Sep 12

Where Is Mets’ Opening Day Lineup?

All teams evolve throughout a season, but the New York Mets’ transformation in 2013 has been staggering, with only second baseman Daniel Murphy and shortstop Ruben Tejada were in last night’s lineup at those positions. Lucas Duda started, but at a different position.

Here’s what has happened to the 2013 lineup in comparison to the team the Mets ran out there in Wednesday night’s 3-0 loss to Washington. Three starters plus the pitcher remain on the team; three were traded; and two are on the disabled list.

Colin Cowgill, CF: Was going to start after beating out Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker’s injury.  Cowgill was the starter for roughly a week after he was demoted and eventually traded. Den Dekker started last night, but Juan Lagares could eventually win the role next year if he’s more consistent offensively.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Started, but hit third last night. He’s been all over the top of the order. A slump followed a hot start, but he’s back up to .282. The Mets, however, aren’t enamored by his .316 on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3B: Entered the season after a contract extension and being named captain. He’s lived up to all that but is currently on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Wright vows he’ll return.

Ike Davis, 1B: Slumped horribly before being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas. Eventually wound up hitting .204 with nine homers. There was considerable speculation the Mets would not tender him a contract, but he’ll get another chance to next season.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Signed for depth, but wound up leading the team in homers and could be its MVP. Eventually traded to Pittsburgh, where he could see the playoffs. Good for him. Lagares was in right last night, and could stay there if den Dekker develops consistency at the plate.

Lucas Duda, 1B: This guy just can’t play the outfield. Has improved his plate presence as evidenced by a .353 on-base percentage, but has not produced for power. Will compete with Davis for the first base job next spring. Eric Young was acquired at mid-season and became the Mets’ tenth, and final, leadoff hitter. But, for all his speed, he must do better than a .318 on-base percentage.

John Buck, C: Carried the Mets offensively in April before tailing. However, he was consistent all year behind the plate and has to get some credit for the development of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. His status was doomed with the promotion of Travis d’Arnaud, who has struggled at .152. Traded along with Byrd to Pittsburgh.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Played brutally in the beginning before going on the DL. Omar Quintanilla more than adequately filled the void. Tejada is back, but the Mets openly question his work ethic and commitment. He has a lot to prove, and trading for a veteran in the winter isn’t out of the question.

Jon Niese, LHP: Was the de facto ace and Opening Day starter because of the season-ending shoulder injury of Johan Santana. Niese developed shoulder problems after back-to-back cold weather starts in Minnesota and Colorado. As Niese labored and eventually went on the disabled list. Niese could end up being the Opening Day starter in 2014 with Harvey’s injury.

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Sep 10

Mets’ Matt Harvey Wants To Avoid Surgery

Matt Harvey, the New York Mets’ best story of the season before an elbow injury sidelined him until, well, who really knows when?

Not Harvey, anyway. Harvey, speaking at an appearance at a Manhattan firehouse this afternoon along with David Wright, Zack Wheeler and CEO Jeff Wilpon, is insistent of eschewing surgery.

HARVEY: Doesn't want surgery.

HARVEY: Doesn’t want surgery.

“Everything feels fine. My arm feels great,’’ Harvey said. “I’m still very optimistic about everything. But I’m not a doctor, so we’ll see what happens.’’

Harvey is scheduled for a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews next week. Harvey said his arm feels “great,’’ but then again, he hasn’t pitched since Aug. 24 against Detroit, so it should feel good.

However, that time off hasn’t healed a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Harvey is hoping the tear will heal itself with rest, but there exists the risk of him going into next season and tearing it worse and possibly missing all of 2015.

As it is, if Harvey opts for surgery, there is a chance he could pitch at the end of next season.

“If we do go the surgery route, having it sooner so maybe I can get back in September next year if that’s an 11-month process, that’s a possibility,’’ Harvey said. “But, like I said, we haven’t gotten that far. I’m not an M.D., so I don’t really know those answers.’’

Andrews should be able to provide those answers next week. In the interim, Harvey said he’ll talk with as many people as he can, but ultimately the decision is his.

There are no guarantees with or without surgery, but the odds might be in his favor if he takes the knife.

General manager Sandy Alderson has long projected 2014 as the year the Mets could reach competitive status because the contract of Johan Santana will be off the books and the team should have the latitude to spend this winter.

Alderson said the plan, as it should be, is to plan for 2014 without Harvey, and that includes shopping for a veteran free agent in the off-season.

The Mets might consider the Yankees’ Phil Hughes, whose style might be better acclimated to the larger Citi Field than bandbox Yankee Stadium.

Hughes, battered this season, has been demoted to the bullpen.

However, he’s healthy, and at 28, is young enough to turn it around, and the Mets could provide that opportunity.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 26

Matt Harvey Goes On DL With UCL Tear; Now Comes The Finger Pointing And Questions

The New York Mets should cut Matt Harvey’s innings at 178.1, exactly what it is today after several media outlets reported a MRI revealed a partially torn partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

HARVEY: Special season crashing.

HARVEY: Special season crashing.

I wrote Sunday the Mets needed to devise a definitive plan to reduce his innings, and that plan should now be to shut him down for the remainder of the season. Let’s not assume rest will take care of everything.

Now, comes the questions, and, yes finger pointing.

Did Terry Collins overuse Harvey at the start of the season? Did the plan to implement Harvey’s inning cap come too late, and why didn’t they learn from Washington’s Stephen Strasburg the best plan is to have one at the start of the season?

And, is it not a matter of capping innings, but pitches? Do the Mets even have a definitive plan to protect their young pitchers?

Was Harvey hurting and didn’t inform the medical staff? He said he had he had been dealing with forearm discomfort, but was he forthcoming enough? Did he hold back? Did the Mets know and continued to run him out there in hope for the best?

So many question, and here’s another: Is this just part of pitching, with nobody to blame but fate?

If Tommy John surgery remains on the table, he could miss most, if not all, the 2014 season. So much for making a playoff run next year. If surgery is performed, will it be sooner than later, as to get an idea of Harvey’s return timetable?

Whatever the decision on surgery, it won’t be for at least until after his two-week duration on the disabled list until the swelling goes down. Following that there will be another MRI, perhaps some rehab, and then possibly surgery.

If the Mets are inclined to delay their run at respectability until 2015, how will this impact their 2014 offseason plans? Will they re-sign Daisuke Matsuzaka? Will they go the route of trying to sign an established starter for next year or go patchwork? How will the Mets respond now with Zack Wheeler?

Excluding Johan Santana during spring training, Harvey, who was placed on the disabled list, is the fourth Mets’ starter to sustain a significant arm injury this year. Jonathan Niese underwent shoulder surgery to repair a partial tear in his shoulder. Jeremy Hefner is contemplating a second opinion on surgery, and Jenrry Mejia will undergo surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow.

Harvey had a MRI today after complaining of fatigue and pain in his elbow after a grueling 102-pitch effort Saturday against Detroit.  He will finish the year at 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA. After a 5-0 start, so much more was expected.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the injury is an accumulative result as opposed to one specific game. “This is not good news, obviously,’’ he said. “This is not a career-ending injury under any stretch of the imagination. We’re fortunate we have a lot of pitching depth in our organization.’’

Yeah, but are any of them as good as Harvey?

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 14

Did Mets Mishandle Wilmer Flores Injury?

Once again the New York Mets’ handling of an injury leaves us scratching our heads. This time, it is Wilmer Flores, who one week into the major leagues, isn’t wise or brave enough to say, “hey, something is wrong here.’’

FLORES: Limping to DL? (Getty)

FLORES: Limping to DL? (Getty)

Flores sprained his right ankle running the bases Monday, did not play Tuesday and could soon go on the disabled list. All this in the wake of rookie infielder telling reporters: “It’s just sore. That’s it. I was able to play. … I think I’ll be all right.’’

But, his career is a week old, so I can’t blame him. But, what should be done is question the decision not to take him out of the game and not have him undergo X-Rays or a MRI.

In contrast, Giants defensive back Antrel Rolle sprained his ankle the same day, had a MRI and is in a walking boot. The Mets haven’t even said when Flores will get a X-Ray, but we should presume today.

Terry Collins, whom I have written should be brought back, said Flores stayed in the game after getting his ankle taped after the half-inning. He didn’t say if they spit or rubbed dirt on the ankle.

Collins explained: “It’s pretty stiff. In this world we live in, there’s always the possibility of the DL. We certainly won’t know anything for a day or so. I think the fact that he was taped up might have kept it a little bit intact. But after the game he was very, very uncomfortable. And [Tuesday] he was even worse.’’

Part of the Mets’ “new culture’’ after the hiring of GM Sandy Alderson was a better, cleaner, handling of injuries.

Before, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jenrry Mejia, Pedro Martinez and Mike Pelfrey were mishandled. Later in the Alderson Era, it has been David Wright – several times, including let him play with a fracture in his back and the recent hamstring strain that has him on the disabled list – Reyes, Johan Santana and Ike Davis.

Beltran, in fact, was so botched that he had surgery on his own which turned out to be a mitigating factor in his departure from the team.

All this, and Collins was taking preliminary bows the other night about limiting the innings of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to protect them from injury. All that, but there’s no mention of limiting Mejia, who is pitching well after coming off Tommy John surgery.

The bottom line is Collins has been around long enough to know not to listen to a player when he says “I’m fine,’’ because players are notorious liars.

If that bottom line isn’t bold enough, then try this one: Get a MRI!

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

Aug 08

Dillon Gee Continues Roll; Mets’ Rotation Looks Strong For Future

Never mind Matt Harvey for a moment, but the New York Mets must be thrilled with the continued solid production from Jenrry Mejia and Dillon Gee. If this season is about laying the groundwork for the future, then Mejia and Gee are good signs.

GEE: Superb again Thursday. (AP)

                                  GEE: Superb again Thursday. (AP)

Assuming they continue this run for the rest of the season, the Mets could enter the winter without the need to add another starter through free agency.

The Mets have several holes they must fill, and if another starting pitcher is not one of them, there would be resources for use elsewhere.

Gee was strong again today as the Mets completed a sweep of the Colorado Rockies. He is 6-2 with a 2.42 ERA in his last 13 starts, beginning with a May 30 victory over the Yankees. He’s proven durable from last year’s surgery and should go into spring training with a spot in the rotation. Gee got off to a slow start, perhaps attributable to the surgery, but is health is no longer an issue.

Of those 13 starts, 10 are defined as quality, which is giving up three or fewer runs in six innings. As a fourth or fifth starter, the Mets can’t ask for more. Mejia has a quality outing in each of his three starts.

Gee downplayed his numbers to reporters after the game: “I don’t worry about that stuff. At the end of the year, when you look up, you see what it’s been. I try to take it day by day, and hopefully we win the games.’’

The Mets’ pitching as been strong recently, and forecasting to next year, Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Gee and Mejia comprise a youthful rotation with potential. And, we haven’t even gotten to Rafael Montero.

The Mets began their season with Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum on the disabled list. Marcum is gone and Santana will never pitch again for the Mets. As bleak as that news was at the time, it turned out to be a fortunate break for the Mets.

METS MATTERS: The Mets’ catching is approaching a state of flux with John Buck to shortly leave the team for maternity leave. Buck’s wife was due to deliver several days ago. They could bring up Travis d’Arnaud for the allotted three-day period, or they could go elsewhere in their system. … Lucas Duda, on the DL with an intercostal strain, isn’t close to being recalled, and we might not see him until the rosters are expanded, Sept. 1. … Harvey, who took a liner off his knee Tuesday night, said he’s fine and his between starts routine should not be impacted. … The Mets’ bullpen has a 2.10 ERA dating back to July 1.

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