Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com
Former Mets outfielder and Queens native Mike Baxter, now with with the Cubs, keeps tabs on the Mets, but not by choice. Instead, because family and friends still live in the area, who are mostly Mets fans and they tell him what’s going on with his former club, even if he doesn’t need to know…
“It’s great to be back, I’ve been looking forward to this road trip,” Baxter told me Wednesday.
And, though he’ll always cherish his time with the Mets, the team he grew up rooting for, he says he is thankful and fortunate to be playing an important role on a young Cubs team.
“This is great organization with a lot of young, talented players,” he said. “It’s great to be getting at bats with a team in thick of a things [in the NL Central].”
Baxter, who hit .232 during his time with the Mets, is batting .265 with a .357 OBP in 49 at bats with the Cubs this season. He’s batting .306 in his last 15 games. He spent last season with the Dodgers.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon let Baxter deliver the lineup card to umpires at home plate before Tuesday’s series opener, knowing the outfielder’s family and friends would be in the stands.
Baxter will also forever hold a special place among Mets fans for his diving grab against the outfield wall during the seventh inning of Johan Santana’s no-hitter in 2011.
“It’ll always be a great memory for me because it was a such a special moment in their history,” he said, smiling.
The Mets (40-39) and the Cubs (41-35) wrap up their three-game series Thursday afternoon at Citi Field.
Jacob deGrom (8-5, 2.15 ERA) gets the start for the Mets against RHP Jake Arrietta (7-5, 2.94 ERA) at 1:10 p.m ET.
|1. Curtis Granderson RF
||1. Starlin Castro SS
|2. Darrell Ceciliani CF
||2. Anthony Rizzo 1B
|3. Daniel Murphy 3B
||3. Miguel Montero C
|4. Lucas Duda 1B
||4. Chris Coghlan LF
|5. Wilmer Flores 2B
||5. Mike Baxter RF
|6. Eric Campbell LF
||6. Chris Denorfia CF
|7. Johnny Monell C
||7. Jonathan Herrera 3B
|8. Jacob deGrom RHP
||8. Jake Arrieta RHP
|9. Ruben Tejada SS
||9. Addison Russell 2B
DeGrom Notes: His 0.74 ERA during day games this year is best in the majors. For his career, he is 8-0 in day games. He has a 5-1 record with a 1.33 ERA at home this season. Since May 21, deGrom has thrown seven consecutive games of seven or more innings. DeGrom went eight innings during his last start, a win in Milwaukee. He is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in two career starts against the Cubs.
Arrieta Notes: Allowed one run on three hits against the Cardinals in his last start. In road games this season, Arrieta has a 2.58 ERA. He struck out 10 batters in eight innings against the Mets on May 12 at Wrigley Field. His 2.45 ERA in June was the best of any Cubs pitcher. Thursday marks his 50th career start with the Cubs.
Mets Notes: The Mets have not scored a run in their last 20 innings. The Mets have been held to one run or fewer 20 times this season, tied for the most times in the majors. The Mets are 11-3 in day games at Citi Field in 2015. Daniel Murphy is hitting .400 over his last 60 at-bats. Mets pitching has a 1.02 ERA over its last 62 innings.
Cubs Notes: Chicago has eight straight wins against the Mets. The Cubs have not hit a home run in eight consecutive games, their longest homerless streak since 2012. Chicago is 30-7 when its pitchers record a quality start. Anthony Rizzo‘s 41 extra-base hits are fourth-best in the National League. The Cubs are 19-13 in one-run games this season.
On the second night of SNY’s “Beat the Booth,” Joe and TJ go up against Howie Rose and Gary Cohen with the hopes of winning Terrific Trivia…
Citi Cardholders! Check out exclusive behind-the-scenes Beat the Booth content featuring Gary Cohen, Howie Rose, and the contestants – just for you at SNY.tv/citiperks!
