Mar 30

Mets Matters: Montero, Duda Shine; Muno Should Make Team

The Mets received six strong innings from Rafael Montero and Lucas Duda homered and drove in five runs in a 7-1 victory over Miami.

Michael Cuddyer hit his sixth homer of the spring for the Mets.

The Mets are deciding between Montero and Dillon Gee for the final spot in the rotation. The Mets also say they remain open to trading Gee.

The Mets are also considering a contract extension for Duda of possibly four years at $31 million.

mets-matters logoMETS ADD LEFTY RELIEVERS: The Mets addressed their void for a left-handed reliever by acquiring Alex Torres from San Diego for Cory Mazzoni and getting Jerry Blevins from Washington for Matt den Dekker. … Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin is expected to make the team.

EXTRA INNINGS: Owner Fred Wilpon addressed the team before the game, but would not comment on what he said. … It appears Daniel Murphy will open the season on the disabled list as he still isn’t running. … Unlike the circus that surrounded Matt Harvey’s rehab from Tommy John surgery last year, Zack Wheeler will work out in Port St. Lucie. He will visit the team when it plays in Atlanta and Miami. … It appears second baseman Danny Muno will make the Opening Day roster over Matt Reynolds.

UP NEXT: Jon Niese opposes Washington’s Gio Gonzalez Tuesday.

Mar 19

The Mets Will Need All That Pitching Depth They Treasure

The Mets have been boasting about their depth in pitching, and they will need it in the wake of season-ending injuries to Zack Wheeler and reliever Josh Edgin.

They will also be without Bobby Parnell to start the year and Vic Black could also open on the disabled list. Wheeler, Edgin and Parnell have elbow problems; Black has a bum shoulder.

GEE: Strong effort today. (AP)

GEE: Strong effort today. (AP)

That’s four pitchers the Mets counted on who won’t be available.

The Mets believe there is a high upside for Wheeler, but frankly if Gee gives them his best numbers of 13 victories (13 in 2011), 32 starts and 199 innings (both in 2013), that would be more than they could hope for. (Wheeler’s best numbers were 11 victories, 32 starts and 185.1 innings last season.

Gee and Rafael Montero showed today why the Mets were lucky they weren’t able to deal both, or either, this winter. Gee and Montero have been termed expendable by the Mets because of the promise of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

With Wheeler out for the season, Gee is back in the rotation and was stretched out today in the form of 3.2 scoreless innings against the Astros. As for Montero, he was also stretched out today with 3.2 innings – one run on two hits – also against Houston.

Gee knows how fickle things can be, but he’s happy for now.

“I was almost a little nervous for today – just having to start again,’’ Gee told reporters. “It’s exciting. And I get adrenaline every time I get to do something I really love to do.

“It was nice. I tried to stay within myself and work on things and take it for what it was, but it was exciting to get back out there and do what I like to do.’’

With Gee back in the rotation, Montero is ticketed for the bullpen, that is, of course, unless another pitcher goes down.

Like the rotation, the back end of the Mets’ bullpen seemed secure, but without Edgin and now Black, things are unsettled beyond Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres. Figure Montero for a spot, along with Buddy Carlyle, who could be a free-agent if he’s not on the Opening Day roster.

However, that’s only five out of a potential seven relievers. At one time the Mets were concerned about getting a lefty reliever. Now they need multiple arms.

The old saying is true, in that you can never have enough pitching.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets swept their split-squad games, beating Houston, 3-1, and the Cardinals, 7-2. … Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson homered against the Astros. … Jon Niese gave up one run on three hits in four innings against St. Louis. … Parnell is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Friday. … Daniel Murphy left the game against St. Louis in the first inning with tightness in his right hamstring.

Mar 19

Mets’ Lineups In Split-Squad Games

The Mets play split-squad games today against Houston at Port St. Lucie and in Jupiter against the Cardinals.

Here are the lineups:

Mets vs. Houston

Juan Lagares, cf

Curtis Granderson, rf

Michael Cuddyer, lf

Travis d’Arnaud, c

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, dh

Brandon Allen, 1b

Ruben Tejada, ss

Matt Reynolds, 2b

Danny Muno, 3b


Dillon Gee, rhp


Mets vs. St. Louis

Wilmer Flores, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Lucas Duda, 1b

John Mayberry Jr., rf

Eric Campbell, dh

Matt den Dekker, cf

Anthony Recker, c

Alex Castellanos, LF


Jon Niese, lhp

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.