May 31

Mets Who Should Be All-Stars

Some people believe Matt Harvey should be the Mets’ representative on the National League All-Star team. Sure, I can see that, but he’s no higher than fourth on my list. However, there’s no way the Mets will have four players, especially since they won’t have anybody voted in. David Wright is fourth among third baseman.

FAMILIA: Saved 15th game today. (AP)

FAMILIA: Saved 15th game today. (AP)

My first choice is Jeurys Familia, who threw two innings of relief today, which included striking out Giancarlo Stanton with a wicked slider in the eighth. The Mets head to San Diego this week in second place, and it isn’t hard to imagine where they would be without Familia, who has 15 saves. Familia won the and won’t give it up. When he returns Bobby Parnell will have to assume another role. Likewise for Jennry Mejia, if he ever comes back.

My next choice is eight-game winner Bartolo Colon. It’s a funny for some to watch him hit, but he’s total serious on the mound. He has won eight of the Mets’ 28 games. I again wonder where the Mets would be without Colon.

They certainly wouldn’t be in second place.

Finally, there’s Lucas Duda, but Adrian Gonzalez (Dodgers), Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) and Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)  are the top three vote getters at first base. Duda is emerging into an All-Star. If not this year, but soon enough.

The All-Star voting system is extremely flawed – any election that lets you vote 35 times is a joke – and the idea every team must be represented is also far from perfect. This variable often keeps out deserving players.

Hopefully, it won’t keep out Familia.

 

 

May 25

Collins, Alderson Continue To Guess At Mets’ Physical Ailments

Just because we’re in a world where immediate answers are demanded, it doesn’t mean Mets manager Terry Collins is obligated to improvise with one on Matt Harvey. After Harvey’s worst major league outing Saturday in Pittsburgh, without having benefit of a medical exam, Collins suggested to reporters the pitcher might have a “dead arm.’’

While this may or not be true, I’m tired of Collins and GM Sandy Alderson throwing out guesses on possible medical issues.

HARVEY: Tired arm? (AP)

HARVEY: Tired arm? (AP)

Collins told reporters: “I have not talked to Matt yet, but it looks like he might be going through some of that dead arm stuff that sometimes happens. This might help him to have an extra day to get him back on track. He’s going to pitch Friday with five days’ rest, be ready to go.”

OK, let’s get this straight.

* Collins had not talked to Harvey.

* Harvey, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, isn’t scheduled to be examined by a doctor.

* Collins said Harvey will be “ready to go,’’ on Friday.

Harvey said after the game there’s nothing wrong with him physically, and although he hasn’t been forthright about injuries before, we have to give him benefit of doubt on this because he is coming off consecutive no-decision starts in which he held 1-0 leads late before the bullpen crashed. Harvey was brilliant, if not overpowering, in those games.

“I wasn’t locating, obviously,’’ Harvey said Saturday’s start. “My arm feels fine, my body feels fine. It was one of those days where if I tried to spin it, it was over the middle. If I tried to throw a fastball in, it was away and vice versa. It’s just a pretty terrible outing.”

So, before Collins gives us a diagnosis, let’s see what happens with Harvey after Friday’s start.

It could have been just a bad game for Harvey on Saturday. He’s entitled.

Meanwhile, the news remains dark for David Wright, who was sent to California for a consultation with Dr. Robert Watkins on his back pain and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column).

Alderson said he hopes with a “week of rest that he will be able to resume his progression.’’

However, there’s no guarantee a week will help, especially when that suggestion comes before Watkins’ diagnosis. It seems neither Collins nor Alderson have learned when it comes to Mets’ physical ailments.

I wrote the other day I wouldn’t be surprised if Wright is gone for a considerable length of time, perhaps even the rest of the season. After all, I have been around the Mets for a long time and used to bad news.

 

May 24

Mets At Crossroads

After his Mets were swept out of Pittsburgh, manager Terry Collins insisted his team was not at a “critical juncture,’’ in the season – which I said they were several days ago – and wasn’t “dead in the water.’’

COLLINS: What's he really thinking? (AP)

COLLINS: What’s he really thinking? (AP)

It’s still May and they are 2.5 games behind Washington – after being ahead by eight – so dead might be stretching things. However, “critical juncture,’’ still applies after scoring four runs while hitting .211 with 36 strikeouts in the Pirates’ series.

Truth is, the Mets are closer to third place than first. They are also closer to being the team they are now than the one that won 11 straight games. Not too long ago, the Mets’ run-differential was plus-25. Today it is minus-one. Instead of being ten games over .500, they are only three.

Collins can talk all he wants about not panicking, not quitting and, of course, that his team plays hard. “Effort isn’t a problem,’’ Collins said this afternoon.

Talent, however, or lack of it, is the problem.

