Mar 26

With Urgent Questions Simmering, Why Still The Mystery With Gee?

Why do the Mets insist on going the mystery route when it comes to announcing roles in its pitching staff?

When Zack Wheeler was lost for the season it was announced Dillon Gee would assume his spot in the rotation. Manager Terry Collins said as such, but at the same time pitching coach Dan Warthen said it was an open competition between Gee and Rafael Montero.

GEE: C'mon, make it official.

GEE: C’mon, make it official.

So much for being on the same page.

It should be a slam dunk because Gee has limited experience pitching out of the bullpen while Montero has worked both as a starter and reliever. Then yesterday Collins flipped it so Montero would pitch against the Yankees. After the game, Collins told reporters in Tampa: “I’ve seen Dillon Gee pitch big games. I don’t need to see him pitch against the New York Yankees.’’

If anything, that sounded like an endorsement for Gee.

However, after Montero’s strong performance, Collins said he earned a spot on the staff, but wouldn’t say in what capacity.

Again, why is this so difficult?

Montero has pitched out of the pen, something Gee hasn’t for years. If anything, with little less than two weeks before the start of the season, I would figure Collins knows he has a starting five, but should realize the holes in the back end of the bullpen is a greater priority.

Revealing the rotation order and role for Montero should be among the easiest of things for Collins to decide as there seem to be more pressing questions:

Will Daniel Murphy and/or Wilmer Flores open the season on the disabled list?

Will reliever Vic Black be ready for Opening Day?

Will Niese get his mechanics ironed out?

Who will be the leadoff hitter?

Is there a left-handed reliever out there, anywhere?

So, with at least five significant questions that must be answered immediately, the Mets are spinning their wheels – at least that’s the public perception – on Gee and Montero, which should be givens.


Mar 24

Mets Matters: Injury Updates; Gee Solid In Loss

GM Sandy Alderson said he’s optimistic Daniel Murphy could be ready for Opening Day.

Murphy has been down with a pulled right hamstring – an injury that always takes longer to recover than is initially diagnosed – since March 19. At first, it was described as tightness. It was then revised to be a pulled muscle with an estimated down period of one to two weeks.

mets-matters logoAlderson told reporters he based his thinking on, “the results of the MRI, the doctors’ evaluation and just how Daniel himself feels.’’

Murphy is scheduled to resume baseball activities Wednesday.

Meanwhile, shortstop Wilmer Flores resumed light activities today and manager Terry Collins said he might be able to play in an exhibition game Thursday.

Flores fouled a ball off his left foot and sustained a severe bruise. He had been wearing a walking boot but stopped using it.

Also, reliever Vic Black is down with weakness in his throwing shoulder and the probability is he’ll open the season on the disabled list. The Mets are making no pretenses he’ll be ready by Opening Day.

Will any of these guys be ready by Opening Day? Remember, when it comes to Mets’ injuries, always take the over.

GEE SOLID IN LOSS: Dillon Gee continues to impress for the Mets, who still won’t announce when he’ll make his first start of the season.

Gee threw four scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros at Tradition Field. The Mets held a late lead, but Carlos Torres gave up two eighth-inning runs. Torres, who is penciled into one of the Mets’ seven bullpen slots, has a 5.87 ERA this spring.

David Wright hit his third homer for the Mets, who are 12-10 this spring.

WHEELER SURGERY TOMORROW: Zack Wheeler will undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday in New York. Club physician David Altchek will perform the surgery.

Wheeler will miss this season and isn’t expected to pitch again until June of 2016.

UP NEXT: The Mets travel to Tampa Wednesday to face the Yankees. Rafael Montero will get the start. The Mets said Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares would make the trip.

Mar 23

What’s The Point Of Mets Announcing Partial Rotation?

What is it with the Mets that they can’t go all the way with certain things? Manager Terry Collins announced his rotation for the season-opening three-game series at Washington, but stopped there. How difficult is it to name the full rotation? And, more to the point, if Matt Harvey is ready for the season, then why not go ahead and name him the Opening Day starter?

COLON: Opening Day starter.

COLON: Opening Day starter.

I endorsed Bartolo Colon earlier, but that was because said it wouldn’t be Harvey. He’s regarded as the staff’s ace and so much has been made of his return. Given that, if he’s ready physically, then why not give him the ball in the season’s first game?

I heard the reasoning is to start him in the season’s third game, which would begin a couple of hours earlier and with it the likelihood of warmer weather. Seriously, if the game time is that big a deal where it might be a few degrees earlier, that suggests concern. If that is the case, then is Harvey really ready?

The starters for the Nationals series are Colon, Jacob deGrom and Harvey. That leaves Dillon Gee and Jon Niese for the first two games against the Braves. Collins did say deGrom would start the season opener at Citi Field.

Collins’ rationale for going with Colon was what I pointed out several weeks ago: his 15 victories; 200-plus innings; and the veteran presence to handle the big stage.

Well, all that was there two weeks ago, but in the interim the Mets hinted at deGrom, Colon and Zack Wheeler while saying no about Harvey.

I would have gone with – assuming everybody is healthy – Harvey, Colon, Niese, deGrom and Gee. I like the idea of slotting the lefthander in the middle of the rotation. Plus, with Harvey’s innings that much an issue, I prefer an innings-eater to follow him to take pressure off the bullpen.

However, the bottom-line reason for not liking the partial announcement is it smacks of indecision. If Collins isn’t ready to name the full rotation, then wait.

Mar 16

Gee Back In Rotation

What had long been speculated about the Mets unfortunately reached fruition today with the news Zack Wheeler’s year would end because of season-ending Tommy John surgery and would be replaced in the rotation by Dillon Gee.

GEE: Back in rotation. (AP)

GEE: Back in rotation. (AP)

“That’s why we have him,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters after Monday’s 4-3 loss to Boston. “He’ll be the guy.’’

Gee is 40-34 with a 3.91 ERA in 103 career starts, but had been relegated to the bullpen after the Mets failed to trade him this winter.

The decision to use Gee means the Mets won’t have to rush Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz to the major leagues.

If either opened the season in the major leagues and never went back to the minors they would become free agency after the 2020 season. If they were brought up after the 21st day of the season, that would delay free agency until after the 2021 season.

However, if they waited to promote either until summer, that delays the arbitration process by a year, which would mean untold savings.

ON DECK: Matt Harvey brings bright spot to dismal day.


Mar 15

Re-Visiting Spring Training Questions

The Mets opened spring training with ten significant questions. A month later, let’s take a look at the status of those questions to see what progress the Mets have made in answering them:

Q: How healthy is Matt Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. So far, indications are positive regarding Harvey’s health. The Mets still don’t know how they’ll break down Harvey’s innings or where he will slot into the rotation.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson had some success hitting leadoff last year, but has more value hitting in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season and it wasn’t until Saturday when he hit his first homer of the spring. Improving their offense to complement the potential of their young pitching is largely dependent of Wright.

Q: What will be the rotation order?

A: This much we know: Harvey will pitch in one of the first five games. I am not totally sold on the notion Harvey won’t be the Opening Day starter. If not Harvey, I had been thinking about Bartolo Colon, but he’s been getting hammered. So, it is now up in the air, with possibly Jacob deGrom over Jon Niese – who I would slot in the middle of the rotation – and Zack Wheeler, who is bothered by a sore shoulder.

Q: Will Dillon Gee be traded?

A: The Mets wanted too much for Gee when they dangled him during the winter. With Wheeler ailing, the need to keep Gee has been enhanced. The Mets currently are thinking of using Gee out of the bullpen.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor spring training. Flores is off to a good start offensively and has committed only two errors.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets currently have a handful of candidates to replace Edgin as the situational lefty.

Q: Will there be any additions?

A: It stands to reason the Mets will sign a free-agent lefty reliever if they are unable to trade for one. Once teams start making roster cuts there will be a flood of free agents.

Q: Who makes an impression?

A: None of the left possibilities have been impressive, which means Rafael Montero could steal a spot in the bullpen. GM Sandy Alderson said Steven Matz would not go to the bullpen to replace Edgin. Noah Syndergaard won’t make the rotation, even with Colon having a rough spring.

Q: Any injuries?

A: This is always the wild card. Edgin is lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle. And, there’s a lot left to the spring.