Mets won't quit despite elimination

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
ATLANTA -- Terry Collins does not expect the Mets to let up now that they mathematically have been eliminated from postseason contention.

“We’ve just got to play the game right,” Collins said after the Mets’ 5-0 win against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night, in Game No. 154. “As I said earlier today, I know we’ve only got a few games left, but you know what? We signed up to play 162 and play them hard. Just finish it off strong, play strong, go out and do the right things, execute like we’re supposed to, and the wins will take care of themselves. You know, I still believe people come to the ballpark to see the game played right.”

Collins said the fact that the Mets are playing a ton of young players with things to prove ensures a high level of energy.

“Well, we’ve got some young guys,” Collins said. “If they pack it in, you won’t see them again. That’s why it’s nice this time of year to bring those young guys up, because they add a lot of energy to the team. And our veteran guys, they’re great guys. There’s never been a question of how hard they’re going to play. We’ll finish it up. We’ll finish it up strong.”

Asked if there was any sting about being mathematically eliminated, Collins said: “Well, yeah, but the sting has been we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to. We certainly came out of spring training with high hopes of putting together a nice run. We just never seemed to get it going. That’s been the biggest disappointing thing, because if you can’t get it going, playoff runs are going to end. You’re not going to be in them.

“As I told the guys walking around the outfield during batting practice, ‘We’ve got eight games to go. We’re still in the hunt. That says a lot.’ That says that they hung in there when times were tough. Some of our guys are gone, they’re down right now, and they just keep playing.”

The Mets, despite a 74-80 record, actually can finish as high as second place in the NL East. The free-falling Braves occupy that slot now, with a 76-77 record.

“We aren’t done playing,” said Zack Wheeler, who tossed six scoreless innings Friday despite a high pitch count. “Obviously we can’t get first anymore, but we’re going for the second spot. It’s good to bear down right here and finish out the season strong going into next season.”

Mets Shut Out Braves

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19


Zack Wheeler struck out seven in the Mets' 5-0 win over the Braves.

Reaction: Mets 5, Braves 0; still eliminated

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
ATLANTA -- Over and out!

Lucas Duda broke a scoreless tie with a two-run homer against Julio Teheran in the sixth, and the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 5-0 Friday at Turner Field.

Still, before completing their 154th game of the season, the Mets (74-80) were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Russell Martin had a three-run homer in a four-run eighth to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win against the Milwaukee Brewers. Pittsburgh notched its 83rd win -- more than the Mets can achieve even if they win out.

The Mets need to go 7-1 the rest of the way to reach .500 and snap their streak of consecutive losing seasons at five straight.

"We thought we had the pieces, but we had to have a lot of things go right because we had a lot of question marks,” Terry Collins said pregame, with the Mets on the brink elimination. “I don’t call them, ‘holes.’ I call them ‘question marks,’ because I think if you’re a major league player you’re talented. There were certain things guys had to do that we talked about in spring training that, ‘Hey if we get this out of this guy, this out of that guy, we’re going to be in the hunt.’ We didn’t do that.

"We’ve competed. We’ve competed very well. And now it’s a matter of next year trying to go in with a realization that, ‘Hey, look, we are going to be good enough.’”

Zack Wheeler contributed six scoreless innings despite requiring 105 pitches.

Wheeler’s final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.

Duda now has 28 homers and 85 RBIs, both team highs by sizable margins. The long ball total ranks third in the National League, trailing only idle Giancarlo Stanton (37) as well as the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo (31).

Duda’s homer plated Daniel Murphy, who finished 4-for-5. Murphy matched his career high with the four hits.

The Mets tacked on three ninth-inning runs.

What’s next: Jonathon Niese (8-11, 3.55 ERA) opposes left-hander Mike Minor (6-11, 4.74) at 7:10 p.m. Saturday.

Backman breaks down high-level prospects

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

Adam RubinWally Backman joined the Mets on Friday for the final nine games of the season.
ATLANTA -- Wally Backman tactfully indicated Friday that he hopes to get a chance at the major league level.

“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. 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 …


“I’ll say what you’ve probably heard a million times: He’s still very, very young. He just turned

22 the last week of the season. Stuff-wise he’s probably second to nobody, but he has a lot to learn mentally. If he has the right guy behind the plate, he’s going to be pretty good, because the catcher really runs the game for him right now. He needs to learn to be able to call his own pitches in certain situations at the minor-league level, for sure, and trust the stuff that he has. For me, it’s all about consistency for him and really being able to command the fastball.”

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 is a very smart individual and works very hard. In my opinion, he still needs time. He’s slides forward a little bit. He lunges a little bit. I think the hard stuff can give him trouble at times. But he’s another guy that’s got great hand-eye coordination and makes up for it. Down the road, when he’s ready, he’s probably going to be pretty good.”

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.”


