Jun 04

Harvey Must Carry Mets

Well, if you want to be called “The Dark Knight,’’ and aspire to be ace of the Mets, then Matt Harvey needed to come up as big as he did in Thursday night’s 6-2 win in Arizona.

The Mets, who limped through May and who are on their way to a June swoon, are looking for Harvey to grab them by the scruff on the neck and shake them awake. Harvey did so, giving up two runs in seven innings with nine strikeouts.

HARVEY: Needs to carry Mets. (Getty)

HARVEY: Needs to carry Mets. (Getty)

Harvey, who entered the game winless in his previous five starts, will be followed by Jon Niese Friday and Bartolo Colon Saturday and Jacob deGrom Sunday. Niese has struggled and Colon has won eight games – seriously, how long will this keep rolling? – so, without a Harvey victory, this had the makings of a dismal trip.

Then San Francisco comes to town next week.

The bullpen choked away back-to-back 1-0 leads by Harvey, but in his last two games he had given up 11 runs – including three homers – in 12 innings. He gave up two more tonight, so that could be a cause of bubbling concern.

Manager Terry Collins theorized of a dead arm, which Harvey rebuffed by clocking in at the high 90s. More to the point, Harvey had looked less than ordinary in his last two starts, and when that happens the Mets look rather ordinary. Actually, worse that ordinary.

“I didn’t feel like I was dead,’’ said Harvey, who struck out 11 in his last start, a one-run loss to Miami. “I felt like I was coming out of my mechanics.’’

In addition to mechanics, and the blown saves by the bullpen, the Mets’ offense has given Harvey all of seven runs in his previous six games. The Mets gave Harvey nothing through the first five innings, then broke it open after he left the game. Each one of his 106 pitches had meaning.

However, when you’re supposed to be the “Dark Knight,’’ there are going to be games when you have to carry your team.

Jun 03

Could Outfield Be Long-Term Spot For Wright?

Reader EddieMetz threw out this idea of a possible long-term solution for the Mets about injured third baseman David Wright. The more I thought of it, the more I believe it could be a plausible idea. EddieMetz believes a permanent solution could be moving Wright to the left field.

It could work, because in the long-term third base probably won’t make it for Wright, who, including this year, will make $107 million through the 2020 season. If Wright can’t play the Mets will recover some of that money through insurance, but it would entail a giant step back in their rebuilding program.

WRIGHT: Could outfield be eventual spot for Wright? (Getty)

WRIGHT: Could outfield be eventual spot for Wright? (Getty)

A lot of players moved from the infield to the outfield, among them Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Ryan Braun, Kevin Mitchell and Robin Yount. Wright is a good athlete and in left field the ball would be coming at him at the same angle. Wright also can run and has a strong enough arm. If he takes to left field, it would have a lot less stress on his back.

Meanwhile, third base requires considerable crouching, maybe up to 150 times a game, and there’s a lot of diving at the position. As for who will play third base, there’s Wilmer Flores or Daniel Murphy.

The Mets must seriously consider this because Wright will likely come back late in the season which might not allow them much time to judge his health. The Mets must be proactive because it impacts their offseason thinking, notably what free-agent third base options are available. Alberto Callaspo, David Freese, Casey McGeheee, Aramis Ramirez and Juan Uribe will be on the market. Ramirez is getting older (he’s 36), will be pricey (he’s making $14 million this year) and is on a downhill slide; Freese isn’t the player he was with the Cardinals; and the others aren’t appealing.

It might be more prudent – and cheaper, which always appeals to the Mets – to bring back Murphy (he’s making $8 million this year), than to throw money at an unknown. It is currently believed Murphy will not be brought back.

And, considering their investment in Wright, it will be better to move him to a less stressful position physically than to keep putting him at third base, where the odds increase yearly of him being injured.

I’m not worried about this stunting the development of prospects Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, because even if they didn’t move Wright to the outfield, I don’t see either being in position next spring to supplant Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson. If Wright does move to left, Cuddyer and Granderson can platoon in right.

Both Conforto and Nimmo could be ready by the time the contracts expire for Cuddyer (after next year) and Granderson (in two years).

This is a lot to consider, and the Mets better be thinking about it now.

 

Jun 02

Here’s A Temporary Solution While Wright Is Out

Speaking to the media today in San Diego, Mets captain and third baseman David Wright said he would return this season, but couldn’t say when.

Actually, nobody can predict Wright’s return date, but what to do until then? Remember, four months remain in this season.

WRIGHT: Frustrating time for Wright. (AP)

WRIGHT: Frustrating time for Wright. (AP)

GM Sandy Alderson has not ruled out seeking outside help, but knowing his track record it is probably safe to assume it won’t be an impact player. If they did make a trade, it would have to be for a versatile player – such as Ben Zobrist, who has come off the DL – because they wouldn’t want to move him off third when Wright is available.

My thinking is the Mets will first look within.

I am not for moving Wilmer Flores off shortstop, because I don’t think the Mets would spend big time on a shortstop replacement. However, in this case I would move Flores to third base and switch Ruben Tejada to shortstop – his natural position – because third base is a more pressing need. This switch would add offense to third base and defense to shortstop.

Because he’s hitting and has been moved a lot, I would leave Daniel Murphy alone at second base. As for Dilson Herrera, I would worry about him when he’s eligible to come off the DL. Herrera was effective last year in spots coming off the bench. However, to me it is more important to keep Murphy content than Herrera.

I can live with Flores’ flawed defense at shortstop because of the upside of his offense. Because the Mets stuck with him, this move wouldn’t be an indictment of his defense. Also, Tejada has played well, but he’s more effective at shortstop.

