Category: Miami Marlins

Mets Sweep Phillies, Head To Miami For The Weekend

by Paul DiSclafani

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

It’s not like the Mets are going on vacation, although four days in Miami sounds pretty good to most North Easterners.  The First Place Mets (6-3) are taking their four-game winning streak into Miami this weekend for a four-game series against the Fish (4-4) who took two out of three last weekend at chilly Citi Field.

Although they hate to leave the friendly confines of Citizen’s Bank Park, where they just hit 10 home runs, banged out 30 hits and scored 23 runs, they also do very well at the Marlins Park.  In 2016, the Mets went 6-3 in South Beach, scoring 45 runs in their nine games.

Everything seemed to change for the Mets after Asdrubal Cabrera was buzzed by Edubray Ramos in the eight inning of a 2-2 tie in the opening game of the Phillies series.  Cabrera, who had hit a game winning home run off Ramos in extra innings last September 22nd at Citi Field, threw his bat in celebration as the Mets were making a charge for a Wild-Card spot.  Apparently only Ramos felt the need to throw a purpose pitch over Cabrera’s head.

His manager and most of his teammates admonished the second-year player for putting his own agenda ahead of the team.  Although the pitch didn’t hit Cabrera, it seemed to send a message to the Mets more than Cabrera, who rallied around their shortstop.  After Cabrera worked out a walk, Jay Bruce cracked his second home run of the game to give the Mets a 4-2 lead in a game they eventually won.  Then the Mets put up 14 runs and bashed 14 extra base hits, including seven home runs, the next night.

Robert Gsellman (0-1) will start the four-game weekend series in Miami against Wei-Yin Chen (1-0) on Thursday night.  Gsellman was roughed up on Saturday at Citi Field by the Marlins, who scored three times in the first three innings, but then he settled down to keep the Mets in the game until the bullpen imploded in an 8-1 loss.

The Mets are expected to get Juan Lagares back at some point this weekend as he continues his rehab of his strained left oblique in Port St. Lucie, just a 2-hour drive away.  The Gold Glove center fielder has been appearing in rehab games since Monday and could be a welcome addition in the cavernous outfield in Miami.

But if Lagares does come back, who goes?  OF-Michael Conforto, who batted leadoff in the final game in Philadelphia has two home runs in his only two starts in the crowded outfield of Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce.  But he is the only left-handed power hitter on the bench, which has only four players right now (one is the other catcher) as the Mets are carrying 13 pitchers.

With question marks about the durability of Zach Wheeler still unanswered and the fact that the other starters can’t seem to make it through the seventh inning yet, they need a lot of arms in the bullpen.  They no longer have Bartolo Colon to eat up innings and the absence of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are more daunting than originally thought.  How many times can you run Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins out there?  Salas has already appeared in six of the Mets nine games and Blevins has appeared in five.  By The Way, they have combined for 8.2 innings of shutout relief with 12 strikeouts.

The most likely candidate is rookie Paul Sewald if only because Rafael Montero (7.71 ERA) was a former starter and might be able to provide innings.

Let’s hope the Mets training staff brings lots of SPF-50 on this trip as the Mets play three night games down here and may want to take advantage of the sunshine before they return home for a nine-game home stand and welcome the Nationals into Citi Field next Friday.

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50 Straight For Familia As Reyes Provides Spark For Mets; “He Creates Havoc”

By Paul DiSclafani

James Loney admires monster 2-run homer in Mets 5-3 win over Marlins Eric Espada/Getty Images

James Loney admires monster 2-run homer in Mets 5-3 win over Marlins
Eric Espada/Getty Images

When the Mets acquired their former spark plug Jose Reyes back in June and promoted him to the big club on July 5, they knew he was not the same player that won the batting title in 2011, the year before he bolted to the Marlins after signing a huge Free Agent deal in the off-season.

They knew he had a lot of baggage with his recent domestic abuse situation that cost him a 52 game suspension and his job with the Colorado Rockies. But they also knew that their moribund offense was going nowhere unless it hit home runs, so they took a chance that Reyes could provide a jolt.  That lightning bolt finally arrived tonight.

Reyes (33), making his first appearance at Marlins Park since he was traded in 2012 to Toronto, had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run in the Mets 5-3 win over the Marlins. The Mets (51-44) pulled to within a half game of second place Miami (52-44) and picked up a game on the first place Nationals, now trailing by five games.

