Jun 03

Callaway: Mets Need To Get Back To Work

Mets manager Mickey Callaway said his team isn’t focused and maybe it’s time to spend less time before games taking batting practice and more time revisiting spring training fundamental drills.

Callaway was upset when the Mets gifted the Cubs the only runs they needed in today’s 2-0 loss that enabled Chicago to finish its four-game sweep and extend the losing skid to nine of the last 11 games. In particular, he said Steven Matz was slow to first base on a pickoff attempt which enabled Javier Baez to steal home.

This came after Baez faked a steal on the previous pitch.

That was followed by Jay Bruce letting up on a pop-up to short right and letting inexperienced second baseman Luis Guillorme to make the play and allow Willson Contreras – who caught all 13 innings Saturday night – tagged up and score.

Clearly, the Mets didn’t anticipate on either play, which is a fundamental part of playing defense.

“I think we need to shift our focus,’’ Callaway said. “We are not focusing on that part of the game very well. If we have to go out and work on cutoffs and relays and pop-ups and PFP [pitcher’s fielding practice], that is what we will do instead of being on the field and hitting. I guess we need to make some adjustments on what we are focusing on.

“We go out there and do defensive work every day and we go out there and hit, maybe we need to shift our focus to make it more stuff like just ground balls and throwing to bags to be more fundamentals specific. I think it’s focus.’’

Matz said he was being cautious with a runner on third.

“I am not trying to snap a throw [to first] and throw it away,’’ said Matz, but conceded he has to throw the ball harder on the pickoff attempt. “It just caught me off guard. In the future, I’ll be more mindful of the throw. I wasn’t thinking about it.”

There’s no excuse for a left-handed pitcher to be surprised on that play.

As for Bruce, he said he thought Guillorme was already camped to make the catch. Even so, he later admitted that the outfielder has to take charge. He also conceded what we already knew: “I haven’t been good this year. That’s just the bottom line.”

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets are off Monday, then open interleague play with two games against Baltimore. … They have lost six straight home games and are 12-17 at Citi Field this season. … The Mets have been shut out four times, all at home. … The Mets’ offense has scored one run in its last 24 innings. The Mets have scored two or fewer runs 21 times this season. … Brandon Nimmo lead off to start the game and has reached base safely in 14 of 29 leadoff appearances with a .483 on-base percentage in the first inning.

 

Jun 01

Mets Lose Another; Callaway Calls Team Meeting

Mets manager Mickey Callaway said he didn’t believe in team meetings, but called one after Friday’s sloppy 7-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs to fall under .500 for the first time this season.

The headline was the bullpen that gave up five runs and allowed two inherited runners to score, but Callaway said the Mets haven’t been giving themselves a chance to win.

“We’re not snake bitten,’’ an excited Callaway said. “We’re not playing the game the right way. It’s a big snowball effect when you’re not playing the game the right way.’’

It was long overdue. Callaway has been even-keel, and his message was short and sweet.

“He said, `Keep your head up and come in here and do the right thing,’’ said Jay Bruce. “No one cares if you have injuries, you have to play the game the right way, do the little things and expect to come in here and win.’’

Callaway mentioned outfielders Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo overthrowing the cut-off man; failure to taking the extra base and advance runners, and pitchers issuing leadoff walks.

“He’s right,” Conforto said. “It’s something I’ve been working on. I just didn’t do it. This is something I can control. … This is a wake-up call that we needed. … It’s not about bad luck. It’s about playing better baseball.”

After starting the season at 11-1, the Mets are now 27-28, and losers of seven of their last ten games. They are 12-15 at Citi Field, and lucky to be one game under .500 considering they have a minus-23 run differential overall.

BRUCE HURTING:: Another day, another Met is hurting. Bruce left tonight’s game with tightness in his lower back. Bruce is also slowed with plantar fasciitis, and you have to wonder whether that brought on the sore back.

Bruce said he felt something prior to the game, but was unable to play through it.

The Mets already have outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares on the disabled list, so it would hurt to lose Bruce, but if he’s hurting he’s not doing them any good and should go on the DL. Bruce is hitting .228 with three homers and 15 RBI.

Callaway said Bruce should be available for Saturday.

The Mets added Jose Bautista, who has played well, and Nimmo is making the most of his opportunity. His OPS is over 1.000, and he hit a two-run homer in tonight’s 7-4 loss.

ROTATION WOES: Noah Syndergaard remains on the DL with a strained ligament in his right index finger and his not expected to be activated prior to next weekend’s series against the Yankees.

Zack Wheeler started tonight and pitched well, giving up just two runs [inherited runners that the bullpen allowed to score].

Jacob deGrom will start Saturday and Steven Matz Sunday.

Either Seth Lugo or Jason Vargas will start Tuesday against Baltimore. Whoever doesn’t start Tuesday – or Wheeler – could start Wednesday.

