Bright spots and hope as the Mets approach the trade deadline

Amed Rosario and Jacob deGrom

I’m not here to offer hope for the 2017 playoffs. Making up ten games in the standings and jumping over five teams is, technically, a thing that can happen, but I think it’s a foolish thing to aim for.

Instead, I’m looking to see what positives the rest of 2017 may hold for Mets fans as we look forward to contention in 2018, and look to be entertained in the meantime.

Bright Spots

Jacob deGrom

Take out deGrom’s two terrible starts in late spring (when I assume he was hiding an injury or illness, which has always been the case with him in past such stretches) and he’s 11-1, with a 2.45 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, both good for 3rd in the NL. Don’t miss a chance to watch a homegrown ace in his prime. Unlike in his first three years, the Mets’ bats are even supporting him this time around!

Lucas Duda

If we had to name the Alderson era after a player, it would be the Lucas Duda era. The man has played more games as a Met than any other player post-2010. Over that span, he leads the team in walks, homeruns, and RBI. He’s had plenty of struggles, particularly in left field and against lefty pitching, but he’s never complained or made excuses or stopped hustling. The man can also hit the ball an absolute mile when he gets a hold of one. If he is about to be traded, or about to depart as a free agent, Mets fans should take a moment to appreciate him before he’s gone.

Curtis Granderson

Every team’s fan base enjoys having some good people to root for, not just good players. Although we get only the most skewed view of what players are really like, it seems pretty clear that Granderson’s a great guy and great teammate. He would be well within his rights to complain about being forced to the bench in the middle of a red hot streak, but he’s put the team first and refused to create a media distraction, just as always. If he’s entering his last days as a Met, we should root for him that much harder.

Jose Reyes

Jose has already treated us to 17 joyous trips down memory lane with his 11 steals and 6 triples. Even if he shouldn’t be a full-time player going forward, I’m sure there’s more to come. It’s fun to think back to the 2005-2008 teams, and Jose’s enthusiasm can still be infectious.

Hope for the future

Michael Conforto

Michael looks like he has a strong shot to be the best position player to come up through the Mets system since David Wright. At age 24 and with less than 800 MLB ABs under his belt, he’s probably got some improvements left.

Noah Syndergaard

Thor finished eighth in the Cy Young vote in 2016, and there are many reasons to believe he can return to that level in 2018. Maybe we’ll get a taste in September.

Amed Rosario

One of the top five prospects in baseball, Rosario will surely debut in Queens at some point in 2017. Even if his plate discipline is miles away, his defense should be a breath of fresh air.

Dominic Smith

Dom has made steady progress while being young for his level at every stop in the minors. He may not be a difference-maker yet, but he should hold his own at the minimum salary, and we’ll get to watch and see how good he can become.

The starting pitcher lottery

We can’t rely on any one guy besides Thor and deGrom. But we do have a lot of tantalizing options! Odds say that one of these guys will finally turn into a major asset, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens in the second half of 2017. Will Wheeler make an adjustment that allows him to harness his elite stuff? Will Matz find a way to stay healthy and consistent? Will Seth Lugo emerge as a dependable back-end guy who can make batters look bad with his curve? Will Robert Gsellman regain the control he had in 2016? Is there any Matt Harvey left in Matt Harvey? Most of these answers will probably be “no”, but I’m guessing there’s a pleasant surprise buried in there somewhere as well.

The trade deadline prospect lottery

Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, and Neil Walker ought to bring back something interesting, right? The way prospect news circulates these days, we shouldn’t have to wait until 2018 before some scouts and pundits are calling one move a bust and another a steal. Who will be the Mets’ best acquisition? A minor league starter who becomes a lights-out reliever? A struggling slugger who just needed new eyes on his swing? A catcher making the transition to third base, or vice versa? Stay tuned!

Anything else?

Am I missing anything? Is there more to like about our (or at least Keith Hernandez‘s) Lovable Metsies?

Or am I trying too hard, and this really is a difficult team to watch?

Sound off in the comments!

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Michael Conforto’s Next All Star Game Or Part Two Of The Case For Keeping Jay Bruce

Michael Conforto’s next All Star Game appearance will be for the Frontier League. There, I’ve said it. The crown jewel of the Alderson regime’s drafting history, the hitter of a pair of World Series homers, a part of the Legend of 2015, is looking more and more like a bust, the next John Milner, or if you prefer a somewhat more contemporary reference, the pre-steroid version of Jeromy Burnitz.