“He brings some energy to the lineup,” manager Terry Collins said after the game about Reyes. “He gets on base and gets into scoring position.  He creates havoc.  When he gets on base, people worry about him.”

Reyes started the game with a double, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Yoenis Cespedes to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Then in the fourth, his two-out RBI single gave the Mets a 2-0 lead.

“We don’t have to sit back and wait for the home run,” Collins said. “This guy is producing runs.”

After the Marlins had tied the game in the sixth on a two run homer by Christian Yelich, Reyes made things happen again in the seventh to get the Mets the lead. He banged a one-out single up the middle and using his speed, went from first to third on a Curtis Granderson single to right, putting himself in position to score on another Cespedes sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.

“”I know if I get on base,” Reyes said, “the guys behind me will drive me in. I’m starting to get more comfortable at the plate.”

Collins echoed Reyes comments about getting more comfortable at the plate.   “It’s a matter of accumulating more at bats and getting comfortable from both sides of the plate.  We’ve got a lot of games to play and he is going to make a big difference in our lineup.”

“He’s like a can of Red Bull bottled up into a human being,” starter Logan Verrett said about Reyes. “That’s something that we were lacking. He brings that energy to the field every single day. He had a huge game for us today at the plate. He brings the same exact energy if he’s 0-for-4 at the plate, which is what you need.”

Verrett (ND) took a shutout into the sixth, but gave up the two-run home run to Yelich to tie the game. Handel Robles came on to get the final two outs after the Yelich home run and put in a 1-2-3 seventh inning to pick up his fifth win (5-3).  Robles is 5-0 since June 10th with a 1.59 ERA in 22.2 innings with 26K and only 9 walks.

With a 3-2 lead and Jeurys Familia getting ready to try for his 50th consecutive save, James Loney gave the Mets some breathing room in the ninth inning.  Loney, who came on in a double switch in the eighth inning, crushed a 2-run home run into the upper deck in right field to give the Mets a 5-2 lead.  It was Loney’s fifth home run of the year after getting only four all last season.

As has been the story recently, Familia found himself in trouble, but managed to escape. On Tuesday, the Cubs loaded the bases in the ninth with no outs, but Familia worked out of it to get save #49 in a row, thanks to a game ending double play started by Jose Reyes.  Tonight, he gave up a run to make it 5-3, but got two strikeouts to get save #34 on the year and his 50th consecutive regular season save.  Familia is only the fourth player in MLB history to get 50 or more consecutive regular season saves, closing in on Jose Valverde (51) and Tom Gordon (54), but still far away from Eric Gagne (84).

“He’s been unbelievable,” Collins gushed after the game about his All-Star closer. “He has great confidence when he goes out there.”

Jacob deGrom (6-4, 2.38) takes on All-Star Jose Fernandez (11-4, 2.53) tomorrow. DeGrom is coming of a 1-hit, complete game shutout of the Phillies last week.

WHEELER UPDATE:  Zack Wheeler was in the ballpark today at Miami to visit with his teammates and threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session. He will face live batters in a few days and could ready for a rehab assignment as early as next week.  That puts him at late August, early September for a possible return.

POSITIVES: Cespedes had two RBI (both Reyes) on sacrifice flies as Mets manufactured three of their five runs … Reyes raised his average from .215 to .250 with his 3-5 … Reyes already has three SB as a Met … Marlins were a hot team, going 8-2 in their last 10 games … Mets have won 11 of their last 20 vs Miami … Mets are now 4-3 on this 9-game road trip … Addison Reed had a 1-2-3 eighth and his 21st hold (whatever that means) .. Ichiro Suzuki is just four hits shy of 3,000.

NEGATIVES: Neil Walker was 0-5 and saw his average drop to .242 .. Marlins closer Fernando Rodney has given up just two home runs all year, Loney’s tonight and the other to Alejandro De Aza …

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com.  “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

Mets Complete 7-4 Home Stand, So Why Doesn’t It Feel Good?

By Paul DiSclafani:

Mets and Steven Matz wondering what is going on... AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Mets and Steven Matz wondering what is going on…
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

On Wednesday evening, June 29th, the Nationals completed a sweep of the Mets in Washington to take a season high six game lead in the NL East.  Licking their wounds and losers of four straight, the Mets and their fans opened one eye to peek at the remaining schedule before the All-Star break and saw an 11-game home stand on the horizon that included four games against the best team in the league, three more against the team directly behind them and four more against these same Nationals.  I think the word most fans were looking for was, “Sheesh!”

