Conforto Smacks Poodres

Final Score: Mets 9, Padres 3

The Mets put a beatdown on the stanky Padres in the first inning, and the game was basically over before I had a chance to settle in on the couch. The Mets put up a seven spot against Jhoulys Chacin. I’d like to make fun of the Padres starting pitcher, but he’d probably be the 4th starter for the Mets right now.

King Conforto: Michael Conforto went 3 for 4 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs. He had a leadoff homer, and he capped the seven run first inning with an RBI single. He was the king last night. He’s been the king all season. It’s ridiculous to listen to fans argue about whether or not Conforto was mishandled last season. The guy has posted a 1.138 OPS in 153 plate appearances, and now everyone is convinced that if he was given more rope prior to his demotion last year he would have figured things out and been extremely productive.

I think that argument is flawed, but I don’t really care that much. I’m happy he’s here now and performing like a stud. I’m looking forward to the return of Yoenis Cespedes. I want them back to back in the same lineup. I don’t care if they bat 1-2 or 2-3 or 3-4. I just want Yo behind Conforto. That’s a scary combination.

Never Pay Pitching: As we all watch the young Mets pitchers deal with one physical obstacle after the other, it certainly serves as a reminder that paying starting pitchers is a risky proposition. Fans are losing their mind over Harvey’s descent into mediocrity. But could you imagine the reaction if the Mets had extended him and he was getting paid like 12 million bucks while performing at this level? The masses would be calling for his head. Matt Harvey was mediocre again last night. He pitched 5 innings, gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks. I can’t complain though. He kept the Mets in the game. Considering how poorly the starting pitchers have performed in 2017, I will take that Harvey outing every night.

Bruce Tightness: Jay Bruce left the game with back tightness. Schedule the backiotomy for later this week. Curtis Granderson has played better of late and Bruce has been cooling off so I won’t be that upset if Jay misses a few games.

ReinforcementsSteven Matz and Seth Lugo were both smoked in their minor league rehab starts last night. Frankly I’m shocked to hear they are even rehabbing. Hopefully they remain on track to return by the end of this month.

Moron Terry: Terry decided to use Jerry Blevins in a 9-3 blowout last night. Collins was mixing and matching relievers last night and making pitching changes in the middle of innings. What’s wrong with him? He’s really slipping.

Screw Judge: The NY Post initially ran an article this morning titled “Patient Mets fans have their own Aaron Judge in Michael Conforto.” From what I can tell they have since changed the title. Can you imagine being such a delusional Yankees fan editor that you think it’s appropriate to run a headline that makes it seem like a player who has posted an .847 OPS over 695 plate appearances (Conforto) is somehow just starting to measure up to a guy who has played in 68 major league game (Judge)? Are you kidding me? Conforto was smashing World Series home runs in 2015 when Judge was probably car pooling to the Yankees’ Triple-A park in Scranton. The Yankee media bias is always nauseating.

Today: Robert Gsellman starts today. Can he give us 5 innings and under 5 runs? Is that too much to ask? I mean God forbid the guy finds a way to give us a quality start.

Conforto and T.J. Equal Fun

There have been many contributors during the recent hot stretch of Mets baseball. The bullpen has looked strong lately and the bats are collectively on fire. But Michael Conforto and T.J. Rivera have been key difference makers in my mind. Conforto had two hits in the leadoff spot last night and T.J. had three hits in the two hole. They’ve made this recent stretch of baseball so fun. When men are on base for Conforto or T.J. I always feel confident they will come through with a clutch hit.

Conforto has arguably had the biggest impact on the club this year. He’s breaking out and helping carry the team without Yoenis Cespedes. We needed a hero, and he’s been just that. Rivera on the other hand needs to stay in the lineup. When Lucas Duda returns the Mets need to either put Rivera at third base or second. They need to reconfigure things to ensure he gets playing time.

Everyone’s Hot: It’s certainly not just T.J. and Conforto carrying this team. Lately it’s been a new hero every night. On Monday when the Mets beat the Giants 4-3, Neil Walker had an RBI ground rule double in the first inning and a walk off RBI single in the ninth inning. Rene Rivera also had two hits in Monday’s game. He’s hitting .321. No way that lasts, but I’ll enjoy it for now.