Hopefully the Mets understand this as well, because if they don’t, they are probably just days away from giving away the player they could only hope Conforto might someday become: one Jay Allen Bruce. In case you’ve forgotten I made a similar argument here.

Bruce is having a tremendous year with a slash line of 267|335|541 to go along with his 24 home runs. All this after a disastrous start to his Met career after last year’s trade deadline, a start that brought comparisons to he and the infamous Jason Bay. Bruce has proven his resilience, enduring a long winter of trade rumors, that fortunately for the Mets, bore no acceptable offers. To his credit he kept his mouth shut for the entire ordeal and has let his bat do the talking since Spring Training. He did speak up recently, countering Met manager Terry Collins’s somewhat incendiary remarks about the Mets not showing any fight, by making a somewhat understated, yet clearly understood rebuttal.

Like the rest of the Mets faithful, I held my breath last Saturday night when Yoenis Cespedes right knee created a tsunami like divot in the Citi Field outfield. The Mets’ claim that the injury is minor, and that Cespedes is due to return to the lineup tonight has about as much credibility as Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf’s press conferences back in the day. With Cespedes looking at yet another injury-riddled season, Bruce is the only reliable source of power left in the lineup. The key word here being reliable.

Which brings us to Conforto. Once again, he has failed to adjust and after a hot start to his season, he has slashed 206|383|317 since June 1. He took the Golden Sombero on Saturday against some decent left handed Colorado relief pitching and then took another collar in Sunday’s debacle. Just a reminder, he hit 220|310|414 for all of 2016. This is the guy the Mets should build their offense around?

No sir. The Mets need to extend Bruce,and get Cespedes to find another personal trainer in the hopes that he can stay on the field more often. Together, Cespedes and Bruce can form a dangerous right-left middle of the order for the Mets, who need to go with faster players who can pick the ball elsewhere. This will equate to a power outage of sorts, making the home run threat  from the outfield corners an even more needed resource.

And for Conforto? He needs to be packaged with one of the Mets disappointing “young guns” this winter (that’s you Steven Matz) for a fast centerfielder and/or a defensive-minded second baseman.

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Trade Target: Derek Fisher

No one inside the Mets organization will publically admit, but they have to sense what many of us have already concluded: 2017 just isn’t the Mets year. At this point, they need a GPS to find .500, let alone any of the five National League playoff spots. Readers of this blog fully understand the woes of this current team, but essentially the older Met players haven’t aged well and the injured Met players haven’t fully recovered. If they pitch well, their bats go silent, and if they score runs, their pitching staff can’t hold the lead. This is more than a 10-game cold streak, they have played nearly one-third of the season. Yes, they put together some great runs the last two seasons to make the playoffs; but in both years they started off well, tailed off in the middle and then heated up down the stretch. Now, they will have to make a concerted run at winning baseball for over 100 games. Do you see them going 65-35 or so the rest of the way? Me neither, and it’s very disappointing.

The good news is that this probably isn’t 1978, nor 1993, nor 2003 nor 2011 again. Those rock-bottom seasons (notice how they get progressively closer together) featured a roster devoid of talent, some onerous contracts and a feeble farm system. Outside architects had to be brought in to tear the entire structure down and rebuild at a very basic level, a tortuous process that took years—and didn’t always bear fruit.

Maybe wishful thinking here, but I don’t see this as the case with this current incarnation. Other than David Wright’s insurance-covered deal, they are fine in the contract department.  In Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes and probably Michael Conforto and Wilmer Flores, they have a decent cadre of core players. If the scouting reports are indeed true, they will be adding another solid piece whenever Amed Rosario is finally summoned from Vegas. Looking ahead to 2018, they should have two outfield and two infield spots covered, as well as a pair of top-of-the-rotation arms. The task between now and next year’s Spring Training is to supplement that core with some better players than the ones they have now. Which brings us to Mr. Fisher.

Unlike the Mets, the Houston Astros are having a phenomenal year. As of today’s writing (June 7) they are an incredible 42-16. Even if they “slow down” to a .600 pace they are on track for a triple-win digit year. Yet, they have weaknesses. Their bullpen needs another arm. Nori Aoki is slashing 258/307/315 for them in left and their DH is a 40 year-old Carlos Beltran. But if ever a team looked poised to win it all, this is it. Pardon the expression but they should be “all in.” The Mets have players to deal and would match up well with the Astros. They could offer Houston either Lucas Duda or Addison Reed for Fisher.  I wouldn’t be averse to packaging both of them together to get Fisher in return. Since Houston is looking for more production in their outfield, perhaps they would consider taking Jay Bruce in place of one or either piece. Maybe even Jerry Blevins, although that’s cutting a bit into next year’s team for the Mets, and I am not ready to punt 2018 just yet.

