Jun 13

Mets Can’t Count On Wright’s Return

When Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he would consider trading for strictly a third baseman, he might as well have said he’s not expecting David Wright to return any time soon, or at all this year. That is how they should handle it.

The Mets said Wright would stay in California for the next several weeks. If his rehab progresses, then it won’t be until after the All-Star break before he’ll even see minor league games. If you figure at least three weeks of games, then we’re talking into August before he’s activated.

FREESE: Available. (AP)

FREESE: Available. (AP)

By that time the trade deadline will have passed. And, of course, we have no idea of how he’ll play when he comes back, or if there will be a setback.

Alderson told Newsday he has to be open to trading for a third baseman.

“Would we consider a third baseman who can’t do anything else?’’ Alderson said. “Under the circumstances, yeah, we probably would. But we’re not just looking for any third baseman. It has to be something we think is an improvement that doesn’t cost us significantly.’’

Translation: They don’t want to pay.

The current flavor of the month is Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez, which is a bad idea on several levels. The 36-year-old Ramirez, who indicated he will retire after the season, is hitting only .211 with seven homers and 19 RBI. For that, Ramirez is being paid $14 million.

The Mets don’t want to trade a significant prospect and assume that much salary. So, unless the Brewers get bowled over by an offer, they are likely to wait this out until the end of July, figuring somebody might bite.

Milwaukee probably won’t eat a significant portion of Ramirez’s salary unless they get a decent prospect. The better the prospect, the more of Ramirez’s contract they’ll assume.

The third baseman I’m most intrigued with is the Angels’ David Freese, who will be a free agent this winter. The 32-year-old Freese is making $6.4 million, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot of money.

What the Angels want in return is uncertain, but he’s the guy I would want, and if it turns out Wright won’t come back, or is moved to the outfield next year, Freese could hang around for a few years. The problem, as it always is with the Mets, is how much they are willing to pay in terms of players and salary.

It seems they want to pay prospective free agents as if they are college students on an internship, meaning they don’t want to pay.

 

Jun 12

Niese Shows Why He Will Be Hard To Trade

The roller coaster enigma that is Jon Niese was on full display Thursday night, which will only make it even more difficult for the Mets to trade him. Every Niese start is an opportunity for the Mets to showcase him for a trade that would open the way for Steven Matz to be promoted.

NIESE: Another fruitless outing. (AP)

NIESE: Another fruitless outing. (AP)

Scouts had to wonder after the Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the first on an opposite field single to left, a scratch infield hit in which the Mets did not get a favorable replay review and a walk. The Mets didn’t get the call, but the pitcher’s responsibility to suck it up and get the next hitter, which all too often Niese does not do.

Before you know it, the Giants had two runs. And, had not one of them scored on a double play grounder, it could have been worse. That was frustrating, especially following the previous two games. But, it also typical of what the Mets have seen from Niese.

Not all roller coasters are downhill, and Niese regrouped to throw three solid innings. He gave his team a chance to win, and indeed, the Mets took the lead. Niese even helped his own cause when he doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Niese was cruising until Eric Campbell committed a two-out error. As I said, a pitcher has pick up his teammates, but Niese promptly gave up the lead when Brandon Crawford hit a two-run homer.

Frustratingly bad at the start, uplifting in the middle, then downright annoying with the homer and Niese left with a no-decision. Again.

The Mets eventually won. As for the showcasing of Niese, any prospective buyer would have to wonder: Why bother?

 

Jun 11

Harvey Stand Up About Falling Down

The best thing the Mets’ Matt Harvey did Wednesday night was not offer excuses for his mauling by the Giants.

There are explanations for everything, but Harvey wouldn’t say the three home runs crushed by the Giants or his second seven-run outing in his last four starts, was the result of Tommy John surgery.

HARVEY: Real Harvey camouflaged. (AP)

HARVEY: Real Harvey camouflaged. (AP)

“This is Major League Baseball,’’ Harvey told reporters moments after suffering his fourth loss of the season. “You can’t hit your spots, you can’t mix things in well, you’re not going to do your job very well.

“I just have to be better. There’s no excuses to be made. My job is to go out and put up zeroes. I’m not doing that very well. Right now I’m just not executing anything.’’

Normally a strikeout machine, Harvey had only only two last night. Harvey is throwing hard enough, but a product of Tommy John surgery is his pitches weren’t darting; the movement he normally has wasn’t there.

Of the three, location, movement and velocity, speed is the least important. Harvey is usually in the strike zone, but has little movement in it. That makes him easier to hit.

“Everything was all over the place,’’ Harvey said. “I just tried to go a certain place and couldn’t do it. The ball was over the middle or high. … I’m just not doing my job very well.’’

Harvey said he feels fine physically and wouldn’t bite on surgery as being an out.

“It’s just a terrible performance,’’ Harvey said. “The last couple of starts have been extremely bad. I’m just not getting it done, not helping the team in any way. Something needs to change. I need to go to square one.’’

He already took the first step by not having any alibis. Good for him.

 

Jun 10

Giants Light Up Dark Knight

Another game, another bunch of homers hit – no, make that crushed – off the Mets’ Matt Harvey.

The Giants looked comfortable in slugging three homers off Harvey and ripping him for seven runs. It was the second time in four starts he was blistered for seven runs.

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

Harvey (now 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA) has given up 12 homers and 24 extra-base hits overall in 12 starts. After Harvey was rocked for 11 runs in consecutive losses to Pittsburgh and Miami, manager Terry Collins suggested the problem was a dead arm.

Harvey quickly dismissed that stock theory for when a pitcher gets torched a couple of times, which made sense because he was clocked in the mid-90s and including the Marlins game, threw over 100 pitches in back-to-back starts.

So, what’s the problem? Why has Harvey given up eight homers in his last four starts, after giving up eight homers in his previous 26?

First, consider Wednesday was Harvey’s 48th career start, which puts him in the equivalent of his second full season, which is when the real learning takes place. And, don’t forget, the hitters are learning, too.

We also must remember he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and perhaps his arm isn’t what he would want. His breaking pitches, in particular his slider, don’t have the same bite they had in 2013 when he was an All-Star and achieved cult status.

We must also look at his walks. He’s only walked 14, which is a great stat, but it also means his pitches are usually in the strike zone. Although he still throws hard, Harvey must recognize he can’t get by simply throwing heat. It also suggests his pitches, although thrown hard, don’t have the darting movement needed.

Knowing Harvey’s control is exceptional; hitters don’t hang around to fall behind in the count. Harvey has given up three homers on the first pitch (overall hitters are batting .450 off him on the first pitch). He’s also given up five homers after being behind 1-0 in the count.

So, it isn’t just one thing, but several contributing factors to why hitters are lighting up the “Dark Knight.’’

 

Jun 09

Memo To Mets: Spare Us The Hype On Draft Pick Lindsay

As it is with most drafts, everything is a crapshoot and such is the case with the Mets’ first selection, center fielder Desmond Lindsay from Bradenton, Fla., with the 53rd overall pick. The Mets forfeited their first-round selection as compensation for signing free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer, which goes to show there’s really no such thing as a “free’’ agent.

Now, I’m not saying Lindsay won’t become a star. He could very well turn out to be an All-Star. Who knows? This all falls under the category of “I’ll believe it when I see it.’’ I’m setting my alarm for 2019.

In the meantime, just don’t blow a lot of smoke at us, as Mets amateur scouting director Tommy Tanous did when he told ESPN Lindsay was an “offensive machine.’’

Really? How does he know? Lindsay is only 18, he’s coming out of high school, and wasn’t even ranked in the top 100 because of a recurring hamstring injury. Don’t you think “offensive machines” would crack the top 100, even with a hamstring injury?

Not only that, but there’s a chance he might attend the University of North Carolina. If he’s so top drawer, maybe Matt Harvey might convince him to sign with the Mets and take on-line courses in the off-season. I’m not even paying attention to the fact he’s a center fielder. In three years, Juan Lagares could be referred of in in the past tense.

Tanous did say Lindsay’s grandmother is a “huge Mets fan,’’ I so guess they have that going for them.

Could Lindsay become a star? Sure, but we also must consider that since David Wright, what position player drafted by the Mets has become a star?