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Did the Yankees Lose the ALCS at the Trade Deadline?

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By Lenn Robbins

As you drown your sorrows in whatever libation you prefer at Sunday brunch or during Sunday Night Football, no doubt there will be lively discussion and debate as to how and why the Yankees lost this ALCS to the Astros, 4-2, especially after winning Game 1 in Houston.

Was it in the top of the 11th inning of Game 2 when Gary Sanchez, owner of one of the most retched postseason performances in Yankees history, struck out looking with runners on first and second?

Or was in Game 3 when the Yankees had runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings and couldn’t get that one key hit off a less-than-dominating Gerritt Cole?

Or perhaps it was Game 5 when the Yankees had bases loaded in the fifth inning after knocking out starter Zack Greinke. But Houston’s Pressly struck out Edwin Encarnacion.

One can even make a case that it was Saturday night’s, 6-4, season-ending heartbreak of a loss in which Jose Altuve’s two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth trumped DJ LeMahieu’s two-run, game tying homer in the top of the frame.

The Yankees got what they wanted, or at least what their strength should have been – a bullpen game – words that make the fingers cramp, but that’s a discussion for another day.  

Every game the Yankees lost in the series was winnable, a testament to the depth and resilience of this 2019 team. Despite Sanchez’s batting slump and suspect fielding, Adam Ottavino’s October struggles, Giancarlo Stanton’s battered body and Aroldis Chapman’s hanging slider, the Yankees could have beaten a healthier and more balanced Houston Astros team.

As to why the Yankees didn’t win takes us back to July 31st when the trade line came and went and the Yankees had done nothing to improve their starting rotation. The belief that Luis Severino would return after a season on the injured list and suddenly bolster the rotation in October was at best ridiculously optimistic, at worst, folly.

Only GM Brian Cashman knows exactly what potential deals were on the table. He decided that the asking price for any of the starters that were available was too high. He’s earned that right. Anyone that signed LeMahieu as a free agent and assembled this kind of quality depth has certainly earned that right.

But in a city that judges whether a season is a success or failure in championships or bust, the season busted with Saturday night’s loss.

“No matter how many games we won in the regular season, this is a failure,” Aaron Judge told reporters after the crushing end the season. “I think about the season as a whole, guys getting injured, guys getting back, a lot of ups and downs, I think about missed opportunities and some guys I might not play with again …”

Cashman and Co. need to think about upgrading the starting pitcher. Houston’s Cole, 29, who would have pitched today had there been a Game 7, leads the list of free agent pitchers but the cost will be stunningly high.

Steven Strasburg, 31, will be available if he opts out of a deal that will pay him $100 million over the next four seasons. Zack Wheeler, 30, is on the market but the Mets should be ashamed if they let him cross from Queens to the Bronx.

It’s easy to sit back and suggest how much money a team should dole out but this is the Yankees after all. They have more automaker sponsors than some teams have sponsors.

If the Yankees don’t want to feel the devastation they experienced this October next October, the pitching has to be better. Just look at the starting pitching of the two teams that will play for the world series – Houston and Washington.

Next round’s on me.

Big Maple’s Biggest Performance Lifts Yanks

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By Lenn Robbins

Credit twitter

   The Yankees are on a plane back to Houston because on the biggest stage, pitching in the biggest game of the season, The Big Maple came up with the biggest performance of his career.

  James Paxton, went pitch for pitch with the Astros Justin Verlander, a strong candidate to win his second Cy Young, and did exactly what the Yankees were hoping for when they acquired the him from the Mariners in November of 2018.

“He’s got to go out and pitch well and set the tone for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “Because we want to get on that plane to Houston now, and that starts with Pax.”

You can just hear the flight attendant say, “Please bring your seat backs forward and place your service trays in the upright and locked position,” after Paxton held the Astros to just one run over six innings. He struck out nine, walked four and threw 112 pitches.

Verlander also was good. He struck out nine, didn’t walk a batter and threw 105 pitches. But two of those pitches the Yankees cracked for home runs.

 After DJ LeMahieu tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first, Aaron Hicks gave the Yankees the big hit they’ve been missing in this ALCS, which the Astros now lead 3-2

 Hicks crushed a three-run homer that ricocheted off the right field foul pole in the bottom of the first. Yankee Stadium exploded. Neither team could produce another run, as the Yanks won, 4-1.

