Feb 23

What Was Matz Thinking?

It’s not even March and Terry Collins has already given us our first head-scratching comment of the season. By this time, you’ve already seen the video of Steven Matz shark fishing, and unbelievably, reach over the side of the boat to touch the squirming animal.

This is beyond irresponsible and careless. Hell, it’s stupid. Why would he risk putting his career in jeopardy? A shark is a wild, out-of-control creature. It could have turned and taken off Matz’s hand. He could have slipped and fallen overboard. He could have impaled his hand on a hook.

So many things could have gone wrong, and Matz came away lucky.

Even crazier than Matz’s adventure on the high seas were the reactions of GM Sandy Alderson and Collins. Alderson said he didn’t have a problem, and Collins’ response to reporters was, “then it’s no problem,” when told Matz wasn’t bitten.

I’m hoping they underplayed it, but wouldn’t be surprised if they were not because their history is of not reacting to things they should.

Most standard Major League Baseball contracts have clauses banning activities that can be risky, such as scuba diving, basketball, drag racing, sky diving, skiing, and I would presume, fishing for sharks.

Feb 22

Good News So Far On Wheeler

The Mets received more good news Wednesday on Zack Wheeler‘s tender elbow. Wheeler made his second straight pain-free mound appearance this afternoon since reporting soreness in his elbow. Manager Terry Collins said Wheeler even added throwing breaking balls, which is progress.

WHEELER: Positive news so far. (Getty)

WHEELER: Positive news so far. (Getty)

Collins told reporters it was, “a big step forward … the best I’ve seen him throw down here.  The ball came out really well today. Little effort. I’m really excited.”

Rightfully so, the Mets made no proclamations with Wheeler’s future role. Starter or reliever? Well, that remains to be seen, but the most important issue is getting him healthy and there’s no rush in assigning him a role.

The Mets decided not to be in the first group of starters when exhibition play starts Friday against the Red Sox in Fort Myers. It is estimated he could make his first appearance – usually two innings or 30 pitches, March 7.

Assuming he adds an inning every five days, he should be up to seven by the end of spring training, which is normal for a starter.

However, they’ll also be simultaneously stretching out Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, which could give them three options for the fifth starter. What I don’t want to see happen with Wheeler is to bounce him from the rotation to the pen and back again.

 

 

 

Feb 20

Yanks’ Betances-Levine Feud Has Mets’ Remifications

I preface this with an apology for not posting recently. Many of you know I was severely injured in an accident several years ago and have had mobility problems since, including having to teach myself how to walk again. I had back surgery at the end of last week and haven’t posted the past few days because of sleeping most of the weekend. It’s one of those things I’ll have to deal with.

REED:  Don't limit him. (AP)

REED: Don’t limit him. (AP)

However, I have kept tabs on our team and MLB, and something occurred over the weekend I find pertinent to the Mets. That was Yankees president Randy Levine’s touchdown spike after the Dellin Betances arbitration hearing.

The two were $2 million apart and why they couldn’t meet in the middle is beyond me. It does illustrate how the Mets are better than most in handling the arbitration process. Rarely do the Mets engage in the spitting contest of a hearing where the player has to listen to the team trash him, then expects him to play as if nothing happened.

Levine said Betances couldn’t get closer-like bucks because he isn’t a closer, and he won’t get many opportunities this year because the Yankees have Aroldis Chapman. So, how does this impact the Mets?

While awaiting news on Jeurys Familia‘s suspension, the Mets don’t appear concerned because they have Addison Reed. But, if the Mets were paying attention to last year’s playoffs, they should recall Andrew Miller and how the Indians used him during game-in-the-balance moments that weren’t in the ninth inning.

Too often, the pivotal moment of a game is in the seventh or eighth inning, which is when Cleveland went with Miller. Since Reed is presumably the Mets’ best reliever, why can’t they use him in that situation instead of waiting until the ninth, when more often than not he’ll enter into a clean game to get three outs?

What’s wrong with using Reed when they really need him, instead of watching Hansel Robles kick away the game?

