May 14

Latest Loss May Be Best Thing To Happen To Mets’ Harvey

Last night may be the best thing to happen to Matt Harvey and the Mets. In defeat, he showed us a humility we haven’t often seen from him, which can be the first step up from rock bottom.

Sometime between Rockies’ hits in the fifth inning I flashed to the summer of 2013 when Harvey first flirted with stardom. Do you remember the video piece Harvey did on the Jimmy Fallon show when he roamed the streets of New York asking people their thoughts of Matt Harvey?

HARVEY: All smiles in 2013. (USA Today)

HARVEY: All smiles in 2013. (USA Today)

To listen to the answers, and Harvey’s response – both verbally and his body language – was priceless. Harvey was talking to his fan base about himself and they didn’t recognize him. He was funny and showed real humility.

It made us like him for more than what he did on the mound because he seemed
approachable.

However, since then Harvey has been sidetracked by injury, off-the-field issues and media clashes. Both Harvey and those who followed him ventured into the dark night of judgment. Unlike that day in Central Park when he was anonymous, Harvey lived with a target on his back and hasn’t responded well.

Neither has anybody else.

His body language spoke loudly last night; louder than the cheers that greeted him at the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field when he seemingly held the world in his hand like the baseball he threw which such force and artistry.

Gone last night was the cockiness and arrogance which made people root against him. Also gone was the confidence that made him stare down a hitter then climb the ladder for another strikeout.

His head was down when he handed the ball to manager Terry Collins and slumped off the mound. The cameras caught him with his head bowed in the dugout talking to himself. He wasn’t getting any answers and it was a very human moment from a man Mets fans and media insist on labeling a superhero.

“A great statement I heard the other day is there’s two kinds of players in this league: Ones who have been humbled and ones who will be,” Collins told reporters. “When it’s your turn, it gets tough to take sometimes, because you have got to learn how to adjust from it and how to bounce back from it.”

However, before he can bounce back from a problem it must be identified.

Mechanics? Perhaps. Injuries or health? He says no. Is he feeling the pressure to perform after Game 5? Could be, but he’s repeatedly expressed no regrets in how he handled that night.

Most recently, is he trying to pitch up to the expectations of the contract he’ll seek when he becomes a free agent? Maybe, but it’s something I can’t see him admitting because after all, that’s something few players admit.

What then?

To his credit, and I really liked his answer, he refused to blame the altitude of Coors Field, a place he’s never pitched before.

His answer was a polite, yet forceful, “No, it’s me.”

Humility defined.

“I’m just not feeling comfortable throwing a baseball right now, so it’s frustrating,” Harvey told reporters. “Something I have obviously done my whole life is gone on a mound and thrown a baseball, and right now it’s not an easy task.

“Right now it’s just not feeling great out there — you start overthinking everything. That’s kind of the way it feels every pitch, and hopefully you get past that.”

Harvey cast no blame, although catcher Kevin Plawecki might have given him an out by saying his pitch recommendations might have been predictable. Not many pitchers win games with two runs, but he didn’t point fingers at the offense.

Instead, Harvey spoke of square one.

“It’s taking a lot longer than expected,” said Harvey, who must remember some pitchers hit the wall after Tommy John surgery in the second year back. “You can’t give up. You’ve just got to keep going. It’s start-to-start for me right now.

“I don’t look at it as ups and downs. It’s trying to continue figuring stuff out. … It’s not easy, but there’s another day tomorrow. And it’s a long season. There’s a lot of hope in that regard and drive toward figuring it out.”

I was glad to see Harvey get ripped because it might be the first step toward him getting to where he wants to be.

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Mar 21

Mets Matters: How Rotation Should Be Handled In First Week

It shouldn’t be all that hard for the Mets to figure out what to do with their starting rotation in the first week of the season. Should it?

This much we already know: 1) Matt Harvey will get the opener, Sunday night, April 3, in Kansas City, 2) Jacob deGrom‘s wife is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s first child, April 5, which could be deGrom’s game, and 3) the Mets have, unbelievably, three days off in the first week.

Let’s first start with deGrom, who struck out five in four scoreless innings Monday against Miami. It’s very possible deGrom might not be in Kansas City and with his wife for the second game of the season. And, if his arm is there, his mind likely won’t be.

mets-matters logoSo, why not just tell deGrom right now to be with his wife and give the Game 2 start to Noah Syndergaard? It seems to me that would settle things down.

Manager Terry Collins said Monday Syndergaard would pitch in the season’s second game, but it could be in relief of deGrom. “Piggy-backing is the term, but it they are going to do it, make it with Steven Matz or Bartolo Colon. And, whomever is not used then pitch him in relief of deGrom for Opening Day at Citi Field, Friday.

The way things are looking now, it appears the starters won’t get much more than six innings in their first game.

DEGROM NOT BRINGING HEAT:  DeGrom has pitched statistically well this spring (0.90 ERA) but his fastball isn’t where he wants it, and that’s usually the first pitch he’ll command in spring training. DeGrom was clocked around 95 mph., last year, but was 91-93 Monday.

“I feel like it will come,” deGrom told reporters. “I’m getting everything back in line mechanics-wise, everything will be there. It’s spring training. I’m not worried about it all.”

DeGrom’s fall off in velocity raises the question that in the Mets’ effort in protecting their pitchers and cutting them back early this spring, that perhaps they didn’t give them enough work to build up their strength and stamina.