  Paxton had a very solid season. He didn’t lose a game in August and September and finished the regular season with a 15-6 record and a 3.82 ERA. But his first two postseason starts were underwhelming and the Yankees, facing an elimination game with Verlander looking to slam the door, got Paxton’s performance of the season. 

“When you think of the Yankees, you think of the postseason,” Paxton told reporters. “They pride themselves on winning and that’s what we do here. I knew that I’d probably get an opportunity of pitching the postseason, and that’s what I wanted to do.

“That’s what I wanted to do when I came here, and that’s what we’re doing now. It’s been a great experience and I want to keep on going.”

The Yankees keep their season going because The Big Maple came up big.

Cole Makes Game 3 a Yanks’ Nightmare Come True

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 15: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros celebrates retiring the side during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in game three of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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By Lenn Robbins

The worst nightmare became a reality Tuesday night for the Yankees. The kind of nightmare that when you awaken, it feels real. Because it was real.

Painfully real.

The Yankees, for the second straight game, faced a dominating Houston starter and they were shut down like the ‘L’ Train on weekends. Gerritt Cole held the Bombers scoreless for seven innings, allowing just four hits in a 4-1 win in Game 3 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium.

The Astros lead the series 2-1 which doesn’t seem daunting until you consider this:

The team that wins Game 3 in a series tied 1-1, has a 77.1-percent chance of closing it out, according to SABR.org.

The Yankees seem to have no clue – not many teams do – of knowing how to solve Justin Verlander and Cole. Cole, 29, is unbeaten in 25 starts dating back to his last loss on May 22.  He’s 3-0 this postseason with an 0.40 ERA.

Whereas the Yankees hope to get 4-6 innings of solid starting pitching and then turn to the bullpen, one of the deepest in baseball, the Astros count on their starters to go 6-7 innings.

Verlander went six and two-thirds in Sunday night’s Game 2 victory, allowing two earned runs while striking out seven. Yankees starter James Paxton lasted just two and one-third innings.

Luis Severino, the Yankees starter Tuesday night, gave up a 420-foot home run to Jose Altuve, the second batter of the game. He lasted four and one-third innings allowing two home runs and yielding three walks.

“I don’t need to go out there and strike out 300 guys or win 20 games,’’ Severino told reporters earlier in the week. “I just need to go out there and match his stuff.”

He didn’t do that, which isn’t an indictment of the man considering he missed most of the season with shoulder and lat injuries.

The Yankees (and Astros) haven’t announced their starters for Wednesday night’s Game 4. Heavy rains are expected hours before, during and after Wednesday night’s 8:08 p.m. first pitch.

If the Nationals close out their NLCS against the Cardinals, we might see a paradigm shift in pitching philosophy. Teams have become bullpen-heavy.

Washington and Houston boast robust rotations and that has proven to be the more successful approach this postseason. The Yankees might have more time to think about that than they had hoped.

By winning Game 3 the Astros have guaranteed themselves of returning to Houston for Games 6 and 7 if necessary. Verlander and Cole could each make another start.

The nightmare has become reality.

The Hard Part Has Yet to Come For the Yankees

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#18 Didi Gregorius hits a grand slam in Game #2 of the ALDS Neil Miller/The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

After the Yankees swept the Twins in such dominating fashion in their ALDS, the first thought before the first Champagne cork went flying was, “How the hell did this team win 101 games and crush 307 home runs?”

The Twins couldn’t have slain Bambi no less the dragon known as the Yankees

 “We were outplayed for three games, and it’s OK to acknowledge that,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters. “They pitched better than us, they swung the bats better than us, and they defended better than us.”

Yep. Yep. And yep.

07/31/18 Baltimore Oriolesvs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 pitches in the 2nd innning photos by NeilMiller/The New York Extra
04/21/16 Oakland Athletics vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y.New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino #40 pitches in the 2nd innning photos by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

The three Yankees starters – James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino – combined for a dazzling 2.63 ERA. The deepest bullpen in baseball did its job. Didi Gregorius broke out of his slump – bigtime. Giancarlo Stanton, injured virtually the entire season, worked out four walks in three games. Every button manager Aaron Boone pushed – Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin – was a winner.