GSELLMAN SITS: Once again the Mets bullpen imploded, and surprisingly Robert Gsellman wasn’t used considering he didn’t pitch Thursday. Callaway said Gsellman, who had been pitching a lot lately, was scheduled to be off.

EXTRA INNINGS: Kevin Plawecki will start at first base Saturday. … Callaway is hoping for Todd Frazier and/or Cespedes to come off the disabled list for the Yankees series. … Jose Lobaton was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, giving the Mets three catchers. That’s not a lot of flexibility for an already weak and thin bench. … Reliever Anthony Swarzak is expected to be recalled Tuesday.

May 30

They Are The Mets, So Things Can Always Get Worse

They are the Mets, so when it comes to injuries, of course, things can get worse. Expect it. The team that began the season boasting about its pitching depth is now scrounging for healthy arms. Forget productive arms for now, the Mets just need somebody to get the ball across the plate.

Strikes would be nice, but manager Mickey Callaway will take what he can get for now.

MATZ: Will he go on the DL? (AP)

MATZ: Will he go on the DL? (AP)

On Tuesday, Noah Syndergaard went on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his right index finger. Later that day, Steven Matz left at the start of the fourth inning with a bone bruise to his left middle finger.

This came after he doubled in the top of the inning.

X-Rays were negative, but an MRI today could determine if he joins Syndergaard on the DL.

“When I was standing on second base [the finger] was starting to throb a little bit out there,’’ Matz said after the Mets lost 7-6 loss in Atlanta. “I threw a couple of [warmup] pitches and felt it.”

Matz said the pain in the knuckle.

Jason Vargas will start in place of Syndergaard tonight, and Seth Lugo will get the start Thursday against the Cubs at Citi Field.

Currently, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Vargas are the only projected starters still in the rotation. Vargas, who will start on three-days rest, is pitching as if he were injured with a 1-3 record and 10.62 ERA in five starts.

“He won’t be that limited,” Callaway said. “We will really just have to see how he does and gets through the game fatigue-wise.”

Injuries helped derail the Mets last season, and are threatening to do so again this year. The Mets were fortunate to have deGrom miss only one start because of a hyperextended elbow. Not so lucky are Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier, Wilmer Flores, Anthony Swarzak, Juan Lagares, AJ Ramos, Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud.

Asdrubal Cabrera is also playing with a sore knee.

May 04

Mets Banish Harvey From Gotham

In the end, Matt Harvey’s Mets’ career ended in the way in which he lived it, with stubbornness and selfishness. The Mets’ long, tumultuous nightmare with Harvey ended today when the hard-partying, formerly hard-throwing right-hander was told he would be designated for assignment because he refused to help himself by taking a Minor League assignment.

The Mets didn’t want Harvey to go to Las Vegas as punishment for partying last weekend in Los Angeles on the team’s first night in San Diego, but in the hope he could rediscover his mechanics that one time produced 98 mph., fastballs and had him destined for superstardom.

HARVEY: In the beginning. (MLB)

HARVEY: In the beginning. (MLB)

The Mets will designate Harvey for assignment prior to tomorrow’s game, which will give them a week to either trade him, which won’t happen, release him or place him on irrevocable waivers.

With teams knowing they can just sign Harvey after he’s released rather than give up talent, it will be a miracle if there’s a trade. The Mets are destined to eat the remainder of his $5.6 million contract.

“This was a long time coming,” GM Sandy Alderson said. “This is something we’ve tried to address, we’ve struggled with, we’ve wrestled with over two managerial regimes. The move to the bullpen was dramatic in itself. So I think that at this point, pragmatism, realism far outweighed other considerations.”

Harvey, who twice refused to speak to reporters when the Mets were on the West Coast, left Citi Field without a word and a 34-37 record with a 3.66 ERA over six seasons.

Manager Mickey Callaway, whose reputation of helping pitchers rediscover themselves was in part why he was hired, accepted responsibility, ironically which was something Harvey rarely did.

“We feel like we failed Matt Harvey,” said Callaway. “Our job is to help every player in there. It’s not a good feeling when you can’t.”

Harvey’s career began as the seventh overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Two years later, he debuted in 2012. The following season Harvey blossomed into part star/part comic book character after he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated calling him “The Dark Knight of Gotham’’ after the Batman movie.

Nobody knew it at the time, but the moniker would hurt Harvey as he seemed more interested in being a New York hero instead of a New York star. Ironically, Harvey’s downfall started before his career highlight, which was starting the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field.

Harvey initially withheld tightness in his right forearm after a start prior to the All-Star Game. The Mets didn’t do Harvey any favors when rather than pull him from the game they let him start.

It didn’t take long before it all started to unravel for Harvey, who was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Rather than immediately opt for Tommy John surgery, which several doctors recommended, Harvey chose to rehab the elbow, which was his right, but a bad decision as it set him back several months.

