Nov 04

Alderson Holds Court Before Fainting

Before GM Sandy Alderson passed out at the press conference today at Citi Field, he offered these nuggets:

* Said he anticipates the 2016 Opening Day payroll to exceed the $103 million it was this season. “We ended up higher than the $103 [million] because of the additions we made at the [trade] deadline,’’ Alderson said. “So my hope is we’ll start with a somewhat higher payroll – I don’t know exactly what that will be – than we started [at] last year. And we’ll have room at the deadline to make acquisitions, as we did this year.’’

The key addition was outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in a trade from Detroit. Whether of not the Mets can retain the free-agent-to-be, Alderson said the trade was a success.

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

* Despite their glut in starting pitching, Alderson said the Mets were open to re-signing free-agent Bartolo Colon to a bullpen role.

At 42, Colon was 14-13 with a 4.16 ERA in 194 2/3 regular-season innings, but went to the bullpen for the playoffs.

“He proved in the postseason that he can pitch out of the pen,’’ Alderson said. “Whether he would do that on a full-time basis, or be a swing man/middle guy, or even step into the rotation in the event of injuries, I think we’re still open-minded about the possibility of Bartolo.’’

* Said the probability was small of trading one of their young starters – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey or Steven Matz – for offensive help, despite the long odds of re-signing Cespedes.

“I can’t see it happening,’’ Alderson said. “You never know what comes up. But I think it’s unlikely.’’

Even so, don’t forget the Mets agreed to a deal at the deadline what would have sent Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee for outfield Carlos Gomez.

* Said the Mets were undecided as to whether they will extend a qualifying offer to Daniel Murphy.

Alderson, as he frequently does, danced around the issue: “Take it out of the Murphy context. I think you have to start with whether you want the player back. If you decide the answer is yes, then it’s easy to make a qualifying offer.

“If you decide no, then you get to the question of, for gamesmanship purposes, whether making a qualifying offer is a good idea. Murph has been a great player for us over the years. He’s been a Met over his entire career. So we’re going to make that decision a little later this week.’’

Alderson fainted because he had not eaten breakfast and was dehydrated. He was examined by a Mets trainer and deemed all right.



Nov 04

Mets Do Right By Collins

The Mets did right by manager Terry Collins, and more to the point they didn’t waste any time doing it. Less than 72 hours after their season ended – and by Collins’ admission on his bad decision – the Mets extended their 66-year-old manager for two years.

Accused of being tyrannical in his previous stops in Anaheim and Houston, Collins gave his players a lot of leeway. He said he “trusts my players,’’ and in the end that might have cost him when he went against his better judgment and allowed Matt Harvey to go out for the ninth inning in Game 5 of the World Series.

COLLINS: How much more champagne? (AP)

COLLINS: How much more champagne? (AP)

No need to remind you of what happened.

It is key the Mets acted quickly as to not let how the disappointing way the season ended to fester.

The Mets opened the year after six straight losing seasons, but Collins insisted during spring training they were good enough to compete – as is. Yes, the Washington Nationals had a bad year, but the Mets were 90-72 to give Collins a 394-416 record during his Mets’ tenure.

Want to bet that will be over .500 by the time he retires after the 2017 season?

“My job is to pretty much make sure the players are on board with everything we’re doing,’’ Collins said. “So, I think I’ve changed a lot there.’’

Collins was voted the NL Manager of the year by The Sporting News and is up for a similar honor by the official Baseball Writers Association of America award.

“I think it’s well deserved,’’ Wright said. “Credit should be given to TC and his coaching staff for aiding and preparing us for this success. This preparation started years ago, and I’m thrilled this coaching staff has helped lead us to a World Series appearance.’’

Collins’ coaching staff – hitting coach Kevin Long, pitching coach Dan Warthen, first base coach Tom Goodwin, third base coach Tim Teufel, bullpen coach Ricky Bones and bench coach Bob Geren – will be retained. However, Geren will interview for the Dodgers’ vacant managerial spot.