#11 Brett Gardner file photo Neil Miller/ The New York Extra
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone

 Now the Yankees wait to see if Houston can finish off Tampa Bay Tuesday night or if the Bombers get more rest while the Astros and Rays play a Game 5 in Texas.

More rest? Who needs stinking rest? The Yankees seem to be in such a good place after dusting off the Twins, 23-7 the aggregate score in three games, you’d think rest was the last thing they want.

But the Yankees should take this good fortune and sleep on it.

The next round can’t be as easy as the last round.

The Astros, who eliminated the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS, have thought of themselves as the best team in baseball the last three seasons and it’s hard to argue  with their  311-175 record.

 The Rays have gone head-to-head with the Yankees in the AL East. They don’t see Game of Thrones dragons in the Yankees dugout but mere mortals that can be held in check by their elite starting pitching.

“It doesn’t really matter to me who we play to be honest,’’ Gardner told reporters. “If we play our game and play well, we’ll win. And if we don’t, we won’t. It’s as simple as that. Rays or Astros, it doesn’t matter. If we play the way we’re capable of playing, we don’t have anything to worry about.”

Yes, they do.

Both the Astros and Rays have much better pitching than the Twins. And the Astros have a relentless lineup. They were 4-3 against the Yankees this season  and would have a Game 7 in Houston. The Yankees bested the Rays, 12-7.


Whereas the Twins had no postseason history of success against the Bombers, the Astros have that win in 2017, a fact Aaron Judge has mentioned at times.

“I mention it as something to fuel us, but it doesn’t matter who we face going forward,” Judge said. “If we continue to play our game, if we continue to do that, we’ll be where we want to be.”

Perhaps. But it won’t be as easy as those polite folks from Minnesota made it.

Twins Turn to Former Uber Driver to Save the Season

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#25=6 D.J. Le Mathieu hits a solo homer in Game #1 of the ALDS Neil Miller ? The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

The Yankees are an acquired taste – kind of like rooting for the lions in ancient Rome, or the bulls in Pamplona or the top one-percent to make more money.

They do not throttle the opponent with dominating pitching. They don’t play small ball (although they did pull off a double steal Friday night).

The Yankees feel you out for a few rounds, uh innings, and just when the legs get a little wobbly, they unleash a barrage of fury that turns the Stadium into the only insane asylum one needs a ticket to enter.

Yankee fans pund the right field wall in excitement in Game #1 of the ALDS

Such was the case in Game 1 of the ALDS. The Yankees, who hit 306 home runs this season, faced the Twins, who hit 307 homers. Two plodding heavyweights trying to set up the big inning.

The Yankees did it twice, putting up a three spot in the third and another in the seventh as they all but KO’d the Twins in a 10-4 win that went the distant, distance, four hours and 15 minutes.

“We had a lot of opportunities to score with a lot of guys on base,” D.J. LeMahieu told reporters. “We did a really good job against their pitchers. I feel like every one of their pitchers that came in pretty much had tough innings against us, hard-fought innings.”

Yankees #26 D.J, Le Matiey hits a 3 rbi double in Game#1 of the ALDS

In other words, the Yankees pummeled the Twins physically, and more important, emotionally. The Twins entered this series under pinstripe spell.

The Yankees have ended the Twins’ World Series dreams in 2003, 04, 09, ’10 and ’17. If ever Minnesota needed a win in the opening game of a series, it was Friday night against the Yankees.

“The first one is always the biggest game,” Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge told reporters.

Perhaps. The Yankees have a way of making every game big, bad and bruising. Friday night’s affair lasted a brutal four hours and 15 minutes. Commentator John Smoltz said in the bottom of the 5th that it felt like the 8th or 9th inning.

This is not how baseball has to be played today. The Astros, behind the remarkable Justin Verlander, needed a mere three hours and 25 minutes to snuff the Rays, 6-2.

The Nationals put in less time, beating the playoff-cursed Clayton Kershaw, 4-2, in three hours and 17 minutes. And the Braves barely broke a sweat in being the Cardinals, 3-0, in two hours and 46 minutes.

