(Tyler Clippard made his Mets debut tonight. Photo: Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Sandy Alderson had to know. When he was talking to Billy Beane yesterday, he had to get the feeling that the Tyler Clippard move would be more important than originally thought.
And thankfully, for the Mets, they were able to pull off the trade.
Of course, the general manager was playing coy.
“Our track in talking with Oakland about Tyler as well as other players was independent of [the Mejia] situation,” Alderson said.
On past Met teams this “punch in the gut” as Terry Collins called it, would send the team down that spiral to oblivion. But not this year. This is a different team that can handle the adversity.
With Mejia’s door closed, Clippard becomes more important and that’s just fine
The Mets acquired a player who has been and wants to be in New York. He started his career as the “Yankee Clippard” and then was the “National Clippard” but now he is firmly the “Queens Clippard” as he looks to beat another one of his former teams down in DC.
“They’re beatable,” Clippard said before the Mets 4-0 win where he pitched a scoreless ninth inning. “There’s no perfect team in baseball right now. Everybody can go on skids. Everybody is vulnerable. Obviously, they’ve battled the injury bug this year. I think they’re getting a couple of guys back today [in Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman]. But you never know. It’s one of those things — you’ve got to play the season out and see what happens.”
Pitching is apparently contagious. Even without Mejia, the Mets have one of the best staffs in the game. Their five-man is obviously top notch and the bullpen with Clippard also boasts Bobby Parnell and Jeurys Familia on the back end.
“Everyone was talking before the season that [the Nationals] rotation was one of the best in the game, if not the best,” he said. “And from what I’ve seen this year, this rotation here in New York compares — if it’s not better — than what they’ve got over there. There’s something to be said for that.”
The clock is now running and the arms race is heating up with Jonathan Papelbon going to DC today from Philly. With just three days to the trading deadline, there may be other moves coming, probably another bat and don’t put it past Alderson to get another arm to replace Mejia, although he says it’s unlikely.
“I would be surprised if we would go after somebody else at this point,” Alderson said about his bullpen. “We were able to accomplish an upgrade in experience, which was the essential thing we were looking to do.”
Even if he stands pat, help is still on the way. Like the groundhog on February 2nd, David Wright poked his head out today as he resumed baseball activities, which hopefully put him on track for a mid-August return.
“Tomorrow will be my first day going back to back as far as baseball stuff at this intensity,” Wright said. “I’ll be ready when I’m ready. I’m not setting a date for rehab games until I get further along into the baseball stuff — to understand that my body can take back-to-back [days], and then three days in a row, and four days in a row, and so on. As far as trying to set a date for when I’m going to be ready for rehab games, it doesn’t make any sense to do it right now.”
Add to that Travis d’Arnaud on track to come back next week and Jerry Blevins on track to begin his rehab. They even got good news about Steven Matz, whose lat muscle is much improved and will be re-examined in a week.
No wonder why the downer of Mejia didn’t hurt that badly and Clippard is looking forward to the challenge.
“The Mets, here, are right in the mix,” Clippard said. “And it’s going to be a lot of fun chasing down my old teammates there in Washington. There’s a lot of incentive there for me on a personal level and on a professional level to get the job done here in New York.”
This should be a fun few months.