Oct 08

Darling Misses Plate On Latest Harvey Mess

Normally, I enjoy Ron Darling’s insight on baseball and the Mets. I think he’s one of the best in the business. However, this time we deserved better from him when it came to weighing in on the latest Matt Harvey fiasco.

I thought Darling and his mates on SNY – Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez – let Harvey off easy during the innings limit drama by taking the path of least resistance and blaming agent Scott Boras. However, Boras wasn’t a factor in Harvey being late to Tuesday’s workout at Citi Field, but what do you know, Darling again passed on blasting the Mets’ diva ace.

DARLING:  Should have told us more.

DARLING: Should have told us more.

“It’s really hard for me to criticize [Harvey],’’ Darling told Newsday. “Half our team didn’t make the [1986 World Series] parade. … We had guys who barely showed up to games. … To me it’s not such a big thing because he’s not pitching for so many days.’’

But, it is a big deal. Harvey’s job required him to do one thing that day, and that was to show up to work on time. And, it wasn’t as if he had to be there at 9 and fight rush hour traffic. He had to be there at noon. He still could have slept in and been there on time.

In fairness, at the time Darling might not have heard several reports Harvey had been out partying, but does it really matter? Darling saw how partying destroyed the careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Cocaine was their drug of choice; for Harvey, it is alcohol. Harvey relished talking about his drinking and nightclubbing in a national magazine article. He boasted of wanting to be a womanizer like Derek Jeter.

If you’re the Mets, how do you not connect the dots between that and being late? How does Darling, educated at Yale and in the major leagues, not see that coming?

Especially when it came to the conflicting stories.

On Tuesday, manager Terry Collins said Harvey called to say he was stuck in traffic and turn around and go home. However, Harvey showed up anyway and took the questions. He admitted to screwing up and I wrote he was stand-up and was willing to let it go. However, Harvey didn’t get his story straight with Collins and said he lost track of time.

Huh? You tell us pitching for the Mets in the playoffs is important to you and you’re late? Did you forget your statement after the innings mess? I didn’t, and Darling should’ve remembered, also.

Harvey wrote in early September: “Right now we’re hunkered down in a fight to make the postseason. All of our efforts are focused on that task. As a team, we understand that there’s still a lot of baseball left to play. The chance to make a run in the playoffs will require our full dedication, energy and passion. This is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the Mets.’’

“All of our efforts.’’ “our full dedication.’’

Once there are conflicting stories there will be digging. And, it didn’t help Harvey’s cause any when David Wright expressed his controlled annoyance.

How could Darling overlook all that? He’s better than that, and as a New York athlete who saw first-hand the falls of Gooden and Strawberry, he had to know it wouldn’t end with a lame story or Collins’ weak jokes.

During his career, Hernandez hit whistling line drives, and did it again when he told the newspaper: “I’m astounded after all that’s gone that this happened. I’m flabbergasted about it. But, as my father used to say: `You make your bed, you’ve got to sleep in it.’ I just think at this particular point of the season it’s really, really not good.’’

That is, of course, unless Harvey has Darling to fluff up his pillows for him.

 

Oct 07

Sandy Says He Missed On Turner

justin turner

On December 2nd, 2013 the New York Mets decided to non-tender then-utility infielder Justin Turner. Essentially, the Mets front office decided to release Turner because he was due a raise in arbitration that would have paid him $750 thousand dollars.

However, after a tide of shock and dismay by Mets fans on social media, two days later the team leaked rumors that the real reason they cut Turner was because he was “lazy” and “didn’t hustle.” Fans didn’t buy it.

“That caught me off guard. It was something I wasn’t expecting. I’ll tell you what, that was probably the worst offseason I’ve had – not knowing where or if I was going to be playing the next year. That was hard.”

On Monday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke about that decision with Bill Shakin of the Los Angeles Times,

“He was always sort of a marginal 40-man roster guy,” Alderson said. “We gave him more of an opportunity than he had elsewhere, and he did a nice job for us. But you’d have to say we missed on him.”

 

In 36 at-bats against the Mets, Turner has tagged them for five doubles, two home runs, five runs, five RBIs, a .583 slugging percentage and .938 OPS.

Since leaving the Mets Turner has emerged as one of the Dodgers’ top hitters slashing at .314/.384/.492 with 47 doubles, 23 home runs to go with a 145 OPS+ and 8.4 fWAR over 675 at-bats. With runners in scoring position this season, Turner is batting .322/.404/.556.

“He brings that college mentality of ‘do anything’ to a big league clubhouse,” said Mets third baseman David Wright on Monday. “He’s an excellent defender, can play a number of positions, give you a great at-bat, great situational hitter, good in the clubhouse.”

“I’m happy for him,” Wright said. “I’m not going to be happy if he plays well against us in the playoffs. But he’s one of those guys you genuinely root for.”

Terry Collins also weighed in saying, “He’s gotten his opportunity. A lot of times, guys who get the opportunity to be an everyday guy don’t run with it. He has. I salute him. He’s one of my favorite guys.”

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Sep 18

From Matz To Duda, A Lot To Like About Mets

There are several things to take out of Friday’s Mets-Yankees game, none of which pertains to so-called bragging rights. Tell me, does anybody really believe in that?

The first is Steven Matz. All along, I’ve advocated leaving Matz out of the playoff rotation, simply because I didn’t believe he has the experience to pitch in that high-pressure atmosphere. Now, the playoffs are more intense than the Yankees, but Matz showed a lot tonight.

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

After a rocky first inning, which included a leadoff walk, Matz turned in a masterful performance. He went after hitters and pitched ahead in the count. He never pitched afraid.

I like Matz and still think the Mets might have something there as a lefty specialist in the playoffs, but know they won’t go there. Where they might go, and this would be delicious, would be to pass over Matt Harvey because of his “innings limits,’’ and go with Matz.

That would be terrifically ironic.

Also important was the revival of Lucas Duda with a mammoth homer and double. He would have also had a single if not for the shift. The Mets have crushed the ball since the Yoenis Cespedes trade, but widely absent in that power display has been Duda. When the playoffs arrive, they’ll need power from the left side.

Speaking of which, Daniel Murphy hit another clutch homer tonight for the go-ahead run. He also hit a game-tying homer on the last road trip in Atlanta, and prior to that, a key homer in Miami.

Murphy, by the way, is a scream with a great sense of humor. After his triple did you notice how he pushed away third baseman Chase Headley’s glove? Just a funny moment in a tense evening. How can you not love that stuff?

I can’t help but think that with the development of Wilmer Flores as a second baseman, and with David Wright seemingly healthy, the Mets won’t bring back Murphy. That becomes even more probable if they earmark money for Cespedes and their young pictures.

Finally, there was Addison Reed, who has been overpowering in his bid for becoming the seventh-inning answer.

As a devout interleague play hater, I took nothing out of beating the Yankees. However, I saw a lot to like in preparation for October.

Sep 08

Mets Lineup, Sept. 8, at Nationals

Here’s the Mets’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Nationals in Washington:
LINEUP COMMENTS:  Welcome back Lucas Duda. Interesting that he’s hitting fifth and not cleanup. … Glad to see Conforto still playing. When the time comes, I want to see him in there against lefties.

 

Sep 07

Thoughts On Amazing Day

If there is one word to describe the 2015 Mets, for me it would be resiliency. There have been numerous times this season when they could have fallen off the ledge, but found a way to get it done – which is the essence of any championship team.

From a multitude of injuries, including losing David Wright for nearly five months to a near two-month slump to a leaky bullpen to the circus around the trade deadline to the current mess pertaining to Matt Harvey‘s innings, it has been a wild ride. Today’s 8-5 come-from-behind victory in Washington capsulized the season in a wild three hours.