Yesterday’s Heroes: Last night the Mets beat the Giants 6-1. The Mets put up a four spot in the first inning. Neil Walker hit a two RBI triple and then Jose Reyes and Rene Rivera added an RBI single and double respectively. T.J. Rivera hit an RBI double in the fifth inning and Conforto hit a solo blast late in the game. The team has pulled back to .500. Life is good.

Mighty Pen: The bullpen has been rock solid this week pitching 6 scoreless innings in the two victories against the Giants. Jerry Blevins has been clutch all season. Jeurys Familia has looked good in the ninth. People are saying that Terry’s decision to pull Familia in that game a few weeks back and bring in Josh Edgin kind of woke him up. I’m pretty sure he just needed some time to shake off the suspension rust but whatever. Believe what you want.

Quality Starts: Jacob deGrom certainly wasn’t efficient in terms of pitch count on Monday, but he’s been like that all season. He struck out 11 over 6 innings and gave up 3 runs. Zack Wheeler (Mr. Inefficiency) pitched 6 innings and gave up 1 run on 2 hits and 4 walks last night. The importance of Wheeler’s presence this year cannot be overstated. Even with all the walks and short outings he’s been one of the few reliable starting arms.

Bum Wrist: On Monday the Mets decided to fly Gavin Cecchini from Vegas to New York for a promotion, and then they decided they would rather keep injured Asdrubal Cabrera on the roster. They are truly insane. I’m hoping they plan to put Cabrera on the DL when Lucas Duda is available to return because he clearly needs 10 days off. That would also take care of the “where do we play T.J. Rivera” question.

The Tearful Apology: Yesterday the Mets held a press conference where Matt Harvey apologized to his teammates and the fans for going out drinking on Cinco De Mayo and then missing Saturday’s game due to a hangover. Harvey was seemingly on the verge of tears, Terry Collins was getting choked up, and the players all said they are ready to move forward. Even Bartolo Colon texted Harvey to offer words of support.

In my opinion, this was all totally unnecessary. I’m in the minority on this one. Most fans feel Harvey’s behavior was outrageous and appalling, and that he owed everyone this apology. People were calling for the Mets to trade him or demote him and on and on.

I think this entire Harvey situation was ridiculous, avoidable, and created by the Mets. Harvey went out late, got drunk, and blew off work. Generally speaking that’s unacceptable behavior when it comes to work. It’s definitely doesn’t fly for a professional athlete. But the Mets could have quietly fined Harvey, had him apologize privately to his teammates, and then moved on. That’s what “keeping it in-house” actually means.

Instead the team told the media everything that was going on and had a ridiculous emotional press conference. The Mets and some members of the media have now given the fans and general public the impression that Matt Harvey has a drinking problem, is depressed, and that he’s on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Is that true? I don’t know. I’m not one to joke about substance abuse, depression, or any psychological issues. But I think it was wrong of the Mets to make this a big public spectacle. I realize that Harvey partially brought this on himself by being out in public partying and cutting off contact with the team. He is partially to blame. But I think as usual the team made a mountain out of a molehill. Either way I’m happy it’s over.

Count Your Blessings

Final Score: Mets 7, Braves 5

When your team loses its two star players to injury in the same week, it’s helpful to take a deep breath and focus on something positive.

Michael Conforto has been a bright spot in a sea of darkness. He smacked a leadoff homer last night. He went 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs. Without him this team looks a lot more like a lost cause right now.

Rally: In the 4th inning the Mets had a thing called a rally. It actually doesn’t have to involve home runs. It happens when your team has multiple hits in one inning and those hits lead to runs. Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a single, Jay Bruce doubled, Neil Walker hit an RBI single, Curtis Granderson walked, Jose Reyes added an RBI groundout, Travis d’Arnaud reached on an intentional walk, T.J. Rivera hit an RBI single, and Michael Conforto also added a two run single to make it 6-1.

Young Guys I Like Watching: T.J. Rivera deserves playing time. Terry needs to keep playing him as long as Lucas Duda is out and even find starts for him if Duda returns. The guy hits. I’d also like the team to call up Brandon Nimmo to play some center field. It’s not that I’ve lost faith in Curtis Granderson. The reality is we need to have a better idea of what to expect from Nimmo next year. We might as well watch him regularly now with Yoenis Cespedes out. He looked good for Team Italy during the World Baseball Classic and during his stint in the majors last year.

