New York Mets: Wilmer Flores
FIRST PITCH: That’s all folks!
The Mets completed their season with a 79-83 record, tied with the Atlanta Braves for second place in the NL East.
Heck, the Mets won the season series from Atlanta, 10-9, if you want to crow about actually topping the Braves.
Now, the work belongs to Sandy Alderson and the front office, trying to upgrade the offense.
Alderson suggested the Mets were not that far off, though. According to the GM, the Amazin’s merely need to move from a middle-of-the-pack offense to top five in order to pick up 10-12 wins.
The Mets finished exactly in the middle in the NL in runs scored -- eighth -- and averaged 3.9 runs a game. They tied for 13th in batting average (.238), ranked ninth in on-base percentage (.308) and tied for ninth in home runs (125).
“I think it seems that a lot of individual guys, and us as a team, have finished on such a strong note that we have some momentum going into the offseason,” captain David Wright said. “Hopefully that carries over into spring training. Lucas Duda hitting his 30th home run, the way Wilmer Flores has swung the bat as of late, our pitching staff, a lot of good things happened. Although we didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish, there’s a lot of solid and some great individual performances by some of the guys in this clubhouse.
“We’re close. We’re close. And that’s a good feeling going into an offseason.”
The Mets will announce “limited” coaching changes in the next couple of days, with the turnover expected to center on the hitting-coach positions and no room for Wally Backman on the major league staff.
Jonathon Niese is due to be examined on Monday after a recurrence of a rapid heartbeat this weekend.
Travis d'Arnaud (bone chips) on Wednesday Jenrry Mejia (sports hernia) on Thursday are due to undergo surgery.
And hopefully Kirk Nieuwenhuis gets released soon after spending the past two nights in the hospital with an infection.
Monday’s news reports:
• Duda slugged his 30th homer and finished with 92 RBIs and Bartolo Colon crossed 200 innings and notched his 15th win as the Mets closed the season with an 8-3 win against the Astros.
Retiring Bobby Abreu singled in the fifth inning and received a resounding sendoff as he was pulled from the game. Abreu plans to play a couple of games in winter ball with Caracas to have a farewell in his native Venezuela, too. He aspires to serve as a hitting coach, although he’s not sure he will begin that phase of his career in 2015.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.
• Alderson confirmed the dimensions in center and right-center at Citi Field are “likely” to be trimmed to assist Curtis Granderson and Wright. Read more from Alderson, including his thoughts on what the team needs to upgrade, in the Post and Star-Ledger.
• Read more on Abreu’s sendoff in the Record and Newsday.
• Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, initially out of the lineup, was inserted after social-media uproar and secured the AL batting title at Citi Field. Read more in the Times and Post.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka said he wants to be a starting pitcher next season. Presumably, that may mean pitching in Japan in 2015.
• Josh Satin finished the season unavailable with a fracture in his right hand. The injury will not require surgery.
• Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post offers a suggestion for how the Mets can stop “being such a laughingstock.” Writes Davidoff:
If the Mets can just climb into the $100-$110 million range, then they can trade their assets only for baseball reasons and not for financial ones. They can build on this year’s step forward with confidence. There’s little indication from Alderson this will actually happen.
• Mike Puma in the Post reported the Mets asked Daniel Murphy about playing some left field next season, but Murphy balked and the club won’t “press the issue.” Frankly, Murphy may not even be a Met in 2015.
• Puma in the Post asks five questions for 2015.
• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger lists four ways the Mets’ offense can improve.
• Long Islander Nick Tropeano allowed four runs in five innings at Citi Field on Sunday before a large contingent of family and friends. "Warming up, you could hear them screaming, 'Trope!' and that kind of stuff," Tropeano said postgame, according to Colin Stephenson in Newsday. "You know, good, bad, win, lose, it's kind of a celebration for me just being here, and making it up here, playing the New York Mets -- it's surreal. It's good."
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear delivers its Closing Day soliloquy. … Blogging Mets has its annual Mets report card for the season.
BIRTHDAYS: Heath Bell turns 37. ... Minor-league outfielder Enmanuel Zabala is 20.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Note: This is the final “Morning Briefing” for 2014. Thanks for reading!
Matt den Dekker produced a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth against Tyler Clippard as the Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 7-4, in Game 1 of a split doubleheader Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park.
Den Dekker plated pinch runner Eric Young Jr., who stole second base with two outs to reach scoring position. Den Dekker ultimately scored from second base on Wilmer Flores' infield single. EY Jr.’s swipe was his 30th of the season.
The Mets (77-81) won for only the fourth time in 18 games against the Nats this season.
The Amazin’s can snap a string of five straight losing seasons by winning their remaining four games.
With the matinee victory, the Mets returned to a second-place tie with the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
Oh, Gee: Dillon Gee finished the season with a 7-8 record and 4.00 ERA after tossing five innings in a no-decision. Gee, staked to a 4-1 lead, allowed three fifth-inning runs, including a game-tying two-run single by Michael Taylor.
Gee’s final line: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
He tossed the first balk by a Met this season. The Amazin’s were bidding to become the first NL club in 15 years to go a full season without a balk.
Gee, 28, is a candidate to be traded during the winter. He again is eligible for arbitration after earning $3.625 million this season. Gee is under the Mets’ control through the 2016 season.
He logged 137 1/3 innings in 2014. He allowed 128 hits and 43 walks while striking out 94.
What’s next: Zack Wheeler (11-10, 3.49 ERA) makes his final 2014 appearance. He opposes left-hander Gio Gonzalez (9-10, 3.74) in the 7:05 p.m. nightcap of a split doubleheader.
FIRST PITCH: Wait until next year!
The Mets officially were eliminated from postseason contention on Friday night, despite producing a win.
Still, they play on.
