Mar 29

Alderson Facing A Lot Of Questions This Week

The Mets are entering the final week of their eventful spring training. Unless the Mets make a surprise trade – and what are the odds of that? – there shouldn’t be any notable additions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions to be made.

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

ALDERSON: A lot of thinking to do. (AP)

And, if you’ve followed closely, you know GM Sandy Alderson will make the final call on those decisions with only a minimal input from manager Terry Collins. The most successful teams have collaboration between the GM and the manager, usually based on respect, but that’s not the basis of this relationship. When the GM tells an author of his eroding confidence in his manager, what does that tell you?

So, operating under the theory this is Alderson’s team, here is what he must decide:

LEFTY RELIEVER: With Scott Rice optioned out, the thinking in Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin will get the nod over Dario Alvarez. There’s been talk about going outside, but that’s been going on all spring.

DISABLED LIST: There have been reports of Daniel Murphy and Vic Black being ready for Opening Day, but it’s a long season so why push it?

SECOND BASE: If not Murphy, then who? Alderson discusses Danny Muno or Matt Reynolds, but ignores Ruben Tejada, who is supposed to be the backup.

LEADOFF HITTER: They really don’t have one in the traditional sense, but based on their options it should be Juan Lagares. Quite simply, Curtis Granderson has more value as a run producer in the middle of the order.

BATTING ORDER: Primarily because of the juggling at the leadoff spot, there’s been little consistency in the order. We’ve seen the Mets have over 100 different batting order combinations in recent seasons. Unfortunately, it could be that way again.

ROTATION ORDER: Most teams who already know their rotation would have an order. Not the Mets.

So, Alderson has a lot to think about this week.

Mar 22

Harvey Looks Ready

It was encouraging for us and the Mets to watch Matt Harvey mow down the Yankees this afternoon. It is cliché to say it was effortless, but it definitely looked as if he could go longer than the 5.2 innings he cruised through on 60 pitches.

HARVEY: Looks ready. (Getty)

HARVEY: Looks ready. (Getty)

Harvey gave up two hits, walked none and didn’t strike out a batter in today’s 6-0 victory over the Yankees. Both his walks and strikeouts showed an economy in pitch counts.

“That was a test, and obviously the workload was increasing,’’ Harvey told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I felt pretty good into the sixth inning and was commanding pretty much everything.’’

Harvey definitely looks ready for the season, and in normal springs would be the Opening Day starter. That’s moot because the Mets announced today Bartolo Colon would get the first game of the year and Jacob deGrom would get the home opener at Citi Field.

Command is essential and something Harvey knew might come to him after velocity.

“Coming in, I knew that was possibly an issue with Tommy John surgery,’’ said Harvey, who has thrown 9.2 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two starts. “So, for me, really concentrating on throwing strikes, pounding the zone and kind of picking up where I left off was very impLortant.’’

Which is what he’s done.

EXTRA INNINGS: Juan Lagares, David Wright, Lucas Duda and Eric Campbell homered for the Mets. … Manager Terry Collins said he doesn’t plan to platoon Duda with Michael Cuddyer early in the season. … Wilmer Flores fouled a ball off his left foot and left the stadium in a walking boot. … The Mets are in Jupiter Monday to play Miami, with deGrom going against Mat Latos.

Mar 13

Memo To Alderson: Stop Treating Mets Fans Like Chumps

I understand as a longtime baseball executive, Mets GM Sandy Alderson knows more about the inner workings of the sport, and his team, than I do.

By definition, he has to.

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

However, I am not stupid, and I don’t think my readers are, either. Sandy, I don’t know how to build a watch, but I know how to tell time.

And, the time has come to say again Mets fans are loyal and passionate, and don’t deserve to be treated like idiots, because they are not.

In the book, “Baseball Maverick,’’ Steve Kettmann – who covered the Oakland Athletics – revealed a disturbing nugget about Alderson.

Alderson said: “Madoff wasn’t even a topic of conversation in my interview for the Mets job. I didn’t raise it. Maybe I should have. The bottom line is, I would have taken the job anyway. It just added to the challenge.’’

The reason Alderson didn’t ask about Madoff is because it wasn’t a real job interview. Of course, Alderson was going to take the job. Alderson was gift-wrapped to the Wilpons by commissioner Bud Selig, and Madoff was a non-issue.

As part of his job in the commissioner’s office, Alderson was re-assigned to be Mets’ general manager.

The Alderson-Selig-Wilpon relationship was too cozy and underscored the deserved criticism of the former commissioner in that he gave Wilpon a free pass. In doing so, it also highlighted his biased handling of the Frank McCourt case when he owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. Selig disliked McCourt intensely and wanted him out, even though his handling of the Dodgers was not as clumsy as Wilpon has been sometimes with the Mets.

