9/27/16

METS-MARLINS ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD - Tom Brennan

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METS-MARLINS ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD by Tom Brennan

The guardian angels that have allowed 43 year old Bartolo Colon to pitch like an All Star switched sides last night.  Turning him into a normal 43 year old last night.a

Last night, in honor of Jose Fernandez, the guardians from above switched sides, with those angels directing the ball off of very low power Dee Gordon's bat leading off the game into the second deck.  Supernatural.

Right there, the angels made it clear this would be a night of Marlins celebration.  Bart got clobbered, the relief pitchers got the game over quickly, and Met bats, producers of buckets of runs in the recent Phillies series, were quieted.

St Louis got clobbered by the weak Cincy Reds, so the Wild Card situation actually improved (one less game for the Cards to deal themselves in).

Time for the angels to switch back to Casey's Metsies....Stengel spoke to the angels after the game, so all should be good from here on out, folks.

RIP, JOSE.

And let's go Mets.


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9/26/16

Mack – My 2017 Team

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It’s not complete but, to tell the truth, is it ever complete?

1B – positional available – I really have no confidence in Lucas Duda and I would either just release him or package him in some deal for a new outfielder or catcher. I don’t see Dominic Smith becoming a factor here until 2018 so I’d have to look elsewhere.

2B – Neil Walker – (new contract) - $18mil/2017 – 2018 option – Walker wants to come back next season and you have to sign this guy to a decent raise/contract. I’d offer him a two year deal but settle with one and an option. This signing would return T.J. Rivera to the UT1 position he has earned.

SS – Astrubel Cabrera - $8.25mil/2017 – 2018 option – anything I say here would only commend the decision to originally sign this guy to a multi-year deal. He gets my vote for the team MVP this season.

3B – Jose Reyes - $$22mil/2017 – 2018 option – as sad as this is, I see no option to either working out a retirement deal with David Wright, or simply placing him on waiver. No other team is going to touch the remains of this contract and the Mets need to move on. The retirement compromise solves the retiring of his number down the road problem.

UT-IF – T.J. Rivera - $500K/2016 - $500K/2017 – everybody did everything they could to keep this undrafted ‘bat’ from making his way to Queens, but it’s going to turn out that he will lead the team in batting September. There’s nothing special about his defense, but he can play all four infield spots and he would be a wonderful hitting, both in relief on off days for an aging infield and as a pinch hitter.

UT-IN – Wilmer Flores – it’s sad that Flores can’t find a full time job with this team, but there simply are better options and his increased power numbers make for a great bat off the bench. He also can play three infield position, none of which are shortstop.

LF – Yoenes Cespedes - $30mil/2017 - $32mil/2018, $34mil/2019 – I know in my heart that this team can’t consistently make the playoffs without this guy in the lineup. I build my entire roster around this guy and Noah Syndergaard. Without either one, you’ll have a lost season. 

CF – position available – For me, this is the biggest hole on this team. The Mets need a solid defensive centerfielder that hits 30+ home runs. Period. I’m not going to take the time to try and figure out who Sandy Alderson should go out and get here. This is his job and he doesn’t share his rolodex with me.

RF – Curtis Granderson - I thought the Mets had this position all figured out when they traded for Jay Bruce, but he’s turned out to be the second coming of Jason Bay. I no longer have any desire to resign him and I’m willing to live with Granderson for once more year. He’ll never hit above .250 again, but he’s a clutch hit and bleeds Mets blue and orange.

UT-OF – Juan Lagares - $4.5mil/2017, $6.5mil/2018, $9mil/2019, option/2020 – this has turned out to be a great contract and would even be greater if he would stay off the disabled list. Still, he’s a Golden Glove winner that has hit over .280 in the past. How many other Mets outfielders can claim that?

UT-OF – position available – this will most probably be filled by either Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto… and I’ve struggled trying to pick either one of them, and, let’s face it… neither one of these guys need to be sent back to AAA ball to hit .900 again. They both bat left handed and I’m particularly upset at what Conforto did not do this season, but both of these could be trade bait in the off season so who knows who’s going to fill the spot.