Nov 03

Top Ten Mets’ Offseason Questions; Collins Not One Of Them

Fortunately, the Mets don’t have to make any decisions immediately when their judgment will be clouded by emotion. These are complex decisions that go beyond the simple and naive approach had Lucas Duda made that throw everything would have been all right.

Duda’s was emblematic of just one of the many off-season concerns facing GM Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon’s checkbook, and that is improving their defense, which is paramount considering they will attempt to make a return trip to the World Series based on their pitching.

With the Mets having signed manager Terry Collins to a two-year extension today, they took care of their first order of business, which was deserving and also eliminated the possibility of the Game 5 meltdown lingering.

Here are the most pressing questions the Mets hope to answer before they face the Royals again, which is Opening Day, 2016:

1) What to do with Cespedes?

Situation: The Mets probably wouldn’t have reached the playoffs had they not traded for Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit. However, you can’t say they wouldn’t have made the World Series, because Cespedes did little in the postseason. Cespedes’ defense and effort were questioned and even exposed in the playoffs. They are expected to make a token offer, but not come close to the seven years and over $120 million he is reportedly asking.

2) What to do with Murphy?

Situation: The Mets are expected to make a qualifying offer to Daniel Murphy, but not a long-term deal. Murphy had a historic run in the first two rounds, but added little outside a critical error in Game 4 of the World Series. The Mets must decide if Murphy’s show of power was a fluke or indication he has developed into a power hitter, and if it is the latter, is that enough to overcome losing Cespedes.

3) What to do with Flores?

Situation: A deal fell in July that would have sent Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee. It was a defining moment to the season. Flores showed he wasn’t a liability on defense, but will the Mets be happy? If they let Murphy go and Tejada’s broken leg has healed, Flores would move to second.

4) Can they improve their catching?

Situation: Travis d’Arnaud improved as a hitter when he came off the disabled list and he calls a good game. However, the Royals exposed his inability to throw out runners. Based on their limited exposure to him, the Mets must decide if Kevin Plawecki is any better and who might bring back the most in a trade.

5) Will they follow through with Conforto?

Situation: Manager Terry Collins said Michael Conforto would be a full time player and that includes hitting against left-handed pitching. As of now, the outfield should read Conforto, Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson, from left to right.

6) How healthy is Wright?

Situation: David Wright missed over four months with spinal stenosis and had no complications when he returned. However, can he last an entire season? Their answer could determine what they might do with Murphy.

7) How will they rebuild the bullpen?

Situation: Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese were the Mets’ best bridge relievers to Jeurys Familia in the postseason. Addison Reed was a plus, but Tyler Clippard faded in the end. The Mets are counting on left-hander Jerry Blevins to recover from a broken arm.

8) How much will they spend?

Situation: Reportedly, the Mets already have $92 million tied into salaries for 2016. The Mets were fortunate to land Cespedes at the trade deadline. I think they need to load up during the winter because I don’t now if they can do it again,

9) Will they trade Niese?

Situation: They were unable to last winter, but will try again this offseason. Will the Mets be willing to spend Niese’s salary out of the bullpen?

10) Will they incorporate innings limits again?

Situation: Jacob deGrom withered in the end and Matt Harvey‘s pitch count came into play in Game 5. Whether if be innings or pitch counts, make a decision, announce it and stick with it this time.



Nov 02

Harvey Should Take Some Responsibility

There are a lot of reasons why the Mets aren’t in Kansas City today, why their unlikely season isn’t continuing. Terry Collins, being the man he is, took responsibility last night, but it’s not all on him.

Fingers are being pointed in all directions. At David Wright for cutting in front of shortstop Wilmer Flores on that grounder in the ninth. At Lucas Duda for his poor throw, and the bullpen and lack of hitting. All deserve responsibility, but nobody is blaming Matt Harvey, which is wrong.

