Feb 23

Could Matt Harvey Become A HIgh Maintenance Super Nova?

Could the New York Mets have a potential problem with Matt Harvey?

There are already signs of him being high maintenance … signs he enjoys the trappings of New York too much … signs he doesn’t handle injuries well … signs of being too sensitive … signs he knows he’s good and isn’t afraid to let you know.

HARVEY: No hiding there are questions (ESPN)

HARVEY: No hiding there are questions (ESPN)

Harvey has never pitched a complete season and is 12-10 lifetime. While we’re not talking about the second coming of Tom Seaver, Harvey seems to be caring himself with a sense of entitlement and a “you can’t touch me’’ aura.

The latest is his reported reluctance to want to undergo his rehab in Port St. Lucie, which the Mets prefer, and desire to work out in New York.

After Harvey threw for the first time Saturday, general manager Sandy Alderson backed off saying where the 24-year-old 2010 will rehab, but made clear his preference.

“As a general rule, our players rehab in Florida,’’ Alderson said Saturday. “But that’s not a decision we’re going to make or mandate [now]. When we get to the end of spring training we’ll see where he is, and I’m sure there will be discussion between now and then.’’

For somebody with 36 career starts, why should there even be discussion? If Port St. Lucie was good enough for David Wright and Pedro Martinez to rehab, it should be good enough for Harvey.

In fairness, we haven’t heard Harvey’s reasoning for his preference of New York, which leads to speculation, with little of it showing him in a good light.

Making this more touchy is this could go before the Players Association, as the collective bargaining agreement mandates a player can refuse his rehab in a spring training locale during the season for longer than 20 days.

“The CBA imposes limitations. Yeah,’’ Alderson said. “But in the past, for the most part, our players have been here and it’s been a good situation.’’

We know New York is Harvey’s home, has superior Italian food and a better nightlife than Port St. Lucie.

But, what’s the purpose here?

New York’s nightlife makes one wonder, as Harvey clearly enjoys the perks of being a star – even though that might be a premature characterization of his professional status. Harvey likes the clubs and openly spoke about his drinking in a Men’s Journal magazine piece.

“I’m young, I’m single,’’ he was quoted as saying. “I want to be in the mix. … I have a 48-hour rule. No drinking two days before a start. But, those other days? Yes, I’m gonna go out.’’

The bottom line: If you’re 24 and a high-profile figure, you shouldn’t need a rule about drinking. If he finds it necessary to have a rule, he shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.

Everybody these days has a phone with a camera. Harvey has already been caught several times in incidents of public displays of affection with his former supermodel girlfriend, Anne Vyalitsyna at Rangers and Knicks games, where he is gifted the tickets. More trappings.

He’s now seeing another model, Ashley Haas, which has his comments of wanting to be like Derek Jeter resurface. Of course, It is doubtful Harvey would have ever posed nude.

“That guy is the model,’’ he said. “I mean, first off, let’s just look at the women he’s dated. Obviously, he goes out – he’s meeting these girls somewhere – but you never hear about it. That’s where I want to be.’’

New York’s nightlife has burned out dozens of athletes. Look what it did for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Imagine what Mickey Mantle would have been able to accomplish with a little less drinking and womanizing.

And, as for Jeter, he’s not the Teflon he’s made out to be. Stories of sending his conquests home with a gift basket of memorabilia and forcing houseguests to surrender their cell phones don’t portray him in a flattering light. Mom must be so proud.

Shortly after the magazine piece came out, Harvey complained about being misquoted and taken out of context. A reporter for a magazine profile records everything, so it is doubtful the quotes were manufactured. Backing off his comments shows a lack of accountability.

Harvey also got into it with WFAN talk-show host Joe Beningo, ripping him on Twitter and then deleting the post.

When it comes to fighting with a radio personality or the media in general, it is futile as it comes off as petty and unprofessional, plus, he’ll never have the last word.

The media isn’t as easy to bully as was former teammate Jon Rauch, whom Harvey forced out of town after challenging the former Mets reliever to a fight because he didn’t appreciate the rookie hazing, which included getting doused with water while sleeping on the trainer’s table.

If Harvey had a problem he could have confronted Rauch in private rather than making an uncomfortable clubhouse scene. That’s something somebody with a professional grasp on things would have done. Instead, he came off as behaving like Jordany Valdespin.