C – position available – my hopes is the Mets make a big run for Wilson Ramos in free agency. Ramos was only paid $5.35mil this season by the Nationals so there should be plenty of wiggle room here to get a deal done. I’m sort of done with Travis d’Arnaud. He basically didn’t hit in a basic injury free season and, worse than that, he can’t throw my wife out at second base.

C – Rene Rivera - $1.65mil/2016 – ARB3/2018 – you can’t find a better defensive backup catcher who can occasionally hit a home run or two. The pitchers love him and the other team’s runner hate to run on him.

SP1 – Noah Syndergaard – look, I have to try and put back this ‘rotation of all time’ knowing guys like Wheeler may never pitch another ball for a professional baseball team. As you will see, I have the next three fill-in starters in my pen.

P2 – Jacob deGrom -  take your time

SP3 – Mike Harvey - we need you next spring

SP4 – Zack Wheeler -sit back and chill

SP5 – Steven Matz – and occasionally long toss with Wheeer

Long Man/emergency SP6 – Bartolo Colon – $10mil/2017 – I have no desire to offer Colon a multi-year deal, but I also have no desire to let him pitch for another team. Right now, he’s the most stable starter we have on this staff and I can just about guarantee you that he will be needed in the 2017 rotation at some point during the season. The worse thing that happens here is you have yourself a hell of a relief pitcher.

 RP – Robert Gsellman - $500K/2016 – Pre-ARB/2017 – I could have picked Seth Lugo here but I liked Gsellam’s hair more. Knowing our starting rotation’s past health record, we’re probably going to see both these guys anyway sometimes in 2017.

RP – Hansel Robles - $516.5K/2016 – Pre-ARB/2017 – I happen to love this guy and I think he’s a Familia waiting to happen.

LHRP – Josh Edgin - $625K/2016 – ARB2/2017 – it seems to me that Eglin never got out of the gate this season. I still love him as a LOOGY.

LHRP – position available – maybe Smoker, but definitely not Gilmartin. I hope Sandy can find a new lefty stud to fill this slot.

8th Inning guy -Addison Reed - $5.3mil/2016 – ARB3/2017 – I have no problems bringing this guy back as my 8th inning guy followed by the best closer in baseball…

Closer – Jeurys Familia – $4.1mil/2016 - 2nd year of arbitration

One final thought…

Would you like either a stud first baseman or centerfielder?

How about offering three-for one that includes a choice of:

          Gsellman or Lugo
          Nimmo or Conforto

          And either Flores of T.J.
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9/25/16

METS' PITCHING POTPOURRI by Tom Brennan

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METS' PITCHING POTPOURRI by Tom Brennan

I was chuckling, man, just thinking about this crazily amazing Mets' stretch run, with just 7 regular season games left.  

Through Saturday, September 24, they've played 22 games in do-or-die September.  Four each started by normal rotation guys Colon and Thor, and one by an injured jake deGrom on September 1.  They figured on a healthy Jake and Matz, but got a total of 1 September appearance out of both (although there are hints that Matz still might be able to do brief relief stints).

In a season where some thought those 2 and Harvey might give them 3 twenty game winners, the 3 combined for just 20 wins and 26 losses.  No one would have predicted playoffs given that and the failure of Wheeler to return.

After those 9 starts by rotation guys, thirteen September starts have been made by other guys who, with the possible exception of Rafael Montero, one would not have pictured starting any games in 2016, given the supposedly elite Mets rotation outlook and plans in spring 2016.  

Let's recap the 13:


Four by Seth Lugo




Four by Rob Gsellman




Two by Rafael Montero




Two by Gabe Ynoa




One by Sean Gilmartin


When one remembers the useless acquisition of Jon Niese, and Logan Verrett (who surrendered another bomb of a homer on another meatball Friday night), the above 5 September starters would have been the organization's 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th choices (you pick the order) to start a game for the Mets this year, by my estimation.

Yet the Mets have managed to go 13-9 so far this month in those 22 games, despite 13 of those being started by their 9th thru 13th ranked starters.

One chuckles even more when one considers that the team those 5 pitched for during much of 2016 (Las Vegas) allowed more runs than any minor league team!

Lugo and Gsellman have been simply outstanding, and their efforts are truly appreciated.  They've stepped up in a season where, if you asked me, neither would have started a game for the Mets and made the absolute most out of their opportunities.  Thank you both so much, Seth and Rob, the dynamic duo.

