fir the full game. You could make a reasonable argument to pull him in a laugher. I liked keeping him in there for a full game. It’s his first major league game since April. Let him get fully up to game speed. Although with the Mets not having two relievers who can give multiple innings, I do question using Torres in the ninth. 

One another note, as I said before, these bandboxes produce some ugly and weird baseball. In the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Howard hit a hard line drive into the shift. Flores made a diving stop, but he couldn’t hold onto the line drive. As Howard was walking off the field, Flores got to a knee and threw it to first base. Howard then ran back to first, and because of the off the odd angle, he was heading towards second base when he ran through the bag. As Gary and Ron mused, it would’ve been interesting to see what happened if the throw didn’t beat Howard. 

Overall, it’s tough to figure out if Gilmartin or Flores gets the game ball. We do know the Mets expanded their lead to a season high 5.5 games. I’m going to celebrate with a cookie

Cespedes Backs Up a Damaged Colon

I’ve made it well known that I don’t think Bartolo Colon is a good pitcher anymore. Normally, I’d be apoplectic over his giving up seven earned in 3.2 innings. 

Actually, you know what?  I am apoplectic over it. Look at the photo. They had to ice and rub him just to get him out there. If you were watching it on TV, you saw that bump on his wrist get bigger and bigger. He should’ve been taken out when he was hit on the wrist in the second inning. 

I don’t care if you’re one of the stud muffins or a bad 42 year old pitcher, the team does not have the right to put a player out there and risk significant injury. I’m even more incredulous because the Mets have a short bullpen and want to skip Matt Harvey‘s Sunday start. Also, if the Mets want a six man rotation, I’m certain that included Colon and not Logan Verrett

Also troubling for the Mets, Lucas Duda left the game in the seventh with the game very much in doubt. Hopefully, it has nothing to do with his back

Lucky for the Mets, Yoenis Cespedes unleashed his “Feats of Strength.”  He went 5-6 with a stolen base, double, three homeruns (one grand slam) and seven RBIs. Two homers were to CF and the other went to RF.  it would’ve been 6-6 if not for a terrific running catch by Carlos Gonzalez in the ninth.  Going into the ninth, Cespedes had a chance for the HR Cycle (solo, two run, three run, grand slam). The Murphy SF took care of that. He was also a triple short of the cycle. Car-Go’s catch took care of that. 

The rest you need to know?  the six inning, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto hit solo homeruns off former Met Gonzalez German.  Sean Gilmartin was marginally effective and got the win. Hansel Robles wasn’t good, but he only gave up one run. The Mets added an insurance run in the eighth with a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] RBI double scoring Cespedes (who else?).  Daniel Murphy would knock in the last run with a ninth inning sacrifice fly. Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia locked down the eighth and ninth to secure the 14-9 win. 

It’s funny with everything going on tonight, the thing that threw me for a loop was seeing Jose Reyes bat second. The only other person not to put Reyes in the leading spot was Jerry Manuel. That’s not good company for Walt Weis. 

Overall, my favorite part of the night was in the top of the sixth. Despite burning a challenge earlier in the game, Walt Weiss came out to challenge a safe call on a Curtis Granderson stolen base attempt. It was a little ironic because the early failed challenge involved Granderson throwing out Nick Hundley at the plate to end the fifth inning. I think the umpires got the call wrong even if it was upheld on replay.

Anyway, Walt Weiss has no challenges left. It doesn’t stop him. The umpires went forward with the replay, which did confirm the call. Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez were livid and rightfully so. There were a few times I thought Keith was going to drop an expletive. In this mess of a game it gave me a chuckle. 

The win gave me a smile. I have a huge grin due to the Nationals loss, and the Mets expanding their lead to five games. 

Collins Managing Like It’s 1995

Tonight was yet another example that Terry Collins is not ready to manage in October. This is unacceptable. 

