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Struggling Sophomores

So it’s come to this.

Swept by the Braves at home, the third-place Mets are expected to, and let’s face it, probably ought to, shake the team up at least a little before the hated Royals arrive for a two-game set starting Tuesday.

26Some of the changes appear obvious. Travis d’Arnaud will return behind the plate and hopefully, he’ll stay healthy. It appears very likely that Kevin Plawecki to Last Vegas will be the corresponding move. No excuse for how poorly he’s hit — wearing 26, Plawecki’s barely any different than the overmatched 22 he was in his rookie year — but thanks in part to d’Arnaud’s fragility Plawecki’s never had that two months in Las Vegas he so obviously needs.

30Will Michael Conforto join him on that plane? It would appear to be a consideration, and one I advocated weeks ago. I have little doubt Conforto can and will be a very good hitter but it’s long past the point where he ought to work out his issues in Las Vegas, even for just a short while.

Top draft pick Brandon Nimmo is having a fabulous year out there by the way, slashing better than 300/400/500 (that’s a positively Fonzerian line), is already on the 40-man roster, and could presumably succeed as a leadoff hitter. That would allow Curtis Granderson to drop in the order and take up at least some of the power slack. Nimmo wears No. 7 in Vegas, but 9 — and 1 — are just sitting around waiting for someone here.

Less likely in my estimation — but inevitable it would seem — will be a reacquaintance with Dilson Hererra. I don’t think that happens unless Neil Walker is hurt, or traded, but I wouldn’t necessarily reject the latter idea. Walker’s a free agent to be and won’t get “Murphy Money” from us, and isn’t on a 40-home-pace any more.

16Finally it takes a special kind of uselessness to be a reserve and yet fail to fit into this lineup but it’s my guess Alejandro De Aza won’t be around for too much longer. Traded? Released?

59The bullpen may also get a rocking, although injuries may determine that as much as performance. Even if Antonio Bastardo were having a good season, which he’s not, his deliberate pace drives me crazy as a fan and he would appear vulnerable but for the expectations that come with his career and contract, and the fact that’s he a left-handed relief pitcher. Hansel Robles, like Conforto and Plawecki, may just need a few weeks in AAA to work things out. Sophomores.

What are your thoughts?

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Oh What a Loney Boy

I’m on the road and can’t post right away but according to various stuff I’ve seen in space it would appear James Loney will be assigned no. 28 upon his arrival in Met City Tuesday.

28The bad news is that it may accompany a disabled list assignment for David Wright, we’ll have to wait and see.

In other unpleasant things we fans need to confront, Noah Syndergaard made a mess of the whole weekend.

No doubt that what Chase Utley did last year was dirty and ought to be outlawed, but it’s also how baseball has been played for 150 years. Ruben Tejada got hurt mainly because Daniel Murphy gave him a terrible throw but also because Tejada made the mistake of turning his back on an incoming runner, especially a known scumbag like Utley.

The Mets avenged the injury by leaving Utley and the Dodgers behind while they went and played the World Series. Sure, Syndergaard’s pitch Saturday meant no harm but throwing it came with risks. What if it hurt someone? What if the home plate umpire happened to be asshole himself? Now you find yourself unable to help while Utley comfortably digs in against an overworked bullpen and things get really out of hand.

 

 

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Memorial Day Weakened

32For a team that lost a mighty middle-of-the-order slugger to a broken back, had a once-unstoppable pitcher deliver two of the worst outings of his career, had two guys in the lineup looking for their first major-league hits, has a leadoff hitter struggling to hit above .200, saw starters at shortstop and third base need time off for their own aching backs, had its top bench player and starting catcher on the disabled list, and played the first-place team in their division six times, the Mets didn’t do all that bad this week.

Key to that were terrific starting performances from Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, a bullpen that got-er-done when needed, a bounceback from Bartolo Colon (also dealing with back stiffness) and just enough good luck to make it all sitck, recording an underwhelming sweep of Milwaukee and a series win in Washington this week following a harrowing series loss at home the week before — its fourth straight series loss.

Along the way we were were re-introduced Classic Daniel Murphy, whose iron glove in Wednesday’s game loomed very large when it was all over.

5And so the 2016 Mets head into Memorial Day weekend with a wobbly kind of momentum. Regardless of how underwhelming Los Angeles looked the last time we saw them — how could a team with that kind of financial power wind up relying so heavily on clowns like Kike Hernadez and Justin Turner? — the Mets are going to need to continue to do everything they possibly can right until they unravel what’s ailing Granderson, and d’Arnaud and Duda heal, Conforto and Plawecki’s slump ease, and Harvey stops being such a momentum killer.

What can you say about David Wright? He’s quite obviously not David Wright anymore, his strikeouts, especially looking, are way up, but the guy is winning us some games.

Let’s hope we see Flores return to active duty — and first base — on Friday as the ’86ers return to town.

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Putting the Stress in Stress Fracture

21Lucas Duda has a broken back, I have a broken heart, and Duda will miss “significant” time on the disabled list, the Mets said Monday. The Mets recalled veteran minor league multi-position player and Spring Training All-Star Ty Kelly to take Duda’s place on the roster, while Dario Alvarez was whacked from the 40-man roster to make room for Kelly.

55Kelly will wear No. 55, as he had this spring inheriting the jersey from another Kelly (Johnson) who wore it last. In Las Vegas, Kelly did about all you could do, leading all of the minors with a .391 batting average and a .478 on-base average, and he’s a switch hitter who can play 5 positions (including a little first), which is great. He also makes funny YouTube videos. But he’s not a power hitter like Duda. Make no mistake, we’re gonna miss that big goofy guy.

