Mar 19

Mets Playing Unreasonable Hardball With Harvey

The New York Mets have long been accused of mishandling injuries, from Carlos Beltran to Ryan Church to David Wright to Oliver Perez to Ike Davis.

That’s only a few.

HARVEY: Irritated by Mets' position. (AP)

HARVEY: Irritated by Mets’ position. (AP)

Mishandling ranges across a broad spectrum and you can see storm clouds forming with Matt Harvey.

A few weeks ago, I took Harvey to task for his adamant stance of wanting to rehab in New York instead of Port St. Lucie. I’ve softened on that approach following the incident stemming from a one-on-one interview the disabled pitcher had with Andy Martino of The New York Daily News.

Harvey has the union-negotiated right not to rehab the entire time in Florida, which is the Mets’ preference. Harvey prefers New York, and insists it’s not because of the Rangers and the nightlife the City offers.

By contrast, Port St. Lucie offers Chili’s and an Outback. You can’t even get a good pizza slice down there.

Harvey fully argued his position, and I better understand his desire and frustration, a product of his treatment by management.

“The biggest part is wanting to stay with the team,’’ Harvey said. “To learn the league. To learn Travis (d’Arnaud).  To learn how to bond with the other starting pitchers, and the guys in the clubhouse, and the David Wrights who I plan on playing with.

“I expressed that seven months in Port St. Lucie is a long time. For me, I strongly felt that my best opportunity, and my motivation to come back quicker, stronger, work harder would be to be with the teammates. That’s kind of what I have always said.  I have worked so hard to get to the big leagues and be with this team, it just felt like all of a sudden I was shooed to the back.’’

Unfortunately, it’s usually that way with injured players; they become invisible.

But, Harvey makes sense. In contrast, the Mets have not responded with a passionate defense of their position, other than to say most players have always rehabbed at the spring training site.

That’s like a kid questioning his mother and hearing,  “because I said so.’’ That answer doesn’t fly when one is eight, let alone 24.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the team would discuss a full rehab plan. Huh? He says that in March? This should have been decided in late October following Harvey’s Tommy John surgery.

Why did this issue have to be in the air for the better part of five months? Ridiculous.

Funny, but when Harvey was introduced as the GM, COO Jeff Wilpon said better handling of injuries was a priority.

Why can’t there be a compromise? Say, one month in New York and one month in Florida? Or, rehab when the team is home and return to Port St. Lucie when it is on the road?

Think of the frequent flier miles. This shouldn’t be all that hard.

Harvey also complained his locker was moved – along with Jeremy Hefner – to the corner of the room, which he said isolates him from the team. He is the Mets, or at least will be next season, so why agitate him?

Alderson claimed he didn’t order the move; instead saying it was the decision of the clubhouse manager. Since when does a clubhouse manager run things?

Harvey should have said something a month ago if he was unhappy. If he did, there’s no excuse why this has lingered when he should have been relocated to his original locker location. The same goes for Hefner. There’s not a good reason to do this and alienate Harvey.

Harvey was also peeved, and rightfully so, when his interview with Martino was intruded on by a Mets’ official. Not being allowed to talk with the press is unreasonable. Just as bad is having his discussion monitored.

That the official also lingered after Harvey said everything was cool, and had a testy exchange with the reporter, not surprisingly reached print to further make the Mets look bad.

On interviews, Alderson said: “My recommendation is to manage doing interviews in a way that doesn’t interfere with his day-to-day-activities.’’

That’s absurd. Players always do that. In over 20 years in major league clubhouses, I never experienced a player who didn’t leave when he was scheduled to be somewhere else. “I gotta go. Let’s finish this later,’’ is the stock statement.

Besides, Harvey’s work ethic would never prevent him from doing his rehab. He probably has his day structured tighter than the Mets’ format.

So, the player who wasn’t supposed to be a story became one because of three decisions, or indecisions, by Mets’ management.

The first thing I thought of is why would the Mets push Harvey when all of this could have been alleviated with a little common sense? Why irritate your best pitcher, the guy you’ve been touting as the key to your rebuilding process?

Just plain dumb.

This is so petty. Don’t think for a moment that if the Mets continue to play hardball with Harvey, that he won’t do the same with them in 2019, when he becomes a free agent.

Mar 18

This Is What The Mets Should Do Immediately

There’s a distinction between ideal and reality for the New York Mets. Ideally, they’d like a healthy Ike Davis or Lucas Duda at first base, to hit 30 home runs and build a consistent attack around them.

However, reality has the Mets – according to ESPN – still trying to deal Davis, and both with nagging leg injuries.

DAVIS:  Time to think DL. (AP)

DAVIS: Time to think DL. (AP)

Neither had significant time this spring and are not running. With Opening Day less than two weeks away, they won’t get the time needed and quite possibly be healed.

That leads us to the reality, and it is harsh.

GM Sandy Alderson is dreaming if he believes he can deal Davis now. Alderson’s bargaining power is even less than it was during the winter.

Davis is hard to move because of his recent production and health issues. He’s even harder now with a nothing spring training. The best option with Davis is for him to open the season on the disabled list and just get well.

The same goes for Duda. Nobody expects anything from either, so let’s move on. Do it now and give what is suggested a time to jell.

Putting Davis on the disabled list is the lead domino, because other moves will follow, and there’s precious little time remaining to get cohesive.

They begin with moving Daniel Murphy, who has the experience, to first base. I previously suggest this spring to use Wilmer Flores because he can play the infield corners, but force-feeding him another position could backfire.

Of course, first base is a power position and Murphy won’t give much. Then again, how much power have they been given by Davis and Duda? I’d rather have Murphy’s .285 average and unimpressive on-base percentage than Davis’ .205 average and thundering nine homers.