Currently Fisher is slashing 338/403/604 in the PCL. Yes, it’s the Pacific Coast League, but consider the fact that the highly-regarded Rosario is slashing 340/383/494 in the same league. Both players currently have 11 stolen bases. Imagine those two dynamos at the top of the Mets order.

Fisher has power from the left side, and has and has the ability to steal bases. There are concerns about his defense, which may relegate him to a corner outfield position (making Conforto a full time CF). But IMO this type of trade is a perfectly acceptable risk to take. Fisher probably isn’t ready to contribute to the Astros this year. Duda, Bruce, Reed, etc. could.  None of the Mets expiring contracts are likely to return next year. This type of return beats a draft pick or whatever the going rate is these days for losing a player to Free Agency.

They’ll still need plenty of shoring up elsewhere, especially the bullpen, but Fisher could be a useful piece to what is hopefully a quick turnaround from mediocrity.

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Fifth Rotation

The Mets’ hopes coming into 2017 rested in large part on their starting pitching staff. Various health and effectiveness concerns provided cause for concern, but the quintet of Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz, and either Wheeler or Gsellman certainly looked like a major strength back in March. Even when Matz and 7th guy Seth Lugo both got hurt, the five arms the Mets started the season with showed great promise. Would they be enough to push a team with weaknesses elsewhere on the roster into the playoff picture?

Through five turns in the rotation, the answer appears to be a tentative “no”.

Let’s look at what we’ve seen and try our best to guess what it all means.

First, the fifth turn itself:

 IPHRERBBKHRP 
Harvey4.156651186L
deGrom76331122112W
Wheeler4.252144096
Syndergaard1.155522034L
Gsellman565510177W

What I saw

Matt Harvey

Pitching on three hours’ notice thanks to Syndergaard’s late scratch, Harvey was not sharp, which he blamed on weight lifting the day before.

Jacob deGrom

DeGrom showed pretty consistent location and velocity with his fastball, and did just enough with his secondary stuff.

Zack Wheeler

96 pitches didn’t get him through 5 innings. Bad defense didn’t help.

Noah Syndergaard

That big dude throwing 100 mph is a very poor doctor. No one tears a lat when everything is fine.

Robert Gsellman

Gsellman’s sinker was finally sinking, and he limited the free passes. Unfortunately he didn’t do much with his secondary stuff.

What I’ve seen overall, through five turns

Noah Syndergaard

Thor hadn’t always looked his sharpest this year… and that produced 30 strikeouts, no walks, and a 1.73 ERA. Cy Young contender? Check!

Then the big guy was unable to discipline himself and sacrifice some short-term frustration for long-term safety, and the Mets’ outrageously flawed medical process allowed him to roll the dice. He lost. Since the team is calling his lat injury a tear rather than a pull or a strain, I expect that it’s quite bad. That probably means that if we see Noah before September, he’ll be unwisely risking his health yet again. Tears to major muscles take time to heal, and this is one you can’t pitch with until it’s pretty much 100%. So, going forward, the Mets rotation will be without its ace. That might be enough to puncture those March/April dreams right there.

Jacob deGrom

Jacob has been dominant at times this season, but has yet to show his trademark precision and intelligence for more than a few innings at a time. His insistence on Wednesday on throwing a slider he couldn’t command was baffling. Once again, Rene Rivera called mostly fastballs, and almost no change-ups or curves.

DeGrom’s velocity has been stellar, but his movement and location have varied greatly from start to start, and sometimes from inning to inning. Will he eventually put it all together and settle into an ace-like groove as in 2015, or will he remain good but erratic?

Overall, that’s not a bad pitcher to have fronting your rotation, but it’s also not a leg up on the Mets’ competition.

Also worth noting: deGrom talked to the media about mechanics and location and this and that when he pitched poorly late in 2016, never mentioning that his ulnar nerve was on fire. So, believe none of what you hear regarding any struggles he may have. Maybe he isn’t throwing his change-up because he can’t feel his fingers, or maybe he isn’t throwing his curve because of elbow soreness, or maybe he has blisters; we have no idea.

