Jan 25

Have Mets Really Changed Their Medical Philosophy?

It was interesting to hear how GM Sandy Alderson overhauled the Mets’ medical staff, but then I remembered that was something both he and COO Jeff Wilpon vowed they would do when Alderson was hired in October of 2010.

However, that, like several other Mets’ promises when unfulfilled.

HARVEY: Personifies Mets' handling of injuries.(AP)

HARVEY: Personifies Mets’ handling of injuries.(AP)

How the Mets have handled injuries has long been a source of angst for fans and players of the franchise, and here’s hoping Jim Cavallini and Brian Chicklo have an uneventful tenure heading up the on-field medical staff.

However, in looking at some of the Mets’ most recent paralyzing injuries, a bulk of the responsibility falls with Alderson and the players themselves.

Among the most significant:

David Wright: In 2011, Wright played a month with a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright must assume some responsibility for trying to gut it out, but Alderson needs to share in this, too, for not insisting on an MRI earlier. We’ll never know how things might have been different for Wright had this been handled differently,

Jose Reyes: In 2010, Reyes sustained an injury to his right side in batting practice, June 30, and misses six games. As has been a tendency under Alderson, Reyes in rushed back and aggravates the injury, July 10 and is out for ten days. The Mets foolishly believe the All-Star break is enough time, and bring him back July 20. He is reinjured a month later and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.

Matt Harvey: The essence of the Mets’ bumbling of injuries began in 2013 with Harvey. Off to a fantastic start and facing the prospect of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey ignored tightness in his right forearm. Harvey – much to the delight of the Mets’ brass – started and starred in the All-Star Game, but was eventually shut down and went on the disabled list.

Harvey then got into a spitting match with Alderson about surgery and when to do his rehab. Then, after missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey and Alderson then clashed on an innings limit. Finally, last spring, Alderson ignored a warning from then-pitching coach Dan Warthen that Harvey wouldn’t be full strength until late May and rushed him back. We know what happened next.

Had Harvey not hid his sore forearm in 2013, and the Mets not shut him down at the All-Star break, there’s no telling how things might have unfolded differently.

Yoenis Cespedes: The Mets foolishly gave Cespedes a four-year, $110-million contract, then gave him carte blanche to become a bodybuilder. Despite a history of injuries, Cespedes strained his left hamstring last year. Then, as their offense went up in smoke, they rushed him back and he tore the hamstring and was limited to less than 90 games played.

Noah Syndergaard: As they did with Harvey, the Mets gave into Syndergaard. First, they let him become muscle bound in the offseason, then let him get away with not getting an MRI. Syndergaard subsequently tore his lat muscle in an early-season game at Washington and was lost for the year.

“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ is the quote that identifies Alderson’s regime. Alderson then said there was nothing the MRI would have shown that could have prevented the tear. Seriously, he said that.

The above five injuries were attributable to giving the players too much latitude and for Alderson not being the adult in the room. Unless those two variables change, it doesn’t matter who the new trainer is.

Jan 18

Who Is On Alderson’s Shopping List?

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he’s not done yet, which is odd because I didn’t even know he started. But, he added Jay Bruce you might say. But is adding the same person you traded last season really improving?

When the Mets traded Bruce to Cleveland, Aug. 9, they were nine games below .500 and 16.5 games out of first. Since they finished 22 games under .500 and 27 games out of first, I suppose you can make an argument the Mets did worse, fourth place is fourth place no matter how you cut it?

Alderson says he’ll likely add a free agent, and with third base a priority, Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Reyes and Neil Walker are the names being floated.

MOUSTAKAS: Forget it. He’s too expensive.

FRAZIER: They might be able to afford him, but eventually will balk at the salary (he made $12 million last year). He’s limited to playing only third. That Bruce gave him a lukewarm endorsement give the Mets pause. He’ll be 31 by Opening Day.

WALKER: He can play second and third, but left the Mets on strained terms. I’m not counting on him as the answer.

REYES: Has the added benefit of being able to play shortstop and will come cheaply. Signing just Reyes is basically filling a roster spot and shouldn’t be the lone remaining move.

NUNEZ: Is the bargain of the bunch. Was on the verge of becoming a star while with the Twins but never reached the next level. He’s only 30 which is a plus, so is his $4.2 million salary. Also, a plus is that he can play anywhere in the infield, which would make bringing back Reyes not necessary.

