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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Mets 2016: No magic this time around

You know that old adage that you have to go for everything when you have the chance, because you never know when you might get that opportunity again.

Well, it's so true for the 2016 New York Mets, who appear dead in the water these days. Sure, the second wild card remains within reach, as the Mets trail the St. Louis Cardinals by only 2 1/2 games for that berth. And the eternal optimist will say that once the Mets get into the playoffs, they have enough pitching to make some noise there.

But here's a sharp dose of reality here. The Mets just don't have enough horses to keep up with the Dodgers, Marlins and Cards, oh my.

Last night's horrible and inexcusable loss to the dreaded Yankees is proof that they just can't keep up the pace. Despite what the Mets' crack medical staff and administration tell us, ace lefty Steven Matz is hurting badly from that bone spur in his elbow and shouldn't be pitching with it. They should shut Matz down, let his barking elbow rest for a bit, then have the surgery to take it out.

Matz is 24 years old. I know he's been brilliant since he came up last year and I know he excites everyone with the way he pitches. But Matz started the season with a 7-1 record and his lone loss was that bizarre hiccup against the Marlins in his first start of the year. It means he's gone 1-7 in the 12 starts since. He has an ERA of 4.54 during those 12 games. Something's not right. Oh, it's a bone spur in his elbow. The crack medical staff admits it might hurt a little.

Why are we screwing around with him? They should shut him down for the season and allow him to have the surgery to repair the bone spur. That would make sense, right? He's clearly not the same dominating pitcher he was earlier in the season or last year. Just stop the misery and allow Matz to have the surgery. Every time they parade Matz out there, there's the fear he might hurt something else because he's overcompensating for the injured elbow.

Please, please, I beg Mets GM Sandy Alderson to use some common sense here. We have a precious gem in Steven Matz. He's young and we control his destiny for a few more years. So let's correct him and have him ready for 2017. Besides, we got Jonathon Niese back again. That's someone who could replace Matz in the rotation. Sure, we all know what Niese is and we know he's not Steven Matz or any close resemblance of Matz, but he could fill the bill.

Now, the other injured Met. For the past two weeks, the Mets have paraded Yoenis Cespedes out there with his injured quad. They've hoped that with a little rest, Cespedes could return to action and give the Mets a hope of recapturing the magic of 2015.

But as anyone can see, Cespedes cannot muster any power from his mighty legs. He's up there swinging with his arms. He's clearly hurt _ and the Mets' organization noticed that last night when they finally put last year's savior Cespedes on the disabled list, replaced by the happy-go-lucky Barry Pepper doppleganger dead ringer Brandon Nimmo.

Yes, I know that replacing Cespedes with Nimmo is like replacing Gary Garter with Barry Lyons. Simply put, it just doesn't work.

So it looks as if we've seen the last of Cespedes for the season. Lumbering clod Lucas Duda was also ruled out for the season, but was that a big loss? However, when you realize that David Wright and Duda and Matt Harvey and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Ruggiero (who dat?) are all already on the DL, you add it all together and realize it's just not going to happen this year. The magic is not back.

All we can hope is that Cespedes decides once again that he loves playing in New York and will take the $23 million that sits on the table in his Mets contract and doesn't opt out seeking another chance at free agency. He's entitled to it. His contract calls for the opportunity to opt out if he so chooses.

It will mean another off season of sitting on pins and needles, waiting and hoping for Cespedes' decision.

But for now, it looks like this season is a lost one. We've lost too many key pieces to continue the fight.

We also lost a key piece in Anthony Conforto. Oh, you say he's not gone? Well, he's most certainly went into hiding, because his decline is too rapid for anyone to decipher. A year ago, young Conforto arrived and gave everyone the hopes that we had an All-Star outfielder for the next decade or more. He had the sweet swing of Mattingly with similar opposite field power. He had the charm and demeanor of a matinee idol. He hit .270 with nine homers and 36 RBI as a rookie last year. Of his 56 hits, 27 went for extra bases.

He started off 2016 where he left off, hitting .365 with four homers, 11 doubles and 18 RBI in April. From there, it's been a complete free fall like none ever seen for someone so young (just 23 years old).

Conforto is totally lost, with apparently no hope of returning. He swings three feet over breaking balls. Don't dare think he can hit a left-hander. He hit .169 in May. If that wasn't bad enough, he hit .119 in June. He has hit just two homers, just five doubles and just six RBI since May 1. Say what???

How in the world does that happen? Is he Joe Hardy? Did he sell his soul to the Devil, like Hardy did in the musical Damn Yankees, then asked for it back? It's just too unreal for words. He's Mike Vail.

Most Met fans are too young to remember Mike Vail, but he was the phenom that took the world by storm in 1975 as a 23-year-old rookie. He batted .302 with three homers and 17 RBI in 38 games. He tied the National League rookie record for consecutive games with a hit with 23 straight. He made Mets management believe they had the right fielder of the future, so they traded All-Star and beloved icon Rusty Staub to the Detroit Tigers for the couch potato's best friend, portly pitcher Mickey Lolich.

True to Mets' folklore, Vail hit .217 with no homers in an injury-plagued 1976 season, then did nothing much the next season (.262, 8 HR, 35 RBI in 1977) and was placed on waivers, claimed by Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Staub was an All-Star with the Tigers, batting .299 with 15 HR and 96 RBI in 1976 and hitting .278 with 22 HR and 101 RBI in 1977.

Is Conforto headed in the same direction as Vail? Who knows? But right now, he's more lost than Marshall, Will and Holly were on the "Land of the Lost." His two strikeout at-bats last night against Luis Severino were scary. And this came on the heels of a game where Conforto had two doubles and looked like he just might be breaking out of it. Yeah, right.

I seriously don't know what to make of Conforto. I know I don't have any confidence whatsoever that he will somehow snap out of it. He went down to Class AAA Las Vegas and has come back doing the same horrific things he did in May and June.

Now, the team's biggest problem. Yeah, Terry Collins might have won the National League pennant last year, but he's totally lost his marbles this year, rearing that ugly head that showed he was a poor manager in the years prior to last year.

Every game, there are at least two or three decisions that make me scratch my head and wonder, "What in the world is Collins thinking?" Maybe that should be a new game show. "WHAT IS TERRY COLLINS THINKING?" Contestants cane sit there, try to guess what he's thinking about a series of topics and decisions, then win valuable prizes as they guess.

Because as a baseball manager, the man is more lost than Conforto is at the plate.

Two days ago, Collins makes the declaration that he's happy with the back end of his bullpen, that "7-8-9, I have Robles, Reed and Familia, 7-8-9."

In that same game after the pre-game press conference, proclaiming 7-8-9, he brings in human string bean Jerry Blevins to pitch the eighth inning instead of Addison Reed to start the eighth inning, winning 5-3. Now, Blevins has been good, don't get me wrong. But Reed has been unbelievable and untouchable and should have been out there to start the eighth.

Instead, Blevins gives up a walk and a hit and the wheels come off. The Yankees tie it and win in 10.

That's just one of at least 1,237 questionable decisions Collins has made this year. Makes you think that the Mets won last year despite their manager. I have nothing against Terry, the man. He's a wonderful human being. But he's as useful as that solid rock hard cookie you get with fried calamari at top rate Italian restaurants.

Hey, I know there's time left in this season. The Mets can turn it around. With their pitching, anything can happen. And besides, we have Jonathon Niese back. So cheer up.

I just don't think it's going to happen, that's all. It's a lost cause. Nice try, but it's not going to happen. No magic this time.


You can read more of my work at,,, or any other news gathering service you may think of. Enjoy this glorious August day.