Mar 24

Mets’ Handling Of Harvey’s Starts Leads To Speculation

On one hand, I admire Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s veiled attempt at honesty. He admitted today the decision not to start Matt Harvey over Jacob deGrom for the Mets’ home opener is partially based on ticket sales. The Citi Field home opener will likely draw a full house anyway, so the Mets are saving Harvey for later in the homestand.

HARVEY: Already there are questions. (MLB)

HARVEY: Already there are questions. (MLB)

Alderson explained to reporters the timing of when to pitch Harvey: “Look, we take a lot of things into account. I think the first and foremost is: Does any pitcher deserve to pitch in a game of that sort? And I think that was the primary focus. You’re assuming people are more interested in seeing Harvey pitch than Jacob. That’s probably true, but not something that I would acknowledge.’’

Of course, he won’t because the Mets’ decision spoke for itself. Alderson also acknowledged other considerations and didn’t discount ticket sales. How the Mets handled announcing their starting rotation and saving Harvey for later in the first homestand screams several things, and none of them very good:

* The front office isn’t on the same page with manager Terry Collins. But, if that’s not the case, then Collins – as I suggested Monday – isn’t being decisive. There have been reports Alderson and Collins aren’t working in harmony and this doesn’t discount that thinking.

* The indecision when Harvey would make his first two starts indicates they don’t have a definitive plan to limit his innings. They will fly by the seat of their pants and hope for the best, just like many of us thought all along. Frankly, I believe the Mets are afraid to annoy Harvey, who has already shown little regard for management’s decisions. If they are thinking placating Harvey now will give them an edge when he becomes a free agent, they are kidding themselves.

* If weather is a factor as suggested by saving Harvey for the afternoon game in Washington instead of Opening Day, that raises concerns about his physical status. The Mets are banking on a warmer day for the season’s third game instead of the first. If it’s really cold in Washington when he’s scheduled to pitch, will the Mets pull him? Either he’s ready or he’s not. It’s not that hard. If that’s the case, then why not keep him in Florida for an extended spring training and bring him up in May? If they did that, then both the weather and Harvey’s innings become moot points. They obviously won’t as to not alienate Harvey.

* If saving Harvey for later in the first homestand is so the Mets can sell a few more tickets, that tells you how financially solvent they are heading into the season. What difference will those extra tickets make? How will that money be spent? Harvey might be the Mets’ best pitching draw, but he’s no Tom Seaver or Dwight Gooden in that regard. That’s penny pinching and it tells you they really aren’t ready to compete, because that costs money.

Basically, we’re talking about several thousand extra dollars. If that’s going to make that much of a difference, then the Mets aren’t ready to get off the porch and run with the big dogs.

 

 

Mar 23

What’s The Point Of Mets Announcing Partial Rotation?

What is it with the Mets that they can’t go all the way with certain things? Manager Terry Collins announced his rotation for the season-opening three-game series at Washington, but stopped there. How difficult is it to name the full rotation? And, more to the point, if Matt Harvey is ready for the season, then why not go ahead and name him the Opening Day starter?

COLON: Opening Day starter.

COLON: Opening Day starter.

I endorsed Bartolo Colon earlier, but that was because said it wouldn’t be Harvey. He’s regarded as the staff’s ace and so much has been made of his return. Given that, if he’s ready physically, then why not give him the ball in the season’s first game?

I heard the reasoning is to start him in the season’s third game, which would begin a couple of hours earlier and with it the likelihood of warmer weather. Seriously, if the game time is that big a deal where it might be a few degrees earlier, that suggests concern. If that is the case, then is Harvey really ready?

The starters for the Nationals series are Colon, Jacob deGrom and Harvey. That leaves Dillon Gee and Jon Niese for the first two games against the Braves. Collins did say deGrom would start the season opener at Citi Field.

Collins’ rationale for going with Colon was what I pointed out several weeks ago: his 15 victories; 200-plus innings; and the veteran presence to handle the big stage.

Well, all that was there two weeks ago, but in the interim the Mets hinted at deGrom, Colon and Zack Wheeler while saying no about Harvey.

I would have gone with – assuming everybody is healthy – Harvey, Colon, Niese, deGrom and Gee. I like the idea of slotting the lefthander in the middle of the rotation. Plus, with Harvey’s innings that much an issue, I prefer an innings-eater to follow him to take pressure off the bullpen.

However, the bottom-line reason for not liking the partial announcement is it smacks of indecision. If Collins isn’t ready to name the full rotation, then wait.

Mar 22

Harvey Looks Ready

It was encouraging for us and the Mets to watch Matt Harvey mow down the Yankees this afternoon. It is cliché to say it was effortless, but it definitely looked as if he could go longer than the 5.2 innings he cruised through on 60 pitches.