But this is how the Yankees play. They believe in their bullpen and they force the opponent to believe in theirs. The Yankees and Twins combined to use 11 relievers.

The Twins figure to need a lot of relief in Game 2. Randy Dobnak, 24, the former Uber driver who got married last Saturday, faces Masahiro Tanaka. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli tabbed Dobnak because he has a 52.9 percent ground ball rate which would be impressive if he had pitched more than 28.1 innings.

“It’s been the most amazing week of my life for sure,” Dobnak told reporters. “Getting married, now the postseason start. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

We’ll see about that. Dobnak may not be entering the Coliseum chased by bulls but he might feel that way after about four hours and 25 minutes.

What if the Mets and Yankees Get it Right?

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #36 Mickey callaway talks to the press before the game Neil Miller / The New York Extra

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By Lenn Robbins

Let this be the last October for a long time that we don’t find ourselves in this New York baseball Groundhog Dog.

Like the movie, we’ve lived this scenario over and over again. But whereas Bill Murray finally gets it right and wins Andie MacDowell’s heart, the Mets and Yankees almost never get it right at the same time.

So here we are, the Yankees about to begin their pursuit of a 28th World Series. The Mets about to hire their sixth manager in the last 16 seasons after firing Mickey Callaway on Thursday.

This is the most important decision of Brodie Van Wagenen’s young GM career. He traded the future for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Then he doubled down and acquired Marcus Stroman at the trade deadline.

file photo Robinson Cano Neil Miller/ The New York Extra

The Mets weren’t an afterthought in September for the first time since 2016. They should be a legitimate postseason contender in 2020 but that window isn’t likely to remain open for long with the depleted farm system.

Van Wagenen needs a manager that has a win-now mentality and a New York-tough resiliency.

In his last comments before getting fired, Callaway had an interesting spin on managing, especially in this town.

“I make unpopular decisions every day, whether it’s unpopular to you guys or the players.’’ Callaway told reporters. “And every decision I make is going to be unpopular to somebody. But I make decisions based on trying to win games and trying to keep these guys motivated to win as many games as they possibly can.”

What separates the great managers from the good ones is that they can sell those unpopular decisions. They have a track record that affords them the benefit of the doubt. They have a confidence that is not cocky but fierce.

The Mets need that kind of manager to lead the way.

Which brings us to the Yankees. When Brian Cashman chose Aaron Boone, it was a bold decision that could have backfired. Boone is the poster boy for a young manager. He can relate to players while balancing analytics and feel.

10/17/17 Houston Astros vs New York Yankees at Yankee stadium bronx ny ALCS Game #4 photos by The New York Extra New York Yankees Brian Cashman Gen Manager
file photo Aaron Boone neil Miller /The New York Extra

One can’t overstate the job Cashman and Boone did this season. The injuries came like a plague and still the Yankees won 103 games and the AL East. Cashman never uttered the words, “Come and Get Us.” Or maybe he did by buying a formidable bullpen and stockpiling depth.

It seems unfair to base the success of this season on whether or not the Yankees win it all. There are other teams in the AL with just as much power and better starting pitching. That’s the contract one signs when donning pinstripes – titles or bust.

Maybe the Yankees will overcome that suspect starting pitching and you should know your way to Canyon of Heroes. And maybe Van Wagenen will get it right and the Mets will be playing in October next season. Maybe, just maybe, a subway series is in our future.

All That Matters is This: Daniel Jones is Undefeated

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09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan Jones runs for a first down in todays game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Really, the only thing one needs to know about the state of Daniel Jones as the Giants quarterback is this:

They are undefeated.

It doesn’t matter if his two victories have come against the bipolar Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the utterly dysfunctional Washington Redskins.

Nor does it matter that he threw the first two interceptions of his NFL career in Sunday’s 24-3 win over those repugnantly-named Redskins. And we’re loathe to point out that he’s the first Giants rookie QB to win his first two starts since Phil Simms in 1979, because that became one rocky ride before Bill Parcells regained his genius.

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan jones throws in the 3rd quarter today Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Jones is 2-0 and the Giants are 2-2, a better record than the Steelers (0-3) and the same as the Philadelphia Eagles.