Ok, reality set in tonight with Gilmartin and Montero surrendering an insurmountable 10 runs in the first four innings of a 10-8 loss, but overall, the 2nd stringers have really impressed.

All one can do is chuckle, enjoy, and hope this collection of surprises keeps surprising us.  Right down to a ride down the Canyon of Heroes?   That would really leave us all chuckling.


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9/24/16

Reese Kaplan -- Can't Catch a Break

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Welcome to part 5 of the 11 part series on the 2017 New York Mets roster (assuming the choices exist among the existing personnel in the majors and minors).  Today we'll take a look at who shall don the tools of ignorance, a position which has been pretty much in flux ever since Mike Piazza departed Shea Stadium.

How bad has it been?  Let me read you a roster of catchers who have been the primary starters for the Mets since the Hall of Famer left:

  • Paul Lo Duca
  • Brian Schneider
  • Omir Santos
  • Rod Barajas
  • Josh Thole
  • John Buck
  • Travis d'Arnaud
  • Kevin Plawecki

This list doesn't even consider the myriad of second, third and nth string catchers paid by the Mets:

  • Ramon Castro
  • Mike DeFelice
  • Kelly Stinnett
  • Eli Marrero
  • Sandy Alomar
  • Robinson Cancel
  • Raul Casonova
  • Gustavo Molina
  • Henry Blanco
  • Mike Nickeas
  • Kelly Shoppach
  • Rob Johnson
  • Anthony Recker
  • Juan Centeno
  • Taylor Teagarden
  • Johnny Monell
  • Rene Rivera

None of them have the substance of a John Stearns or Gary Carter or Todd Hundley, to say nothing of a Mike Piazza.  Apparently the club toyed with the idea of obtaining former Milwaukee backstop Jonathan Lucroy, so dissatisfied they were with the health and productivity from Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

Rene Rivera

There is a school of thought that suggests catching is purely a defensive position.  Anything you get offensively is a cherry on top.  Rene Rivera is a good example of this approach.  He is hitting a pedestrian .221 but has provided 5 HRs and 24 RBIs in only 164 ABs.  If there was sufficient offense from the rest of the team, you could live with that kind of production given his greater success handling various members of the starting rotation.  Unfortunately the club is facing question marks at 1B, 2B, 3B and CF, so unless addressed it would seem they don't necessarily have that luxury.

Travis d'Arnaud

It's understandable why the club would be frustrated with d'Arnaud.  He's had injuries throughout his minor league and major league career that curtailed his ability to play regularly.  He's shown flashes of offensive productivity with line drive and home run power.  However, he's been up for over 950 ABs already.  His 162 game average is intriguing -- .246/18/60 -- but not overwhelming.  From a catcher it would put him in the upper echelon of offense.  It's not Buster Posey but it's far better than most others provide.  Given the potential for what he could do in a full 162 game season with strong health it may be premature to bail on the 27 year old.

Kevin Plawecki

After two dismal major league stints, Kevin was banished to Las Vegas where he turned back into the type of hitter that progressed steadily up the ladder.  He finished the year strongly, with a stat line of .300/8/40 in just 190 ABs.  Granted, these numbers are PCL-inflated, but perhaps he's over the sinus condition that affected his breathing and equilibrium.  He doesn't seem like an ideal solution either as his track record has been spotty in the majors but, like d'Arnaud, it may have been impacted by his health.

My Prediction

The Mets will take a serious look at Wilson Ramos assuming he departs at the season's end as a free agent.  He eclipses d'Arnaud's production but to some extent you may be robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Ramos has had his own injury issues but has remained productive despite them.  One of Plawecki or d'Arnaud is likely on the move.
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9/23/16

AGONY, ECSTACY, AGONY, ECSTACY

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AGONY, ECSTACY, AGONY, ECSTASY by Tom Brennan

Baseball is simply the best game around.  A simple case in point is the Mets' last 2 games.

A gut punch announcement that Jake deGrom needs and gets season ending surgery.

Then a gut punch of a game Wednesday night, with a badly managed game ultimately lost on a brilliant Braves catch, robbing Yoenis Cespedes of a game winning 3 run shot.  Total AGONY.

