Mar 25

Mets’ Outfield Alignment Set

In somewhat of a surprise, manager Terry Collins announced today Michael Cuddyer would play left field and Curtis Granderson would be in right.

The decision is somewhat of a surprise because the presumption was Cuddyer – with 854 career games in right and just three in left – would play the position where he was most comfortable.

However, this makes sense in the respect right field is tricky in Citi Field, and Granderson handled it well.

That Cuddyer has been deaf in his left ear since he was 11 is not an issue, said Collins. Cuddyer can still see and will be able to see the dugout waving him into position.

However, it could be a concern if he and center field Juan Lagares converge on a ball.

WHEELER SURGERY: Zack Wheeler underwent successful Tommy John surgery this morning at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Dr. David Altchek performed the surgery and Wheeler is expected to be out until June of 2016.

ON DECK: Who is in better position to win sooner, the Mets or Yankees?

Mar 24

Mets Matters: Injury Updates; Gee Solid In Loss

GM Sandy Alderson said he’s optimistic Daniel Murphy could be ready for Opening Day.

Murphy has been down with a pulled right hamstring – an injury that always takes longer to recover than is initially diagnosed – since March 19. At first, it was described as tightness. It was then revised to be a pulled muscle with an estimated down period of one to two weeks.

mets-matters logoAlderson told reporters he based his thinking on, “the results of the MRI, the doctors’ evaluation and just how Daniel himself feels.’’

Murphy is scheduled to resume baseball activities Wednesday.

Meanwhile, shortstop Wilmer Flores resumed light activities today and manager Terry Collins said he might be able to play in an exhibition game Thursday.

Flores fouled a ball off his left foot and sustained a severe bruise. He had been wearing a walking boot but stopped using it.

Also, reliever Vic Black is down with weakness in his throwing shoulder and the probability is he’ll open the season on the disabled list. The Mets are making no pretenses he’ll be ready by Opening Day.

Will any of these guys be ready by Opening Day? Remember, when it comes to Mets’ injuries, always take the over.

GEE SOLID IN LOSS: Dillon Gee continues to impress for the Mets, who still won’t announce when he’ll make his first start of the season.

Gee threw four scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros at Tradition Field. The Mets held a late lead, but Carlos Torres gave up two eighth-inning runs. Torres, who is penciled into one of the Mets’ seven bullpen slots, has a 5.87 ERA this spring.

David Wright hit his third homer for the Mets, who are 12-10 this spring.

WHEELER SURGERY TOMORROW: Zack Wheeler will undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday in New York. Club physician David Altchek will perform the surgery.

Wheeler will miss this season and isn’t expected to pitch again until June of 2016.

UP NEXT: The Mets travel to Tampa Wednesday to face the Yankees. Rafael Montero will get the start. The Mets said Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares would make the trip.

Mar 24

Mets’ Handling Of Harvey’s Starts Leads To Speculation

On one hand, I admire Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s veiled attempt at honesty. He admitted today the decision not to start Matt Harvey over Jacob deGrom for the Mets’ home opener is partially based on ticket sales. The Citi Field home opener will likely draw a full house anyway, so the Mets are saving Harvey for later in the homestand.

HARVEY: Already there are questions. (MLB)

HARVEY: Already there are questions. (MLB)

Alderson explained to reporters the timing of when to pitch Harvey: “Look, we take a lot of things into account. I think the first and foremost is: Does any pitcher deserve to pitch in a game of that sort? And I think that was the primary focus. You’re assuming people are more interested in seeing Harvey pitch than Jacob. That’s probably true, but not something that I would acknowledge.’’

Of course, he won’t because the Mets’ decision spoke for itself. Alderson also acknowledged other considerations and didn’t discount ticket sales. How the Mets handled announcing their starting rotation and saving Harvey for later in the first homestand screams several things, and none of them very good:

* The front office isn’t on the same page with manager Terry Collins. But, if that’s not the case, then Collins – as I suggested Monday – isn’t being decisive. There have been reports Alderson and Collins aren’t working in harmony and this doesn’t discount that thinking.

* The indecision when Harvey would make his first two starts indicates they don’t have a definitive plan to limit his innings. They will fly by the seat of their pants and hope for the best, just like many of us thought all along. Frankly, I believe the Mets are afraid to annoy Harvey, who has already shown little regard for management’s decisions. If they are thinking placating Harvey now will give them an edge when he becomes a free agent, they are kidding themselves.