We can’t say that he’s won the games he was supposed to win because, truthfully, when the Giants were 0-2, the only “winnable” game on the schedule, possibly, was the Dec. 15th home game against the Miami Dolphins, who are the first NFL team in history to tank in September.

Jones threw interceptions on back-to-back first-quarter possessions and seemed as nonplussed as a medical examiner dictating gory descriptions the mortal wounds into a recorder.

When asked if it was easy to put those two potentially catastrophic mistakes behind him, The Rookie said, “Yeah, I think you have to be able to do it.

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan Jones runs out of the pocket in todays game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

“If you can’t, you’re going to struggle at times because football is going to go up and down. You’re going to have good plays and bad plays. Certainly try to do it, and I think you have to be able to.”

It doesn’t matter that Jones, statistically, had a pedestrian day. He was 23-of-31 for 225 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 78, much better than some guy named Brady (45.9) on Sunday.

Sorry. No need to overthink this by even hinting at comparisons to Simms, Brady or, um, Nathan Peterman.

A quarterback has to do two things, and two things only:

  1. Win. Duh.
  • Get his team in the end zone, which, of course, has a direct correlation to No.1.

Jones led the Giants to touchdowns on their first two possessions. They had a 14-0 foot on the Redskins’ throat before Jay Gruden, keeper of Dan Snyder photos, started thinking of replacing Case Keenan with rookie Dwayne Haskins.

That cushion allowed Jones to get away with his first two picks and his 78 quarterback rating. The Redskins offense is about to be reported by a whistleblower so no threat there.

Jones, hailed by the Giants fans like MAGA maniacs at a Trump rally, improved to 2-0.

“Not only is he a quick learner but he’s a fast thinker,’’ Giants coach Pat Shurmur said of Jones.

Do we dare think the Giants can go to 3-0 next week against a higher quality opponent in the Vikings? No. We stay in the moment. Jones is 2-0. He’s rallied his team from 18 down one week and shook off the first two picks of his career the next.

“Getting back to 2-2, you feel good about it,’’ Jones said. “But at the same time, if we’re going to keep winning, we have to address a number of things. We have to improve a number of things as a team if we want to keep it going. I think it’s important that we understand that and like I said, keep moving forward.”

Moving forward with their undefeated quarterback.

Kyrie Irving to Reprise Roll of The Bodyguard for KD

photo by Lenn Robbins

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Kyrie Irving has played a lot of roles in his NBA career;

Clutch shooter: It was his 25-foot 3 with 53 seconds left that brought Cleveland its first-ever NBA title.

Ridiculous scorer: There are a lot of scorers in the NBA but no guard provides more breathtaking finishes around the basket than Irving.

And now Irving has added a new role: The Bodyguard.

Irving made it blatantly clear Friday that he will protect Kevin Durant from coming back too soon from his torn Achilles tendon injury.

“A lot of people have responsibilities for why that happen on a national stage,’’ Irving said yesterday’s at the team’s Brooklyn practice facility. “We all know KD was not ready to play in that environment. We all know that, whether people want to admit or not.

“He was out 31 days … We put him out there to sell a product that came before the person, Kevin. And now I am here to protect that. I am going to be the protector and not let anyone infiltrate that circle. ‘Hey K, do you, get right. We’ll be fine.’”

Safe to say Irving won’t be getting any Christmas cards from the Warriors. He doesn’t care about that. He cares about KD and what a magical season the Nets can have in 2020-21 when Durant returns from his injury.

But first, there is the matter of this season. The Nets were one of the league’s feel-good stories last season. After a woeful start they gelled under the guidance of Kenny Atkinson, as down to earth a coach as you’ll find in any sport, and the patient planning of GM Sean Marks.

The Nets slipped into the playoffs, losing a first-round series to the Philadelphia 76ers. And then the late-night fun began.

Free agents Irving, Durant and veteran center DeAndre Jordan stunned the , and floored the Knicks, by signing with the Nets. Locker room fave Lance Thomas signed with the Nets on Friday. He will take the roster spot many assumed Durant pal Carmelo Anthony would get.

Add those four players to the existing nucleus of Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and 3-point champ Joe Harris and as Atkinson said, “We know there are expectations.”

Expectations?! Wait til next year, when Durant is back.