With injuries beginning to mount as two of their star pitchers, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, announced that they are experiencing elbow discomfort and have bone chips in their elbows, the Mets got even more bad news. While Sundergaard and Matz would continue to pitch through the pain, Matt Harvey’s puzzling season came to an abrupt halt with something that nobody had ever heard of, “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome”.

Not enough for you? How about Yoenis Cespedes straining a quad making a diving catch in the outfield that will put him on the shelf for about a week and cost him his starting role in the All Star game?

Need more? How about Syndergaard throwing three consecutive fastballs that went from 96 to 94 to 91 and then having to come out of the game with “fatigue”?  Not to worry, he has no pain in his shoulder or his bone chip filled elbow.  “His arm went dead,” manager Terry Collins said.  “He’s got a tired arm and (his) stuff went away”.

Where did it go?

His missing “stuff” cost Syndergaard his first ever All Star appearance. “It’s disappointing,” Syndergaard said about not being able to pitch in the All Star game, “But there will be a lot more.  It’s a long season, you put a lot of wear and tear on your body, just right now I think I need a little break.”

Through all of this, the Mets had to play 11 games against the Cubs, Marlins and Nationals before they get five days off. And they won seven of them.

That’s right, seven of them.  Shouldn’t Mets fans be happy?

They swept all four against the Cubs (hitting 11 home runs) and took two of three from the Marlins, then came back from a 6-0 deficit (the last game Harvey will pitch this season) to beat the Nationals, 9-7 and cut their lead in the NL East to just three games.

Then the bottom fell out when the team found out about Harvey’s TOS and both Cespedes and Syndergaard left the game within 10 minutes of each other. You think that had an effect on the last three games before the All Star break, at least mentally?

Give me a show of hands – how many Mets fans, on Thursday morning June 30th, would have taken a 4-7 record on this 11-game home stand?  How about even 5-6?  If you are still raising your hand when I get to 7-4, you are not being honest.

With all that has happened to this team in the last two weeks, they are exactly where they were 11 days ago. Granted, a home stand that started out 7-1 and finished with three straight stinkers is not giving you any confidence going into the All-Star break, but what’s the alternative?

Once again, the Nationals are tearing it up against the Mets (9-4 with 6 games left, all in September). However, if you take the seven games against the Mets (6-1) out of the equation for the Nats these last two weeks, they are just 5-10 in 15 other games that included the Padres (2-2), Dodgers (0-3), Brewers (1-3) and Reds (3-1).

Baseball is a funny game and it plays out over six months, not six days. Although six days may not be able to change the course of the season, but it can certainly change the mindset of the fan base.  Think about where Mets fans (and the media) were coming into this home stand and where they were after sweeping the Cubs and taking two of three against the Marlins?  Now just four games later, it’s gloom and doom again?

Welcome to baseball again, Mets fans. We don’t have a lot of experience with the ups and downs of a baseball season and maybe we panic and celebrate too quickly.

Let’s take a break this week and just try and catch our breath, shall we?

Jose Reyes hit two home runs in today’s 3-2 loss, Wilmer Flores has begun to heat up and we won’t have to see (or hear about) Daniel Murphy until football season starts. Maybe our expectations of dominance were a tad too high?  Maybe our reliance on starting pitching without regard to offense will come back to bite us in the butt?  We lost our Captain and third baseman for the season and no one has seen or heard from our first baseman in six weeks.

But we have an All Star closer and Bartolo Colon, the ageless wonder. Our pitching hasn’t been dominant, but they have been pretty darn good.  And where would we be without Cabrera and Walker?

I don’t think any Mets fan (including this one) is “happy” with being just six games over .500 at 47-41 after getting to the World Series last year, but let’s be honest – with all the injuries, it could be much, much worse.

Take a deep breath and exhale with me. Then we’ll see where we are on August 1st

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com.  “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

Mets take 2 of 3 From Fish as Nationals Roll Into Town; Harvey to the DL

By Paul DiSclafani:

Jose Reyes celebrates his return to the Mets with two doubles in 4-2 win over the Marlins AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Jose Reyes celebrates his return to the Mets with two doubles in 4-2 win over the Marlins
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

After their surprising four game sweep of the Chicago Cubs last weekend, the Mets (46-38) took care of business against the Marlins, winning the rubber game, 4-2 and can now set their sights on the First Place Nationals, who come into New York for a four game weekend set.