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Curtis Granderson leads Citi Community Home Run Program >> Watch here
Randolph Beer called up by Citi, and delivered to Gary, Keith, and Ron >> Watch here
Citi Bike teams up with Mets >> Watch here
Ron Darling talks to Ricky Bones in the bullpen >> Watch here
Terry Collins talks to Gary, Keith, and Ron about offensive struggles >> Watch here
On Friday, the Mets will “revisit” whether or not Michael Cuddyer needs to be placed on the disabled list, Terry Collins said (July 2).
Collins added that Cuddyer, who sat out on Wednesday, “doesn’t feel very good” on Thursday (July 2).
Cuddyer had an MRI on Wednesday, but the team said at the time that they didn’t expect him to be placed on the disabled list, with Collins saying he would likely be able to return to the lineup on Friday.
Cuddyer exited Tuesday’s game against the Cubs in the top of the seventh inning due to a sore left knee and was replaced by Darrell Ceciliani (June 30).
Matthew Cerrone: Things have certainly not gone according to plan for the Mets and Cuddyer, who was acquired to be a steady, put-the-ball-in-play, every-day left fielder who can bat sixth and create a support system for David Wright. Instead, he’s been a strike-out and double-play machine, who has played poorly in left field. His relationship with Wright has been irrelevant, since they’ve only played in eight games together.
I hear Terry, but, with all due respect, I’ll believe Cuddyer isn’t going to the DL when I see him back in the lineup and not on the DL.
In the event this is a short-term injury, maybe a little rest will be good for him. In the meantime, I guess they’ll give at bats to Ceceliani or bring back Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Frankly, if they are considering Nieuwenhuis, I’d rather see one of his teammates given a shot, specifically Triple-A outfielders Alex Castellanos or Travis Taijeron. In the event it’s a long-term injury, the Mets have to consider bringing up Brandon Nimmo from Double-A. He needs to be added to the 40-man roster at some point before December anyway, and another injection of prospect hype couldn’t hurt — and from a hitter!
In either case, this is an ideal time for the Mets to consider acquiring a more substantial left fielder and shifting Cuddyer in to a platoon at first base, right field and maybe even some third base.
Terry Collins said after the game on Tuesday that Cuddyer told trainer Ray Ramirez he was having trouble bending his knee.
“He didn’t feel like he could run on it,” Collins said. “So we’ll see what the doctors say tomorrow.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Ceciliani was on deck for Cuddyer before Daniel Murphy flew out to end the inning.
Prior to leaving the game, Cuddyer went 0-for-2.
The Mets have signed 16-year-old SS Gregory Guerrero out of the Dominican Republic, according to his academy (July 2). He is the nephew of former MLB OF Vladimir Guerrero.
The team also agreed to a $1.2 million deal with 16-year-old, Venezuelan SS Andres Gimenez, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (July 2, 2015).
The $3 million in signings will put the Mets over their league-allocated $2.5 million bonus, meaning they’ll have to pay a tax on the $500,000 difference.
“Guerrero has looseness to his swing and above average bat speed and power projection,” former MLB scout and FanGraphs contributor Kiley McDaniel said in April, noting that Guerrero could eventually end up at third base.
According to ESPN.com, Guerrero is the 10th-best international free agent available during this year’s signing period.
“He has good feel right now for both hitting and fielding,” ESPN’s Eric Longenhagen writes. “He lacks the explosive athleticism and arm strength to play shortstop and won’t have the physicality of a middle-of-a-lineup hitter because his frame is on the small side, but Guerrero is otherwise solid across the board.”
“Guerrero could be an average regular or slightly above that, and he’ll move through a team’s system quicker than the other players in this class even though he’s among its youngest.”
Meanwhile, “Gimenez has all the indicators at a young age that he’ll be the next savvy and toolsy Venezuelan shortstop to become a top prospect,” McDaniel recently said.
MLB.com ranked Gimenez the 15th-best player available, however Baseball America’s Ben Badler ranked him second overall.
“He’s 5-foot-11, 165 pounds with a sweet swing that works in games, above-average speed and the potential for average to above-average defense at shortstop,” according to Badler.