“This was the first real good year that he had, I think, offensively. I know he was a high pick, but he really showed he can handle the bat. He’s not a home run guy. He’s a guy that slaps the ball around. He’s a gap-to-gap guy. I was impressed with the way he played shortstop. At the start he was just kind of an ordinary guy. But he kind of grew on you as time went on. Very solid defensively.

“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.”


“He’s a guy that has a four-pitch mix. He throws everything for strikes at any time. I think he went to Princeton. A smart kid. He kind of has the [Tim] Lincecum look. That’s the way his delivery is. He competes. He doesn’t throw 95 mph, but he’s still 91-93 mph with the four pitches that he commands very well. You can call him a sleeper. I won’t, because I think he’s going to pitch in the big leagues.”


“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.”


“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].”

Lagares skips trip with balky elbow

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
ATLANTA -- Juan Lagares did not travel with the Mets to Turner Field for the series with the Atlanta Braves. He is not due to rejoin the club for the next stop in D.C., either.

So Lagares may be done for the season with a sprained right elbow.

Terry Collins said there is a chance Lagares may appear during the season-ending three-game series back at Citi Field against the Houston Astros, but team doctors would need to sign off. Lagares is due to be reexamined after the weekend.

He departed Tuesday's game after the elbow worsened on a throw from the outfield to second base.

Kirk gets day off after passing stone

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
ATLANTA -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis volunteered to play in Friday's series opener against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, but Terry Collins opted to give the outfielder the day off after Nieuwenhuis passed a kidney stone.

Matt den Dekker moves to center field, with Eric Young Jr. starting in left field.

Friday's Mets-Braves lineups

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
ATLANTA -- Here are the lineups as the Mets face the Atlanta Braves on Friday at 7:35 p.m. at Turner Field.

Eric Young Jr., lf
Daniel Murphy, 3b
Travis d'Arnaud, c
Lucas Duda, 1b
Wilmer Flores, ss
Curtis Granderson, rf
Matt den Dekker, cf
Dilson Herrera, 2b
Zack Wheeler, rhp

Phil Gosselin, 3b
Andrelton Simmons, ss
Freddie Freeman, 1b
Justin Upton, lf
Christian Bethancourt, c
Ryan Doumit, rf
Tommy La Stella, 2b
B.J. Upton, cf
Julio Teheran, rhp

Morning Briefing: Happy Backman Day!

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

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 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 calls out Bud Selig for his treatment of the Mets.

• Here’s footage shot from an interesting angle at Citi Field at

• 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?

Series preview: Mets at Braves

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

Associated Press/Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Ervin Santana this weekend at Turner Field.
METS (73-80, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (76-76, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (10-10, 3.61) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (13-12, 2.89), 7:35 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (8-11, 3.55) vs. LHP Mike Minor (6-11, 4.74), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jacob deGrom (8-6, 2.68) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (14-9, 3.74), 1:35 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

Catcher Evan Gattis has been sidelined for nine games with strep throat and a kidney stone, but may be close to returning. Christian Bethancourt has started the past eight games behind the plate.

Right fielder Jason Heyward departed Wednesday’s game in the eighth, two innings after getting hit by a pitch in the left thumb. X-rays were negative. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons earlier left the game with a sore left ankle.

The Washington Nationals clinched the NL East title at Turner Field on Tuesday. The Nats and Braves were even in the standings as recently as July 20. That defeat was Atlanta’s 11th in 14 games. It temporarily knocked the Braves under .500 for the first time since losing on Opening Day.

The Braves broke ground on a new ballpark in Cobb County this week that will open in 2017. It will be called SunTrust Park. The Braves have played at Turner Field since the 1997 season -- the year after it hosted the Olympics.

Closer Craig Kimbrel is the first pitcher to begin his career with four consecutive 40-save seasons. Overall, he is only the third pitcher to have four straight seasons reaching that save plateau. Trevor Hoffman achieved it from 1998 through 2001 and from 2004 through ’07. Francisco Rodriguez did so from 2005 through ’08.

Justin Upton's 27 homers are tied with Lucas Duda's total for third in the National League. Idle Marlin Giancarlo Stanton has 37. The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo has 31. Upton also ranks third in RBIs with 97.

Mets to scout Cuban slugger, but price high

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

Koji Sasahara/Associated PressCuban defector Yasmany Tomas will work out for teams on Sunday in the Dominican Republic.
NEW YORK -- The Mets will have representatives scouting Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas' workout on Sunday in the Dominican Republic. Still, given the expected price tag and the Mets' lack of inclination to seriously boost their payroll, it would seem more a fact-finding mission than anything.

"We'll have guys there, as we have virtually every time," Paul DePodesta said. "We continue to evaluate all of the players as they become available, as we would with any free agent."

ESPN's Keith Law writes about Tomas:

Tomas might get paid like Jose Abreu or Yasiel Puig, but he's not in their class as a prospect, and if paid similarly he would be benefiting from how successful Abreu and Puig have been.