Matt Harvey

Entering the season, I thought Harvey might be done. After spring training, I thought Harvey might be done. Then I was pleasantly surprised by his first few starts. Then his last few starts have been straight out of 2016. His numbers with men on base are terrible; just like in 2016, he cruises until there’s trouble (.655 OPS w/ bases empty), and then the wheels come off (.896 OPS w/ men on). He’s also completely stopped striking people out, and is averaging nearly two homers per 9 innings. Yeah, he’s thrown a few nasty pitches, but he threw a few nasty pitches last year too.

Maybe Harvey’s just a work in progress coming off major surgery which will eventually have cured everything that was wrong with him before the surgery. Or maybe he’s one of MLB history’s many young flame-thrower flame-outs, having lost both his stuff and his confidence. There’s too much variability here to call, but the middle-case scenario is certainly short of “elite member of elite rotation”.

Zack Wheeler

Wheeler drove me crazy in 2014 by nibbling and throwing too few strikes. Now in 2017, I think he’s nibbling less, but his command is even worse, so the results are similar. Every once in a while he’ll follow a late-sinking fastball at 97 with a diving curveball and remind us of his former elite prospect status. But that’s just every once in a while.

I haven’t spotted any health flags, so his performance may improve as he continues to shake off some rust, and anyone who had high hopes for his season probably doesn’t see much reason to be discouraged.

Personally, I had very modest hopes for his season, and don’t see much reason to be encouraged.

Robert Gsellman

He’s young and has shown both serious strikeout ability and serious groundball ability. I like his future. I’m happy to see him developing against MLB hitters. Is he an asset on a team bent on winning in 2017, though? Not yet, it appears. Consistency generally takes time, and Gsellman doesn’t seem to be an exception.

Summing up

The story of the next five months is obviously unwritten, but the Mets’ starting rotation doesn’t currently appear to be a major competitive strength. As such, I think the original premise of this “Rotation” series is dead, so I’ll be stopping the every-turn analysis, at least for now.

What have you seen?

Please share your observations in the comments!

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Fourth Rotation

The Mets’ hopes for 2017 rest in large part on their starting pitching staff. Is this quintet a major strength which can carry the team? Or do various health and effectiveness concerns place them somewhere short of that status? Let’s take a look at the fourth rotation through the Mets’ (hopefully) fab five and note what we’ve seen.

 IPHRERBBKHRP 
Syndergaard77530100114L
Harvey7433222108
deGrom5.28336100101L
Wheeler7444261101L
Gsellman41065320100L

What I saw

Noah Syndergaard

Syndergaard used an extremely methodical delivery in a perfect first inning, but then began missing up with everything once men were on base in the middle innings. Noah also routinely got ahead in the count with fastballs and then threw more fastballs, making it easier for the Phils to stay in at bats. After a leadoff single in the 5th, Syndergaard went back to being more deliberate, and pitched more effectively. In the 6th and 7th, he was fortunate on a bunch of hard line outs.

Matt Harvey

I didn’t see this game. Leapfrogging deGrom in the rotation thanks to Jacob’s stiff neck, Harvey pitched on regular rest, posting a decent line against a good offensive team but striking out only two. If there’s anything to read into the postgame comments, it’s not good: Collins called him “not sharp”, and Harvey expressed relief that things didn’t spiral out of control like last year. I would have been much more heartened to hear him say, “I figured out how to work with what I had,” or something else more active and less lucky.

Jacob deGrom

DeGrom showed no-hit stuff for the first time through the order, hitting the black on both sides
of the plate with tons of life at 96-98. But virtually all the pitches he threw were fastballs. He tried a few sliders and just missed. He bounced a change-up. The second time through the lineup,
that wasn’t enough. Every time his fastball was off the plate, the Nats took it. Every time it caught too much plate, they hit an opposite-field line drive. By the time Jacob committed to throwing some sliders, the Nats were rolling. By the time he threw his first curveball, he’d allowed 3 runs and was on his way out of the game. Strange to see with Rene Rivera behind the plate, whose pitch-calling I usually prefer to d’Arnaud’s.

DeGrom also wore down, throwing 93 without much precision by the end of a laborious 5th inning. Maybe he came out too fired up and wasted too many bullets early on? Or maybe the neck stiffness which pushed back his start came back after a few inning breaks?

