Aug 20

Mets Matters: Santana Decision And Shuffling Off From Buffalo

Sometime this afternoon we could get a clearer reading on what’s to happen with Johan Santana for the remainder of the season: Do they keep running him out there are shut him down to give him a head start on preparation for 2013?

Currently, Santana is scheduled to start Thursday against Colorado with extra rest. If he comes through, the Mets might opt to keep giving him extended rest between starts.

What we need to remember is this has been a grueling rehab for Santana coming off shoulder surgery and his arm has already exceeded what it normally goes through in a regular season. 

If Santana’s current problems are fatigue related, then shutting him down might be the prudent decision.

In other Mets’ news:

* It appears the Mets will lose ties with their Class AAA Buffalo affiliate, which is a shame as that locale makes it easier to shuttle players up and down. 

Most disappointing is Buffalo is the Mets’ third Triple-A attachment in the past decade (Norfolk, Va., and New Orleans). Las Vegas could be next.

Word is Buffalo, like Norfolk, because disenchanted from the Mets’ lack of attention or promotion to their affiliates, not to mention a poor quality of play.  Buffalo has a major league caliber stadium, so would it kill the Mets to play an exhibition game there (coming out of spring training) or even a regular season game? I would think a Mets-Pirates games would be attractive and fill the place.

Ideally, you’d like a strong relationship between the big club and its top minor league affiliate.

* The Mets open a stretch tonight of seven straight games against NL weaklings Colorado and Houston, the latter just sacked its manager. 

“Well, we’re not exactly playing great right now,’’ Terry Collins said.

The Mets follow those two series with series at Philadelphia and Miami. So, this would be the Mets’ best opportunity to get on a roll to finish over .500. That’s still what I’d like for this team.

Aug 19

Collins, Alderson To Discuss Santana’s Future

The suggestion I made yesterday about resting Johan Santana for the remainder of the season is on the table and will be discussed tomorrow. Good idea.

Neither Terry Collins nor GM Sandy Alderson have stated their preference, and the manager has Santana penciled in for Thursday.

However, pencils do come with erasers.

Reportedly, Santana will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, and is agreeable to being shut down if that’s management’s decision.

“What he is basically is saying is if that’s what we think we should do to make sure he’s healthy next year, he’s on board with it,” Collins said. “He understands the whole thought process behind it.”

Aug 18

Time For Mets To Shelve Santana

It is time the Mets care for one of their own. It is time to put the health of one of their players ahead of the possibility of getting a few good games. 

It is time for the Mets to shutdown Johan Santana for the rest of the season. I wrote that several starts ago and Santana has done nothing to refute that reasoning since.

SANTANA: Shut him down. (AP)

After last night’s pasting, Terry Collins said there’s nothing wrong with Santana physically. As manager, he really can’t say anything else. He can’t admit to pitching Santana hurt. But, Collins didn’t come across as believable last night. He came across as someone trying to talk himself out of the inevitable.

Maybe he’s not hurt – at least not yet.

There are three reasons why a pitcher of Santana’s caliber fades so fast: injury, fatigue and losing the skills.

We know from the first half Santana has shown flashes of being the dominant ace the Mets need. We know from the no-hitter he can still be scintillating for an evening.

He hasn’t forgotten how to pitch. 

We also know since the no-hitter he hasn’t been the same.

It is time the Mets remember Santana is coming off a severe shoulder surgery, of which rehab began last December. The calendar says August, but the calendar in Santana’s arm has already recognized a full year plus two months. 

Santana has given us the season’s marquee moment and countless other gems during his tenure with the Mets. He’s helped change the culture. He’s been a leader for the younger players, and not just the pitchers. He’s been a winner in every respect.

Santana has also given us six straight games of allowing at least six runs. It’s a franchise worst stretch as well as a personal one. There’s no bite and little movement on his pitches. He doesn’t challenge hitters inside as he used to. He’s pitching defensive.

