Jan 25

Have Mets Really Changed Their Medical Philosophy?

It was interesting to hear how GM Sandy Alderson overhauled the Mets’ medical staff, but then I remembered that was something both he and COO Jeff Wilpon vowed they would do when Alderson was hired in October of 2010.

However, that, like several other Mets’ promises when unfulfilled.

HARVEY: Personifies Mets' handling of injuries.(AP)

HARVEY: Personifies Mets’ handling of injuries.(AP)

How the Mets have handled injuries has long been a source of angst for fans and players of the franchise, and here’s hoping Jim Cavallini and Brian Chicklo have an uneventful tenure heading up the on-field medical staff.

However, in looking at some of the Mets’ most recent paralyzing injuries, a bulk of the responsibility falls with Alderson and the players themselves.

Among the most significant:

David Wright: In 2011, Wright played a month with a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright must assume some responsibility for trying to gut it out, but Alderson needs to share in this, too, for not insisting on an MRI earlier. We’ll never know how things might have been different for Wright had this been handled differently,

Jose Reyes: In 2010, Reyes sustained an injury to his right side in batting practice, June 30, and misses six games. As has been a tendency under Alderson, Reyes in rushed back and aggravates the injury, July 10 and is out for ten days. The Mets foolishly believe the All-Star break is enough time, and bring him back July 20. He is reinjured a month later and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.

Matt Harvey: The essence of the Mets’ bumbling of injuries began in 2013 with Harvey. Off to a fantastic start and facing the prospect of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey ignored tightness in his right forearm. Harvey – much to the delight of the Mets’ brass – started and starred in the All-Star Game, but was eventually shut down and went on the disabled list.

Harvey then got into a spitting match with Alderson about surgery and when to do his rehab. Then, after missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey and Alderson then clashed on an innings limit. Finally, last spring, Alderson ignored a warning from then-pitching coach Dan Warthen that Harvey wouldn’t be full strength until late May and rushed him back. We know what happened next.

Had Harvey not hid his sore forearm in 2013, and the Mets not shut him down at the All-Star break, there’s no telling how things might have unfolded differently.

Yoenis Cespedes: The Mets foolishly gave Cespedes a four-year, $110-million contract, then gave him carte blanche to become a bodybuilder. Despite a history of injuries, Cespedes strained his left hamstring last year. Then, as their offense went up in smoke, they rushed him back and he tore the hamstring and was limited to less than 90 games played.

Noah Syndergaard: As they did with Harvey, the Mets gave into Syndergaard. First, they let him become muscle bound in the offseason, then let him get away with not getting an MRI. Syndergaard subsequently tore his lat muscle in an early-season game at Washington and was lost for the year.

“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ is the quote that identifies Alderson’s regime. Alderson then said there was nothing the MRI would have shown that could have prevented the tear. Seriously, he said that.

The above five injuries were attributable to giving the players too much latitude and for Alderson not being the adult in the room. Unless those two variables change, it doesn’t matter who the new trainer is.

Jan 18

Who Is On Alderson’s Shopping List?

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he’s not done yet, which is odd because I didn’t even know he started. But, he added Jay Bruce you might say. But is adding the same person you traded last season really improving?

When the Mets traded Bruce to Cleveland, Aug. 9, they were nine games below .500 and 16.5 games out of first. Since they finished 22 games under .500 and 27 games out of first, I suppose you can make an argument the Mets did worse, fourth place is fourth place no matter how you cut it?

Alderson says he’ll likely add a free agent, and with third base a priority, Mike Moustakas, Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Reyes and Neil Walker are the names being floated.

MOUSTAKAS: Forget it. He’s too expensive.

FRAZIER: They might be able to afford him, but eventually will balk at the salary (he made $12 million last year). He’s limited to playing only third. That Bruce gave him a lukewarm endorsement give the Mets pause. He’ll be 31 by Opening Day.

WALKER: He can play second and third, but left the Mets on strained terms. I’m not counting on him as the answer.

REYES: Has the added benefit of being able to play shortstop and will come cheaply. Signing just Reyes is basically filling a roster spot and shouldn’t be the lone remaining move.

NUNEZ: Is the bargain of the bunch. Was on the verge of becoming a star while with the Twins but never reached the next level. He’s only 30 which is a plus, so is his $4.2 million salary. Also, a plus is that he can play anywhere in the infield, which would make bringing back Reyes not necessary.