After spring training in 2014, Harvey fought with the Mets as to where he would rehab. The Mets wanted him to train in Port St. Lucie, but Harvey insisted on staying in New York where he could date models, go to the Rangers games, and party.

Harvey was quoted in a magazine article about how much he wanted to squire women like Derek Jeter and boasted of his drinking like a college sophomore.

Harvey returned in 2015, but not without controversy. The Mets began the season saying they would monitor Harvey’s innings, but there didn’t seem to be a concrete plan and former manager Terry Collins handled it poorly by letting him start with a strep throat and work into the late innings when the Mets were routing the Yankees.

Rather the closely monitor Harvey’s innings, they became an issue when his agent, Scott Boras, raised the possibility he might not pitch in the postseason. This painted Harvey in a bad light until the agent backed down.

Harvey did pitch in the postseason, but skipped a workout prior to the NL Division Series because he was hung over from a night of drinking. Harvey’s signature moment came when he pitched a hissy fit in the dugout and talked Collins into let him go out for the ninth inning of Game 5.

The next year Harvey developed thoracic outlet syndrome. He also missed time in 2017 with shoulder weakness, but also drew a three-game suspension for blowing off a game because he was sleeping off another party fest.

Harvey continued to struggle this season, then cursed at reporters who questioned him about going to the bullpen. Then was his night of partying in Los Angeles, the plans were made while the team was playing a game in St. Louis.

“I like Matt, in spite of all the stuff that’s gone on, certainly because of a lot of the stuff that’s gone on,” Alderson said. “He’s a human being. He’s a vulnerable human being, and kind of leaves himself open for those of us who know him and whom he semi-trusts. I’m going to miss him in a lot of ways.”

And, probably won’t miss him in a lot of other ways.

 

May 01

Harvey’s Partying Again An Issue

Long-time readers of this site know I’ve frequently been hard on Matt Harvey, and with good reason. For the most part, he’s deserved it. He’s in the bullpen because he’s been stinking up the joint lately as a starter, and if the Mickey Callaway Mets are about accountability, Harvey needs to ask himself: Am I doing all I can to get better?

Frankly, he’s not.

HARVEY: Being a jerk again.  (AP)

                HARVEY: Being a jerk again. (AP)

Harvey has always been for himself first, second and to hell with everybody else.

Harvey’s common sense, not to mention, professional obligations, are under scrutiny again after he traveled to Los Angeles from San Diego last week for a night of partying prior to a lackluster relief appearance.

The Mets traveled from St. Louis to San Diego the day he went to Los Angeles. Obviously, he was preoccupied with finding a way once the Mets landed in San Diego to get a way to Los Angeles. That means he wasn’t concentraing on the game.

Sandy Alderson stopped short of calling it a problem, but reading between the lines it isn’t hard to figure out the general manager isn’t pleased to hear of the so-so pitcher’s nocturnal habits.

After all, this is a player who blew off a game because he was hungover. He was also late to a postseason workout for the same reason.

“I think it can be a problem if it affects a player’s or a pitcher’s preparation for work the following day or the next several days and I am not sure that was the case here,” Alderson told reporters at Citi Field this afternoon. “[But] I think the other thing I have tried to keep in mind is pitching out of the bullpen is different than pitching out of the rotation and part of the preparation for that role is recognizing you can pitch any day at any time and as a result you have to be a little more conscientious about what else is going on in your life in order to be prepared on a moment’s notice to pitch.

“That is part of the realization that maybe’s he’s had over the last few days. So to answer the question as succinctly as I can, ‘Yeah, it can be a problem.’ I don’t think it was in this case.”

Asked if he was surprised to hear of the report about Harvey’s partying, Alderson said: “Usually I get upset if a report is unexpected. So I guess the short answer is no.”

Translation: Alderson knew something like this could be coming about Harvey.

Harvey, who is making $5.8 million n his walk year, clearly isn’t enamored with the Mets, who have bent over backward to placate him.

Callaway met with Harvey today and gave him the same old message he had gotten from Alderson and former manager Terry Collins.

“It is bad in the sense that it’s getting publicity,” Callaway said. “Matt has to be aware of that. The things he does, right or wrong, are going to be brought to the forefront and we have to make sure it’s never a distraction for him or the team.

“… I think he understands at this point that while the bullpen, he might view it as a relegation in some way, that his only way back to the rotation is through the bullpen and being successful in a meaningful role in the pen.’’

The bottom line is Harvey has in the past, and is currently, alienating his teammates. This latest episode is just another reason not to give Harvey the benefit of doubt anymore.

It’s his career, and if he doesn’t care about it anymore, then why should we?

Frankly, the sooner he’s gone the better, and if that means giving him away for a bag of balls at the trade deadline, then go for it.