HARVEY: Diva does it again (AP)

HARVEY: Diva does it again (AP)

Much of the storylines this season were about Harvey, and such was the case last night, when with the sporting world watching, he made it all about him. I don’t want to hear any of this Dark Knight crap. Hell, even Batman had to answer to Commissioner Gordon.

Harvey knew the cameras were on on him when pitching coach Dan Warthen told him he was done. He always knows where the cameras are it seems, and knew they would follow him to Collins.

I softened on Harvey lately, but not after last night. Not anymore, or to quote the Mets’ diva, “No way.’’

With the Mets desperately trying to prolong their season, Harvey made it all about him again.

“I want this game bad,’’ Harvey told his manager. Of course, the operative word in that sentence was “I.’’

Never mind his manager, who backed him and tried to protect him all year. Never mind his teammates. Never mind the frustrated Mets’ fan base. When a team wins a championship, it takes 25 players. All of them, but that’s not how Harvey sees it. He sees it as he being the superhero. He craves the glory.

We are in the ninth inning of the most important game of the Mets’ season and Harvey basically told his manager, “screw you … I am pitching.’’ He told his teammates he cared more about his personal glory than them.

Again, as he frequently has done, he made himself bigger than his team, and last night, bigger than the game.

He has that attitude because all his life people kissed his Bat Belt. In high school, in college, and now with the Mets. GM Sandy Alderson and Collins are to blame because they caved to his petulant demands, and the latter, to his dismay, did so again last night.

A hundred pitches is Harvey’s weakness. After 100 pitches opposing hitters are batting .373 off him with a .440 on-base percentage and .448 slugging percentage. Harvey was over 100 pitches when Collins sent Warthen to pull him.

Where Collins was wrong was not doing it himself and for waffling. Where Collins was wrong was in trusting Harvey more than his gut. Hopefully, Collins won’t make that mistake again.

I raised this point during the height of Harvey’s innings fiasco, and it is time to do so again. With Zack Wheeler coming back, and Yoenis Cespedes leaving, and Harvey being a selfish diva, it is time for the Mets to explore what they can get for him.

Yes, Harvey was sensational last night for eight innings, but in a flash his selfishness wiped that away and that’s my enduring image from this World Series.

I haven’t read any admission of taking responsibility from Harvey, but, I haven’t read The Player’s Tribune, yet. Surely, it is in there.


Nov 02

Collins Falls On Sword For Harvey

There are plenty of fingers to he pointed in defeat, but the only thing I can blame Terry Collins for was not following his gut. He wanted to pull Matt Harvey; he wanted to give the ball to his snake bit closer Jeurys Familia with a clean inning.

“No way,’’ Harvey screamed at the manager who tried to protect him all year. And in defeat, Collins trusted him again.

“He said, `I want this game. I want it bad,’ ’’ Collins said. “I let my heart get in the way of my gut. … It was inexcusable.’’

HARVEY: ``No way.'' Yes, way. (Getty)

HARVEY: “No way.” Yes, way. (Getty)

If Collins stayed with his gut and the Mets bullpen blew it, he would have been vilified. If Collins pulled Harvey after the walk and the bullpen blew it then, he would have been roasted for that.

“If you’re going to send him out there for one hitter, you shouldn’t sent him out there at all,’’ Collins said.

But, it wasn’t just that decision. The Mets’ defense played poorly; the bullpen was always on shaky ground; and the offense, well, it didn’t exist. Four hits tonight were not going to get it done.

Collins accepted responsibility, but there were others to share blame.

In the end, nobody expected the Mets to get this far, and I’m talking about more than reaching the World Series. Entering the season, the goal was to get to .500. They lapped that expectation.

As the Royals celebrated in the middle of the infield and Citi Field grew quiet, the TV cameras focused on David Wright, who stared blankly to the field.

All I could think about was how empty he felt, and I hoped he would feel that way for a long time as it is a feeling to build on.