That’s not the only thing Harvey hasn’t handled well. Twice he wasn’t immediately forthcoming in disclosing injuries to the training staff, and arguably it led to his elbow surgery.

I want the best for Harvey. I want him to have a long and brilliant career. However, he has a long way to go, on and off the field. He hasn’t always shown good judgment and a case can be made it cost him this season.

He needs to reign himself in off the field, and that includes not making a big deal about where he rehabs. If reflects poorly on him and makes one wonder if this isn’t about carousing the bars with Haas and watching the Rangers.

If he maintains this course, instead of a franchise pitcher, he could end being a high maintenance super nova.

Oct 04

Looking At Mets’ Free Agent Bullpen Options

The New York Mets have spent the past three winters trying to build a bullpen. There will be a fourth winter, and this time the free agent marked is loaded with arms from the Mets’ current bullpen: Pedro Feliciano, LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison, Frank Francisco, David Aardsma and Tim Byrdak.

There is also Darren Oliver, Oliver Perez, Manny Acosta, Matt Lindstom (drafted by, but never played for), Jon Rauch and Joe Smith from other eras.

CHAMBERLAIN: Is he on Mets' radar?

CHAMBERLAIN: Is he on Mets’ radar?

“We’ve had problems building up the back end of the bullpen,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said.

That defined the problem this season as Bobby Parnell grasped the brass ring when Francisco went down, and only lost it because of a neck injury. Surgery was successful, but Alderson said he’s more concerned about Parnell regaining the nearly 30 pounds he lost and getting back to playing condition.

I’d consider Byrdak first because he’s left-handed and had good moments with the, Mets and Hawkins, who can still hit 95 mph. on the gun and did a good job this season. The only no-brainers in that group are Francisco and naturally, Perez.

There are several intriguing names on the list, notably Joe Nathan, Texas has his option, and Detroit’s Joaquin Bernoit. However, as closers, they would be pricey for the Mets, who are banking on Parnell’s return.

Finally, there is the Yankees’ Joba Chamberlain, who is a mess, but like Phil Hughes could benefit by leaving the Bronx.

Chamberlain’s health issues appear behind him. He was 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA don’t suggest dominance, and neither does his monstrous 1.73 WHIP. However, 38 strikeouts in 42 innings, says there’s still pop on his fastball. He earned $1.88 million last season, so his raise shouldn’t overwhelm the Mets. He’s also 28, meaning he’s young enough to turn his career around.

* Denotes option.

 

David Aardsma
Jeremy Accardo
Manny Acosta
Matt Albers
Scott Atchison
Luis Ayala
Grant Balfour
Matt Belisle *
Joaquin Benoit
Rafael Betancourt *
Bill Bray
Craig Breslow
Tim Byrdak
Shawn Camp
Matt Capps
Joba Chamberlain
Jose Contreras
Manny Corpas
Jesse Crain
Joey Devine
Octavio Dotel
Scott Downs
Chad Durbin *
Kyle Farnsworth
Pedro Feliciano
Frank Francisco
Jason Frasor
Chad Gaudin
Mike Gonzalez
Kevin Gregg
Matt Guerrier
Joel Hanrahan
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Rich Hill
J.P. Howell
Casey Janssen *
Jesse Litsch
Matt Lindstrom *
Kameron Loe
Boone Logan
Javier Lopez
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Ryan Madson
Carlos Marmol
Nick Masset
Kyle McClellan
Peter Moylan
Edward Mujica
Joe Nathan *
Pat Neshek
Eric O’Flaherty
Will Ohman
Hideki Okajima
Darren Oliver
Juan Carlos Oviedo
Vicente Padilla
Manny Parra
Oliver Perez
Rafael Perez
Chad Qualls
Jon Rauch
Mariano Rivera
Fernando Rodney
J.C. Romero
George Sherrill
Joe Smith
Matt Thornton *
Koji Uehara
Jose Veras *
Jamey Wright

 

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Feb 26

Mets Matters: Mejia Rocked; Wright Captaincy

Jenrry Mejia was hammered this afternoon by Miami in his spring training debut, giving up a grand slam in a five-inning first inning in the Mets’ 7-5 loss.

MEJIA: Not a good day.