Gsellman’s Rotation Spot: Robert Gsellman didn’t look great last night giving up 5 runs over 5 innings. The Mets bullpen let two inherited runners score when Gsellman was yanked in the 6th with no out. Obviously his rotation spot is safe because the Mets have no other options #Analysis.

Reyes Is Hot: Jose Reyes is making frequent and hard contact at the moment. He went from ice cold to locked in at the plate. Hopefully he helps carry the load in this lineup.

Today: Matt Harvey vs. R.A. Dickey tonight.

The Mets’ Season Is Officially Not Over

Final Score: Mets 5, Nationals 3

The Mets have won 2 out of 3 against the Nationals in Washington. The season is officially not over in April. The full blown Panic City meltdown has been temporarily postponed (until next week probably).

The MVP of the game was Michael Conforto who hit a two out two-run homer in the 5th inning to give the Mets a 3-1 lead and then hit a solo shot in the 8th inning to left center field off a 99 MPH fastball from a left handed reliever. That homer gave the Mets a 4-2 lead and the extra run was the difference in the game.

Conforto vs. Bruce: I think it’s important to point out that one month into the season we have an answer to the debate that dominated the entire offseason among fans and beat writers. The majority of fans and writers spent the offseason saying that the Mets had to trade Jay Bruce to allow Michael Conforto to play everyday. If you held that view and you are gloating at the moment due to Conforto’s early season success I think it’s important to note that you were wrong. You were 100% wrong.

In the end, the people who said “play Conforto everyday” were right AND the people who said “don’t trade Jay Bruce” were right. We needed the extra outfield depth immediately thanks to injuries. Curtis Granderson has been so bad that we probably would have needed Conforto to start even without the injury to Yoenis Cespedes. The bottom line is, the people that argued to keep all of the outfielders around for depth purposes were right.

Innings Nibbler: Speaking of depth, the Mets need Steven Matz and Seth Lugo back in a big way. Zack Wheeler is the opposite of an innings eater. In this game he pitched 4.2 innings gave up 2 runs (1 ER) on 5 hits and 4 walks. The defense sucked behind him, but that’s to be expected with this Mets team. Wheeler is pitching 4-5 high stress innings every time he takes the mound. That is totally unsustainable over the course of a season. We really need a situation where Matz and Wheeler are in the rotation and Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are in the pen to regularly piggyback on their starts.

Reyes Heating Up: Jose Reyes hit a solo homer in the 9th inning making it 5-3 Mets and giving them an insurance run. Reyes looks like he’s heating up. I just snagged him in my fantasy league.

Contact! Glorious Contact!: T.J. Rivera really is the king of contact. He had two hits. He puts the ball in play almost every time he steps to the plate. We still won this game with the home run ball like we always do, but it’s still enjoyable to watch Rivera’s approach at the plate.

Back To A Pumpkin: Addison Reed entered the game in the 8th inning and gave up a homer to Ryan Zimmerman for the second day in a row. Perhaps Addison Reed is turning back into a slightly above average pumpkin in 2017.

Mets Say Yo Is Fine: The Mets said that team doctors examined Yo’s hamstring, and the damage wasn’t as bad as originally expected. I think Cespedes should get a second opinion.

Today: Noah Syndergaard takes the mound today and the Mets try for the sweep. Pray that Thor’s bicep doesn’t explode.

King Wheeler Leads The Mets To Victory 

Final Score: Mets 5, Phillies 4

King Wheeler reigned for five prosperous innings last night before tiring and briefly ceding the throne to known pretender Hansel Robles who nearly destroyed everything Zack had accomplished during his tenure on the mound. The offense was led by new leadoff man Lord Conforto of Italy, red hot Venezuelan knight Asdrubal Cabrera, and of course the real King of Flushing, Yoenis Cespedes.

Leadoff Man Conforto: Initially it seemed like Conforto made his way into the lineup because Curtis Granderson was scratched with an injury, but the team later confirmed it was simply a day off for Curtis. Michael Conforto did not disappoint in the leadoff spot. He was involved in or directly responsible for most of the early scoring. He led off the game with a single and Yoenis Cespedes drove him in with a double to left field. Then in the third inning he hit an opposite field solo homer to make it 2-0.

Doing What Had To Be Done: Conforto is doing exactly what he had to do to keep his spot on the major league roster. He’s mashing in his limited number of plate appearances. Now the Mets will look terrible if they demote him. As I’ve said many times, the Mets need to continuously rotate these outfielders. Conforto leading off and playing in center/right field a few days a week makes perfect sense. Grandy is old and Conforto is the highest ceiling bat we have on the roster other than Cespedes.