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Earlier this week, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson was joined by Mrs. Met in Central Park to officially kick-off the July campaign. All this month if you spot a Mets-branded Citi Bike around New York City, take a photo and share it on Twitter or Instagram with #CitiBikeSweepstakes for the chance to win great prizes such as a Citi Perks First Pitch experience, game tickets, a Mets backpack or hat, all courtesy of Citi.
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The Mets have not scored a run in their last 21 innings, during which their pitching staff has allowed just three runs.
In the eighth inning Wednesday, Ruben Tejada was chased back to third base and called out after Darrell Ceciliani failed to execute a suicide squeeze. In total, the Mets had seven hits in 11 innings; they left the bases loaded in the second inning; left runners on first and third in the 11th; and three times they wasted a lead-off double.
“When you’re not scoring, the one thing we talked about for three days was trying to do something different,” a surprisingly calm Terry Collins said after the game. “Whatever we’ve been doing hasn’t been working. … We’ll continue to press forward and try to come up with some answers.”
The team has the second-lowest batting average in the majors. They’re in a team-wide slump. Wilmer Flores is 0 for his last 11. Juan Lagares is 2 for 22. Lucas Duda was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts on Wednesday, dropping his average to .250 on the year.
“It’s tough, essentially it’s centered on me, I’m not getting the job done,” Duda later said. “I’m not moving guys over. I’m not getting guys in. It’s been a pretty tough month, actually, but I’m gonna continue to work hard, prepare like I do, and I have a good feeling it’s gonna change here soon.”
Collins suggested he will likely switch up his batting order Thursday in an effort to inspire more run production.
“We’ve gotta flip-flop some guys somehow, shake it up a little bit,” he explained.
Matthew Cerrone: I keep coming back to a quote by Joe Maddon, who said last season while his Rays were in a similar offensive drought, “If you want better results, get better hitters.”
I mean, that’s it. It’s that simple. It’s not about more bunting, squeeze plays or hit and runs; it’s not about a more fiery manager yelling at people; it’s not about changing the lineup. It’s about changing the people in the lineup. Frankly, it’s the same problem as last year and the four years before that. This is not about execution. It’s about talent. There are people on this team who should not be on a major-league roster, let alone in the starting lineup every night.
I understand the trade market is in grid lock, though I’m hearing from insiders that more phones are beginning to ring around baseball as GMs ready themselves for making moves toward the end of this month. The Mets are not scoring runs at a historic rate, it has the attention of baseball and rival GMs almost certainly feel Sandy Alderson‘s desperation. That said, I can no longer accept that there aren’t moves that for another team would seem insignificant but, for the Mets, would help a lot.
In the last two weeks, Delmon Young, Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee, and others, have all been designated for assignment. The Cardinals are about to face a log-jam in their outfield and are reportedly looking for a pitcher. I refuse to believe Randal Grichuk, Peter Bourjos or John Jay would cost Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz. I’m not saying this type of player will turn the Mets in to Murderer’s Row, but at this point, any addition has to be better than what Collins is being asked to field every night.
I’ve never in my life seen such a stark disparity between a pitching staff and offense. The Mets could easily be 46-33 with the second-best record in the National League if they had only scored 11 more runs in six games played during the last 30 days.
This is an outstanding pitching staff that is only going to get better as the year goes on. I realize the season isn’t even half complete and there is plenty of time to ‘turn things around,’ and ‘press forward.’ There is no doubt every game and every inning is going to count, every one run is going to mean the world to this pitching staff. The Mets don’t need an All-Star slugger, though that would be nice. Instead, they’d benefit from two or three professional baseball players with proven experience, guys who stand a chance of putting the ball in play. With their pitching, they don’t need to be the best offensive team in baseball; they only need to be slightly better than they’ve been. At this point, even slightly below average would be an improvement and result in more wins than losses. It’s not a huge ask, and it shouldn’t be an impossible feat.