Mar 05

Lay Off Daniel Murphy

Unfortunately, things developed as I anticipated for Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy after his response to a reporter’s question of potentially having a gay teammate.

The topic arose when GM Sandy Alderson invited former major leaguer Billy Bean to address the Mets on inclusion. Bean admitted after his career he was gay.

MURPHY: Honest answer.

MURPHY: Honest answer.

As a reporter, I welcome it when a player gives an honest, well reasoned answer to a question, which is what Murphy did when asked about Bean.

What, Alderson didn’t think his players wouldn’t be asked?

“I disagree with his lifestyle,’’ Murphy told reporters. “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect.

“Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them, but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.

“Maybe, as a Christian … we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree [with] the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me.’’

What is so wrong about that answer? It was the best possible response. Murphy expressed his beliefs, which is his right as much as it was Bean’s right to state his. Most importantly, Murphy said he would accept a gay teammate simply because he was a teammate.

Isn’t that what acceptance is all about?

This was part of a major league directive. What is the intent? Is it beneficial to introduce a potentially divisive issue into the clubhouse?

A baseball team is comprised of players, but they are also human beings. Each having their own beliefs, opinions and follow their own moral compass.

Bean said what he believed and Murphy did the same, which is the ultimate display of free-flowing ideas.

However, Murphy’s thoughts have been criticized, which unfortunately is what one expects in this era of political correctness.

ON DECK: Zack Wheeler talks smack … sort of.

 

 

Mar 04

Mets Today: Showcasing Gee

Let the showcasing begin for the Mets and Dillon Gee, whom they have been trying to trade since the end of last season. Gee will start today against Atlanta in the Mets’ exhibition opener, with the parameters being 35 pitches or two innings.

Gee, who threw 199 innings two years ago, regressed last season and was 7-8 with a 4.00 ERA. He’s expendable with the return of Matt Harvey following elbow surgery.

GEE: Being showcased this spring. (AP)

GEE: Being showcased this spring. (AP)

The Mets tried to trade Gee this off-season, but found little interest, probably because of their high asking price. After the winter meetings they indicated a willingness to accept a low-level prospect, but GM Sandy Alderson said the market is currently dry.

“I think most clubs, including ours, are focused on what’s going on in camp and evaluating what they already have,’’ Alderson told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “If there’s going to be any significant trade talk, I think typically it’s going to happen later in spring training, unless there’s an injury of some sort. By and large, I think that comes more in the second half of spring training.’’

Assuming no injuries in the rotation, Gee is the sixth starter, which puts him on the outside, or more to the point, in the bullpen as a long reliever. Because each starter has a significant question next to his name, it makes sense to hold onto Gee, who has been productive. The Mets won’t trade Gee just for the sake of making a deal.

From his point, Gee likes it here and wants to stay.

“I’m happy to be here. I really am,’’ Gee said at the start of camp. “Right now, I’m approaching this like I’m pitching to be a starter. That’s what they’ve told me to do. I love starting, and I’ve been successful as a starter.’’

But, that’s not his choice.

Feb 24

Mets Matters: Alderson Jabs Flores; Parnell To Throw; Duda Ailing

If I were Wilmer Flores, I’d be hacked off at GM Sandy Alderson. I wouldn’t be happy being Ruben Tejada, either.

Several times Alderson has cracked wise about the Mets’ shortstop situation. The Wall Street Journal reported when Alderson showed up for jury duty he was asked what he did in his free time.

Reportedly, Alderson said: “Well, now I’m looking for a shortstop.’’

I still don’t understand why a general manager would continually undercut his players in public.

mets-matters logo* Today, manager Terry Collins said the Mets would miss Eric Young’s speed. Young’s absence underscores the Mets’ need for a leadoff hitter. Currently, it’s between Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson.

Earlier today, I endorsed Lagares because I believe Granderson’s greater value is as a run producer in the middle of the order.

* Hindered by his wild throwing to bases, the Mets will work hard with reliever Jeurys Familia this spring. The Mets also want Familia to throw more four-seam fastballs, which gives hitters something else to consider.

* Reliever Bobby Parnell is scheduled to throw in the bullpen and pitch to hitters this weekend. As with Matt Harvey, Parnell is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Parnell could throw to hitters on Thursday.

* Lucas Duda sustained a strained left oblique muscle and might not hit for another three days, but will participate in fielding drills.

Feb 23

Here’s A Thought Why Mets Won’t Announce Set Plan For Harvey

Unquestionably, the primary focus for the Mets this spring training will be on Matt Harvey. GM Sandy Alderson said there would not be severe restrictions on Harvey, who remains on schedule and is to throw to hitters by the end of the week.

