Are You Counting on Wright Returning in 2017?

david wright

With the 2016 season entering the home stretch, the New York Mets are still in contention for a playoff spot. Not because of anything the offense is doing, but as Ken Davidoff of the New York Post put it, the rest of the NL is playing down to their level.

Much has been made about the Mets’ inability to string together back to back wins for well over a month now. But during this period of futility for the Mets, it’s not like any other team has really ran away with it in the National League other than the Chicago Cubs in the Central.

Ten games behind the Washington Nationals may seem like an ocean away, but a significant hot streak like winning 12 of the next 16 would bring the Mets back home on August 26 with 10 games to play against division rivals including three against the Nats.

Now I’m not saying any of this will happen. At the beginning of the season, I predicted the Mets would finish 2nd in the NL East and secure the top wild-card spot; a prediction that still seems just as plausible now as it did in March. Among the the five team scramble for both wild cards, it’s still a free for all and the Mets are still very much alive.

There is hope in the form of a lineup that can soon feature a healthy Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes to go with Jay Bruce, but will it be too late? And even if that does happen, will it change the potential record-setting ineptitude of this offense with runners in scoring position?

While this season sorts itself out over the next five weeks, let’s also turn an eye towards 2017, something I think Sandy Alderson was doing when he pulled the trigger on Jay Bruce. The deal meant two things:

One, the front office no longer believed in Dilson Herrera, who they could have called up on many occasions to help this anemic offense and didn’t.

Two, Bruce serves as a viable offensive fallback next season if Yoenis Cespedes opts out, a facet that Alderson admitted made the former Reds slugger so desirable.

What about our other power sources for next season? Yes, there’s Lucas Duda returning at first base, presumably healthy and ready to go. But it’s the player at the other corner position that concerns me and gave me pause about the future.

david wright

Kenny DeJohn of Newsday covered David Wright on Monday, who spent the morning visiting with kids at a Day Camp in Merrick, Long Island. He told reporters on hand that he hopes to be back as the Mets third baseman in 2017 and that he’ll be done in a couple of years.

“I’m moving around and feeling a lot better than I did,” Wright explained. “So hopefully I’m back next year. That’s what my goal is.”

“Now it’s just a matter of being patient and allowing the screws and the plate to take place and really fusing together so hopefully there are no more problems in the future.”

Am I the only one hoping this was Wright’s injury-marred final season?

I mean, I completely understand not announcing that now, especially in front of cheerful elementary school kids, but am I alone in wanting to watch a press conference sometime early in the offseason where Wright admits that the injuries are just too much?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to remember our captain as a side-arming fielder who hits just above his playing weight and slowly fizzles away into obscurity. More importantly, as a father I want Wright to be able to lift his newborn daughter and chase her around the house as she grows up without any pain.

The GM in me was already wondering whether the team could go to Port St. Lucie in 2017 with Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores to fill 2B, SS and 3B – or do you go after Ian Desmond and see if he can play third? Or Justin Turner?

How cheap and reasonable is it to re-sign James Loney? Do you send Michael Conforto to Winter Ball to learn how to play first base as a backup plan for Duda? If the Nationals are really going to let Wilson Ramos make it to free agency, do you outbid them for the 29-year old catcher? And what can you get for Curtis Granderson and the $15 million he’s still owed?

I was having a little fun running through all these different possibilities for next Spring, because in my mind I figured David Wright wasn’t coming back. We can’t count on him for any future plans because it’s too much of a question mark. We already made that mistake in 2016 and we still haven’t found a regular third base solution – platoon or otherwise – since we lost Wright.

Sadly, what we did see from Wright during his brief stint this year, was that he doesn’t have the arm to play third base anymore and his bat couldn’t catch up to a major league fastball. He’s owed another $67 million, money he can earn as a team ambassador, a roving instructor, or a coach at this point. But he can’t earn it on the field… And to go forward with a different mindset is foolish.

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A Glimpse As To Why Collins Should Go

For a Mets fan living outside the Tri-State area without the disposable income to spend on the Extra Innings package, I’ve survived via the MLB At-Bat app and listened to Howie Rose and Josh Lewin all summer.

A few weeks back, MLB ran a promotion with Wendy’s. Post a picture with a Frosty and get a free subscription to MLBTV for the remainder of the season. I jumped and my app was upgraded, bringing Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling into my home.

As wonderful as this has been, it’s also allowed me to witness some things in real time.

jose-reyesAs Jose Reyes goes, so goes the Mets offense – As the leadoff hitter, he sets the tone for the team but when he struggles, it seems to bring everyone down. This has happened before. In 2007, he hit .135 (5-37) with just two walks in the final eight games, seven of which the team lost as they collapsed down the stretch.

