Even in victory there are times I find myself scratching my head trying to understand how the manager’s mind works. As everyone is well aware Bartolo Colon lasted just 4 pitches before he was struck by a batted ball to the pitching hand, so Terry Collins was faced with a decision on how to fill the nine innings that would follow.
His first call to the bullpen went surprisingly to Hansel Robles who is more often used in the middle innings or when a strikeout is needed. He was pushed into of of the longest outings of his career, pitching 3.2 innings to help close out the first four innings of the game. That’s a yeoman’s effort and hopefully (after some rest) he’ll have earned some more opportunities in important situations.
What followed, however, was a bit puzzling. You have a starting pitcher having just been promoted from Las Vegas in Sean Gilmartin who could likely give you three or more innings without breaking a sweat. Granted, he threw 100 pitches on Sunday, but he was on more than 48 hours of rest already and was not being asked to handle 5-7 innings. Instead Collins worked his way through nearly everyone else in the pen leaving him hoping Noah Syndergaard pitches a complete game Wednesday. What’s doubly surprising is that Gilmartin pitched the entire season under Collins last year to a 2.67 ERA yet he wasn’t trustworthy to take the ball for an inning or two? Torching the entire pen worked for this one game but was it the smart way to go?
In other news, the Mets are apparently holding a private workout with Cuban free agent third baseman Yuliesky Gourriel. The man has been endorsed by both NY Met Yoenis Cespedes and crosstown rival Aroldis Chapman who both played with the man in Cuba. I’m not holding my breath that the Mets will actually make a realistic offer nor that he is necessarily the solution to the David Wright void, but I do applaud the front office for at least taking a look which is more than they did in the past for Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, the aforementioned Cespedes and others who were available simply for paying their salary and not sacrificing player resources. I characterized it as baby steps for the front office whose solutions have more often been found on the scrap heap or waiver wire.
Speaking of which…there is also a lot of chatter about a Jose Reyes reunion. Many feel the PR fallout signing the former All Star would trump (if you’ll forgive the expression) what he’d accomplish on the diamond. Personally, I think that’s a bunch of politically correct claptrap given the fact that his wife refused to press charges nor cooperate with authorities. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning in any way what he did off the field, but the key concept is “off the field”.
Who in professional sports (or general celebrity) for that matter has not had his or her share of peccadillos? The cold, hard reality is that producing on the field and helping the team to win ballgames would quickly dispatch any misgivings that anyone would have about his personal life. Furthermore it would win back many disenchanted fans who felt he never should have left in the first place.
The question is whether or not the pro-rated minimum wage price tag is a good investment? The team has a myriad of offensive problems – getting on base, stealing bases and scoring runs. All of these needs play into the history of what Reyes has done well. What he’s not ever really done is act as a RBI producer and scoring runs seems to be the greatest issue at hand right now. With Lucas Duda’s and David Wright’s power gone, is a speedster leadoff type the best way to go?
Then there are people advocating the Mets do both – get Gourriel as a free agent and sign the soon to be FA Jose Reyes. That approach doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense in that Reyes is best at 2B or SS, spots already occupied by two of the only productive bats on the team. He could perhaps be coaxed into playing 3B or flip flop with one of the other middle infielders, but if so, where do you play Gourriel? He’s only ever played 3B. Do they have Reyes in mind as an Eric Young type to pinch run and get occasional starts when, for example, Neil Walker’s back flares up again?
Personally, I’d prioritize Gourriel as the grand prize with Jose Reyes as a the consolation prize. In these scenarios I’m guessing Wilmer Flores shifts across the diamond to platoon with James Loney. It’s not my money, but getting the James Loneys and Kelly Johnsons of this world are not an indication to the fan base that the team is serious about winning. However, having veterans like that in bench roles fortifies the team and renders Ty Kelly superfluous.
Given the alternatives being touted – Aaron Hill, Yangervis Solarte, Brandon Drury, Danny Valencia and Trevor Plouffe – I’d stock up on rum to welcome a second Cuban into the fold. Not only would the Gourriel/Reyes solutions preserve your limited trading chips for other needs down the road, they actually have more potential to help without being the clubhouse disruption of Valencia.