Mets Game 7: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 2 Mets 1

Noah Syndergaard was utterly dominant, but the Mets again didn’t hit, and the Marlins did a better job of executing when they had to.

Mets game notes

A friend of mine was irate over the 8th inning match-up between Jerry Blevins and Martin Prado, which Prado won with a lead-grabbing sac fly. Personally, I don’t think Terry Collins botched that one — the likely alternative was Addison Reed vs Justin Bour, which I don’t like any better.

The mistakes I saw were elsewhere:

Mistake 1

By the time he’d retired Marcell Ozuna for the first out of the 8th inning, Jim Henderson had nothing left. However he might normally match up against Yelich and Stanton, Collins would have been wise to ignore that, as Henderson could no longer finish his pitches, with everything sailing up and away. Maybe that wasn’t obvious until a few pitches into the Yelich AB, but what was obvious was the health risk. 33-year-old guy coming off shoulder surgery throwing max effort in the cold and showing obvious fatigue? It wouldn’t surprise me if his Mets career is done before it even gets started.

Health risks aside, you certainly had to see the walk to Stanton coming, which pushed the winning run to 3rd. Better to have a pitcher (even a lesser one) who isn’t totally gassed in that spot.

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Collins’ Legacy on the Line?

First off, Joe Janish lives. I had an email exchange with him late last week. Among his many statements was this: “the Mets are a mediocre team with great starting pitching playing in a league where half the teams have already tanked.” My first thought was that he was being a bit harsh. Then came the Phillies series over the weekend. Now, I am wondering if Joe hasn’t (once again) nailed it.

Right now, the Mets are hitting like a bad high school team. In both Saturday’s and Sunday’s games the Phillies pitchers followed the same formula in approaching each batter. Inside slider that they foul off. Check. High heater that they swing and miss. Check. Curve on the outside edge of the plate (or further out) that they flail at. Check. All told the Mets struck out a whopping 21 times against a supposedly ragged Phillies pitching staff. In doing so, they fell below the .500 mark and already trail the hated Washington Nationals by a game and a half.

This is where we find out what kind of a manager Terry Collins really is. And as this is very likely his last managerial job, what happens next is probably what he will be most remembered for. You may recall the tepid (to put it mildly) reaction to his hiring back in 2011. Up to then he was remembered as the tightly wound martinet whose players rebelled against him. It was hard to be critical of him as a team of castoffs and has-beens struggled from 2011-14. He did get some credit for holding the team together during those dark days. GM Sandy Alderson admitted that he nearly fired Collins after the 2014 season. Then came a magical 10-week ride in 2015, all the way to the World Series.

Now, the Mets are the hunted. You could sense the glee in the Philadelphia dugout as Sunday’s debacle drew to a close. The Mets played tight. I don’t buy the weather excuse as the Phillies played in the same climate. Right now, it’s up to Collins to get this turned around. Unlike past years, he has the horses. And also unlike those seasons, there is no more help arriving from the farm. The team is relatively healthy and almost everyone has a role. Not much of a stretch to imagine that Collins is a goner if the Mets fail to qualify for the playoffs this year. Like his team, he has much on the line and the stakes are very high.

Putting Janish’s comments in perspective for a moment: the Mets of the Miracle era (1968-1976) also had great starting pitching and a mediocre lineup. They did make the World Series twice. Also, the 1986 and 2015 teams also started 2-3.

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Mets Game 3: Win Over Phillies

Mets 7 Phillies 2

The pitching-poor Phillies showed up in Queens to subject their #4 starter and a parade of 5 relievers to the mighty NL champs, with predictable results. Good hitting from Michael Conforto and clutch hitting from Neil Walker led the way. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom held down a Maikel Franco-free lineup, despite not having his best command. Unfortunately, he pitched through a tight lat in the 6th, and now Mets fandom must hold its collective breath.

