Mar 16

Wheeler Injury Raises Questions

When it comes to the New York Mets and injuries, specifically their pitchers, never take the initial news at face value.

NEVER.

Wheeler facing the knife.

Wheeler facing the knife.

GM Sandy Alderson was adamant initially saying Zack Wheeler didn’t need a MRI. Manager Terry Collins, after saying Wheeler had two MRIs over the winter, indicated prior to Saturday’s start, “everybody could use a little rest.’’

The Mets finally gave into common sense and Wheeler had a MRI, which showed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow that will likely require Tommy John surgery. That rest Collins was speaking of, well, we’ll get a lot between now and next spring.

“Everybody gets MRIs today,’’ Collins told reporters. “That’s the nature of the beast. You come in with an upset stomach and they give you an MRI. And then you have an abdominal strain. It’s what you do to protect yourself.’’

So, why the delay?

UNBELIEVABLE.

Just a couple of days ago, Alderson said a MRI wasn’t necessary. Today, he told reporters: “This is what happens to pitching. You see guys going down all over the place.’’

What exactly changed his mind? Could it have been the potential of negative backlash?

I’m not blaming Alderson or Collins for Wheeler’s injury, because the right thing was done in shutting him down when he reported persistent pain. But, I am criticizing them – and Wheeler, too – for downplaying this whole thing. None of the three are doctors and Wheeler especially, since it is his arm and career, should have been concerned.

However, the perception garnered from this case follows that of how the Mets handled injuries in recent years, and that’s they don’t know what they are doing.

This raises several questions:

* Collins said Wheeler managed the discomfort last season. If that’s the case, why wasn’t he shut down and examined when he first complained of pain?

* Of course, that’s predicated on whether Wheeler reported the pain in the first place. Did he fail to disclose this, something Matt Harvey did the previous year?

* Collins said Wheeler underwent two MRIs in the offseason. Why wasn’t anything discovered at that time?

* If Wheeler was clean, as Collins said, it stands to reason he injured it at the start of camp. If so, did he throw too hard, too soon? If so, why wasn’t he monitored better? If Wheeler pushed himself, why wasn’t he more careful? How come he wasn’t smarter?

* If Wheeler did everything properly this spring, it would seem this injury was “just one of those things,’’ or it was missed in the two offseason MRIs. If it is the latter, shouldn’t the Mets go back and look at that film to see if that’s the case?

* While the surface issue is Wheeler being hurt and down for the season, underneath there are a lot of nagging questions that paint the perception something was amiss in how this was handled.

When it comes to the Mets and pitching injuries, perception is reality. Bottom line, if I were a Met pitcher and felt something in my arm, I would be concerned.

Very concerned.

NOTE:  Will update later after Alderson conference call.

 

Mar 13

Memo To Alderson: Stop Treating Mets Fans Like Chumps

I understand as a longtime baseball executive, Mets GM Sandy Alderson knows more about the inner workings of the sport, and his team, than I do.

By definition, he has to.

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

However, I am not stupid, and I don’t think my readers are, either. Sandy, I don’t know how to build a watch, but I know how to tell time.

And, the time has come to say again Mets fans are loyal and passionate, and don’t deserve to be treated like idiots, because they are not.

In the book, “Baseball Maverick,’’ Steve Kettmann – who covered the Oakland Athletics – revealed a disturbing nugget about Alderson.

Alderson said: “Madoff wasn’t even a topic of conversation in my interview for the Mets job. I didn’t raise it. Maybe I should have. The bottom line is, I would have taken the job anyway. It just added to the challenge.’’

The reason Alderson didn’t ask about Madoff is because it wasn’t a real job interview. Of course, Alderson was going to take the job. Alderson was gift-wrapped to the Wilpons by commissioner Bud Selig, and Madoff was a non-issue.

As part of his job in the commissioner’s office, Alderson was re-assigned to be Mets’ general manager.