Cabby Is A New York Guy: In the 5th Inning the Phillies hit Travis d’Arnaud with a pitch and then walked Zack Wheeler and Michael Conforto to load the bases. Asdrubal Cabrera followed that with a 2-RBI single up the right field line to make it 4-0 Mets. Cabby is such a New York performer. Never in a million years did I think he’d show up, put on a Mets uniform, and play better than he has at any point in his career. But that’s what he’s done while he’s played in Flushing. Yoenis Cespedes also added a sac fly in the 5th inning to make it 5-0. That run turned out to be the winning run.

Shattered Wrist: When Travis d’Arnaud was hit by a pitch on the wrist, Ray Ramirez came out of the dugout and Travis proceeded to sprint away from him. It was a priceless image that epitomized every fans’ opinion of Ray Ramirez. Also d’Arnaud’s wrist is certainly going to fall off in the next 72 hours.

Is The Real Wheeler Standing Up?: Zack Wheeler looked great over 5 innings last night but in the 6th inning he hit a wall. It’s not surprising to see Zack tire early considering he’s missed two seasons, and he’s still working his way back from injury. At the same time, this is the kind of pitcher he’s been his entire career. These first two starts are really a microcosm of his young career.

In his first start he lacked command, and that has always been one of his flaws. He had his velocity against the Marlins, but it didn’t matter. He just couldn’t execute. Last night he pitched to contact and was able to retire the Phillies lineup with ease. He was able to consistently throw his breaking ball for strikes and locate his fastball. But at the same time he fizzled out in the middle of the game. He’s always been a 5-6 inning pitcher.

Before we leap to any judgments, we still need to see what he looks like once he’s fully stretched out. He still needs to show he can master the strike zone on a more consistent basis. And also he needs to show he can stay healthy. Mainly that.

Robles Is The Worst: It was clear early in the sixth inning that Wheeler was tiring. But Terry let it drag out and left him in the game to load the bases. He finally pulled him with two outs and the bases juiced. Then who did Terry turn to? Hansel Robles. Robles came in and surrendered a grand slam to Maikel Franco on the first pitch. He’s really a piece of crap.

Sandy’s Guys: Fernando Salas and Addison Reed slammed the door on this game. I still can’t believe Sandy targeted and brought in these two guys for basically nothing. They’ve been electric out of the pen for the Mets. I’m looking forward to the return of Jeurys Familia. The back end of the bullpen could turn out to be better than originally expected with those three arms making the bulk of the appearances. We need one more reliable guy to step up. It doesn’t look like Robles is going to be that guy.

Today: The Mets swept the Phillies. Congratulations. Now Robert Gsellman takes on Wei-Yin Chen and the Marlins. It’s time for the Mets to show the rest of the NL East what we are capable of accomplishing.

Noah SynderGod Saves The Day

Final Score: Mets 5, Marlins 2

Quick Hits

  • After two straight mediocre performances by Mets starting pitchers, Noah SynderGod saved the day by throwing 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits, and striking out 9 Marlins.
  • ESPN sucks. They did a segment last night where that ginger guy interviewed Mr. Met and he asked him how he felt about Thor cuckolding him and sleeping with his mascot wife Mrs. Met. That’s when I switched the game to iPad and mute. Unwatchable broadcast.
  • Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto both hit solo homers and helped the Mets win. In what feels like an endless conversation about who should start (Bruce vs. Conforto), last night felt like it should have been an eye opener for Terry that both guys can play at the SAME TIME. Based on his in-game and postgame comments it doesn’t sound like Terry got the message.

Marlins’ Mistake Helps Mets Score: In the first inning Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a bunt single and Yoenis Cespedes followed that with a single up the middle that allowed Cabrera to advance to third base. Jay Bruce then hit a ball to first base, Justin Bour threw the ball home, and J.T. Realmuto took his eye off the ball and missed the throw. That allowed Cabrera to score. Neil Walker followed that with an RBI single. Lucas Duda singled to load the bases, and then the Marlins gave the Mets their third run by walking Michael Conforto with the bases loaded.

