Oct 23

Did Mets Fix Daisuke Matsuzaka Only To Lose Him?

Even knowing that the New York Mets would not have Matt Harvey next season, there was a slight glimmer of optimism they might have enough to piece together a rotation and spend elsewhere.

That glimmer is fading.

MATSUZAKA: Will he walk away?

MATSUZAKA: Will he walk away?

Pitching coach Dan Warthen fixed Daisuke Matsuzaka’s long and cumbersome delivery, complete with a hitch. With a faster delivery, Matsuzaka showed he could be the real deal. After a rocky first two starts, Matsuzaka settled in to become one of the Mets’ most reliable starters in September. Matsuzaka finished at 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts with the Mets. His fastball returned with bite as evidenced by his 33-16 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He averaged just under eight strikeouts per nine innings.

The Mets were interested when Matsuzaka came out of Japan, but didn’t come close to matching Boston with the qualifying negotiating offer to his Japanese team.

Matsuzaka earned $1.5 million this season from the Mets, who picked him up after Cleveland released him at the end of spring training.

The Mets also signed innings-eater Aaron Harang, Sept. 1, after his release from Seattle. Harang, who has also pitched for Cincinnati, San Diego and the Dodgers, is a reliable workhorse. From 2004 through this season, Harang has pitched less than 150 innings only twice, including this year when he worked a combined 143.1 innings with the Mariners and Mets.

Harang gave the Mets six innings in three of his four starts, and five in the other. He was 0-1 with a representative 3.52 ERA, but struck out 26 in 23 innings. However, he did give up five homers.

What Harang and Matsuzaka did was log enough innings to conserve the bullpen and prevent the Mets from unraveling the last month of the season.

What Harang and Matsuzaka also did was impressive to enough scouts to where somebody will make them an offer to pry them away if the Mets go low-ball. The last thing a journeyman pitcher wants to do is not leave an impression in September.

This would not be something new to the Mets, as both Chris Capuano and Chris Young proved enough in their Flushing auditions for another team to take them away.

They aren’t the only ones.

Carlos Torres, who previously pitched in Japan, Colorado and with the Chicago White Sox, was an asset as a spot starter, long reliever and situational reliever this season. In 33 games with the Mets, nine of which were starts, Torres was 4-6 with a 3.44 ERA.

He pitched 86.1 innings, which isn’t bad considering he wasn’t on their radar in spring training. He struck out 75 and walked just 17 with a career-best 1.112 WHIP.

Torres, who made $415,000 this season, will leave if the Mets don’t tender him a contract.

So, that feeling of holding the fort until Rafael Montero is ready, and to a larger extent, until 2015, is giving way to a sense the Mets might have done it again and fixed several pitchers to where somebody else will take them away from them.

 

Sep 27

Mets Wrap: Pitching Should Be Mets’ Offseason Priority

By definition, Carlos Torres gave the New York Mets a quality start tonight – three runs in six innings – which is usually good enough to win most starts.

However, the Mets aren’t scoring much these days, and didn’t again tonight in a second straight 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, a team they should beat.

Terry Collins started his 128th different batting order out of 160 games tonight, which is as telling a stat as there is to define the 2013 Mets. Most of that is attributable to injuries and poor performance – notably Ike Davis – but indicates a lack of offensive consistency and depth

TORRES: Could get spring training invite.

TORRES: Could get spring training invite..

The popular belief is the Mets need to upgrade their offense, which is true, but is it really their top priority?

Factoring having David Wright for a full season; improvement that comes from experience with Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker; having Eric Young for a full season; developing a consistent batting order; and, of course, the annual hope of whether Davis or Lucas Duda will find it, the Mets’ offense should be better in 2014.

Adding a bat is important, but is it imperative?

As is usually the case, pitching should be their primary concern, especially considering general manager Sandy Alderson has just three starters heading into spring training: Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler, the latter who was scratched from his final start with shoulder soreness.

Torres’ start tonight underscores the Mets’ need to add pitching. Theoretically, if the Mets pitch well their offense should improve enough to manufacture enough runs to be competitive.

The odds are long the Mets will have Matt Harvey for 2014, so they have two slots to fill in the rotation.

Torres has been valuable out of the bullpen in long relief and as a spot starter. He’s pitched well enough to get a spring training invite. What he did tonight is what the Mets need in a fifth starter, but he might be more valuable in long relief.

Saturday’s starter, Aaron Harang, should also be invited to spring training. I had my doubts, but Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched well recently and would likely also be invited to spring training.

Prior to the game Collins said he doesn’t anticipate Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard cracking the rotation coming out of spring training, which means adding a veteran arm, especially one who has a taste of playing on a winning team, should be their priority.

When Citi Field opened, the Mets said they would build around pitching, speed and defense. Power is great, but it isn’t essential in building a winner. The Mets should emphasize that mentality in constructing their 2014 team.

