Mar 18

The Concern Level On Steven Matz

OK, maybe I’m a little concerned about Steven Matz, whose had a rough spring training for the Mets. However, I’m concerned because Matz was clearly frustrated after giving up three runs on five hits in four innings Thursday.

MATZ: Not there, yet. (Getty)

MATZ: Not there, yet. (Getty)

If Matz is unhappy with his performance, maybe he hasn’t yet bought into the notion of spring training is to get ready for the season.

“At this point I’m starting to want results a little bit, and they’re not there yet,” Matz told reporters. “But out of the gates, I felt good. I felt like my curveball was working decent, and that’s usually the last thing that comes. So I’m happy with that.”

Overall, he’s not pleased with where he is at this point during spring training. You also have to understand Matz has had surgery and didn’t have an overwhelming workload in 2015. Perhaps he hasn’t built himself up yet to endure the grind of a full season. But, nothing is hurting and that’s the key.

Even Terry Collins suggested Matz isn’t there physically.

“Steven got a little tired, but he threw the ball great for a while,” Collins said. “We’ve got to get him in [pitching] shape.”

Matz has three more starts before the season begins, and currently is projected to relieve Jacob deGrom in the second game of the season. However, deGrom’s wife, Stacey, is expecting around that time and he might not pitch at all. In that case, Matz could get the start.

Could those three starts be enough to build up Matz’s stamina? Perhaps.

However, what could be an issue is Collins thinking Matz isn’t physically ready coupled with Matz’ frustration level. The last thing he needs to do is push himself.

You know, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Matz is held back for an extended spring training and be brought up at the end of April or early May. The Mets have other options in Logan Verrett or Rafael Montero, and the schedule has a lot of off days early where Collins can juggle.

The important thing is to not rush him to the point where he could be injured or lose his confidence. So what if he starts 31 games instead of 34.

Mar 14

Mets Handling Wright Correctly

The Mets continue to handle David Wright with kid gloves, which is the only way to go. Wright, who has yet to play in an exhibition game this spring, singled in five at-bats in a minor-league intrasquad game today. Wright didn’t play in the field.

As of now, the plan is to get Wright into a dozen exhibition games, and there’s no idea as to how many games he’ll play this season.

Wright will play in minor league games Tuesday and Thursday, and possibly getting in a regular season game for the first time on Friday.

“You don’t know what to expect your first time taking at-bats as far as timing and stuff, and that was really secondary to going out there, simulating some at-bats in a game-like situation,” Wright told “Taking some swings, trying to run to first base, run the bases a little bit – I thought it went great. Obviously, the biggest thing now is try to get some timing, but I feel mechanically health-wise, I thought it worked out great. Now it’s just a matter of doing it over and over again.”

Wright does up to 90 minutes of stretching and exercising prior to each game, so even if he’s not playing his body is taking a toll.

So, even if you don’t notice Wright’s name in a box score, understand he’s still working and his body is being taxed. Hopefully, it will pay off.


Apr 13

Lagares Out Of Leadoff Spot

That was fast. The Mets’ Opening Day lineup features Curtis Granderson back in the leadoff spot and Juan Lagares dropped down to seventh. The move comes on the heels of Lagares going 0-for-5 Sunday in Atlanta.

LAGARES: Batting seventh. (AP)

LAGARES: Batting seventh. (AP)

Manager Terry Collins said he still has confidence in Lagares, who hit .359 in spring training.

“If he continues to swing the bat like he can, he’ll be in the leadoff spot,” Collins said of Lagares. “Right now, he’s struggling a little bit. So we kind of like where he’s at. We’ve got all the confidence in the world. When that confidence fades, we’ll find somebody else. But, right now, this guy is one of the real, real good players and an up-and-coming star in this game.”

After a strong spring training in which he worked on working the count and other aspects of leading off, Lagares began the season in the sixth spot in the order. The Mets insist they’ve considered the switch early in spring training, but puzzlingly didn’t act on it.

Lagares is admittedly struggling, batting .160, but then again Granderson is hitting .063.

While I understand the nuances of the leadoff hitter is assured of leading off an inning just once, and that when he’s batting it really doesn’t matter because he’s at the plate by himself. However, going into the season’s seventh game, Lagares is hitting in his third different spot in the order.