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The 2016 Mets Today “Mets-O-Meter”

mets-o-meter-2016

I can’t stand the Hot Stove or Spring Training. Uncle Terry’s popgun team “won” Spring Training in 2015 but only jet-streamed into contention once they signed some proper baseball players at the deadline. As a sportsman I hated practice, but I could understand its value to players. Just watching it seems masochistic, as are the constant rumours and fluff stories about people not making opening day (Asdrubal Cabrera) and problems having a tinkle (Matt Harvey).

Those of you who watched plenty of Spring Training can prove me wrong. Please give your win totals in the comments below, and feel free to add your reasons too. We’ll keep track of wins over the whole season on Mets Today. There are no do-overs, no complaints. Factor in injuries, hot streaks, opposition strength and everything else.

If you win – like McKee with his bold prediction of 90 wins last year (bravo, McKee!) – you’ll get your choice of weird Mets merchandise that costs less than $15. My recommendation this year is a terrifying Mets “Mini Pillow Pet” that will recreate scenes from The Exorcist as you gaze at it before you drift into endless nightmares.

metsorcist

STEVE HUSSY’S PREDICTION

94 wins. I’ve bet my annual £10 on 93-95 wins at 12-1, which is a little better odds than the Mets winning the World Series (10-1!). I have the Mets making the postseason with room to spare, but losing out in the NL Championship game. Here’s why…

REASONS FOR MY OPTIMISM

The Mets won 90 games last year, and each year I base my prediction in a WAR style. To what extent have the Mets improved or worsened since the previous year?

A bunch of things – for me – remain steady. I’m less tetchy about the bullpen than most. I know Bastardo has had a rough Spring Training but I like his stuff. I’m also a big – and perhaps only – fan of Logan Verrett, who’s crept onto the roster. If he throws his nasty, nasty hard change-up (I’m still convinced it’s a “fosh”) about 50% of the time he’ll get excellent results. I like Blevins’ looping breaking ball and maybe Robles will be a little better (and hopefully calmer) with experience. The league will be more used to Familia but when he’s good, he’s very good.

The starting rotation will, of course, excel. Are they way better than last year? Hmm… I’ll get into that a little bit in my predicated pluses and minuses. Here goes…

+1 win: Yoenis Cespedes for a full season.

Signing Cespedes for a full season changed most folks’ perception of the Mets. It’s more a case of the wins lost without him in the lineup. His huge second half will be impossible to replicate, and we all know his center field defense will be an adventure. But I still feel he can add another win to the team with his bat and presence. 25 homers and 95 RBI? I’d take that.

+1 win: Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores

Yes, the bench players. Both have massive holes in their swing at breaking balls away. It was particularly sad to watch Flores flail at sliders down in 2015. But both Lagares and Flores actually have nice, tight swings if they learn pitch recognition. I also think Flores will benefit from avoiding the worry of playing shortstop, and Lagares (hopefully with a better throwing arm this year) will appreciate mostly having to face lefties.

+1 win: Neil Walker

He’s a better player than Daniel Murphy in every department. Murph will feel great from a distance, but the Nationals now have the treat of watching his almost daily brain farts.

+2 wins: Stephen Matz and Zack Wheeler

This is a riskier one. I like Matz despite his control issues, and he also offers something with his bat. He could win a game by himself with a couple of hits. I have no clue what to expect from Wheeler and his new arm slot. But if he can make it back, I like Bartolo in the bullpen too. I’m convinced Bartolo is immortal and will outlive all of us.

+2 wins: Michael Conforto for a whole season

A very non-risky one. I wonder if his defence will be quite as good, but his bat will be.

+1 win: Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki

This depends a little on remaining injury free, but even if d’Arnaud goes down I expect Plawecki to be a little better this year. Like Flores, Plawecki seems a smart kid who’s eager to learn.

+1 win: David Wright and Eric Campbell

Hmm. In the few at-bats I’ve seen of Wright in poxy Spring Training he seems to be “dipping” less this year. And now his back condition has been identified I expect it’ll be better managed. He needs to sort out his throws to first base, though, but he still has a good eye at the plate and in the field. Soup is just due a few hard hits that will drop in.