 

Jan 16

Why Didn’t Alderson Make A Stronger Play For McCutchen?

A quick show of hands, please: Who has heard of Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds?

Chances are you haven’t until today when the Giants sent to the two prospects to Pittsburgh for Andrew McCuthen. The cash-strapped Pirates will also send money to the Giants to help cover McCutchen’s $14.75 million salary.

“It’s no secret that we were looking to further add run production to our lineup,’’ said Brian Sabean, Giants executive vice president of baseball operations. “Anytime you have the opportunity to bring aboard someone with such a track record, you have to jump on it.’’

Which begs another question, why, if the Mets were reportedly interested in McCutchen, couldn’t GM Sandy Alderson have matched the Giants in the talent sent to Pittsburgh? Why didn’t Alderson “jump” on it?

And, that McCutchen is a free agent after this season is irrelevant because if the Mets chose not to bring him back on a long-term deal, they could at least make get a qualifying offer. And, if McCutchen rejected it, they would receive a compensatory draft pick.

If the Mets are as close to being competitive as Alderson believes they are, then why pass on McCutchen, who is only 31?

Michael Conforto could move from center to right, and Jay Bruce could switch to first base. That would be a fairly formidable lineup if the pitching stays healthy. However, Bruce isn’t enough to make the Mets a wild-card contender. Bruce and McCutchen might be. It is certainly better than Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez.

So, why was Alderson asleep at the switch?

The only thing I can think of is because he didn’t want to spend the money.

 

Jan 11

Bruce The First Step

I’m glad the Mets will bring back Jay Bruce, but not satisfied. There are those applauding GM Sandy Alderson’s patience today for letting the market come back to him and there’s a degree of truth to that line of thinking.

BRUCE: That's the first step. (AP)

BRUCE: That’s the first step. (AP)

However, I’m not ready to jump on the Alderson bandwagon because Bruce isn’t nearly enough:

  • The Mets, because of David Wright’s uncertainty, need a third baseman. The market is ignoring Todd Frazier, so that’s a possibility, but how much will he cost? He’ll want at least three years at close to what Bruce is making.
  • They have the potential to have a solid bullpen, but another reliable late-inning arm would be helpful. As long as the Mets are in a reunion mode, Addison Reed is still available.
  • Hoping has always been a Mets’ strategy, and this time it is for the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. They won’t be perfect here, so another veteran arm will be needed.
  • Even if they fill all those voids, there’s still the matter of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto coming back from their injuries.

That’s a lot of things that need to happen for the Mets to become competitive again, but for now, I’ll just say cheers to Bruce.

Even the longest journies begin with a single step and Bruce is the first.

 

Jan 03

Wonder If Mets Regret Signing Cespedes Now?

Congratulations to those who took the under of four days as the time it would take for me to rip Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson for spending $110 million for Yoenis Cespedes.

However, it’s not something new sparked by recent talk of the Mets being in financial distress or only have $10 million left to spend for next year.

CESPEDES: Think Mets regret him now? (AP)

CESPEDES: Think Mets regret him now? (AP)

That they only have that much remaining in their budget stems from several factors, beginning with owner Fred Wilpon still reeling financially from the Ponzi scandal. It also includes the Wilpon’s reported reluctance to spend, or should I say, history of spending foolishly.

For all the talk about Alderson being such a smart general manager, there were so many reasons why Cespedes was such a bad signing.

First, with the Mets under such financial stress, and with so many future monetary obligations and gaping holes, $110 million was too much to spend on one player, especially if that player wasn’t going to put them over the top, something I wrote after the 2015 World Series.

Secondly, there is the nagging question: If this guy is so good, why would three previous teams trade him? If you’re considered to be a centerpiece player, teams would want to keep you.

There is also the matter of Cespedes’ injury history, his reputation of hustling only when the matter suits him, and his diva tendencies.

Readers of this site know I’ve never been a fan of Cespedes for the above reasons with the money being the ultimate factor. The Mets have too many holes to fill, and $29 million over the next two years and $29.5 million in three years would have gone a long way to fill them.

For somebody supposedly as smart as Alderson, one would have thought he would have figured that out. So, if you’re out there on Opening Day and wonder why the Mets’ roster looks like it does today, just look out to left field.

Whether Cespedes is there or not, you’ll have your answer.