Mar 20

As Details Emerge, Clearly Wheeler Gambled And Lost

The news is worse than expected for Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, who will have Tommy John surgery next week and miss not only this season, but least the first two months of 2016.

Bottom line: His torn ulnar collateral ligament is worse than expected.

WHEELER: Gambled and lost. (Getty)

WHEELER: Gambled and lost. (Getty)

Couple that with the previous revelation from GM Sandy Alderson that Wheeler pitched through pain last year, and one can’t help but wonder if something was missed from the two MRIs he had over the winter. If nothing else, a wrong decision made following hearing the results.

One has to wonder who was giving Wheeler advice.

Wheeler said it wasn’t until offseason MRIs, particularly one in January that showed a partially torn tendon attached to a bony deposit in the elbow. He eschewed surgery because the recovery time was put at up to six months and would have put this year in jeopardy. Instead, he opted for platelet-rich-plasma therapy and to pitch through the pain.

From his perspective, Wheeler has no problems with how he was handled last summer.

“I can’t complain about how the Mets handled me last year innings wise,’’ Wheeler told reporters. “I don’t have any complaints at all about how they handled me.’’

After Wheeler was shut down for last week’s start, Alderson finally ordered a MRI. Wheeler met with team physician David Altchek Wednesday and orthopedic specialist Dr. Andrews the following day. Wheeler insists this is when he learned of the full tear and need for surgery.

“Of course I’m nervous about it,’’ Wheeler said. “But you’ve got to do it and have that mindset when you’re coming back that you’re going to be 100 percent and better than you were before. I knew it probably eventually was going to happen. You aren’t meant to throw overhand and throw hard.’’

As details continue to emerge, it is obvious Wheeler gambled and lost.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s notes.

 

Mar 19

The Mets Will Need All That Pitching Depth They Treasure

The Mets have been boasting about their depth in pitching, and they will need it in the wake of season-ending injuries to Zack Wheeler and reliever Josh Edgin.

They will also be without Bobby Parnell to start the year and Vic Black could also open on the disabled list. Wheeler, Edgin and Parnell have elbow problems; Black has a bum shoulder.

GEE: Strong effort today. (AP)

GEE: Strong effort today. (AP)

That’s four pitchers the Mets counted on who won’t be available.

The Mets believe there is a high upside for Wheeler, but frankly if Gee gives them his best numbers of 13 victories (13 in 2011), 32 starts and 199 innings (both in 2013), that would be more than they could hope for. (Wheeler’s best numbers were 11 victories, 32 starts and 185.1 innings last season.

Gee and Rafael Montero showed today why the Mets were lucky they weren’t able to deal both, or either, this winter. Gee and Montero have been termed expendable by the Mets because of the promise of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

With Wheeler out for the season, Gee is back in the rotation and was stretched out today in the form of 3.2 scoreless innings against the Astros. As for Montero, he was also stretched out today with 3.2 innings – one run on two hits – also against Houston.

Gee knows how fickle things can be, but he’s happy for now.

“I was almost a little nervous for today – just having to start again,’’ Gee told reporters. “It’s exciting. And I get adrenaline every time I get to do something I really love to do.

“It was nice. I tried to stay within myself and work on things and take it for what it was, but it was exciting to get back out there and do what I like to do.’’

With Gee back in the rotation, Montero is ticketed for the bullpen, that is, of course, unless another pitcher goes down.

Like the rotation, the back end of the Mets’ bullpen seemed secure, but without Edgin and now Black, things are unsettled beyond Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres. Figure Montero for a spot, along with Buddy Carlyle, who could be a free-agent if he’s not on the Opening Day roster.

However, that’s only five out of a potential seven relievers. At one time the Mets were concerned about getting a lefty reliever. Now they need multiple arms.

The old saying is true, in that you can never have enough pitching.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets swept their split-squad games, beating Houston, 3-1, and the Cardinals, 7-2. … Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson homered against the Astros. … Jon Niese gave up one run on three hits in four innings against St. Louis. … Parnell is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Friday. … Daniel Murphy left the game against St. Louis in the first inning with tightness in his right hamstring.

Mar 18

Projecting Opening Day Roster

Things change in spring training, and they have in a big way for the Mets, who are now without Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin for the year with both having Tommy John surgery.

I figured on projecting the Mets’ Opening Day roster several times this spring and I am minus two pitchers plus having second thoughts on other players, notably Dilson Herrera.

Here’s what I am thinking:

HARVEY: Could he be Opening Day starter? (Getty)

HARVEY: Could he be Opening Day starter? (Getty)

ROTATION (5)

Matt Harvey: Has been solid all spring, and although the Mets say he won’t be the Opening Day starter, I’m not sold on that.

Bartolo Colon: He was my first choice to be Opening Day starter, but his 10.29 ERA gives me second thoughts. However, the way the rotation plays itself out after the off day, Colon would be the starter.

Jacob deGrom: Last year’s Rookie of the Year has been scintillating.

Jon Niese: He’s pitched well so far. I have him pegged as the No. 3 starter in the rotation.

Dillon Gee: There’s a reason why he wasn’t traded, and that reason is being examined in New York today.

BULLPEN (7)

Jenrry Mejia: Will be the closer coming out of spring training with Bobby Parnell on the disabled list.

Jeurys Familia: Will be the eighth-inning set-up reliever.

Vic Black: Has a balky shoulder, but expected to be ready.

