May 05

No Empathy For Harvey

Mickey Callaway was generous when he said, “we failed Matt Harvey.’’ In actuality, Harvey failed himself, with help from the Mets. Sometimes, when a pitcher loses his fastball, or a slugger’s bat slows down, the end can be delayed by his track record, or his popularity in the clubhouse, or the goodwill garnered within the organization.

It’s why the Mets were patient with Johan Santana and David Wright. Harvey accrued none of that goodwill. None.

Because of their histories, you root for some players. You have empathy and compassion for them.

Maybe only Harvey’s family and agent have empathy for him. I can’t imagine anybody pleased Harvey’s career was derailed by injuries, including two season-ending surgeries.

However, it is the way Harvey carried himself and alienated his teammates, how he made himself bigger than the team, how he made everything about him, that has him alone and without any emotional support in his darkest professional hour.

Perhaps that, more than his injuries, is what makes this a modern-day Greek Tragedy. It’s difficult to show compassion for somebody who showed little for anybody else.

Harvey’s selfishness was never more transparent than it was when he bullied former manager Terry Collins into giving him the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. I don’t know how any of Harvey’s teammates that night can condone Harvey’s actions that night.

What happened the night he traveled two hours from San Diego to Los Angeles for a restaurant opening the night before a game, was not advisable although not technically wrong. However, Harvey’s penchant for enjoying the nightlife has already run him afoul with the Mets’ front office and teammates.

Why – other than selfishness – would Harvey chase fates? That GM Sandy Alderson sounded resigned Harvey would do such a thing spoke volumes. Alderson didn’t have to say he was fed up with Harvey. It was implied.

Harvey wasn’t worth the energy to get angry about any longer.

In previous years the Mets bent over backward to placate Harvey, and a case could be made they enabled his boorish behavior by not standing up to him.

It took a while, but it is about time.

Apr 21

Harvey Should Get Another Start, Then What?

The Mets should know more about their options on what to do with Matt Harvey after Jason Vargas is re-examined later today. Barring no setbacks, Vargas will then pitch in a Minor League rehab start Monday.

HARVEY: What options does he have remaining.  (AP)

HARVEY: What options does he have remaining. (AP)

With Harvey’s next start scheduled for Tuesday in St. Louis it stands to reason he’ll make at least one more start before Mickey Callaway makes the most important decision since becoming the manager.

There will eventually be a messy divorce with Harvey, but it’s up to Callaway to determine when the papers are filed.

Since Harvey’s contractual status allows him to block a move to the minors, the only way for it to happen is for him to have a drastic change of heart. If he doesn’t, the Mets’ options are to invent a phantom injury so they can place him on the 10-day disabled list. They could also work him out of the bullpen, but he clearly won’t have his heart in it.

Finally, the Mets can attempt to trade him, but considering Harvey’s performance and injury history since the end of the 2015 season, his value is limited. Of course, in the end, they could simply release him, but things would have deteriorated beyond recognition if that occurred.

I gave up on the pipe dream of Harvey turning his career around and re-signing with the Mets in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. I’m a proponent of Harvey getting at least one more start because that is the only way the Mets can salvage anything from this fractured relationship.

No doubt, Harvey has spoken with his agent Scott Boras, whose advice should be is to do whatever the Mets want him to do. That’s the only way for Harvey to maximize whatever value he has remaining.

Apr 10

Rob Manfred Doesn’t Understand Baseball

Major League Baseball’s primary problem is its leadership. The men running the sport have no clue as to why people love the game. They are obsessed not with the unique nuances and strategies of their sport, but with tinkering and tweaking to the point where it is becoming unrecognizable to its lifelong supporters.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is following in Bud Selig’s footsteps. Selig never understood the fabric of the sport with interleague play and out-of-control expansion, and his attempts to break the union over money culminated in the tactic approval of steroid usage and asterisk-marred home run records.

Manfred is doing the same with juiced baseballs and his attempts to shave time from the game, and now he wants to legislate the use of relief pitchers.

Speaking on ESPN Radio last week he would be in favor of restricting pitching changes during an inning or game.

“You know the problem with relief pitchers is that they’re so good,’’ he said. “I’ve got nothing against relief pitchers but they do two things to the game: The pitching changes themselves slow the game down, and our relief pitchers have become so dominate at the back end that they actually rob action out of the end of the game, the last few innings of the game.’’

Evidently, Manfred has never seen a compelling pennant race or World Series game that boiled down to a confrontation between a great reliever and great hitter, with the tension rising with each pitch.

