Oct 04

Mets’ Matt Harvey Opts For Surgery; Alderson Relieved At Decision

The bad news the New York Mets hoped to avoid, but long suspected they would eventually face, was acknowledged this afternoon when Matt Harvey elected to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn UCL that will force him to miss the entire 2014 season.

Harvey had been gradually considering surgery, and met with general manager Sandy Alderson to confirm. Alderson said he stayed away from Harvey as to not prejudice the decision.

HARVEY: Will take the knife. (AP)

HARVEY: Will take the knife. (AP)

“Matt came to this decision through the course of his rehab,” Alderson said this afternoon on a conference call. “He’s had quite a bit of time to think about it. I always assumed Matt would reach this conclusion. I felt this would be the right decision and I am happy Matt reached this decision.”

Had Harvey opted for surgery when he was initially injured, there was an outside chance he could have been available next September, but he was adamant in trying a six-to-eight week throwing program and rehabilitation in the hope of being ready for the season.

The timetable is for Harvey to have surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews will perform surgery by the end of the month and from there he should be ready for spring training, 2015.

Even so, this is the right decision for Harvey as it eliminates the possibility of starting the season, then blowing out his elbow and not only missing all of 2014, but also 2015. Alderson said that was a critical aspect for Harvey’s decision.

“That he might lose two seasons instead of one was definitely a factor,” Alderson said.

On Monday, before traveling to Florida for the Mets’ organizational meetings, Alderson said Harvey would have to show progress if he was to have a chance at pitching in the Arizona Fall League. It is hard to define progress when he hadn’t even started throwing. Harvey had been rehabbing at the Hospital of Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Harvey was magnificent while going 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts. He struck out 191 hitters in 178.1 innings with a microscopic 0.931 WHIP. However, the most amazing number with Harvey was a staggering 12 no-decisions.

Those are significant numbers to be removed from a rotation Alderson said is now three deep with Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. Alderson indicated the Mets could bring back veterans Aaron Harang and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Alderson said the Mets aren’t likely to compensate for losing Harvey by signing a high profile free agent, but instead sign a mid-level veteran such a Bronson Arroyo. Alderson left open the possibility of a homegrown prospect such as Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard making the rotation out of spring training, but said that wasn’t a preferable option.

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Oct 01

Matt Harvey Major Topic In Mets’ Organizational Meetings

Matt Harvey is a major topic of discussion for the New York Mets’ front office as they began organizational meetings today in Port St. Lucie.

General manager Sandy Alderson must operate under the assumption Harvey will not be ready to start next season, and as he has yet to begin throwing, the Mets must prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Understandably, Harvey does not want surgery – who does? – and wants to rest and later rehab in the hope of being ready for spring training.

HARVEY: Mets can't bet on him for 2014.

HARVEY: Mets can’t bet on him for 2014.

“The fact that he’s not throwing now, I wouldn’t say is concerning, but we need to see some progress,’’ Alderson said. “I hope that he will be throwing shortly. I want to emphasize this isn’t a rehab program. This is a diagnostic program. We’ll see what happens.’’

If he doesn’t start throwing soon the diagnosis is this isn’t going to work and surgery should be forthcoming.

Harvey said in mid-September he would undergo a six-to-eight week throwing program instead of immediately having Tommy John surgery. That was over three weeks ago and Harvey hasn’t thrown yet. Alderson said pitching in the Arizona Fall League was a possibility, but appeared to back off that before leaving for Florida.

As of now, I would bet against Harvey pitching in Arizona.

If Harvey eventually opts for surgery he will miss most, if not all, of next season. The risk of eschewing surgery is if he starts 2014 and re-tears the ligament he would not only miss what would be left of next season but also 2015.

That means the Mets might not have him for two, instead of one year. If Harvey opts for surgery now there is a possibility he could return late next September and be ready for 2015.

Alderson said, “Harvey does influence what we do in the off-season.’’

Alderson said it isn’t likely the Mets would go after an upper-tier free-agent pitcher, but said they would explore going after an innings eater. He said bringing back Aaron Harang and/or Daisuke Matsuzaka are possibilities, noting he has only three givens in next year’s rotation: Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee.

