Aug 06

Harvey Recalls Good, Bad And Ugly

In the end, Matt Harvey finally relented and spoke to the New York media – the group that built him up to folk hero status, but in his eyes lived to torment him – in his return to Citi Field Monday afternoon.

HARVEY: In the beginning.  (MLB)

HARVEY: In the beginning. (MLB)

After threatening not to speak with the press, Harvey, perhaps convinced by his agent Scott Boras, to do the right thing or have everything bad about his stay with the Mets dredged up all this week, gave in and talked about what was and what could have been.

As he recalled both the good and bad times of being both a fictional superhero and a prima donna, there were no regrets, no “do-overs,’’ and certainly no apologies.

But, there was an admission of mistakes.

In describing what went wrong with the Mets, Harvey always brought it back to his injuries. Unquestionably, they derailed his career. What was supposed to be a career of Cy Young Awards, no-hitters and World Series wins has turned out to be a 39-42 lifetime record and season-ending trips to the disabled list in four (including missing all of 2014) of his six partially controversial drenched seasons with the Mets.

“I kind of put myself in a bad position,” Harvey said. “Health was the biggest thing. Being as competitive as I am, and as all these guys are, when the injuries took a toll on me, and I wasn’t able to do my job the way I wanted to, I made a lot of mistakes. That was something I’ve definitely looked back on, and I wouldn’t say regret. People make mistakes, and I definitely made a lot of them.”

Harvey has gone through deep introspection since the trade that brought him to Cincinnati for Devin Mesoraco, and suggested the mistakes that made him back-page fodder for the tabloids stemmed from basic psychology of the need to be recognized.

“You realize that you don’t want to fail,” Harvey said. “I definitely didn’t. I never wanted to fail, especially when I spent my time here. The success that I had, I didn’t want to let anybody down — family, friends. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I put a lot of pressure on getting back to perfection. Kind of the way the 2013 season, the ’15 season, all those great games that I threw, I put a lot of pressure on making sure that that happened every time. And obviously, it couldn’t. It was tough. Mentally, it was very tough.”

Harvey will be a free-agent after this season, and while it’s possible he could still end up with the Yankees, which has been heavily speculated since he let it be known that was his childhood team. The Reds did not trade Harvey at the July 31 non-waiver deadline, but he said he would welcome a deal before the end of the month to a contender.

“I do want everybody to know I do regret a lot of mistakes I made,’’ Harvey said. “But I did put my heart into this organization, as I will with future teams, and this team that I’m on now. I really enjoyed every minute here.”

Jun 20

Today’s Question: What’s Wrong With Zack Wheeler?

The ancient Greeks may have had their idea of tragedy, but they never had to stay up until 2 to watch the Mets. How does a team hit four home runs and score six runs against the sport’s best pitcher, but lose the game?

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

Actually, it’s very simple when your starting pitcher gives up seven runs and lasts only two innings. That’s Zack Wheeler, who lasted 1.2 innings and gave up eight runs in his previous start. That’s 15 runs in 3.2 innings.

Concerned is an understatement.

“When you’ve got that kind of stuff and you’re getting hit like [Wheeler] is getting hit, there is something wrong and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He’s too good. He’s got too good of stuff.’’

But “stuff’’ is too broad a term. Stuff is more than throwing hard. It includes movement, location and command of his secondary pitches.

“Honestly, I haven’t had off-speed pitches all year, and now it’s starting to catch up to me,’’ Wheeler said. “Those guys get scouting reports and now it’s starting to catch up to me. It’s easy [for hitters] when you can’t throw off-speed for strikes and you’re just throwing fastballs.’’

And, fastballs with little movement that hang out over the plate get crushed. But, it might not be just one issue.  Wheeler’s problems can be attributed to a myriad of circumstances:

HEALTH: Wheeler said he’s fine, but Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey each said they were all right and both are on the disabled list.

Mets’ pitchers are notorious for withholding physical ailments and trying to pitch through discomfort, so it wouldn’t surprise me if something crops up with Wheeler.

HITTING A WALL: Wheeler missed the last two seasons following Tommy John surgery and a complicated healing process. It’s quite possible he’s hit a wall.

The solution for that could be to shut him down for his next start and give him time to rest.

TIPPING PITCHES: Collins said they’ll look at video in an attempt to spot any mechanical issues. While they are at it, examine the tape carefully to spot any giveaways to what’s coming.

The Dodgers’ first five hitters swung the bat like they knew the pitch.

Something isn’t right with Wheeler and the Mets’ would be wise for him to skip a start as they search for answers.

 

Mar 14

DeGrom Ready; Mets Should Rest Ill Syndergaard

If spring training is all about getting ready for the season, it would be safe to conclude of all the Mets’ high-profile starters Jacob deGrom is the closest to being ready.

In three spring starts, he has given up one run in ten innings with 13 strikeouts, including six in four innings in today’s 2-1 victory over Houston. Now, who wouldn’t take that?