At 74-80, the Amazin’s occupy fourth place in the NL East. Still, they are only a half-game behind the Miami Marlins (74-79) for third place and only 2½ games behind the Atlanta Braves (76-77) for second place.
The Mets need to go 7-1 the rest of the way to reach .500. Otherwise, they will produce their sixth straight losing season, which would match the Houston Astros for the longest active streak of sub-.500 seasons in the majors.
On Saturday at Turner Field, Jonathon Niese (8-11, 3.55 ERA) opposes left-hander Mike Minor (6-11, 4.74) at 7:10 p.m.
Saturday’s news reports:
• Lucas Duda opened the scoring with a two-run homer and the Mets tacked on three ninth-inning runs en route to a 5-0 win against Atlanta in Friday’s series opener. Albeit requiring 105 pitches, Zack Wheeler tossed six scoreless innings to improve to 11-10 with a 3.49 ERA with one start remaining.
“His stuff was very, very good,” Terry Collins said, while adding: “As we’ve seen lately, he uses a lot of pitches to get outs.”
Collins was pleased that Wheeler has maintained his velocity this deep into the season. He has now logged 180 1/3 innings. Last year, he logged 174 1/3 innings. Wheeler has continued to average more than 96 mph with his fastball in September.
“That’s what you work hard for during the offseason, so you can last this long and stay powerful throughout the season,” Wheeler said. “It’s a good sign.”
As for turning a 3-8 record entering July into an above-.500 mark, Wheeler added: “It was a rough first few months, but I got past that. I kept my nose down and kept going.”
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.
• Read more on Wheeler in the Record.
• Triple-A manager Wally Backman joined the major league staff Friday for the final nine games of the season. He offered candid assessments of Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Matt Bowman, Jacob deGrom and Wilmer Flores. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Juan Lagares is skipping the trip to Atlanta and D.C. because of his right elbow sprain. Lagares may appear during the season’s final series, against the Astros at Citi Field. Or he may already have played his final 2014 game.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis was given Friday off after passing a kidney stone.
• Broadcaster Ron Darling tells Neil Best in Newsday this was an “enjoyable” year watching the Mets.
• If deGrom wins the Rookie of the Year Award, he would have logged the second-fewest innings ever among recipients, ahead of only Dave Righetti, writes Jared Diamond in the Journal. DeGrom is at 134 1/3 innings with two remaining starts. Righetti had only 105 1/3 with the Yankees while winning the AL award in 1981.
• A fan caught Duda’s homer in a popcorn bucket. Watch the video at MLB.com.
• The Mets hosted a wheelchair softball tournament in the parking lot at Citi Field, writes Lisa L. Colangelo in the Daily News.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear has mentally pushed its calendar ahead to 2015.
BIRTHDAYS: Jason Bay turns 36. ... Dave Gallagher was born on this date in 1960.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Adam RubinWally Backman joined the Mets on Friday for the final nine games of the season.
“I think that’s why the players play and I think that’s why coaches coach,” Backman said inside the visitors’ dugout at Turner Field, after joining the staff as a September call-up for the final nine games of the season.
Still, Backman said he has had no discussions about his role for next year. ESPNNewYork.com reported Thursday the Mets are internally discussing adding Backman to the coaching staff for 2015.
“I don’t know if I’ll be hunting all year or not,” Backman said. “I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Before Friday’s series opener against the Atlanta Braves, Backman broke down several of the top prospects he managed at Triple-A Las Vegas this season. Here’s a rundown …
NOAH SYNDERGAARD, rhp
“I’ll say what you’ve probably heard a million times: He’s still very, very young. He just turned
Backman agreed with reports Syndergaard can become too reliant on his fastball.
“That’s very accurate. There was one point where he got hit hard this year where he threw 27 or 28 fastballs in a row. You call them ‘AAAA’ guys -- the guys that have been in the big leagues, the up-and-down guys. They all want to go to the Pacific Coast League because they can put up big numbers. And those ‘AAAA’ guys, so to speak, they don’t miss that fastball when they know it’s coming. That happened to Noah quite a bit.”
Backman added that Syndergaard’s other pitches are quality.
“He’s got a very good changeup. And his breaking ball is very good. All the pitches are there. It’s just learning how to use those pitches in the right situations. He may be better when he gets to the big leagues, just like [Matt] Harvey was when I had him.”
Harvey, of course, may have been bored in Triple-A and underperformed? Backman did not say that was the case with Syndergaard.
“Matt’s a smart kid. He’s a college graduate. Noah is a younger kid that’s still learning. For me, mentally, he’s got to get a little bit tougher. Trust me, I would never let him go, because of his stuff. He’s going to be a quality major league starter. There’s no question in my mind that’s going to happen. When that happens? The timetable has slowed down a little bit on him because everybody expected him in July.”
Backman added that Syndergaard needs to work on his pace while pitching.
“That’s pretty accurate. The tempo of the game, he needs to speed it up. And at times he’ll show good tempo. But, again, it all boils down to consistency. And he’s not consistent enough. Just way too much time in between pitches. Slow to the plate with base stealers on at times. So there’s room for improvement in all facets of the game for him. But, again, the stuff is there. When he learns to speed the game up a little bit for himself with guys on base, base stealers, he’ll be pretty good.”
KEVIN PLAWECKI, c
And Plawecki’s defensive skills?
“He’s more of an offensive player, but very smart in the sense of calling a game -- reading hitters’ swings, seeing the swings and misses and those type of things. He’s very good at that. Throwing-wise he’s just average. But he really does, from what I’ve seen in the short time I had him -- a half-year or whatever it was -- running a pitching staff he did a nice job.”
MATT REYNOLDS, ss
“But he’s another kid that probably needs a little bit of seasoning. You know, one good year doesn’t make you an All-Star. So this was really his first good year. And I think the developmental part of it for this kid, with the way his work ethic is, he’s going to be a pretty good player someday.”