After being swept by Washington, the Mets were left for dead heading into their big rematch series with the Cubbies, but pulled themselves out of the offensive funk that plagued them for most of the month of June, shocking everyone, including themselves, and sweeping all four games against the team with the best record in the league. But that left them vulnerable this week as their personal tormentors, the Marlins, came into town.

With Matt Harvey on the mound for the Holiday game on Monday, the Mets found themselves in a 6-0 hole before chipping away at the lead, scoring in each of their last five frames for an 8-6 comeback win for their fifth straight. But on Tuesday they laid an egg, dropping a 5-2 decision as Giancarlo Stanton hit two home runs.  That set up the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon.

Wilmer Flores, who hit two home runs on Sunday when he tied a franchise record going 6-6 against the Cubs, hit two more today as the Mets get a win for Jacob deGrom, 4-2.  DeGrom, who hadn’t won a game since April 30th (10 straight starts) has now won two straight as the Mets have won six of their last seven.

DeGrom (W, 5-4) pitched seven strong innings, striking out seven and allowing two runs. Both came in the form of solo home runs by Stanton, who also hit two home runs on Tuesday.  Stanton hit milestone #200 in the sixth inning.  He hit home runs in his last two AB’s on Tuesday and his first two AB’s on Wednesday, giving him four home runs in consecutive AB’s.  Last time that happened was with Albert Pulols in 2006.

Jose Reyes got to play shortstop instead of third base when Asdrubal Cabrera was unable to play due to a family emergency and made the most of his second start in his re-debut with the Mets. After taking an 0-4 collar on Tuesday, Reyes smacked two doubles as the leadoff hitter.  “He creates a lot of problems at the top of the lineup,” Neil Walker said. “He’s going to be important for us setting the table for the guys in the middle.”

Curtis Granderson, batting behind Reyes in the lineup, drove in two runs in the third inning to give the Mets a 3-0 lead before Stanton got one back in the top of the fourth. But Flores got that one right back in the bottom of the inning.

Addison Reed pitched a perfect 8th while protecting a 4-2 lead, setting up first time All-Star closer Jeurys Familia to get the final three outs for his 30th save of the year.  Familia has now registered 46 consecutive regular season saves.

Now the Nationals, with a four game lead over the Mets, come into town before the All-Star break, for a four game series. After being swept in their previous series, the Mets have fought back, winning six of their last seven, but trimming only two games from the Nationals lead.  This might be considered a “statement” series for the Mets, their chance to show the Nationals they are not going to go quietly into the night.

Game one will feature 43 year-old Bartolo Colon (7-4, 2.87) against rookie Lucas Giolito (0-0, 0.00). The highly regarded Giolito made his major league debut against the Mets on June 28, throwing four shutout innings of one-hit ball before the rain came and he needed to be replaced.

The rest of the series probable pitchers shape up like this:

  • Game 2 (FRI): Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 2.41) vs Stephen Strasburg (11-0, 2.71)
  • Game 3 (SAT): Logan Verrett (3-5, 4.01) vs Max Scherzer (9-6, 3.21)
  • Game 4 (SUN): Steven Matz (7-4, 3.34) vs Gio Gonzalez (4-8, 4,79)

HARVEY ON THE DL

Matt Harvey landed on the 15-Day DL with “discomfort in his right shoulder”. After meeting with team doctors, Harvey will visit a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) specialist Robert Thompson in St. Louis on Thursday.  Maybe this at least partially explains the recent poor performances Harvey has experienced.  Zack Wheeler is not expected back until late July, so the logical choice will be Logan Verrett to take Harvey’s spot in the rotation.

Harvey is just 4-10 in his 17 starts with an ERA of 4.86. He has allowed 111 hits in 92.2 innings, the fourth highest hit total in the league and tied for the league lead with 10 losses.

Former Mets pitcher Chris Young experienced “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome” in his career and was miserable until he had surgery. Obviously, the Mets are worried enough that Harvey might also be suffering from TOS that he is seeing an expert on the subject tomorrow.

