Apr 25

Was Harvey Showing Off For His Future Team?

As I watched Matt Harvey pitch for the Mets today against the Yankees, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was he showing off for his future bosses? I have little doubt from his body language there’s little question to the matter of showing up his current boss.

Please don’t say Harvey someday toiling for the Yankees has not crossed your mind. How could it not? It definitely must have crossed the minds of GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons. If you were to wager a hundred bucks with Titanbet on whether Harvey will be a Met or Yankee when he reaches free agency, seriously, who’d you bet on?

HARVEY: What is going on with him? (AP)

HARVEY: What is going on with him? (AP)

Harvey, who makes no secret he grew up in Connecticut a passionate Yankees fan, was superb in toying with his boyhood team for the better part of 8.2 innings as he gave up two runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

However, what tells me Harvey will someday be gone is: 1) his youthful affection for the Yankees, which culminated in being photographed watching Derek Jeter last season from the stands when he was on the disabled list; 2) his attraction, like a moth to a light bulb, to the New York nightlife, which always has the light shining brightest on the Yankees; 3) his agent, Scott Boras, who has a reputation of getting every last dollar, and we all know the Yankees will outspend the Mets; and 4) we’ve never heard him passionately say he wants to finish his career in a Mets’ uniform.

He had a chance today to say something about that, but passed.

And finally, Mets’ management appears to be afraid to challenge their young, stud pitcher, who consistently pushes the envelope on about every issue. He sparred with Alderson as to where he would do his rehab and the issue of wanting to pitch last season.

Despite lip service in spring training, Harvey did nothing to dispel the notion there’s a divide when he refused to give up his start last Sunday despite being ill, and pitching the last month with a sprained ankle (Collins said he didn’t know about it until the middle of last week, which is unfathomable).

Harvey flat out said he didn’t want to give up the start last week and it was obvious he did not like Collins pulling him today. Even after Collins made up his mind, Harvey fought to stay in the game. Then, as he walked into the dugout he could be seen shaking his head.

Finally, in the handshake line after the game, he shook hands with Collins, but breezed past him and didn’t acknowledge what the manager said.

“I didn’t look at the board once to see how many pitches I had,’’ Harvey said, which would make him unique as pitchers always know. “I still felt good, I still felt strong. I thanked them for letting me come out for the ninth.”

The gratitude did not sound convincing.

Collins did all he could after the game to boost up Harvey and gave the impression nothing was wrong, saying he had a limit of 105 pitches. This was despite Collins saying coming out of spring training he’d try to limit him to 90 to 95 pitches. Collins said he chose to leave Harvey in after he left the mound following the eighth inning when the pitcher said, “I want this one.”

Managers often acquiesce to such requests, but usually not those coming off Tommy John surgery.

I appreciate the difficulty of Collins’ position, but fault him and Alderson for not defining a position for Harvey prior to the season. Had they been decisive then, and don’t forget Alderson comes across as knowing it all, this wouldn’t be an issue. Because they didn’t, Harvey’s innings will come to the forefront with every start.

Since Alderson and Collins have no intent to do something definitive with Harvey’s workload, I would have appreciated them not blowing smoke saying they wanted to conserve his innings, especially that for Harvey’s second straight start they didn’t take advantage of pulling him from a blowout victory.

They could have saved two innings last Sunday and three today. That’s five innings – enough for another start – they could have saved for September. Tell me, wouldn’t you rather have Harvey save his bullets now and use them later in a pennant race?

Growing up in Connecticut, Harvey watched Jeter, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams involved in pennant races and undoubtedly thought someday of pitching for them in the playoffs.

On this day, at least Harvey was smart enough to not let his past conflict with what’s happening around them today.

“I’m playing for the Mets, that’s who I play for,’’ Harvey said. “I’m a New York Met.’’

One almost expected to hear, “for now.’’

