Mar 12

Edgin Facing Surgery; Lefty Pen Void Critical

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said treating Josh Edgin’s left elbow isn’t a black and white decision, but that’s clearly not the case.

“It’s not a black-and-white situation,’’ Alderson told reporters Thursday morning. “There’s a certain amount of gray area that requires some judgment on the physician’s part as well as Josh deciding exactly how he wants to approach it. … The question is whether this condition can be managed over time. That’s where we are.’’

EDGIN: Facing season-ending surgery. (AP)

EDGIN: Facing season-ending surgery. (AP)

Not true. Based on the reported information, if Edgin wants to continue his career Tommy John surgery is the only option. Managing over time? Well, that’s when Edgin will make the decision, and even Alderson said it must be made by the end of the month as to not impact next year.

Yes, time is of the essence.

Edgin will first confer with a doctor – this would be a second opinion – then talk with teammates Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, both of whom have had the surgery.

Alderson said there’s no harm in first trying rest and rehab for two weeks, but that won’t repair a stretched ligament by itself. The pain could subside, but eventually it will resurface, and who is to say there might not be more damage, like the ligament snapping?

The gamble is how long can Edgin pitch without blowing out the elbow entirely?

If anybody suggests this isn’t a big deal, they would be wrong. I’m not a doctor, but this much I know, things like this don’t repair themselves.

What is clear regardless of how Edgin decides, is he won’t be on the Opening Day roster, whether he opts to rest or have surgery, and the Mets have a huge void to fill. The internal options are Scott Rice, Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, Dario Alvarez and Jack Leathersich, with Duane Below and Darin Gorski in the minor league camp.

They could also wait until the end of spring training and hope somebody who has been released.

They also have prospect Steven Matz, whom they refuse to try in that role even though he has the best stuff of any of them.

All of this means the Mets must make a deal. Remember Alderson’s talk about being capable of winning 90 games and possibly contending? Well, that possibility is gone without a left reliever.

If the Mets are as good as they claim, then it is time to show it and make a deal.

Now.

ON DECK: Today’s game and lineups.

Mar 11

Harvey Taking Positive Steps

What, you expected Matt Harvey to be perfect all the time? A key to the Mets’ season was perfect in his spring debut five days ago, but struggled Wednesday afternoon by against Miami.

“I felt good,’’ Harvey told reporters after his 49-pitch, 2.2-inning stint. “My body was a little sluggish, but other than that everything was fine. I’m still working on getting in the swing of going out there multiple times and multiple innings. Getting the body in shape is definitely most important now.”

HARVEY: Feeling fine. (AP)

HARVEY: Feeling fine. (AP)

Harvey topped the gun at 98-mph., in the first inning, but let the first four hitters reach in the second on three straight singles and a walk.

Former Giant Michael Morse, who singled in the second, said: “That’s Matt Harvey. He’s good. I’m pretty sure we can say he’s healthy.’’

That’s all anybody connected with the Mets wants to hear at this juncture about Harvey, who struck out two and gave up two runs. Harvey said he worked on his pitches, but said he was sluggish with his mechanics and his slider didn’t have its normal bite. But, what else can you expect in just his second start after missing 18 months?

His objectives are basic this time of year, as they should be.

“Spring training you’re obviously getting everything in gear and in shape for a season,’’ Harvey said. “So, for me, I know it’s March 11 or 12 or whatever it is. I’m still just getting back in gear and back in shape. … The idea of surgery is out of my mind. For me, it’s getting guys out and working on pitches to get ready for the season.’’

Harvey isn’t thinking about surgery and he feels no pain. If you’re the Mets, you couldn’t ask for more, and to some degree, that’s perfect.

ON DECK: Bobby Parnell has hamstring problem.

Mar 11

Not Trying Matz In Pen Raises Questions

The Mets are saying they won’t consider Steven Matz out of the bullpen, despite Josh Edgin’s injured elbow.

What they aren’t saying is why. This approach leads to numerous questions and maybe a conclusion or two.

MATZ: Why not the pen?

MATZ: Why not the pen?

Do they think Edgin’s injury isn’t as worse as initially believed? Even if he’s ready for the season, what about a second lefty?

Are they that sold on Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin or Scott Rice, Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez? They either have to use Gilmartin or lose him, so he should get the first shot. But what if he’s a bust?

“It’s way too early to say anything about anybody,’’ pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters Tuesday. “We are looking at lefties, so I don’t know. We have been looking at lefties every year, so I don’t have an evaluation right now.’’

What was their reasoning for letting Dana Eveland go? What about not even considering Phil Coke?

There’s plenty of time left, but I want to go back to Matz. If Warthen said he doesn’t have an evaluation, what harm would it do in trying him out of the pen?

The Mets have been telling us they plan to be competitive this season, but that would be hard to do without a lefty out of the bullpen.

More questions.