Mets’ Mistake Helps Marlins Score: Derek Dietrich doubled to start the third inning. Then Miguel Rojas hit a ball to left center field and Yoenis Cespedes dropped it for an error. That set up second and third and Dee Gordon capitalized with a two run double to make it 3-2. Rene Rivera saved the inning by gunning down two runners trying to steal on Noah Syndergaard.

The Saga Of Bruce And Conforto: As I said above, last night’s narrative surrounding Jay Bruce (solo homer in the 5th inning) and Michael Conforto (solo shot in the 6th inning) should have been positive. But all I heard from Terry was him blaming Michael Conforto for the third inning Yo error during an in-game dugout interview. Then when asked if Conforto would play tomorrow he said no and wondered aloud where he would play Conforto.

Ummm hey Terry you moron, he can play at the same time as Jay Bruce. You literally just did it. Grandy hasn’t looked great at the plate or in center field. It’s called rotating the players man. You think Yo’s playing 162? You think Jay “DH” Bruce’s knees are going to last in the outfield all season? You think Grandy can handle center field more than a few days a week? The guy’s already misjudging fly balls and looking drained out there. Rotate the outfielders and find playing time for Conforto! Do it. Sandy better tell him to do it. I’ve had enough of Terry’s anti-Conforto BS. There is plenty of playing time to go around. Jeeeesus.

Today: The Phillies have been the NL East team that the Mets have consistently handled in recent years. So maybe a trip to Philly will spark the first winning streak of the season for the Mets. Jacob deGrom vs. Jerad Eickhoff in tonight’s game. Ace number two gets a chance to keep Thor’s momentum going.

Juan “DL” Lagares Strains Oblique, Out Forever

It’s the final week of Spring Training and you know what that means for the Mets. Everyone starts going down with injuries. The Final Destination injury ride begins now and never stops until the season is over.

It started with Brandon Nimmo tweaking his hamstring in the World Baseball Classic two weeks ago. The team said he was day-to-day. I don’t think Nimmo has even tried to run yet. At the time of that injury I wrote that Nimmo and Juan Lagares were going to form the most injury-plagued center field platoon in the league in 2018. And then right on cue Juan Lagares goes down with a strained oblique and leaves us with 36 year old Curtis Granderson as our only center fielder.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen this movie before, but Juan is out forever. That oblique will be barking all season. He’ll rush back and re-strain it. Then we’ll see him in August if we’re lucky. That Lagares contract turned out to be a terrible mistake. He really can’t stay healthy or hit. I’m not an advanced scout, but those feel like two pretty important qualities for a baseball player no? He never had the Juanny John surgery on his torn throwing elbow ligament. He was Juanny One Thumb for the entire 2016 season once he tore his thumb ligament. He’s seemingly strained just about every muscle in his body over the last few seasons.

To be honest, I’m not that upset with Nimmo and Juan being removed from the Opening Day roster equation. This should ensure that Michael Conforto makes the team which should have been the case no matter what considering Conforto has had an incredible Grapefruit League campaign. The Mets should just put Conforto in center field and right field and play him regularly while giving old man Grandy, barking quad Cespedes, and slow poke Jay Bruce plenty of days off. It’s a no brainer.

David Wright is gone. Juanny and Nimmo are gone. Travis d’Arnaud must be hiding and trembling in the clubhouse because everyone knows that the Mets’ injury Final Destination train is coming for him next. Unless fate decides to skip over the position players and turn to the pitching staff next…

Stay Bruce? Fine By Me

According to the New York Post the Mets have informed Jay Bruce they plan to start the season with him as their everyday right fielder. And thus concludes BruceGate 2017 (Maybe? Is it really over?).

The prospect of Bruce being with the Mets on Opening Day doesn’t really bother me. Why? Generally, I refuse to get worked up over a Mets roster “dilemma” if the end result is the Mets have more roster depth. You may not like Jay Bruce’s skill set and you may wish the Mets could freely spend his 13 million dollar salary on other upgrades, but that’s seemingly impossible to achieve at the moment. So the doomsday scenario is the Mets have five outfielders, and in the long run additional depth is a positive not a negative.

Here are my thoughts on some of the fears Mets fans have cited due to Jay Bruce’s presence on the roster.

If Bruce Is here Michael Conforto will be ruined!

I’m skeptical of the claim that 23 year old Michael Conforto’s career will be derailed as a result of limited playing time in 2017. If you feel the Mets are a better team with Conforto starting everyday or that we shouldn’t “waste” a year of his pre-arbitration service time then fine. Those are valid points worth discussing. But after his time in Vegas in 2016 and his experience with a veteran filled roster towards the end of last season, I’m confident Conforto will be ready to battle Curtis Granderson and one-dimensional Bruce for at-bats in 2017. In an ideal world he’d outplay them and force his way into the starting lineup. T.J. Rivera and Rene Rivera certainly accomplished that at their respective positions in 2016.

There are not enough ABs to go around for all these outfielders.

Have the people saying this ever watched the Mets? An injury is likely to occur and a full time job will open up for Conforto before you can say “Spring Training.”

The position players on the Mets roster, as it’s currently constructed, are old and injury prone. Duda, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares dealt with injuries in 2016. Grandy will be 36 years old by Opening Day and Bruce had knee surgery in 2014. If he doesn’t have a starting job outright due to injury, I can see Conforto being double switched into games regularly for defense and starting a few days a week to keep these veteran guys fresh.

In addition to filling in at all three outfield spots, Conforto can work at first base in Spring Training. Conforto increasing his versatility is a positive thing for next season and beyond. If Dominic Smith isn’t ready to take over the job in 2018 then we’ll need someone to fill in for Lucas Duda if the Mets let him walk after the 2017 season.

The Mets Outfield Defense Will Be Terrible With Bruce

Unfortunately there’s not much I can say to refute that claim. The Mets outfield defense will likely be below average in 2017. But the outfield defense is going to be poor regardless of the alignment. This squad won’t specialize in run prevention as long as Granderson, Bruce, and Conforto are drawing the majority of starts in center field and right field.

If you wanted the Mets to acquire a true starting caliber center fielder this winter and shake up the roster to emphasize defense then you’re probably disappointed. But clearly the overwhelming supply of power hitters in the free agent market limited the Mets ability to move their expensive corner outfielders. If Sandy wants to prioritize upgrading the defense it will be easier for him to achieve that next offseason when many of our current position players become free agents.

The Mets don’t have any payroll flexibility to upgrade the bullpen

This may be true, but it’s hardly Jay Bruce’s fault if ownership has capped the team’s payroll at the current amount. If the Mets fail to upgrade the bullpen and that hurts the team down the road, the only people to blame are Sandy Alderson for misallocating financial resources and ownership for not providing additional funds to improve the pen.

I’m trying to look at the bright side of having Bruce on the team and here’s where I’ve landed:

  1. If Jay Bruce hits in line with his career numbers, then the Mets will benefit from the additional offense. The team’s struggle to generate runs is the reason they traded for him in the first place. If we dump him before the season we’ll probably wind up trading another prospect for someone like him by the trade deadline.
  2. If Bruce performs and the team is inexplicably blessed with health then he becomes a expendable trade chip to flip for a piece the team actually needs. And hopefully by then the market isn’t as flooded with comparable players.
  3. If Bruce struggles and Conforto stands out in his limited playing time then Michael starts and Bruce becomes an expensive pinch hitter. Will Terry Collins play Jay Bruce for three straight months even if he’s hitting .200? Maybe but that’s a problem with Terry’s managerial style not a Bruce issue.
  4. The stats show us that Jay Bruce’s contribution (at least from 2014-16) in the power department is essentially negated due to his below average defense. He’s basically a “net negative.” Just like our old friend Daniel Murphy. I’m hoping that Jay Bruce becomes the new Kevin Long reclamation project and somehow takes his power to the next level in a contract year.

In the end, the team defense may wind up stinking with Bruce in the fold and maybe Conforto won’t handle a reserve role well, but at least the 2017 Mets will hit a lot of dingers again. Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jay Bruce, Granderson, Cespedes could all supply 20+ homers. If our starting pitching is healthy and returns to its 2015 form and the lineup has the Citi Field Home Run Apple popping on a nightly basis, good things will be in store in 2017 whether Bruce is in the lineup or not.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on Mets Merized Online.

Hungry Mets B-Squad Leading The Wild Card

Final Score: Mets 10, Phillies 5

This Mets team full of veteran hitters and B-squad arms continues to show resilience in these final games against the worst teams in the National League. They can smell a playoff spot, and they refuse to roll over and die. This season has been a disaster, but at least this crew will keep things interesting until the season’s final day. 

