Aug 18

Mets Playing Fast And Loose With Mejia’s Elbow

Another day, another injury for the New York Mets, and not surprisingly, one involving a pitcher.  Jenrry Mejia didn’t make it out of the fourth Saturday night in San Diego because of pain caused by a bone spur in is right elbow. His season is in jeopardy as he likely will be placed on the disabled list today.

This is not new for Mejia – he left a game in Miami, July 31 – and he is supposed to have off-season surgery.

MEJIA: Is season over? (AP)

MEJIA: Is season over? (AP)

What has been reported is pitching coach Dan Warthen said, “Mejia did not warm up well,’’ which should make anybody wonder why he started in the first place.

If somebody is known to be hurt, is scheduled for surgery, and has difficulty warming up, one would think caution would be exercised. One would think.

Yes, I am more cautious when it comes to injuries than the Mets. I also know that after covering baseball for two-and-a-half decades, one should bet the over. It rarely breaks the other way.

A roster move will be made today, so figure Mejia going on the disabled list. Of course, that doesn’t take away what further injury might have been sustained Saturday.

General manager Sandy Alderson spoke like the lawyer in defending starting Mejia.

“We all know that he’s had some issues with his elbow,” Alderson said. “He was pitching to [pain] tolerance. That tolerance was exceeded tonight apparently and he had to come out. The doctor here took a look at him, but at this point it’s about his symptoms. They were obviously severe tonight, and we’ll see where this takes us.’’

Sometimes, you just want to scream listening to Alderson.

If the Mets knew he had issues, he shouldn’t have started following a bad warm-up. He should have been given an MRI. And, what in the hell is pitching to pain tolerance? Is it pitching just before serious damage is done?

The Mets, predictably, said there was no chance of further injury. Care to guarantee that assessment? The spur has to be rubbing against something to cause pain.

If surgery is to happen, it is to remove a pain-producing problem. Yes, bone spurs can cause damage, and yes, they can cause a pitcher to overcompensate in his delivery and produce a residual injury.

Alderson has been around long enough to know both possibilities.

Mejia was pitching well since returning to the Mets, but after the Miami incident, considering the team already determined he’d have surgery, it should have been done immediately.

The Mets are going out of their way to protect Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler with innings limits, but they saw no reason to protect Mejia, who already had Tommy John surgery.

The Mets mishandled Mejia in juggling his roles several times under Jerry Manuel, and it appears they are doing it again.

Why are they playing fast and loose with Mejia?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 07

Mets’ Bobby Parnell Faces Surgery

The New York Mets aren’t ready to say it yet, but there’s a good chance Bobby Parnell’s breakthrough season might be broken down. Parnell has a herniated disk in his neck that could require surgery is  a pair of epidurals don’t work.

PARNELL: Surgery possible.

PARNELL: Surgery possible.

Parnell had an epidural Monday and could receive another in a week. Surgery could be the next option if they don’t take.

It is an option Parnell must prepare himself to take right now, because extending this season isn’t as important a priority as in getting ready for next year. Should Parnell rush himself back, or allow the Mets to hurry him, and there’s another setback it could hinder his preparation for next season.

The Mets have numerous examples of where they’ve rushed an injured player. They appear to have a closer worth building around in Parnell and can’t risk losing him to a serious injury by mishandling him.

“It’s just a holding pattern right now,’’ Parnell told reporters. “We’ll see what happens. … I’m going to try that until I can’t anymore. If it doesn’t work, then surgery is an option. If I do have surgery, they said I’ll be ready for spring training next year. It’s just a waiting game right now.

“I don’t want the season to end like this. I want to get back. But I’ve got to be smart about it, too. If I go out and re-injure it right quick, it’s going to set me back even farther.’’

MEJIA SHINES AGAIN: The Mets must be thrilled with what they received from Jenrry Mejia Tuesday night against Colorado.

First, he pitched to the expectations long expected of him, and second, he did so without the bone spur pain that bothered him in his previous start.

Mejia will have surgery to remove the bone spur in the offseason.

In his three starts since being promoted, Mejia has three walks, 18 strikeouts with a 1.96 ERA. That’s far more encouraging than his last assignment with the Mets in 2010, when then-manager Jerry Manuel attempted to force-feed him a reliever’s role. The shuffling back-and-forth between roles eventually led to an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery.

If the Mets just keep him as a starter and let him develop, they would have only wasted time and not a potential career.

FLORES ADMITS TO NERVES: Rookie prospect Wilmer Flores was hitless in his first four major league at-bats last night and committed an error at third base.

Later Flores conceded his anxiousness.

“A little bit too excited,’’ Flores said. “You want to do well. I was a little bit nervous that first at-bat, but I had fun.’’

Fun is only part of it, because with David Wright out for perhaps as long as a month, this is Flores’ chance to make a strong impression.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 04

Not Right How Mets Are Judging Terry Collins

As of now, Terry Collins’ job is safe and deservedly so. Based on getting the most out of what he has been given and basic fairness, there’s nothing justifying Collins’ job being in question.

