Apr 15

No Fooling Around; Put Wright On DL

They wouldn’t be the New York Mets if they didn’t have adversity. First they opened the season without three key relievers. Then they lose Zack Wheeler to injury and Jenrry Mejia to stupidity.

WRIGHT: Facing DL with hamstring pull. (AP)

WRIGHT: Facing DL with hamstring pull. (AP)

Now they face losing David Wright indefinitely with a pulled right hamstring. Wright is undergoing a MRI this morning and Eric Campbell has already been flown in. Wright will go to the disabled list, but with this type of injury, for how long is anybody’s guess.

They’ve played fast and loose with injuries – including to Wright before – but they can’t afford to screw around this time. Wright needs to go on the DL, and even admitted as such.

Several times Wright – by his own admission – foolishly tried to play through an injury. He tried to test it last night, but left the field quickly.

“`I knew it was something bad,” said manager Terry Collins, who added normally would wrap it up and play the next day.

Not this time and Wright knows it.

In a concession to age and experience, not to mention leadership, Wright said: “The last thing I want to do is go out there and do what I did a couple of years ago, where I feel something, you don’t say anything, you try to play through it and you end up missing a significant amount of time rather than something that’s relatively shorter.”

Wright’s injury exposed the Mets’ thin bench as back-up catcher Anthony Recker played first base.

The Mets also considered using Lucas Duda, but that would have left Recker playing first. They could have also used Daniel Murphy. They had other options, but none of them good.

It was a close game and they were lucky nothing happened. They are obviously exposed and it came close to biting them last night.

GM Sandy Alderson might not like it, but he must put together a conventional roster.

 

 

Apr 14

Harvey Needs To Be Smarter For Mets

If you’re the Mets, you want more from Matt Harvey than he gave them last night. Yes, they won and he got the decision, but you need more from your ace.

You want Harvey to be sharper, but you need him to be smarter.

HARVEY: Frustrated despite win. (AP)

HARVEY: Frustrated despite win. (AP)

Harvey looked ordinary after starting with back-to-back strikeouts, but later missed on a couple of pitches in the “sweet spot,’’ zone on homers to lefty hitters Chase Utley and Cody Asche. That happens, but where Harvey was totally off was how he plunked Utley in retaliation for Phillies starter David Buchanan hitting Wilmer Flores and Michael Cuddyer.

Harvey said it was the situation of the game, but he wasn’t believable when he said he “got over amped it got away.”

Everybody knows when a pitcher throws at a hitter he does by throwing behind him. Utley knew it; he never made a move toward Harvey and didn’t even stare him down, unlike what the pitcher did with him.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to admit it as that means an automatic fine, if not a suspension.

Harvey was clearly not happy with the home run, or the RBI single, to Utley. His pitch count was slowly rising – another 90-plus pitches in six innings – and he was getting frustrated. You could see it on his face when the cameras caught him in the dugout.

One expected retaliation, but Harvey must be smarter in picking his spots. Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez – as you expect them – weren’t happy with Harvey. The other apologists at SNY, from Nelson Figueroa on down couldn’t bow enough to him.

Harvey definitely seems off after the delay on the challenge, which the Mets waited to do. You either make the call or you don’t, but you don’t make your pitcher wait and get out of rhythm.

Harvey missed on the home run pitches, but by inches. He’s walked only one hitter in his two starts compared to 17 strikeouts, so you know he can locate when he has to. It was clear that ball didn’t get away; Harvey knew where it was going.

In a close game and a runner on third, you don’t hit Utley. It was blatantly obvious. What if the umpire ejected him right there? What if he missed and the runner scored?

This came right after pitching coach Dan Warthen went to the mound, and there was no way he told Harvey to hit Utley. Harvey, as he frequently likes to do, acted on his own.

Earlier today I wrote how Harvey’s presence gives the Mets a chance to win. Tonight, he gave them a chance to lose.

Harvey actions weren’t the lone dark spot on what was a bright night in a bizarre game at Citi Field.

In the long term, David Wright had to leave the game with a pulled hamstring sustained while stealing second in the eighth inning.

“A couple of feet before I got to the bag I felt my hamstring grab,” Wright said. “I thought I could stretch it out but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made a couple of years ago.”

Wright will undergo a MRI Wednesday morning and the Mets are expected to bring up Eric Campbell from Triple-A Las Vegas.

 

 

Apr 14

Note To Mets Fans: Wilpons Not Selling And Stop The Roll Call

Without question, Mets fans are among the most passionate and loyal around. I know that from this blog, from talking to many of you at spring training and at the ballpark.

Their passion was on display yesterday in several forms.

The first was the billboards directed at the Wilpons telling them to sell. That passion came at the cost of $6,000, which prompted manager Terry Collins to say: “You want to spend $6,000? Go feed the homeless.’’

Not the answer you wanted, but you got his attention. That the Wilpons would not comment also tells you they were aware.

However, I assure you being aware and responding the way you want are two different things. They know their fan base is discouraged and frustrated, but they will not sell. They are weathering the storm of the Madoff scandal, and if they didn’t sell then, they won’t sell know. It won’t happen.

They have an idea of how they want to run this team, and it doesn’t include wild spending anymore. What Sandy Alderson has done the past few years is how things will go.

Now, for the other display of passion yesterday, who couldn’t notice the roll call chants from center field?

That must stop. The roll call is a Yankees tradition and yesterday was a cheap imitation. How can any self-respecting Mets fan adopt a Yankees fan tradition?

Mets fans are better than that, so please … no more roll call. Do something original. Do something Metsian. Just don’t imitate the Yankees.

Apr 14

Harvey Excited About Tonight; Knows He Must Be Better

For all his self-confidence, and yes, arrogance as well, the best thing Matt Harvey brings to the Mets is the sense that when he pitches, they can win. They last had that feeling in 2006 when Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine took the ball.

Harvey gave that aura in 2013, and it is back.

HARVEY: Will be pumped tonight. (Getty)

HARVEY: Will be pumped tonight. (Getty)

Harvey is coming off a nine-strikeout performance in his first regular-season start since having Tommy John surgery. The best part was that despite being amped up, there was no pain or discomfort. He will again be pumped up for his return to Citi Field tonight against the Phillies.

“I know he’s excited,” manager Terry Collins said yesterday. “I know the team is excited. And I know the fans are excited.”

Harvey said: “`I don’t want to make a story about it, but it’s obviously exciting to be home.”

But it is a story, and his presence is a big deal to the Mets, who are giving away Matt Harvey T-shirts Friday. Hell, the organization even held back his start until today so it can sell a few more tickets. The gate for tonight is over 30,000.

The organization sees dollar signs when Harvey pitches, but there’s more than that to Harvey, who looks at his starts as artwork. Despite the zeroes and strikeouts last week against the Nationals, Harvey colored too much outside the lines. He knows the need to improve his command.

Harvey reached his pitch count of 90, but in six innings. That must get better for a number of reasons: 1) it shows his command wasn’t always there, and eventually it will catch up to him, and 2) it means more work for the bullpen.

Harvey knows what is expected of him, and more importantly, what he expects of himself.

“I definitely can be a little bit more fine,” Harvey said. “For me, I think 90 pitches through six innings is not good enough. If I’m throwing 90 pitches, I’d like to at least get into the seventh.”

There’s definitely a buzz with these Mets, although it is early. You sense it when you’re in their clubhouse, but talk is cheap.

“We’ve talked a lot about how good we can be,” David Wright said. “But true confidence is in winning.”

And, Harvey gives them the belief winning is attainable.

 

Apr 13

Mets’ DeGrom Could Be Best Of Young Starters

When we consider the potential of the Mets’ young pitching, Jacob deGrom might have the highest ceiling of all. Imagine what he could have done to the Phillies this afternoon had he been pitching with his best stuff.

DeGrom threw 6.1 scoreless innings in the Mets’ 2-0 Opening Day victory over Philadelphia, and did it with what he called a too-hard change-up, but with his usual spotless command.

DeGROM: Stuffs Phillies. (AP)

DeGROM: Stuffs Phillies. (AP)

“I didn’t think he had his “A” game,” manager Terry Collins said of deGrom, who gave up seven hits, one walk and with only three strikeouts.

“He competed,” Collins continued. “He didn’t let down. When he had to throw a strike he threw a strike.”

A pitcher will make roughly 34 starts in a complete season, and have dominating stuff in perhaps a third of them. When he can win when he’s a little off, it speaks volumes to what kind of pitcher he can be.

“It tells you he’s pretty good,” David Wright said. “It’s a sign he has good command.”

That deGrom only had three strikeouts meant his pitches had sharp, late-breaking movement because he was able to get the Phillies to put balls in play without getting a good swing at him.

“I thought about my game last year and I try to continue to get better,” said deGrom. “When you don’t have it, then it becomes a mental battle.”

DeGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, is now 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies. He’s turned out to be a reliable innings eater having gone at least six innings in his last 14 starts, the second longest streak in the majors.

The Mets are understandably proud of their young pitching, but for all the talk about Matt Harvey, deGrom has as much upside as any of them, and could be around the longest.

When it comes to Harvey, a popular school of thought is he’ll leave for the Yankees once he becomes a free agent. And, Zack Wheeler is currently on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready until late June of next year at the soonest. That means we won’t have a real picture until sometime in the 2017 season.

That leaves deGrom, who just might have the biggest upside of all.