Aug 29

Mets Wrap: When Will They Appreciate Daniel Murphy?

When it comes to Daniel Murphy, the New York Mets always seem to think they might have a faster gun. Murphy, a natural third baseman, couldn’t find a home in left field or first base, but the past two seasons appears to have settled in at second base.

However, just as he seems to be taking to the position, the Mets haven’t been able to resist other options. Justin Turner has been there to give him a rest; Eric Young played when Murphy briefly replaced Ike Davis at first; Jordany Valdespin got a week audition after his tantrum; and Wilmer Flores got a chance as part of the Mets’ youth movement.

MURPHY: Huge game vs. Phillies. (AP)

MURPHY: Huge game vs. Phillies. (AP

“I’d like to think of myself as a young guy, too,’’ said the 28-year-old Murphy after today’s four-hit, two-RBI outburst in an 11-3 rout of the Phillies.

Manager Terry Collins said Murphy has been tired, hitting just .233 in August, with two extra-base hits – both homers – in his previous 31 games before two doubles today. Collins said yesterday’s start with Flores was to give Murphy a rest and not meant as his job was in jeopardy.

But, that’s not the thinking of others. In talking about finding a spot for Andrew Brown, Mets analyst Bob Ojeda suggested left field and moving Young to second. In where Flores might play, regardless of what Collins said, second is the spot first mentioned.

However, in analyzing the Mets’ holes needing to be filled for 2014, there are other positions ahead of ahead of Murphy at second that are more pressing. They’ll need another starter or two if Harvey can’t pitch, and the bullpen is always an issue, especially if Bobby Parnell isn’t ready.

The Mets also have questions at shortstop and the outfield.

As for Murphy, he was named in trade rumors at the end of July, and he’s still on the table as the waiver deadline nears.

But, in the end the Mets could do far worse than playing Murphy at second base.

WRIGHT REHAB: David Wright said he wanted to play again this season before leaving to Port St. Lucie to continue his rehab. Wright also spoke to the Phillies’ Michael Young about how he rehabbed his hamstring injury. Young stressed that regardless of his rehab, it’s different and tenuous when he gets into games.

“I don’t want the next time I’m on the field to be in spring training with the uncertainty,’’ Wright said. “This is what I do. I want to play. It’s against pretty much everything I believe in to shut the season down and get ready for next season. I want to get back and join my teammates and help them finish strong.’’

METS MUSINGS: GM Sandy Alderson said surgery hasn’t been determined on Matt Harvey‘s tear in his UCL. Harvey consulted with the Phillies’ Roy Halladay, who had a similar injury that didn’t require surgery. Harvey will get a second opinion after the swelling goes down. … Carlos Torres was terrific giving up one run on four hits in 6.2 innings with six strikeouts and no walks. … Reliever Vic Black was the player-to-be-named-later in the deal with Pittsburgh. … Young had three hits including a three-run triple. … Catcher Anthony Recker hit a two-run homer on his 30th birthday. … Matt den Dekker was hitless in five at-bats with two strikeouts in his major league debut.

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Aug 28

Losing Matt Harvey Not Mets’ Only Issue

Can we please have a reality check in the wake of the New York Mets losing Matt Harvey for the remainder of this season and possibly all of 2014?

In some ways the Mets overachieved this year, but not to the point where they should be considered favorites next summer, or the following one, even with Harvey.

HARVEY: Even with him, Mets have issues.

HARVEY: Even with him, Mets have issues.

The Mets are a flawed team, and considering they just traded their two of their top three home-run and RBI leaders in Marlon Byrd and John Buck, they are even more scarred.

Without Harvey, and with Jenrry Mejia and Jeremy to have surgery, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese are the only givens in next year’s rotation. And, Niese is coming off a slight rotator cuff tear and Wheeler will have only half a season experience on his resume.

It is imperative the Mets go on with the belief Harvey will be out indefinitely and add one or two starters. Please don’t say Daisuke Matsuzaka is enough, and even in jest, don’t suggest bringing back Johan Santana.

The Mets like catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s future, but he’s only played a handful of games. They’ll miss Buck, not only for his bat, but his ability to handle pitchers.

First base has the unappealing options of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin. There’s also a hole at shortstop, with Ruben Tejada fading into past tense and Omar Quintanilla a reserve.

Second baseman Daniel Murphy could be gone, especially if the Mets opt to go with Wilmer Flores.

Left and center, as of now, appear set with Eric Young and Juan Lagares, with neither having much power. Right field, as it was this spring, is wide open. Maybe they’ll bring back Byrd. Who knows?

The bullpen has pitched well for the most part in the second half, but with Bobby Parnell facing surgery on his neck, it will be patchwork all over again.

General manager Sandy Alderson has been pointing to 2014 since he got here, saying once several bloated contracts were off the books the team will have liberty to spend.

The timetable has been pushed back at least a year with Harvey’s injury, but that’s no excuse for him to sit on his hands this winter. The Mets have at least two winters of spending before they’ll have a competitive team around Harvey and Wheeler.

They must, even if it is just in keeping with the appearances of their 2014 timetable, be aggressive this off-season.

It’s the least they can do considering all the talking they’ve done.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 21

Is Bobby Parnell Risking 2014 By Delaying Surgery?

While New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell continues on the shelf with the prospect of surgery on his herniated disk, the question burns: What are he and the Mets waiting for?

Perhaps he can rehab to where surgery isn’t needed, but those odds are getting long.

PARNELL: Is he gambling 2014?

PARNELL: Is he gambling 2014?

Yes, yes, it is his body and nobody can force surgery upon him, but reading between the lines, if it doesn’t happen, Parnell will risk not being ready for spring training and consequently pushing the envelope to the point of further injury.