AROUND THE HORN:  David Wright was hitless in three at-bats and played five innings at third base. “This is just, for me, a normal spring-training build-up now,” Wright told reporters. “There’s nothing really out of the ordinary. I know it took a little while to get going, but we’re going now. And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just like a normal spring.” … Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who hasn’t played since March 10 with a strained left knee, should be available as a DH this week. … Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud will make the cross-state trip to Tampa for Tuesday’s game against the Yankees. Matz will start for the Mets.

 

Mar 08

Mets Matters: Harvey Has Solid Spring Debut

Matt Harvey threw 41 pain-free pitchings, mostly at 96 mph., in his exhibition debut Tuesday against the Braves. Harvey threw seven pitches in the first inning and overcome bases-loaded situations in the second and third innings at the cost of one run.

All in all, not a bad first start.

mets-matters logoHarvey told his reporters his “arm felt great,” and he thought it was good for him to get into – and escape – trouble.

“That’s what spring is about,” Harvey said. “You have to amp things up and get into those situations. You’re never really going to learn from anything if you go 1-2-3 with seven or eight pitches throughout the whole thing. Obviously, it’s spring training. Getting into those situations where you’re adrenaline starts pumping up a little bit, it’s good practice.”

It’s also a relief the element of the unknown in coming off Tommy John is gone. Harvey said it takes a load off not having to answer questions all the time about his arm. This spring the questions are directed at Zack Wheeler.

EXTRA INNINGS: David Wright didn’t play today, won’t play tomorrow and nobody knows for sure when he’ll play. However, he did say he will be ready for Opening Day. … ESPN reported St. Louis might inquire into the Mets about Ruben Tejada now that Jhonny Peralta could miss up to three months with a thumb ligament injury. … Jacob deGrom will start Wednesday.

Feb 25

Harvey: “I Want To Be Part Of The Mets.”

Speaking to ESPN today, Matt Harvey said what Mets’ fans have wanted to hear for a long time. Several issues were glossed over in the interview, but the essential nugget was Harvey saying he wants to stay with the Mets. He didn’t say anything about home-team discounts or what it would take, but just saying that is cause for hope.

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

Harvey addressed the innings controversy ignited by agent Scott Boras by very diplomatically, saying, “as a young player, you want to play this game for a long time. I want to be part of the Mets and help this organization get to where we want to be.”

As for Boras, last year Harvey defiantly supported him by saying he hired the fire-balling agent to maximize his career, so naturally, speculation was – which I admit was voiced here – he’d take the last dollar and bolt for his childhood team, the Yankees. Harvey said the main issue Boras focused on was, “is helping this team getting as far as we can and not only getting there for one year but getting there multiple times.”

For that to happen, serious precautions needed to be taken to protect his arm, which generated a conflict between Harvey and his agent, his doctor and Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins.

“As a young guy you want to have a long career,” Harvey said. “ A doctor is telling you one thing, but as a competitor you want to be out there.”

When Boras leaked the innings story, Harvey, who was coming off Tommy John surgery, was to be shut down at 180 innings. Instead, and not without some tension, he threw 216. Unfortunately for him and the Mets, he didn’t reach 217, which would have been the ninth inning of Game 5.

Of course, as we all remember, manager Collins went against his better judgment and acquiesced to Harvey’s demand to remain in the game. He expended a lot of energy arguing with Collins and sprinting to the mound to start the ninth. Perhaps that’s when he ran of juice.

After reflecting on that night, Harvey admitting “some heartbreak and some sadness” and said: “Nobody wants to lose. Nobody is trying to lose. It’s one of those things. Once you sit back and realize what we did and what we’re capable of for years to come, and with who we have, and getting [Yoenis] Cespedes back, and getting a healthy David Wright, followed by the starting staff we have. It was a great experience for us. Something we can learn from, but not dwell on, but really pick up from where we left off and finish what we started.”

It’s spring training, a time for new beginnings, and with that comes the hope Harvey really wants to stay here and possibly the Mets can keep the band together.

Would be nice.

 

Dec 07

Mets Not Players For Cespedes For Multiple Reasons

Let’s face it, the Mets wouldn’t have gotten into the playoffs without Yoenis Cespedes. It is certain now they need to find a way to return without him.

CESPEDES:  Not going to happen. (Getty)

CESPEDES: Not going to happen. (Getty)

ESPN reports Cespedes wants somewhere in the neighborhood of $125 million over six years. That’s clearly the upper East Side, not Flushing. Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said as much at the Winter Meetings in Nashville.

“It’s unlikely right now that he ends up a Met,” Ricco told reporters at the winter meetings. “I think that’s fair to say. I think we will end up meeting with his agent. Right now, I still think he’s looking at a deal that would be north of what we would consider.

“Whether we have a specific meeting to talk about Cespedes, I’m not sure. They have other players. I imagine we’ll meet with them, and as part of that conversation his name will come up. I think right now, in talking with them, and getting feedback from Sandy [Alderson], I would view it as pretty unlikely that we do anything with him. But you never know how the market is going to develop. So I wouldn’t rule it out completely.”

I would and not just because of the money.

After a torrid August, Cespedes’ bat turned silent in the playoffs and he had numerous defensive and fundamental breakdowns. There were also numerous times in which he dogged it running the bases and in the field.

The Mets saw this and must also ask themselves why Cespedes during his brief career has already played with four teams. Three of those teams, the Mets, Detroit and Boston, consider themselves contenders, yet disposed of Cespedes. The fourth, Oakland, didn’t want to spend the money.

If Cespedes’ salary demands were considerably lower and would give the Mets a home team discount, I could see it. But, as with Jose Reyes, he’s not interested in leaving anything on the table.

The Mets’ first outfield priority is a left-handed bat to platoon with Juan Lagares.

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