Regarding the Mets’ finances over the past four years, Alderson told reporters yesterday payroll has increased by $15 million over last year. It irritates me no end to hear Alderson say the Mets’ payroll is of no relevance to him.

“I never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us,” Alderson said. “I haven’t talked about it recently. I haven’t talked about it in the past. I don’t intend to. It’s not relevant to me.”

Let’s get this straight. Alderson is the GM of a major league baseball team and the payroll doesn’t matter to him. What then is relevant to him?

For a New York franchise supposedly on the upswing, that $15 million is a drop in the bucket, and didn’t do anything to upgrade: shortstop, the lefty situation in the bullpen and the offense.

The Mets are going with the hope of cheap patchwork from outside – Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry – the hope of injured players on the mend – David Wright and Matt Harvey – and hope of young players making progress, namely Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares and Jacob deGrom.

But, as I’ve said before, hoping is not a viable strategy.

 

Mar 09

Mets Today: Wheeler Starts Against Marlins; Lineups

Zack Wheeler makes his spring training debut for the Mets against Miami, with former Yankee David Phelps starting for the Marlins.

Wheeler pitched in last Tuesday’s intrasquad game and gave up two hits and two walks in 1.2 innings.

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said Wheeler’s mechanics were off in that he was throwing across his body.

Here are today’s lineups:

METS

Curtis Granderson,rf

Ruben Tejada, ss

David Wright, 3b

Michael Cuddyer, 1b

Daniel Murphy, 2b

John Mayberry Jr., lf

Kevin Plawecki, c

Matt den Dekker, cf

Gavin Cecchini, dh

 

Zack Wheeler, rhp

MIAMI

Jordany Valdespin, rf

Derek Dietrich, 2b

Marcell Ozuna, cf

Michael Morse, 1b

Jarrod Saltalmacchia, c

Jeff Baker, dh

Don Kelly, 3b

Cole Gillespie, lf

Reid Brignac, ss

 

David Phelps, rhp

NOTES: Do you remember when Valdespin posted an online picture of himself wearing a Marlins cap? One of the great bonehead moves of all time. Well, he’s wearing it for real today. … Murphy returns to lineup. I like him in the middle of the order because those are better RBI opportunities. … With Juan Lagares getting the day off, Granderson is hitting leadoff. … Cuddyer hitting cleanup again. He’ll likely hit there during the season when Lucas Duda gets a day off against a tough lefthander. … By the way, Duda will take BP today and could get in a game Friday. … Commissioner Rob Manfred is in camp.

Mar 08

Mets Wrap: Niese Takes Loss Against Boston

After retiring eight straight hitters to start the game, Mets pitcher Jon Niese gave up three consecutive hits and a walk and left Sunday’s 6-3 loss to Boston after 52 pitches.

It is too early to make a judgment, but a familiar flaw resurfaced, which is Niese’s inability to pitch out of trouble and put away an inning.

On the plus side, Niese worked quickly and showed good command in his first two innings. Also on the plus side, he pitched without pain or discomfort.

NIESE: Decent first start. (AP)

NIESE: Decent first start. (AP)

Regarding his health, Niese told SNY after his outing: “I feel a lot different. All my pitches are working. I’m progressing well and my velocity is up there.’’

A healthy and productive Niese is important because he offers somewhat of a lefty balance to the rotation and eats innings.

MURPHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy took batting practice Sunday and reported no pain.

Murphy was struck on the right hand by a David Price pitch Friday and is day-to-day.

DUDA NEWS: Lucas Duda, sidelined with a strained left intercostal muscle, has been hitting off a tee and is expected to take batting practice Monday.

Duda might play this week.

OPENING DAY PARTY: The Mets will host a viewing party at Citi Field for their Opening Day game against Washington. The tickets are free, but it will cost you $10 to park. Presumably, concessions will also be available. Tickets can be ordered online at mets.com/watchparty.

EXTRA INNINGS: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is out of options and figures to make the team as a back-up outfielder, continued his good spring with a double and two singles. … Center fielder Juan Lagares is nursing a sore right elbow, which is what forced him to end last year early. … Five straight Met relievers walked the first batter they faced. … Mets pitchers walked ten and hit a batter. That will get you beat. … Former Mets first baseman Tony Clark and current MLBPA chief Tony Clark visited camp Sunday. He did not object to the Mets’ payroll or their voluntary-but-really-mandatory offseason workouts. … Zack Wheeler starts for the Mets Monday against Miami at Tradition Field. The game will be broadcast on SNY.