I’m angry and you should be angry. Logan Verrett was called up to help in the bullpen. He comes in and faces three batters in the sixth. He’s been starting in AAA, so after a quick inning, in an AL park, I presumed it was a no-brainer that he came on for a second inning. 

Nope, he was lifted. Why?  So he can start on Sunday to permit the Mets to skip Matt Harvey‘s start. Yup, the Mets are messing around with a team in a pennant race. As I’ve said before, if you want to skip starts, you do it in May when Harvey was struggling; not now, not in the thick of the pennant race. 

Sure enough Hansel Robles gives up the game tying HR in the seventh (which was supposed to be Verrett’s innings) to Adam Jones tying the game at four. There’s no shame in allowing a HR to Jones. There is shame in allowing your fourth or fifth best reliever to get beat in the last three innings of a game. 

Terry Collins continued his rough night by allowing Juan Uribe to face former Met Darren O’Day after Lucas Duda‘s one out double. O’Day holds righties to a triple slash of .192/.259/.277 for his career. This year Uribe hits righties .246/.300/.375. Predictably, Uribe grounded out with Kelly Johnson on the bench. Travis d’Arnaud would then make the final out of the inning. 

If you’re going to sit Michael Conforto against lefties, you pinch hit Johnson there. Sure enough to make sure I get an aneurysm, Collins PH Michael Cuddyer against the lefty Zach Britton. On what planet is it more important to look at lefty-righty match-ups in the beginning of an inning as opposed to during a rally in a tie game. 

Finally, to show Collins shouldn’t be managing a team in a pennant race, he puts in Carlos Torres over a warmed-up Jeurys Familia. Sure enough, Torres let up the walk-off homerun to the first batter he saw in the ninth giving the Orioles a 5-4 win. You always want to lose a game with one of your worst relievers when you’re best one is available and ready to go. 

I’m angry. Collins botched this game top to bottom. He cost the Mets the win. Some will blame the bullpen. I think it’s how it was deployed and how Collins handled his bench. 

Thank God Washington hasn’t fired Matt Williams. Otherwise, I would be positive the Mets would blow this lead. 

Are the Mets Reckering Their Prospects?

I don’t understand what the Mets are doing with their prospects right now. First, they are actively stunting the development of Michael Conforto by keeping him in the majors and not playing him everyday. Keep in mind, this is a player, they didn’t want to call-up in the first place. 

Additionally, there is the constant noise over the six man rotation, but their young stud muffins are set to far exceed their innings limits.  Plus, these prized arms’ aches and pains are largely ignored until it becomes more serious. They even have Dan Warthen playing doctor. It’s inexcusable. 

Their treatment of Kevin Plawecki is almost as ponderous. I understand he might’ve been the best option at backup catcher, but it’s not like he’s been good. It’s just that Anthony Recker and Johnny Monell have been that bad. That was, in part, the rationale behind keeping Plawecki up when Travis d’Arnaud came off the DL on July 30th. Let’s see how that worked out for Plawecki:

  • 3 games played out of 11l
  • .111 average
  • 12 extra days of accumulated service time

In essence, the decision was just short of being a disaster. Plawecki is going to be a Super Two player. Overall, he’s hit .228/.283/.296. Those are ugly numbers, especially when he’s a .292/.368/.435 hitter in the minors. Obviously, he should’ve been in the minors trying to get better. For those that argue that there’s value sitting on a major league bench, it sure hasn’t helped him thus far. 

Plawecki probably would’ve benefitted from time in AAA making him a better player. d’Arnaud did the same last year, and he’s the better for it. Plawecki didn’t, and he’s worse off. The Mets catching situation is also worse off. 

Overall, the Mets prospects are worse off the past two years in how they’ve been handled. I only hope Plawecki and Conforto can overcome it because they have real promise . . . promise that isn’t being g cultivated by the Mets. 

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. 

Mets Have “40” Decisions to Make

As of today, the Mets 40 man roster is full with Erik Goeddel and David Wright on the 60 day DL. Since players on the 60 day DL do not count towards the 40 man roster, two players will have to be removed from the 40 man before Goeddel and Wright can be added.

The first decision could potentially come on August 11th, when Goeddel is first eligible to come off the DL. The Mets can send down Hansel Robles, who has options, but that only solves the 25 man roster issue. As of today, here are the people who are on the 40 man roster, who are also not on the 25 man roster:

  1. Dario Alvarez
  2. Vic Black
  3. Jack Leathersich
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Akeel Morris
  6. Logan Verrett
  7. Gabriel Ynoa
  8. Johnny Monell
  9. Anthony Recker
  10. Dilson Herrera
  11. Danny Muno
  12. Wilfredo Tovar
  13. Darrell Ceciliani
  14. Michael Cuddyer
  15. Kirk Nieuwenhuis

In deciding who to remove, there are a couple of important factors to take into account:

  1. This player will be exposed on waivers allowing any team to claim that player, and
  2. A player must be on the 40 man roster as of August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster (there are loopholes however).

Immediately, you can rule out the pitchers. They’re young, under control, and will be snatched up by another team . . . even Vic Black. That leaves eight players for two spots.

Next, we can eliminate Michael Cuddyer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis from consideration. Cuddyer is set to come off the DL soon. Nieuwenhuis is a possibility, albeit remote right now for the postseason roster. We’re done to six players.

I would next eliminate Dilson Herrera, who is seen as the second baseman of the future. This is especially important with Daniel MurphyKelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe set to be free agents. We’re down to five players: Monell, Recker, Muno, Tovar, and Ceciliani.  Here’s where things get tricky. You can make cases for all of these players to stay or go.

I’ll start with the catchers, who have been awful this year . . . absolutely terrible. I’m expecting the Mets to move on from both of these players in the offseason. However, we need to remember Travis d’Arnaud has been injury prone. You don’t want to him to go down and have no playoff replacement. At a a minimum, one catcher must stay on the roster. Possibly both.

Up next are the young middle infielders. Admittedly, they have both been pretty bad in very limited major league experience. Accordingly, you can’t use that experience as the sole reason to outright that player. It should be noted neither player is a top prospect in the Mets organization. I think both are candidates, specifically Tovar, who is behind Matt ReynoldsGavin Cecchini, and Amed Rosario on the organization’s SS depth chart.

Finally, we have Ceciliani, who played decently with the Mets this year (even if he was a little exposed). It should be noted he was passed over in the last two Rule Five Drafts.  I don’t imagine his limited playing time changed the minds of the other 29 teams.  Furthermore, with Nieuwenhuis being on the bubble for the postseason roster, there’s no chance he would even see the field. In my opinion, this makes him the most vulnerable.

Now, I have no connections whatsoever, but I would believe Ceciliani and Monell are the two players who will be moved to make room for Goeddel and Wright. You could easily interchange that for Recker and Ceciliani or one of the middle infielders.  However, I think Ceciliani and Monell are the two least  regarded players on this list.

Further complicating matters is Rafael Montero, who is also on the 60 day DL. Terry Collins recently went to talk to Montero to encourage him to ramp up his rehab so he can help the team.  If Montero is coming back, the Mets are going to have to make yet another roster move.  I believe at this time, the middle infielders would definitively be in danger of being removed from the 40 man roster.  My guess would be Tovar, but then again, I could be wrong.

The only way to avoid removing anyone, and risking losing a player, is to make a trade with another team.  The problem there is if these players had value to other teams, they would have been moved already.  Specifically to Ceciliani, we’ve seen teams pass on him a number of times.  There is also the possibility that the player to be named later in the Eric O’Flaherty deal is one of the aforementioned 15 players making part of this post moot.  However, I think that is unlikely.

Overall, the Mets have a lot of important decisions to make with an eye towards who they want on the postseason roster.  It’s fun to be a Mets fan again.