A Bunch Of B-Squad Arms: Terry used six pitchers to get through this game.  He had the shortest leash in the world for every pitcher, and that was completely justified in my mind. Starting pitcher Gabriel Ynoa gave up 2 runs in the second inning and Terry yanked him. 

D’Arnaud Did Something: In the second inning Travis d’Arnaud hit an RBI double to make it 2-1 Phillies. It was shocking to see Travis do anything considering how horrendous he’s been this year. 

A Bunch of B-Squad Arms Part 2: Logan Verrett gave up an insta-solo homer when he entered the game in the third inning. Then he escaped a bases loaded jam in the 4th, and Terry yanked him. Josh Smoker pitched a solid 5th inning. 

Marching Back: In the top of the 5th inning, Curtis Granderson hit an RBI single to make it 3-2 Phils. Then Kelly Johnson hit a 2-RBI single to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. Michael Conforto capped off the inning with a 3-run homer to make it 7-3 Mets. I’m guessing that’s the official death blow for any Jay Bruce starts the rest of the way. Good riddance. 

A Bunch of B-Squad Arms Part 3: In 6th inning Smoker walked a guy, and then gave up a two-run Jack to Darin Ruf. Terry yanked him and went straight to Erik Goeddel. Goeddel pitched a scoreless 6th, and then in the 7th he pitched like crap. He put the first two men on base before retiring a batter and being lifted for Josh Edgin. Edgin gave up a single to load the bases with one out. Then Hansel Robles came in and fortunately induced an inning ending double play. Robles pitched the rest of the way and saved the day. 

Put It Away: In the 7th inning, the Mets put the game away. Juan Lagares hit a run scoring sac bunt, Eric Campbell hit an RBI single, and T.J. Rivera hit a sac fly to make it 10-5 Mets. 

Today: Oh I forgot to mention that Noah Syndergaard has strep throat and was scratched from today’s start. Sean Gilmartin will pitch and Thor will probably miss the Wild Card playoff game now. Surprise, surprise! This season has been a complete joke. Go B-Squad Arms! 

Give Bruce A Chance (For Now)

The “bench Jay Bruce” movement that has quickly gained momentum among the Mets fan base and the mainstream media is truly baffling to me. I am aware that he has posted a .192/.271/.315 slash line in 144 plate appearances since he joined the Mets at the trade deadline. I am aware that the Mets are in the thick of the Wild Card race and every game matters. But do Mets fans really want Terry Collins to demote Bruce to equipment manager for the final 16 games and have Michael Conforto play everyday? That’s what the masses are calling for right now. To me that’s insane.

I’ve said this since the day he was acquired. Jay Bruce is a streaky veteran slugger like Lucas Duda. Bruce, like Duda, has long droughts at the plate where he looks lost and then all of a sudden he unexpectedly delivers a power streak. Duda hit like .187 last year in June with one homer. Then in July he still hit under .200, but he went on one of his signature homer streaks and put 8 balls into the seats. And in August/September he mashed posting an OPS near 1.000. The Mets put their faith in Lucas and his homer streaks, and they are doing the same thing with Bruce. They are hoping that a prolific slugger with a track record will ultimately catch fire in the final two weeks of the season and carry that momentum into the playoffs.

I love Michael Conforto, but he’s done absolutely nothing this season that would justify giving him the bulk of the playing time in September over an established major league slugger that’s hit 20+ homers for 9 of his 10 major league seasons. This is a man who in 2016 will probably hit 30 homers for the fourth time. It would be one thing if Conforto was compelling the Mets to start him with his bat, but he hasn’t done a damn thing. And the team has managed to score runs lately against weak opponents despite Bruce’s black hole in the lineup. With our weak schedule, Bruce will have every opportunity to break out against poor pitching.

I suppose it’s not that shocking to see the fan base grow impatient with an established veteran. I’m often one of the first people calling to bench people. In July I was ready to take away ABs from Neil Walker. But the Mets ended up sticking with Neil and he turned his season around (before his back injury).

The bottom line is I don’t think you bench a guy like Bruce because he’s had a poor 100+ ABs with a new team. And furthermore, it’s a little late for the fan base to abandon ship on the live by the dinger die by the dinger, feast or famine strategy. This team was built on the backs of many streaky power hitters (Walker/Duda (before their injuries), Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, even Yoenis Cespedes to some extent). The Mets will either pitch and slug their way to a playoff spot or they will strike out trying.