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Sep 27

Mets’ David Wright Out Of Lineup With Injured Thumb

David Wright will not be in the New York Mets’ lineup tonight because of a swollen right thumb sustained when he tried to brace himself Thursday night when he fell after taking a change-up to the head.

Wright passed a concussion test Thursday and experienced no symptoms while running today.

Wright is hoping to play in the remaining two games of the season. He has played in only 110 games because after spending nearly seven weeks on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.

From a statistical nature, Wright is two homers shy of 20; three RBI shy of 60; and three points short of a .400 on-base percentage.

Brewers starter Johnny Hellweg, who had control problems all night, was extremely apologetic, almost to the point of being distraught, after beaning Wright.

Said Hellweg: “That’s the last guy on the team I want to hit. All I hear is good things about him. He’s a good guy. You don’t ever want to hit somebody in the head. It was a changeup and definitely mislocated. I feel awful he had to come out of the game. It got to me a little bit because it’s David Wright. That’s their guy. And it was in the head, and he had to come out.’’

The television cameras caught Hellweg when Wright was on the ground and you could tell the concern in his eye. Matt Cain expressed the same regretful feelings with he beaned Wright at the end of the 2009 season.

One could see the concern in their eyes after hitting Wright. After seeing that, I couldn’t help but think back to when Roger Clemens beaned Mike Piazza in a Subway Series game, and later his rage in throwing the broken bat at Piazza during the World Series.

What people tend to forget is later that game Piazza took Clemens into the upper deck.

NIESE GETS CALL: Rather that go with Daisuke Matsuzaka on short rest, Terry Collins said he’d start Jon Niese in the season finale.

That was clearly the best choice.

METS HONOR MINOR LEAGUERS: Tonight the Mets will introduce first baseman Allan Dykstra and catcher Kevin Plawecki as co-minor league players of the years. Gabriel Ynoa was named the minor league pitcher of the year.

Also to be honored are:

Pitcher Rafael Montero (Las Vegas).

Pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Jeff Walters (Binghamton).

Outfielder/third baseman Dustin Lawley (St. Lucie).

First baseman Jayce Boyd (Savannah).

Pitcher Rob Whalen (Kingsport).

Pitcher Robert Gsellman (Brooklyn).

First baseman Dominic Smith (Gulf Coast League).

Outfielder John Mora and left-hander Jose Medina (Dominican Summer League).

TONIGHT’S LINE-UPS:

Eric Young, LF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Justin Turner, 3B

Juan Lagares, CF

Travis d’Arnaud, C

Wilfredo Tovar, SS

Carlos Torres, RHP

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

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 27

Looking At Life For Mets Without Matt Harvey

Who didn’t watch the New York Mets-Phillies game last night with a bit of indifference? Sure, Zack Wheeler against Cliff Lee possessed an element of interest, but the air was sucked out of the Mets’ season with news earlier in the day Matt Harvey would be lost for the remainder of the year with a partial UCL tear in his elbow.

Tommy John surgery is expected.

HARVEY: Bare facts, Mets not same without Harvey. (ESPN)

HARVEY: Bare facts, Mets not same without Harvey. (ESPN)

Most of the night my mind was as if channel surfing with a remote, bouncing from issue to issue, from the blame game to where the Mets go from here.

Carlos Torres will get Harvey’s start Thursday, but from there, would it be him or will we get a look at Rafael Montero? Then again, will the Mets be overprotective of him, as they were with Wheeler, pulling him with two outs in the seventh after 105 pitches with the opposing pitcher coming up.

From an organizational standpoint, where will the Mets go from here?

The team has been promising it would compete in 2014, but that will be harder to do without Harvey. Then again, should the Mets not make a run for it next year because of Harvey’s injury, what message does that tell the rest of the team?

It basically tells them “sorry boys, you’re not good enough without Matt.’’ That’s not a great message to be sending your team. Look for the Mets to attempt to add a veteran arm, an innings eater, if you will.

He’s not a veteran in the conventional sense, but if I were the Mets I’d be considering Phil Hughes, who’s probably in need of a change of scenery, especially in Citi Field’s vast outfield.

The Mets, who not just two weeks ago were flirting with the idea of a six-man rotation, will be going with a patchwork staff.

The Mets might bring up Montero to fill in for Harvey for a couple of starts at least, even if it means a 40-man roster move. This might be a prudent move as preliminary spring training in anticipation of Montero replacing Harvey in the rotation next season.

Without Harvey, and the Mets after Wheeler’s loss last night, are now losers of five straight, seven of nine and 10 of 14 can pretty much say good-bye to .500, and with 13 games coming up with playoff contenders Atlanta and Cleveland, and seven against the Nationals, second place is fading fast.

ON DECK: Facing the prospect of not having Harvey next year, the Mets could reverse course and suddenly listen to offers for Marlon Byrd and John Buck in the final days of the deadline to make waiver deal.

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