Jul 29

End In Sight For Mets’ Colon

Another game, another Bartolo Colon torching leaving the Mets with a few questions.

How long can the Mets go with Colon getting ripped every fifth game? Since they can’t trade him now, can they swap him out for Dillon Gee? Will they wait this out until Steven Matz is ready to come off the disabled list?

COLON: Ripped again. (AP)

COLON: Ripped again. (AP)

Colon at 42, hasn’t won since June 12, which was seven starts ago. Colon was hit for six runs in the first three innings tonight. He’s given up 17 runs over his last four starts, which included a stellar one-run performance in eight innings, suggesting there are games in which the magic is still there.

Colon opened the season with an 8-3 sprint out of the game through May 31 and there were whispers of him making the All-Star team. He’s now 9-10 and that seems like a totally non-plausible thought.

My first thought is to ride with Colon until Matz is ready because the way Gee has pitched, he and Colon are basically one of the same.

The Mets signed Colon to eat innings when Matt Harvey missed last season and to offer a veteran presence to their young rotation. In that regard, Colon has given the Mets their money’s worth but it is clear he doesn’t have it any more.

The Mets tried to deal him last winter but there were no takers. Now, it wouldn’t be surprising if GM Sandy Alderson heard muffled sounds of laughter on the other end of the line when he’s on the phone with other general managers.

It was fun while it lasted with Colon, but the good times are over.

Jul 11

Harvey Pitches, And Hits, Above Expectations

If Matt Harvey keeps having more days like today he could buy his own jet … even afford to take a helicopter from his Manhattan apartment to Mets’ games.

HARVEY: Plays like a star. (AP)

HARVEY: Plays like a star. (AP)

Harvey had one of those games like in high school, where he struck out nine Arizona Diamondbacks and hit a two-run homer in the Mets’ 4-2 victory.

It was a strong effort in a frustratingly erratic first-half for Harvey.

“For me, flushing the first half and going back out the second half with a fresh start is something I’m looking forward to,’’ Harvey told reporters. “There were ups and downs obviously – after the hot start, more ups and downs than I expected or wanted.’’

Harvey finished the first half with an 8-6 record, but the most important number were his 111.1 innings. He’s on pace for 205 innings, which is more than what GM Sandy Alderson wanted. But, that doesn’t include the playoffs, which is the ultimate goal.

Can you imagine the outcry should the Mets actually make it, but have to shut down Harvey. You think he complains now? That’s why the innings Harvey needlessly pitched in April when the Mets blew chances to rest him can’t be overlooked.

Of course this puts the six-man rotation issue back into the forefront. With Steven Matz down for at least five weeks – don’t forget he’ll have to go on a minor league rehab assignment when he’s cleared – the Mets must decide whether they’ll use Logan Verrett or Dillon Gee for the sixth spot or scrap their innings limitations.

It wasn’t a good start for Harvey, who walked four, but settled into a groove to with his eighth game. It was an effort the Mets have been waiting a long time to see.

Harvey has thrown hard this year coming off Tommy John surgery, but what usually happens in the first season back from the procedure is a lack of command.

That manifests itself not only in walks – nine in his last two starts – but also in home runs allowed.

He gave up a two-run homer to David Peralta in the first inning, but regrouped.

“I really wanted to do everything I could to keep the team within striking distance,’’ Harvey said. “When you look up at the scoreboard and it’s 2-0 and you only faced two batters, the last thing you want to do is keep that rolling. I really just had to buckle down and try to pound the zone as much as possible.’’

Which he did, marvelously so.


Jul 10

Mets Mess With Matz; Lefty Out At Least Three Weeks

In what some might describe as “typical Mets,’’ in their handling of injuries, the tightness in Steven Matz’s shoulder went from nothing serious, to a partially torn lat tear that would sideline him for up to three weeks, and today, according to GM Sandy Alderson, an indefinite period.

That doesn’t necessarily translate into “see you in spring training,’’ but then again it might.

MATZ: Out at least three weeks. (AP)

MATZ: Out at least three weeks. (AP)

Matz, who won his first two career starts, will be re-examined in three weeks. He will resume throwing if the lat muscle has healed, but if not will continue to rest. That’s where the indefinite period comes in.

Alderson had no explanation as to why Matz was not held out from last Sunday’s start in Los Angeles other than to say all pitchers have some degree of stiffness. That’s not a good answer, especially in light of previous Mets’ injuries.

The Mets dragged their feet before learning of Matt Harvey’s elbow injury, and considering Matz already had Tommy John surgery, not getting an MRI after his first start was a mistake. Alderson’s reasoning why Matz didn’t get the exam doesn’t wash.

“It was assessed by himself [Matz, who to my knowledge isn’t a doctor] as well as based on the information by the doctors as a mild issue at that time,” Alderson said. “If we got an MRI on every pitcher who ever had any sort of mild pain, we’d probably be getting them on a daily or somewhat frequent basis.”

