Jul 23

The Mystery Is Over For Colon

If you’re Bartolo Colon pitching against Clayton Kershaw tonight, considering the Mets’ anemic offense you can’t like your chances if you give up a couple of runs.

Then again, if you’re the Mets’ hitters, you can’t like your chances with Colon on the mound. The Mets aren’t scoring and Colon isn’t preventing anybody from scoring and that’s a losing combination.

COLON: Hanging on. (AP)

COLON: Hanging on. (AP)

At one time Colon was 9-4 with a reasonable chance to make the All-Star team. He was one of the good stories early this year.

He goes into tonight’s game against the Dodgers at 9-8, going 3-6 with a 5.74 ERA over his last ten starts. The Mets have lost six of Colon’s last seven starts, scoring just a combined ten runs. The opposition has scored 33 runs.

Colon now finds himself hanging onto his career, one spanning 18 years and eight teams.

When you’re 42 and primarily throw a not-so-fast fastball, you will get crushed if your control is off. Colon simply doesn’t have the stuff to overcome mistakes.

“It’s all command with him,’’ manager Terry Collins said after Colon’s last start. “Bartolo does not change the way he pitches. Primarily fastball, with a mix of some change-ups and some sliders, but when he commands the fastball, the other stuff is just an accent. And when he doesn’t command the fastball, he’s not the kind of a guy who’s going to go strictly off-speed, he just doesn’t pitch like that.’’

The Mets signed Colon two years ago to a $20-million contract with the intent of logging innings when Matt Harvey was out. He surprised us with 202.1 innings and 15 victories in 2014, and with nine wins so far this season. They got their money’s worth.

In fairness, he exceeded early expectations, but unfortunately is now living up to them.

And, it isn’t pretty.

Jul 06

Collins Lays Down Law With Harvey

The other day I suggested the Mets’ Matt Harvey “just shut up and pitch.” Evidently, manager Terry Collins has similar thoughts, but was less colorful than me. Anyway, the bottom line is Collins and GM Sandy Alderson want to do the right thing with Harvey and the other starters to protect their arms.

Of course, had Alderson developed a definitive plan coming out of spring training this wouldn’t be the issue it has become. And for the record, Princess Harvey made it the hot button topic. Quite frankly, it amazes me how many people don’t understand the six-man is designed to protect Harvey and the other young pitchers, all of whom are on innings counts.

If the Mets hope to play meaningful games in September, they’ll need those pitchers. Seriously, wouldn’t Harvey rather the Mets limit him now or in September? Logic would dictate that be the case, but why can’t Harvey understand that?

When Harvey blamed his rustiness on the six-man rotation – and undercut Collins in the process – the manager told the pitcher to “get over it.”

“I know he’s frustrated by it, and he and I have talked about it,” Collins told reporters, in yet another effort to placate Harvey. “But you’ve got to come up and be creative between starts. I certainly understand it. I certainly do understand it. He’s a tremendous competitor and he wants to be out there as much as he can on a regular basis.

“I guess the easiest way for me to say it is, ‘Matt, we’ll go back to a five-man, but I hope you enjoy watching the rest of the season sitting on the bench in September when we need you.’ So we’ve got to make the adjustment.”

That’s what the Diva doesn’t understand. The Mets are in the six-man rotation to protect Harvey, All-Star selection Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, not to mention Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Then again, when you’re thinking only of yourself and not the big picture, that’s what happens.

I’m glad Collins had his say with Harvey, and more than that, brought his comments to the forefront. It’s about time.

Jul 05

Memo To Harvey: Shut Up And Pitch

Matt Harvey said he wasn’t making excuses for his performance Saturday as the Mets lost in Los Angeles. But, that’s what it came across at for Princess Matt when he blamed the six-man rotation for his control issues.

HARVEY: Acting like he's still in college. (UNC)

HARVEY: Acting like he’s still in college. (UNC)

“With that much time off in-between starts, throwing once a week, I found a rhythm in the bullpen and then once I got a hitter in there and got the adrenaline going a little bit, things kind of got out of whack,” Harvey told reporters. “With the six-man and the day off, it’s tough. We’re all having to deal with it. It’s not an excuse why things didn’t go well today, but I just have to do a better job of finding a way to find a rhythm through a period of extended rest like that.”