With Murphy at first, Eric Young can be moved from left field to second base.

I always wanted Young in the starting lineup because I believe he helps the Mets more offensively in the leadoff position than Juan Lagares would defensively in center field.

This enables the Mets to give Lagares at-bats on the major league level instead of at Triple-A Las Vegas.

There are potential glitches, but it at least keeps the Mets afloat.

Mar 18

Mets Lineup, March 18

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who presumably has won the fifth starter role, starts today for the Mets against Detroit.

Here’s the lineup behind him:

Eric Young, 2b

Chris Young, lf

David Wright, 3b

Curtis Granderson, rf

Josh Satin, dh

Eric Campbell, 1b

Wilmer Flores, ss

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Juan Lagares, cf

LINEUP COMMENTS: With the report GM Sandy Alderson continues to shop Ike Davis, it isn’t hard to see what the Mets are doing. By playing Eric Young at second base, the logical fallout will be moving Daniel Murphy to first base and keep Juan Lagares on the major league roster as the starting center fielder.

ON DECK: Lineup the Mets should field on Opening Day.

Mar 14

Mets Today: Wheeler Starts; Vegas Bound

There’s a lot to like about Zack Wheeler, who really wants the ball Opening Day for the Mets. Manager Terry Collins said if Jonathon Niese isn’t physically ready, he would decide between Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee.

Colon is the most experienced, but with no goodwill stock in the organization. Gee is deserving based on 199 innings last year, but ambivalent to the prospect. Meanwhile, Wheeler wants that game, which are points in his favor.

WHEELER: Starts tonight. (AP)

WHEELER: Starts tonight. (AP)

Also to like about Wheeler is his perfectionist nature. Despite three scoreless innings Sunday against Atlanta, Wheeler wasn’t pleased with his changeup, which will be his focus tonight against Miami.

Wheeler said at times he opens up his shoulders too early.

“Every time you get out there on the mound, it’s been a little problem for me,’’ Wheeler said. “There’s a little too much adrenaline, I guess.’’

Too much adrenaline is an argument against starting Wheeler Opening Day.

In addition:

* A group of Mets will travel to Las Vegas for split-squad games Saturday and Sunday against the Chicago Cubs. Among those expected to go are David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud, Bobby Parnell and starters Colon and Jenrry Mejia.

* Ike Davis (calves) and Lucas Duda (left hamstring) will continue to take batting practice and field grounders at first base. It is hoped they will play in DH roles this weekend. Neither has done any running.

* No word when Wilmer Flores will get another chance to play shortstop, but with two split-squad games this weekend there could be an opportunity.

 

Mar 10

Davis’ Saga Continues; This Won’t End Well

Nobody knows what to expect from Ike Davis this season. Not him, not the Mets, but we can speculate, which considering Davis’ history with the media this spring, won’t go over well.

Davis walked into camp this morning in a walking boot on his right foot, something not unfamiliar with him, having done so in 2011 after his collision with David Wright. He was off to a good start at the time, but hasn’t consistently hit since.

DAVIS:  We're all frustrated with Ike. (AP)

DAVIS: We’re all frustrated with Ike. (AP)

Reading Davis’ comments to reporters in Port St. Lucie, did nothing to assure anybody, 1) he will be ready for the start of the season, 2) this is being handled properly, and 3) he has a clue about what it takes to play in New York.

Here we are, three weeks from Opening Day, and the only certainty is Davis won’t get the 90-plus at-bats manager Terry Collins wanted for him.

He just won’t, regardless how he spins things.

“It’s just a walking boot,’’ Davis said matter-of-factly. “Nothing crazy happened. … Hopefully I’ll get two weeks of games in before the season starts. I can still get a lot of ABs.’’

Please explain how.

That comment says he won’t play this week. And, after not playing all this time, don’t think for a moment Davis will jump right in and get four at-bats a day for two weeks. It doesn’t work that way. He’ll be eased in after this week, but then have moments of sitting to make sure he doesn’t re-injure himself.

So, assuming Davis doesn’t play until next Monday – it’s Davis, so bet the over – that might leave him eight or nine games to get ready. At this rate, he might not get 30 at-bats, much less close to the 90 Collins wanted.

Also irritating is Davis saying he hasn’t yet had a MRI. Huh?

“I’m sure we’ll do that at some point,’’ Davis said about the MRI. Davis said his calves are tight, the right being more painful.

What are they waiting for, the traveling MRI show to come to town, much like the traveling carnivals you see throughout the south in mall parking lots this time of year?

First base is an important decision for the Mets, and here it is, halfway through spring training and there’s no clue. None.

Last season, Davis said he didn’t disclose a strained oblique because he was afraid it would come off as making an excuse. His comment this morning was worse.

“I want to play,’’ Davis said, then took a shot at the media, as if the writers forced his bad habits upon him. “Obviously I could have went out there and blown out and dealt with more articles about not saying it’s hurt.’’

C’mon Ike, give it a rest. You’re coming off as being too sensitive to what people say about you. That’s not a good quality to have if you’re a New York athlete.

For those who might have forgotten, Davis hit all of .205 last season with only nine homers and 33 RBI.

His approach at the plate is lost and one of desperation. There’s little patience; the habit of trying to pull everything; a nasty hitch and big loop to his swing; and he pulls his head off the pitch and seemingly refuses to go up the middle or to the opposite field. He’s a big-time mess fundamentally. Last summer’s excursion to Las Vegas accomplished nothing.

My guess is Davis will begin the season on the disabled list and his saga will continue to its inevitable sour end. When that happens, one can only wonder what will be written.

ON DECK: Mets routed by Marlins.