Tomas is a stout center fielder who'll have to move to a corner outfield spot, as he's a below-average runner with a stiff body who could probably stand to shed some weight before he signs. (Baseball-Reference lists him at 6-foot-1 and 229 pounds, but he looked much heavier than that last summer.) What Tomas brings is plus power, and I don't think it's just BP power, as he's very short to the ball -- maybe even more so than Abreu -- with good hip rotation and a very quiet approach. He keeps his head steady through contact and his back leg pretty strong. However, he has below-average bat speed, unlike Abreu (whose is average or better) or Puig (whose is just ridiculous), and I've had multiple scouts tell me they question Tomas' ability to hit for average against major league pitching.

A reasonable/optimistic projection for Tomas would be an average to slightly above-average regular in left field, with 25 to 30 homers, a low OBP and below-average defense.

I expect him to be paid as if he's more than that, however, because of the success of the Cuban hitters to come before him, and because international free agency is one of the only places MLB teams can spend money with impunity now that the draft and the July 2 free agents are both capped by bonus-pool numbers and penalty structures.

Backman to join Mets, may not leave staff

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

Adam RubinWally Backman is joining the Mets on Friday in Atlanta as a coach. He may remain on the staff in 2015.
NEW YORK -- Fans may view Wally Backman as their preferred successor to Terry Collins as Mets manager. Instead, Backman could end up on Collins’ staff to open next season.

A team insider told that Backman joining the 2015 staff as a coach is “under discussion.”

Regardless, Collins views Backman as an ally, not a threat. Backman joins the Mets on Friday in Atlanta as an extra coach for the final nine games of the season.

“We have a very strong relationship,” Collins said. “Wally and I are very good friends. We always have been -- for a lot of years. When he joined the organization, I was the [minor-league] field coordinator. And I still enjoy my time when I talk to him or when we’re together. So I’m glad he’s coming. He brings a lot to the table.”

The Mets annually bring one minor-league coach to the majors in September as an extra staffer. Last year, Double-A Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez received that honor. Two years ago, Backman received the call-up after managing Triple-A Buffalo.

This year, Backman’s Las Vegas 51s finished with an 81-63 record and won their division before being bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

“It’s nice to have those guys, especially this time of year -- a manager who has seen [September call-up] players on the other teams,” Collins said. “I’ll be glad to have Wally here.”

The same thing that attracts fans to the fiery Backman endears players to him as well.

“His passion for the game is obvious,” Kirk Nieuwenhuis said with a hearty laugh about Backman, who turns 55 on Monday. “Everybody knows Wally. Everybody knows how animated he is and stuff like that. Like any good manager, I think he knows his players and he communicates well with all of his players. That goes a long way. Like I said, his passion for the game is obvious. He’s fun to play for.”

One moment?

“Bobby [Abreu] hit a home run, I think maybe against Tacoma,” Nieuwenhuis recalled. “I thought it was fair. I think we all thought it was fair. It’s a tough angle from the dugout, but it was kind of a big situation. Obviously Wally thought it was fair, too. He was pretty fired up. He went out to argue with the first-base umpire and the guy ended up tossing him. Wally got pretty animated.”

Erik Goeddel said the ball was definitely fair.

“It wasn’t even close,” the reliever said.

Goeddel added about the ensuing scene: “He started yelling. He threw his helmet. He got ejected. What’s funny is the helmet kind of landed in foul territory, but it was in play. And I don’t think the umpires noticed it. And it sat there the entire game. It was great.”

View from Binghamton: Title celebration

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

Courtesy of Bruce Adler
Steven Matz, who took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning in the clincher, is hoisted after the Binghamton Mets won the Eastern League title last Friday.

Courtesy of Bruce Adler
The Binghamton Mets celebrate after winning their first Eastern League title in 20 years.

Courtesy of Bruce Adler
Gavin Cecchini, a late call-up from St. Lucie, gets an embrace from Wilfredo Tovar during the postgame celebration.

Poll: Being Mets fan toughest in MLB

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
NEW YORK -- An elaborate ESPN poll found the Mets rank last in MLB and 118th of 122 in all major sports in terms of attractiveness of being a fan of the club.

See the full rankings here and a specific reasoning for the Mets' placement here.

Mets, WPIX extend affiliation

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

NEW YORK -- PIX11 will remain the on-air home of the Mets through 2017, the station announced Thursday.

Channel 11 will air 25 regular-season games and four spring-training games.

The games will continue to be produced through SNY.

Morning Briefing: Only 9 games left

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

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

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: YOU’RE UP: Who should be the odd-man out of the Mets’ rotation next season with Matt Harvey due to return?



Daniel Murphy
.299 9 54 76
HRL. Duda 28
RBIL. Duda 85
RD. Murphy 76
OPSL. Duda .831
WB. Colon 14
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 180