Zack Wheeler

This start was a testament to the effectiveness of mixing pitches, alternating between fastball, slider and curve without ever throwing the same one too many times in a row. Great sequences by Wheeler and Kevin Plawecki, and great objectivity by the umpire, who consistently called a strike a strike regardless of how far Wheeler was from the target. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen so many inside strikes on pitches where the catcher set up away, or high strikes on pitches where the catcher set up low. Wheeler was rarely within a foot of his target, but still wound up throwing a lot of strikes, leading to short at bats and the Nats never really getting a read on his stuff. Perhaps his slider was particularly deceptive, as the Nats were taking fastball hacks at it all night.

Zack kept the ball down a little better as the game went on, but still hit the inside corner by accident as often as he hit the outside corner on purpose. Apparently pitching inside works even if you don’t mean to! Wheeler’s line would have looked very good if not for one pitch in Murphy’s wheelhouse with the bases loaded. Still, this start has to be concerning for his complete inability to repeat his motion and locate his pitches.

Robert Gsellman

Pitching on extra rest after an off day and a rainout, Gsellman had very little working for him. His fastball was running and sinking a bit, but it wasn’t sharp and late, and the Braves clearly saw it well. They sat on the fastball away and calmly lined it to the opposite field, past a Mets defense that was playing mostly to pull. That’s where those 10 hits in 4 innings came from. Shades of Mike Pelfrey, anyone?

As the game progressed, Gsellman stopped trying to force his slider (which was consistently up), mixed in some good change-ups, and got a little better movement on his fastball. As a team, though, the Mets never did adjust to the Braves’ approach, e.g. by pitching inside.

What did you see?

Please share your observations in the comments!

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When Will We Ever Learn? Wishful Thinking and Wilpon Finances Lead to Mets Stall

Well it had to happen sometime. Those blue and orange shades I’ve had on since August of 2015 have come off. Unless you’ve been totally immersed in the Rangers-Habs series or trying to figure out if the Jets will use or trade the number six pick, you’ve probably taken yours off as well; especially after the massive train wreck that occurred this past weekend at Citi Field. The Mets have stalled and no one it seems, knows how to re-start their motor.

Call it panic, but you’ve heard it here first: The Mets will miss the playoffs. I don’t believe them to be anything better than a third place team this year. Based on what I’ve seen so far, both Washington and Miami have better teams than the Mets. And as far as the Mets surpassing the Yankees in popularity in New York City? Bawhahahahahahahahaha.

When the season started, many people, including myself, figured the Mets to be a playoff team, and gave them a better than even chance to win the division. The Mets themselves believed it. Check out the comments coming from both the front office and the clubhouse before and during spring training. Less than 20 games into the season, a new reality has dawned.

When will we ever learn?

The Mets have two very good players: Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard. It speaks volumes about the Mets player development system that both guys came from outside the organization. Syndergaard is the undisputable ace of the Mets pitching staff. More on that in a moment. Cespedes is the Mets best hitter. Now, name the second-best hitter on the team. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

That title goes to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s not Jay Bruce. Don’t let two stellar games from Bruce fool you. Career-wise, Cabrera is the better hitter. I’d actually put Curtis Granderson ahead of Bruce. We can argue this point all day, the issue is that after Cespedes, the Mets offensive prowess falls off a cliff. Cabrera is good, but c’mon, I highly doubt he strikes much fear in the hearts of the opposition when he strides to the plate. They had the perfect compliment to Cespedes in their lineup, you just saw him this weekend. They knew how good he was becoming and they let him walk away anyway , all but telling us they had his successor in the system. Instead they traded this heir apparent to Cincinnati to get Bruce. The second action is unrelated to the first action, but letting Daniel Murphy walk away cost the Mets the NL East crown last year and is one of the biggest reasons they will miss the playoffs this year. And why? Because they thought they could get the same type of production for less money. They didn’t. Wishful thinking seems to have replaced solid planning.

They wished that David Wright would somehow heal and become a reasonable facsimile of his former self. Wrong. They wished that Jose Reyes at 33 still has something left and that his dismal stops in Toronto and Colorado were mirages. Wrong. They wished that Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, and Wilmer Flores would all somehow avoid the injury jinxes that have sidetracked their careers. Wrong. They wished Juan Lagares would finally learn to hit right handed pitching. Wrong (and he can’t hit lefties much either). About the only thing that has gone right, outside of Bruce’s hot start, is Michael Conforto. But in true Met fashion, they have been shoe-horning Conforto in the wrong spot in the lineup, both the batting order and on the field. A few oh-fers and watch what happens to the kid’s confidence. In fairness, almost everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. But, you can’t tell me that any of this is totally unexpected, and should agree that to basically ignore the facts exposed by sabermetrics and medical reports is a very risky proposition. But don’t worry, they all said, even if all that falls apart, the Mets still have that great starting pitching.