He wasn’t as bad the following season, hitting .258 (8-31) with two walks in the final seven games, but the results were the same. I’ve watched Major League too many times and have Lou Brown’s doctrine embedded in my mind every time Reyes pops it up.

With your speed, you should be hitting the ball on the ground and be legging them out.

Asdrubal Cabrera is the team MVP – Yes, Yoenis Cespedes has the numbers and the big home runs, but Cabrera has been a linchpin towards the top of the lineup all season. He’s quietly having his best season since 2009 when he hit .308 with 42 doubles as a member of the Indians.

While he doesn’t have as many doubles (30), his 23 home runs make up for that and account for his career-best slugging percentage of .485. But two of his biggest additions have nothing to do with him at the plate.

cespedes cabrera

IMO, Cabrera’s defense at shortstop has been outstanding. He entered the season with connotations like this from Mark Simon of ESPN – “Cabrera does not rate well by advanced defensive metrics.” This clearly still holds true since his Defensive WAR is 0.9, but his DRS (Total Defensive Runs Saved runs above average) is -8 and UZR/150 (UZR runs above average per 150 Defensive Games) is -6.1.

Nevertheless, it’s been way better than Wilmer Flores and/or Ruben Tejada.

The second thing is his greeting for anyone returning after a home run. I look forward to the helmet flip to the bat boy more than the blast, something that shows a unified dugout and one that seems to be having fun despite all that’s gone wrong this year. Speaking of which…

Terry Collins showed why he should be fired last night – I know, I know, it’s easy to call for his head after a loss. There are plenty of us who have been calling for it after a win and during last night’s 7-3 loss to the Marlins, he showed everyone why.

In the second inning, Bartolo Colon was getting tagged. Darling could clearly see that Big Sexy didn’t have his best stuff as each Marlin hit 85 MPH fastballs all over the field. Gabriel Ynoa started warming up and I just hoped they could escape the inning.

Colon struck out Destin Hood, at-bat number 15 for the 26-year old, and got out of the inning. He was scheduled to bat second in the top of the third and I was already wondering who Collins could use to pinch hit that wouldn’t be needed later on. Maybe Kevin Plawecki?

Needless to say, I was shocked when Colon waddled up to the bat and quickly swung and missed three pitches. This goes to Collins’ undying belief in his veteran players, regardless if that derails the progression of quality young players behind them.

Curtis Granderson has been the biggest beneficiary and it took too long before Jay Bruce found the bench, but on this night it meant sticking with a starter who clearly didn’t have it. Colon nearly gave up a towering home run to Justin Bour before allowing a run-scoring triple and making way for Ynoa.

Ynoa, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are not what Collins left Port St. Lucie with back in March. The fact that he was working without four of the five members of the Opening Day rotation is admirable. That the team hasn’t collapsed under the weight of losing everyone around the infield except Cabrera is impressive.

Something has to happen with the sudden gluttony of starting pitchers. With everyone healthy, the team will have Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zach Wheeler, Lugo, Gsellman and hopefully Colon as a failsafe. I don’t trust a man who’s twice allowed a young pitcher to dictate whether they should take the mound overseeing a season where the majority of the staff will either be coming off injury or pitching off their longest season to date.But that is now and next year is the future.

Terry, Collins

The future of this team is found with the same young players that helped mount the comeback on Saturday. T.J. Rivera deserves to get a shot as the right-handed professional hitter that Daniel Murphy was. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto can’t prove anything more in the Pacific Coast League and Gavin Cecchini may need to learn another position or be traded, but something has to happen.

At my core, I’m a positive thinker. So when the Mets make the playoffs, Collins will receive a lot of credit and I’m sure earn a top 5 finish for NL Manager of the Year. Hopefully that acclaim will make it easier for him to find a new position, either within the organization or with someone else. Just so long as it’s not inside the Citi Field dugout.

These Kids Are Alright: Montero, Lugo, Gsellman Come Through For Mets

Lugo seth

From June 22 to August 3, Detroit’s rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer had five quality starts while winning seven consecutive starts. With the Mets swooning and Yoenis Cespedes dealing with injury, it was an opportune time for some media outlets to write about the young starter Mets GM Sandy Alderson gave up for the slugging left fielder.

Trade deadline stories, like one by Zach Braziller of the New York Post, quoted Alderson who was commenting on the state of Mets trade assets. “We did trade like 11 or 12 pitchers last year so we don’t have that inventory.”

