Jul 06

Collins Lays Down Law With Harvey

The other day I suggested the Mets’ Matt Harvey “just shut up and pitch.” Evidently, manager Terry Collins has similar thoughts, but was less colorful than me. Anyway, the bottom line is Collins and GM Sandy Alderson want to do the right thing with Harvey and the other starters to protect their arms.

Of course, had Alderson developed a definitive plan coming out of spring training this wouldn’t be the issue it has become. And for the record, Princess Harvey made it the hot button topic. Quite frankly, it amazes me how many people don’t understand the six-man is designed to protect Harvey and the other young pitchers, all of whom are on innings counts.

If the Mets hope to play meaningful games in September, they’ll need those pitchers. Seriously, wouldn’t Harvey rather the Mets limit him now or in September? Logic would dictate that be the case, but why can’t Harvey understand that?

When Harvey blamed his rustiness on the six-man rotation – and undercut Collins in the process – the manager told the pitcher to “get over it.”

“I know he’s frustrated by it, and he and I have talked about it,” Collins told reporters, in yet another effort to placate Harvey. “But you’ve got to come up and be creative between starts. I certainly understand it. I certainly do understand it. He’s a tremendous competitor and he wants to be out there as much as he can on a regular basis.

“I guess the easiest way for me to say it is, ‘Matt, we’ll go back to a five-man, but I hope you enjoy watching the rest of the season sitting on the bench in September when we need you.’ So we’ve got to make the adjustment.”

That’s what the Diva doesn’t understand. The Mets are in the six-man rotation to protect Harvey, All-Star selection Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, not to mention Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Then again, when you’re thinking only of yourself and not the big picture, that’s what happens.

I’m glad Collins had his say with Harvey, and more than that, brought his comments to the forefront. It’s about time.

Jul 05

Memo To Harvey: Shut Up And Pitch

Matt Harvey said he wasn’t making excuses for his performance Saturday as the Mets lost in Los Angeles. But, that’s what it came across at for Princess Matt when he blamed the six-man rotation for his control issues.

HARVEY: Acting like he's still in college. (UNC)

HARVEY: Acting like he’s still in college. (UNC)

“With that much time off in-between starts, throwing once a week, I found a rhythm in the bullpen and then once I got a hitter in there and got the adrenaline going a little bit, things kind of got out of whack,” Harvey told reporters. “With the six-man and the day off, it’s tough. We’re all having to deal with it. It’s not an excuse why things didn’t go well today, but I just have to do a better job of finding a way to find a rhythm through a period of extended rest like that.”

The primary reason the Mets went to a six-man rotation was to protect the Diva of Flushing. The Mets failed in going with a concrete plan going into the season and consequently adopted the six-man rotation. My guess is this GM Sandy Alderson’s brainchild.

Harvey threw 100 pitches in five innings and walked five. He’s now 7-6 with a 3.11 ERA, and I had to laugh when I read his chances were slim in being selected to the All-Star team. I have Harvey fourth behind Jeurys Familia, Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom as All-Star worthy Mets pitchers.

Harvey’s command was off from the beginning, and that’s been the case with him for awhile now.

Sure, Harvey said he has to find a way to turn things around, but that doesn’t change the fact he did take a jab at the six-man rotation, and by extension, undercutting manager Terry Collins, who goes out of his way to protect him.

All the other pitchers are going through the same thing, but their whining is minimal compared to that of Harvey. Regardless of the issue, the Mets have gone out or their way to protect Harvey and acquiesce to his demands and whims.

Frankly, it’s getting a tiresome and a little boring. From now on, I’ll just go under the assumption you’re terminally irked about the rotation and move on. Understand, your complaints would carry a lot more weight if you actually pitched like an ace and didn’t act like an ass.

 

Jul 04

Collins Gets Confidence Vote; Pressure Squarely On Alderson Now

Mets GM Sandy Alderson gave beleaguered manager Terry Collins a “vote of confidence,’’ which traditionally is rarely a good sign. If the clock hadn’t been ticking on Collins yet, it is now.

Traditionally, that’s how these things go.

ALDERSON: Spares Collins for now. (AP)

ALDERSON: Spares Collins for now. (AP)

What winning Friday accomplished was give the Mets a winning record (41-40) at the halfway point, and for one night at least alleviated some of the pressure Collins spoke about Thursday.

The Mets flew into Los Angeles with speculation – on this site, also – they would lose to Clayton Kershaw Friday and Zack Greinke Saturday. At least, that’s how smart money had it.

The Mets have had an unprecedented number of injuries this season, beginning in spring training with the loss of Zack Wheeler and as now nobody knows when David Wright will return. Currently nine Mets are on the disabled list.

The injuries, coupled with absolutely little offensive production – they’ve scored one or fewer runs 21 times and have been shut out nine times – have put a tremendous strain on the young pitching staff.

“I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair,’’ Alderson said. “We’re a .500 team. We haven’t been moving in the right direction. I understand that. We’ve had a lot of people hurt for long periods of time.

“We’ve got some young guys in particular that are not hitting. We’ve got some older players that have had to try to carry the load. I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair. So from that standpoint, there’s absolutely no consideration of that.

“This is not a Terry Collins watch. … As I said, I think it’s very unfair to put a lot of the way we’ve played over the last few weeks on Terry.’’

We all know Collins can’t hit or field for his players. The pressure shifts to Alderson to give the Mets’ impotent offense a new bat or two.

It would have been good for Alderson to say: “The pressure is on me to give this team some offensive help. It’s up to me to give Terry and our pitchers some help.’’

But, Alderson didn’t say that … he didn’t need to because that’s what everybody is thinking.

 

Jul 03

Alderson’s Strategy To Improve Offense Is Hope

The Mets are falling fast in the NL East as management, led by Sandy Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager, as his biographer proclaims – sits idly by utilizing his favorite strategy, which is to cross his fingers and hope.

Nobody likes the chances of the Mets, once ten games over .500, to get past Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the first two games of their series at Los Angeles. With a brutal July schedule, it isn’t a reach to think the Mets could be cooked by the All-Star break.

Alderson, who gave manager Terry Collins a “vote of confidence,’’ prior to Friday’s game, has three options to snap the Mets from their offensive funk.

The first is hope, which means to stand pat and hope one or two players snap out of it. Notably, the Mets need Lucas Duda, who is hitting .172 with one homer over the past 27 games. They also need the return of David Wright, but nobody can say with any degree of certainty when that could be.

The second is to trade one of their four young stud pitchers for a bat, but Alderson has shown no inclination to deal from the group of Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom or Steven Matz. Instead, Alderson prefers to trade either Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon. Niese and Colon have pitched well lately, but not to where they are drawing substantial interest.

Ideally, I would prefer Alderson hold onto that group and stack their rotation with Zack Wheeler next season. But, how often have the Mets had a chance to compete for the playoffs since 2006, the last year they saw October? It’s not unrealistic to think this could be their best chance for awhile. After all, Harvey missed last year with Tommy John surgery. Wheeler had it and won’t be back until next July. Matz and deGrom also had it. Nobody knows when the next injury will occur.

Finally, the Mets could bring up prospects Matt Reynolds or Michael Conforto, which he also is reluctant to do.

Frankly, Reynolds isn’t burning it up down below to warrant a promotion. The Mets’ thinking on Conforto is to keep him down because they are concerned about his psyche. But, if his psyche is so fragile to where he could be damaged by not producing then maybe he’s not as good as the Mets are talking him up to be, and perhaps they should learn that now.

Other teams, such as the Nationals with Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, the Giants with Matt Cain, the Dodgers with Kershaw and the Cubs with Kris Bryant have done. These organizations are considerably more proactive than the Mets.

However, keeping Conforto down has more to do with economics than it does psychology. As they did with their young pitchers, the Mets want to delay starting the clock on their major league service time.