Then more AGONY Thursday...more shoulder pain for Steve Matz, and the quartet of starters (Harvey, Jake, Matz, Wheeler) are all agonizingly done for the year.

Last night, though, ecstasy came early on a Grandy 2 run shot, his 29th.  Lugo was cruising until allowing a run in the 4th and (ugh!) 2 more in the 5th on two solo shots.  After 3 straight losses, a feeling of AGONY crept in there.

But the Mets pull ahead, feeling ecstatic, until a Phillies 3 run jack in the 8th put the Mets behind 6-4.  AGONY turned to dread.

But wait, Jose Reyes hugely smacked his 8th homer in the 9th to tie the score at 6, and the fans were ecstatic again.

Duda comes up in the 10th to pinch hit and hits a laser beam into the seats that would have been a walk off winner, but agonizingly it was foul by just inches, and then Duda fans.  On to the 11th.

Familia coughs up a couple of runs including one walked in by the Mets' 10th pitcher, Jim Henderson.  AGONY and dread at the looming prospect of another brutal, gut-wrenching loss.

Except they won: the amazing Asdrubal Carera (.364/.429/.729 in his last 30 games) jacks a 3 run walk off bomb, far too deep for any acrobatic catch on this night.  ECSTACY ensues, as the team and remaining fans erupt.

What a game.  What a sport.  What a season.
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9/22/16

GUT PUNCH by Tom Brennan

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GUT PUNCH by Tom Brennan


There goes the "Wild Card express train high" of sweeping the Twins this past weekend.


Have you ever seen such a painful Mets loss as last night?


In this extremely important game:


Asdrubal Cabrera goes deep with a 2 run jack early, and the Mets characteristically can't generate offense thereafter.


The rejuvenated ex-Met Anthony Recker pulls the Braves close on a 2 run homer late in the game.


An error by Loney starts a game tying Braves rally in the 8th in which:
  • Collins pulls the great Addison Reed to have Josh Smoker pitch to Met killer Freddie Freeman.  Lefty-lefty, by the books.  Bad move, Terry.
  • Collins, with an open base, 2nd and 3rd, one out, chooses to pitch to Matt Kemp, who showed why he is a top tier player by mightily battling Jeurys Familia and getting a game tying sac fly on a very good pitch.  Very clutch by Kemp.  Bad move, Terry.
Mets load the bases with 2 outs in the 8th, the suddenly red-hot James Loney due up against a lefty, so of course Collins goes righty-righty with putrid .190 hitting Kevin Plawecki instead.  On a 1-0 pitch, Plawecki proved he was not a student of Don Baylor when he avoided a very inside pitch that would have forced in the go-ahead run - be a man and let it hit you, dude.  Think ahead for just such a scenario.


That pitch made it 2-0.  On 2-0, Plawecki swings at what would have been a high ball 3, and goes on to strike out.  Bad move, Terry.  Reese, you are right about him. 


And of course, the team that just NEVER seems to get the big hit in the clutch.


And then, after the Braves grab the lead, as if the night was not painful enough already, Yoenis Cespedes is robbed of a 3 run game winning homer.


If not the worst Mets loss ever, the worst in a LONG time.  

A real GUT PUNCH.


Final observations and comments:


All but one Braves starting lineup player was hitting over .270, and the other one was hitting over .250, including Recker's .284.  They are rebuilding, but wouldn't you be doing cartwheels if the mets could ever field a squad with those sorts of averages?  


Jake deGrom, get well soon after a successful surgery.


Steve Matz, we need Matz Magic on Friday.


Bartolo Colon, had he won last night, could have finished as high as 17-7 and gotten some Cy Young award votes.  Oh, well.



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9/21/16

Mack’s Wednesday Report – 9-21-16

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Good morning.

For some reason, I couldn’t sleep last night, so I got caught up on both the site as well as the Mets season.

It amazes me that this team has post four of their projected ‘dream rotation’ and have still managed to stay competitive in September. This wouldn’t be happening, by the way, if rosters were not able to be expanded and more pitchers could be sent out to the bullpen.

Look, here’s the plan when something like this happens.

