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The New Double Play Combination In Flushing

Nuudzbqeegyh2w4vef9q6025sFor the first time today, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera put all of their hard work to the test playing in their first game as the new double play combination for the New York Mets. And as luck would have it, they got their first chance in the game's first inning turning it smoothly.

After the game Walker talked about the work on the back fields the past few weeks getting himself ready for the season:

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After we chatted with Walker, Cabrera had this take echoing the sentiments of Walker.

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 The new duo still has much work to do on both the backfields and in a plethora of spring training games but they passed test 1 today in Port St Lucie.

 


Mets Set To Begin A Special Season

Nuudzbqeegyh2w4vef9q6025sWith The Super Bowl and The NBA All Star Game clearly in our rear view mirror, it is time to look towards the upcoming baseball season in New York as the Mets look to go that final step to A World Championship with all the pieces put in place by a brilliant game plan orchestrated by Sandy Alderson and his baseball group.

What the Mets accomplished last year was nearly unthinkable as the team assembled in Port St Lucie 12 months ago but as they gather in 2016 they must understand that this team is no longer the hunter--They are the HUNTED and as such, need to have an impeccable attention to detail as they prepare for the season.

This starting rotation-top to bottom--is the best in baseball when you consider Bartolo Colon is the fifth starter with Zack Wheeler waiting in the wings and the bullpen is much improved over a year ago as Familia, Reed, and Bastardo form a trio that is not exactly Chapman, Betances, and Miller but will be as effective a trio as we will see in the NL.

But to me the biggest transformation will be the lineup as it has not only become a deep set of hitters who will pose issues for opponents to navigate through but more importantly, they don't need career years from any one of them--they just need what is on the back of their baseball cards. And their bench is much improved as the likes of Flores, Lagares, Tejada, and DeAza comprise players very capably of filling in very well even if disabled list stints of the regular players pile up in mid-season.

Terry Collins finally has a team that from the day spring training begins has all the resources he needs to be a World Champion. And to me he is the perfect manager to lead this group. It is wise not to underestimate the fact that he has created a true team atmosphere where honesty reigns supreme. More importantly, if tough conversations need to occur they ALWAYS happen one on one. Those conversations may not be pretty but they are PRIVATE-not done through the media and done with only 1 word in mind-WINNING.

At the same time, his chief competition in the NL East had clubhouse issues that Matt Williams was unable to correct. I will admit the new manager, Dusty Baker is a pro at rectifying chemistry issues but this could be the biggest challenge of his career as to me the biggest issue still resides in that clubhouse-a guy named Papelbon.

Met fans-last year was a very special finish to the season but in Mid-July nobody saw it coming. This year, we all see it coming which makes it a special ride. There will be peaks and valleys but this team has an It factor that reminds me of so many New York Championship teams. They really do not have a weakness on this team. There may be better lineups out there like The Cubs for instance--but the Cub bullpen is a huge question mark. There might be a deeper bullpen or 2 but Familia is the best closer in the NL. And yes we all know there is no better rotation top to bottom in baseball than the Mets.

And pitching like this that has all developed within an organization--like Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, and Wheeler comes around once every few decades in this sport. It eliminates long losing streaks and makes those visits to CitiField feel like a 3 day visit in the dentist chair getting root canal for opponents. Ask The Nationals about that.

The ride begins real soon-climb aboard.

 

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The Noah Era Begins

Noah Syndergaard

 

Dillon Gee felt some discomfort in his groin and that pain has forced him to the 15 Day Disabled List which will give the Mets the chance to unveil one of their crown pitching jewels--Noah Syndergaard to pitch on Tuesday in Chicago. I think it is very smart for the Mets to bring him up early arriving here in Philly tomorrow to get things out of the way like talking to us in the media.

This guy is the real deal my friends--he has it all an explosive fastball, great breaking pitch and off the charts change-up. The only question is consistent command of those pitches but I will tell you this--when he does he is lights out. I had a chance to talk to Kevin Plawecki about him in Philly last night and he gave me an expert scouting report since he caught him this year prior to being called up to the majors.

"He has it all--and beyond that he s very confident but also smart enough to play to a batter's weakness when he needs to. But make no mistake he is explosive with A Capital E", says Plawecki. The series in Chicago will be very interesting as it will pit the Mets trio of young fireballers-Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey against all of the hitting phenoms the Cubs bring to the table. Fascinating to say the least.

