Apr 10

Whose Lineup Is It Really?

GM Sandy Alderson took a not-so subtle poke at Mets manager Terry Collins the other day when he interrupted the latter’s pregame press conference and said, “Hey, Terry, here’s your lineup for tomorrow.”

Now, I’m not saying Alderson handed Collins a lineup and said, “use this,” but I do believe he’s had a lot of influence in what is put on the field.

Curtis Granderson hitting first, David Wright second, projected leadoff hitter Juan Lagares sixth and the pitcher eighth is not what was practiced during spring training, and, of course, there are questions why?

The front office routinely talks with the manager about lineups, but I doubt a manager with far more job security would accept this influence, and definitely not the ribbing Alderson gave. Bruce Bochy wouldn’t have. Neither would have Joe Torre or Tony La Russa or Sparky Anderson.

All this seems to be a jab at Collins, whom Alderson said he wasn’t supportive of in his book. How can anybody not see that? Surely, it had to make Collins uncomfortable, although he wouldn’t say anything. How could he?

The Mets’ unconventional lineup has drawn attention throughout baseball, to which Alderson told reporters: “I think what happened is people were surprised by the lineup. People don’t like surprises, whether it’s the media or fans or other people in baseball who’ve got everything figured out. So when there’s a surprise like that, people are scrambling around for some sort of rationale or explanation. Sometimes it gets a little crazy. That’s what I chalk it up to — mostly.”

That’s one or the reasons why there is spring training as teams work to avoid surprises. Why practice something and then deviate?

It makes no sense.

 

Mar 29

Alderson Facing A Lot Of Questions This Week

The Mets are entering the final week of their eventful spring training. Unless the Mets make a surprise trade – and what are the odds of that? – there shouldn’t be any notable additions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions to be made.

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

And, if you’ve followed closely, you know GM Sandy Alderson will make the final call on those decisions with only a minimal input from manager Terry Collins. The most successful teams have collaboration between the GM and the manager, usually based on respect, but that’s not the basis of this relationship. When the GM tells an author of his eroding confidence in his manager, what does that tell you?

So, operating under the theory this is Alderson’s team, here is what he must decide:

LEFTY RELIEVER: With Scott Rice optioned out, the thinking in Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin will get the nod over Dario Alvarez. There’s been talk about going outside, but that’s been going on all spring.

DISABLED LIST: There have been reports of Daniel Murphy and Vic Black being ready for Opening Day, but it’s a long season so why push it?

SECOND BASE: If not Murphy, then who? Alderson discusses Danny Muno or Matt Reynolds, but ignores Ruben Tejada, who is supposed to be the backup.

LEADOFF HITTER: They really don’t have one in the traditional sense, but based on their options it should be Juan Lagares. Quite simply, Curtis Granderson has more value as a run producer in the middle of the order.

BATTING ORDER: Primarily because of the juggling at the leadoff spot, there’s been little consistency in the order. We’ve seen the Mets have over 100 different batting order combinations in recent seasons. Unfortunately, it could be that way again.

ROTATION ORDER: Most teams who already know their rotation would have an order. Not the Mets.

So, Alderson has a lot to think about this week.

Dec 11

Mets To Sign Mayberry; Void Not Filled

Let’s face it, the Mets weren’t going to get a big bopper as their right-handed bat off the bench. I liked the idea of Michael Morse. They didn’t have the chips to trade for Yeonis Cespedes, who was shipped to Detroit.

It is premature to say the Mets filled that need with John Mayberry Jr., much the way it was last year at this time when they signed Chris Young. The deal will be announced pending a physical.

Mayberry, who’ll be 31 later this month, could start in the outfield against left-handed pitching on days Michael Cuddyer plays first base. Playing for Toronto and Philadelphia last season, Mayberry hit .212 with seven homers and 23 RBI. Suffice to say, the Mets are going into this with a lot of hope.

No, that’s nothing to get excited about, but it fits in with how Sandy Alderson does things, which is to use a patchwork approach to fill holes. In this respect, you can call him a GM version of MacGyver, but without nearly the success.

Dec 03

So Far, Harvey Buying Into Mets’ Plans

Since it’s only December, everything must be taken at face value when it comes to Matt Harvey. You want to take him at his word, but I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t skeptical after hearing him say at this afternoon’s press conference he was on board with the Mets’ decision to limit his innings this summer.

HARVEY: It is early.

HARVEY: It is early.

Harvey bucked the Mets before, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did again.

GM Sandy Alderson said there’s a soft cap on Harvey, which is to say there’s no definitive plan. I prefer something more concrete. Even Harvey conceded 200 innings won’t happen, nor should it 17 months after surgery.

“You know what? I’m going to be happy to throw an entire year,’’ Harvey told reporters at Citi Field. “Whatever they decide, it’s in the best interests of both the team and me moving forward. I can’t wait to throw every five days and just be healthy for a full season.

“Looking forward, if you were to map out a whole season, you’re going to have to figure out some changes throughout the year in order to get to a certain point. I mean, if you make 33 starts and seven innings a start, obviously doing the math that’s over what I’m probably going to throw.’’

That’s logic talking, not the usual emotions we get from him. Alderson said the plan is to limit Harvey during the season, but have no restrictions should the Mets reach the playoffs. However, if the Mets are eliminated early, bet on Harvey being further cut.

What the Mets pledge to do is not just yank the plug on him the way Washington did Stephen Strasburg in 2012.

Harvey has been throwing on flat ground six days a week at Citi Field and plans to report to spring training Feb. 1 and face hitters right away.

All this is optimistic, but if Harvey buys into the Mets’ plans this should go smoothly.

One can only hope.

Nov 19

Mets’ Plan For Harvey Not Concrete

The Mets say they plan to handle Matt Harvey with a “soft’’ innings cap, which is another way of saying they have no plan at all.

HARVEY: Searching for a plan. (Getty)

HARVEY: Searching for a plan. (Getty)

GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets won’t handle Harvey the way Washington dealt with Stephen Strasburg, which was to cut him off in mid-September and thereby miss the postseason, but the speculative nature of his plan could lead to that scenario.

“We can probably accomplish all the things we need to by managing his starts in the rotation,’’ Alderson said.

There’s wiggle room in the word “probably.”

Harvey will open the season on the roster, but there’s no plan to limit him in April when the weather is colder as I suggested. Alderson said the Mets will use off days to by-pass Harvey’s turn in the rotation, but left it more as a “play it by ear,’’ thing than to map out things from the start of the season.

There was also nothing mentioned about shaving his innings per game, such as a seven-inning ceiling.

To me, without anything clearly defined there’s too much of a chance the innings would accumulate and the Mets might get caught short late in the season.

Alderson suggested to give him a two-week shutdown around the All-Star break, which makes considerable sense. The Mets did this last season with Jacob deGrom and he was strong in the second half. A positive to this is it will give the Mets an idea where Harvey stands and from there they could lay out a concrete plan for the second half.

What the Mets won’t do is go with a six-man rotation, which would be a cutting edge move. Harvey pitched 178.1 innings in 2013, and I don’t see any way he’ll pitch more than that in 2014. However, what I can see is if the Mets aren’t definitive about Harvey things could get away from them.

And, that would be a shame.