Aug 26

Mets This Week: Watching Wheeler And Listening To Buck Offers

The New York Mets never made it over the hump en route to .500, and after being swept – better yet, mauled – by the Tigers, this week is about licking wounds and finding a positive heading into the last month.

The Mets are in serious danger of giving up third place to the Phillies, who are in for four games. But, that’s just cosmetic stuff.

WHEELER: Watching him closely. (AP)

WHEELER: Watching him closely. (AP)

The meat of the week is how they treat Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, who’ll bookend the Phillies series. Wheeler has worked into the seventh in two of his last three starts, and went over 100 pitches in his last four games.

Terry Collins has not said what Wheeler’s limit will be tonight. One thing he won’t do, with rain in the forecast, is bring him back after a delay, so theoretically they could lose Wheeler’s start after two innings.

The Mets want to limit innings for Wheeler and Harvey, but haven’t come up with a definitive plan. They have not but a cap on a game, and seem to be hoping for off-days, of which they only have two remaining.

But, one is trumped because of a double header.

Harvey said he was gassed after Saturday’s loss, which puts him and the Mets in a difficult spot: How do they limit his innings, yet at the same time try to build him up to pitch in September?

I’m interested to see if the Mets don’t push Harvey back a day into the Washington series or skip him altogether.

Jonathon Niese starts Tuesday, his fourth since coming off the disabled list with a slight tear. Niese went seven innings in his last start and six in the previous two. He struck out nine hitters in his last two starts, showing there’s nothing wrong with his shoulder.

Even so, I’d be surprised if the Mets aren’t careful with him.

Getting the ball Wednesday will be Daisuke Matsuzaka, who gets mixed reviews from his Mets’ debut. On the down side, he gave up five runs in five innings. However, he retired the last ten batters he faced, so that is five runs in two innings.

The Mets get lefties Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, tonight and Wednesday, respectively, so which lefty-hitting first baseman gets to play, Lucas Duda or Ike Davis?

One thing for certain, is we’ll continue to see plenty of Travis d’Arnaud this week, and the Mets hope, for the next few years. That means seeing less of John Buck.

Buck has been terrific this year in what the Mets asked him to do, and since he showed there’s still pop in his bat, he’s going to want to play.

So, off the field, the Mets might have to decide if they are satisfied with d’Arnaud, Anthony Recker and whomever, and try to swing a waiver deal for Buck.

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

Mar 27

Don’t Force Wheeler Because Of Marcum

There are two no-brainers in place for the Mets with their latest injury news.

The first was the slam-dunk Shaun Marcum would be injured. The surprise was it happened before the team broke camp, but considering the shape he reported in, well, maybe not so much.

WHEELER: Not ready.

WHEELER: Not ready.

The second is the inevitable early clamor for the Mets to promote prospect Zack Wheeler, which should be an emphatic NO WAY.

Manager Terry Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie, but he has a few more days to mull it over in his mind, especially throwing Johan Santana’s name on the soon-to-be-DL list.

“There’s a reason why we sent him out,’’ Collins said. “He needs to face hitters in Triple-A.’’

Although Wheeler was impressive in his first appearance since straining his oblique muscle, too much can’t be read into that because he wasn’t facing major league hitters.

The send-off the Mets gave Wheeler was to work on his command, especially lower in the strike zone and on the corners. That includes both his fastball and breaking pitches.

GM Sandy Alderson was adamant at the start of spring training of putting Wheeler, “in a chance where he has a chance to be successful,’’ but said he’s not there, yet.

Alderson wouldn’t identify a concrete timetable, and some of it pertains to the free agent and Super Two issues. Based on service time within the first 20 days of the regular season, Wheeler would become a free agent after the 2018 season instead to 2019, and be eligible for an extra year (four instead of three) in salary arbitration.

An example of a Super Two player is the Phillies Cole Hamels, but it should be remembered he was first played in that status in 2009, the year Philadelphia went to the World Series. At last check, the Mets haven’t been over .500 since that year.

People accuse the Mets of being cheap off the time, but this is more a prudent option and an accountant’s decision. However, Alderson said if there’s a need for a player such as Wheeler or catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud they would be promoted regardless.

If Marcum isn’t ready for the season – it seems doubtful he will make Thursday’s start – the Mets will likely place him on the disabled list. It would be foolish to wait to see if he’ll be ready for the season’s second start, or even worse to push him back in the rotation.

Under those scenarios, if Marcum pitched and was re-injured, he would go on the disabled list backdated to the time of that injury and be out two-weeks. If not, he would be backdated into spring training and miss time.

Marcum sustained a pinched nerve in his neck sustained throwing in the bullpen Monday. Marcum has only broken 200 innings once during his career, and only had 124 last year.

Jul 03

Fake Rivalry With Phillies Renews Tonight

The Mets and Phillies have had a fake rivalry, and it has been rare when both teams were good at the same time. That’s when the competitive edge of the rivalry comes into play. They are division rivals and geographic rivals, but there’s little tenseness.

An element of hate was removed when Jose Reyes left in the offseason. The Phillies despised him and his style of play and gloated whenever they could. Reyes is gone and took that spice with him.

This year the Mets are playing well and chasing Washington for the NL East. Meanwhile, the Phillies are down and have made it known they will listen to offers for Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels. Both would look nice in Mets pinstripes, but forget it.

The Phillies have been in the playoffs since 2007. This year they’ve been beset with injuries and sluggish play. This is the time for the Mets to put them away, to put three games worth of distance between them before the All-Star break.

If the Mets are as good as they claim to be, they need to continue their momentum from the Dodgers series – including overcoming the disappointment of not getting a sweep – and laying the wood on a wounded opponent.

In that sense, there’s an element to the rivalry that has been missing.

Apr 15

David Wright Sizzles As Mets Go For Philly Sweep

I didn’t think David Wright should have played yesterday. Still think it was a gamble, but obviously one that paid off for him and the Mets.

Wright homered on the first pitch thrown to him and he’ll try to stay hot against Cole Hamels, a pitcher he has owned with a .308 average, three doubles, a triple and two homers lifetime against him.

Wright took BP yesterday, said he was ready and then started raking.

“I felt good,” Wright said. “I got a little confidence after the first at-bat. I felt real good in the cage earlier. I wouldn’t have gone out there if I didn’t think I can contribute.”

After missing much of spring training with a strained side muscle, Wright is off to a fast start at 10-for-17 and at least one RBI in every game he has played. He has 16 homers in Philly, so the Mets really wanted him in the lineup.

The Mets go for the sweep today behind a pitcher, Mike Pelfrey, who is as cold in Philly as Wright is hot. Pelfrey has given up nine homers in eight starts in Philly as is coming off a poor first outing of the season when he was tagged for 10 hits in a 5.2 no-decision against Washington.

Feb 03

Another look at Mets’ woeful pitching.

ESPN had an interesting post when it examined the starting rotations of the NL East teams. They still have Johan Santana listed as No. 1, which is puzzling.

What I found most interesting is that every team’s No. 3 starter would qualify as the Mets’ No. 1.

Edwin Jackson is reportedly on his way to Washington, where he’s the projected third starter behind Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. The Braves’ No. 3 is Tommy Hanson. Miami’s third starter is Ricky Nolasco and Philadelphia’s is Cole Hamels.

The Mets’ projected rotation is Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee.

It’s all about pitching and this is a grim reminder of the Mets’ status.