So, not knowing the economic landscape of the game or their budget five years down the road, the Mets are making a financial decision for the future over a possible chance to improve themselves now, a year in which they pledged to compete.

Just not smart, but nobody said hope was a brilliant strategy. So, Sandy break out the rabbit’s foot.

Jul 02

Collins Will Take Hit From Failures By Alderson And Ownership

The Mets’ Terry Collins isn’t a great manager, but far from a terrible one. The hitting slump continued today as the Mets scored only one run in being swept by the Chicago Cubs, which erased any positive thoughts garnered from sweeping the Reds.

April’s 11-game winning streak is forgotten; archived in Mets’ trivia.

ALDERSON: His manager is on the hot seat. (AP)

ALDERSON: His manager is on the hot seat. (AP)

With the Mets not hitting, there was nothing Jacob deGrom could do, although he was lucky he didn’t break his hand or a couple of fingers when he punched out a water cooler. That would have been typical Mets, wouldn’t it?

Collins told reporters after the game, “we have to lighten up a bit. … More guys fail in this game from fear than they do a lack of talent.”

Although Collins remains supportive of his team – and his players generally play hard for him – radio talk shows roast him on a regular basis, and stories are percolating about his future. One writer I greatly respect, Newsday’s David Lennon, did so in Thursday’s editions, and nailed it when he said pressure on Collins is “not fair, or right … but it’s reality.’’

Also reality is Collins isn’t getting help from ownership or general manager Sandy Alderson, who said in his book – that proclaimed him as the game’s smartest general manager – he didn’t have any confidence in his manager.

Nice, huh? What a way to instill confidence in your team. You say stuff like that when the manager is not under your employ. Do you think that didn’t go unnoticed by the players? It will certainly be brought up when the ax falls on Collins.

The Mets, a team whose rotation was largely put together by former general manager Omar Minaya, is good enough to win most games with even a little support. They haven’t gotten much, if any, this year. Of their 40 losses, 21 have been by two or fewer runs. They have been shut out nine times; and 29 times (including wins) scored two or fewer runs.

Yeah, that’s Collins’ fault.

Shouldn’t we instead dish blame on the Wilpons for not allowing for a budget needed to acquire a top-drawer hitter? Especially considering they received positive nods in the courts – not to mention a $167 million windfall – in the Madoff case.

Or, how about Alderson, whose only offensive acquisition of quality, was the project Curtis Granderson? The Mets have also had a long line of hitting coaches – they haven’t had a collective clue at the plate since firing Rick Down – with Kevin Long the latest not to reach them.

Yes, the Mets have had injuries, but all teams do. Washington has arguably been hit harder.

Ultimately it comes down to the players.

Collins can’t hit for his players, and as hard as he tries to pound fundamentals into them, it just hasn’t sunk in. Too many strikeouts, not enough walks, not enough situational hitting, and too many wasted at-bats.

The Mets’ team batting average is a league-low .232 by nine points. They have a paltry .297 on-base percentage. I don’t need any of the new sexy stats to tell me how badly they’ve hit. I see it with my own eyes.

Including today, they’ve scored 277 runs (3.4 a game). The Mets have also struck out 620 times (7.7).

No worries, things should be better when the Mets go into Los Angeles and face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Then, it’s on to San Francisco where they get Chris Heston, who threw a no-hitter at them at Citi Field, and Matt Cain.

By that time, they could be four games under .500, maybe more, heading into the All-Star break. Perhaps by then Alderson would make a trade or two, only as a seller and not a buyer.

Collins will eventually take the fall for Alderson’s inability to put a representative team on the field. Alderson wasn’t able to fill the void created by Wright’s injury. For years now, Alderson failed to bring in any quality hitters – or even one.

Instead, Alderson has worked on his comedy routine – several times at the expense of Wilmer Flores – with his latest quip calling the media and fans “residents of Panic City.’’

Of course, the condescending Alderson was telling us we’re not as smart as him. Sandy, I might not be able to build a watch, but I can tell time.

And, what you’re doing isn’t working.

If Collins goes, you should, also.