Jun 03

Rushing Cespedes Smacks Of Desperation

If it was late August and the Mets were five games behind, I might see rushing Yoenis Cespedes off the disabled list. If he could save their season and give them a realistic shot at the postseason, then, why not?

But, they are not. They aren’t even close. Before today’s game, the Mets trailed Washington by 11 games and were nine games out of the second wild card.

ALDERSON: No need to rush Cespedes. (AP)

ALDERSON: No need to rush Cespedes. (AP)

I might be inclined to push the envelope with Cespedes if it meant improving the Mets’ offense, but that’s not even their biggest weakness. The Mets never thought pitching – both starters and relievers – would be what’s holding them back.

Cespedes originally tweaked his left hamstring, April 20, against Philadelphia. The Mets originally said he would miss at least four games, but instead of placing him on the 10-day disabled list, they foolishly kept him on the active list. He missed three games, then after an off-day and rainout, rushed him back.

Cespedes played in two games, reinjured the hamstring April 27 and went on the disabled list the following day.

He hasn’t played since.

Cespedes has had two “setbacks,” including one last weekend. Even so, GM Sandy Alderson said the hope is for him to be activated when the Mets are in Texas, June 6, where he can be the designated hitter.

Manager Terry Collins said Cespedes is “making strides,’’ although the best he’s doing now is jogging.

Cespedes needs to run full speed; change speeds and direction in the outfield; and run the bases. He’s still a week away from doing those things, before he plays at least a week of minor league games.

That is, if Alderson wants to handle this the right way. Anything else is asking for trouble. Forcing Cespedes back now with so much of the season remaining is foolish.

It smacks of desperation.

May 29

Alderson Endorses Collins Before Strong Effort From Gsellman

Reportedly, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been keeping a book on manager Terry Collins, which made today’s semi-endorsement somewhat surprising.

Speaking before the Mets’ 4-2 Memorial Day victory over Milwaukee, Alderson said: “I’m happy with the job Terry has done under the circumstances. Nobody is happy with the won-lost record. There are reasons for the record that have nothing to do with Terry.”

GSELLMAN:  Solid seven then to pen. (AP)

GSELLMAN: Solid seven then to pen. (AP)

Collins has gambled and lost a few times this season, but what has most hurt the Mets have been injuries to ace Noah Syndergaard and closer Jeurys Familia – neither is due back anytime soon – and their All-Star slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who is out for at least two weeks.

There have also been injuries to Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera and David Wright, and pitchers Seth Lugo and Steven Matz.

This is something Alderson should have recognized and vocalized weeks ago.

Much of the criticism directed at Collins is for his bullpen usage, which today featured one inning each from Paul Sewald – who is rapidly become a Collins favorite – and Addison Reed, who earned his seventh save despite letting the first two batters reach in the ninth.

Today’s starter, Robert Gsellman, worked seven strong innings today and is expected to go back into the bullpen when Lugo and Matz – who will each get at least one more rehab start – are activated from the disabled list.

Ironically, Gsellman found his mechanics after he was moved to the pen several weeks ago. Gsellman is better suited for the pen than either Matz or Lugo, and for his money, he doesn’t mind going back.

“I don’t care,” Gsellman said. “I just want to pitch.”

May 25

Collins Prohibited From Talking About Injuries

The Mets’ juvenile attempt to prohibit manager Terry Collins from talking about injuries won’t accomplish anything other than reinforcing the belief than any misinterpretation begins with GM Sandy Alderson.

Collins drives me crazy when he waffles when discussing injuries, but it must be realized he’s spouting the information given him by management.

COLLINS: Gag order on injuries. (AP)

COLLINS: Gag order on injuries. (AP)

First of all, it won’t stop the questions from being asked. Whereas Collins was the one peppered with questions, now it will be Alderson who gets the grilling.

And, it won’t stop the reporters from digging, which won’t make anybody very happy.

All this does is to make nothing the Mets say about injuries to be taken at face value.

The Mets have long been hammered for how they have handled injuries, and to be certain that includes decisions from the front office.

The innings fiasco with Matt Harvey was Alderson’s responsibility, as was his decision for Noah Syndergaard to bypass an MRI, only to start and partially tear a lat muscle.

Those are on Alderson. Actually, this should take pressure off of Collins, who can say, “go ask Sandy.’’

Ever since Collins has managed the Mets, he’s had to explain and defend Alderson’s policies and decisions, even if he didn’t agree with them.

MONTERO SHOWS NOTHING: An argument can be made that the worst thing to come out of tonight’s 4-3 loss outside of the obvious, is that Rafael Montero’s shabby three-inning performance forced Collins to use Paul Sewald for three innings of relief.

Montero gave up three runs on three walks and five hits. He threw 87 pitches, 45 of them coming in the first inning.

As far as Sewald goes, his scoreless three innings – with four strikeouts – has him making serious strides towards becoming a reliable arm in the Mets’ faulty bullpen.