Apr 24

DeGrom, Mets Ripped In Bronx, But No Shoe Is Falling

What, you expected this to last forever for the Mets?

I was on the phone with a friend prior to the game and he expressed nervousness about this series with the Yankees, saying he had a feeling “the other shoe is going to fall.”

DeGROM: Rough night.  (Getty)

DeGROM: Rough night. (Getty)

Well, it didn’t fall after Jacob deGrom gave up three homers in tonight’s 6-1 loss to the Yankees. No matter what happens the remainder of the weekend, no shoe will fall. How can it fall after one weekend? Just as you can’t be thinking World Series after the 11-game winning streak, you can’t think the sky is falling after one weekend.

It is too early.

Perhaps it was the cold and deGrom might have had trouble gripping the ball. After all, there were snowflakes falling tonight. I don’t think it was a matter of nerves for deGrom, but simply a bad night. It happens. The driving force behind the winning streak was strong solid pitching. They didn’t get it tonight.

On the flip side, the Mets weren’t able to do anything against Michael Pineda. If you don’t hit, you can’t win. Sometimes, it really is a simple game to figure out.

I’ve never liked interleague play, and other than see if the Mets could make it 12 straight, or who plate umpire Doug Eddings would eject from the game, you had to search for things.

By the way, how did Eddings know to toss Jon Niese? If it really was Niese, maybe he got on Eddings just to get out of the cold. But, if the plate umpire is paying attention to the game – which is what he is supposed to be doing – then how does he know who was riding him? Seriously, does he know these guys by their voices?

If Eddings doesn’t like being yelled at from the dugout, maybe he should do a better job calling balls and strikes. Just a suggestion. When an umpire is that sensitive to criticism, they say he has rabbit ears – and the chiding won’t end.

That’s one of my criticisms about umpiring. It’s a long season, so there’s plenty of time to get into that subject. It’s also a long season, so there’s no reason to get excited about one bad game.

However, there was some encouraging things to take from tonight. Wilmer Flores continues to show he can hit on this level. Curtis Granderson went to the opposite field for a double late in the game. He’s working the count and spraying the ball. He doesn’t get caught up in trying to hit homers. There was also deGrom, who didn’t have it, but somehow managed to take the Mets through the fifth.

Finally, Hansel Robles escaped from a bases-loaded, no-outs jam without giving up a run.

How can the other shoe fall with those nuggets?

Besides that, Matt Harvey is pitching Saturday, so what could be wrong?

 

 

Apr 24

What It Would Take For The Mets To Own New York

Here we are again, interleague play for the Mets as they are in the Bronx tonight to face the Yankees, Of course, the papers and Internet are flooded with columns about this is “the time for the Mets to take New York City from the Yankees.”

Time to step up/

Time to step up/

I checked the calendar and didn’t notice such a date; I mean it wasn’t circled like Thanksgiving and Christmas. When you come to think about it, why is this the time? Just because the first-place Mets have ridden an 11-game winning streak into this series?

Using the essence from the phrase, “time to take New York,” no team can ever own this city completely. Mets fans root for the Mets and Yankees fans root for the Yankees. Owning New York isn’t about drawing those straddling the fence, but from winning.

This year shouldn’t be like any other. Both teams are hot, which is fun, but the proof could come in July at the trade deadline. The Mets have stockpiled young pitching which puts them in good position, but recent history tells us they are reluctant to make a big splash after clearing the debts from Johan Santana and Jason Bay.

The Mets could have “owned” New York had it responded differently following the defeat to the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS, but more importantly, in rebounding from the late season collapses in 2007 and 2008.

The Mets panicked then and unlike the Yankees, couldn’t spend their way out of trouble. That’s the real difference in the two franchises – if it doesn’t work, the Yankees will throw good money after bad. For example, the Mets were handcuffed after Santana was injured.

