The Mets are off to their worst start ever and, no, it hasn’t been pretty. But I am crazy to think that the multiple obituaries in this morning’s papers are premature? Joel Sherman is calling for the fire sale. Tim Smith describes the apocalypse.
No, I don’t think it was reasonable to expect the Mets to challenge the Phillies this year, but I still believe that it’s a team that could play .500 ball or maybe a shade better if they get the breaks. If that was the doomsayers’ expectation, they shouldn’t be declaring the Mets dead right now because while 5-12 is bad, it’s not the sort of start that forecloses an 80-85 win season. If, rather, they predicted better, such a prediction was unreasonable in the first place. But hey, it’s New York and the Mets have played awful baseball, so you have to expect this sort of thing.
It’s the next phase that interests me the most. The phase in which a general manager with a demonstrated track record of not panicking, not bowing to media pressure, understanding sample sizes and, most importantly, understanding the market for high priced, soon-to-be-free-agent veterans (i.e. low) resists the increasing calls for a fire sale.
Think that will play well in the tabloids and on talk radio?
Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.
Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.
Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.