Most experts in the business feel Syndergaard is ready to explode on the scene as his AAA numbers would suggest-- 29,2 innings pitched with a 1.82 ERA coupled with averaging 10.3 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.

The Noah era begins in earnest on Tuesday night but we will talk to him when he arrives here tomorrow in Philly and I will share that conversation with all of you so you can get to know Noah Syndergaard.


Sitting Down With Dillon Gee

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Dillon Gee will start against the Florida Marlins tonight in Miami as the Mets return to tackling NL East opponents whom they are 13-3 against this season. I had a chance to talk to him about his role on the team, his recent talk with Terry Collins and his view of the 2015 Mets. Here is that conversation:

426 Coutinho With Gee

 

 


Matt Harvey Is The Toast Of The Town

Harvey

Make no mistake New York City--Matt Harvey has become the biggest sports star in this town and proved it on a stage like Yankee Stadium which Met fans transformed into CitiField North on a Saturday afternoon where he dominated from start to finish.

He threw 8.2 innings of 5 hit ball but more importantly showed New York that the Mets are ready to take this town over. Sure the Rangers and Islanders are in playoff runs and so are the Brooklyn Nets (remember them) and the Jets have built an impressive off-season resume but this town is turning Met crazy because of the righthanded arm of Matt Harvey.

I have lived in NY for over 5 decades and have seen Met pitchers do this in the past. Ther names were Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden and to me I feel like I am in an echo chamber. This is a guy who brings 4 pitches to the mound and is not afraid to throw them at anytime. Even Alex Rodriguez commented after the game when asked about Harvey that he comes off as advertised.

But more than that he has brought a bravado and confidence to an organization that badly needed it. The Mets had won 11 in a row but were beat by the Yankees on Friday night and Harvey knew he had to have an immediate answer for that.

The Mets are now 14-4--the best record in baseball and lead the NL East by 5 games over the Braves and 7 games over the Washington Nationals. Now don't get me wrong--it is still very early but hot starts give you a cushion when times get tough like they always do in a baseball season.

Back to my original point--Matt Harvey is one of the big reasons for that and his it factor is painfully obvious to the opposing teams especially the New York Yankees who must feel like the town is slipping away as it did in the mid 80's. A win tomorrow night could cement that notion but remember this cool April afternoon in the Bronx as the day the Mets took over New York with Matt Harvey driving that bus leaving the New York Yankees behind as a flyspeck in their rear view mirror.


Despite Injuries Met Determined To Keep Winning

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In many ways, it was a strange week for the Mets. They have continued to win--in fact no Met team has ever started the season better than 10-3. They chased the Marlins out of town 7 games behind them in the early season standings and remain 1.5 games ahead of the second place Braves.

But injuries are starting to mount as both Travis d'arnaud and Jerry Blevins suffered fractures yesterday putting them each out of action for at least 6 weeks. In many ways, this will test the Mets depth which many experts feel was much deeper in 2015 than in years past. Certainly, that was tested in the early going this season as the Mets have lost many other players to various injuries as well.

The interesting part about all of this is that adversity has motivated this team in a bizarre way. Talking to many of the Mets they are determined to be a playoff time and injuries are just a speed bump which might make things harder.

"Nobody wants to see anyone hurt but we are all in this room for one goal-make the playoffs and that goal will NEVER change", said Met catcher Anthony Recker. And you walk around this locker room and you feel that vibe-concern for their injured teammates but one singular purpose. That's why you see injured players in clubhouse helping the guys who are filling in for them.

Think about the negativity around the Mets in past few years-or just take a stroll on Met Twitter--and understand that this organization is tired of hearing all of that. You talk to these guys one on one and they understand the negativity but will not feed into it. And that positive energy is alive and well in CitiField both on the field and in the stands.

Sure--it is rough to see injuries to players who are red-hot like d'arnaud but with injury comes opportunity and all you Met Tweeters who criticized Sandy Alderson for not trading his prospects for major league talent may want to re-think that viewpoint.

The depth in this organization is real and will show the baseball world that these young players are not only talented but have been coached into a winning mindset. A mindset that won't let a few injuries stand in the way of taking over this city.