I guess this also means still more Eric Campbell, at least till Wilmer Flores gets back.

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Mayday!

36Hate to have to point out the obvious but May’s been a terrible month for the Mets so far, with nearly the entire lineup slumping, injuries to a starting pitcher and catcher, and a schedule that’s only starting to get difficult.

Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t doing much at the plate or behind it before a shoulder injury nicked him but he’s not getting out of his slump on the DL. I’ve always been a little wary of Steven Matz’s health and so his elbow soreness worries me too.

Reinforcement arrived late this week when lefty Sean Gilmartin was recalled and Wilmer Flores hit the DL. Gilmo is back in the familiar No. 36 and strirrups. Down Flores and d’Arnaud, we’re especially vulnerable to lefties.

Can we get Curtis Granderson (.146/.196/.333 in May); Neil Walker (.121/.216/.152); Lucas Duda (.189/.318/.459) and Michael Conforto (.143/.200/.262) going again? Now? Thanks!

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Stand in the Place Where You Were

Green-R.E.M.44If you ever had a vinyl copy of the GREEN album by REM, and sat around your dorm room listening to it instead of going to class or planning a future, you might have noticed that if you tilted the cover just the right way toward the light, a feint opaque image of the number “4” appeared wherever an “R” did.

I was reminded of that this afternoon when word came that Travis d’Arnaud was hurt — you don’t say — and that Class AAA catcher Rene Rivera was called up to take his place. Not that you’d want to, but if you could tilt Rene Rivera to the light just the right way, maybe you’d see this RR reflects a 44. Cuz, you see, that’s his number, according to the lightning fast fingers of ESPN’s Adam Rubin, reporting from CitiField where Rivera makes his Met debut tonight as Kevin Plawecki’s backup.

Rivera, a 31-year-old veteran of four other organizations, signed a AAA contract with the Mets earlier this month and had been hitting .280 in Las Vegas. He wore 44 as a member of the Padres and Rays.

Guys, I’ll be making my Citifield debut tonight. Should we talk about the weather?

 

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Sweet Sixteen

Glad to see the Mets get off the schneid just once before we go to war Sunday night in Kansas City. As noted below this was hardly the most encouraging warmup I’ve ever experienced but I’m thankful we’ll be answering the bell with relatively good health and a ton of promise. Hopefully, we kick the shit out of Kansas City.

The opening roster, announced yesterday, indicates we’ll soon be welcoming the following men to the All-time roster:

13 Asdrubal Cabrera
16 Alejando De Aza
20 Neil Walker
51 Jim Henderson
59 Anotnio Bastardo

They would bring the scrolls through 1,013 1,012.

Joining the field staff for the first time is bench coach Dick Scott, wearing No. 23, while Kevin Plawecki and coach Tom Goodwin pulled an offseason trade, with Plawecki taking 26 and Goodwin 22. Reliever Jerry Blevins is in a new number, 39, and coach Dan Warthen in 38.

11Ruben Tejada’s departure in the meantime opened up No. 11 should third-base coach Tim Teufel want to return to the number he wore as a Mets player: The roster posted at Mets.com indicates that’s the case but I thought I spied him ont he televised game from Vegas the other day still in 18. Any help?

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Bladder Up

It doesn’t mean anything, and a peek at the archives would reveal I’ve been ready to go to war with less A LOT, but I should just come out and confess I’ve been a Mets fan for something like 40 years and can’t remember a better Spring Training.


16
That seems like a long time ago but that was me, only a year ago, buckling in for what looked like, and ultimately turned out to be, a very rewarding season to be a Met fan.

And while I maintain the part about its ultimate meaninglessness, it’s difficult to interpret this year’s spring as anything but a basket of sour grapefruit. They have failed to win any of their last 13 games. I’m not satisfied they’ve answered any lingering questions about David Wright’s ability to go this year. The bullpen has been terrible. Nobody’s hitting for power. deGrom’s velocity is down. We learned a lot about what’s inside Matt Harvey’s bladder and Yoenis Cespedes’s garage, but we don’t know that they are going to be effective on the mound or in center field, respectively.

Ruben Tejada appears to have departed at just the right moment.

15I suppose the good news is that Matt Reynolds is having a good spring and ought to adequately replace Tejada’s penciled-in role as a reserve infielder, and that amid the struggles of Familia, Reed, Blevins and 51Bastardo, some guy named Jim Henderson has looked like viable bullpen candidate. They’re basically the only guys on the bubble anyway, illustrating just how dull a spring its been on top of all the lackluster exhibitions.

Two more games in Las Vegas, then opening night in Kansas City await. We’ll have the official O.D. roster updated then.

 

Uh, Let’s Go Mets?

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Hard Copy

So it turns out Kevin Kernan’s Sunday column in the Post saying Blevins would continue to wear 13 was inaccurate after all, and the online version has been altered so as to clarify what we’d known going in: Blevins will wear 39, Cabrera 13.

Glad to see the Post stand up for accuracy but their transparency could use some work: The fact that the article has been altered isn’t acknowledged anywhere, and Kernan seems to have nuked his own tweets referring to the story. Not for nothing, but that makes my reporting look bad, not his.

Anyone have a hard copy of Sunday’s Post? I want to clear my name!

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For the Record

As an update to this morning’s update on the rosters, I’ve gotten third-party confirmation on the major changes below (DeAza, Blevins, Bastardo, Cabrera) as well as Kevin Plawecki’s explanation for having become only the second Met catcher since Jason Phillips in 2001 to wear 26:

Plaw

Well there you have it.

Plawecki is also the second Mets catcher to request a new number following his rookie season: Travis d’Arnaud went from 15 to 7 last offseason.

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