He’s been on the disabled list, but with an ankle injury. Did that injury alter his mechanics?

Nobody on the Mets will admit as much, but an alteration can be so subtle it would be hard to notice.

Bobby Ojeda, who should know about such things, said Santana is pitching on fumes. Santana might not be injured now, but seems fatigued and if he keeps going like this an injury is inevitable.

With no playoffs, there’s no reason to keep him going. 

The Mets need to take this decision away from Santana. Sure, he’s a competitor and wants to pitch. He has that mentality, but it is one not conducive to self-preservation. They must realize Santana already exceeded expectations for this year and has nothing left to prove.

The Mets, for Santana’s well being, need to shut him down now as to preserve him for the future. If they don’t, they risk not having him in the future.

Aug 17

Matt Harvey Gives Us Something

I’ll admit, there are two things I want to see from the 2012 Mets. The first is to finish over.500, which, while demonstrating a strong positive step, is becoming more remote. The second is for R.A. Dickey to win 20 games.

While watching Dickey get hammered earlier this week I started to wonder if 20 wins was a long shot and whether there was anything interesting and compelling to concern myself with this team.

Matt Harvey answered that question last night in a scintillating performance against the Reds, perhaps the NL’s best team.

Harvey ended a personal three-game losing streak with 7.2 strong innings iced by hitting a two-run double as the Mets salvaged the series. In this recent stretch of their second half freefall, the Mets have lost eight of their last 12 games.

Yes, it is one start, but for the most part he has been solid in each of this first four starts. Last night was easily his best. Since 2006, when the Mets last saw a meaningful October, the Mets received similar strong glimpses from guys such as Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, but there’s something different about Harvey, a first-round pick from North Carolina.

He just seems polished beyond his experience.

Unlike some of the previous flashes mentioned, Harvey leaves the impression of working with a plan. Maybe there was a chemistry click with Kelly Shoppach, and Terry Collins needs to pair those two again. It is fun watching Harvey work quickly and pound the corners for strikes. He’s not afraid to go inside on a hitter, works efficiently and with poise.

Maybe Harvey won’t be electric like Doc Gooden, but he doesn’t figure to be an enigma such as Pelfrey, either.

 

Aug 16

Umpires Go After Dickey

The issue isn’t R.A. Dickey’s bracelet, but the umpires chose to make it one. Umpiring is as bad as ever these days, and last night’s decision indicates how clueless these guys are.

It also underscores the primary complaint about umpires, and that is inconsistency. You see it every game with each umpires’ “interpretation” of the strikezone. It is flat out WRONG that each umpire has his own strikezone. The one in the rule book is official and that’s the one that should be used.

Back to Dickey.

First, if the Reds did not complain about Dickey, then the umpires acted on their own. Since when are umpires to unilaterally made decisions – without input from either team – that impact the outcome of a game?

For example, umpires aren’t supposed to alert a runner if he failed to touch the plate. Nor, is he allowed to alert the defensive team. Here, the umps acted on their own.

If Dickey’s bracelet was permissible all season, what’s the big deal now? If last night’s crew was correct in ordering the bracelet removed, that would mean every other crew was wrong for allowing it.

That is, if the rules stipulate no jewelry – or is it no distracting jewelry? Again, reportedly the complaint did not come from the Reds.

If there’s a rule stipulating no attachments to the uniform, then what’s with all the chains, earrings and bracelets you see all the time in an ML game/ Why isn’t that enforced? Please don’t say “because the umpires have so much to do.”

If Dickey’s bracelet is to go, then so should everybody’s bling.

An umpire’s job is actually a simple one: Follow the rule book. Fair or foul; ball or strike; out or safe? It’s either one or the other. If there’s no jewelry of any kind, enforce it equally.

Dickey’s bracelet is a gray area, If Dickey pitched with it all season, then why the issue now? Either last night’s crew or every one before in a Dickey start is wrong. Which is it?

Which is it? That’s the essence of today’s umpiring. Nobody seems to know.