They were outscored by a composite 21-4 score by the Pirates, with their two best pitchers losing. Matt Harvey had the worst outing of his career Saturday, just a few hours after the team said David Wright would remain on the disabled list.

This team isn’t hitting; the pitching has struggled; the defense has been poor; and there’s no consistency in the batting order. Compounding matters, they don’t have imminent help coming from the minor leagues and aren’t close to making a trade.

Collins has been in this business for a long time. He knows when a team is playing well and when it isn’t. He’s not about to admit it publicly this is a critical time for the Mets.

But, he’s a smart guy. He knows it is.

He also knows the team the Mets have now is the one that will have to turn things around.

May 23

Will We See Wright Again This Year?

At the beginning of spring training I wrote the position player the Mets could least afford to lose was third baseman David Wright. We can now assume that to be the case with reports out Pittsburgh are Wright’s lower-back pain has resurfaced and he’s been shut down again.

The 32-year-old Wright went on the disabled list April 15 with a pulled right hamstring, and the initial projection was he’d be out two weeks. Of course, we know how such projections have been in the past. Wright now has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and they are first prescribing rest followed by strengthening his core. As far as we know, surgery has not yet been discussed, but that can be a future option.

WRIGHT: Return delayed and uncertain. (AP)

WRIGHT: Return delayed and uncertain. (AP)

The back pain began as Wright’s hamstring healed. The Mets are now saying he will be out for at least another week, but how do they really know that will be what it takes?

Wright’s importance to the Mets comes in his, 1) production at the plate, 2) steadying influence in the field and in the clubhouse, and 3) what he represents to the stability of the franchise and the sense things will be all right.

And, naturally, with Wright gone comes the whispers the Mets made a poor decision when they signed him through the 2020 season, including $20 million through 2018. Undeniably, Wright’s contract will preclude the Mets from diving deep into the free-agent market, and their dollars will be spent on retaining their young pitching.

You might recall Wright was out for two months in 2011 with a stress fracture in his lower back, an injury the Mets’ medical staff said he has not had a reoccurrence. However, what is reoccurring is Wright’s inability to stay in the lineup as he has averaged 126 games a year from 2011 through 2014, and will be lucky to reach that this season.

Extenuating circumstances involved prompted the Mets to offer Wright such a large contract. We can argue whether they were right or wrong all day, but this much is certain: The Mets’ offense is in trouble and they have to be preparing for the idea we might not see Wright again this year.

May 21

Is Panic In The Mets’ DNA?

Sometimes, Mets manager Terry Collins sounds like a man who is trying to convince himself of something he’s not sure of, when he said, or vowed, his team would not panic.

As somebody who has been in on hundreds of such press briefings, I know why the topic of panic was raised. Believe me, it’s not because it’s New York and the media is prying. The question would be the same in Pittsburgh or Cleveland or even laid back San Diego. When you lose seven of ten games and nine games in the standings to your main division rival, nerves get frayed, no matter how loudly or vociferously, Collins denies it.

COLLINS: Looks concerned and should be. (AP)

COLLINS: Looks concerned and should be. (AP)

“There’s a lot – a lot – of baseball left,’’ Collins said last night. “There’s no sense of urgency here. We have things we have to continue to try to do. We have to continue to try to watch the workload of some guys. We need to continue to try to get healthy. But there’s no panic here, believe me. Not in the clubhouse. Not anyplace else.”

This is what Collins believes and I don’t doubt he thinks that way. He would be a fool to admit otherwise. That’s why I don’t get why some in my profession would even pose the question. They already know the answer.

I raised the issue yesterday the Mets are at a critical point to their season, and I did so because I’ve seen them fold before. Do you remember September of 2007 when they lost a seven-game lead to the Phillies with 17 games remaining?

Of course you do.

It has been in the Mets’ DNA to go into long, dry spells. That’s where they are now. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Reporters ask questions to find out.

The Mets’ primary issue now is a stagnant offense that has scored three or fewer runs in 16 of their past 22 games. Not surprisingly, they are 10-15 since their 11-game winning streak.

GM Sandy Alderson already said not to expect help from the outside, that the plan is to wait for David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud to return from the disabled list. There are other options, such as juggling the lineup, but that smacks of panic unless the move is justifiable, which it would be when Wright and d’Arnaud to come back.

The Mets don’t have a good bench, so benching somebody isn’t a great option. Plus, the guy they always look to sit is Wilmer Flores, who is their best home run hitter. Just who in their minor league system is an answer?

The Mets’ best option, as distasteful as this sounds because that’s been Alderson’s mantra, is to wait this out. Slumps happen in a 162-game schedule and that’s what’s going on with the Mets.

Getting out of a slump takes time, and I don’t know how patient the Mets will be. Unfortunately, neither does Collins.

However, when the story of this season is written, this period will be the watershed moment.