May 01

Harvey’s Partying Again An Issue

Long-time readers of this site know I’ve frequently been hard on Matt Harvey, and with good reason. For the most part, he’s deserved it. He’s in the bullpen because he’s been stinking up the joint lately as a starter, and if the Mickey Callaway Mets are about accountability, Harvey needs to ask himself: Am I doing all I can to get better?

Frankly, he’s not.

HARVEY: Being a jerk again.  (AP)

                HARVEY: Being a jerk again. (AP)

Harvey has always been for himself first, second and to hell with everybody else.

Harvey’s common sense, not to mention, professional obligations, are under scrutiny again after he traveled to Los Angeles from San Diego last week for a night of partying prior to a lackluster relief appearance.

The Mets traveled from St. Louis to San Diego the day he went to Los Angeles. Obviously, he was preoccupied with finding a way once the Mets landed in San Diego to get a way to Los Angeles. That means he wasn’t concentraing on the game.

Sandy Alderson stopped short of calling it a problem, but reading between the lines it isn’t hard to figure out the general manager isn’t pleased to hear of the so-so pitcher’s nocturnal habits.

After all, this is a player who blew off a game because he was hungover. He was also late to a postseason workout for the same reason.

“I think it can be a problem if it affects a player’s or a pitcher’s preparation for work the following day or the next several days and I am not sure that was the case here,” Alderson told reporters at Citi Field this afternoon. “[But] I think the other thing I have tried to keep in mind is pitching out of the bullpen is different than pitching out of the rotation and part of the preparation for that role is recognizing you can pitch any day at any time and as a result you have to be a little more conscientious about what else is going on in your life in order to be prepared on a moment’s notice to pitch.

“That is part of the realization that maybe’s he’s had over the last few days. So to answer the question as succinctly as I can, ‘Yeah, it can be a problem.’ I don’t think it was in this case.”

Asked if he was surprised to hear of the report about Harvey’s partying, Alderson said: “Usually I get upset if a report is unexpected. So I guess the short answer is no.”

Translation: Alderson knew something like this could be coming about Harvey.

Harvey, who is making $5.8 million n his walk year, clearly isn’t enamored with the Mets, who have bent over backward to placate him.

Callaway met with Harvey today and gave him the same old message he had gotten from Alderson and former manager Terry Collins.

“It is bad in the sense that it’s getting publicity,” Callaway said. “Matt has to be aware of that. The things he does, right or wrong, are going to be brought to the forefront and we have to make sure it’s never a distraction for him or the team.

“… I think he understands at this point that while the bullpen, he might view it as a relegation in some way, that his only way back to the rotation is through the bullpen and being successful in a meaningful role in the pen.’’

The bottom line is Harvey has in the past, and is currently, alienating his teammates. This latest episode is just another reason not to give Harvey the benefit of doubt anymore.

It’s his career, and if he doesn’t care about it anymore, then why should we?

Frankly, the sooner he’s gone the better, and if that means giving him away for a bag of balls at the trade deadline, then go for it.

Apr 27

Fast Start Has Saved Mets

We always knew this day would come, Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who was hired in large part for his optimism, will now be forced to put into practice. Once 11-1, the Mets limp into San Diego tonight with a 15-8 record, having lost their last three series and their closer Jeurys Familia having blown three of his last five save opportunities.

Still, Callaway doesn’t appear flustered.

MATZ: Struggling.. (AP)

                             MATZ: Struggling. (AP)

“It would be frustrating if we weren’t where we’re at in the standings,” Callaway said after Thursday’s 4-3 extra-innings loss in St. Louis. “We’re still in a pretty good spot. What has happened the last week, or week and a half or whatever is not going to continue to happen. It’s just not going to happen.”

Keep a good thought, Mickey.

On a positive note, the best way to stop a fall is with your best pitcher and that’s Jacob deGrom.

On the flip side, the Mets are developing a staggering list of negatives, primarily with their pitching, considered to be their team strength entering the season.

Matt Harvey, 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA, is already out of the rotation, and Steven Matz (1-2, 4.98) and Zack Wheeler (1-1, 4.24) haven’t pitched well enough to stay in.

Closer Familia is floundering and AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins have done nothing worthy of replacing him.

Should the Mets opt to promote Robert Gsellman and/or Seth Lugo from the bullpen to the rotation, that would consequently weaken the pen.

Offensively, the Mets are down to their third and fourth catchers and combined they are hitting less than .125.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .203. Yoenis Cespedes hit a 463-foot homer in St. Louis and is on pace to hit 34 homers. Big deal, he’s also on pace to strikeout 277 times. Not even his projected 155 RBI can make up for that many wasted at-bats.

 

Apr 25

Harvey Shows True Colors Again

Yesterday I wrote the transition to the bullpen for Matt Harvey could work if the temperamental pitcher has the right mindset. His postgame reaction after last night – even though the Mets won – indicates he has a long way to go before that’s the case.

Harvey should be smart enough to realize reporters would want to talk to him after his first relief appearance, and it didn’t matter if he gave up a run or not.

“No chance, zero chance,” Harvey said when approached by reporters. “I have nothing to say to you guys.”

The ever-classy Harvey then cursed at the group when asked why he didn’t want to answer questions, saying because, “I don’t f—ing want to.’’

Would it have been that difficult for Harvey to spend five minutes with reporters, who for the most part, have given him every benefit of the doubt during his largely disappointing Mets’ career?

Manager Mickey Callaway, who has stressed accountability, weakly gave Harvey a pass.

“We really can’t do anything about that, I think it’s his right as a player,” said. “The rules are such, kinda like when we have days off we can’t make them come in and work out.”

That’s not exactly true. The standard player contract requires players to “cooperate’’ with the press. However, that relationship has never been more confrontational than it is these days.

If Harvey is as intelligent as he thinks himself to be he should know that acting like a jerk works against you in the long run. He certainly can’t be getting support in his own clubhouse, as players who do cooperate are put in the uncomfortable position of having to answer questions about Harvey.

Just like when Harvey blew off a game and showed up late for a playoff workout, it is the epitome of selfishness.

We know Harvey is gone after this season and it looks as if he’s getting a head start to burn his bridges.

The irony of it all is that if Harvey pitches adequately, he could find himself back into the rotation as Steven Matz has shelled again tonight in the Mets’ 9-1 loss in St. Louis.

Apr 24

It’s Up To Harvey If Bullpen Works

Dave Righetti did it. So did Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz. Now, can Matt Harvey make the transition from the rotation to the bullpen? Harvey’s initial response – that he’s pissed off – wasn’t a positive sign, but his subsequent comments are more encouraging.

HARVEY: It's up to him.. (AP)

HARVEY: It’s up to him.. (AP)

Harvey, who will be available coming out of the bullpen starting Tuesday, was not happy about the decision.

“It’s the decision that they made,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I have to suck it up and go out there and do everything I can to get things back in gear. I don’t have to agree with it, but I have to go out there and do the best I can to get things going and do everything I can to help this team get back to where I believe I can help this team, and that’s as a starter.’’

Whether he makes it back as a starter remains to be seen, and actually is irrelevant. If Harvey concentrates solely on being a reliever, long or short, it might enhance his value this offseason.

The way the market was last year, relievers were signed earliest and that hold true next winter, as well.

Harvey doesn’t throw as hard as he used to – he’s gone from 96.5 mph., in 2015 to 92.6 mph., this season, which is acceptable for the pen, as long as the pitcher has secondary pitches, which he does.

Former Mets GM Jim Duquette, currently a commentator for SNY, said it is common when a starter moves to the pen that his velocity will increase. And, Harvey has a good enough slider. By all accounts, Harvey has the physical tools and his problem is psychological.

If the Mets concentrate on starting Harvey at the beginning of an inning and limit him getting up and down, he should get the appropriate warm-up time.

Physically, Harvey can do this. If he has the proper attitude and meets with success, this could be the start of the second part of his career. Others have done it, such as Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer [so Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland] have the experience in helping pitchers make the transition].

If Harvey stops thinking about starting and concentrates on being the best reliever possible, it could work. It’s up to him.

Apr 22

Harvey “Pissed Off” At Bullpen Demotion. Suck It Up, Big Boy

Matt Harvey said he’s “pissed off” at losing his spot in the rotation and having to go to the bullpen. Well, guess what, I’m sure many of Harvey’s teammates and coaches, not to mention his former manager Terry Collins, and countless Mets’ fans, are pissed off from having to Harvey’s selfishness and wasted talents over the past few years.

I understand injuries, but enough is enough. Harvey has been demoted from the rotation – honestly, I didn’t think manager Mickey Callaway would to it. But, even in bumping him from the rotation the Mets made it a point to say this was not punishment, but a temporary move.

“I want to make it clear: This is less about making Matt a reliever and more about getting him back to being a productive starter,” assistant general manager John Ricco said. “Honestly, one of the reasons we brought in Mickey and [pitching coach] Dave Eiland were for their knowledge and expertise in this area. We have a lot of faith and confidence in what they’re able to do.”

Harvey was full of praise for Callaway when he was first hired, but now when the first-year manager makes a move against him, he’s full of the same old “me first’’ attitude that has highlighted his 34-37, injury-marred, controversial career.

Sure, Harvey can’t be happy with how his career has unraveled, but it’s up to him to suck it up, not talk about being pissed off at the Mets and his situation.

Why was this even a big deal? If he was a real team guy, when this started boiling over he should have gone to Callaway and said, “I suck. What do you want me to do?’’

Of course, him saying he has to “do whatever I have to do to get back in the starting rotation,’’ just illustrates how little interest he has in helping the Mets.

Typical Harvey and I’m counting the days until he’s gone.