Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Mets still hanging on despite inept offense

Michael Conforto's 2014 Bowman Draft baseball card
Is Michael Conforto the answer to the Mets’ offensive woes?

The New York Mets salvaged the final game of their weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals and are continuing to tread water in both the National League East and wildcard races. In the former, they trail Washington by 2 games and have a chance to make up ground when they play the Nationals starting tonight. In the latter, they trail the Chicago Cubs by 2 games, with the San Francisco Giants in between them at 1 game back.

And though the standings say the Mets are very much in the race, another set of numbers paints a very different picture.

In yesterday’s 18-inning victory, the Mets tied a club record by stranding 25 runners on base. (The mark was originally set in 1974 during a 25-inning game.) Mets hitters went 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position and are 3-for-62 with runners in scoring position over their last 8 games. For the season, Mets batters have hit .227 with runners in scoring position and have driven in just 222 runs. Only the Seattle Mariners have been less productive.

Does anybody else see the flaw in Sandy Alderson‘s offensive philosophy that focuses on walks and home runs?

I watched the first six innings of Sunday’s game before I went to work. When I checked to see who won during my break and saw that they were still playing, I half-expected that the game would still be going on when I got home.

Fortunately, the Mets won and I was spared about four hours of frustrating baseball. Unfortunately, we’re looking at a team that could be very tough to watch if Alderson doesn’t do something to improve the offense soon – amazing starting pitching can only carry you so far.

And it looks like a not-very-deep lineup is only going to get worse. Michael Cuddyer is probably headed to the disabled list if the Mets trainers can’t help his balky knee with whatever secret treatment plan they’ve cooked up to try today. Cuddyer’s .250 / .300 / .380 slash line has been disappointing, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis and his .175 / .242 / .404 slash line will probably get the most playing time because of Cuddyer’s absence. And Darrell Ceciliani – the most likely call-up candidate – hit .206 / .270 / .279 during his first stint with the Mets.

There’s increasing pressure to promote top prospect Michael Conforto from Double-A Binghamton, where he’s hitting .325 with 5 home runs and 24 RBI in 41 games. But Conforto is a second-year pro with all of 570 plate appearances. A number of scouts believe he could succeed at the major league level despite his young age. And honestly, it would not be hard to offer more production than Nieuwenhuis, Ceciliani and John Mayberry Jr. (.180 / .250 /.354.)

But if Conforto gets promoted to the Mets this month, particularly in the absence of any significant trade deadline acquisitions, fans and media are going to look to him to carry an offense that looks dead on arrival most nights. If he’s not the second coming of Darryl Strawberry — or at least the 1988 version of Gregg Jefferies — things could get really ugly, really fast. I’d hate to see a kid get labeled as a bust if he doesn’t immediately succeed in a job he might not be ready for.

Conforto should see a promotion – to Triple-A, where he’ll face pitchers with some major league experience. But that’s really not going to help the 2015 Mets offense… I hope Alderson has something in mind that will.

Posted in Uncategorized

Another Mets injury (no, they aren’t really cursed)

The Mets were able to field a lineup with seven of their eight anticipated Opening Day starters last night… at least for two innings.

Andres Torres bats
Andres Torres bats for the San Francisco Giants in this 2010 photo by Flickr user Aunti Juli

Center fielder Andres Torres strained his left calf while making a nice catch to end the top of the second inning, and he’s going to miss at least a few days.

It’s the latest in a series of minor injuries that have struck the Mets this spring, making me jokingly suggest that they should arrange for a purification ceremony for Digital Domain Park to drive out the evil spirits.

But the Mets are not alone in their injury problems – it seems like every team has had to deal with a significant number of muscle strains and tears this spring. If there’s a curse, it’s probably the vanity of professional athletes who want sculpted muscles rather than the flexibility that the sport of baseball requires.

Aside from David Wright‘s abdominal muscle tear, Tim Byrdak‘s knee surgery and Scott Hairston‘s strained oblique, none of the Mets’ injuries have been particularly significant so far… and all three players could still potentially be ready for Opening Day.

If you want to talk about a National League East team with real injury problems, look at the Philadelphia Phillies. Ryan Howard isn’t expected to return until June after having off-season surgery to repair his left Achilles tendon. Chase Utley‘s chronic knee issues will likely make him miss Opening Day and are leading to speculation about his baseball future. And on top of the major questions surrounding their two big hitters, they’ve got the same minor injury issues every other team does.

Continue reading “Another Mets injury (no, they aren’t really cursed)”