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.

Jun 17

Gee Deserves Better … Hopefully He’ll Get It Elsewhere

Unfortunately, the relationship between Dillon Gee and the Mets represents the norm in the player-team relationship.

The Mets have acquiesced to just about everything Harvey wants, and the decision to scrap the six-man rotation – designed to preserve his arm – is eventually what cost Gee his job.

GEE: Hopefully he'll land somewhere. (AP)

GEE: Hopefully he’ll land somewhere. (AP)

The Mets first sent Gee to the bullpen, then subsequently designated him for assignment, which is the first step to outright departure, either by trade or minor league assignment.

If the Mets are unable to work out a trade, they will surely stick him back to Triple-A Las Vegas where he will be at their disposal should somebody get injured or Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz – when they eventually bring him up – spit the bit.

To be sure, Gee has not pitched well this season, in part because of a groin injury, but for the most part he has been more than a serviceable starter for the Mets. What was it … over 50 straight starts of at least five innings?

Hopefully other teams were paying attention, for example, Toronto, which is in need of pitching. The Mets could have traded Gee if they wanted, but GM Sandy Alderson was more determine to hold up the other team and nothing was done.

Hopefully, Alderson learned from this winter and realizes there’s limited interest in Gee. Perhaps he’ll then take what he can get and let Gee go to an organization that can really appreciate him.

Gee deserves it.

Jun 14

Collins Invited Six-Man Rotation Drama

No matter how the Mets phrase it, they are back to a six-man rotation, which kicks into play Sunday when Dillon Gee comes off bereavement leave to start against the Braves. Gee isn’t happy about this; actually none of the pitchers are.

HARVEY: Force behind six-man rotation. (Getty)

HARVEY: Force behind six-man rotation. (Getty)

Manager Terry Collins is getting testy talking about this, but this predicament is his own doing. His and GM Sandy Alderson. Collins said it’s not really a six-man rotation, but occasionally he’ll slot in a pitcher, as it is with Gee.

“It’s drama,” Collins told reporters. “We’re living in New York City, that’s where drama’s made. Here’s something that could create some drama, that could be blown out of proportion when it was very minor.”

Playing in New York City has nothing to do with the drama. All this drama could have been alleviated had Collins mapped out Matt Harvey‘s starts in spring training. He had the schedule in front of him. He knew when the off days were. The only thing he didn’t know were injuries and rainouts. But, neither Collins nor Alderson wanted to deal with Harvey and his mood swings.

When Collins broached the six-man rotation several weeks ago, it was met cooly by the staff, notably Harvey, who made his displeasure known.

“I didn’t like the looks of [the six-man rotation], I didn’t like the feeling in the clubhouse that was going on,” Collins said. “I didn’t like the feeling in here – I just didn’t like it. … So it’s not a six-man rotation, it’s a five-man rotation where we’re gonna slip somebody in because we think maybe a day here as an extra day will help out.”

So, it is a five-man rotation until it becomes a six-man rotation.

Collins said the objective was to scale down his pitcher’s innings so they wouldn’t have to shut them down in September.

Of course, this could have been done had the Mets opted to structure their rotation instead of playing it by ear and flying by the seat of their pants.

Collins doesn’t like the drama, but he and Alderson invited it because they walk on egg shells around Harvey.