MATT BOWMAN, rhp
JACOB DeGROM, rhp
“I’m not surprised with deGrom. I really believed that he was a guy that was going to be a dominant type of pitcher -- the way he competes, his stuff. He’s got swing-and-miss stuff. I didn’t want to lose him as fast as I lost him. I knew that it was the right move. He’s probably pitched better than a lot of people expected, but I’ve seen a lot of the things in him that were going to make him good. For him to make that transition as fast as he did, it probably surprised a lot of people.”
WILMER FLORES, ss
“When he’s played on a regular basis when he’s been up here, he’s done very well, from what I’ve seen. The two years that I had him he hit in the middle of the order. He played every day. He was a run producer. Where he played was shortstop, second, some third, some first. But Wilmer is a guy that has got to produce with his bat. And if he can do that on a consistent basis, then he can help Terry [Collins].”
FIRST PITCH: It’s Wally Backman Day!
Backman, who guided Las Vegas into the Triple-A playoffs for the second straight season, joins the Mets staff on Friday at Turner Field for the final nine games. Backman also was a September call-up in 2012.
A source told ESPNNewYork.com that the Mets are mulling having Backman on the major league staff to open next season.
It’s unclear which current major league coach might be out in that scenario.
Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are due to meet in Atlanta this weekend to plan for 2015. Both are expected to remain in their posts, with an announcement coming after the season.
In Friday’s series opener, Zack Wheeler (10-10, 3.61 ERA) opposes Julio Teheran (13-12, 2.89) at 7:35 p.m.
The Mets’ tragic number for postseason elimination has been sliced to one with Pittsburgh’s win on Thursday night.
Read the Mets-Braves series preview here.
Friday’s news reports:
• The Mets plan to scout Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas, 23, during a workout on Sunday in the Dominican Republic, although the power-hitting outfielder’s price tag figures to exceed the organization’s appetite.
• Paul DePodesta tells Mike Puma in the Post that the organization’s next top-10 prospects list should have more position players than pitchers, including Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Dilson Herrera.
As for why the Mets are not more active with signing Cuban defectors, DePodesta said: “The dollars to this point have been beyond our reach or beyond our appetite. But we’re going to continue to do what we’ve done, which is sort of be prepared proactively and when these guys do become available we’ll be there and see whether or not it’s something that makes sense for us.”
• Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News suggests the Mets don't need to spend this offseason. Writes Madden:
So the case can be made for Alderson not raising payroll and the Mets, off their strong pitching and increased improvement and development from their young core position players, still emerging as legitimate contenders next year. For that to happen, though, they’re still going to need to (1) avoid major injuries, especially the season-ending type to their pitchers, and (2) assure the payroll remains flexible enough for Alderson to increase it by at least $10 million if that big bat suddenly does become available. And, oh yes, one other thing: They need to find a way to start beating Washington.
• Mike Vorkunov in the Star-Ledger reviews the blossoming of Wheeler into a frontline starter.
• Mets fans have it the worst of any MLB team, according to ESPN polling.
• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News assesses the possibility of Wilmer Flores as the No. 1 shortstop next season. Marc Carig in Newsday tackles that subject as well.
• Emma Span at SI.com calls out Bud Selig for his treatment of the Mets.
• Here’s footage shot from an interesting angle at Citi Field at MLB.com.
• PIX11 extended its agreement with the Mets and SNY through 2017. The network will air 25 regular-season games a season on free TV.
• Lloyd Carroll at the Queens Chronicle weighs in on the civil lawsuit filed against the Mets.
• Howard Megdal at USA Today tags along with Kevin Burkhardt.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear examines why a logo and a TV field reporter mean so much to Mets fans. … John Delcos at NY Mets Report suggests the Mets would be far more competitive in NL East if they improved their division performance in one- and two-run games. … Blogging Mets tackles the difficult task of naming the 2014 Mets MVP.
BIRTHDAYS: Randall K. Myers turns 52. ... The late Hall of Famer Duke Snider was born on this date in 1926. ... Jon Leroux, a Northeastern product who appeared in 28 games for Savannah this season, is 24.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you believe the Mets are deep in position-player prospects?
@AdamRubinESPN I always thought the tragic number was their payroll.— Matt (@njmatt18) September 19, 2014
FIRST PITCH: It’s down to single digits remaining in the regular season for the Mets.
Nine games are all that remain.
The Mets (73-80) have three series to go -- at Atlanta and Washington and home versus Houston -- to conclude the season.
The team flew down to Atlanta on Wednesday night and will spend at off-day in the city Thursday, with some players planning to attend the Falcons-Bucs game.
Zack Wheeler (10-10, 3.61 ERA) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (13-12, 2.89) in the series opener at 7:35 p.m. Friday at Turner Field.
The Mets trail the Pittsburgh Pirates by nine games for the second wild card spot. The tragic number for postseason elimination is two.
Thursday’s news reports:
• In his second-to-last start of the season, Dillon Gee was charged with four runs in 6 2/3 innings and the Mets lost to the Marlins, 4-3, at Citi Field. Gee suffered his first career loss against Miami. He had been 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in five previous starts. The game featured a scoreboard tribute to departing SNY fielding reporter Kevin Burkhardt.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Juan Lagares was diagnosed with a right elbow sprain after undergoing an MRI on Wednesday. It is unclear when he will return to the lineup -- or if he will play again this season. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal assesses Wilmer Flores' candidacy for 2015 shortstop. Michael Salfino in the Journal takes a statistical-based look at Flores.
