Jun 16

How Mets Derailed Harvey’s Comeback

Stuff happens, but why does it always seem to happen to the Mets? Let’s not disregard GM Sandy Alderson as a possible explanation. That’s certainly the case with Matt Harvey‘s recent trip to the disabled list for stress to his shoulder that is the cause for his tired arm.

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

When Harvey’s fastball barely touched 90 in spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said following thoracic outlet surgery one couldn’t expect him to be at full strength until the end of May. On March 15, I wrote if the Mets had the guts to leave Harvey off the Opening Day roster. They did not, of course, which isn’t surprising.

If Harvey wasn’t going to be full strength until May, then why was he on the Opening Day roster? Manager Terry Collins doesn’t make those decisions, Alderson does.

Perhaps there was a sense of urgency on Alderson’s part because neither Steven Matz nor Zack Wheeler were expected to be ready for the Opening Day roster. Even so, that’s not a good enough reason. Just because one player is injured and not ready it doesn’t give Alderson license to rush another player who isn’t ready.

Alderson had the authority to keep Harvey behind and chose not to. As far as Harvey goes, he’s staring at the end of his career and certainly wouldn’t rock the boat regarding his treatment.

The bottom line is that once again an issue involving Harvey was mishandled, but this time it was the Mets’ doing.

 

 

 

Jun 15

Mets Routed; Injuries Mount

The Mets aren’t fooling anybody with their new philosophy about not projecting how much time injured players could miss.

In placing Matt Harvey (stress injury to the scapula bone in his shoulder) and Neil Walker (partially torn left hamstring) on the 10-day disabled list, the Mets said they would each miss several weeks.

Figure at least a month before beginning baseball activities, and then add rehab time, so I’m guessing five to six weeks. Both players received platelet-rich plasma injections.

The Mets said they won’t begin rehab until pain-free, which is not what they did with Yoenis Cespedes. As if things weren’t bad enough, outfielder Juan Lagares – one of the few Mets who is hitting – fractured his left thumb attempting a diving catch.

Walker’s injury again raised the question of bringing up Amed Rosario, but GM Sandy Alderson again reiterated the intent is when he is brought up it will be for the long term and not a short fix.

In addition, Alderson said Noah Syndergaard won’t throw for at least four more weeks.

THE GAME: Once again the Mets gave up a first-inning homer – this time to Bryce Harper – but were actually in the game until the Nationals broke it open with a five-run fifth off Robert Gsellman and coasted to an 8-3 rout.

As usual, they couldn’t touch Gio Gonzalez, who increased his record to 10-1 lifetime at Citi Field.

Jun 10

Perfect Day For Mets And Matz

Pitching and power were to be the formula to carry the Mets this season, and today felt like it was supposed to be.

Today’s 6-1, 8-1 sweep was fueled by pitching; strong efforts from Robert Gsellman and Steven Matz, that were backed by Mets power, a grand slam from Yoenis Cespedes and a three-run homer from Jay Bruce in the nightcap.

MATZ: Gives Mets seven strong. (AP)

MATZ: Gives Mets seven strong. (AP)

“This is what we thought we were going to get with the guys we thought we were going to have,” manager Terry Collins said.

The last time the Mets swept a doubleheader was June 18, 2013, when they showcased fire-ballers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, their arms of the future. However, the circumstances then differed greatly from today’s mauling today.

Four years ago, the Mets were a team on the rise; a team to be carried with their young pitching. Today, the Mets are a team fighting to keep open their window of opportunity.

Cespedes came off the disabled list, said he didn’t feel 100 percent, then hit a grand slam in the opener. However, today’s real storyline was Matz’s return in the nightcap after ten months on the disabled list.

Matz gave up one run on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts in seven innings. He accomplished that with just 98 pitches. Conversely, in his start Friday, Harvey threw over 100 pitches in five innings.

“His command of his stuff,” Collins said matter-of-factly about the key to Matz’s success.  “He’s around the plate. This is the kind of outing we were hoping we’d see.’’

Matz said he had nerves, but said he always gets them. He said he had to step back and collect himself.

“It feels good to get back out there and compete,” Matz said. “I was able to locate my fastball away. My command was there and I felt really locked in.”

In the opener, Gsellman threw 6.2 scoreless innings while giving up three hits. There has been some talk after this stretch of 18 games in 17 that Gsellman might go to the bullpen, but today’s outing might give pause to that thinking.

While we’re at it, we should give pause to the thinking things will be all right now that Cespedes is back.

“I feel good, but I don’t know that I can run at 100 percent at this point,” Cespedes told reporters prior to the game.

So, why did GM Sandy Alderson activate him? Cespedes didn’t play in the nightcap and may not play Sunday, but could return Monday against the Cubs.

Alderson risked Cespedes for what he got today, the game-icing slam. But, if he can’t run, won’t he cost the Mets in the long run? His failure to advance from second to third on a fly ball could have cost the Mets.

It didn’t, and Collins matter-of-factly said the Mets would protect him, but it the player himself said he’s not 100 percent, then it could be only a matter of time before Cespedes pulls his hamstring again.

As for Matz’s return, he looked sharp and threw free and easy.  There never seemed a question that the Mets took their time to protect Matz.

I can’t imagine them starting Matz if he said his elbow was barking, so, why would they start Cespedes if he says he can’t run 100 percent?

 

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.”