WRIGHT: Slides home in the seventh. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Slides home in the seventh. (Getty)

When Max Scherzer escaped a no-outs, runner-on-third threat in the first it looked like a bad omen for the Mets. However, momentum turned on solo homers by Michael Conforto – who, by the way, needs to play against all kinds of pitching, Kelly Johnson and Yoenis Cespedes, this would be a day to remember.

However, it would be an unforgettable day on the down side when the Nationals roughed up Jon Niese, including with Wilson Ramos‘ grand slam. Scherzer would settle down, but the Mets persevered. And, when Jeurys Familia blew away Ryan Zimmerman to end the game and make we wonder if Bryce Harper still doesn’t care about what’s going on with the Mets these days.

Here’s what I’ll take from today’s game, or as Collins said, Game 1 of the September playoffs:

TERRY COLLINS: He needs to sharpen his motivational skills. When you have a pitcher like Niese, whose confidence is shaken, you don’t tell him “this is the game of your life.” What manager does that? Niese’s confidence is peanut brittle tough as it is so you don’t apply additional pressure. Furthermore, your team has lost two games recently in walk-off fashion, but it still had a four-game lead heading into the series. So, Collins applied even more pressure. What’s the purpose? On a positive note, give Collins points for starting Johnson at second.

DAVID WRIGHT: He showed his captaincy mettle when he talked to Harvey for four innings Sunday in Miami. He underscored it in bold Sunday when he drove in the game-winning run and scored in the seventh. This guy is a winner. If anybody deserves this, it is him.

YOENIS CESPEDES: You don’t think he’ll get some MVP votes? If there was an MVP award for a late-season acquisition he would get it hands down. Cespedes will cost money, but he’s worth bringing back. With Curtis Granderson‘s contract up in two years and one more for Michael Cuddyer, there will be |money. Plus, I never bought the Mets’ cries of poverty.

BRYCE HARPER: Whether he cares what’s going on with the Mets or not is irrelevant. What matters is what he thinks of Nationals’ fans. For him to rip his fans for leaving early, it shows his head isn’t in the game and he’s looking for excuses. There aren’t many clearer signs the Nationals are showing signs of cracking. The teams have five games remaining, and the Nationals need to win them all.

MATT HARVEY/SANDY ALDERSON: If you’re scoring at home, the early rounds go to Harvey, who’ll make two or three more starts and not the four the Mets want. Alderson had a deer-in-the-headlights look when he spoke about Harvey prior to the game. What is clear is the Mets don’t have control over their diva pitcher as they have caved to his demands on nearly every turn.

Harvey wants to be limited during the September, but pitch in the playoffs. That could limit his effectiveness in October. Alderson wouldn’t say how much Harvey might pitch in the playoffs. Then, when faced with not having Harvey for two or more starts in September, Alderson doesn’t bring up Dillon Gee. Here’s a guy, Gee, who has done everything – and generally produced – the organization has asked, yet when they need another starter they ignored him. Rather shabby on Alderson’s part. Harvey pitches Tuesday and he damn well better produce. If he gets ripped and misses some starts and the Mets start falter, he’ll hear some boos next time he pitches at Citi Field.

THE BULLPEN: Today it threw 5.2 scoreless innings in relief of Niese. The bad news is they’ll lose Carlos Torres indefinitely with a pulled calf muscle. With Harvey’s innings uncertain, they could use a long man. It was sterling today, simply sterling. And, I’ve noted this before. Familia is the team’s MVP. That is, if Cespedes hasn’t moved ahead. One thing for certain, it isn’t Harvey.

JON NIESE:  Evidently, Niese’s wife didn’t wear her lucky panties. Today marked the 175th start of Niese’s career, and as Collins and SNY emphasized, it was his most important and he spit the bit. In parts of eight seasons, Niese is 60-61 and never has won more than 13 in a single season. Frankly, I’m thinking this might be as good as it gets for Niese. The Mets were wise to try to trade him last winter. They’ll increase those efforts this offseason.