That indicates indecision.

Here’s today’s order for the Mets:

Curtis Granderson, rf

David Wright, 3b

Lucas Duda, 1b

Michael Cuddyer, lf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Juan Lagares, cf

Wilmer Flores, ss

Jacob deGrom, rhp




Apr 08

DeGrom A Most Intriguing Met

Of all the Mets’ young pitchers, I am most intrigued with Jacob deGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year and Wednesday’s starter at Washington. Quiet and unassuming, unlike Matt Harvey, deGrom came out of the bullpen last season following an injury to Dillon Gee and never left the rotation.

Hopefully, he’ll stay in it for years.

Why deGrom over the others?

DeGROM: Captures the imagination.  (Getty)

DeGROM: Captures the imagination. (Getty)

Well, Harvey is Harvey, and despite his hype, all too often he leaves the impression he’s more interested in becoming a New York media darling instead of a Mets’ star. There’s a big difference.  Also, I can’t shake the feeling he’s just passing through Queens until he relocates to the Bronx.

Fair? Maybe not, but that’s the perception.

I get the feeling if deGrom stays healthy he’ll have a longer career with the Mets than Harvey.

The same applies with Zack Wheeler, but for a different reason.

Wheeler’s elbow injury went from bad to worse, and it won’t be until late in the 2017 season until we might really know something about him. By then, it is hoped he would have developed command to go with his natural stuff. So far, that lack of command lead to high pitch counts that stressed his arm.

But, for right now the main intrigue is his health.

As for Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, yeah, there’s interest. However, the intrigue meeter won’t click on until Sandy Alderson forgets this Super Two nonsense and brings them up here. Until then, they are wishful thinking.

But deGrom?

Well, he’s here and now. He seems real; he’s not a diva. We saw what he did last year coming out of nowhere, and it whet our appetite for more. He went 9-6 despite an offense that provided little support and a shaky bullpen. What was eye-popping was a 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 140.1 innings. That’s dominating stuff. And it continued in spring training as he showed no signs of letting up with a 2.08 ERA, .167 opponent batting average and 0.73 WHIP in 26 innings.

What I also like is he’s not a know-it-all. He exudes confidence without being abrasive, and also a willingness to learn evidenced by working hard on his breaking pitches during spring training. He also took copious mental notes watching Bartolo Colon on Opening Day.

“I watched what Bartolo did,” deGrom told reporters in Washington. “He just located and kept the ball down and threw the ball really well. That’s always my game plan, to throw strikes and keep it down.”

As with Harvey, the Mets will carefully monitor deGrom’s innings early in the season.

“I’ll just go out there and go as long as they’ll let me go,” he said.

And, that might be good enough.

ON DECK:  More on the lineup.

Apr 03

Why The Rush On Murphy?

Sure, I want the Mets to play Daniel Murphy as much as anybody. I’ve long advocated keeping him while there have been voices to trade him. We all know he’s gone after this season, because there’s no way the Mets will extend his $8-million contract.

But putting him on the Opening Day roster now – they will decide Saturday – is pushing the envelope when they don’t have to.

They extended Juan Lagares and are considering doing the same for Lucas Duda, but Murphy isn’t in their long-term plans. However, they seem adamant about the short term, which is placing him on the Opening Day roster despite having played sparingly the past two weeks with a pulled right hamstring.

Because he played in minor league games this week, the Mets can backdate his time on the disabled so he would only miss the first six days of the season. Murphy took five at-bats in an intra-squad game Thursday, but did not play in the field. He could play in the field today, but there are no guarantees.

Hamstrings are tricky to begin with and the Mets initially described it as tightness, then subsequently a pull. Even so, GM Sandy Alderson later only called it a mild strain. Doesn’t he read the papers? Alderson told reporters there’s been “a significant upgrade in his status from a couple of days ago.”

Even so, Murphy hasn’t done any serious running, so what’s the allure of sending him out there in the cold weather of Washington? Remember, the Mets pushed back Matt Harvey until the third game of the season so he would start in the afternoon when it would supposedly be warmer.

In the big picture, what’s the purpose of the first six days? Why risk further injury that would keep him out longer, perhaps for several more weeks? Some risks aren’t worth taking, and this is one of them.