REASONS FOR CAUTION


-2 wins: One of the starting 5/6 pitchers will have a season ending injury

Odds are that one of the starting 5 or 6 (I’m including Wheeler on this) will get severely injured.

In the spirit of Joe’s analytical approach to pitchers, Syndergaard’s delivery looks like his arm may fly along with a pitch one day. It’s hard to hit a ball and an arm with a bat so he’ll get an out, but odds are he’ll join Matz, Harvey, DeGrom and Wheeler with a new tendon in his arm. Reps with Mjölnir can only help so much.

On the plus side, Colon will tootle along to a 4.00 ERA and cover reasonably well. And did I say how much I liked Logan Verrett?

-2 wins: More injuries to a non-pitcher this year

The Mets battled through the injuries to Wright and d’Arnaud last year, but odds are a more core piece will go down this year. Again, the nice side is I like Flores a lot if he has to plug a hole in the infield. And I like Lagares a little if (gulp) one of the starting outfielders goes down.

-1 win: The misuse of the outfield and the age of Curtis Granderson

As you know, I’m a huge fan of Curtis Granderson. No-one is plugging more for him than I am with my little CG pom-poms as I watch every Mets’ game. Prove me wrong, CG.

It just frustrates me that – despite some claims – Uncle Terry will probably still wheel out the Grandyman against some left handed pitchers when he clearly can’t hit them. Granderson looks SCARED in the box against lefties. The assumption is that Lagares will take over center against lefties and Grandy will take a seat. But will this happen? I have severe doubts.

It’s highly unlikely Granderson can replicate last season’s stellar performance but putting him in the best position to do so would make me happy… and also help the Mets’ win total.

INTANGIBLES

It’s important to remember the Mets division still ain’t great. That hasn’t changed since last year.

The Nats look a little worse on paper but they still have to get more wins than 2015, when they were crippled by injuries, poor management and a bad vibe. The Marlins – as always – seem tempting. Might they be good? Perhaps. But they could also be REALLY bad if Stanton and/or Fernandez go down. The Braves are best summed up by the fact Frenchy made their opening roster. And the Phillies… if it’s possible to cry cheese-steak for them, I would.

The NL is general seems as weak as last year. Everyone likes the Cubs, I like the Pirates and the Cards will be thereabouts, as usual.

SOUND OFF BELOW

Don’t forget, no do-overs. This is bold prediction time. There’s a potential Pillow Pet riding on this.
I hope to see you throughout the season… usually on a Sunday… and thanks for continuing to read Mets Today. It’s like a typical Mets blog, only with sane people.

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Finally A “Real” Game!

Now that’s more like it…Noah Syndergaard throwing strikes, Jeurys Familia slamming the door shut and GKR behind the mike. The Mets blanked the Royals 2-0.

First off, Interleague play sucks! So does opening the season on a Sunday night. Whatever happened to the good ole fashioned kickoff in Cincinnati every year? Sorry to sound like such a curmudgeon, but Sunday’s opener, with all of it’s non-traditional elements, felt like just another exhibition game. Given the fact that the Mets just wrapped up perhaps the least interesting Spring Training since the “ReplaceMets” fiasco in 1995, I never felt that the first game was for real. Tuesday’s game felt more like the turning of a page to me and now the season (and the defense of the NL Pennant), can begin.

If he can stay healthy, Syndergaard could be something very special. In actuality, the game belonged to the Mets after he stranded Alicides Escobar at third after the latter lead off the first inning with a triple. Syndergaard seemingly toyed with the Royals’ lineup for the rest of his outing. Neil Walker, who I think will prove to be a great pickup, provided all the runs “Thor” needed. Not to be overlooked are the performances of Jim Henderson and Addison Reed. It will be interesting to see if those two veterans can provide the bridge to Familia.

On the flip side, I started to feel a tightening in my guts during the middle and late innings as the game tension mounted. I wonder what shape we’ll be in later this season.

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Game One (Extra) Recap: Malaise Forever?