1.     You pitch the remaining two ‘starters’ (Syndergaard and Colon) with the goal of getting six solid innings out of each of them

2.     You then pitch Gsellman, Ynoa, and Lugo with the goal of getting five solid innings out of them.

3.     You reduce those innings as quickly as things go bad, or, in the case of Lugo, when your gut instinct is telling you that you are about to lose a lead before the fifth inning ends.

4.     80% of your games will have Addison Reed pitch the 8th inning

5.     80% of your games will have Jeurys Familia pitch the 9th inning

6.     You go to your choice of worship and say a prayer that Steven Matz will be back this weekend.

7.     If not, you have 11 more pitchers to fill in the cracks that include most of the 6th innings, all of the 7th innings, and a few of the 8th and 9th innings.

I didn’t expect the team to here this late in the season. There’s a lot of good things going on right now, including the managing of Terry Collins (sorry Reese)… but, there also is a ton of bad things… all the injuries… lack of hitting/throwing by TDA… and the September swoon of Reyes, Cespedes, and Bruce.

But I’ve watched the last two games on my Sports South feed (damn Braves) and it really feels great being back in another pennant race.


I don’t expect the feeling to last long, but I’ll take it in a bad year.
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Reese Kaplan -- The Hot Corner

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Welcome to part 4 of the 11 part series on the 2017 New York Mets roster (assuming the choices exist among the existing personnel in the majors and minors).  Today we'll take a look at a position that has not been in question for many, many years -- third base.

David Wright

The 800 pound gorilla in the room is David Wright and his extremely expensive contract.  How expensive?  The Mets are still on the hook for another $67 million, $20 million each of the next two years, then $15 million, then $12 million.  For everyone who says he should just retire, would YOU walk away voluntarily from $67 million?  Regardless of how his rehab progresses, it's highly unrealistic to go into this off season as they did the previous two with no Plan B in place.  He's appeared in 75 games in the last two seasons combined.  His last full season without injury was back in 2012 two years before the advent of Apple Pay.  Yes, it's been a long, long time.

So what do you do about this situation?  I'm thinking that you work out a new Bobby Bonilla deal in which you pay him a significant amount of money each year pretty much for the rest of his life, but get out from under the immediate financial burden.  More importantly, it allows the Mets to begin a new era instead of clinging to what might have been.  Go into the off season with a firm plan that he is done and unable to play ever again.  What's the worst that could happen?  He comes back healthy and ready to play?  That would be wonderful, but DON'T COUNT ON IT.

Jose Reyes

For whatever reason, the baseball gods have dictated that corner infield positions are to be manned by sluggers whereas middle infield positions can be handled by people who have other offensive talents.  Reyes has been a great stopgap solution this year, though some might argue Wilmer Flores has had greater value.  Still, the Mets are by nature a very conservative organization and towards that end Reyes is likelier to be shifted to 2nd base to allow the slugging Flores or someone else who is more a middle-of-the-order threat than the leadoff talents of Reyes.

Wilmer Flores

The man without a position has logged a lot of time at this position and his offensive output over the past two seasons suggest he's a 25 HR hitter in the making.  Whether he's available to do so depends on what they do at 1B and whether or not he works his way out of the manager's doghouse.

Kelly Johnson

His resurgence this year has drawn parallels (on a lesser scale) to how Daniel Murphy has reinvented himself in the latter part of his career.  His ability to play 1st, 2nd, 3rd and the outfield suggest he's a valuable commodity (as evidenced by them twice trading for him in consecutive years), but as a starter I don't think that's his role anymore.

TJ Rivera

Another low power option, he could provide a solid 2nd place batter in the order behind Jose Reyes, but again the club is likely going to be seeking a power hitting option for the hot corner.  Rivera has a likely role coming off the bench.

Travis d'Arnaud

For the same reason they might consider moving him to first, he could follow the Joe Torre career trajectory and start his migration to the infield at 3B.  He would not take the abuse he does behind the dish, though 3B is the longest throw of anywhere in the infield and he's not proven particularly adept with his arm.

My Prediction

My preference and the reality are two very different things.  For example, the easiest thing for the Mets to do is to retain Lucas Duda at 1B and hand 3B to Wilmer Flores.  I've already suggested a platoon of Flores at 1B or handing him the job outright makes sense.  Therefore he would not be available to play 3B.  I already penciled in Jose Reyes for 2B.  Therefore my preference is for the 3B solution to come from outside the organization.  However, given Sandy Alderson's track record regarding David Wright, he is likely not willing to do so for fear of having another capable player on his roster if by some miracle David Wright recovers completely.
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9/20/16

MCGRAW BEAT KOUFAX ONE DAY

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MCGRAW BEAT KOUFAX ONE DAY by Tom Brennan

Sometimes the unbelievable happens.  On August 26, 1965, the Mets were still trying to accomplish the impossible:

BEAT the great Sandy Koufax.  

They went into the night a putrid 41-86, and did anyone in the building really think that Mets team could beat a super human guy who went 97-27 from 1963 to 1966?  I was 12, young enough to dream but not dream THAT big.

But the young Tugger went 7.2 innings head to head with KOUFAX and he BEAT him, with the help of a bad relief outing  by the Dodgers' Johnny Podres.  Mets RBIs by Roy McMillan, Joltin' Joe Christopher, Jim Hickman and Ron Swoboda were enough that night, as the Mets won 5-2.  Chris Canizzaro even threw out Willie Davis trying to steal that night.  Even on a night when Wes Parker raised his season total for sac bunts to 16. Imagine one guy with that many.  So, the Mets won.

OH, BABY...THE IMPOSSIBLE SOMETIMES HAPPENS.

(For the record, it happened once more against Dandy Sandy....KOUFAX was. only 17-2 lifetime against the Mets).

The seemingly impossible also happened last night.  Noah Syndergaard, just written up yesterday in some guy's article as a possible Cy Young candidate (a stretch), was pitching for a scorching Mets team against a tepid Braves squad that was pitching an 0-6, 8+ ERA guy named Blair.

Of course, the Braves won, in part because they have the closest thing to Daniel Murphy as a Met Killer in Freddie Freeman, who torched them with 4 hits and a HR.  The 1965 Mets had no Freddie Freemans, trust me.  And the Blair Witch Project cast a spell on the Mets with 6 IP of 2 run ball.

So, unlike the heading of my article yesterday, the Mets did not TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS last night.  Sandy Koufax didn't either on August 26, 1965, because sometimes, baseball is just plain unpredictable.

The only thing predictable for the Mets is the impact hitting of future Hall of Famer TJ Rivera (.338), who launched a 2 run shot to keep it close early.

On to tonight...let's go WILD. And TAKE CARE OF BIZ.
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9/19/16

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

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TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS by Tom Brennan

Just the way Sandy and Terry drew it up in April...flounder for months, stay within hailing distance of a Wild Card slot in late August, start losing key pitchers and others to injuries, reel off 18 of 23 anyway to grab the Wild Card lead with 13 to go, and have the struggling Braves, Phils and Marlins the rest of the way.  "Sounds like a plan to me."

I always dreamed of the Mets starting a 43 year old guy and two unheralded rookies with less than 10 combined Mets starts in a critical September series....and of course, in my dreams, they swept.  Ridiculous, right?

Gabe Ynoa and a spring training lineup yesterday during a playoff run.  WIN.  Gabe, never a strikeout pitcher in the minors, punches out 8 in 4.2 IP.  Where did that come from?  Did he rub Jake deGrom's hair?  SWEEP.

Offensive Cinderella TJ Rivera hits .350 everywhere he goes, so why shouldn't we be surprised he is hitting .350 here too?  And adds a game winning homer to boot.

deGrom needs surgery? Get well soon, but no problem.  Cespedes feels like Hillary and comes out of the game?  No problem.  Flores, one of the Mets' hottest hitters, misses 8 games? No problem.  D'Arnaud has 14 RBI after 149 games? No problem.  Jay Bruce forgot how to hit when he came to NY?  No problem.  Matz misses a month? No problem.  Neil Walker out for the rest of the year with back surgery? No problem.  Harvey misses half the season? No problem.  Wheeler takes 2 years off? No problem.  Wright was not right for 80% of the season? No problem. Duda misses almost as many as David? No problem.

After all, we have deGrom clone Gsellman, at your service.  Unheralded Seth Lugo is pitching like, well, Greg Maddux. Josh Smoker is smoking.  And Grandy is grand again.

Just 13 more games.  Keep doing the Amazin', and TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS.
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