The Mets should bring back both Harang and Matsuzaka, as both pitched well enough to warrant the spring training invite.

Alderson said Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard aren’t ready, but hopes a mid-level free agent “could get us to them.’’

Meanwhile, Harvey is working with physical therapists and isn’t close to being ready for the Arizona Fall League, which begins Oct. 8.

“He needs to throw to a near-competitive level, pain-free, and perhaps on more than one occasion,’’ Alderson said about Harvey being ready for the Fall League.

As of now, that’s not going to happen.

The Mets’ off-season plan as of now, and it is the right option, is to sign a mid-level free agent instead of trading their young pitching for a proven starter.

“We have to be careful we don’t turn a strength into a weakness,” Alderson said. “With Matt out, it makes it a little more difficult to give up two or three guys we know are right on the cusp.’’

It is not out of the possibility Alderson might entertain bringing back Johan Santana on a reduced salary, after they buy out his 2014 contract for $5.5 million.

Santana said he isn’t ready to retire, and nobody knows his physical condition better than the Mets.

“I think that’s a possibility,’’ Alderson said. “I don’t really know what Johan’s thinking. We’ll talk to him, I’m sure, over the next couple of weeks but I think he wants to pitch.

“We’ll just have to see what the market is for these guys and how much of our resources we want to allocate to somebody coming off injury or somebody you hope was able to pitch for you at a higher level.’’

If the Mets are to take a gamble on a pitcher coming off an injury, it makes more sense to talk to Santana – whom they know – rather than somebody they don’t know.

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Sep 30

Mets Extend Collins; 2014 Season Has Begun

The New York Mets’ offseason began this afternoon at Citi Field with the expected announcement of Terry Collins’ contract extended for two years plus an option.

General manager Sandy Alderson there were three criteria for the extension:

* That the team hustled for Collins even during the lean times. “The club played hard for Terry and I think that was evident for everyone to see,’’ Alderson said.

* That he overcame a lot in terms of injuries and trades, and the young players generally improved. “He has helped out younger players get better,’’ Alderson said. “He’s a great motivator.’’

* That although the record wasn’t acceptable, the team showed improvement and played .500 over the last 100 games.

Alderson, Collins, COO Jeff Wilpon and the other members of the front office and coaching staff, will fly to Port St. Lucie today and begin organizational meetings to evaluate available free agents and trade options; player evaluations; and determining a budget.

“We have in mind what we can spend,’’ Wilpon said.

Alderson named Matt Harvey’s injury as the greatest disappointment, but also named the regression of Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, and inability to build a solid bullpen.

Both Collins and Alderson cited the club’s losing record at home, with the former saying the club’s offensive approach was a significant factor.

“We can’t lead the National League in strikeouts if we’re not going to hit with power,’’ Collins said. “Our approach with two strikes has to get better.’’

The Mets’ holes include the rotation, where Alderson named Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee as the only givens; first base, which for now has Ike Davis and Lucas Duda as the primary candidates; shortstop, where Tejada struggled, was injured and went on the disabled list, and then after an extended period in the minor leagues, returned and broke his leg; and the adding a significant bat in the outfield.

As Collins, Alderson and Wilpon spoke to the media, the grounds crew was working on the field, which looked in pristine, almost Opening Day, condition.

“I’m honored to be able to continue what we started,’’ Collins said about the future, which included Opening Day 2014. “The nucleus of young talent in our organization really came to the forefront this year. There is no doubt in my mind that we are headed in the right direction. The won-lost record is not what any of us wanted and that’s what we have to change, beginning in 2014.’’

And, 2014, has already begun.

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Sep 27

Mets Wrap: Pitching Should Be Mets’ Offseason Priority

By definition, Carlos Torres gave the New York Mets a quality start tonight – three runs in six innings – which is usually good enough to win most starts.

However, the Mets aren’t scoring much these days, and didn’t again tonight in a second straight 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, a team they should beat.

Terry Collins started his 128th different batting order out of 160 games tonight, which is as telling a stat as there is to define the 2013 Mets. Most of that is attributable to injuries and poor performance – notably Ike Davis – but indicates a lack of offensive consistency and depth

TORRES: Could get spring training invite.

TORRES: Could get spring training invite..

The popular belief is the Mets need to upgrade their offense, which is true, but is it really their top priority?

Factoring having David Wright for a full season; improvement that comes from experience with Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker; having Eric Young for a full season; developing a consistent batting order; and, of course, the annual hope of whether Davis or Lucas Duda will find it, the Mets’ offense should be better in 2014.

Adding a bat is important, but is it imperative?

As is usually the case, pitching should be their primary concern, especially considering general manager Sandy Alderson has just three starters heading into spring training: Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler, the latter who was scratched from his final start with shoulder soreness.

Torres’ start tonight underscores the Mets’ need to add pitching. Theoretically, if the Mets pitch well their offense should improve enough to manufacture enough runs to be competitive.

The odds are long the Mets will have Matt Harvey for 2014, so they have two slots to fill in the rotation.

Torres has been valuable out of the bullpen in long relief and as a spot starter. He’s pitched well enough to get a spring training invite. What he did tonight is what the Mets need in a fifth starter, but he might be more valuable in long relief.

Saturday’s starter, Aaron Harang, should also be invited to spring training. I had my doubts, but Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched well recently and would likely also be invited to spring training.

Prior to the game Collins said he doesn’t anticipate Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard cracking the rotation coming out of spring training, which means adding a veteran arm, especially one who has a taste of playing on a winning team, should be their priority.

When Citi Field opened, the Mets said they would build around pitching, speed and defense. Power is great, but it isn’t essential in building a winner. The Mets should emphasize that mentality in constructing their 2014 team.

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Sep 27

Tact Not A Virtue Of Mets’ Terry Collins

Tact is not a strong suit of New York Mets manager Terry Collins when it comes to dealing with the media.

Collins has had several abrasive moments this season, notably when he said he didn’t care what the fans thought during in the Jordany Valdespin episode. Everything about the Valdespin incident was handled poorly, which I partially attribute to Collins’ lame duck status. Collins immediately spun into damage control and it didn’t hurt when the team started playing better soon after.

COLLINS: Lighten up.

COLLINS: Lighten up.

Then there was his dumbfounded denial of ever hearing of Matt Harvey’s sore forearm that led to his elbow injury. The manager gets an injury report from the training staff whenever a player has treatment, so Collins knew. Denial about injuries is not the way to go.

He’s had two more the past few weeks.

The first was when Ruben Tejada went down with a broken leg in the ninth inning of the Mets’ furious rally to beat San Francisco. Tejada was injured in the top of the ninth, yet finished the inning on the field. There was no announcement in the press box about the injury, and also no surprise when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

After the game, toward the end of the questioning session, a reporter asked how Tejada was feeling.

“He broke his leg,’’ snapped Collins, in a demeanor that elicited muffled laughter because nobody knew and the impression was the manager was being sarcastic.

Collins’ first words after every game, to alleviate any confusion, should be an updated injury report. The questions will be asked, so get it out of the way. The reporter asked an innocuous question because the Mets made no announcement and Collins didn’t volunteer the injury.

Lastly, last night came his barbed response to the question whether he would consider giving Dillon Gee an inning so he could reach the 200-inning milestone, something the pitcher deeply covets.

“Why?’’ Collins said. “I mean, seriously? I don’t think so.’’

He never said why he wouldn’t.

Collins was accused in his managerial stint with the Angels of not being in touch with his players. How could he not know this was important to Gee? If the concern was injury related, then say so. Or, he could have said something along the lines of “that’s 200 innings as a starter, it would cheapen the milestone to give him an inning as a reliever.’’

Instead, Collins came off as condescending. He’s been around long enough to know the question would be asked, so he should have had a better answer. The appearance was he was surprised, and bothered, by the question.

If all else fails, he could have simply said, “I don’t know. That’s something I will have to discuss with Dillon.’’

It is expected Collins will get an extension. Hopefully, he’ll come back more tactful and less sensitive.

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