Sep 22

Mets Enter Final Week Looking For Strong Finishing Kick

It’s all about creating a good last impression for the New York Mets.

With six games remaining in what turned out to be an unusual season, there’s not enough time for a player to change the impressions of manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson.

COLLINS: Still looking.

COLLINS: Still looking.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s something they can’t learn – and it begins with attitude. Anybody can play hard when the team is winning, but there’s something to be said for playing hard through the grind.

It sounds like a cliché, but I believe it. Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time.’’

Collins buys into that thinking, and wants to see it from his players.

“Well, we’ve got some young guys,’’ Collins told reporters during the Atlanta series. “If they pack it in, you won’t see them again. That’s why it’s nice this time of year to bring those young guys up, because they add a lot of energy to the team.

“And our veteran guys, they’re great guys. There’s never been a question of how hard they’re going to play. We’ll finish it up. We’ll finish it up strong.’’

Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker and Travis d’Arnaud are among that group of young players figuring into the Mets’ plans. For the most part, the Mets run out ground balls and pop-ups.

To see them dog it this week would be a disappointment, especially since there are jobs to be won next season, namely shortstop – although it is believed it is Flores’ to lose – left field and in the bullpen.

Personal, statistical goals could be reached this week, such as Daniel Murphy hitting .300, Lucas Duda getting 30 homers, Jenrry Mejia reaching 30 saves and Bartolo Colon pitching 200 innings.

Collectively, they are four games under .500 and a half-game behind Atlanta for second. The last time they did either was in 2008. Both are possible, but to finish at .500 they must run the table, which includes sweeping the Nationals in a three-game series at Washington.

Stranger things have happened.

There’s playing out the string and going through the motions, and there is a strong finishing kick. It is always better to go into winter on a positive note than to limp home.

Sep 15

Harvey Throws Simulated Game; Mets To Be Commended For Handling Difficult Injury

It wasn’t what he had in mind, but Matt Harvey did get on Citi Field’s mound in 2014.

Several times during the season Harvey chirped about wanting to return in September, and the Mets are to be commended for not giving in to his ardent posturing.

For a team hurting at the gate and playing better than expected, it could have been tempting to acquiesce to Harvey, who made things difficult for the organization, beginning with initially not wanting surgery.

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

Not only did Harvey challenge the Mets’ timetable, but also where he’d rehab. Even so, the Mets realized Harvey’s potential and didn’t cave.

Harvey consistently touched the radar gun at 95 mph., in a simulated game this afternoon. It marked the first time he was clocked since last October’s Tommy John surgery. GM Sandy Alderson said Harvey’s workload in spring training would be like any other starter.

“Everything we were trying to accomplish this season has been accomplished,’’ Alderson told reporters today. “From our standpoint, we want to make sure he was physically back to a level that would ensure he wasn’t behind in spring training.

“And then, secondly, he needed to be back to a state mentally where he felt comfortable going into next season and the uncertainty has been eliminated. We feel we’re at that point.’’

Alderson expressed no regret to how the team handled Harvey’s rehab.

“He hasn’t thrown against hitters,’’ Alderson said. “He hasn’t thrown in games. But, given the schedule and the natural healing process and everything else, we felt this was the right place for him to stop and rest and pick it up next season.’’

Because of the potential for strain on the elbow, the only pitch Harvey did not throw today was his slider. Alderson admitted there’s a strong chance Harvey will be on a strict innings count in 2015, the year the Mets have pointed to when they’ll swim in competitive waters.

The Mets have frequently been criticized for their handling of injuries, but not this time.

Feb 24

No Guarantee Mets Would Have Gotten Nelson Cruz For Bargain Price

It is an oversimplification to suggest the New York Mets could have signed Nelson Cruz for the same $8 million the Orioles did, if not a little more. Especially when juxtaposed against the Chris Young signing for $7.25 million.

I was against the Young signing, but that had nothing to do with Cruz, whom I would have balked against because of his connection to PEDs and defensive liabilities.

The Mets signed Young prior to the Winter Meetings when the market was fresh. Cruz was signed after spring training had begun.

Don’t forget at the time the Mets were apprehensive about giving up a compensatory draft pick. They didn’t have to surrender a pick for Young.

The market has dwindled dramatically since they signed Young. GM Sandy Alderson, who initially suggested he might let things play out in the market, had no way of knowing Cruz would sign for what he did, especially when the early reports had him asking for $75 million over five years.

Signing a power-hitting outfielder was a primary need and Alderson rolled the dice with Young. His odds were more in his favor later with Curtis Granderson.

But, for Cruz, who would have guessed this?

Maybe had the Mets re-visited Cruz with a low-ball offer, he could have signed with them, but the feeling is it wouldn’t have been a good fit because of the PED issue.