When will we ever learn?

No doubt that Syndergaard is the larger-than-life, as-good-as-advertised ace of the rotation. Jacob deGrom is well-suited as the understudy. I like Jake, but I think his ceiling is #2 starter, the modern day comparison to the Miracle Mets Jerry Koosman or Jon Matlack (yes I know both were lefties) behind Tom Seaver; or if you prefer the late 80’s, he’s this era’s Ron Darling to Doc Gooden. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many, many, many outings by Koos, Matlack and Darling where they pitched just well enough, as the saying goes, to lose. That description fits deGrom’s last two outings pretty well, don’t you think? But what about the other three or four “aces” they were supposed to have?

A pair of major surgeries have all but extinguished Matt Harvey’s brilliance. He seems quiet and humbled, both on the mound and in front of cameras. Not saying all of this is a bad thing, but right now Matt is the #3 pitcher on just about any good staff, including this one. The wish (there’s that word again) is just that he stays healthy. So far, so good; but it is a long season. Steven Matz hasn’t stayed healthy, and reading between the lines of the comments made by the GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, I think the organization is entirely disillusioned with Matz, just as they were with erstwhile ace and first major Alderson acquisition Zack Wheeler. The later is still on the comeback trail and the jury is most definitely out on him. He had a golden opportunity last night to re-establish his star and one swing from Murphy ended that. The starting pitching isn’t that all that deep and the bullpen is in disarray, partially due to Jeurys Familia’s suspension, partly due to Collins’ poor handling of the others, and partly due to the wishful thought that they might not be relied upon so much. They should have held on to Bartolo Colon.

That last thought brings us to the real problem: ownership. Yes the Mets payroll has risen, most of it organically via annual pay raises, but they did shell out big bucks for Cespedes, Bruce and Neil Walker. But to paraphrase and old saying: you can lift a person out of the poorhouse, but you can’t lift the poorhouse out of the person. While the Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs and Nationals do whatever it takes to win, whether it’s giving out big contracts to veterans or overpaying in prospects for needed pieces, the Mets still look for the way to save a buck. Re-think the roster with both Colon and Murphy still on it. How about the batting order with Adam Eaton at the top? It’s a compelling argument to hold on to young players. It looked great for example, when the Mets five starters combined were making less money than Mike Pelfrey. It looks far less smart when the team still lacks a true leadoff hitter (and any speed at all) lacks a true #3 hitter, lacks a true #5 hitter, and has no one reliable coming off the bench. The problem comes back the credibility issue–both with the front office and with ownership.

It now begins to clearly appear that the real reason for this youth movement is to depress payroll. The Mets have been lucky that Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom, et. al, have some star power. Up to now, this brilliance has eclipsed the flaws in the team’s makeup. Baseball has a very cruel way of exposing every hidden weakness. This April has been all about the Mets getting exposed. There is a definite spending threshold for these guys and by all indications, it  falls below what it’s going to take to bring home the championship. All of this winter’s moves where made with an eye on future payrolls. That might be great from an accounting standpoint, but from a winning while the window is open standpoint, it really stinks.

Fortunately it is still April. There is plenty of baseball left. Cespedes is capable of putting the offense on his back. Conforto could settle into a niche. The walking wounded can heal. Maybe the Mets decide that the time is right for uber-prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to be promoted (both have played more minor league games and have had more at-bats than Conforto did at the time of his promotion). Maybe GMs of other teams decide to run up the white flag and Alderson is able to import some help. Maybe…

When will we ever learn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Third Rotation

The Mets’ hopes for 2017 rest in large part on their starting pitching staff. Is this quintet a major strength which can carry the team? Or do various health and effectiveness concerns place them somewhere short of that status? Let’s take a look at the third rotation through the Mets’ (hopefully) fab five and note what we’ve seen.