They’re back…

New job duties and the ever-challenging role of raising a teenager have made me somewhat less Met-obsessed these past few months. Those factors, along with the sudden return of winter to these parts, kept me in a definite non-baseball mood for most of yesterday. I dutifully tuned in, somewhat disgruntled that instead of SNY, I will be forced to endure the crew at ESPN, although I do like Jessica Mendoza. By the way, whatever happened to Jeanne Zelasko?

I did expect the Mets to come out smoking after being forced to watch the Royals pennant raising celebration. Silly me. Instead, they sleepwalked through the first eight innings before erupting late and then falling victim to KC’s super bullpen in the 9th. You can read Dave’s recap for more details. My main concern is that after a very somnambulant spring, they looked sluggish and especially in the case of Yoenis Cespedes, downright disinterested in playing baseball.

And no, this isn’t a premature “Panic City” piece. This is a history lesson. As my bio states, I have been a Mets fan since the days of the Nixon Administration. I have seen a lot of bad baseball, punctuated by brief bursts of elation. It’s the coming down from the peak that has me concerned. I clearly remember my father’s comments about how bland and boring the mid-70’s Mets were. The post ’86 editions played like all they had to do was toss their gloves out on the field and they would win (they didn’t). The events of 9/11 made the ’01 Mets a little hard to gauge, but they didn’t play well before that terrible day. The collapses of ’07 and ’08 are still fresh in almost everyone’s minds. Could we be heading for another disappointment this year?

The record indicates that we could be.

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Most Important Mets of 2016: No. 10-7

After reading the replies to a recent article here on MetsToday (Who are 2016’s Ten Most Important Mets?), I’ve come up with final rankings for this exercise, which I’ll proceed through in countdown fashion. For each player, I’ll list my subjective predictions, based on watching nearly every inning and every plate appearance over the last few years. I’ll do my best to identify something that I think the national experts and pundits have missed.

Second installment: Mets No. 6-4
Third installment: Mets No. 3-1

The table data below is pulled from FanGraphs. Steamer and ZiPS are two player projection systems with as good a track record as any. The “Off” and “Def” columns are included to illustrate how the projections arrive at their WAR numbers. Note: “Def” includes a positional adjustment, where d’Arnaud’s numbers get a boost simply from playing catcher while Granderson’s numbers take a hit simply from playing right field.

 

#10. Sandy Alderson

We all know how crucial 2015’s deadline deals were to reshaping the team. Alderson acted to address multiple needs, and all his moves paid big dividends in the short term. With the 2016 National League boasting a number of teams that look great on paper, it’s unlikely that the Mets will simply run away with a playoff spot, meaning that adjustment on the fly should be important once again. If the Mets are neck and neck with another playoff hopeful in late July, Mets fans should certainly hope the trade deadline will unfold more like 2015 than 2007 or 2008. Standing pat in 2008 allowed that team’s holes — primarily a weak bullpen — to ultimately destroy their season.

While some may focus on the Wilpons’ purse strings and how those set the parameters for any deals, I suspect there’s plenty of room for things to go well or poorly within any given budget for trade acquisitions. Uribe, Johnson, Clippard, Reed and Cespedes were all the right players at the right times, but we shouldn’t forget the cost or the luck involved. When the time came to trade Scott Hairston and Bobby Parnell, rough analogs to Uribe-Johnson and Tyler Clippard, Alderson claimed he couldn’t find any worthwhile return, and thus stood pat. Then, on the other side of that equation, he parted with John Gant and Casey Meisner, two pitchers who many now view as having futures as MLB starters. That might be more a reflection on the lack of a coherent plan in 2011-2012 than on what Alderson will do going forward, but in the context of Alderson’s Mets tenure, it’s one more note of caution. Angel Pagan for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez is a bigger red flag, and the attempt to trade Zack Wheeler for Jay Bruce is bigger still.

My prediction:
No longer having a surplus of arms to deal from, and with few minor league Mets position players who other teams would want, Alderson mostly stays passive at the deadline. Maybe an athletic A-ball shortstop gets shipped out for a roll-of-the-dice bullpen arm.

 
 

#9. Travis d’Arnaud

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