The Yankees will always be viable because their mission statement is to win. Nothing but a championship satisfies that franchise, and that’s because of George Steinbrenner and now his sons. They currently “own” New York because they’ve won more recently. Not all of their moves have been smart, but they have been bold. When a move must be made the Yankees do something. They will spend the money, because that’s what they do.

The Mets are sizzling. Most of their moves have been successful and they’ve been remarkably resilient in overcoming injuries. The Mets did little last offseason – the acquisitions of Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr. have been positive – but I want to see how they respond when there’s pressure to do something at the deadline.

When they are at the top, or near the top, of the NL East standings, will they prove to us they want to win as much as they say they do? They haven’t in the past.

Terry Collins said rough times will come as they always do in a baseball season, but this team will show no panic. However, when the hours start dwindling at the trade deadline, what will the Mets do? Will they spend? Will they be bold? Will they make a move?

What they do to claim the back pages of the tabloids will determine owning the town.

If they can do those things and continue to win, this could be their summer for being New York’s primary baseball story. The issue of owning the town will be made by ownership and Sandy Alderson.

That’s when we can say the Mets “own” New York City, not from what happens this weekend.

 

 

Apr 23

Amazing Start Changing Perception Of Mets

As special as the Mets played Wednesday, today was important for another reason. After winning their tenth straight game last night, there was tremendous letdown potential for today, but this team would have no part of such talk as it tied a franchise best with its eleventh straight victory in sweeping a ten-game home stand.

COLLINS: Revels in great start.

COLLINS: Revels in great start.

It was cold, the stands were mostly empty, and there were moments of sloppiness. Daniel Murphy blew a play in the field that lead to a pair of Atlanta runs; Wilmer Flores was picked off second; and the hitting was sporadic.

However, the offense drew eight walks; Bartolo Colon was sharp again in winning his fourth straight start; Murphy drove in four runs; and the bullpen was again in shutdown mode, keyed by another strong appearance from Buddy Carlyle and Jeurys Familia‘s eighth straight save in a 6-3 victory over the Braves.

To win despite not being sharp is another significant sign in a season that already has had so many. The starting pitching; the bullpen; winning close games; winning within the division; coming from behind; just about everything they haven’t done in previous seasons.

What the Mets are doing is changing the perception, which might be one of the hardest things to do in sports.

“That was one of our goals coming out of spring training, that we are different,” manager Terry Collins said. “There are expectations. This sends a huge message to our fans that what we said we meant.”

Previous Mets teams would not have over come the long string of injuries and adversity that has already hit them hard this season.

“It has been the resiliency,” Collins said of the one ingredient that defined the home stand. “We have been behind in a lot of the nights, but we hung in there and executed.”

The Mets had spotty moments today and will have some in the future. However, Collins vowed this team is different and will handle those moments different than from other recent Mets’ teams.

“Whether it will be in the next week, the next six weeks, the next four months, there will be no panic with this team,” Collins promised.

He sounded believable.

Apr 23

Don’t Think We’ll See Mejia Again

Resiliency is a characteristic of a championship caliber team, and so far it defines the 2015 New York Mets.

To date, they have lost for the season Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin to elbow injuries, and Jenrry Mejia to a drug suspension. They are also without David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell.

A little more than two weeks in and the Mets are on their second catcher and third closer.

There have been a lot of key figures to the Mets’ climb to the top of the NL East, but arguably one of their most important has been Jeurys Familia, who took the closer role from Mejia and by extension, Parnell.

The Mets’ bullpen is minus Parnell, Black, Edgin and Mejia, which are four of the seven they had counted on. Imagine where they might be today without Familia’s seven saves.

When Parnell does return, manager Terry Collins said he won’t immediately return to closing duties, and chances are Mejia will never wear a Mets’ uniform again.

If Mejia’s 80-game suspension isn’t enough to act as a deterrent for those players that choose to find an illegal edge, then perhaps this might be – not only is Mejia suspended, but his career could be over. At least, his one in Flushing.