Jun 20

Not A Fan Of Demoting Conforto

It’s a good thing the Mets are off Monday because playing games doesn’t seem to be good idea. Citi Field is quiet today, except for the buzz in manager Terry Collins‘ office, where he is presumably huddling with GM Sandy Alderson and his coaching staff about what to do next. At the top of the list is the decision whether to demote Michael Conforto in Triple-A Las Vegas to work on the swing that deserted him.

CONFORTO: Not of fan of demoting him. (AP)

CONFORTO: Not of fan of demoting him. (AP)

Most likely the corresponding move would be promoting Brandon Nimmo. As much as I’d like to see Nimmo – much the way I wanted to see Conforto last year – I’m not a big proponent about this move. Not yet, anyway.

I realize that’s contradictory considering I advocated sending down Matt Harvey and Ike Davis. However, these circumstances are different. With Davis, he resisted changing or his style, and had been with the Mets long enough for them to believe nothing would change. With Harvey, he was coming off

Davis resisted changing his style and had been with the Mets long enough for them to believe nothing would change. Harvey was coming off Tommy John surgery and injuries are always more complex.

Conforto doesn’t fit into any of these boxes. For one, he’s been bothered by a sore wrist, but nothing to where he needs to go on the disabled list. If he is hurt, then why is he playing? Also, reports are unlike Davis he’s very coachable and is tenure with the Mets has been short.

Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle all went down to the minors, so nobody should be immune. However, I don’t see where a Conforto for Nimmo swap is a good thing. If Conforto goes down and regains his stroke and is brought up in two weeks, what becomes of Nimmo? Theoretically, they would simply send him back down, but how does that help anybody?

If Nimmo is hitting, wouldn’t they want to keep him up here? If so, where would he play? He certainly wouldn’t replace Yoenis Cespedes or Curtis Granderson, and as is the case with most young players the Mets wouldn’t want him to ride the bench.

Conforto isn’t hitting, but neither is anybody else. I would keep Conforto on the major league level and give him an opportunity to work things out with the Mets.

May 12

Are Mets On Verge Of Blunder With Matz?

When it comes to the Mets and injuries ALWAYS bet the over.

The latest is Steven Matz‘s sore forearm and the Mets’ apparent lack of urgency to do something. When will these people learn? Will they ever learn?

MATZ: Hello. Anybody home. (AP)

MATZ: Hello. Anybody home. (AP)

Matz pitched six quality innings against the Dodgers Monday, but needed 98 pitches to do so. That’s way too many and could explain – in part – why he’ll miss Saturday’s start in Colorado.

After the game, Matz said he pitched with a sore forearm, which he evidently hid from manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen. It was obvious with the pitch count Matz was having some trouble.

“It was pretty sore,” Matz told reporters. “I was still able to throw, but it was enough concern for me to say something to the trainers and just kind of tell them what was going on. Before I see the doctors, they just want to play it safe.”

Presumably, had Matz said something to the trainers during the game they would have said something to Collins. You would like to think so, anyway.

Matz has already had Tommy John surgery. Shouldn’t he be smart enough to say something when he’s hurting? The Mets don’t need any heroes; they need healthy arms.

Then, there is the Mets’ puzzling response or lack of a substantive one. Matt Harvey pitched through a sore forearm in 2013 and look what happened to him. Don’t these guys talk to each other?

Stephen Strasburg signed a $175-million contract this week. If Matz keeps pitching as he has, someday he could earn that kind of deal. However, if he keeps making foolish decisions with his arm, his value might not be more than $1.75.

Matz won’t pitch Saturday and will be replaced by Logan Verrett. Matz didn’t throw Wednesday, but could try to throw today. The Mets are in Los Angeles, which has hundreds of accomplished orthopedic specialists. Couldn’t the Mets – through the Dodgers – arranged for an exam and MRI? How hard would that have been?

Reportedly, Matz won’t be examined until the Mets return home Monday. I understand back-dating to place a player on the disabled list, but the Mets constantly delay making these appointments.

Why?

It shows a haphazard, lazy response. GM Sandy Alderson isn’t, but that’s the perception. When Alderson was hired, COO Jeff Wilpon promised an overhaul would be made of the Mets’ medical practices.

From Jose Reyes to David Wright, from Carlos Beltran to Ryan Church, from Ike Davis to Harvey, the Mets have misdiagnosed and mishandled numerous injuries.

If nothing else, why didn’t they learn from Matz last year, when a strained lat muscle landed him on the disabled list for a couple of months?

Collins said – and apparently with a straight face – the Mets are being cautious with Matz because of last year. Matz felt discomfort after his major league debut, yet made his next start. Then came the disabled list.

“Last year I tried to pitch through it and ended up missing two months,” Matz told reporters. “So it’s better to play it safe and give it the rest when I need it.”

Rest plus anti-inflammatories, which is another way of saying, “take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”

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Aug 25

Conforto Gives Mets Comfort For Next Year

At one time this season the Mets were desperate for outfielders. Looking ahead to next spring they appear to be in good shape, especially if they bring back Yoenis Cespedes.

Most intriguing is Michael Conforto, who was in college a year ago in June. In an un-Met like move, they brought him up when Michael Cuddyer was injured, and what do you know, he’s producing.

CONFORTO: Made impression.

CONFORTO: Made impression.