* If weather is a factor as suggested by saving Harvey for the afternoon game in Washington instead of Opening Day, that raises concerns about his physical status. The Mets are banking on a warmer day for the season’s third game instead of the first. If it’s really cold in Washington when he’s scheduled to pitch, will the Mets pull him? Either he’s ready or he’s not. It’s not that hard. If that’s the case, then why not keep him in Florida for an extended spring training and bring him up in May? If they did that, then both the weather and Harvey’s innings become moot points. They obviously won’t as to not alienate Harvey.

* If saving Harvey for later in the first homestand is so the Mets can sell a few more tickets, that tells you how financially solvent they are heading into the season. What difference will those extra tickets make? How will that money be spent? Harvey might be the Mets’ best pitching draw, but he’s no Tom Seaver or Dwight Gooden in that regard. That’s penny pinching and it tells you they really aren’t ready to compete, because that costs money.

Basically, we’re talking about several thousand extra dollars. If that’s going to make that much of a difference, then the Mets aren’t ready to get off the porch and run with the big dogs.

 

 

Mar 23

What’s The Point Of Mets Announcing Partial Rotation?

What is it with the Mets that they can’t go all the way with certain things? Manager Terry Collins announced his rotation for the season-opening three-game series at Washington, but stopped there. How difficult is it to name the full rotation? And, more to the point, if Matt Harvey is ready for the season, then why not go ahead and name him the Opening Day starter?

COLON: Opening Day starter.

COLON: Opening Day starter.

I endorsed Bartolo Colon earlier, but that was because said it wouldn’t be Harvey. He’s regarded as the staff’s ace and so much has been made of his return. Given that, if he’s ready physically, then why not give him the ball in the season’s first game?

I heard the reasoning is to start him in the season’s third game, which would begin a couple of hours earlier and with it the likelihood of warmer weather. Seriously, if the game time is that big a deal where it might be a few degrees earlier, that suggests concern. If that is the case, then is Harvey really ready?

The starters for the Nationals series are Colon, Jacob deGrom and Harvey. That leaves Dillon Gee and Jon Niese for the first two games against the Braves. Collins did say deGrom would start the season opener at Citi Field.

Collins’ rationale for going with Colon was what I pointed out several weeks ago: his 15 victories; 200-plus innings; and the veteran presence to handle the big stage.

Well, all that was there two weeks ago, but in the interim the Mets hinted at deGrom, Colon and Zack Wheeler while saying no about Harvey.

I would have gone with – assuming everybody is healthy – Harvey, Colon, Niese, deGrom and Gee. I like the idea of slotting the lefthander in the middle of the rotation. Plus, with Harvey’s innings that much an issue, I prefer an innings-eater to follow him to take pressure off the bullpen.

However, the bottom-line reason for not liking the partial announcement is it smacks of indecision. If Collins isn’t ready to name the full rotation, then wait.

Mar 22

Harvey Looks Ready

It was encouraging for us and the Mets to watch Matt Harvey mow down the Yankees this afternoon. It is cliché to say it was effortless, but it definitely looked as if he could go longer than the 5.2 innings he cruised through on 60 pitches.

HARVEY: Looks ready. (Getty)

HARVEY: Looks ready. (Getty)

Harvey gave up two hits, walked none and didn’t strike out a batter in today’s 6-0 victory over the Yankees. Both his walks and strikeouts showed an economy in pitch counts.

“That was a test, and obviously the workload was increasing,’’ Harvey told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I felt pretty good into the sixth inning and was commanding pretty much everything.’’

Harvey definitely looks ready for the season, and in normal springs would be the Opening Day starter. That’s moot because the Mets announced today Bartolo Colon would get the first game of the year and Jacob deGrom would get the home opener at Citi Field.

Command is essential and something Harvey knew might come to him after velocity.

“Coming in, I knew that was possibly an issue with Tommy John surgery,’’ said Harvey, who has thrown 9.2 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two starts. “So, for me, really concentrating on throwing strikes, pounding the zone and kind of picking up where I left off was very impLortant.’’

Which is what he’s done.

EXTRA INNINGS: Juan Lagares, David Wright, Lucas Duda and Eric Campbell homered for the Mets. … Manager Terry Collins said he doesn’t plan to platoon Duda with Michael Cuddyer early in the season. … Wilmer Flores fouled a ball off his left foot and left the stadium in a walking boot. … The Mets are in Jupiter Monday to play Miami, with deGrom going against Mat Latos.