          MEJIA: Not a good day. (AP)

Mejia gave up five runs on four hits in a 30-pitch inning. Apparently, few of those pitches were effective.

Terry Collins said Mejia didn’t have the darting cut on his fastball, and suggested the problem could be attributed to having Tommy John surgery after the 2010 season. That was the year Mejia was rushed as a reliever, demoted to the minor leagues where he started, then was injured.

The Mets still don’t know Mejia’s eventual role. He’s expected to start this year, but pitching coach Dan Warthen and minor league manager Wally Backman believe he’s better suited for the bullpen. Collins admitted to that after the game.

Mejia is expected to open the season in the minor leagues unless there’s an injury in the rotation.

Continue reading

Jan 06

Free Agent Market Came And Went For Mets

There were several free agents, if the Mets had the willingness and/or ability to pay, that could have improved them to the point where it could be a competitive summer.

And, I’m not talking about big-ticket players Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton, Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson and Rafael Soriano. The Mets were never going to be players for them, anyhow.

The Mets were beaten out by some notorious small market or small spending teams such as Pittsburgh (Jason Grilli, Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano), Tampa Bay (James Loney and Joel Peralta), Minnesota (Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey), Cleveland (Swisher and Mark Reynolds), Baltimore (McLouth), Arizona (Brandon McCarthy and Cody Ross), Kansas City (Jeremy Guthrie).

I’d include Oakland, but Bartolo Colon? Really?

However, Michael Bourn, Matt Capps, Jonny Gomes, Dan Haren, Nate Schierholtz, Nate McLouth and John Lannan could have given life to the Mets. And, none from this latter group who were signed received a package of greater than $13 million.

Perhaps, two or three – a pitcher and outfielder – could have impacted the dynamics and attitude of the roster and given the Mets something to build on during spring training.

Much of who is left are broken down (Grady Sizemore), older (Kevin Millwood), potentially too expensive (Carl Pavano or ex-Mets (Xavier Nady, Francisco Rodriguez, Ronny Cedeno, Jon Rauch, Endy Chavez and Kelly Shoppach).

Others, such as Brad Penny, Shaun Marcum or Derek Lowe won’t make enough of a difference.

There’s always next winter for extravagant spending.

 

Nov 01

2012 Mets Player Review: Toronto Imports Jon Rauch And Frank Francisco

FRANK FRANCISCO, RHP

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS:  The Mets thought they plugged two serious bullpen holes with the signings of Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, both of whom pitched effectively at times for Toronto in 2011. The two combined for 107 appearances, so the Mets knew they were getting some reliability. However, obviously overlooked by the Mets were the reasons why they weren’t brought back by the Blue Jays in the first place. Francisco walked 18 and gave up seven homers in 50.2 innings. And, he did it for $4 million. Rauch gave up 11 homers in 52 innings. In Rauch, the Mets had to deal with a pitcher who didn’t pitch after Sept. 2, 2011, with a knee injury. And, he did so at the bargain rate of $3.5 million. The Blue Jays decided they could get mediocre production for less. Meanwhile, the Mets decided to give Francisco and Rauch $5.5 million and $3.5 million, respectively.  For that kind of money, the Mets had a right to expect holes would be filled. With the Mets no longer sold on Bobby Parnell at the time, they envisioned Rauch in the set-up role and Francisco as the closer.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: It was hit and miss all season for both. Rauch got off to a good start going 3-0 with three holds and a 2.53 ERA in April, but was 0-4 with a 5.56 ERA in May. Rauch was strong in July and August, but was hammered in September, giving up four homers in nine innings. For the season, Rauch had a decent 1.22 WHIP, but also blew four saves and gave up seven homers. Francisco was strong at the start of the season when the Mets’ bullpen was decent, but struggled in the second half, went on the disabled list and ended the season with a strained side muscle watching Parnell close for much of September. Francisco saved 23 games, which any closer should get by accident. Francisco averaged 14.5 base runners per nine innings (10 hits and 4.5 walks), so he was always in trouble. A 5.53 ERA says the same thing.

LOOKING AT 2013: Francisco will be back simply because he is signed for $6.5 million. His is a contract the Mets would love to scuttle, but he’ll be back in the closer role. Rauch was erratic to the point where the Mets won’t be inclined to bring him back as they know they can get similar production for less money on the free-agent market.

NEXT: Josh Thole