EXTRA INNINGS: Jacob deGrom was pushed back to avoid the possibility of starting and then losing him in a long rain delay. He’ll start Friday in Pittsburgh. … Michael Conforto went 1-for-5, with four strikeouts. … Lucas Duda and Jose Reyes had two hits each. … Mets hitters struck out 11 times. … The Mets went 1-for-10 with RISP and left nine runners overall, so they had their chances.

May 08

Mets Wrap: Mets Show Resiliency

For the second time in eight days, the Mets got back to their feet after taking what could have been a knockout punch. Tonight they responded from Matt Harvey’s latest brush with immaturity, while a week ago today they responded from losing Noah Syndergaard and by 17 runs to the Nationals.

WALKER: Raps game-winner. (AP)

WALKER: Raps game-winner. (AP)

Tonight, Neil Walker’s ninth-inning single carried the Mets 4-3 victory over the Giants to push the Harvey Soap Opera to the back burner. We’ll see how things are tomorrow when Harvey returns to Citi Field.

The Mets reached the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, both times overcoming a myriad of injuries and lengthy team hitting slump to play meaningful October baseball.

They are already facing the same obstacles this season but responded with a stretch of losing 10 of 11 by winning seven of ten.

“You can’t let things linger, you have to move on,” manager Terry Collins said, referring to both Syndergaard’s injury and Harvey’s latest. “We have a great bunch. They are a group of veteran guys. They don’t let down.”

Collins said a win like tonight can be built on to define a season.

“It can,” Collins said. “Yesterday was a tough day. They showed up today and got after it. You have to be resilient in this game. You have to deal with it.”

DeGROM OFF: With Syndergaard on the 60-day disabled list and no knowing where Harvey’s head or heart is located, it’s up to Jacob deGrom to lead what was supposed to be a dominating staff.

Actually, the marquee staff of deGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey, Steve Matz (on the disabled list) and today’s starter Zack Wheeler have never gone through the rotation in order.

DeGrom struck out at least ten for the fourth time in five starts, but walked three and gave up homers to Hunter Pence and Buster Posey in six innings.

By definition, it was a quality start, but deGrom was having none of that talk: “It was better than the last one, but there were still walks and I didn’t get the ball down like I wanted to. If I could figure out I would. I left two balls up and they hit it over the fence.”

MILONE TO START: Newly-acquired Tommy Milone will start Wednesday in the series finale against the Giants. Milone will replace Rafael Montero.

CESPEDES UPDATE: Collins said Yoenis Cespedes reports his hamstring is feeling better, but he is still at least ten days from resuming baseball activities and two weeks from getting in a game.

If you recall, when Cespedes was placed on the disabled list, Alderson said he could be back by May 8, which, of course, is today.

 

May 08

Mets To Protect Harvey With Friday Return

The Mets are thinking about Friday as a return to the mound for Matt Harvey. He will return to the ballpark tomorrow to make his apologies and pitch again Friday when the Mets are in Milwaukee – away from the prying microphones and cameras that would besiege him at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Looking at Friday. (AP)

HARVEY: Looking at Friday. (AP)

It seemed logical the Mets should start him Wednesday afternoon over Rafael Montero, who can’t find the plate with a GPS, or recently-acquired Tommy Milone.

Instead, this is just another example of the Mets massaging Harvey’s fragile ego; do it in Milwaukee to spare him the boos he’d undoubtedly hear in New York.

C’mon, admit it, if you were going to be at Citi Field Wednesday, part of you would want to stand up and vent your anger at Harvey, the same anger GM Sandy Alderson finally did.

After acquiescing to Harvey’s pettiness and demands since 2013 – from hiding pain in his forearm that eventually lead to Tommy John surgery, to complaining where he would do his rehab, to his innings fiasco in 2015, to missing a World Series workout because he got caught in traffic and it was later discovered he was out partying the night before, to pitching a fit in the dugout to stay in Game 5 of the World Series he eventually kicked away – Alderson finally had enough.

“We have a policy here,” Collins said of Harvey’s for an unexcused absence Saturday. “I thought it was the right thing to do. I know it’s dramatic, but I think any team in baseball would have probably reacted very similarly. And it wasn’t just Matt Harvey. Anybody in that room that misses a day and nobody knows about it, we’ve got to do the same thing.”

Harvey said he developed a migraine headache after golfing and there was a miscommunication of explaining his absence that the Mets weren’t buying.

I’m not either, because how could he not have Alderson’s cell number? Or, Collins? Or trainer Ray Ramirez?

If we’re venturing guesses, I think him being in Ottawa watching the Rangers is as good as any.

Anyway, before Harvey throws his first pitch, he’ll have some groveling to do with his teammates tomorrow afternoon.

“I know one thing about our society: You make a mistake, you stand up, be accountable and move on,” Collins said. “He needs to address the guys. We’ve got to get this behind us. However he wants to go about doing that, I’ll sign on for it.

“We have a good clubhouse. Understand, you’re never going to have 25 that all like each other. But they respect each other and that’s all I want.”

Harvey may have lost that respect and has a long way to go to earn it back.