The primary reason the Mets went to a six-man rotation was to protect the Diva of Flushing. The Mets failed in going with a concrete plan going into the season and consequently adopted the six-man rotation. My guess is this GM Sandy Alderson’s brainchild.

Harvey threw 100 pitches in five innings and walked five. He’s now 7-6 with a 3.11 ERA, and I had to laugh when I read his chances were slim in being selected to the All-Star team. I have Harvey fourth behind Jeurys Familia, Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom as All-Star worthy Mets pitchers.

Harvey’s command was off from the beginning, and that’s been the case with him for awhile now.

Sure, Harvey said he has to find a way to turn things around, but that doesn’t change the fact he did take a jab at the six-man rotation, and by extension, undercutting manager Terry Collins, who goes out of his way to protect him.

All the other pitchers are going through the same thing, but their whining is minimal compared to that of Harvey. Regardless of the issue, the Mets have gone out or their way to protect Harvey and acquiesce to his demands and whims.

Frankly, it’s getting a tiresome and a little boring. From now on, I’ll just go under the assumption you’re terminally irked about the rotation and move on. Understand, your complaints would carry a lot more weight if you actually pitched like an ace and didn’t act like an ass.

 

Jun 29

Assessing Trade Value Of Jon Niese

With the emergence of Steven Matz, expect the Mets to ratchet up their intent to trade from their pitching depth to bolster their anemic offense. The Mets would dearly like to find a taker or two for Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon on the major league level; Dillon Gee in the minors; and Rafael Montero, who has spent much of the season on the disabled list.

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

Of course, interested teams inquire about Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matz, but are turned down. They don’t even both to ask about Matt Harvey, anymore.

Of the the four the Mets most want to trade, Niese has the greatest upside to bring in a bat.

Colon, at 41, won’t attract anything more than a lower level mediocre prospect at best. Gee won’t bring much more. Montero, if included in a package, could bring in the most, but he’s coming off an elbow injury.

Niese, however, at 28, is left-handed, now seemingly healthy, signed to a reasonable contract and has had some degree of success. Niese’s career record is 55-58, but with a respectable 3.89 ERA and average 1.368 WHIP. The ERA is what is most attractive, with the mediocre record attributable to the Mets’ porous bullpen and poor hitting.

Last year, Niese logged 187.2 innings in 30 starts while going 9-11. That’s indicative of a pitcher not afraid to take the ball. That could have value to the Cubs and Dodgers, the teams reportedly interested in Niese.

Assuming Niese remains healthy, a buying team can figure on getting innings, and will undoubtedly have the belief he would benefit from a change of scenery.

Naturally, money will always factor into any deal.

Niese will make $7 million this year, which means roughly a $3.5 million investment for the remainder of this year. Niese will earn $9 million in 2016; $10 million for 2017; and $11 million in 2018. Those are palatable salaries, and making it more attractive is the final two years have team options.

However, what must be remembered in dealing Niese to a potential contender is that if a team is in contention it likely wouldn’t want to deal a major league ready hitter. And, the Mets don’t want prospects as they believe they are capable of winning now.

Consequently, a team wanting Niese likely wouldn’t offer much, which is usually the tact the Mets have when they want to make a trade.

Jun 18

What Is The Value Of Colon?

Watching the Mets unravel tonight behind Bartolo Colon brought to mind the obvious questions: Should they trade him and what could they get in return?

Since the Mets, as erratically as they have recently played, are sitting on top of the NL East, there should be no rush to make a trade. However, should Steven Matz emerge as the Mets anticipate, the prospect of trading Colon becomes very real.

COLON: What is his value?

COLON: What is his value?

If the Mets stay in contention, then no, they should keep him. However, if they are fading – a possibility with their offense – then they should get whatever they can.

How Colon has pitched so far – excluding tonight – would undoubtedly be attractive to a contender who believes ten solid starts could make the difference making the playoffs and an early winter. And, the balance of Colon’s $11-million contract would be a minimal investment for a chance to play in October.

However, he’s 42 and not signed beyond this season. He would strictly be a rental, and unless he’s part of a big package, I can’t see the Mets getting more than a mid-level prospect at best. That’s the value of 42-year old pitchers.

If the Mets are willing to accept that – and GM Sandy Alderson always wants more which explains in part their inability to deal – then he’s gone. So, if they are holding out for more, they’ll be waiting a long time. The Mets’ best hope for Colon is to win themselves, because his real value to them comes when he’s on the mound.