That might lead the average fan to believe the minor league crop of arms was depleted, and with the Mets announced they would be relying upon several rookie pitchers to face the Cardinals and Marlins, it didn’t instill much confidence in how the Mets would fare in two very critical series.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweeted last night: “The Mets are getting by without their primary pitchers,” and that is true, but it started before Terry Collins lined up Robert GsellmanRafael Montero and Seth Lugo to toe the rubber over the past three days. You have to go back to August 25 when they turned to Jon Niese in St. Louis.

robert gsellman

When the lefty, who’s best result in 2016 was producing Neil Walker via a preseason trade, went down via injury, the minors to the majors mound movement began. And the results have been much better than what anyone could have imagined.

 Pitcher Innings Hits Runs (Earned Runs) Strikeouts Walks

8/23 – Mets 7, Cardinals 4

Gsellman (1-0) 3.2 2 0 (0) 2

3

8/25 – Mets 10, Cardinals 6

Lugo (1-2) 5.0 2 0 (0) 5 3

8/28 – Phillies 5, Mets 1

Gsellman (1-1)

6.0 7 4 (4) 5 1
8/29 – Mets 2, Marlins 1 Montero 5.0 2 0 (0) 3

6

8/30 –Mets 7, Miami 4 Lugo (2-2) 6.0 5 2 (2) 4

1

This doesn’t include Josh Smoker, who’s last three outings on consecutive days has produced six strikeouts and just one hit in three innings. So maybe the Mets’ minor league system isn’t so starved and depleted as many have said, despite all the trades from last year and this season, including trading pitcher Akeel Morris for Kelly Johnson.

rafael montero 3

Gsellman, Lugo and Montero have each stepped up at a critical junction of the season for the Mets who are fighting for their chance at another postseason.

“It’s been very interesting to see,” Curtis Granderson said about the three Mets youngsters who stepped into some big shoes and exceeded expectations. “Obviously injuries are going to be a part of it, and unfortunately, we’ve had quite a bit of them. But, these guys have been doing a great job.”

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How Should The Mets’ Rotation Order Go?

As pitchers and catchers get going in Arizona and Florida, reporters no longer have to ink their annual rankings for teams and positions. Now they can focus on seeing if their prognostication will come true.

When it comes to pitching, just about everyone: ESPN’s Buster Onley, Paul Casella of MLB.com, Grant Brisbee of SB Nation and Ted Berg of For The Win, has weighed in with the obvious – the Mets have a great rotation.

noah-syndergaard-matt-harvey-jacob-degrom-pittsburghI don’t think it’s necessary to add up all the different rankings and calculate the mean…everyone has the Mets with one of the best rotations in all of baseball.

While most articles focus on the starting pitchers, Anthony Castrovince of Sports on Earth took it one step further – his rankings were for the entire staff, from the No. 1 starter to the man assigned to close the door in the ninth and everyone in between.

But while that’s interesting in the moment, few seem to focus on the actual order of the proposed best rotation. Noah Syndergaard has already stated to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that he wants to pitch in one of the first two games of the season against Kansas City.

“Of course. I think everybody would want to pitch in one of those two games,” Syndergaard said. “I think it’s going to be a little bit different — very intense. I’m not really sure what to expect. But it’s going to be fun. And I’m looking forward to it.”

Read the full article on Mets Merized Online.

Bridging the Minority Manager Gap

Pedro LopezMajor League Baseball currently has four minority GMs – Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Farhan Zaidi of the Dodgers, Al Avila of the Detroit Tigers and Michael Hill of the Miami Marlins. Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox is the only minority vice president of baseball operations and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves and Dusty Baker are the lone minority managers.

To many, this might not seem important at all. But with 41.2 percent of players in 2015 being people of color according to Sports Business News, it should be. It’s something that’s clearly gotten the attention of the commissioner.

“You’re going to have peaks and valleys in terms of representation within what’s a very small sample; there’s only 30 of them out there,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to the Associated Press back in October. “Having said that, we are focused on the need to promote diversity, not just African-American, but Latino, as well, in the managerial ranks.”

Read the entire article at Mets Merized Online.

 

Walton at South Gwinnett: Three writers, one game

This was my first (and possibly my last…for a while) game of the 2015 high school football season. An opener between two teams with middle-of-the-pace expectations and I was surprised to be joined by two other writers in the press box.

Ben Beitzel of the Gwinnett Daily Post and JK Culpepper of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution made what might be my last Friday Night Football experience a memorable one.

Mo Dixon-coached Walton knocks out South Gwinnett early by Ben Beitzel

Walton 49, South Gwinnett 17 by JK Culpepper

Walton scores early and often against South Gwinnett by Martin Kester

Decide who wrote about this blowout the best with a comment.