COLLINS: What's he thinking? (AP)

COLLINS: What’s he thinking? (AP)

However, fairness is irrelevant in sports. A manager’s job security always becomes an issue when he has lame duck contractual status and his team has lost six straight games.

Losing streaks get everybody edgy, with questions directed to management, in this case, GM Sandy Alderson, who was asked the inevitable by The New York Post.

“That’s not something that has entered my mind or any mind within the organization,’’ Alderson said. “Has it entered the minds of others in the media or what have you? Yes.’’

Well, of course it has. It’s been on the back burner since pitchers-and-catchers in February. And, I don’t think for a second it hasn’t crossed Alderson’s mind, either.

Walter Alston used to work on one-year contracts, but he was Walter Alston and his Dodgers teams were perennial winners. They were an organization that believed in consistency. They were the exception to the rule.

By contrast, Collins manages the Mets, a franchise that last went to the World Series in 2000. Thirteen years later, and they are on their fifth manager. That’s not even three years each, and that’s no stability. While this trend doesn’t suggest good things for Collins, it might work in his favor for at least this summer. If the Mets aren’t going anywhere, there’s no reason to make a change and have owner Fred Wilpon pay two managers.

Bobby Valentine managed that World Series team, but frequently clashed with then GM Steve Phillips – one of four since 2000 – and with his personality wore out his welcome. Art Howe was the polar opposite of Valentine, and that didn’t work, either. I thought Willie Randolph had a chance, but he was hamstrung from the beginning when he wasn’t given full reign to hire his coaches and had to deal with clubhouse spy Tony Bernazard, who usurped his authority. Jerry Manuel was overmatched, but that’s what you get when you sack a manager after midnight.

Now there’s Collins, who was brought in by Alderson to clean up the mess. However, Alderson doesn’t have free economic authority to spend, and consequently Collins doesn’t have the pieces. He’s basically a custodian; here to keep things clean.

The pieces he’s been given don’t fit, but here’s the rub, Collins is judged on what he does with those pieces, much like on those cooking shows where the contestants have to make something out of a basket of random ingredients.

“He came into the season without a contract for next year and may not have one for next year through this season,’’ said Alderson, meaning don’t expect an in-season extension. “But as I’ve told him and said before: This isn’t just about wins and losses. It’s about how we approach the game and fully taking into account what he has to work with.

“We talk from time to time and the [job status] subject comes up. I’m not trying to avoid the topic. It’s status quo. You go through a tough week and people like to immediately jump to conclusions and start discussing a doomsday scenario. A good first week isn’t necessarily any more of an indication than a bad fourth week.’’

So, there you have it: Collins is the care taker for 2013.

Alderson wants to know more if his roster can work and play nice with each other rather than if it has any talent. He’s telling us – again – that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game.

Unfortunately, they keep score and results do matter. Major League Baseball isn’t new wave, liberal physical education where everybody gets a prize for showing up.

Winning does matter on this level. Teams pay big money to get players capable of winning and fans pay big money to watch those players.

If the losing continues, attendance will eventually drop as it has every year since Citi Field opened. But, the players will get their money. And, Collins could be out of a job. Not fair, but that’s how they play the game. It is also something Alderson needs to think about concerning his own job status.

ON DECK:  The Summer of 1973 Series continues.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Apr 22

Parnell Must Stay As Closer When Francisco Returns

Most everything about the Mets these days is about the future. From Matt Harvey, to extending David Wright, to the trade of R.A. Dickey and protecting Zack Wheeler, we’re talking about 2014 and beyond.

Sure, it would be great to compete now, but 2013 is mostly for establishing the foundation. It is the development of Harvey and Jon Niese; giving Wheeler major league experience – while avoiding free agency for a year – and hope Ike Davis and Lucas Duda improve their offensive efficiency while still producing power.

PARNELL: Don't mess with him now.

PARNELL: Don’t mess with him now.

This trend should extend to the bullpen, where Bobby Parnell, despite limited save opportunities, has performed in the role that should hopefully define his career.

Manager Terry Collins told Parnell at the beginning of spring training he would be the closer if Frank Francisco were not ready. Collins should pull Parnell aside tomorrow at Citi Field – today is an off-day – and tell him he’ll have the job when Francisco returns.

Parnell spit the bit on previous chances, but is grasping the brass ring now. And, tightly. Parnell struck out two Washington Nationals in a perfect ninth Sunday to earn his second save of the season. Parnell is following up last year’s strong second half with a blistering start.

He has a strong traditional statistic in a 1.35 ERA – mostly overrated for relievers – with an even stronger new wave stat of a 0.45 WHIP.  He’s given up three hits and a run in 6.2 innings. He’s been virtually untouchable.

More to the point, he’s pitching the way the way the Mets always hoped.

Collins and GM Sandy Alderson saw that coming at the end of 2012, when with Francisco on the disabled list, Parnell went 3-1 with a 0.96 ERA and paltry .196 opponent’s batting average in 17 appearances.

The Mets might feel obligated to return Francisco to the closer role based on his $6.5-million salary, but they need to resist that temptation. It is not an obligation to return Francisco to the closer role, especially because it is anticipated he will not be re-signed this winter.

If Francisco were in the Mets’ future plans, I might think differently. Parnell, however, is expected to be here next season and beyond. The Mets – namely Jerry Manuel – have jerked around Parnell to the point of messing with his confidence. They must not do it again by changing his role.

Perhaps this is nothing more than a hot stretch for Parnell; perhaps it is the beginning of something special. We need the time to see.

We don’t know to what degree Parnell will develop. What we do know is Francisco will not be here next year and Parnell will. Parnell must stay in the closer role, and remain there in good times and in bad.

That’s the way to build for the future, which is now for Parnell.

Mar 21

David Wright Named Captain; Disabled List Next? (Updated)

The Mets made it official this afternoon and named David Wright the team’s captain, joining a select group that includes Keith HernandezGary Carter and John Franco.

There has been speculation for years – as far back when Willie Randolph was manager – and intensified  this winter when Wright was signed to a $138-million eight-year extension. Manager Terry Collins said at the start of spring training it was something he was considering, but needed to run it through GM Sandy Alderson and COO Jeff Wilpon, as well as poll the clubhouse.

“This is probably one of the proudest days of my career so far,” Wright told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “To be on that short list of guys that have been considered captain of this franchise is, for me, a dream come true to say the least and something I’m very, very, very proud about.”

Wilpon said Wright’s appointment was sealed when he signed an eight-year, $138 million contract in early December. Wright, though, said he wanted the endorsement of teammates before accepting the honor.

“Did we announce it then? No, we didn’t announce it then,” Wilpon said. “But I believe the decision was made at that point in time. When you commit that kind of money and resources that we have to a guy like this, you want to make sure he’s the leader. And he’s proven to be that.”

WRIGHT AND WILPON: Wright named captain. Photo: Mets via Twitter

WRIGHT AND WILPON: Wright named captain. Photo: Mets via Twitter

It was a foregone conclusion the announcement would be made prior to Opening Day. According to ESPN, Wilpon said the second Wright signed the contract there was nothing else to think about.

In a statement released by the team, Franco said: “We had talks together. Being named captain is a sign of respect and a sign the players on the team hold you in high esteem.

“I took my captaincy very seriously and I know that David will do the same.”

In addition, Hernandez said: “I have been around David long enough to know that he is the perfect guy to the be the captain of the Mets.”

During the Randolph era, the manager said the promotion might be awkward because that team was loaded with veterans such as Carlos Delgado – who became a mentor to Jose ReyesCarlos Beltran, and pitchers Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez.

At the time, Randolph said there wasn’t a need for a captain because of the veteran influence. Then came the Jerry Manuel era, but the team was so bad it seemed like a futile gesture.

Even so, Wright was always the face of the franchise, and the one player the media sought out for analysis on the Mets or anything else relating to baseball. Wright will not wear a “C” on his uniform, but his leadership has been obvious in the clubhouse for years.

“Part of it, I think, is my personality, where I don’t necessarily like to stick out too much,” Wright said. “I think the uniform is uniform for a reason. So I think that everybody is kind of in agreement that we’re going to do without.”

Not having the letter hasn’t diminished his influence.

Once, Reyes wanted to stay in a game, but was clearly hobbled. Wright, knowing an injured Reyes could be a liability told the manager, then Manuel.

Wright has worked closely with the pitchers and was one of the few players who could reach Mike Pelfrey when he was losing concentration. He often goes to the mound when a rattled pitcher needs to catch his breath.

With the Mets moving in a youth direction, there was no veteran presence other than Wright, who, as an All-Star had the talent to back up the promotion.

At the start of camp, Wright said being captain would be an honor, but wanted it through his teammates and not an edict from ownership or management.

Currently, Wright has been shut down with a strained left intercostal muscle sustained while participating in the World Baseball Classic. Wright said he was hopeful of being ready for Opening Day, but at the time of the injury last Thursday, Collins said he wouldn’t be surprised if Wright were out a month.

After being examined last Friday in New York, Alderson said it would be three to five days. It has now been a week.

Once Wright is cleared to play in the next two weeks, he will likely only play in minor league games. The same will apply to Daniel Murphy, who has a strained right intercostal muscle.

The reasoning is to have the flexibility of backdating his time on the disabled list. If Wright or Murphy played in a major league spring training game and were hurt, they would be backdated to the date of the injury. If injured in a minor league game the Mets could backdate the injury from ten days to Opening Day. This limits his time on the disabled list.

The Yankees made a similar decision today with Derek Jeter, who is recovering from a broken ankle. Wright and Jeter, along with Paul Konerko are the only team captains in the sport.

The Mets also made it official and announced Jon Niese would be the Opening Day starter. However, the team did not make a corresponding announcement of Johan Santana going on the disabled list.