Baseball is held hostage by such statistics as saves and righty-lefty match-ups rather than letting players just play. For a recent reminder consider Miller and Daniel Murphy. For a long time the Mets didn’t want Murphy bat against left-handers. However, the Washington Nationals had no problem letting him bat against lefties.

There’s just too much over thinking in baseball and I’m afraid the Mets will fall into that trap with Reed until Familia returns.

 

 

 

Feb 16

What’s The Hurry In Signing Walker?

What’s the hurry? That was the first impression after hearing the Mets and second baseman Neil Walker had preliminary discussions on a possible multi-year contract.

WALKER: No hurry? (AP)

WALKER: No hurry? (AP)

I hope those discussions entail waiting to see how Walker copes coming off surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back. After with what the Mets have gone through with David Wright, and his persistent pain and lack of playing time, why would they hurry into another long-term contract with a player coming off back surgery?

“We’ve had some discussions and nothing has come to fruition,” Walker told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “But for me, looking at this, there is no place I would want to be, and looking down the road at what is here and what the next [few] years look like, this is an exciting place to be as a big league ballplayer. I feel confident in my health, and they do, too.”

That’s all good, but there’s a difference between a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer and a reported three-year, $40-million contract.

Despite consecutive playoff appearances, the Mets remain a penny-pinching bunch. In addition to Wright’s deal, they are tied to a four-year, $110-million anchor with Yoenis Cespedes.

The Cespedes deal has been an obstacle in dealing either Jay Bruce ($13 million) or Curtis Granderson ($15 million), although both will be off the books after this season. They are also in the middle of a long-term contract with Juan Lagares, but he’s not even starting.

They are apparently in no rush to sign any of their pitchers to long-term contracts, which is just as well since four of them are coming off surgery. Even so, in two years they’ll have to deal with Matt Harvey’s free-agency. Then come the rest.

Make no mistake, Walker had a terrific year, batting .282 with 23 homers and 55 RBI, but he only played in 113 games, but said he was in persistent pain.

“I’d probably wake up every single morning and as soon as I’d throw my feet over the side of bed, I could tell whether it was going to be a good or bad day,’’ Walker said.

Even that, one would think the Mets would operate with some hesitancy in this case.

Feb 15

Wheeler’s Sore Elbow Illustrates Mets’ Depth

The issues of whether Zack Wheeler is a starter or reliever, or his innings limitations, are moot if the Mets can’t get him on the mound. Here we are, less than a week into spring training, and the Mets’ first red flag is already flapping with news Wheeler – who hasn’t pitched in two years while recovering from Tommy John surgery – has tenderness in his elbow.

The immediate plan is for him to play catch Thursday, and if there’s no pain then throw in the bullpen Friday.

It’s all about caution for Wheeler, who likely will open the season on the disabled list because let’s face it, there’s no reason to rush him, not with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman around to pick up the slack. When Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz were injured last season, Lugo and Gsellman – and don’t forget, Bartolo Colon – kept the rotation afloat.

Maybe the tenderness is because Wheeler hasn’t really thrown since last August, or perhaps it was scar tissue, but pitching coach Dan Warthen said they won’t rush him. There’s no reason.

“We’re not going to push it because we want to see this kid healthy and once we get healthy, we want him to stay healthy, so we’ll have kid gloves with him,” Warthen told reporters in Port St. Lucie.

Warthen said it would be great if Wheeler made 25 starts, and even projected how many innings he’d throw if that happened, He also said it might be difficult for Wheeler to work out of the bullpen, something he’s never down before. But none of that matters if he can’t get to the mound.

Lugo figures to be the fifth starter and Gsellman could make the final 25-man roster as a long reliever. As for Wheeler, just getting him healthy is imperative. If they can do that, perhaps we’ll see Wheeler sometime in June.

We won’t know what kind of setback this will be, but it underscores the potential depth the Mets have in their rotation. There has been sentiment the Mets could trade Lugo or Gsellman, but Wheeler’s elbow reminds us there’s no reason to go there now because of the fragility of the rotation.