DeGROM: Ready. (AP)

DeGROM: Ready. (AP)

The best thing about deGrom today was his ability to pitch out of trouble. He walked and gave up a single to start the game, but pulled it together to strike out the side, including the last two in the high 90s.

DeGrom didn’t have his best changeup and got it done with his fastball and breaking pitches.

“You’ll have those days in spring and throughout the season,” deGrom told reporters. “So, you have to find other ways to get outs. My slider was good today and I mixed in a few curveballs.

“I’m happy with how things are going. The main thing is to stay healthy. I’m just happy that I feel good and I’m looking forward to starting the season.”

Health does not only include elbows and shoulders. It includes illness, which brings us to Noah Syndergaard, who has been struggling with bronchitis the past month and a half. Six weeks is a long time to fighting illness and this isn’t just a cold or the sniffles.

“He’s like many people, including myself, that when it gets in their lungs and they get bronchitis, it can affect you for a while,” manager Terry Collins said. “He’s fighting that. He’s been on medication. He is getting better, but he just ran out of gas.”

Syndergaard threw in the high 90s Monday, but later said he felt tired and his delivery was out of whack. He admitted it could have been because of being ill.

So, Syndergaard said being ill could have sapped his strength and Collins admitted the same. So, why don’t Collins and GM Sandy Alderson do the smart thing and sit Syndergaard for his next start if he’s still feeling lousy?

Now, Syndergaard, like any other Mets’ pitcher will fight Collins if he wants to rest him. Matt Harvey already has … several times.

But, Collins and Alderson are supposed to be the adults in the room and should be smart enough to tell their kids not to go outside and play when they are sick. And, enforce it.

If spring training is all about getting ready for the season, then shouldn’t that include not letting Syndergaard getting run down?

Nov 28

Mets’ Top Five Issues Entering Spring Training

I trust you all enjoyed Thanksgiving with your families. With Christmas fast approaching, followed by the Super Bowl, it is time to forget about the Jets, Giants, Knicks and Nets, and focus on hockey and the upcoming baseball season.

The spring training countdown begins at the conclusion of the Super Bowl. With that, I’ll take a look at what I consider the Mets’ top five issues entering the season.

HARVEY: No hiding he's a key. ESPN

HARVEY: No hiding he’s a key. ESPN

If you disagree, and that’s the point of this exercise, I would be interested to hear your issues.

1. DAVID WRIGHT’S HEALTH: I touched on this the other day, and rank it first because it is the lead domino. If Wright returns to All-Star status it alleviates a lot of pressure from the offense. It takes away a potential distraction and goes a long way toward making the Mets whole.

2. MATT HARVEY’S RETURN: If not Wright, then it has to be Harvey’s return from Tommy John surgery. The Mets have to handle him with kid gloves whether he likes it or not. There will be an innings limit, which has yet to be disclosed which figures to become an issue.

3. THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BULLPEN: For as long as Sandy Alderson has been here, building the bullpen has been a major issue. With Bobby Parnell’s injury, the Mets went with a patchwork bullpen last year that saw the emergence of Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. Manager Terry Collins said the job is Parnell’s when he returns, but that’s premature. Let Parnell ease into form. As of now, Mejia, Familia, Parnell and Vic Black bring a lot of heat from the sixth through ninth innings. The Mets need another lefty to complement Josh Edgin and there’s a need to bring back Carlos Torres.

4. THE CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT OF JACOB deGROM AND ZACK WHEELER The Mets claim their foundation is young pitching, which means they need an encore year from deGrom and Wheeler to pitch up to expectations. For Wheeler, that means lowering his pitch count and giving the Mets depth. It can’t all be Harvey.

5.  WILMER FLORES’  ABILITY TO TAKE TO SHORTSTOP: Let’s face it, the Mets aren’t going to land a marquee shortstop, either through trade or free agency. It is time to see if Flores can produce. This should he his shot.

 

Aug 16

Don’t expect Reyes before September

Jose Reyes is starting swinging a bat and taking grounders, but that’s the extent of it. He won’t test is strained left hamstring until the weekend.

REYES: Losing money as he waits.

Even if he is cleared to begin running this weekend, there are several steps to the process: 1) jogging, 2) half speed, 3) three-quarters speed, 4) full speed, 5) changing directions defensively, and 6) running the bases.

The Mets are saying they don’t expect Reyes back when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list, Aug. 23. Considering their history in this, we might not see Reyes before September, and after his return there will be questions about his capacity.

Health has always been a factor with Reyes, and two stints on the disabled list on top of his injury history won’t keep the suitors away, but he’s losing money daily.

There will also likely be a reduction in years offered. Seven years is off the charts. There’s no way the Mets will offer that, and also out of the question is the early reported figure of $120 million.

If Reyes’ return is delayed much past September, you might be seeing the contracts offered in the four, five-year range.