The Alderson-Selig-Wilpon relationship was too cozy and underscored the deserved criticism of the former commissioner in that he gave Wilpon a free pass. In doing so, it also highlighted his biased handling of the Frank McCourt case when he owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. Selig disliked McCourt intensely and wanted him out, even though his handling of the Dodgers was not as clumsy as Wilpon has been sometimes with the Mets.

Regarding the Mets’ finances over the past four years, Alderson told reporters yesterday payroll has increased by $15 million over last year. It irritates me no end to hear Alderson say the Mets’ payroll is of no relevance to him.

“I never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us,” Alderson said. “I haven’t talked about it recently. I haven’t talked about it in the past. I don’t intend to. It’s not relevant to me.”

Let’s get this straight. Alderson is the GM of a major league baseball team and the payroll doesn’t matter to him. What then is relevant to him?

For a New York franchise supposedly on the upswing, that $15 million is a drop in the bucket, and didn’t do anything to upgrade: shortstop, the lefty situation in the bullpen and the offense.

The Mets are going with the hope of cheap patchwork from outside – Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry – the hope of injured players on the mend – David Wright and Matt Harvey – and hope of young players making progress, namely Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares and Jacob deGrom.

But, as I’ve said before, hoping is not a viable strategy.

 

Mar 12

Mets Unhappy With Lefty Relievers

Both GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins lamented the Mets’ lefty situation in the bullpen. However, the criticism was more directed at the pitchers not performing than it was as Alderson for not being in more talent.

COLLINS: Concerned. (AP)

COLLINS: Concerned. (AP)

Let’s face it, Josh Edgin is likely to have Tommy John surgery, which means somebody from the foursome of Dario Alvarez, Sean Gilmartin, Jack Leathersich and Scott Rice must to emerge. Currently they have a combined 15.43 ERA.

“Yeah, I’m disappointed,’’ Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. “Here’s a chance. You come to the major league spring training and all you want is a chance. Now, with our guy down, if I’m left-handed I’m looking in the mirror and deciding what do I need to do to get that job, because it’s out there.’’

Alvarez stunk it up in today’s 11-9 victory over Washington. The Mets had taken an 11-4 lead with nine runs in the eighth, but Alvarez gave up four of the five Nationals’ runs in the ninth.

BOX SCORE

Rice gave up five runs the previous day and couldn’t get out of his inning; Leathersich has five walks in 1.2 innings; and Gilmartin has given up three runs in two innings.

Alderson explained his offseason approach by saying he wanted the competition to come from within and Andrew Miller and Zack Duke were out of their price range.

Alderson again reiterated not using Steven Matz in relief because of his upside as a starter.

Mar 08

Darvish Injury Shows Fragility Of Pitching … And Value Of Gee

This is how it will happen if Dillon Gee is traded: A starter will go down in another camp and if that team is thin in minor league pitching talent, it might not have another choice to deal with the Mets.

Multiple media sources, including ESPN New York, say the Texas Rangers aren’t interested in Gee.

GEE: Valuable. (AP)

GEE: Valuable. (AP)

After throwing 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen Saturday against Miami, Gee addressed the possibility of being traded to Texas in the wake of Yu Darvish possibly needing season-ending Tommy John surgery.

“What it boils down to is I don’t make those decisions. I can’t strike a trade with myself,’’ Gee told ESPN. “I did see that [about Darvish]. In my mind all I’m really thinking about is, ‘That sucks for Darvish.’ I mean, he’s a phenomenal pitcher. And I feel sorry for him. It sucks if he’s going to be gone for a year.’’

The Rangers say they have minor league talent comparable to that of Gee. That’s not to say other teams won’t. In that case, GM Sandy Alderson’s phone could ring.

However, Alderson shouldn’t be so willing to eager to get rid of who has been a reliable and productive pitcher. Maybe not ace quality, but a grinder who will usually find a way to give the Mets six innings.

The injury to Matt Harvey two years ago, and Darvish this spring, not to mention how many teams lack starting pitching – anybody look at the Yankees’ rotation lately? – indicate how vulnerable and fragile starting pitching can be.

The Mets have a potentially valuable chip in Gee and shouldn’t be so willing to play it – not when they might need it later.

 

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.