Apr 15

No Fooling Around; Put Wright On DL

They wouldn’t be the New York Mets if they didn’t have adversity. First they opened the season without three key relievers. Then they lose Zack Wheeler to injury and Jenrry Mejia to stupidity.

WRIGHT: Facing DL with hamstring pull. (AP)

WRIGHT: Facing DL with hamstring pull. (AP)

Now they face losing David Wright indefinitely with a pulled right hamstring. Wright is undergoing a MRI this morning and Eric Campbell has already been flown in. Wright will go to the disabled list, but with this type of injury, for how long is anybody’s guess.

They’ve played fast and loose with injuries – including to Wright before – but they can’t afford to screw around this time. Wright needs to go on the DL, and even admitted as such.

Several times Wright – by his own admission – foolishly tried to play through an injury. He tried to test it last night, but left the field quickly.

“`I knew it was something bad,” said manager Terry Collins, who added normally would wrap it up and play the next day.

Not this time and Wright knows it.

In a concession to age and experience, not to mention leadership, Wright said: “The last thing I want to do is go out there and do what I did a couple of years ago, where I feel something, you don’t say anything, you try to play through it and you end up missing a significant amount of time rather than something that’s relatively shorter.”

Wright’s injury exposed the Mets’ thin bench as back-up catcher Anthony Recker played first base.

The Mets also considered using Lucas Duda, but that would have left Recker playing first. They could have also used Daniel Murphy. They had other options, but none of them good.

It was a close game and they were lucky nothing happened. They are obviously exposed and it came close to biting them last night.

GM Sandy Alderson might not like it, but he must put together a conventional roster.

 

 

Apr 12

Wright’s Criticism Of Mejia Shows Why He’s Captain

Like anybody with a clue, Mets captain David Wright was upset, angry, disappointed – choose whatever word you want – in reliever Jenrry Mejia, who was suspended for 80 games for using Stanozol. I’d like to add stupid. These guys know the banned substances and the penalty. If there’s an “Idiot of the Year Award,” Mejia is deserving.

MEJIA: Idiot. (AP)

MEJIA: Idiot. (AP)

Unlike many players who stick their head in the sand when it comes to commenting on teammates who get busted, Wright pulled no punches. None.

“It’s obviously disappointing. Not only do you cost yourself 80 games and don’t get paid, but you’re hurting everybody in here,” Wright told reporters in Atlanta. “You’re letting down your teammates and I think that probably means just as much, if not more, than hurting yourself.

“As much as it hurts, as much as we love Jenrry as a teammate, you make mistakes, you need to be punished. Once Jenrry serves his punishment and comes back, we’ll welcome him and do whatever we can to make him feel like he’s part of this team. For right now, he messed up and he needs to be punished.”

How many Yankees spoke out against Alex Rodriguez? Certainly not Derek Jeter. I remember asking Jeter once about players who tested positive for PEDs, and his spineless answer was, “I don’t use them so it’s none of my business.”

What crap because the integrity of your sport should be your business.

When it came to taking a stand, Jeter was usually mute. Small wonder he has a “players only” website.

However, Wright is stand-up, even in speaking against one of his teammates. The Yankees weren’t when it came to Rodriguez and Roger Clemens; the Giants weren’t when it came to Barry Bonds; the Cubs weren’t when it came to Sammy Sosa.

Granted, Mejia isn’t as high profile as those others, but he’s an important Met.

When it comes to speaking out against PEDs, most players look the other way and that’s upsetting. It is also counterproductive when it comes to eliminating them.

But, it helps when the voice comes from a player such as Wright.

 

Apr 07

Mets’ Mejia Goes On DL; Bullpen In Flux

Who didn’t see this one coming for the Mets?

When Jenrry Mejia ran from the bullpen to the dugout – without stopping at the mound – at the start of the ninth inning Monday, there was no way that could have been good news.

MEJIA: Goes on DL. (AP)

MEJIA: Goes on DL. (AP)

It wasn’t, as a MRI and X-rays showed inflammation at the back of his right elbow, which landed him on the disabled list today (back-dated to Sunday). Replacing Mejia on the roster will be reliever Erik Goeddel, which keeps the pen at eight.

The Mets’ bullpen is in a state of flux, with Jeurys Familia assuming the closer role and Carlos Torres taking over as the eighth-inning set-up reliever. Game situations could dictate otherwise, but prospect Rafael Montero could get the seventh inning.

Montero, who failed to make the team as a starter, will get more work as the seventh-inning reliever than in long relief. That’s a positive decision by manager Terry Collins. Also positive is to go with Familia as the closer than use a closer-by-committee tactic. That rarely works and all too often leaves the relievers confused about their roles.