 IPHRERBBKHRP 
Syndergaard662104087
deGrom7422113297
Harvey672125092
Wheeler541127199
Gsellman763317099

What I saw

Noah Syndergaard

Much like his in first two starts, Syndergaard’s velocity and fastball command were good but not at their best. He didn’t look dominant, but the Marlins didn’t hit him hard either. He threw more two-seamers than usual, with great movement but poor location (the pitch to the glove side consistently ran back over the middle). Three great signs: a 100 mph fastball up and in to put away Christian Yelich; a slow motion clip of his motion in which his arm is not nearly as late as it used to be; and the fact that the Marlins only attempted one stolen base. Hopefully the torn fingernails that forced Noah from the game were a one-time concern.

Jacob deGrom

I didn’t see the familiar deGrom motion. He was staying taller through his delivery, possibly getting less extension, and producing less obvious run on his fastball. After a few yanked pitches to the glove side, a few bad breaking balls, and an atypical reliance on two-seamers, I was pessimistic about Jacob’s outing. Then he got angry and established an absolutely dominant groove, striking out 13, many of those on fastballs.

It looked like deGrom was headed for his first win until Collins left in a gassed Fernando Salas to face Yelich as the tying run and Yelich hit one into the upper deck.

Matt Harvey

Harvey had great life on his fastball, and mostly commanded it well at 94-95 mph. His slider had good tilt and depth. He mixed in a few good curves, but not many, and his change-up wasn’t a major factor (he got some up early and may have decided to stay away from it). Matt arguably faced more adversity in this start than his previous ones, and it was nice to see him come through this test without the sort of collapse that became routine in 2016. His command did look a bit worse with men on, but it wasn’t anything catastrophic.

Zack Wheeler

I didn’t see this one live, but all the plays I saw with Zack on the mound in the condensed game video clip seemed to come on 3-2 pitches. Wheeler’s pitch count reached 86 through 4 innings. Unwelcome shades of 2014.

Robert Gsellman

Gsellman repeatedly froze lefties with the Bartolo Colon come-back two-seamer to the inside corner. He also snapped off some sharp curveballs. Robert didn’t throw quite enough strikes with his secondary pitches to keep hitters off the fastball – his slider in particular was mostly in the dirt – but he was still effective, and looked strong through 7 innings and 98 pitches.

What did you see?

Please share your observations in the comments!

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Baseball Instruction from OnBaseball
Mets Pitching Injuries NOT Due to 2015 Hangover

Mets Pitching Injuries NOT Due to 2015 Hangover

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The latest in a series of arm injuries suffered by Mets starting pitchers has struck Jacob deGrom, who will miss his next start due to forearm tightness and elbow inflammation. ...

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Matz Shoulder and Elbow Issues Directly Related

Matz Shoulder and Elbow Issues Directly Related

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Steven Matz has been pitching nearly the entire season with an elbow issue -- going back to the forearm tightness he experienced way back in early May. The forearm tightness ...

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What’s NOT Wrong with Matt Harvey and How To Fix What Is

What’s NOT Wrong with Matt Harvey and How To Fix What Is

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Tonight Matt Harvey faces Stephen Strasburg. Normally that would be an exciting sentence for Mets fans, Nationals fans -- heck, baseball fans in general. Instead, it's a ...

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How Zack Wheeler Could Have Avoided Tommy John Surgery

How Zack Wheeler Could Have Avoided Tommy John Surgery

The good news: Zack Wheeler underwent "successful" Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL tendon and a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. "He is expected to make a full ...

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Why There Are So Many Pitching Injuries This Time Of Year

Why There Are So Many Pitching Injuries This Time Of Year

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More pitching injuries occur from spring training through the first month of the season -- do you know why? There is at least one reason, and despite what you may remember of Tim ...

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Mets Gifts

This Looks Like it Could Be a MetsToday Hat

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This hat is called Nike New York Mets Royal Blue Heritage 86 Cooperstown Vintage Relaxed Mesh Back Adjustable Hat I kind of like the logo, don't you? Not sure I'm ready to go back to the mesh back and adjustable snap-back style that I wore exclusively from age 6 to 18. Retro is cool, I guess, but, isn't it lame ...

My Nephew Says This Mets Hat is the Bomb

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I need a new baseball cap; my old Mets hats were worn out and gross and have been donated to charity. So I'm in the market for one. My nephew says the above Mets cap is "the bomb." It's called the New York Mets Nike Royal L91 Alpha Swoosh Relaxed Flex Hat. If you like it, click on the hat and it will take you to ...