THE RETURN OF JOSE REYES

The superstitious baseball fan will point to Tuesday’s Mets loss, following a five game winning streak, as proof that you don’t mess with success and that putting Jose Reyes into the lineup jinxed the Mets. Guess that lasted only one game as Reyes followed his 0-4 re-debut with the Mets on Tuesday with two doubles and a run scored in Wednesday’s win.  Reyes, for all his baggage, gives the Mets the one thing that no one on the current roster can – speed.  Is it really a bad thing that he took a spot away from Matt Reynolds?

POSITIVES: Familia is only the 15th player in Major League Baseball history to reach 30 saves before the All-Star break, which happens to be a Mets record.  Three of the other 14 did it in 2013:  Jim Johnson (33), Joe Nathan (30) and Mariano Rivera (30) … Granderson, Flores and Reyes all had two hits … Flores now has seven home runs … Cespedes (0-4) snapped a nine game hitting streak and has had a hit in 13 of his last 15 games, raising his average from .280 to .304

NEGATIVES:  Got a bad feeling about Harvey going to see a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome expert …

Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com.  “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.

Harvey’s Gem Wasted in 1-0 Loss as Marlins Ace Fans 14

By Paul DiSclafani:

Matt Harvey allows just one run, but that was enough. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Matt Harvey allows just one run, but that was enough.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Mets (31-24) take two out of three against the Marlins (30-27) this weekend, but after a 1-0 domination at the hands of Jose Fernandez in the finale and losing more players to injuries, they probably can’t wait to get out of Miami.

The weekend started with the news that Captain David Wright will miss significant time with a herniated disk in his neck, but that didn’t stop them from winning on Friday night behind Noah Syndergaard, 6-2. Then on Saturday, Yoenis Cespedes came up lame with a sore hip before the game and later on, they lost CF-Juan Lagares after he made a game saving diving grab in the sixth.  The Mets were able to score four times in the last two innings to win the game, 6-4.

Matt Harvey matched up with Marlins Ace Fernandez, who had won seven straight starts, and pitched well again, allowing just one run in his seven innings without walking a batter. Although he allowed just four hits in the game, two of them came in fifth when the Marlins scored the only run of the game.  After giving up five runs against the Nationals on 5/24, Harvey has rebounded with two straight solid starts, allowing just one earned run and six hits over 14 innings.

After getting Justin Bour to pop out to third to start the inning, Harvey was ahead 0-2 against David Dietrich when he lined a 2-2 pitch off the wall in right for a double, just the third hit for the Marlins. But after falling behind 2-0 to JT Realmuto, the Miami catcher powered a base hit to center that scored Dietrich.

Meanwhile, Fernandez seemed like he was just toying with the Mets depleted lineup. No Cespedes, no Wright, no Duda, not even Lagares.  Fernandez tied a career high with 14 strikeouts in seven shutout innings, holding the Mets to just four hits.  Mets got just one runner to second – Curtiis Granderson, who doubled in the first; and one runner to third – back to back singles from Michael Conforto and James Loney in the seventh, but both scoring opportunities came with two outs, and both were extinguished by strikeouts.

Fernandez (W, 9-2) has an amazing 23-1 record at Marlins Park with a 1.53 ERA in 33 career starts. Harvey posted his second consecutive solid start, but this time was just outmatched.  Harvey dropped to 4-8 on the season.

“It was one of those game where you have a great pitching match-up head to head, and that’s exactly what you would expect — a 1-0 game,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Now the Mets move onto Pittsburgh, where Neil Walker will make his return as an opposing player for the first time as the Mets face Jonathan Niese, who was traded by the Mets for Walker in the off-season. Niese (5-2, 4.36) will face Steven Matz (7-1, 2.60).

LAGARES INJURY UPDATE:

Lagares was diagnosed with a sprained thumb on Sunday in Miami, but will travel with the Mets to Pittsburgh before heading to New York for more extensive tests with Mets team doctors.  Lagares still had some swelling after making a diving catch on Saturday that saved two runs.  “It just feels like last night – a little bit of swelling”, Lagares said. No Pain.”

POSITIVES: Cespedes was able to pinch hit and flied out … New 1B James Loney had a very productive series in Miami, going 6-13 with a HR and 3 RBI.  Since Lucas Duda went down, the Mets have gotten only 7 hits from that position before Loney took over … Michael Conforto had one of the hits against Fernandez and drove in two runs on Saturday … Alejandro De Aza drove in two runs on Saturday and had another hit on Sunday … Rene Rivera caught Ichiro Suzuki stealing and has gunned down six of eight since joining the Mets.

