Jan 25

Have Mets Really Changed Their Medical Philosophy?

It was interesting to hear how GM Sandy Alderson overhauled the Mets’ medical staff, but then I remembered that was something both he and COO Jeff Wilpon vowed they would do when Alderson was hired in October of 2010.

However, that, like several other Mets’ promises when unfulfilled.

HARVEY: Personifies Mets' handling of injuries.(AP)

HARVEY: Personifies Mets’ handling of injuries.(AP)

How the Mets have handled injuries has long been a source of angst for fans and players of the franchise, and here’s hoping Jim Cavallini and Brian Chicklo have an uneventful tenure heading up the on-field medical staff.

However, in looking at some of the Mets’ most recent paralyzing injuries, a bulk of the responsibility falls with Alderson and the players themselves.

Among the most significant:

David Wright: In 2011, Wright played a month with a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright must assume some responsibility for trying to gut it out, but Alderson needs to share in this, too, for not insisting on an MRI earlier. We’ll never know how things might have been different for Wright had this been handled differently,

Jose Reyes: In 2010, Reyes sustained an injury to his right side in batting practice, June 30, and misses six games. As has been a tendency under Alderson, Reyes in rushed back and aggravates the injury, July 10 and is out for ten days. The Mets foolishly believe the All-Star break is enough time, and bring him back July 20. He is reinjured a month later and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.

Matt Harvey: The essence of the Mets’ bumbling of injuries began in 2013 with Harvey. Off to a fantastic start and facing the prospect of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey ignored tightness in his right forearm. Harvey – much to the delight of the Mets’ brass – started and starred in the All-Star Game, but was eventually shut down and went on the disabled list.

Harvey then got into a spitting match with Alderson about surgery and when to do his rehab. Then, after missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey and Alderson then clashed on an innings limit. Finally, last spring, Alderson ignored a warning from then-pitching coach Dan Warthen that Harvey wouldn’t be full strength until late May and rushed him back. We know what happened next.

Had Harvey not hid his sore forearm in 2013, and the Mets not shut him down at the All-Star break, there’s no telling how things might have unfolded differently.

Yoenis Cespedes: The Mets foolishly gave Cespedes a four-year, $110-million contract, then gave him carte blanche to become a bodybuilder. Despite a history of injuries, Cespedes strained his left hamstring last year. Then, as their offense went up in smoke, they rushed him back and he tore the hamstring and was limited to less than 90 games played.

Noah Syndergaard: As they did with Harvey, the Mets gave into Syndergaard. First, they let him become muscle bound in the offseason, then let him get away with not getting an MRI. Syndergaard subsequently tore his lat muscle in an early-season game at Washington and was lost for the year.

“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ is the quote that identifies Alderson’s regime. Alderson then said there was nothing the MRI would have shown that could have prevented the tear. Seriously, he said that.

The above five injuries were attributable to giving the players too much latitude and for Alderson not being the adult in the room. Unless those two variables change, it doesn’t matter who the new trainer is.

Jan 23

Mets Continue To Overplay Their Hand Since 2015 Series

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon can try to spin his payroll anyway he chooses but it comes down to one simple fact: Declaring you want to win and doing what it takes to do so are two different things.

“We certainly want to win,’’ Wilpon told reporters today at Citi Field. “There’s nobody going there trying not to win and not do their best to put us in the absolute best position to win.’’

The Mets’ payroll last year was $155 million and they finished 22 games under .500. It was $135 million in 2016 and $101 million in 2015 when they reached the World Series.

That last year, their Series rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz earned a combined $2.18 million, the odds of repeating which fall into the catch-lightning-in-a-bottle category. That is just plain lucky.

Wilpon said he’s not interested in the Mets being a top-five team in payroll, something we’ve known for years. Instead, he said the Mets are concerned with wins and losses.

The problem when looking at things that way is it reduces 2015 to a fluke season, something the Mets have been riding the past two years.

The following four things conspired to put the Mets into the Series that year:

  • Because of injuries and poor performances, the Nationals had a miserable season in 2015 which gave the Mets their opening.
  • The Mets caught lightning that summer with the Yoenis Cespedes trade. Cespedes had a historic six weeks that propelled them into the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the Mets tried to parlay that trade with a $110-million, four-year contract that will set them back for years.
  • There was their sterling rotation mentioned earlier. Also, unfortunately for the Mets, that rotation hasn’t stayed healthy, and including the fifth member, Zack Wheeler, those five have yet to make a complete turn.
  • That postseason will always be remembered for Daniel Murphy’s blitz through the National League playoffs. Without it, maybe the Mets don’t get past the Dodgers in the Division Series. Unfortunately, the Mets played hardball with Murphy and let him escape to Washington as a free agent.

While it’s never a bad thing to reach the World Series, a case can be made the Mets overplayed their hand and overestimated just how good they were that season and have been paying for it since.

From signing Cespedes to letting Murphy go to overestimating their rotation it has been one bad decision after another.

Jan 19

Why The Mets Won’t Deal Nimmo

Sure, the Mets like Brandon Nimmo and don’t want to trade him. It’s understandable the Mets would rather sign a free agent than give up their young talent.

However, there’s more than just Nimmo’s upside that kept him a Met and prevented Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison from coming to New York. And, the reasons are something GM Sandy Alderson isn’t telling us.

NIMMO:  Why the Mets want him.  (Getty)

NIMMO: Why the Mets want him. (Getty)

The Mets know Nimmo can hit major league pitching on a limited basis – he hit .260 with a .379 on-base percentage last year through 69 games – and is worthy of a fulltime gamble.

If the Mets were truly a contender this season, it would have been worth the roll of the dice to trade him for McCutchen. That Alderson didn’t pull the trigger on that trade tells us the Mets aren’t ready for primetime.

Rejecting McCutchen also tells us the Mets wouldn’t be willing to offer him a multi-year deal while Nimmo is two years away from being pre-arbitration eligible.

There’s a third reason why the Mets want to hang onto Nimmo, and it is the uncertainty with surrounding the health of Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes.

Conforto (shoulder) will miss at least the first month of the season and nobody knows how much time Cespedes (hamstring) will miss at the start of 2018. And even if he does start the season, he missed substantial time over the past two seasons.

The Mets are perilously thin in the outfield with Jay Bruce, Juan Lagares and Nimmo the only immediate healthy bodies that represent any cost certainty.

Jan 18

Who Is On Alderson’s Shopping List?

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he’s not done yet, which is odd because I didn’t even know he started. But, he added Jay Bruce you might say. But is adding the same person you traded last season really improving?

When the Mets traded Bruce to Cleveland, Aug. 9, they were nine games below .500 and 16.5 games out of first. Since they finished 22 games under .500 and 27 games out of first, I suppose you can make an argument the Mets did worse, fourth place is fourth place no matter how you cut it?

Alderson says he’ll likely add a free agent, and with third base a priority, Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Reyes and Neil Walker are the names being floated.

MOUSTAKAS: Forget it. He’s too expensive.

FRAZIER: They might be able to afford him, but eventually will balk at the salary (he made $12 million last year). He’s limited to playing only third. That Bruce gave him a lukewarm endorsement give the Mets pause. He’ll be 31 by Opening Day.

WALKER: He can play second and third, but left the Mets on strained terms. I’m not counting on him as the answer.

REYES: Has the added benefit of being able to play shortstop and will come cheaply. Signing just Reyes is basically filling a roster spot and shouldn’t be the lone remaining move.

NUNEZ: Is the bargain of the bunch. Was on the verge of becoming a star while with the Twins but never reached the next level. He’s only 30 which is a plus, so is his $4.2 million salary. Also, a plus is that he can play anywhere in the infield, which would make bringing back Reyes not necessary.

 

Jan 16

Why Didn’t Alderson Make A Stronger Play For McCutchen?

A quick show of hands, please: Who has heard of Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds?

Chances are you haven’t until today when the Giants sent to the two prospects to Pittsburgh for Andrew McCuthen. The cash-strapped Pirates will also send money to the Giants to help cover McCutchen’s $14.75 million salary.

“It’s no secret that we were looking to further add run production to our lineup,’’ said Brian Sabean, Giants executive vice president of baseball operations. “Anytime you have the opportunity to bring aboard someone with such a track record, you have to jump on it.’’

Which begs another question, why, if the Mets were reportedly interested in McCutchen, couldn’t GM Sandy Alderson have matched the Giants in the talent sent to Pittsburgh? Why didn’t Alderson “jump” on it?

And, that McCutchen is a free agent after this season is irrelevant because if the Mets chose not to bring him back on a long-term deal, they could at least make get a qualifying offer. And, if McCutchen rejected it, they would receive a compensatory draft pick.

If the Mets are as close to being competitive as Alderson believes they are, then why pass on McCutchen, who is only 31?

Michael Conforto could move from center to right, and Jay Bruce could switch to first base. That would be a fairly formidable lineup if the pitching stays healthy. However, Bruce isn’t enough to make the Mets a wild-card contender. Bruce and McCutchen might be. It is certainly better than Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez.

So, why was Alderson asleep at the switch?

The only thing I can think of is because he didn’t want to spend the money.