Wright said he’s dealt with lower back pain since he sustained a stress fracture in 2011. The condition was diagnosed as spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal cavity. Wright didn’t address this today, and it is speculation on my part, but it could be the result of all the crouching done at third base not to mention the scar tissue from the fracture.

He said the hamstring that initially placed him on the DL could have caused him to overcompensate and resulted in the back problem. Whatever the cause, Wright said he’s not ready.

“There’s physical tests that I have to be run through that I have to pass and do well with, and I’m not there right now,’’ Wright told reporters. “They run me through the physical tests and I just flat out can’t do it.’’

But, the Mets have to do something, and switching Flores and Tejada seems the most plausible solution.

Jun 01

Mets Issues Heading Into June

Honestly, had to you told me heading into the season the Mets would be five games over .500 and a half-game out of first place on June 1, I would have signed up for it in a heartbeat.

So would you.

However, after an 11-game winning streak in April, one would think they would be better than they are at the start of their first West Coast trip of the season. The Mets face a myriad of questions following a sluggish 13-15 May:

1. Can they win on the road?

A: They are 7-15 this year away from Citi Field and have 15 games on the road in June.

2. Can they win outside the division?

A: To date the Mets are 4-10 outside the NL East with only six games – all against the Braves – within the division during June.

3. Will the six-man rotation work?

A: Manager Terry Collins said he’s committed to it until August. With only two off days this month, they’ll need to make this work, especially with an innings watch on Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. This move was made primarily to protect Harvey, but no starter is really on board with this. This move was also necessary because the Mets had no definitive plan for Harvey entering the season.

4. What’s wrong with Harvey?

A: He hasn’t won in five starts, but pitched well enough to win three of them. And, the bullpen twice coughed up to 1-0 leads in the late innings. He’s been throwing consistently in the mid-90s and the belief is something is amiss with his mechanics. He will next pitch Thursday in Arizona.

5. Is this the beginning of the end for Jon Niese?

A: Niese says he’s healthy, but he’s been hammered and has lost five of his last six decisions. He hasn’t made it past the sixth inning in his last four starts.

6. Can Bartolo Colon keep this run going?

A: Take away Colon and the Mets are in third place in the NL East and possibly not even a .500 team. But, he’s 41 and this can’t last forever. The six-man rotation is as important to Colon as it is Harvey.

7. What can Dillon Gee give the Mets?

A: The Mets are hell bent on trading Gee, and their best chance to get something back is for him to pitch well and create interest heading into July.

8. Can they get something from their catchers?

A: Travis d’Arnaud, on the disabled list with a fractured finger, had a setback. His replacement, Kevin Plawecki, hasn’t shown enough to stay up here when d’Arnaud returns.

9. When will David Wright return?

A: Your guess is as good as anybody’s. He’s had several setbacks since going on the disabled list. His replacement Eric Campbell didn’t pan out and now Ruben Tejada is getting the chance to win the third base job.

10. Will Juan Lagares hit?

A: Lagares hit in April, but not May. He got the contract because of his glove and the promise he would eventually hit. There’s nobody else who can play center for the Mets, so they’ll have to stick with Lagares.

11. Will Curtis Granderson supply any power?

A: Granderson is on pace for 19 homers and 50 RBI, which might be decent numbers for a leadoff hitter. Of course, at the start of spring training he was supposed to supply middle-of-the-order power.

12. Will they ever get off Wilmer Flores’ back?

A: Probably not. Flores has ten errors, but leads the team with eight homers. Of course, there will always be Troy Tulowitzki rumors, but as you can see the Mets have more pressing issues.

13. Will the bullpen stabilize?

A: It was good in April, but a lot of things were good in April. Jeurys Familia should be an All-Star, but there’s been little else that’s consistent with the bullpen.

14. Will Lucas Duda go on a power tear?

A: He has stiffness in his knee after getting hit by a pitch over the weekend. Duda homered 30 times last year and is on pace to hit 29 this season. However, he’s on pace to drive in only 79 runs season.

15. Will the Mets add anybody to their dismal offense?

A: They keep saying when Wright returns that will act as a trade, but that’s simply a cliché for a team that’s not likely to do anything. They aren’t going to get Tulowitzki, and I’m not betting on Martin Prado, either. It takes a proactive team that will make a deal in June, and frankly, I don’t see the Mets being such a team.

 

May 31

Mets Who Should Be All-Stars

Some people believe Matt Harvey should be the Mets’ representative on the National League All-Star team. Sure, I can see that, but he’s no higher than fourth on my list. However, there’s no way the Mets will have four players, especially since they won’t have anybody voted in. David Wright is fourth among third baseman.

FAMILIA: Saved 15th game today. (AP)

FAMILIA: Saved 15th game today. (AP)

My first choice is Jeurys Familia, who threw two innings of relief today, which included striking out Giancarlo Stanton with a wicked slider in the eighth. The Mets head to San Diego this week in second place, and it isn’t hard to imagine where they would be without Familia, who has 15 saves. Familia won the and won’t give it up. When he returns Bobby Parnell will have to assume another role. Likewise for Jennry Mejia, if he ever comes back.

My next choice is eight-game winner Bartolo Colon. It’s a funny for some to watch him hit, but he’s total serious on the mound. He has won eight of the Mets’ 28 games. I again wonder where the Mets would be without Colon.

They certainly wouldn’t be in second place.

Finally, there’s Lucas Duda, but Adrian Gonzalez (Dodgers), Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) and Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)  are the top three vote getters at first base. Duda is emerging into an All-Star. If not this year, but soon enough.

The All-Star voting system is extremely flawed – any election that lets you vote 35 times is a joke – and the idea every team must be represented is also far from perfect. This variable often keeps out deserving players.

Hopefully, it won’t keep out Familia.