Carlos Torres: Able to work in situational and long relief.

Rafael Montero: He’s been up before and the Mets aren’t as protective of him as they are Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. He’s been able to get out lefty hitters.

Buddy Carlyle: He’s not shutdown coming out of the pen, but was decent for the Mets last summer.

Sean Gilmartin: I’m taking him over Scott Rice or Dario Alvarez because of his Rule 5 status.

CATCHERS (2)

Travis d’Arnaud: He’s hitting a miserable .160, including a double and three RBI. He should get a long look before the Mets pull the plug.

Anthony Recker: Gets the nod over Kevin Plawecki, whom the Mets want to have the at-bats.

INFIELD (6)

Lucas Duda: A strained left intercostal has limited him to only 11 at-bats.

Daniel Murphy: The Mets will continue to look to trade him by the July 31 deadline.

Wilmer Flores: It’s his job and he’s done nothing to lose it, hitting .414 with two errors.

David Wright: The reports have been good on his health and swing.

Ruben Tejada: He’s having a decent spring, good enough to warrant staying on the team.

Eric Campbell: Very capable coming off the bench to spell Wright.

OUTFIELD (5)

Michael Cuddyer: They still don’t know whether it will be right field or left field.

Juan Lagares: Having a great spring with a .467 on-base percentage, but we’re talking in playing only nine games with 27 at-bats.

Curtis Granderson: They don’t know where to play him, either in the field or in the order.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis: He’s out of options, but his .483 average makes him worthy.

John Mayberry Jr.: Showing flashes of power, which is what they want.

 

 

Mar 17

Alderson Defense Of Handling Of Wheeler Injury Weak

Mets GM Sandy Alderson answered many of the questions pertaining to Zack Wheeler’s injury Monday. However, that doesn’t mean he answered them all, and that’s not to say the Mets’ handling of the injury couldn’t have been better.

Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury, and as he frequently does with these things, his tenor came off as condescending and maddening. As usual, he came across as the lawyer treating us like idiots.

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

Most irksome was how he described Wheeler’s breakdown as “inevitable,’’ much as it was for Matt Harvey and saying the Mets’ treatment of each was the same.

“Let me just ask, why would we treat somebody like Harvey with the kind of caution that we did and then throw somebody else under the bus – somebody of essentially equal value to us as an organization?’’ Alderson said to reporters today. “That wouldn’t make any sense. I understand people can debate the number of pitches and the number of innings and this and that. We simply wouldn’t treat two guys that differently.’’

But, they did.

Harvey was shut down shortly after the All-Star break in 2013, but Wheeler continued to pitch at the end of last season despite soreness in his elbow. Alderson and manager Terry Collins even conceded Monday how Wheeler managed through the pain at the end of last year.

Alderson maintained Wheeler’s elbow was eventually going to break down, yet he was trotted out there every fifth day.

“The other thing is, when a guy is being managed, you understand what the sort of apocalyptic result could be – he blows something out,’’ Alderson said. “But the question is, what’s the alternative? If it blows out, it blows out. The alternative is that you manage somebody to the point where he’s not useful to you.’’

Which is what happened, as it has numerous times with other Mets.

When it comes to the Mets and pitching injuries, the club has a long list, including: Harvey, Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Johan Santana, Jenrry Mejia, Jeremy Hefner and Jon Niese.

That’s more than an entire rotation and nearly a complete staff. A common thread in these injuries have been Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen.

The Mets didn’t have Harvey last year, but nonetheless made a run at respectability, as in finishing .500 or better. You can’t help but wonder if the goal to be competitive forced them to push Wheeler too hard.

Questions linger about the others, although not all had Tommy John surgery. What was their training routine like? Did they throw too hard, too soon, at the start of spring training? Were they properly monitored? Did they throw too soon in the offseason? Did they throw too much between starts? What was the rest of their conditioning program like?

Alderson answered the question as to why he didn’t immediately order a MRI for Wheeler. It seemed somewhat plausible at the time, but after sleeping on it and considering the long list of ailing Mets’ pitchers under his watch, it left something to be desired.

Using “lawyerspeak,’’ Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury. There was his usual fancy language, but a sharp district attorney would nail him.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s Notebook.

Mar 17

Wheeler Declines To Talk; Headed To New York

Of course, I would have wanted to hear what was on the mind of Zack Wheeler, the latest Mets pitching casualty. Wheeler decided not to talk to reporters this morning, which is his right, but he opted out in a classy manner.

Good job by Wheeler, who, without saying anything is undoubtedly frustrated and upset for having to face Tommy John surgery and will miss the season. He will fly to New York Tuesday evening and meet with team physician David Altchek tomorrow.

“I know you all have a lot of questions and stuff, but I’m not going to talk until I get Dr. Altchek’s input,” Wheeler told reporters this morning. “I’m going up there tonight and will see him tomorrow morning. Once I come back down, I’ll talk to you all and give you all the information that you want. But, until then, I just want to make sure that I know everything first — know all the right facts, instead of just throwing stuff out there.”

When he said that, Wheeler might have been thinking about when he told the press the discomfort in his elbow was no big deal, then he shortly learned his season was done.

It must be remembered the MRI was taken in Florida and not by Altchek.

Naturally, I am all for a player talking with the media, but in this case Wheeler doesn’t have the full story and details could change after meeting Altchek. This certainly isn’t a Marshawn Lynch replay.

ON DECK TODAY:  Today’s game.