More importantly, he’s making adjustments. When pitchers starting working him away, he went to the opposite field. Hopefully, he’ll keep making them, but some hitters never learn. Ike Davis never did, and Lucas Duda is now getting the idea.

Conforto found his opportunity in Cuddyer’s sore knee. And, when it appeared he’d go down when David Wright came off the disabled list, the Mets opted to keep him and send out reliever Dario Alvarez.

“It’s crazy,’’ Conforto told reporters. “The way it’s been happening, you don’t like to see that, you don’t like to see guys going on the DL. But the fact that I’m still here, I’m very excited. It’s where I want to be.’’

It might be difficult for the Mets to keep Cespedes, but he would solve a lot of problems. The Mets will have Curtis Granderson for two more years and Cuddyer for next season.

Conforto has three homers, but has been adept at hitting line drives and playing a solid defense. He’s hitting only .258, but has a .356 on-base percentage and .840 OPS. He runs the bases well, and who knows, perhaps he could be the answer to the Mets’ leadoff question.

It isn’t hard to envision Conforto starting and Cuddyer coming off the bench.

What do you know, the words “next season,’’ in connection with the Mets isn’t a depressing thought.

Jun 07

Mets Must Overhaul Handling Of Injuries

While introducing the Sandy Alderson Era, Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon promised a different mentality emanating from the top. The Mets would be more aggressive in obtaining talent, and perhaps just as importantly, more diligent and proactive in keeping that talent on the field.

The Mets have long been criticized for their handling of injured players, including David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Ryan Church, Pedro Martinez, Ike Davis and the list goes on.

WILPON: Needs to overhaul handling of injuries. (AP)

WILPON: Needs to overhaul handling of injuries. (AP)

Injuries haven’t been diagnosed properly, players played when they should’ve been benched or were rushed back. Players also haven’t been proactive in reporting injuries, which in the case of Matt Harvey, this likely lead to his surgery. Perhaps most bizarre was when Beltran opted to have surgery on his own.

This season has been about injuries and an 11-game winning streak. That streak is why they’re where they are considering they lead the major leagues with 12 players on the disabled list.

Eight players are gone from the Opening Day roster, and three players in the starting lineup in Sunday’s game at Arizona were injury related. There’s not a day when injuries aren’t the focal point. Injuries will dictate if the Mets make the playoffs; what, or if, they’ll make any trades; and possibly, their offseason agenda.

What should also happen is a complete overhaul of their injury protocol. From the trainers, to the team physicians, to the organization’s philosophy in handling and treating injuries, everything should be on the table for review. What they are doing now isn’t working.

Why, over the years, has there been a glut of arm injuries resulting in Tommy John surgery? Why have there been so many muscle pulls and strains? Is there a problem in the offseason training program? Are players encouraged or discouraged to report aches and pains?

Do the pitchers throw too much or not enough? Is nutrition an issue? Do the players stretch enough? Is there too much weight lifting during the season?

There’s not a constant with each injury, but something isn’t right and it must change. Teams like to say, “next man up,’’ but for the Mets it seems to be “who’s the next to go down?’’ Yes, injuries are part of the game, but for the Mets it seems to be all nine innings.

What should also be noted is playoff caliber teams need to overcome injuries and adversity, and that brings us back full circle to Wilpon and Alderson. Will ownership provide the financial resources, and does Alderson have the capabilities to fill the void?

We’re waiting.

 

Mar 07

Mets Must Earn Right To Have Swagger

About this swagger thing Mets manager Terry Collins wants his team to have, well, it just doesn’t happen. It is something a team grows into having, something the Mets haven’t had since 2006. They lost it with their September collapse in 2007, and haven’t come close to regaining it with the possible exception of every fifth game in 2013 when Matt Harvey pitched.

“You know, for years and years, you used to watch those teams that won all of the time, they had an air about them,’’ Collins said this week. “You used to play the Braves and they’d walk out there and, they weren’t cocky, but they were confident.They weren’t overbearing, they knew how to play, they knew what they had to do to win games.’’

The Braves earned the right to have swagger by getting into the playoffs for a decade straight. Jose Reyes used to dance in the dugout after scoring and thought that was swagger.

It wasn’t.

LeBron James and other NBA players flatter themselves into thinking they have swagger, but most really don’t. If you have to carry yourself in such a way where you want people to get the impression you’re tough, then you really aren’t. If you’re really tough you don’t have to pound your chest as if to say “look at me,’’ which seems the standard in the NBA and NFL these days.

I know what Collins is getting at, but it just doesn’t happen overnight. True swagger isn’t forced. For your opponents to fear and respect you, that must be earned and the Mets aren’t there, yet.

After six straight losing seasons you just don’t snap your fingers and say you have swagger. The Mets need to be tougher, and that includes winning close games; winning within the division; taking the other team’s second baseman out on a double play; and when your hitters get plunked, then plunk one of their batters.

Swagger needs to first come from the top. It’s having a general manager not afraid to roll the dice at the trade deadline. It’s about being decisive on a player who doesn’t have it and not being afraid to cut ties with past disasters like the Mets had in guys like Ike Davis and Jordany Valdespin.

The bottom line is if you’re good you don’t need to tell anybody because they will know. And, nobody knows that about the Mets. Not yet, anyway.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notes.