NEGATIVES: Granderson and Walker struck out three times.  Every regular in the lineup struck out except for Rene Rivera, but he was 0-3 …

”This is a game we had to have. We couldn’t sacrifice another game.”

By:  Paul DiSclafani

GETTY Images / ELSA

GETTY Images / ELSA

Mets manager Terry Collins wasn’t fooling around in the 8th inning as his Mets were clinging to a 2-0 lead over the Miami Marlins.  The Mets (3-5) had lost four straight and needed to win this game, not only to avoid a sweep, but to get back on track after a miserable 2-5 start to the season.

With one out in the eighth and Christian Yelich on first, Collins came out for reliever Jerry Blevins and summoned closer Jeurys Familia for a five out save. That raised a number of eyebrows, not so much because the move seemed a little panicky, considering it is only the eighth game of the season, but Familia pitched two days in a row (36 pitches in total) and was now being summoned to save what should be considered a meaningless game just 11 days into the season.

Was it panicky?  Tell that to the New York Media or the New York Fans, who have been struggling with their emotions as the Mets have stumbled out of the gate, hitting just .186 as a team and ranked 29th in runs scored with just 18.  Everyone needed the Mets to win this game.  Everyone.

”We’ve gotten off to a slow start. It happens. It happens. It’s part of the game,” Collins said. ”There’s a lot of teams that get off to great starts and falter. There are teams that get off to slow starts that have huge second halves and run away with stuff. I just thought it was important today for our fan base to stay excited.”

Fans have been lighting up social media since spring training about the Mets lack of urgency and possible lack of preparation as they lost 13 straight Grapefruit games and just continued to shrug off the results, pointing to the “real” games when the season started. Well, here we are, seven games into the season, and the Mets have looked exactly as they did during the spring – punchless at the plate and clueless on the field.

”I’m not worried about the confidence. I’m worried about the perception is that there’s no energy here, which is completely not true, that we’re not prepared, we’re overconfident or we’re not taking things seriously,” Collins said. ”I heard that last night and it made me sick to my stomach, that people actually think that this team, that accomplished what they did last year, would have any semblance of that type of makeup.”

The players and coaches are certainly taking notice of what is happening and they are plenty aware of what is being written and said about their low energy start. After the incredible high of the playoffs and World Series last year, compounded with seeing the start the Washington Nationals are having, winning exciting games late and coming out of the gate 5-1, Mets fans are a little nervous and a little impatient.

”I’m not deaf, and I’m not blind. I listen. I see how people are reacting. I hear what’s going on,” Collins said. ”I read the stuff, and I read between the lines of what’s being said.”

David Wright knows the expectations in the clubhouse as the Captain said, “This isn’t the start that we thought about and planned to have.”

Backup catcher Kevin Plawecki rescued the Mets with a two-out single in the 7th, driving home both Wilmer Flores (making his major league debut at first base) and Asdurbal Cabrera, giving them a 2-0 lead.  A lead that Collins felt was so worth protecting, he made the call for Familia with five outs left.

”If you start saying games are must wins, I think there’s some pressure that really is not needed,” Plaweicki said, ”but definitely there was a sense of urgency to get a win today.”

Lost in the Familia shuffle was Logan Verrett, who tossed six shutout innings in a spot start for Jacob deGrom, allowing just three hits. And in the seventh inning, with the game still tied 0-0, Collins went to reliever Jim Henderson, who threw a career high 34 pitches about 17 hours prior.  Henderson was awful, allowing a leadoff single and two walks to load the bases with no outs.  Henderson’s velocity is 89-91, way down from 95-97 in his previous appearances.

Hansel Robles came to the rescue, striking out Miguel Rojas looking and Derek Dietrich swinging. Blevins finished the job by getting Dee Gordon to fly out to left and end the inning.  But after getting the first out in the eighth, Blevins allowed a single to Yelich that ended his night and started the inquisition of Collins as Familia came into the game to face Giancarlo Stanton.

Familia snuck two fastballs by Stanton to get ahead 0-2, then got him to fly out to center for the second out. Martin Prado then singled, moving Yelich to second.  Familia got ahead of Justin Bour 1-2, but Bour singled to left to make it a 2-1 game.  Although Familia got JT Realmuto to hit it back to the box on the next pitch to end the inning, he still needed to go out there again in the ninth to secure the win.

In the ninth, Familia (S, 2) took care of business, just like Collins drew it up, finishing with a strikeout of Gordon to end the game and the Mets losing streak at four games.

”We’re talking about something now that’s going to be written up tomorrow like we’re on the cutting edge here, we’re walking that razor blade,” he said. ”We’re not. We just wanted to win today.”

So did everyone else.

Mets have the day off on Thursday and head out on a nine-game road trip, beginning with a weekend set in Cleveland as Bartolo Colon (0-1) gets things started on Jackie Robinson Day in MLB.

POSITIVES: Blevins got the win (1-0) … Yoenis Cespedes went flying into the stands in the eighth inning to try to snag a ball, crashing into a fan and hitting his knee.  He stayed in the game and was later rewarded by being hit in the elbow by a pitch … Cabrera had two hits … Flores, making his debut at 1B, turned a nifty 3-6-3 DP

NEGATIVES: Jacob deGrom may be headed to the DL … Mets were 3-9 W/RISP, but scored both runs on the same AB … Gordon snapped a 19-game hitting streak against the Mets

Hall of Fame, Hall of The Very Good or Hall of Cheaters?

1936 hall of fame

The first Hall of Fame inductees in 1936 including Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb

 

By Mike Moosbrugger

I originally wrote this article in January of 2015 shortly after the Hall of Fame voting and the announcement of the players to be inducted. I am reposting this article to bring to your attention a very big change in who will be permitted to vote from now on to enshrine players in Cooperstown. Look at the four changes that I call for in how the voting is done. The second one listed has in fact been changed for the 2016 voting! There will be 100 less “writers” allowed to cast a ballot this year. The Hall of Fame has decided that if you have not actively covered baseball for the last 10 years then you lose your right to vote. It is no longer a lifetime privilege. Good job by the Hall of Fame Committee because that one issue really needed to change. The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on January 6th 2016. Ken Griffey Jr. is a lock to get elected. Trevor Hoffman may have to wait another year or two.  

It was a lot easier in 1936 when the BBWAA ( Baseball Writers Association of America ) first got together to vote in the first class of hall of famers. Those first 5 inductees were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson. The term “no brainers” comes to mind so you would think that the first class of inductees and the voting that elevated these fine players to HOF status would be without controversy. I looked at the voting for that first class and managed to have a raised eyebrow at what I saw. Cy Young failed to get in by only garnering 49% of the vote? Young had 511 wins pitching over a 21 year career, a record that will never ever be broken. What does a guy have to do to get a little respect? Cy Young was later inducted of course and the award given out each year for the best pitcher in each the National and the American League was named after good old Cy after the 1955 season. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson received two votes on that first year ballot even though he had already been banned for life from the game with no eligibility for reinstatement or election to the Hall of Fame. This was as a result of Jackson’s alleged involvement in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The scandal implicated 8 players on the Chicago White Sox that were believed to have been losing intentionally and being paid off by gamblers to do so. Joe Jackson was a .356 career hitter during the “dead ball” era and hit .375 with 1 homerun and 6 RBI’s in the 1919 World Series. There have been issues and controversies nearly every year since the voting the Hall of Fame started over 70 years ago.

The 2015 class of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio is a good one for the most part except for Smoltz. John Smoltz is a first ballot hall of famer? I don’t even think he is a hall of fame worthy player at all but to put him in on the first ballot? He had one very, very good season when he won the Cy Young Award in 1996 going 24-8 with the Atlanta Braves. Other than that Smoltz had a very good career not a hall of fame career. When they change the name of the building to the Hall of The Very Good then Smoltz should be a first ballot inductee. Mike Piazza is one of the top hitting catchers of all time and it looks like he won’t get in until his fourth year of eligibility next year. I will get back to the Piazza issue in a moment. Biggio has been labeled a “compiler” by his detractors but I have an answer for that as well. Let’s not diminish a player’s career that included durability, versatility, longevity and productivity over 20+ years because he did not hit 30 homers a year. What Biggio did is very hard to do make no mistake about it. Only 27 other men that ever played the game have reached 3000 hits. I for one will not diminish any of those players careers.  What Biggio did is hard to do, it is unique and it is Cooperstown worthy, case closed.

