Sep 20

Harvey Scintillating In Finale; Mets Blow It Late

As the zeroes piled up, this thought surfaced: Matt Harvey and Cole Hamels in an old fashioned pitcher’s duel. If the Phillies weren’t the only ones with a postseason pulse there would have been real electricity in the air.

HARVEY: Something special. (AP)

As it is, it was something to look forward to.

Harvey gave up a homer to Jimmy Rollins on the game’s fifth pitch, but was lockdown after that, not giving up a hit and striking out seven in seven innings. As we’ve grown accustomed to Harvey’s strong pitching, he probably has grown used to how the game unraveled as the Mets scored two runs – a club-record 15th straight game in which they’ve scored three or fewer runs – and the bullpen imploded again.

This time, it was the heretofore impressive Josh Edgin giving up a game-winning homer to Ryan Howard.

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Sep 09

Mets Matters: Flushing Farewell To Chipper Jones Today

The Mets honored Chipper Jones Friday night and he makes his last appearance in Flushing this afternoon. You can tell by his reception feelings toward him have mellowed. As they should. It’s one thing to jeer an opponent, sometimes viciously. However, in the end you have to admire how Jones played the game.

CHIPPER: Farewell. (AP)

I covered Cal Ripken’s last game at Yankee Stadium and he got several standing ovations as the game went long and nobody knew when he’d take his last at-bat. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my book and I believe most Mets fans – perhaps grudgingly – have reached that acceptance. Honestly, in his last at-bat I hope he gets a standing ovation.

In other Mets Matters:

* Jeremy Hefner was rocked yesterday, but he’s shown enough to warrant another couple of starts. I don’t know where he fits in next year. That’s what this time is about.

* Chris Young starts today in hope of averting the sweep. Young is 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA and has been rocked lately. Like a lot of others, I don’t know where he fits in. There’s uncertainty in the rotation with Johan Santana and Dillon Gee coming off injuries and not knowing if they’ll return Mike Pelfrey. Young is a veteran, cheap alternative who can usually be counted on to give the Mets five innings. After that it gets dicey. They’ll look inside first, but I can see Young getting another contract.

* Triple-A Buffalo manager Wally Backman will join the team for the rest of the season. I think Backman is the next Mets’ manager after Terry Collins. Not sure how long Collins plans to manage. He’s gotten one extension and deserves another past 2013. I don’t want him to go into next year as a lame duck.

* GM Sandy Alderson admits it’s a long shot for Zach Wheeler to crack next year’s rotation. Just as well. Let him go into spring training with limited pressure and earn a spot.

* Jenrry Mejia is scheduled to start Sept. 19 against the Phillies. I hope the Mets finally has decided on his role as a starter. Have him already stretched out and if starting works out they can always switch him back. That’s an easier transition than bullpen to rotation.

 

Sep 05

Mets Should Consider Returning Pelfrey

Mike Pelfrey surfaced on the Mets’ radar yesterday when he showed up in St. Louis to participate in the team’s fantasy football draft. Pelfrey was shelved almost immediately and underwent Tommy John surgery, May 1.

PELFREY: What is to become of him? (AP)

Most likely, he’ll be non-tendered in December because he’s arbitration eligible and made $5.6875 million this season. The rules state players must make at least 80 percent of their previous year’s salary, but in reality rarely take a pay cut.

Should the Mets re-sign Pelfrey for a lower salary, Terry Collins said he’d consider him in the bullpen, which is not the first time the Mets have done so. Willie Randolph thought about it during the epic collapse of 2007.

I realize Pelfrey has fallen short of expectations, especially when now compared with Matt Harvey. However, the Mets’ rotation is precariously thin with Johan Santana and Dillon Gee coming off injuries – Harvey unproven, and not knowing what to expect from their minor league system.

Pitching is always at a premium and three years ago Pelfrey looked as if he was making a breakthrough. That potential could still be there. I’d rather that the chance on Pelfrey regaining that previous form than the Mets shopping in the dark in the discount aisle.

Because, after all, who doesn’t expect a rotation breakdown next year?

 

Sep 01

Mets By The Numbers: Finishing Strong

We are at arguably the worst part of the season. The dreams of March and April, followed by the anticipation of a strong start have faded into mediocrity. The second half collapse after the break robbed us of meaningful baseball in September.

Sure, the Mets could play a spoiler role, but really, what fun is that? If the Mets wanted to spoil things for the Nationals they had numerous opportunities this summer.

WRIGHT: Aiming for 90 to 100 RBI. (AP)

No, this is the time of year, with winter looming, that forces us to take some statistical interest in the Mets, both as a team and individually. Here’s what I’d like to see:

1) Team: On Sept. 1, finishing .500 and in third place are possible. Third moreso than .500 as the Mets are eight under. Can they finish eight over the rest of the way? They reached that level only once. Of all things, it’s the one I’d like to see most. As far as third place goes, it is better than fourth, but still won’t be close.

2) David Wright: Earlier this summer, when the Mets were streaking and Wright was hovering around .500, he was a legit MVP candidate. He’s at .316 with 17 homers and 78 RBI. It would take a monster September, but I’d like for him to reach over 90 RBI, maybe 100. If he does, he most likely would have over 20 homers and be hitting over .300.

3) R.A. Dickey: He’s at the top of all NL pitching categories. The competition is strong, so even 20 wins – he has 17 – will be formidable for the Cy Young Award. Dickey leads with three shutouts and also has four complete games. All with a tough pitch to master.

4) Ike Davis: Davis was below .200 for much of the season, but is at  .224 with 25 homers and 74 RBI now. It would take a blistering month to finish at .240, but if he does, he’ll probably reach the 30 homers and 90 RBI levels. That would be a good season.

5) Jon Niese: He been erratic and has 10 wins. I’d take 13 or 14 now. Would be a nice thing to shoot for.

6) Daniel Murphy: He’s fallen below .300 to .285. I can see him getting back to .295, but .300 would be difficult.

There are others, such as Ruben Tejada hitting .300 and Lucas Duda belting 17 homers. However, for the remainder of the team, for guys like Josh Thole, Andres Torres and Jason Bay, there’s not much left to be aiming for as their numbers are so woefully weak.

For the above, reaching those levels would take some of the sting from the season and perhaps make the winter more palatable. Individual numbers is what passes for meaningful baseball in September for the Mets.

 

Aug 29

A Lot To Like About Matt Harvey, Who Doesn’t Remind Us Of Mike Pelfrey

It is premature to say Matt Harvey will surpass Dwight Gooden and become one of the Mets’ career aces. Even so, there’s a lot to like about him, which we can enjoy watching tonight in his start at Philadelphia.

HARVEY: A lot to like. (AP)

Harvey is already in the Mets’ history books with 43 strikeouts through his first six starts. That’s an average of seven a game – and only once did he work past the seventh – is indicative of potential dominance. If he gets nine strikeouts tonight, he’ll pass Gooden’s mark of 51 strikeouts in his first seven games, set in 1984.

Harvey’s money-pitch is a high fastball that has hitters wailing in the air. Harvey has shown an ability to “climb the latter,” and the higher he gets in the strike zone the harder it is for hitters to resist. It is if the ball is teasing the hitters, saying “swing at me.”

Doing so subsequently enables him to so far be effective with his secondary pitches. That’s something Mike Pelfrey has been unable to consistently master. It has been a small sample, but Harvey is ahead of Pelfrey at a similar stage of their careers. Who knows? He might already be ahead of Pelfrey.

There are all kinds of numbers to measure a pitcher’s dominance, and ESPN posted hitters are batting .085 (6-for-71, 43 strikeouts, 10 walks) when Harvey gets two strikes. That’s slamming the door.

The inability to put a hitter away when the count is in the pitcher’s favor has been something Pelfrey, John Maine – he burned out quickly – Bobby Parnell and a few others haven’t been able to master.

Harvey’s emergence makes it more and more unlikely the Mets will re-sign Pelfrey, who is making $5.68 million this season while on the disabled list. Knowing that number would be the bottom of what the tight-fisted Mets would pay, and with Harvey and a few others knocking at the door, strongly suggest the Mets will walk away.