Sandy Alderson told Mike Puma in the Post about Flores starting at shortstop next season: “We’re getting a lot more comfortable. One of the reasons for giving [Flores] as much playing time as we have is to build up his number of plate appearances to get him more comfortable to try to establish sort of a baseline. … There are a lot of things to take into account. The more recent at-bats I think are probably, one would hope, more reflective of his ability. At the same time, it is September and there may be a certain discount there. I’m not sure how much.”
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggests Jacob deGrom will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award “by deFault” because of a weak field as compared with the AL.
• The Mets are expected to remain with Savannah as their low-A affiliate. The major league club already has announced extensions with Triple-A Las Vegas and Double-A Binghamton and owns high-A St. Lucie and short-season Kingsport and Brooklyn.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at NY Mets Report asserts that the 2015 shortstop job is Flores’ to lose.
BIRTHDAYS: Former Mets first-round pick Billy Traber turns 35.
TWEET OF THE DAY:Matt Harvey due to return?
NEW YORK -- Kevin Burkhardt’s final home game ended in a Mets loss.
Amid salutes to the outgoing field reporter, the Miami Marlins produced three early runs against Dillon Gee and held on for a 4-3 win Wednesday at Citi Field.
The Mets dropped to 73-80. They must win eight of their final nine games to avoid their sixth straight losing season. Otherwise, they will match the Houston Astros for the longest active streak in the majors of sub-.500 seasons.
Lucas Duda's two-out, two-run single against Henderson Alvarez with the bases loaded in the fifth pulled the Mets within 3-2. Wilmer Flores then bid for a three-run homer, but Marcell Ozuna ran down the shot at the base of the left-center wall.
Gee (7-8) departed with two outs and a runner on second base in the seventh. Josh Edgin entered and surrendered a run-scoring double to Christian Yelich that closed the book on Gee.
Gee’s final line: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
Gee did produce his first hit of the season with a fifth-inning single against Alvarez. Gee had been 0-for-35 in 2014 and hitless in 41 straight at-bats dating to last season.
The Mets pulled within 4-3 in the eighth on Curtis Granderson's RBI groundout.
What’s next: The Mets spend Thursday’s off-day in Atlanta, then open a weekend series against the freefalling Braves on Friday. Zack Wheeler (10-10, 3.61 ERA) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (13-12, 2.89) in the opener at Turner Field.
David Wright, despite being done for the season, will accompany the team on the final road trip of the season, which also includes a stop in D.C. Matt Harvey, whose throwing program is complete, will not join the team on the road.
FIRST PITCH: It’s Kevin Burkhardt Day at Citi Field.
Burkhardt, SNY’s field reporter for the past eight seasons, will participate in his final home telecast with Wednesday’s series finale against the Miami Marlins. Burkhardt’s SNY duties will wrap up on the road next Thursday at Washington.
The Mets send Dillon Gee to the mound for Burkhardt’s home sendoff. Gee (7-7, 3.80 ERA) opposes right-hander Henderson Alvarez (10-6, 2.81) at 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Wilmer Flores had a big day at the plate. Using Kevin Plawecki’s bat, Flores homered twice and for the second time this season had six RBIs as the Mets beat the Marlins, 9-1, Tuesday. Bartolo Colon limited Miami to one run despite surrendering 12 hits in 7 2/3 innings.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Journal and at MLB.com.
• Juan Lagares departed Tuesday’s game after four innings with what initially has been diagnosed as a hyperextended right elbow. He is due to undergo an MRI on Wednesday morning. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post asserts that the Mets should tank the rest of the season to finish with one of the worst 10 records in baseball. That would give them a protected first-round pick and make it easier to pursue a free agent who figures to get a qualifying offer, such as Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and Hanley Ramirez. The Mets currently have MLB’s 12th-worst record, which would mean forfeiting their first-round pick if they sign a premium free agent.
Of course, Sherman doesn’t expect the Mets will land any of those aforementioned free agents. He writes:
They will express concerns about Cabrera and Cruz’s Biogenesis pasts (though they were very interested in Jhonny Peralta last year) or whisper that their outfield will be too big for the defensively suspect Cruz (though it would not be too big for him to hit a bunch of homers) or they will express belief that Wilmer Flores and/or Matt Reynolds are dollar-for-dollar worth in the same win range as Hardy or Ramirez.
In other words, Mets fans should brace once more for excuses why they will not be getting players this offseason. But by losing big the rest of the way, at least one alibi would vanish from the repertoire.
• Retiring MLB commissioner Bud Selig, making the 20th stop of his farewell tour, visited Citi Field on Tuesday. Selig continued his unwavering support of Mets ownership. He suggested the Mets are in full compliance with MLB’s economic regulations and said the build-from-within approach is more sound than spending like “drunken sailors.” Selig added that he would let fired senior VP Leigh Castergine’s civil lawsuit play out in federal court and not discipline anybody within the organization in the midst of a legal proceeding.
Columnist Kevin Davidoff in the Post says Selig’s legacy partly is tied to propping up Mets ownership. Writes Davidoff:
A master salesman -- he sold used cars, after all -- Selig tried to make his case that the Mets’ unwillingness to spend more does not equate to gross incompetence. He mentioned the Cardinals as a team that doesn’t “spend money like drunken sailors.” He passionately declared, “Unless I read the standings wrong on the way over here, it looks to me like the Baltimore Orioles might win the American League East this year. Anybody here predict that on April 1? I don’t think so. I rest my case.”
Well, the Cardinals’ payroll this season is about $141 million, as per Basebal-Reference.com. And the Orioles are paying about $114 million for their soon-to-be division-winning roster. Not quite the same as $83 million.
Read more in the Journal, Daily News, Record, Star-Ledger, Newsday and SB Nation.
• Despite a Twitter hullabaloo, the Mets say no change is coming to their skyline logo. They offered no official reason why the UN Headquarters in the skyline was replaced by the Citigroup Center in the logo used on social media this week, although the internally constructed image appeared to be more than a year old. Read more in the Times (which wonders about potential hacking) and Newsday.