The biggest problem facing the voters the BBWAA is how to handle the steroid era and the players that put up video game type stats during it. It is a conundrum of major proportions but I know what I would do if I had a vote. Players that have steroids attached to their names should be separated into 2 categories.

Category 1 – The users and abusers

These are the guys that have either failed a drug test, admitted using or have such overwhelming evidence against them that it can’t be ignored. The most notable ones are Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens. Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez will be eligible in the future and are in the category as well. These players changed the game and its statistical records so much that they have altered the game in a way that can only be fixed by vacating the stats which will never happen. They made the millions and took the health risks and now have to live with the results. No Hall of Fame for these players, ever.

 

Category 2 – The locker room whispers

The players that come to mind are Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Gary Sheffield and Jeff Kent. These are the guys that players, fans and writers whispered in corners of the room about but no hard evidence ever came forward. There is a 5 year waiting period after a player retires before he is eligible for Hall of Fame. If the evidence did not present itself during a players long career plus the 5 years after then I have to measure the player based on his performance on the field and steroids does not enter into my thought process.

 

In addition to deciding what players should or should not be on the ballot there are big problems with the the Hall of Fame voting process. It is riddled with issues that need to change. Here are the main ones that I would like to see changes in:

  1. Members of the BBWAA select players that are eligible to be on the ballot from a list of all players that have been retired for 5 years. This is done via a “special screening committee”.

I can’t explain how these writers could put Aaron Boone, Tom Gordon, Brian Giles, Tony Clark or Darin Erstad on the ballot with a straight face but they did. No disrespect intended as these players had nice baseball careers but in no way shape or form should they even be considered Hall of Famers. This process needs to be a little more transparent to the public so the fans know how these players are being justified to appear on the ballot.

  1. Members of the BBWAA that have been a member for 10 years and covering baseball then have a ballot that they can cast. They are permitted to vote for up to 10 players each year.

Some of these members have not been covering baseball for a very long time but once you become a voter it is basically a lifetime job. This makes little to no sense to me. If a writer is no longer actively writing about baseball I think his credentials should be reviewed each year to ensure that the guy voting is qualified to do so. Voting for the Hall of Fame is a privilege not a right. The 2015 voting results revealed that Troy Percival, Tom Gordon, Aaron Boone and Darin Erstad all had support. Each received 2 votes except for Erstad who only received 1. I don’t know if it was 7 different writers that cast these ballots but whoever it was he should no longer have the ability to vote in my mind.

  1. The board of directors at the Hall of Fame decide how players are elected. Currently and since 1936 they have relied on the BBWAA to vote on players.

It is not 1936 anymore so I think with all the media outlets in our lives today it makes more sense to open up the voting to others. Broadcasters and website writers come to mind. Although there has been some progress on allowing certain website writers gain eligibility to vote I do think more is needed. My real issue here is the broadcasters. Vin Scully has been broadcasting the Dodger games since the 1950’s. The man has met Babe Ruth for crying out loud. He has probably watched more games live and in person then any member of the BBWAA. Scully is a good example of a guy that I feel should have a vote. Others that come to mind here in New York where I live would be Michael Kaye or Howie Rose. Kaye is a Yankees broadcaster and Rose is a Mets broadcaster. I would trust that these gentlemen would take the vote serious and do the due diligence before casting a ballot. It is time for new voices to enter into the process.

  1. Players stay on the ballot for 15 years and must get at least 5% of the votes each year to remain on the ballot during the 15 years. After that time has passed the only way a player can get in is via the “veterans committee”.

This committee is all living Hall of Fame players and they vote every two years on players that are no longer on the ballot. This is how players such as Bill Mazeroski and Phil Rizzuto got inducted. They both had decent careers but in neither case are they Hall of Fame worthy. Rizzuto should be in as a broadcaster but not as a player. I think it is a dangerous thing when players start to vote on other players. The players and the voters get older and start to get more and more nostalgic about a player’s career which can start to cloud good judgment. I would eliminate this committee. 10 years should be the max amount of time that a player should be on the ballot.

These are just a few of the changes that I would make. The board of directors of the Hall of Fame have to decide what kind of hall of fame they want as well as who should be voting on the inductees. I have visited the baseball Hall of Fame numerous times over the years and it is a great place to recall some of the great players and moments in the history of the game. It is just time to review the entire process to ensure that only the best and most deserving players are being honored.