And, had they inked both Young and Cruz to one-year deals, the odds are good they would have needed to shop again for outfielders next winter.

As for Cruz, this is the best thing that could happen to him because it affords him an opportunity to put up monster numbers in bandbox Camden Yards and try free agency against next year.

ON DECK: Collins wants players to reveal injuries.

Jan 24

Mets Blew It With Ike Davis On Many Levels; So Did His Father

Ike Davis’ father, former Yankees reliever Ron Davis, has ripped into the New York Mets. The elder Davis said the Mets screwed up handling his son, which, while correct on some levels, can’t make things any easier for Ike if he stays with the team.

Ron Davis is correct, but partially.

RON DAVIS: Wrong in attacking Mets

RON DAVIS: Wrong in attacking Mets

Yes, he’s correct in that this began not with the Mets’ intent to trade Ike Davis, but for how public they made it.

“I think that’s why the Mets have really screwed up in that situation – because they’ve publicly done it so much,’’ Ron Davis said. “It’s saying to my son, `Hey, we don’t want you anymore.’ ’’

Well, yes and no.

The issue isn’t what it said about Ike Davis, but in what it tells other teams, `We don’t want Ike Davis, but please take him off our hands.’

The first rule in making a trade is to not devalue the talent you’re trying to unload. If you don’t think the player is worth anything, then why would other teams?

Another rule is to understand the value of the talent you’re trying to deal and don’t go in with the idea of fleecing the other team. The teams the Mets were talking to, notably Milwaukee, said GM Sandy Alderson’s asking price – the Brewers’ fifth starter – was too high.

So, the Mets did not want Davis and then asked for too much. But, that isn’t the whole story with how the Mets mishandled Davis.

With Ike Davis coming back from the ankle injury and the virus, the Mets might have rushed him back in 2012. Despite a horrid first half, the Mets didn’t send him back to the minors to work on his mechanics. Instead, they kept him around, a gamble that paid off when he had a strong second half to finish with 32 homers.

IKE DAVIS: Needs to learn to hit.

IKE DAVIS: Needs to learn to hit.

He was even more lost last year, but despite all signs saying Davis needed to go to the minors, the Mets ignored them in the hope of another strong second half. Long after it became apparent Davis was lost at the plate was when they sent him down. Then, they clearly brought him back too soon, which only compounded their mistake.

Alderson also screwed up by not having a defined objective for Davis after the season. Alderson had enough of a sampling of Davis to know what he should do.

That he didn’t want him was clear in the effort to trade him, but that intent should have been understated and with a lower asking price. By this time, teams were waiting out the Mets in hope they would release him. However, Alderson was playing chicken holding out for more.

Then, Alderson blew it more by offering Davis arbitration. Why would they do that for a player they clearly didn’t want?

While the Mets blew it on several levels with Ike Davis, I would be remiss in not calling out Ron Davis on a few things.

OK, you’re unhappy with how the Mets handled your son. Anybody can see that, but ripping the Mets does nobody any good, especially your son. The last thing a major league player needs is to have a Little League father upsetting things in the papers and clubhouse. What could the other players be thinking You want to rip the Mets? Fine. Do it after he’s out of the organization.

Secondly, don’t blame Citi Field for your son’s troubles. His problem is not with the ballpark, but his approach to hitting. Quite simply, he doesn’t know how to hit.

His comment last spring that, “I’m a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs. Strikeouts come with that,’’ tells you all you need to know about Ike Davis as a hitter.

Ron, you were a big league pitcher. Are you telling me you can’t look at your son’s hitting approach and say how you would attack him? C’mon. If you really wanted to help him, you’d study the video and tell him he needs to be more patient, he needs to stop trying to pull everything, he needs to use Citi Field to his advantage and hit balls in the gaps.

That’s how you would help your son. Not by being a Little League father. Ike Davis doesn’t need your coddling; he needs tough love.

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

Jan 23

Mets Agree To Terms With Duda

The New York Mets have traditionally avoided the messy process of arbitration by agreeing to terms with Lucas Duda for $1.6375 million. That figure surpasses Duda’s career earnings over the previous three season combined.

Duda hit .223 with 15 homers and 33 RBI last season and filed for $1.9 million. The Mets countered for just over $1.3 million. Of all his numbers last season, most impressive was a .352 on-base percentage, up from .329 the previous season.

Where Duda fits in with the 2014 Mets is uncertain.

It was initially thought Duda would compete with Ike Davis for the first base job, but this was immediately after last season. At the time, Mets manager Terry Collins didn’t see it was possible Duda and Davis would be on the team together as they were essentially the same type of player.

Then, it was believed Duda would start as the Mets were trying to trade Davis. But, when they couldn’t unload Davis, GM Sandy Alderson said it was possible Duda and Davis could be on the Opening Day roster, and the idea of Duda in the outfield was revisited.

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