Is Matz that fragile where he can’t work out of the pen for a while? If he’s that fragile, wouldn’t that be something the Mets would want to know?

If Matz is as highly regarded as the Mets believe, then what is the problem? Would a year out of the bullpen damage him that much? Dave Righetti was able to do it.

If they have reason to believe Matz isn’t capable, I will buy that, but they haven’t said so.

A lefty reliever is vital, and if the Mets are as good as they are saying, then why not roll the dice on Matz? It makes me wonder if the Mets don’t think Matz is good enough, or if the Mets aren’t good enough.

 

Mar 10

Let’s See More Of Fred Wilpon

One figured Mets owner Fred Wilpon would be around Tradition Field Monday afternoon considering commissioner Rob Manfred was in Port St. Lucie.

What you didn’t expect was for Wilpon to talk with manager Terry Collins in his office for about 20 minutes after the game. Collins said Wilpon would be a regular presence during spring training.

WILPON: Let's see his fire.

WILPON: Let’s see his fire.

Let’s hope so. And, let’s hope he doesn’t fade once the season starts.

“He expects it to be a much better team. There’s no doubt about that,’’ Collins told reporters Monday. “He told me two weeks ago, ‘Look, I’m going to be here a lot – a lot,’ where, in the past, he’d come in and he’d be gone for a week or 10 days.’’

I really want to see that, and deep down, I believe Mets fans want to see more of the owner.

Collins said he and Wilpon discussed the rising number of walks (36 over the last 61 innings); the left-handed hole in the bullpen; and the roster composition. Normal stuff, but things you’re also wondering about, right?

I covered the Yankees for over eight years and tracking down George Steinbrenner was a daily chore. It was often fruitless, but there were times, such as when he ripped Hideki Irabu and forced the team to wait in the clubhouse for over three hours to delay a flight to Los Angeles, that it made for an interesting day.

A Steinbrenner explosion kept the Yankees on the back pages for three or four days. There was no owner like Steinbrenner, who not only left his mark on the Yankees, but baseball as well.

I don’t expect Wilpon to be that visible, or vocal … or cantankerous, for that matter. However, this is his team and I want to see fire from him. I know he as other financial interests, but the Mets are his most high profile venture by far. I want him to show Mets fans he’s really into his team. I want to see him sit in the stands and mingle with the fans.

People say Wilpon is passionate about baseball and the Mets. I want to see that feistiness. If the Mets lose three straight to the Nationals this summer, I want Wilpon to make a headline. When Wilpon speaks, people will listen and I want him to be a presence at Citi Field.

Several weeks ago I wrote a piece on what Wilpon could say to make people want to care about the Mets. Well, I want to see his passion about the Mets. If he does that, well, then maybe that’s his message to the fans that he cares.

Mar 09

Wheeler Struggles With Same Old Problems

It is a measure of our expectations of the Mets’ Zack Wheeler that we are disappointed when he pitches poorly – even less than two innings in an exhibition game.

Wheeler entered spring training with a checklist of issues to work on, including command, not letting things bother him, and learning how to work out of trouble.

WHEELER: Same old problems.

WHEELER: Same old problems.

So, what can we take from him getting ripped by the Marlins, 13-2, Monday? Saying it is early doesn’t really cut it.

His numbers don’t mean much with the exception of one – 47 pitches. That’s way too many, as normally that many pitches should take you to, if not through, the fourth inning.

“Honestly, it’s early for everybody,’’ Wheeler told reporters. “But, I was supposed to throw to one side of the plate and it was on the other. That’s always hard to call a strike. You and I both know that if you’re not consistent, it’s harder to get strikes.’’

That’s what happened in the second inning – and defines his fatal flaw.

After a perfect, 10-pitch first, things unraveled in an excruciatingly hard-to-watch 1.2 innings, when he walked two, hit two, gave up two hits and six runs.

You can argue it would have been better if not for a controversial umpire’s call when Jordany Valdespin – of all people – was called safe at first when replays clearly showed he was out.

That is irrelevant, because if Wheeler is to reach the next level, he must learn to slam the door when he gets in of trouble. Yes, a call went against him, but good pitchers overcome such things. They happen, just as broken-bat bloop hits and fielding errors. A good pitcher doesn’t let such things get to him.

As the inning unfolded, so did his command, and 47 pitches in two innings is a wasted start. Actually, it was reminiscent of when he got into trouble last season.

Wheeler was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA last year and threw 185.1 innings. Wheeler averages nine strikeouts per nine innings, which is ace worthy. However, his four walks per nine innings is something that must be reduced – by at least half.

Depending on whom you talk with, Wheeler’s stuff might be better than Harvey’s. Command is a different issue. Wheeler must improve his control, and doing so would enable him to work deeper into games. In 32 starts last year, Wheeler worked into the seventh only 13 times. He also threw 100 pitches 24 times and 110 pitches 13 times.

If Wheeler is to be evolve into the pitcher the Mets hope, that must change.