It has been a miserable spring for the Mets’ bullpen with Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, Vic Black and now Mejia on the disabled list. All but Black have had Tommy John surgery.

The Mets expect Parnell back by the end of the month, but there’s no timetable for Black.

 

Apr 05

Still Plenty Of Questions For Mets

The Mets have their Opening Day roster, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have questions or concerns. This is a team GM Sandy Alderson said has the potential to win 90 games.

But, it is the spring and everybody has the right to be optimistic – even overly optimistic.

Yes, Matt Harvey is back – and with a chip on his shoulder – but, remember he’s only won 12 games in the major leagues. Also, they are without four pitchers – Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Zack Wheeler and Bobby Parnell – expected to be key members of the rotation, and replacing them forced serious damage control to their roster.

There’s reason to be hopeful about the season, but for it to be a truly successful summer, the following questions must be answered in the positive: (Note: I will revisit these questions through out the season.)

1. What can the Mets reasonably expect from Harvey?

Answer: He had a good spring training, but coming off Tommy John surgery they’ll be cautious. Harvey has 12 major league victories in only 36 starts, so expectations must be tempered. Don’t go thinking 20 wins and a Cy Young. The Mets would take 15 wins and for him to be healthy by October.

2. What happens to Bartolo Colon this year?

Answer: The Opening Day starter had a horrible spring training. The decision was based on winning 15 games and throwing over 200 innings last season. The Mets wanted to trade him during the winter, but found no takers.

3. An encore year for Jacob deGrom?

Answer: Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year was 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA and with Zack Wheeler gone for the season, he’ll need a significant boost in his numbers for the Mets to entertain thoughts of being competitive.

4. Will it ever happen for Jon Niese?

Answer: Your guess is as good as mine. At one time Niese was a hot property. However, being left-handed and with a manageable contract have not been enough to offset his 52-51 career record over seven years; a career-high 13 wins in 2012; 17 victories in the past two years; and an injury history that has allowed him to make as many as 30 starts only three times.

5. How long a leash will the Mets give Dillon Gee?

Answer: Let’s face it, if he were pitching a no-hitter, they’d yank him in the seventh inning if somebody called with a trade offer. They waited to name him to the rotation, and if he falters at all there will be talk of Rafael Montero taking his place.

6. Can the Mets trio of lefty relievers do the job?

Answer: An on-going question this spring was whether they’d find a viable left-hander in the bullpen. In the final week they opted to keep Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, and then traded for Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres. You wouldn’t be wrong asking yourself if something were deficient with these guys, otherwise why would they be so available?

7. Can Jenrry Mejia hold the fort until Bobby Parnell returns?

Answer: After being bounced around from the bullpen to the rotation, Mejia assumed the closer role when Parnell went down with an elbow injury and responded with 28 saves, which is six more than Parnell had in his best year. Terry Collins said it is Parnell’s job when he comes off the disabled list. When that happens perhaps the bullpen can settle down into roles.

8. Will the Mets stabilize the rest of their bullpen?

Answer: Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres haven’t had a great spring, and Collins is trying to find roles for Montero and Buddy Carlyle. It appeared at the start of spring training the Mets had the foundation of a solid bullpen. But, without Edgin, Black and Parnell, the Mets are in potentially a lot of trouble.

9. When will Travis d’Arnaud evolve from the prospect stage?

Answer: A trip to the minor leagues helped d’Arnaud in the second half of last season, but he’s still not close to where the Mets hope he’ll be. If d’Arnaud gets off to a slow start, there will be clamoring for Kevin Plawecki.

10. Is Lucas Duda worth that contract extension?

Answer: The Mets tabled talks on a four-year, $31-million extension until next offseason. If he comes through with another 30-homer, 90-RBI summer, he’ll be worth the deal.

11. What will the Mets do with Daniel Murphy?

Answer: Because he’s making $8-million this year and will not be resigned, the Mets will make every effort to deal him by the trade deadline. They might even make a trade regardless of how well they are doing just to save some money.

12. What kind of patience will they show Wilmer Flores?

Answer: Because he had a good spring training and the Mets were preoccupied with a myriad of issues and injuries, Flores was mostly ignored. Rest assured, however, if Flores gets off to a slow start, there will be mutterings of replacing him.

13. Will David Wright regain his stroke?

Answer: Wright’s 162-game averages are 25 homers and 101 RBI, figures he hasn’t reached since 2010. Injuries limited him less than 155 games played in all but two years since 2010. Wright’s stroke is totally dependent on staying healthy.