HARVEY: Looks ready. (Getty)

HARVEY: Looks ready. (Getty)

Harvey gave up two hits, walked none and didn’t strike out a batter in today’s 6-0 victory over the Yankees. Both his walks and strikeouts showed an economy in pitch counts.

“That was a test, and obviously the workload was increasing,’’ Harvey told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I felt pretty good into the sixth inning and was commanding pretty much everything.’’

Harvey definitely looks ready for the season, and in normal springs would be the Opening Day starter. That’s moot because the Mets announced today Bartolo Colon would get the first game of the year and Jacob deGrom would get the home opener at Citi Field.

Command is essential and something Harvey knew might come to him after velocity.

“Coming in, I knew that was possibly an issue with Tommy John surgery,’’ said Harvey, who has thrown 9.2 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two starts. “So, for me, really concentrating on throwing strikes, pounding the zone and kind of picking up where I left off was very impLortant.’’

Which is what he’s done.

EXTRA INNINGS: Juan Lagares, David Wright, Lucas Duda and Eric Campbell homered for the Mets. … Manager Terry Collins said he doesn’t plan to platoon Duda with Michael Cuddyer early in the season. … Wilmer Flores fouled a ball off his left foot and left the stadium in a walking boot. … The Mets are in Jupiter Monday to play Miami, with deGrom going against Mat Latos.

Mar 21

If Tejada Isn’t In Mets’ Plans, Then Release Him Now

The signs of what the Mets really think about Ruben Tejada couldn’t be any more clearer if they were in neon.

With Daniel Murphy a likely DL candidate to open the season, GM Sandy Alderson said Danny Muno – who went 2-for-4 in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to Detroit – and Matt Reynolds, who is scheduled to start Sunday against the Yankees, are contenders to start the season at second base.

TEJADA: Just set him free.

TEJADA: Just set him free.

So, where does this leave Tejada?

“We’ll wait to see what the prognosis is on Murphy in a few days,’’ was how manager Terry Collins addressed the issue with reporters today.

What gives?

If neither Alderson nor Collins believe Tejada is a viable candidate to start in place of Murphy – and he’s supposed to be the primary infield backup – then what is he doing in camp?

I’m not a big Tejada fan, but believe in being fair and respectful of players, not to mention honest. If Muno or Reynolds represent a future with the Mets that doesn’t include Tejada, then release him now and move on.

Alderson repeatedly toyed with Wilmer Flores over the winter, and his treatment of him was in a word, deplorable. Now, Alderson is trumping Flores as the starter. Exactly what kind of faith does Flores have with Alderson now?

Probably as little as Tejada’s faith in him.

It stinks how the Mets handle some players. This is a business and I comprehend promises can’t just be made and the team does have to protect itself. But, that doesn’t mean they have to handle things so coldly.

Don’t they realize there are players inside the organization taking notes on how the Mets treat their own?

They either don’t know or don’t care.

Mar 20

Mets Matters: Murphy Could Go On DL; Syndergaard Optioned

The hits keep coming for the Mets, who could start the season with Daniel Murphy on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring. The initial prognosis was tightness in the hamstring, but after a MRI the injury was called a pulled muscle.

When will GM Sandy Alderson ever learn not to label an injury until all the exams are completed? First Wheeler, then Murphy, then Josh Edgin, then Vic Black … one day it is one thing and the next it is something else, usually worse.

mets mattersAnd, let’s not forget Bobby Parnell, who has been pushed back again, this time from today until tomorrow.

“He’ll be out a week or so, maybe a little longer,’’ Alderson told reporters about Murphy’s injury. “Hamstrings take longer than people want to admit.’’

Alderson also said today either prospect Matt Reynolds or Danny Muno could make the roster coming out of spring training if Murphy is placed on the disabled list.

SYNDERGAARD OPTIONED: If a player on the 40-man roster is still camp by then end of today and is injured, he is entitled to major league service time if the injury extends into the start of the season.

Given that, it is easy to understand why Noah Syndergaard, who took a baseball off his left ankle Thursday – while playing catch of all things – was optioned to the minor league camp.

Syndergaard had X-rays taken and Alderson said the prospect is “more or less fine,’’ which means this is was purely done for long-range economic reasons.

ALDERSON ENDORSES FLORES: Murphy’s injury will not forced the Mets to move Wilmer Flores to second base and use Ruben Tejada at shortstop.

“Wilmer is the shortstop. Wilmer is the shortstop,’’ Alderson said. “It’s taken us this long to convince you guys that Wilmer is the shortstop.’’

EXTRA INNINGS: Bartolo Colon, who gave up two runs on six hits in 4.2 innings in Friday’s 5-4 victory over St. Louis, is currently lined up to be the Opening Day starter. … Steven Matz is scheduled to start Saturday.