There has been talk about KD returning this season. Not on Irving’s watch.

We’ve already seen the terrible results of rushing a player back. Durant missed a month of the 2019 playoffs with what was listed as a calf injury. He returned for Game 5 of the Finals against Toronto. Two minutes into the second quarter he fell to the court clutching his right calf.

“I’ll be over-patient with Kevin because I don’t want that to happen to anyone ever again especially on that type of stage where he was answering questions about whether he would be back or not. I want him to be 101 percent healthy,” Irving said.

Durant said he would be at games while he continues to rehab. Word of caution to any reporter or Nets fan that wants to know if he’ll back this season: They’ll have to go through Irving.

October Baseball is the Only Goal For Mets in 2020

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08/05/19 Miami Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning

By Lenn Robbins

The Mets playoff dream ended on Hump Day, which is perfectly fitting.

Before they took the field Wednesday night at Citi Field needing to beat the Marlins and hope the Brewers lost to the Reds, the scoreboard showed Milwaukee leading, 6-0.

The nail was being driven into the coffin.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1

It didn’t matter that Jacob deGrom turned in his latest marvelous pitching performance in a 10-3 win. He deserves to win the Cy Young for a second straight year but he would rather be pitching in October.

Which brings us to next October.

 If the Mets aren’t in the 2020 MLB playoffs the season will be a failure. For the first time since 2015, when the Mets lost the World Series to the Royals, has a season ended with so much expectation for next year.

“There are so many positives that came from this year,” slugger Pete Alonso told reporters. “We learned a lot about ourselves, and I think what we learned is that we’re gritty, we’re tough, we can compete. We have some awesome pieces, and the mentality we have, I think there’s something extremely special to come.

“When we finally put it together for 162, it’s going to be scary.”

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny photos by Neil Miller sportsdaywire Mets gn brodie van wagoner talks to fans at the truck send off today at citifield

There’s no reason the Mets can’t put it together next season but it starts with this offseason. GM Brodie Van Wagenen needs to address the bullpen which had fans feeling more trepidation than if it was Grenade Giveaway Day at Citi Field.

The Mets could use more quality depth. They need to unravel the enigma that Edwin Diaz became on the flight from Seattle.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7Marcus Stroman reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 5th inning

And a decision has to be made on manager Mickey Calloway, who deserves credit for leading the Mets to that post All-Star streak that made a playoff berth a possibility, not a pipe dream.

#36 mickey calloway in the dugout in the 3rd innning

“You know, obviously I have the utmost confidence in myself,” Callaway told reporters.

Good to know. But Callaway is 159-160 in his two seasons with the Mets and made his share of head-scratching moves. Jury is out.

The Mets have the nucleus of a serious if not scary team next season. They can’t let Zack Wheeler walk in free agency. They must find a way to coexist with Noah Syndegaard, or at worst, trade him for some elite bullpen talent.

04/27/19 Milwaukee Brewers vs ny mets at citifield queens ny photos by neil miller /the ny extra New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard #34 reacts after giving up a run in the 1st innning
08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citifield queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving p a 2 run hit in the 1st innning
08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman pitches in the 2nd inning

A rotation of deGrom, Syndegaard, Wheeler, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman will be as good as it gets. A lineup centered around Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario and Wilson Ramous proved it can produce.

It’s time for this franchise to get over the hump.

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #30 mike conforto rects after striking out with the bases loaded to end an innning

“We’re definitely not satisfied with where we’re at,” Conforto told reporters. “We want to play in October, that’s the goal. I think we have the guys in here to do it. We have to put six months of baseball together, and we didn’t do that this year.”

That’s exactly what the Mets’ mindset has to be. deGrom should win that Cy Young. Fernando Tatis was terrific but his season ended in mid-August. If Alonso tied or breaks Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record he gets my vote for Rookie of the Year.

There have been some really nice feel good moments in Queens. That Amazin streak of  15 wins in 16 games brought back memories of the 69 Miracle Mets. That team won it all. This team didn’t make the playoffs.

“Did we get to our ultimate goal and get in the playoffs?’’ asked Calloway. “No, and that stinks.”

         If the Mets don’t go deep into postseason next season, the stench will be even worse.