• Dwight Gooden predicted Jacob deGrom will become the first Met to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award since he did 30 years ago. “Striking out eight guys in a row, that really put the stamp on it for me,” Gooden told Dan Martin in the Post, referring to deGrom’s record-setting game-opening feat Monday against the Marlins. “That’s the kind of thing you need to do to get people’s attention, especially as a starting pitcher.”
Gooden told Matt Harvey last week that Harvey and deGrom have a “similar mound presence.”
Said Gooden to Martin: “They both carry themselves like veterans out there. They’re two different pitchers, but nothing rattles them.”
• The Mets nominated David Wright for the Roberto Clemente Award, which honors “the player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement."
• ESPNNewYork.com reviews which players the Mets may protect in the Rule 5 draft, which annually takes place at the winter meetings in December.
• Marc Carig in Newsday assesses Lagares’ Gold Glove chances. The award is based on manager and coach voting (75 percent) and defensive statistical metrics (25 percent). Writes Carig:
With Lagares, prestige might be the problem.
[Carlos] Gomez won the award last year and has the advantage of being an offensive force while [Andrew] McCutchen reigns as the NL's Most Valuable Player. The veteran [Denard] Span plays for a contender and [Billy] Hamilton's stolen-base prowess in the minors made him a household name before he stepped on a big-league field.
"Major League Baseball and baseball fans knew who Billy Hamilton was before he got here," said [Reds manager Bryan] Price, who naturally backed his own player for the Gold Glove award.
• Pedro Martinez praised the Mets’ collection of up-and-coming pitchers, Anthony McCarron writes in the Daily News. “The Mets have the best nucleus of young pitchers,” Martinez said.
• Harvey felt no ill effects the day after his final official throwing session of 2014. Read more in the Post.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear offers a view from an empty Promenade.
BIRTHDAYS: Former captain John Franco turns 54.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Do you think out-of-options Wilmer Flores will be the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop next season?
Thank You Mets Fans... pic.twitter.com/WmwbbEVSWb— Kevin Burkhardt (@kevinburkhardt) September 17, 2014
Frank Franklin II/Associated PressWilmer Flores rounds the bases after the first of his two homers on Tuesday.
Flores went deep twice and drove in a career-high-matching six runs as the Mets beat the Miami Marlins, 9-1, Tuesday at Citi Field.
Flores became the first player in the majors this season with a pair of six-RBI games. The last Met to accomplish it twice in a season was Carlos Delgado in 2008. The only other Mets to do so twice in a season: Mike Piazza in 2002 and Robin Ventura in 1999.
Afterward, Terry Collins agreed September numbers need to be viewed more cautiously. Both homers Tuesday came against past-his-prime Brad Penny.
Still, Collins added: “The one thing we saw throughout the second half since he’s been here is his ability to put the ball in play, that he’ll use the field. Now, we’ve got to be a little bit careful. But he’s driven some balls against some pretty good pitching. So we know the power is there. As the confidence grows, maybe the bat even becomes more. Even though it’s September this can still help him next year.”
Collins has apprised Flores as well as Ruben Tejada that it’s open auditions for a shortstop.
“He’s been told that,” Collins said. “He’s been told the shortstop job is open. Ruben has been told that.”
Said Flores: “That’s out of my hands. I’m just trying to do my job. I can’t control what happens.”
Flores' production the past two games has come while using former Vegas teammate Kevin Plawecki’s bat. Flores had borrowed Plawecki’s bat on occasion in Triple-A. And when Plawecki visited Citi Field on Monday to receive a Sterling Award, Flores again borrowed it because he likes the feel. Flores had success and continued to use it Tuesday.
“I’m going to tip my hat to him,” Collins said about Flores. “I saw him when he was real young and gangly -- a tall, skinny guy with big feet, and trying to control those feet. One time there was concern about whether or not he was going to play the middle of the infield. And as he’s gone through the minor leagues, because his bat plays, everybody looked at him to be at another position.
“Last winter, he went to that fitness camp and got his lower body in great shape. I think he’s done fine. Again, he’s not going to be one of those big-rangy shortstops, but when he gets to the ball he catches it. And he’s got a strong enough arm. If he continues to swing the bat, he can play anywhere.”
Both of Flores’ long balls came against reliever Brad Penny -- a three-run shot in the fifth and a two-run shot in the seventh.
Flores is now 8-for-15 with two doubles, one triple, three homers and 10 RBIs in his past four games.
He also had a six-RBI game on June 2 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hits scattered: Bartolo Colon earned the win despite surrendering 12 hits. Colon stranded the bases loaded in the fifth inning and preserved a 4-1 lead by striking out Marcell Ozuna and getting Garrett Jones to ground out.
Colon’s final line: 7.2 IP, 12 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
It matched the second-most hits surrendered in franchise history by a starting pitcher who allowed one run or fewer. Jason Isringhausen allowed one run and 13 hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Phillies on Sept. 15, 1995. Bobby J. Jones allowed 12 hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves on June 10, 1996.
Injury report: Juan Lagares departed the game after four innings with what the team labeled a hyperextended right elbow.
Penned: Rafael Montero made his first relief appearance since reverting to a relief role after last Wednesday's start against the Rockies. He handled the ninth inning in scoreless fashion despite allowing the first two batters to reach.
What’s next: The Mets (73-79) and Marlins (73-77) complete their season series Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. Dillon Gee (7-7, 3.80 ERA) opposes right-hander Henderson Alvarez (10-6, 2.81). The Mets already have clinched the season series, 11-7.
Zack Wheeler had his shortest outing in two and a half months and the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals, 10-3, at soggy Citi Field on Saturday night.
