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.

Mar 09

Wheeler “Must See” Met

So far, Mets’ starting pitchers have done well in their exhibition starts. Zack Wheeler is up next scheduled Monday afternoon against Miami at Tradition Field (1:10 p.m., SNY). Of all Mets pitchers, Wheeler is the one I am most intrigued with as he could have the biggest upside this summer.

WHEELER: Faces Marlins today.

WHEELER: Faces Marlins today.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey could have understandable issues; it would be interesting to see if 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom can have an encore season; Jon Niese can be an enigma; and Bartolo Colon is 41.

That leaves Wheeler, who was 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA last year and threw 185.1 innings. Wheeler averages nine strikeouts per nine innings, which is ace worthy. However, his four walks per nine innings is something that must be reduced – by at least half.

Depending on whom you talk with, Wheeler’s stuff might be better than Harvey’s. Command is a different issue.

Wheeler must improve his control, and doing so would enable him to work deeper into games. In 32 starts last year, Wheeler worked into the seventh only 13 times. He also reached 100 pitches 24 times and 110 pitches 13 times.

That doesn’t seem like much, but there’s an accumulative effect on the arm when you factor what he throws in the bullpen between starts; the eight warm-ups between innings; and the 50 or more warm-ups before the game.

After April he did not throw less than 100 pitches in consecutive starts. That must change to not only preserve his arm, but he could add an inning a start that would also reduce the workload of the bullpen.

There are progressions in the development from a prospect to a quality starter. Wheeler has already shown he can be overpowering. Now he must prove he can dominate with his control.

If he does that, there’s no telling how good he can become.

 

Mar 08

Mets Game Thread: Niese So Far Impressive In Debut

It’s only two innings, but another solid start by a Mets starter. So far, it has been two perfect innings from Jon Niese.

It’s hard to get a good read on somebody after two innings, but he worked quickly and showed good command. That’s what you want this early. One of the reasons it is difficult to get a solid read on a pitcher like Niese today is that Boston didn’t field its “A’’ team. Let’s see what he does against Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.

Let’s see how he does in the third.

But, you have you like the first impression because a good Niese is critical to the Mets as far as showing a balanced rotation and eating innings.

Oh, and for Niese, most importantly, he must stay healthy.

Mar 08

Mets Game Thread: Easy First For Niese

I’m anxious to see Jon Niese pitch this year for the Mets. If he lives up to the expectations – even a little bit – it will answer a lot of questions, perhaps even more than Matt Harvey.

By the way, that was a good back-handed diving stop by Wilmer Flores. I’m not sold on the notion he’s a terrible defender. With Flores, as well with Daniel Murphy, they can be better with positioning.

An easy 1-2-3 first for Niese.

Mar 07

Mets Matters: deGrom, Matz Sharp In Split Squad Games

There was more good news for the Mets concerning their young pitching with strong performances from Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz during Saturday afternoon’s split squad games.

The Mets beat Atlanta, 3-1, in deGrom’s start as he gave up one run in three innings; Matz pitched two scoreless innings in his start, with the Mets losing, 8-7, to Miami.

mets-matters logoLast year’s NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom, threw only 19 pitches in his two innings and was so efficient Terry Collins gave him a third inning.

“I feel like my command is there, so just staying consistent with my delivery,’’ deGrom told reporters. He is tinkering with a curveball, but didn’t throw any.

In the other game, Matz struck out two and hit a batter with a pitch.

“I was a little jittery,’’ Matz said. “I was excited to be out there, and it got the best of me. But I was able to settle down.’’

MURPHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy confirmed his right hand injury to be a bone bruise and not a fracture. Murphy was hit on the hand by Detroit’s David Price Friday.

“It’s a little sore, but not as much as I thought,’’ said Murphy.

CONFORTO HAS BIG DAY: Michael Conforto, the Mets’ 2014 first-round draft pick out of Oregon State, went 3-for-4 with three RBI against the Braves.

Conforto had a RBI single in the second and two-run double in the fifth.

“I kind of surprised myself a little bit. I felt very comfortable,’’ said Conforto. “My goal was just to come out here and have fun and embrace the moment. The opportunity to be out here with these guys is pretty good. I had a lot of fun today.’’

Conforto was in the starting lineup and given the lineup card by manager Terry Collins. Conforto said he planned to send the card to his grandfather.

GEE WORKS OUT OF PEN: Ranked sixth in the rotation, Dillon Gee, will work out of the bullpen unless he’s traded.

Gee threw 2.2 scoreless innings Saturday against the Marlins. He last pitched out of the bullpen in 2011.

UP NEXT: Jon Niese will start Sunday against Boston at Port St. Lucie. The game will be telecast on WPIX.