 

Jan 09

What About Jose Reyes?

The Mets already have an idea of what will happen with David Wright‘s comeback. We know they won’t shell out big free-agent bucks for Mike Moustakas, or even lesser bucks for Todd Frazier. T.J. Rivera‘s health is a question and the Mets have nothing waiting in the minor leagues.

The Mets have a hole at third, and also one at second if something happens to Asdrubal Cabrera.

So, what about Jose Reyes?

He played well in spots in his return, has shown a willingness to play third and second, and of course, he can spell Amed Rosario at shortstop if necessary. He still has speed but doesn’t run as much as he did in his younger days. He won’t cost the Mets a lot of money, and his price tag won’t touch the $10 million they reportedly have available to spend.

Reyes has been a model citizen since rejoining the Mets, and has professed a desire to stay with the team. So, what’s the delay? The only conclusion I can think of is GM Sandy Alderson wants to squeeze every dollar from Reyes, or whomever he might sign this winter.

 

Jan 02

Five Things I’d Love To See Happen With The Mets

Here we are, two days into the new year and I’ve already broken one resolution. It was the one about eating junk food, not about criticizing the Mets.

There’s plenty of time left for that, but for now let’s take a look at the top three things I’d like to see happen with the Mets this year, not including winning the World Series.

WRIGHT: Want to see that swing again. (AP)

WRIGHT: Want to see that swing again. (AP)

I’m not even holding out for a winning season, or for them to even be competitive. The following are five individual things or events I am rooting for to happen to the Mets this season:

The Captain: The odds are getting longer and longer, but I sure would like to see David Wright complete a successful comeback following rotator cuff surgery. Maybe not 2006 revisited, but to play again without pain and make the throw from third to first as if it was effortless.

Those arms: I’m not thinking about any of them winning a Cy Young Award. Or winning 20 games. Or even each starting 34 games. What I want to see is just one time this summer the rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler make all their starts in a row. I don’t even care if all five lose their starts. I just want them to make them.

Stay healthy: There will be some injuries, of course, but let’s have nothing like those that shelved Michael Conforto, Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes. Injuries have long been used as the explanation for the losing. I just want Mickey Calloway to not have to write out 125 different lineups this summer. No Mets manager has had something like that since, well, who knows when? Maybe Davey Johnson in 1986.

Solve Murph: Daniel Murphy has had his way since the Mets cast him aside. Murphy left as a free agent, but make no mistake he was pushed away much like Jose Reyes when he left as a free agent. Murphy has also owned the Mets since signing with the Nationals. In the 38 games Murphy has played against the Mets he has 54 hits, of which nine are homers adding up to 35 RBI and a .386 batting average and a .435 on-base percentage and a staggering 1.135 OPS.

Spend some money: Wouldn’t it be nice for ownership to call GM Sandy Alderson and demand he spend some money and bring some talent to Flushing.

I’m not holding my breath, especially on the last one.

 

Nov 28

A Neil Walker Reunion Not A Good Idea

It was a good idea when the Mets first acquired Neil Walker, although I would have preferred they kept Daniel Murphy. A reunion is not a good idea despite the Mets’ crying need for a second baseman.

WALKER: Pass on seconds. (AP)

WALKER: Pass on seconds. (AP)

When the Mets dealt Walker to the Brewers, it was after he accepted a $17.2-million qualifying offer. Walker accepted the offer after negotiations with the Mets broke down. One can reasonably conclude Walker might have hard feelings toward the Mets.

To come back to the Mets expect Walker to want at least two years. Considering his back issues, that’s not a gamble worth taking.

It makes sense if the Mets were expected to contend next summer, but do you really expect them to make up the 22 games they need to get back to .500?

That’s an incredible jump I don’t expect them to make. If the Mets were a serious contender, I’d rather they go after Jason Kipnis or Dee Gordon, or even Ian Kinsler, as has been speculated. Kinsler, 35, has two years left on his contract with Detroit, that will pay him $22 million. The money is doable, but should the Mets commit to a middle infielder at his age?

If age weren’t a consideration, how about Chase Utley, who is 38 but made only $2 million last year. Utley to the Mets would be a delicious sense of irony

Kipnis and Gordon would cost too much both in terms of prospects and/or money, so I don’t see the Mets going that route.

Who then?

The cheapest options are Asdrubal Cabrera, or Jose Reyes, or T.J. Rivera in a platoon with Wilmer Flores.