Who can’t see the prospect of him slowly being worked into shape during spring training, and perhaps forcing the issue until he hears a “pop’’ and goes on the disabled list again with surgery being the only option?

If so, then say good-bye to 2014.

Parnell said if he doesn’t have surgery soon, there will come a time when the Mets will “push for it,’’ but until then it’s only about therapy now.

“My ultimate goal is to be ready for spring training so I can be here for the team next year,’’ said Parnell, whose doctors told him it is a five-month process – and, of course, you always add one – after surgery to be ready.

Backdating from mid-January, when he would begin off-season throwing, if he were to have it tomorrow there’s already a good chance he wouldn’t be ready.

Parnell, who last pitched July 30 and went on the disabled list, Aug. 6, is practicing in wishful thinking if he believes he’ll be back this year. Parnell said he’s supposed to be re-examined next week, but after that there should be serious consideration of a second opinion if he’s to have any chance of being ready for the start of next season.

Parnell isn’t the only Mets pitcher facing surgery this winter.

Jeremy Hefner as a partial tear of the MCL in his right elbow, but is considering a second opinion. Hefner was the Mets’ hottest pitching heading into the All-Star break, but fell flat at the start of the second half and was replaced in the rotation.

Jenrry Mejia, whom the Mets projected would need surgery to remove a bone spur in this right elbow at the time he was promoted, aggravated the injury twice and went on the disabled list last weekend. He’s to have surgery within the next two weeks.

Ironically, Parnell and Hefner were among the chips the Mets were considering dealing at the trade deadline.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 16

Mets Bullpen Has Surprised This Season

gonzalez germanAfter 3-4 consecutive seasons of bullpen failures and a couple of unsuccessful revamps and overhauls by Sandy Alderson in 2011 and 2012, it looks like the Mets have finally turned a corner and figured things out this season. In doing so they’ve also uncovered a few potential keepers for 2014 and beyond, some of them developed through our system and others who were key acquisitions straight from the scrap heap.

One such find has been Gonzalez Germen, who recorded the final six outs in last night’s 4-1 win against the San Diego Padres to notch his first major league save. It was a big moment for Germen who plans to give the game ball to his mother. Germen stepped in for LaTroy Hawkins who was unavailable due to a sore groin. Hawkins too, has been a key cog in this now very effective bullpen.

Since July 1, the Mets pen has a 2.10 ERA (30 earned runs/128.2 innings), ranking third in the majors. New York’s pen has a 1.83 ERA (seven earned runs/34.1 innings) this month, the sixth-best mark in the majors. The pen’s 3.64 overall ERA, ranks 15th in the majors after two straight seasons of ranking 29th in 2011 and 2012.

Even more telling is that Met relievers have stranded 141 of 189 inherited runners, the fifth-best percentage (74.6) in the majors. The Mets’ bullpen has been coming into games in critical spots and have done a great job of limiting the damage and stranding runners. It’s time to give Sandy Alderson his due for a job well done this season.

The Mets bullpen has endured losses to their close Bobby Parnell who was in the midst of the best season of his career, and also losing second-year reliever Josh Edgin was a significant blow as well. Since his return from the minors, Edgin led the bullpen in BAA and WHIP.

Some player performances of note are that of Scott Rice, who leads the team with 61 appearances and has surprised everyone while limiting opposing batters to a .224 average and posting a 3.34 ERA in his rookie season. The 32-year old late bloomer, has held lefthanded batters to a .162 average and has allowed just one home run all season in 45.1 innings pitched. Boom…

Scott Atchison was another scrapheap signing and all he’s managed to do is post a 3.34 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 31 appearances since joining the Mets.

As a reliever, perhaps the best performance of this season belongs to Carlos Torres whose 0.65 ERA is the best mark among all relievers in the game. His 0.87 WHIP ranks fifth in the NL and he has 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

So while not everything has gone perfectly for the Mets this season, there have been some very notable bright spots and certainly the bullpen has been one of them.

Aug 09

LaTroy Hawkins Better Closer Option Than Committee

Isn’t it always the way with the New York Mets? There’s positives brewing, but something always seems to get in the way, such as Bobby Parnell’s bulging disk.

HAWKINS: Best option for closer.

HAWKINS: Best option for closer.

Once pegged to lose 100 games, the Mets are talking about .500 and finishing in second place in the NL East, but gone is Parnell, probably for the year if surgery is required.

The Mets’ bullpen has been stellar since the beginning of July, but there’s only one real choice to replace Parnell and that would be 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins instead of going with a bullpen-by-committee, which rarely works and usually ends up using guys outside of their customary roles.

Hawkins saved the last two games of the Colorado series, and has 90 saves in his career. Not great over 19 years, but it is the best the Mets have going for them right now.

Hawkins struggled early in the season, but has been consistently effective. He has experience pitching in tight games, and Terry Collins has more trust in him than in Scott Atchison or Scott Rice or Pedro Feliciano.

Even at 40, Hawkins was throwing in the mid-90s against the Rockies. He can still bring it when he has to, and averages 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and only 1.6 walks per nine innings.

Perhaps Hawkins will eventually run on fumes, but if the Mets are cognizant about not getting him up constantly, and perhaps occasionally let their set-up reliever work into the ninth if there’s a three-run lead, it could preserve him.

Collins’ bullpen has been exceptional over the past month, but now he must make a significant choice: Does he go the committee route or give his trust to Hawkins?

The thought of saving Zack Wheeler’s innings by using him in relief is not a good idea as the change in routine creates the possibility of injury. And, please, nobody mention Frank Francisco. Please.

Hawkins has pitched well and is deserving of closing until he can’t it anymore.

I don’t think there’s any doubt Hawkins has to be the closer until Parnell returns, which as of now looks to be next spring.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos