Aug 28

Losing Matt Harvey Not Mets’ Only Issue

Can we please have a reality check in the wake of the New York Mets losing Matt Harvey for the remainder of this season and possibly all of 2014?

In some ways the Mets overachieved this year, but not to the point where they should be considered favorites next summer, or the following one, even with Harvey.

HARVEY: Even with him, Mets have issues.

HARVEY: Even with him, Mets have issues.

The Mets are a flawed team, and considering they just traded their two of their top three home-run and RBI leaders in Marlon Byrd and John Buck, they are even more scarred.

Without Harvey, and with Jenrry Mejia and Jeremy to have surgery, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese are the only givens in next year’s rotation. And, Niese is coming off a slight rotator cuff tear and Wheeler will have only half a season experience on his resume.

It is imperative the Mets go on with the belief Harvey will be out indefinitely and add one or two starters. Please don’t say Daisuke Matsuzaka is enough, and even in jest, don’t suggest bringing back Johan Santana.

The Mets like catcher Travis d’Arnaud’s future, but he’s only played a handful of games. They’ll miss Buck, not only for his bat, but his ability to handle pitchers.

First base has the unappealing options of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin. There’s also a hole at shortstop, with Ruben Tejada fading into past tense and Omar Quintanilla a reserve.

Second baseman Daniel Murphy could be gone, especially if the Mets opt to go with Wilmer Flores.

Left and center, as of now, appear set with Eric Young and Juan Lagares, with neither having much power. Right field, as it was this spring, is wide open. Maybe they’ll bring back Byrd. Who knows?

The bullpen has pitched well for the most part in the second half, but with Bobby Parnell facing surgery on his neck, it will be patchwork all over again.

General manager Sandy Alderson has been pointing to 2014 since he got here, saying once several bloated contracts were off the books the team will have liberty to spend.

The timetable has been pushed back at least a year with Harvey’s injury, but that’s no excuse for him to sit on his hands this winter. The Mets have at least two winters of spending before they’ll have a competitive team around Harvey and Wheeler.

They must, even if it is just in keeping with the appearances of their 2014 timetable, be aggressive this off-season.

It’s the least they can do considering all the talking they’ve done.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 24

Fantasizing About Runs For Matt Harvey; Where Will Lucas Duda Play?

If the New York Mets are to win this weekend, today is their best chance, with Matt Harvey starting. The sad thing, is that feeling comes with the statistical backdrop of a 13-12 record in his starts this season, including the Mets going 6-10 in his last 16 starts.

HARVEY: What's he really think about his support?

HARVEY: What’s he really think about his support?

Harvey has a 2.67 ERA with a 119-to-17 strikeouts-to-walks ration in those 16 starts.

The Mets are counting Harvey’s innings, but in a match-up against Detroit’s Max Scherzer in a rematch of All-Star starters, you have to figure unless his pitch count is obscene, Terry Collins will keep sending him out there.

The Mets have given Harvey 95 runs of support in his 25 starts. By contrast, the Tigers have given Scherzer 151 runs in his 25 starts. Considering the Tigers are giving Scherzer 2.24 more runs in his starts, and the Mets have lost nine Harvey starts in which the margin of difference was two or fewer runs, we could be talking about 18 victories for their phenom.

It doesn’t work that way, but occasionally it is interesting to speculate about, especially if you’re Harvey’s agent.

NO SPOT FOR DUDA: Who knows, perhaps today’s game will be decided by Lucas Duca, who has been promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas at the expense of Mike Baxter.

Duda is hitting .308 at Triple over his last 12 starts, in which he exclusively played first base.

Of Collins’ three options – first base platoon with Ike Davis; left field platoon with Eric Young; or off the bench – first base appears the most likely place for Duda.

Davis has played better since coming up from Vegas, but not well enough to say all his issues are resolved. One of the Mets’ off-season decisions is whether to tender Davis. If they do not, he becomes a free-agent and opens a hole at first base.

Presumably, that could be filled by Duda.

Aug 19

Mets Making Mistake Not Hitting Juan Lagares Second

If not for Major League Baseball’s inane scheduling policies, the New York Mets should be enjoying a day off following a lengthy road trip, not playing the Minnesota Twins with a starting line-up featuring just three players – Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and starter Dillon Gee – who were on the Opening Day roster.

LAGARES: Let's see what he can do batting second.

LAGARES: Let’s see what he can do batting second.

Considering the influx in personnel, it is impressive they are in third place and only nine games under .500.

Quite simply, scheduling the Mets in Minneapolis in April was just plain dumb, but that’s another rant later.

Such a turnaround in personnel is astonishing as evidenced by today’s line-up, the 94th different penned by Terry Collins. If that’s not a record, it should be.

It is puzzling why a run-starved team like the Mets aren’t capitalizing on Juan Lagares’ speed and bunching him with Eric Young at the top of the order. There’s stolen base and run potential there. Even with the designated hitter, batting Lagares eighth does little good.

Here’s today’s head-scratching line-up:

Eric Young, LF: One of the Mets’ primary problems has been resolved.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Should be hitting third, a better RBI slot. His patience helps Young, but he might have greater value hitting in a RBI position.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Murphy should be dropped down to third and Byrd should be clean-up. Byrd is also hot now, so I can see Collins’ reasoning.

Ike Davis, 1B: With his soaring on-base percentage, he should be hitting leadoff. Joking. Seriously, with the rate he’s getting on base he should be hitting ahead of Byrd to maximize the latter’s RBI potential.

Andrew Brown, DH: Good he’s getting a chance to play, but I would drop him behind Wilmer Flores.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: I’d bat Flores behind Davis to maximize his RBI potential. Prior to his injury, he was averaging also a RBI per game.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: We don’t know how he’ll hit on this level, so seventh is as good a slot as any.

Juan Lagares, CF: This one is puzzling. They need to bunch the speed of Young and Lagares to generate excitement and run-scoring potential at the top of the line-up. The concern might be Lagares’ ability to work an at-bat to protect Young, but that should come with the experience of hitting second.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: This is about right. No pitcher hitting today, but in the regular line-up eighth is his place.

Dillon Gee, RHP: Could tie Matt Harvey with nine wins today.

I don’t understand Collins’ approach in determining his line-up, which means the Mets will score nine runs today. Would anybody be surprised if they did?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 16

What’s Mets’ Thinking With Flores Injury?

There are times when the New York Mets are hard to figure out, and the latest regarding Wilmer Flores is one of them.

Flores sprained his right ankle running the bases Monday in Los Angeles and hasn’t played since. He is, however, in a walking boot and supposedly able to pinch-hit.

“It was important that he get an at-bat,’’ manager Terry Collins said about Flores staying in the game. “Because if he can’t play for a few days, at least if we know he can go up and hit, it’s going to help us.’’

Really? How is he going to help the Mets if he can’t run to first base? I can see not rushing him to the disabled list immediately, but if he can’t play for a few more days they can backdate him to Tuesday.

Why can’t they simply say “he won’t play until he’s ready?’’ Bottom line: If he’s in a protective boot there’s no reason to even think about playing him.

GREAT PLAY: We’ve seen some terrific defensive plays this year from the Mets’ outfield, but the one Thursday night when Eric Young scaled the wall to deflect what would have been a home run back into the outfield is one of the best.

Young has been a joy to watch, both offensively with his ability to make things happen, and defensively for his penchant for running balls down.

I recently read where the Mets won’t keep both Young and Juan Lagares next year, to which I say: Why not?

There’s nothing wrong with stacking two speedy playmakers at the top of the order. Both are part of that group I recently profiled of in-season additions that developed this team and brought excitement where there was once none.

Young is in center tonight as Lagares gets the night off and Mike Baxter is given a chance to play in left field.

Tonight’s line-up at San Diego:

Eric Young, CF: Has 15 steals in 49 games with the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Is hitting .224 (13-for-58) with one walk in August.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Is getting warm again, hitting .417 (10-for-24) on the trip.

Ike Davis, 1B: Is hitting .284 with 30 walks since recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Josh Satin, 3B: Is hitting .303 since joining the Mets, but has just one homer.

Mike Baxter, LF: Not hitting at all this season with a paltry .213 average with four RBI.

John Buck, C: Still waiting for his wife to deliver and him to go on leave and enable Travis d’Arnaud to make his Mets’ debut.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Takes a 0-for-9 slide into tonight’s game.

Jonathon Niese, LHP: Since August 2012. Niese has given up more than four earned runs twice in 25 starts.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 13

How The Mets Morphed Into A Team

With a few exceptions, the New York Mets resemble little the team that broke spring training. Only two players, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis, were the expected starters this late in the season who were in the line-up Monday night in Los Angeles.

And, only recently is Davis’ performance at the plate reaching major league standards. And, Murphy will be the first tell you last night wasn’t major league standards for him defensively, but that’s another matter.

Davis is playing well, but not hitting for power and his spot next year is far from secure.

Around the infield, John Buck was to have been replaced by Travis d’Arnaud at catcher; Ruben Tejada was to be at shortstop, not Omar Quintanilla; and third baseman David Wright being on the disabled list gave Wilmer Flores an opportunity.

How well d’Arnaud plays on this level remains a mystery, and Tejada is playing his way out of the organization.

Ironically, Flores’ development could mean the end of Murphy’s tenure with the Mets as Terry Collins is talking about playing him at second base. However, he could sit after twisting his ankle.

From left to right in the outfield, we all knew Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Colin Cowgill in center, and Mike Baxter in right wouldn’t last. Cowgill hit a grand slam Opening Day and was on the bench within two weeks.

Duda is in the minor leagues saying he wouldn’t mind being a DH, which couldn’t make Sandy Alderson happy; Nieuwenhuis is in the minors while Cowgill was traded; and Baxter is again a role player.

Eric Young filled the lead-off hole and there’s no way Duda could replace him in left; Juan Lagares is the centerfielder of the present and future; and role player Marlon Byrd turned out to be the team’s best offensive player.

Anticipate Byrd asking for two years and not being retained.

Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia weren’t in the Opening Day rotation and both are pitching as if they have plans to never leave. We know, barring injury, Wheeler isn’t going anywhere.

The bullpen has been superb the past month, but has also been patchwork. Bullpens always need tinkering; so don’t be surprised if there are new faces next spring.

The expectations of the Mets were low this spring and it is a reflection of how Matt Harvey’s development and how well Collins and his staff have done to where .500 or second place are even possible goals.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos