Sep 17

Matt Harvey Opts For Rehab Over Surgery; Mets Must Prepare To Not Have Him

The New York Mets haven’t said anything on Matt Harvey not having to undergo surgery other than it is his decision. Multiple news agencies report Harvey will opt for rehabilitation over surgery after getting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews Monday in Alabama.

The plan is to rehab for up to two months to see how his elbow responds. After that, he’ll have another MRI, and then possibly opt for surgery at that time.

HARVEY: Taking a gamble.

HARVEY: Taking a gamble.

Whether he has surgery now or in two months, Harvey won’t be available until 2015.

Surgery, of course, has no guarantees, but neither does rehab. If I were Harvey, I’d have the surgery and be done with the issue. But, I am not, and I understand it is his decision on his career.

If he has it now, there could be a possibility of him being ready next September. Wouldn’t it be great to have him activated and help them compete for a wild card?

The risk Harvey is taking is not feeling discomfort in November, and making a decision based on that information. He will not be throwing under game conditions. So, if he’s ready to start the season, that’s great, but the gamble is he’ll stay healthy the entire season.

What if he doesn’t? What if there’s more pain and he further tears his ulnar collateral ligament? If he re-injures the elbow and has surgery next summer he would miss the rest of the 2014 season and all of 2015.

That adds another year to when he won’t be pitching.

I understand Harvey’s competitive nature and desire to pitch. It is admirable. I don’t believe he’s being selfish, but I wonder if he’s seeing the entire picture about potential lost time. Although there are no givens in surgery, the odds have greatly improved for undergoing the Tommy John procedure.

Whatever route Harvey chooses in two months the Mets must make starting pitching their priority, even over an outfield bat. Currently, the Mets are looking at their 2014 rotation consisting of Dillon Gee, the staff leader in victories; Zack Wheeler, who’ll be on an innings limit; and Jon Niese, who had his own injuries this year.

Jenrry Mejia underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow. Noah Syndergaard will not be ready to start next season and Rafael Montero is questionable. The Mets can’t count on Montero to make the team coming out of spring training.

So, that leaves two starters to find for next year. We can safely say Shaun Marcum won’t be an option.

For all the talk of adding a power hitting outfielder and the Mets’ other voids, any chance they have for a winning season is dependent on their pitching. It has been that way for 100 years, and nothing has changed.

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

Sep 13

Mets Wrap: LaTroy Hawkins Still Has The Right Stuff

When the New York Mets begin their annual winter task of building their bullpen, they’d be wise to consider three names instrumental in beating Miami tonight at Citi Field.

Yes, Lucas Duda gets props for a three-run homer, Jon Niese pitched into the seventh, and Andrew Brown took advantage of a rare start by hitting a mammoth home run, but the Mets might not have won without Vic Black, Pedro Feliciano and LaTroy Hawkins.

HAWKINS: Still has it. (AP)

HAWKINS: Still has it. (AP)

By definition, winning 4-3 is not a slam-dunk, but a study of perseverance and endurance. Those three carried the Mets to the end.

Hawkins has been solid all year in a set-up role, and despite his reservations, assumed the closer role when Bobby Parnell went down and excelled, picking up his ninth save with a 1-2-3 ninth highlighted by a classic punch-out of Giancarlo Stanton, who already hit two homers.

In a masterful display, Hawkins got ahead 0-and-2 with two inside fastballs. Stanton wouldn’t bite on two down-and-away sliders to even the count 2-and-2. But, fearless as usual, Hawkins blew away Stanton inside with a 94 mph. fastball.

At 40, most teams might consider Hawkins an afterthought in constructing a bullpen, but he still has the fastball plus the guile that can’t be measured by a radar gun.

Not only does he get the job done, but he’s an invaluable and calming influence to the younger relievers and in the clubhouse.

My favorite Hawkins moment came at mid-season when the Mets – including manager Terry Collins – danced around the Jordany Valdespin saga. However, Hawkins, a proud veteran, called it as he saw it and wouldn’t let the immature Valdespin off the hook.

Meanwhile, Feliciano doesn’t throw in the 90s, but is still an effective lefty specialist and last night closed the eighth by getting Christian Yelich on a grounder to second.

If used properly – which is to say sparingly and not wear him out – Feliciano is still a plus.

The Mets don’t know Parnell’s availability next year after undergoing neck surgery. They must assume they won’t have him, at least at the start.

They’ll need a closer and Black, who throws in the mid-90s, could emerge as the choice. In preparing for next season, Collins should use Black in as many pressure situations as possible.

Of course, the bullpen key for 2014 is Parnell. If healthy, the three could slot in behind him and GM Sandy Alderson’s bullpen reclamation would be halfway done.

The key to a strong bullpen is having quality starters capable of working deep into the game as Niese did last night. The fewer innings the bullpen works, the more effective.

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

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.

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

Sep 02

Mets Need Injury Treatment Overhaul

There are several things the New York Mets must evaluate and re-evaluate this off-season, and at the top of the list is their handling of injuries, with the latest being Jon Niese cramping up on a hot and humid night.

Niese already missed time this season with a shoulder injury, and he’s just one in a long line. Matt Harvey is out for the year with a slight tear in his UCL; David Wright is on the DL with a hamstring; Jenrry Mejia had surgery to remove bone spurs; Ike Davis has a strained oblique and could be done for the season; Jeremy Hefner had a similar injury as Harvey; Zack Wheeler had a strained oblique in spring training; Bobby Parnell could require surgery in the offseason on his neck; Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda each when on the disabled list, then sentenced to the minor leagues.

NIESE: One of many Mets injured in 2013.

NIESE: One of many Mets injured in 2013.

No team goes unscathed during a season, but the appearance is perhaps the Mets have more than most.

Why?

The initial report is Niese cramped on a hot and humid night. Sounds plausible, but with a steady taking of salt tablets and water it could have been preventable. Blame? The trainers need to stay on top of things, but the player must also be diligent.

Maybe both parties were and this was a freaky thing. But, the Mets should monitor to find out. Records could be taken of water and salt intake, just for the preventative research.

Already we know the Mets forced the issues with Harvey, Wright and Mejia, and that must stop. All arm injuries need to be addressed immediately, and with a MRI, because the Mets proved this is a major mishandling.

Hamstring and oblique tightness, as in the cases of Wright and Davis, need to come with immediate days off and treatment. For Wright to play an extra week before his popped is inexcusable, and player, training staff, manager and management must have some culpability.

Do better records need to be kept? Is the initial handling and treatment done correctly? Do the players withhold too much information for fear of losing their job? Are the rest periods too short? Should time on the disabled list be longer?

Do the players lift weights too much, and is there always a monitor for them? In weight lifting, is the weight lifted and repetitions recorded and tracked? Should their lifting be decreased later in the season? Do the players know that just showing up and lifting isn’t the proper procedure?

Are they too tight from the lifting? Should there be more stretching, even yoga, implemented in their routine? There have been cases where football teams have their players train in ballet to loosen the muscles … hey, you never know, is this something that could work?

Whatever the case, part of reaching the next level and taking care of business is staying healthy. This is an area where the Mets promised a new culture, and it is vital it be done.

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

Aug 30

Mets Wrap: Dillon Gee Continues Hot Pitching

The projected leader in victories for the New York Mets was, of course, Matt Harvey, with the second choice Jon Niese. Dillon Gee might have been the third choice at best.

After Harvey cooled, Gee has easily been the Mets’ most consistent pitcher as he picked up a team high 10th victory tonight against Washington in a 3-2 win.

GEE: Stuffs Nationals. (AP)

GEE: Stuffs Nationals. (AP)

Gee continued his impressive run by giving up two runs on 7.2 innings, and received support in the form of a two-run homer from Ike Davis.

In 17 starts since May 30, Gee is ranked fifth in the majors with a 2.49 ERA, trailing Jose Fernandez (1.52), Clayton Kershaw (1.75), Bartolo Colon, (2.39) and Yu Darvish (2.40).

Gee’s reputation has been one of dependability and consistency, and in the absence of Harvey’s early-season domination because of injury and Niese’s erratic season in part from a shoulder injury, Gee is assumed the role as Mets’ ace.

Who would have guessed?

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