That’s encouraging, but what is puzzling is wondering if the Mets even have a concrete plan for Harvey’s first year following Tommy John surgery. There’s supposed to be an innings cap, but so far there’s no announced number, with Alderson saying he didn’t want this to become an issue over the next eight months.

HARVEY: Why won't they announce plan? (Getty)

HARVEY: Why won’t they announce plan? (Getty)

Memo to Alderson: Announced number or not, Harvey’s workload will always be an issue. Not knowing drives the media crazy and encourages it to bombard Alderson, Harvey and Terry Collins with the same questions before and after every start.

How can Alderson be that naïve about the New York press to think the issue will go away, especially as the season wears down and there is a prospect of a postseason?

First, it was thought Harvey would not pitch in the six games the Mets have on the road to open the season, but start the home opener. Now, Collins says he’ll start in the season’s first five games. How much do you want to bet he starts Opening Day and the home opener?

Alderson says the Mets have “an idea,’’ of Harvey’s limit, but not a definitive number. Harvey threw out 200, but not 215 or 220.

Alderson said Harvey will start in the postseason, but what does that mean toward the innings total?

Let’s assume the Mets get in as a wild card and run the table. That’s a potential six or seven starts; that’s at least another 40 innings. And, if they are in a race there’s no way they’ll cut him short in a game.

How does that compute? Do the Mets think 170 innings and keep adding on until their season is done? Don’t think for a second if the Mets reach the playoffs they would consider limiting him.

But, all innings count.

The ideal way is to map out a schedule that utilizes skipping one start a month, which is a possible savings of 42 innings, figuring seven innings is the magic number for a start. This can easily be done when scheduled off days are considered. And, it would not impact the rest of the rotation.

Then, Collins can pull Harvey depending on how he’s pitching that day and the tenor of the game. Those are bonus saved innings. I would hope on days Harvey doesn’t have it he’ll have a short leash.

That seems the easiest way, but the Mets won’t commit to this format. Instead, they floated the idea of sometimes earmarking a start for five innings. That’s a terrible idea because what if Harvey is throwing a gem? What if they pull him and the bullpen gives it up? That’s a backlash Collins doesn’t want to face.

This way also puts undue pressure on the team if they think they’ll have Harvey for five innings. A team must go into a game believing the starter will be with them. Plus, you would be putting the bullpen in the situation of working four innings that night. But, what if they were overused in an extra-innings game the night before? What if the next game’s starter is shelled? All of a sudden the bullpen is taxed.

The Mets’ reluctance to carve out a concrete plan for Harvey this year has nothing to do with trying to alleviate a distraction. At least not the one they think.

I believe their caution is they don’t want to risk of aggravating or annoying their temperamental pitcher, who has already in his young career has shown a willingness, if not eagerness, to spar with management.

They don’t want Harvey to become angry and create a different distraction. What they don’t understand it is better to face this now rather than have this become a lingering issue.

And, you know it will.

Feb 21

Collins Says Mets Capable Of Playoffs

Is it genuine optimism for the New York Mets or simply unfounded wishful thinking? In the past two days, both GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins alluded to the playoffs. No guarantees, and with the qualifier, “capable of” if they execute. Hell, anybody could have told you that.

“Now we’ve just got to go play,’’ Collins told reporters Saturday in Port St. Lucie. “It’s all about execution. As we’ve seen in the past, there are teams that were world champs and the next year they’re in last place. And there are teams that were in last place that the next year they’re in the playoffs.

“If we play up to expectations and what we think are the caliber of players we have, we’ll be playing in October.’’

Collins’ thinking is based on the potential of the Mets’ pitching; the additions of Michael Cuddyer in right field and John Mayberry for the bench; and healthy returns of David Wright and Matt Harvey.

There are other issues: Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler must progress; the bullpen is seemingly sound, even without Bobby Parnell available at the start of the season; the leadoff spot is unsettled between Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson; Wilmer Flores is an unproven commodity at shortstop.

Harvey is a huge key, and Alderson acknowledged there’s nothing concrete about his innings ceiling. It was initially reported Harvey would probably miss the start of the season, but likely pitch the home opener. Collins said today Harvey would start one of the season’s first five games.

I prefer something more definitive, but it is early. Things change.

“We’ve been sitting around for four years asking everybody to be patient and even the players,” Collins said. “Well, it’s time.’’

A lot has to happen if the Mets are to reach the playoffs, let alone have their first winning season after six straight losing summers.

Sure, there’s reason to be hopeful, but the playoffs? Well, I’ve heard this before from the Mets so I’m not swallowing this hook, line and sinker.

October baseball? I’ll believe it when I see it.