14. Will Juan Lagares be worth the extension?

Answer: This is not a move the Mets have traditionally made with their own prospects so this is a gamble in every sense. He’s already proven he can field as evidenced by winning the Gold Glove Award, but he must improve his on-base percentage and cut his strikeouts if he’s to excel in the leadoff slot.

15. What is the power range for Curtis Granderson?

Answer: The Mets don’t expect him to hit forty as he did twice with the Yankees, but they’d like him to hit more than the 20 he did last season in his first as a Met. There was talk of hitting him in the leadoff spot, but 141 strikeouts are contrary to success hitting first.

16. Can Michael Cuddyer hit like a former NL batting champion?

Answer: Cuddyer hit .331 in winning the NL crown in 2012, and was at .332 last year when injuries cut short his season. The Mets aren’t expecting him to hit for power, but he hit six homers this spring. The Mets are planning to bat him fifth behind Duda.

17. Just how long before their decision to use contractual decisions to build their Opening Day roster hurt them?

Answer: It could happen any time. Gilmartin, Carlyle and reserve outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis are on the Opening Day roster primarily because of contractual obligations. In addition, they will be without role player Eric Campbell and be forced to carry eight relievers. In addition, did the Mets put their best pitching staff together by leaving off Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz?

18. What one stat could best determine if the Mets are to become competitive?

Answer: There are dozens of stats the Mets must improve on, but their 4-15 record against the Washington Nationals is arguably the most telling. Even if they were just 8-11 last year that would put them over .500 for the season.

19. How important is a fast start?

Answer: Huge would be an understatement. Apart from screwed up notion of playing three interleague games against the Yankees, the Mets schedule is entirely within the NL East. They’ll have three games against the Nationals; six against Atlanta; three against Philadelphia and four against Miami. There should be no excuse not to make a statement within the division.

20. Will there be a time when Collins and Alderson clash?

Answer: Undoubtedly yes. The make-up of the Opening Day roster has already caused head scratching. What should really tell us something is what happens if the Mets are competitive at the trade deadline and Alderson doesn’t pull the trigger on a deal.

 

Mar 17

Alderson Defense Of Handling Of Wheeler Injury Weak

Mets GM Sandy Alderson answered many of the questions pertaining to Zack Wheeler’s injury Monday. However, that doesn’t mean he answered them all, and that’s not to say the Mets’ handling of the injury couldn’t have been better.

Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury, and as he frequently does with these things, his tenor came off as condescending and maddening. As usual, he came across as the lawyer treating us like idiots.

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

Most irksome was how he described Wheeler’s breakdown as “inevitable,’’ much as it was for Matt Harvey and saying the Mets’ treatment of each was the same.

“Let me just ask, why would we treat somebody like Harvey with the kind of caution that we did and then throw somebody else under the bus – somebody of essentially equal value to us as an organization?’’ Alderson said to reporters today. “That wouldn’t make any sense. I understand people can debate the number of pitches and the number of innings and this and that. We simply wouldn’t treat two guys that differently.’’

But, they did.

Harvey was shut down shortly after the All-Star break in 2013, but Wheeler continued to pitch at the end of last season despite soreness in his elbow. Alderson and manager Terry Collins even conceded Monday how Wheeler managed through the pain at the end of last year.

Alderson maintained Wheeler’s elbow was eventually going to break down, yet he was trotted out there every fifth day.

“The other thing is, when a guy is being managed, you understand what the sort of apocalyptic result could be – he blows something out,’’ Alderson said. “But the question is, what’s the alternative? If it blows out, it blows out. The alternative is that you manage somebody to the point where he’s not useful to you.’’

Which is what happened, as it has numerous times with other Mets.

When it comes to the Mets and pitching injuries, the club has a long list, including: Harvey, Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Johan Santana, Jenrry Mejia, Jeremy Hefner and Jon Niese.

That’s more than an entire rotation and nearly a complete staff. A common thread in these injuries have been Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen.

The Mets didn’t have Harvey last year, but nonetheless made a run at respectability, as in finishing .500 or better. You can’t help but wonder if the goal to be competitive forced them to push Wheeler too hard.

Questions linger about the others, although not all had Tommy John surgery. What was their training routine like? Did they throw too hard, too soon, at the start of spring training? Were they properly monitored? Did they throw too soon in the offseason? Did they throw too much between starts? What was the rest of their conditioning program like?

Alderson answered the question as to why he didn’t immediately order a MRI for Wheeler. It seemed somewhat plausible at the time, but after sleeping on it and considering the long list of ailing Mets’ pitchers under his watch, it left something to be desired.

Using “lawyerspeak,’’ Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury. There was his usual fancy language, but a sharp district attorney would nail him.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s Notebook.