The Nats, who had a 12-game Citi Field winning streak snapped Friday, are 27-5 in Queens since Sept. 12, 2011. They lead the season series, 12-3.
The Mets (72-77), who committed four errors, slipped five games under .500. They will need to go 9-4 the rest of the way to avoid their sixth straight losing season, which would match the Houston Astros for the longest active streak in the majors.
Wheeler (10-10) departed with two runners in scoring position and none out in the fifth and with his pitch count at 100. Gonzalez Germen entered and things further devolved. Germen surrendered a one-out single to Ian Desmond as both baserunners inherited from Wheeler scored and Washington took a 6-0 lead. Germen also walked two in the inning before stranding the bases loaded.
Wheeler’s final line: 4+ IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. It was his shortest start since lasting only two innings against the Oakland Athletics at Citi Field on June 25. The six earned runs allowed by Wheeler on Saturday matched that start against the A’s for his career high.
The Mets received a two-run homer from Wilmer Flores against Doug Fister in the fifth to close within 6-2. Flores snapped an 0-for-21 drought.
Hit parade: Each team hit a batter. Fister plunked Curtis Granderson in the right thigh in the second. Vic Black drilled Anthony Rendon in the left shoulder blade in the eighth. Black last had appeared Monday, when Terry Collins expressed concern about the state of his herniated disk.
What’s next: Jonathon Niese (8-10, 3.59 ERA) opposes right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (11-5, 2.93) at 1:10 p.m. Sunday in the series finale. With a win, the Mets will be unbeaten in five straight series. A Nats win officially would eliminate the Mets from division contention.
Bartolo Colon had an early shower and the Washington Nationals continued their dominance at Citi Field with a 6-2 win against the Mets in Thursday’s series opener. The Amazin’s dropped 6½ games behind the victorious Pittsburgh Pirates for the second wild-card spot with 15 games remaining.
The Nats have won 12 straight at Citi Field -- the longest winning streak ever by a visiting team in Queens. The Atlanta Braves won 10 straight at Shea Stadium in 1990 and ’91.
Washington is 26-4 at Citi Field since September 2011.
The teams participated in a pregame remembrance ceremony marking the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Jefferson Crowther threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Crowther’s son Welles saved countless lives in the World Trade Center’s South Tower, including by carrying one woman down 17 flights. He died attempting more rescues.
Uh-oh: The Mets potentially lost two players to injuries during Thursday's game.
Daniel Murphy was hit in the left wrist by a pitch from Matt Thornton in the eighth inning and departed with extreme swelling. X-rays were negative.
Travis d'Arnaud departed the game for the start of the fifth inning and was replaced behind the plate by Anthony Recker. There was no immediate word on the cause.
Recker produced a solo homer in the bottom of that frame to pull the Mets within 6-1, but struck out to leave the bases loaded in the eighth.
Yer out! Colon was ejected in the fourth inning by plate umpire John Tumpane after drilling Jayson Werth in the left side with the first pitch after Anthony Rendon had homered to give the Nats a 6-0 lead. In the first inning, Colon had surrendered a two-run homer to Adam LaRoche, then also hit the ensuing batter, Ian Desmond.
Colon entered the game with three hit batters in 27 starts this season.
Terry Collins also was ejected after confronting Tumpane.
Colon became the first Mets pitcher ejected for what was deemed intentionally hitting a batter since D.J. Carrasco on May 15, 2012 against Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun. It was in that game that Collins pulled David Wright for fear of retribution. Carrasco made an appearance the following day, served up a homer to Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier and was released. He never pitched in the majors again.
Colon’s final line: 3+ IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HR. His ERA swelled to 4.14.
Hello again: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who received a cortisone injection in his right elbow nine days ago, entered after Colon’s ejection and contributed three scoreless innings. It marked Matsuzaka’s first appearance since Aug. 30. He allowed one hit and three walks in a 44-pitch effort.
Not him again: Maybe the Mets should pitch around LaRoche. In addition to the two-run homer in the first, LaRoche also had an RBI single in the third. He finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
LaRoche is hitting .361 (13-for-36) with five homers and 14 RBIs in 10 games against the Mets this season. He is fourth among active players in homers against the Mets with 28, trailing only a trio of Phillies -- Ryan Howard (41), Chase Utley (33) and Jimmy Rollins (30).
Brain locks: The Mets had at least three gaffes during the ugly game.
With the lead just 2-0 in the bottom of the second, the Mets placed runners on the corners with none out against Tanner Roark. They came up empty, thanks in part to a mental lapse by d’Arnaud.
First, Curtis Granderson popped out in foul territory to Rendon at third base. Then, Dilson Herrera popped out to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. Apparently having lost track of the outs, d’Arnaud broke for second on the pop fly. He was doubled off first base.
A half-inning later, Colon fielded a comebacker off the bat of Desmond and threw to second base to try to get the lead runner. Wilmer Flores and Herrera had some confusion, no one was stationed at the bag and Colon was charged with an errant throw. That led to an unearned run.
Eric Young Jr. was thrown out attempting to go first to third on an errant pickoff throw by Roark in the sixth with the Mets trailing by five runs.
Snapped! Bobby Abreu, in his first at-bat since rejoining the Mets, pinch hit in the eighth and singled up the middle. That snapped an 0-for-22 drought as a pinch hitter in the majors.
What’s next: Dillon Gee (6-7, 3.74 ERA) opposes left-hander Gio Gonzalez (8-9, 3.78) at 7:10 p.m. Friday.
Damn that HBP left a mark on Daniel Murphy's wrist pic.twitter.com/7xlK99AiHx— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) September 12, 2014
Flores is one of the five players on the 40-man roster who exhausted a final option this season.
That means, barring an offseason trade, Flores either will break spring-training camp with the Mets in 2015 or be exposed to waivers. And Flores has shown enough that he would have to be on the team, because he surely would be claimed.
An option is good for an entire season, allowing a player to move freely as many times as desired between the majors and minors without being exposed to waivers. Most players get three option years, although some get four, including Mejia. (See explanation at BaseballAmerica.com.)
Players can begin burning options even before reaching the majors. For instance, left-handed prospect Steven Matz was placed on the 40-man roster last winter to protect him from Rule 5 draft eligibility. So Matz came to camp in Port St. Lucie in February as a 40-man roster player. And when he predictably failed to make the team, he was optioned to minor-league camp. So his first option was used in 2014 despite never appearing in the majors.
In the case of Mejia, having exhausted his options is largely immaterial. Whether as the closer or some other late-inning relief role, Mejia has established himself as a major leaguer and should no longer need an option.
Nieuwenhuis is the other case like Flores. It's no wonder the Mets are testing Nieuwenhuis in a bench-type role -- with pinch hits and sporadic starts. After all, that would appear to be the role he is slated for in 2015 given he cannot be sent to the minors at that point without being exposed to waivers.
For the same reason, the Mets careers of Puello and Brown appear to be on life support. Although they are on the 40-man roster, neither player was called up in September for a look, suggesting neither is really in the 2015 plans. That means they could be the first off the roster this offseason when the Mets need a spot for a new addition -- either a prospect who needs to be shielded from the Rule 5 draft, a free-agent signing, or via a trade that adds more current 40-man roster players than it subtracts.
The Mets' 40-man roster currently is full. (See the current 40-man roster here). And, because of a rare circumstance of not many pending free agents, it will remain full even into the offseason.
Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell will need to come off the 60-day DL, where they have not been counting against the 40-man roster.
And, with their contracts expiring, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Bobby Abreu would come off.
So 40, plus 2, minus 2, still equals 40.
That means the Mets are going to have to drastically start trimming 40-man roster players this winter. Aside from free agents, there are new prospects to shield from the Rule 5 draft, beginning with Noah Syndergaard.
Getty ImagesJacob deGrom added to his resume with eight scoreless innings, but David Wright (rotator cuff) is done for the season.
FIRST PITCH: The Mets are even with the Yankees in one respect: Both teams are now 5½ games out in their respective wild-card races.
Still, that seemingly speaks more to the Bombers being out of postseason contention than the Amazin’s being in it.
With 17 games remaining, the Mets have a 70-75 record.
The San Francisco Giants seemingly are firmly entrenched in the No. 1 wild-card spot at 79-65.
Pittsburgh currently occupies the second wild-card spot at 75-69. Atlanta (74-71), freefalling Milwaukee (74-71) and Miami (71-72) also are ahead of the Mets.
The Pirates and Brewers play three more times, meaning that’s at least two additional wins for one of those teams. And Pittsburgh and Atlanta play four times, meaning that’s a minimum of two wins for one of those teams.
So .500 seems like a more realistic goal for the Mets. If the Mets fall short of breakeven, they would finish with their sixth straight losing season, which would be tied with the Houston Astros for the longest active streak in the majors.
Rafael Montero, who joined the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday, gets a spot start that allows the other members of the rotation to receive an extra day of rest. Montero (0-3, 5.23 ERA) opposes left-hander Tyler Matzek (5-9, 4.32), a fellow rookie.
Montero last pitched last Wednesday in Vegas’ Pacific Coast League playoff opener at Reno. He allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks in a 103-pitch effort spanning 4 1/3 innings.
Matzek is coming off a three-hit shutout against the San Diego Padres. He became the first Rockies pitcher to go the distance in a scoreless effort at Coors Field since Jhoulys Chacin on April 15, 2011 against the Chicago Cubs. Overall, Matzek has an active 21-inning scoreless streak.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• David Wright has been shut down for the remainder of the season after undergoing an MRI and examination of his troublesome left shoulder at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Tuesday. The captain is not expected to require surgery to address what was labeled “persistent inflammation” in the rotator cuff.
Wright finishes the season with a .269 average, career-low eight homers and 63 RBIs in 535 at-bats. He went homerless in his final 189 at-bats, which is the longest drought of his career.
Wright had experienced discomfort since jamming the shoulder while sliding headfirst on a steal on June 12 on a muddy surface at Citi Field. He missed a week late in the first half and then received a cortisone shot heading into the All-Star break.
“David did what captains do -- he persevered, he kept going, he gutted it out,” Sandy Alderson said. “Numbers or no numbers, he did what we expected. He made a major contribution to the team by continuing to perform. And when a player is injured, all you can expect from him is honesty about the injury and willingness to go out there and make the effort. There’s no question David did that throughout the last two and half months.”
Alderson and Terry Collins said they would huddle to determine the best infield alignment in Wright’s absence. Dilson Herrera figured to see vastly diminished playing time with Daniel Murphy having returned from a calf injury on Tuesday. Now, though, one option is to use Murphy at third base and Herrera at second. Otherwise, the likely option is to use Eric Campbell at third base -- although Josh Satin and Wilmer Flores also are capable of manning the position, too.
Murphy last played third base, his natural position, in 2011 when Wright missed time with a stress fracture in his lower back.
Read more on Wright in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.
• Jacob deGrom retired the final 14 batters he faced and was sitting at 100 pitches through eight scoreless innings when Collins pulled him three outs away from a complete game. Collins, under pressure from his bosses to keep his young hurlers’ pitch counts in check late in the season, went to Jenrry Mejia for the ninth. Mejia eventually was pulled with the bases loaded and one out. Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia combined to bail the Mets out and preserve a 2-0 win against the Rockies on Tuesday.
Edgin had been dealing with elbow discomfort from bone spurs and had received a cortisone injection last Tuesday. He was making his first appearance since Aug. 23.
DeGrom improved to 8-6 and sliced his ERA to 2.62. He becomes the third pitcher in franchise history to have a sub-3.00 ERA through 20 starts in his debut season, joining Dwight Gooden (1984, 2.80) and Tom Seaver (1967, 2.92), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. DeGrom has not allowed an earned run in his past 22 innings.
Read game recaps in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and at MLB.com.
• Alderson acknowledged the Mets are considering further revising the dimensions in right-center/right field at Citi Field. According to ESPN Stats & Information’s Mark Simon, who made a crude calculation using Inside Edge data that plots of fly balls:
The Mets have hit 16 balls to right-center this season that traveled more than 395 feet -- and seven have fallen short of being home runs. Opponents have hit 15 balls to right-center that traveled more than 395 feet -- and four have been short of being home runs.
So the Mets, very roughly, could have a pickup of seven long balls for a season potentially with such a wall adjustment.
The Mets’ analysis, according to Alderson, is that Curtis Granderson could have seven more homers with particular wall tweaking.
Read more in the Journal and Newsday.
• Matt den Dekker was struck in the left hand by a pitch from Yohan Flande in the seventh inning and departed the game after the frame. X-rays were negative.
• Binghamton won Game 1 of its best-of-five Eastern League Championship series, 5-2 at Richmond. Starter Tyler Pill allowed two runs in six innings against the San Francisco Giants’ Double-A affiliate. Brandon Nimmo went 2-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs. Greg Peavey starts Game 2 for the B-Mets on Wednesday. Read the full recap here.
• Collins, Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum on Tuesday. Read more in the Daily News.
• Joe Torre has sent a memo to umpires dissuading them from calling runners safe when catchers are blocking the plate unless it’s a bang-bang play, writes Jayson Stark at ESPN.com. That should avoid clearly out runners being awarded home plate on a technicality.
• Jeff Passan at Yahoo! examines the trouble with WAR, and uses Juan Lagares as an example.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos, who had been hospitalized for five months and remains in a wheelchair, is back blogging. Check out the explanation for his absence here. … Blogging Mets wonders if Collins deserves another year as Mets manager. ... Faith and Fear finds every deGrom start is a good hair day.
BIRTHDAYS: Outfielder Andrew Brown, who was passed over for a September call-up, turns 30. ... Minor-league infielder Phillip Evans is 22.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets move Daniel Murphy to third base for the remainder of the season in order to get Dilson Herrera in the lineup at second base?
Am I dreaming or are the New York #Mets really just 5.5 games out of a playoff spot??— Dom Izzo (@DomIzzoWDAY) September 10, 2014
NEW YORK -- What more can Jacob deGrom do this season?
He can go to the mound for his 20th big league start and make it the best of what has already been a brilliant rookie season. He can go eight innings for the first time in his career -- make that eight shutout innings -- and allow only three hits to the highest-scoring team in the National League.
He can give the New York Mets a 2-0 Tuesday night win over the Colorado Rockies.
Manager Terry Collins said Tuesday afternoon that the Mets had already seen all they needed from deGrom, the 26-year-old right-hander who has exceeded all expectations.
"There's not much he needs to do except stay healthy," Collins said. "That's going to be our goal."
How about shutting down the team that leads the National League in scoring?
DeGrom allowed a Wilin Rosario double and a Josh Rutledge infield single in the second inning, and a Nolan Arenado double in the fourth. He struck out nine, he didn't walk a batter, and he kept his pitch count enough under control that Collins could have considered letting him try to finish the shutout.
Instead, with deGrom at 100 pitches (75 strikes), Collins went to closer Jenrry Mejia to start the ninth. Mejia loaded the bases with one out, so Collins went to Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia for the final two outs. Familia got credit for his second save.
It was the fifth time in 20 starts that deGrom didn't allow a run and the seventh time he didn't allow an earned run, but it was the first time he pitched this deep into a game, and DeGrom became just the third pitcher in Mets history to have a sub-3.00 ERA 20 starts into his debut season. Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden were the other two.
"He's shown us everything we need to see," Collins said before the game.
Tuesday night, deGrom showed us even more.
Murphy's return: As Collins said Tuesday afternoon, Daniel Murphy's two-week stay on the disabled list cost him any chance at 200 hits. Murphy returned from the DL on Tuesday and had a third-inning infield single for his 160th hit.
The fence report: With the talk about whether the Mets will move the right-field fence in next year, it's probably worth noting that there were a couple of balls hit Tuesday that might have been helped by shorter fences. The first was by Rockies' Rosario, but there was also one by Curtis Granderson in the sixth inning (it went for an RBI double instead).
Lucas Duda hit a fly ball to the wall in the first inning, but it was caught in front of the right-field foul pole, a spot where the fence is unlikely to be moved.
The Flores report: When general manager Sandy Alderson said this week that he considers Wilmer Flores a viable option to be the Mets' 2015 shortstop, the biggest reaction from rival scouts was, "He can't be serious, can he?"
Alderson said he believes Flores has made all the routine plays, and he did make the routine plays again Tuesday. He did concede an infield hit on a Rutledge ground ball, but it was on a play that only a very good shortstop would make.
The Grand return: Granderson's triple in the ninth inning Monday was his first extra-base hit at Citi Field since July. His sixth-inning double Tuesday was his second, and it brought home the Mets' second run.
Den Dekker hits, gets hit: Matt den Dekker doubled in the fifth inning and scored the Mets' first run. But den Dekker was hit on the hand by a Yohan Flande pitch in the seventh inning and left the game at the end of the frame.
What's next: Rafael Montero (0-3, 5.23) makes his seventh major league start and his first since Aug. 17, when the Mets and Rockies close out this series on Wednesday night at Citi Field. Left-hander Tyler Matzek (5-9, 4.32) starts for Colorado.