Mets fans relish the memories of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the “ball gets by Buckner,’’ game. That one play has become the face of the game, but the real action is what lead up to that play, where the Red Sox bullpen imploded.

That statement confirms Manfred isn’t the right person to lead baseball because he doesn’t understand baseball. Baseball is about pitching.

Instead of bowing to the millennials who want to speed up the game and crave instant offense he should take the time to really watch a game. He’s missing a good show.

Dec 20

Mets Might As Well Keep Harvey

I have advocated the Mets trade Matt Harvey for several years now and still believe if they should jump on any worthwhile trade offer. I just think those ideas are gone and he’s not going anywhere because his trade value has never been lower and the Mets have their reasons for wanting to keep him.

HARVEY: Why not the pen? (AP)

HARVEY: No option but to keep him. (AP)

Harvey’s value is down because he hasn’t pitched well in two years, because of a combination of injuries and simply stinking up the joint. A shoulder injury sapped his velocity as well as his command and movement. With the decline in all three, his confidence has been shot since Game 5 of the 2015 World Series when he selfishly lobbied manager Terry Collins to stay in for the ninth.

Harvey is damaged goods. Teams won’t give up established talent or promising prospects for somebody who’ll be a free agent after the 2018 season. It just won’t happen.

Even so, the Mets have to keep Harvey because of the health concerns surrounding Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and even Noah Syndergaard. The Mets’ vaunted rotation hasn’t yet – over five years – made a complete cycle, and won’t again this season because either Matz or Wheeler won’t be ready by Opening Day.

Somebody will go down for the Mets this summer. It’s the way of the world and Harvey will have to fill the void. The Mets aren’t likely to sign a veteran arm this winter so they’ll need Harvey.

The Mets’ best chance to get something for Harvey is for him to get off to a strong – and healthy – start and trade him in late July. After that, well, I still believe Harvey will walk after next season.

 

Oct 12

ALDS Highlight Many Differences Between Mets And Yankees

With Cleveland – and with it, Jay Bruce – eliminated from the playoffs, I’m guessing the worst possible World Series scenario for Mets fans would be the Yankees against the Nationals.

Mets fans clearly hate the Yankees for reasons we can all understand and embrace, and which was reinforced by their ALDS win over the Indians and define the differences of the franchises:

NO QUIT MENTALITY: After losing the first two games to Cleveland, the Yankees rallied to win the next three. Yes, 2015 was a magical year, but outside of that season that’s a characteristic we haven’t often seen from the Mets. We certainly didn’t see it in 2017.

FRONT OFFICE AGGRESSIVENESS: Despite already exceeding expectations at the deadline, Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn’t rest on the presumption it was already a successful season. The Yankees might have gotten by not doing anything at the deadline, but Cashman brought in third baseman Todd Frazier, and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Cashman also added Sonny Gray, although the early returns haven’t been good. You don’t need to be reminded what Mets GM Sandy Alderson did.

SUPPORTING THE MANAGER: Yankees manager Joe Girardi had an awful time in Game 2, but his team rallied behind him and he said “they had my back.’’ Nobody can say the Mets had Terry Collins’ back, especially Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey and all those unnamed sources in the Newsday article.

THE BULLPEN: The difference in the Yankees’ bullpen compared to that of the Mets is roughly the same separation of that between Ohio State and Rutgers. The Yankees might have the best pen remaining in the playoffs and could translate into another title.

YOUNG STUDS: Michael Conforto is the best the Mets have to offer, while Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are unproven. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ farm system has produced Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. Judge struck out 16 times in 24 plate appearances against the Indians, but I’m willing to bet he’ll be much better against the Astros.

STARTING PITCHING: Can we officially dismiss the notion the Mets have the best rotation – young or otherwise – in baseball? The Mets don’t even have the best rotation in New York, although I’m taking Jacob deGrom before any Big Apple pitcher.

REPLACING ICONS: Not long after Derek Jeter retired the Yankees made the aggressive trade for Didi Gregorius, who homered twice against Corey Kluber in Game 5. Meanwhile, David Wright has played in only 75 games over the past three years. The Mets’ contingency plan is Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera.

VETERAN PRESENCE: They are called the Baby Bombers, but the Yankees might not be here without Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and C.C. Sabathia. The Mets’ veterans? Well, Wright is recovering from surgery and the other vets were dealt at the deadline for a handful of non-descript pitching prospects.

OWNERSHIP: George is gone, but the Steinbrenner family is far more aggressive than Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Not even close.

If they were in the same division, the Mets would be 20 games behind the Yankees. That means Alderson has a lot of work ahead of him.