Jun 03

Rushing Cespedes Smacks Of Desperation

If it was late August and the Mets were five games behind, I might see rushing Yoenis Cespedes off the disabled list. If he could save their season and give them a realistic shot at the postseason, then, why not?

But, they are not. They aren’t even close. Before today’s game, the Mets trailed Washington by 11 games and were nine games out of the second wild card.

ALDERSON: No need to rush Cespedes. (AP)

ALDERSON: No need to rush Cespedes. (AP)

I might be inclined to push the envelope with Cespedes if it meant improving the Mets’ offense, but that’s not even their biggest weakness. The Mets never thought pitching – both starters and relievers – would be what’s holding them back.

Cespedes originally tweaked his left hamstring, April 20, against Philadelphia. The Mets originally said he would miss at least four games, but instead of placing him on the 10-day disabled list, they foolishly kept him on the active list. He missed three games, then after an off-day and rainout, rushed him back.

Cespedes played in two games, reinjured the hamstring April 27 and went on the disabled list the following day.

He hasn’t played since.

Cespedes has had two “setbacks,” including one last weekend. Even so, GM Sandy Alderson said the hope is for him to be activated when the Mets are in Texas, June 6, where he can be the designated hitter.

Manager Terry Collins said Cespedes is “making strides,’’ although the best he’s doing now is jogging.

Cespedes needs to run full speed; change speeds and direction in the outfield; and run the bases. He’s still a week away from doing those things, before he plays at least a week of minor league games.

That is, if Alderson wants to handle this the right way. Anything else is asking for trouble. Forcing Cespedes back now with so much of the season remaining is foolish.

It smacks of desperation.

Jun 02

Mets Wrap: Harvey Doesn’t Have It

After a rough start, the Mets’ Matt Harvey struck out five of six hitters to provide the illusion he might have turned things around. However, that stretch became the illusion to give credence to speculation his last start was more smoke than substance, if not a fluke.

It’s hard to believe Harvey’s 31-pitch first inning was his high point as he ended up giving up six runs on five hits and four walks in five innings in taking the loss in losing to Pittsburgh, 12-7, tonight at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Didn't have it. (AP)

HARVEY: Didn’t have it. (AP)

Once again, it was Harvey’s inability to locate his fastball and command his secondary pitches. In short, nothing worked for Harvey, now 4-3 with a 5.43 ERA.

“Last week he was so good,” said manager Terry Collins said. “There are times when you have to battle through it.”

Coming off thoracic outlet surgery, pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until mid-June at the earliest that Harvey would regain his velocity. Well, he’s topped out at 97 several times but was consistently in the low 90s tonight.

`My location wasn’t there,” Harvey said. “When you score seven runs you should win the game. … My location was off. I felt good (physically), but the location was off.”

However, regaining his pinpoint command has been another issue. It was clear in the first his command was off by the high pitch count, and further underscored by a leadoff walk and three runs given up in the fourth.

After Lucas Duda’s homer gave the Mets a lead for a second time, Harvey helped give it back again with a leadoff homer by Josh Bell and walk to Andrew McCutcheon in the sixth.

Why Collins let Harvey come out for the sixth is beyond me.

BULLPEN LOSES IT IN SIXTH: It’s hard to figure out what Collins was thinking as he left Paul Sewald in to struggle in the sixth inning as he retired only one of the eight hitters he faced.

Sewald gave up a single, two-run homer, infield hit, RBI double, single, hit a batter and issued a bases loaded walk.

Yeah, I know the Mets are short-handed in the bullpen, but one would think sometime before the walk to Bell to force in a run a light-bulb would have gone on in Collins’ head telling him Sewald didn’t have it tonight and short-handed or not, the Mets still had a game to win.

The Mets lead 7-5 going into the inning and trailed 11-7 when it was over.

Sewald should have been pulled after Elias Diaz’s homer (he drove in three with a bases-loaded double in the fourth off Harvey).

“It was one of those nights,” Sewald said. “I didn’t have my best stuff. I didn’t have my best fastball. I was struggling to get people out.”

Yeah, I get it, Collins doesn’t have many reliable relievers in the bullpen. Sewald was one of them before tonight.

“We were short tonight in the pen,” Collins said. “We didn’t want to burn too many guys in the pen. … He’s got to get us through the inning and he couldn’t do it.”

Now what?

If Collins doesn’t trust his relievers, then they shouldn’t be on the team, and that’s on GM Sandy Alderson.

DUDA’S POWER WASTED: Duda homered twice against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole giving him ten for the season.

Duda has been sizzling with six homers in his last eight games.

Too bad it was wasted.

 

Jun 02

Today’s Question: What Harvey Will We Get Tonight?

The Matt Harvey we saw last weekend in Pittsburgh was not the vintage pitcher we hoped would terrorize National League lineups for a decade. Two surgeries made sure that wasn’t going to happen.

HARVEY: Which one? (AP)

HARVEY: Which one? (AP)

However, he was good enough to throw a season-high six innings to come away with the victory. That leads to the obvious question: Was his last start a fluke or something to build on?

Harvey beat the Pirates that evening throwing in the mid-90s, but with sharp command (two walks). If Harvey is to become a consistent winner, he’ll need to do it with command and location, more than overpowering velocity.

“Obviously, it’s just taken a little bit of time,” Harvey said after the Pittsburgh game. “It’s been frustrating for me. But a lot of the work has been paying off, and really, it’s a huge, huge positive for me being able to execute those pitches.”

So, what will we get tonight? Was his last start the real thing or just a tease?

Jun 01

Mets Wrap: Flores Needs To Play

I’m tired of Terry Collins saying Wilmer Flores has worked hard to stay ready, and whenever he gets an opportunity he produces for the Mets.

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

FLORES: Needs to play. (AP)

If so, then why isn’t he playing every day?

Several times I laid out a format where he could play at least four games a week – playing one game at each infield position – which Collins has no interest in trying. If not this, then at least start him over Jose Reyes, whose time with the Mets should be nearing an end after their 2-1 loss today to the Brewers.

Flores homered leading off the eighth today, after a blistering May in which he hit .379, third best in the Major Leagues. He started 14 games for the month and had nine multi-hit games.

“I’m seeing the pitches and getting good swings,” Flores said.

Conversely, Reyes has only eight multi-hit games all season. He’s currently on a 0-for-15 slide, and is hitting .193 with a .266 on-base percentage.

It’s clear Reyes isn’t giving the Mets anything, while Flores has provided some punch whenever he gets a chance.

With the Mets six games under .500 and fading, what do they have to lose?

WHEELER START WASTED: Zack Wheeler gave up 10 hits with two walks in 6.1 innings, throwing 102 pitches. However, three double-plays (4-5-6) gave him the opportunity to pitch into the seventh.

“He really did pitch good,” Collins said. “He got out of some jams. He’s back. He’s fine as we continue on.”

I love how Wheeler works out of trouble, but I’m not wild about his high pitch counts, especially since he’s on an innings count.

“All I can ask is for me being healthy,” Wheeler told reporters of his expectations.

His innings limit has been reported at 110, and he’s currently at 55.2.

EXTRA INNINGS: The loss dropped the Mets ten games behind the Nationals. … Fernando Salas did a solid job in relief of Jerry Blevins with five strikeouts in two innings. … Collins was ejected for arguing an interference call of when a ball boy got in the way of Flores’ attempt to catch a foul ball. Initially, the call was ruled an out, but was overturned (correctly so).

UP NEXT: The Pirates are in Friday for the start of a three-game series. Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman and Tyler Pill will start for the Mets.

Harvey is coming off a 7-2 victory in Pittsburgh, May 28, in which he gave up one run in six innings with only two walks in a 102-pitch effort.

In 46 career starts at Citi Field, Harvey is 16-13 with a 2.73 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates.

Jun 01

No Longer Reyes’ Time

It seems safe to say the story of Jose Reyes‘ return to the Mets has run its course. It would have been fun to see him play side-to-side with David Wright, but the latter’s injuries precluded that goodwill notion. But, that’s only a secondary story.

REYES: Nothing to shout about any more. (AP)

REYES: Nothing to shout about any more. (AP)

The real story would have been whether Reyes could remotely become a shell of his former self, which he hasn’t been.

If Reyes can’t play shortstop, which he does only when Asdrubal Cabrera gets a day off like today, then what’s the use? He’s adequate at third base at best (Wilmer Flores is better). If Reyes can’t lead off, get on base and make things happen with his legs, then he’s not being used properly.

Perhaps that will happen when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list, because it might mean dropping Michael Conforto to third, which is a greater run-producing slot. But, as of now, Conforto is a far better leadoff presence than Reyes.

Currently, Reyes is out of position defensively and in the batting order, and isn’t hitting at all. Reyes remains determined to hit the ball in the air, where he should concentrate on hitting the ball on the ground or with line drives.

Frankly, he’s wasting his God-given physical abilities because he’s not smart enough to change. His plate discipline has never been good and it hasn’t improved with age.

The Mets acquired Reyes because they thought he would spark their offense. He hasn’t done so, and if this team doesn’t turn it around soon, they would be better off trying to trade him – he has a reasonable contract – and bringing up Amed Rosario for the second half of the season.

It is time to move on.