Perhaps, then again Harvey’s issue might have been caught sooner. The same for Matz.

If Matz is one of the Mets’ pitching jewels, you take care of him. As with what happened with Harvey, it leaves a foul taste.

Three weeks puts us at the trade deadline, which means there is no way Jon Niese will be moved now. The same can pretty much be said for Bartolo Colon. Dillon Gee? Well, he’s always available.

Alderson did an about-face when the topic of trading from their pitching depth was raised. To be sure, Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matz were never going anywhere. However, it had always been known Niese, Colon and Gee – currently in the minor leagues – could be had.

“There’s some speculation we were looking to trade pitching, and therefore this loss makes that less likely,’’ Alderson said. “I don’t think it was ever likely we were going to trade out of that six-man group. … I don’t think that will change our level of aggressiveness. We’re two games over and still in the hunt. … Two weeks ago we didn’t have Steven. It won’t make us less aggressive.’’

The cynic in me says it can’t make the Mets any less aggressive because they aren’t doing anything now. In all fairness, we don’t know everybody Alderson is talking to, but since he won’t deal pitching, and the Mets have little in the minor leagues to offer and are reluctant to take on salary, it’s not hard to surmise there will be no fireworks at the trade deadline.

Jun 29

Assessing Trade Value Of Jon Niese

With the emergence of Steven Matz, expect the Mets to ratchet up their intent to trade from their pitching depth to bolster their anemic offense. The Mets would dearly like to find a taker or two for Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon on the major league level; Dillon Gee in the minors; and Rafael Montero, who has spent much of the season on the disabled list.

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

Of course, interested teams inquire about Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matz, but are turned down. They don’t even both to ask about Matt Harvey, anymore.

Of the the four the Mets most want to trade, Niese has the greatest upside to bring in a bat.

Colon, at 41, won’t attract anything more than a lower level mediocre prospect at best. Gee won’t bring much more. Montero, if included in a package, could bring in the most, but he’s coming off an elbow injury.

Niese, however, at 28, is left-handed, now seemingly healthy, signed to a reasonable contract and has had some degree of success. Niese’s career record is 55-58, but with a respectable 3.89 ERA and average 1.368 WHIP. The ERA is what is most attractive, with the mediocre record attributable to the Mets’ porous bullpen and poor hitting.

Last year, Niese logged 187.2 innings in 30 starts while going 9-11. That’s indicative of a pitcher not afraid to take the ball. That could have value to the Cubs and Dodgers, the teams reportedly interested in Niese.

Assuming Niese remains healthy, a buying team can figure on getting innings, and will undoubtedly have the belief he would benefit from a change of scenery.

Naturally, money will always factor into any deal.

Niese will make $7 million this year, which means roughly a $3.5 million investment for the remainder of this year. Niese will earn $9 million in 2016; $10 million for 2017; and $11 million in 2018. Those are palatable salaries, and making it more attractive is the final two years have team options.

However, what must be remembered in dealing Niese to a potential contender is that if a team is in contention it likely wouldn’t want to deal a major league ready hitter. And, the Mets don’t want prospects as they believe they are capable of winning now.

Consequently, a team wanting Niese likely wouldn’t offer much, which is usually the tact the Mets have when they want to make a trade.

Jun 26

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation: Take Two

For the second time this season, the Mets will go with a six-man rotation. The first time was earlier this month when Dillon Gee came off the disabled list, but quickly fizzled when he was hammered. This time, it is to squeeze Steven Matz into the rotation. He’ll start Sunday against Cincinnati.

Prior to Noah Syndergaard‘s 2-1, eight-inning gem Friday over the Reds, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets were committed to this move. Then again, that’s what Alderson and manager Terry Collins said the first time.

“We’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” Alderson said. “I expect that will continue for a period of time and we’ll see where it goes.”

Alderson wouldn’t define “period of time.”

Matz is 24, left-handed and throws gas. There’s a lot to like about him opposed to Jon Niese, whose career has been on a steady decline the past few years.

The Mets have six starters, but still aren’t scoring any runs. They only scored two tonight and would have lost if not for Syndergaard. Matz increases the depth of the rotation, but the Mets are still a team that can’t score.

There were considerable rumblings when the six-man rotation was initially bagged it was because those in the rotation – notably Matt Harvey - didn’t want to pitch with too much rest.

“This arrangement has been discussed with the other five pitchers,” Alderson said. “I think they understand it’s in their interest.”

We’ll see.

The Mets came across as unprepared and in a panic mode the first time they did this, and it’s no different now. As mentioned several times here, this juggling could have been alleviated had the Mets adopted a concrete plan to limit innings going into the season, but Harvey balked.

Once again, the Mets are flying by the seat of their pants.