Jul 06

Three Mets’ Storylines: Harvey Injury Overshadows DeGrom

What many speculated all season finally surfaced in a bad way after Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over Miami with the news Matt Harvey was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder discomfort. Harvey will be examined by Dr. Robert Thompson in St. Louis on Thursday. He’s the same surgeon who operated on Dillon Gee several years to remove a blood clot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Harvey has a similar issue, but that’s a good place to start.

HARVEY: DL bound. (AP)

HARVEY: DL bound. (AP)

All season, including after his poor performance Monday against the Marlins, Harvey, GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins insisted there was nothing physically wrong with him.

Considering that, this issue might have surfaced Monday when he gave up 11 hits.

However, Harvey said he wasn’t comfortable with his mechanics, but never complained about pain.

All indications from the Mets are this came out of nowhere, but then again Harvey hasn’t always been totally upfront about his arm. He’s also been stubborn about having things his way ranging from not being open about his initial injury in 2013; to resisting surgery; to where he would rehab; his innings limits last year; to coming out of games.

Of course, today’s DL move again raises questions of Harvey’s workload of 216 innings last season after missing 2104 with Tommy John surgery. The Mets didn’t have a definitive innings last year, which his agent Scott Boras didn’t let us forget.

Also to be revisited was how the Mets reduced his spring training workload. This is something Collins attributed to Harvey’s slow start. Don’t forget, as that bad start dragged on, the Mets gave Harvey the options of sorting things out either on the DL or in Port St. Lucie.

He declined both.

The Mets didn’t handle Harvey well last year, and today’s news makes you wonder whether they are handling the bone spur problems with Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz wisely.

Harvey’s injury, plus the questions surrounding Syndergaard and Matz – not to mention Zack Wheeler’s setback – reinforces the importance of what Jacob deGrom gave the Mets Wednesday.

DeGrom is 5-4 and has won two straight following ten consecutive winless starts.

The Mets were to ride all their young arms to a return to the World Series, but all of their starters – outside of Bartolo Colon – have had, or currently have significant health concerns. That’s why deGrom’s seven strong innings – two runs on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts – was the key storyline for the Mets until Harvey rocked their world.

First deGrom, then Harvey, and today’s final storyline was how to divvy up playing time between Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores, both of whom had two hits.

A couple of days ago I suggested a simple plan how to keep Flores in the lineup despite the addition of Reyes, which is to put him in a rotation system along with Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera and James Loney.

Foolproof actually, but apparently not Collins proof. When asked about splitting time between Reyes – who doubled twice – and Flores – who for the second time this homestand homered twice – during the Nationals series, said: “Look, it’s going to be hard to get both guys in there at the same time. One of them is going to have to sit.”


When the Mets slumped last year, Collins said if a player didn’t hit he would sit. What’s wrong with that approach now?

Cabrera, Walker and Loney all will need to rest. However, I’m afraid Collins is going to let Flores cool off on the bench.

Dec 16

Will Miss Murphy And Gee

Nobody knows where Daniel Murphy will land, but we know it won’t be with the Mets. I haven’t totally discounted him signing with the Yankees. I’m still thinking the Orioles and Angels are strong possibilities.

GEE: Will miss him and Murphy. (AP)

GEE: Will miss him and Murphy. (AP)

Wherever he goes, I will miss him. It was fun watching him during the playoffs and I hope his power display wasn’t a fluke. Murphy played his heart out for the Mets and he deserves his payday. I hope he gets it.

What I’ll remember most about Murphy is how he bounced from position to position before settling in a second base. He wasn’t the second coming of Roberto Alomar, but he worked hard into being a decent fielder. I’ll remember his long at-bats, often resulting in a drive in the gap. And, of course, there were his gaffs on the bases and in the field. One play I’ll always remember was him sliding into third. The third baseman kept his glove on Murphy in the hope he’d move off the bag, but Murphy grabbed the glove and moved it off him. Somehow, I found that funny.

My favorite Murphy moment was him going from first to third on a walk during the playoffs. A heads-up play from a guy whose attention has a tendency to wander.

From a reporter’s perspective, Murphy was great to work with as he didn’t duck any issue and always gave thoughtful answers.

Murphy is gone, but I’ll miss him and wish him well.

The same goes for Dillon Gee, who just signed a minor league deal with Kansas City.

As with Murphy, Gee isn’t physically gifted with those special skills. He wasn’t overpowering, but he was never afraid to take the ball. There were times when he was ripped, but he never offered any excuses. He was always stand up.

Gee had his moments of success despite being a 21-round draft pick. He is 40-37 with a 4.03 ERA lifetime. I thought he got a raw deal from the Mets last year, and with that I knew he was gone.

Both Murphy and Gee played hard and played with heart. I’ll miss them.


Dec 01

Alderson Named MLB Executive Of The Year

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is an analytics guy, and while there’s debate at to whether that’s the be-all-and-end-all of building a team remains in question, there is no doubt as to his role in taking this team to the World Series.

For that, he was named Major League Baseball’s executive of the year by Baseball America.

ALDERSON: Worthy honor. (AP)

ALDERSON: Worthy honor. (AP)

“Sandy is the best leader I’ve ever been around,’’ Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi told Baseball America. “ He lets you do your job. He respects you. And he wants your input. In the world today, his ‘yes’ means yes and his ‘no’ means no. That’s one of the best things about him. He’s always in the forefront. He’s not afraid to take arrows. He’s just a great leader.’’

The following are the moves that helped take the Mets to their sixth World Series:

Matt Harvey: When Harvey bucked management and fought to pitch at the end of the 2014 season, Alderson held his ground. While Harvey’s innings became an issue because there was no apparent plan, in the end Harvey pitched in the postseason and enters the offseason healthy.

Michael Cuddyer: I liked this move even though he didn’t post the numbers the Mets wanted. However, with David Wright out for nearly five months Cuddyer proved a stabilizing veteran presence in the clubhouse. He’ll enter 2016 as a role player.

Noah Syndergaard: When Dillon Gee went down, Syndergaard was brought up and we got to see him several months before his scheduled call-up date.

Michael Conforto: As with Syndergaard, the hesitation in bringing him up because of the Super Two issue. Actually, if Cuddyer hadn’t struggled and been injured, we might not of have seen Conforto until September. Alderson bucked the traditional way the Mets had done things and brought up a player with star potential.

Yoenis Cespedes: When the Carlos Gomez deal with Milwaukee for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores fell through, Alderson acted quickly and traded for Cespedes, who jumpstarted their dormant offense.

The Rotation: The Mets gambled and inserted Steven Matz in the playoff rotation and used Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon in the bullpen. Without that move there’s a chance they wouldn’t have gotten past the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Alderson deserves this honor. But his biggest job is to do it again.

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.