May 04

Mets Banish Harvey From Gotham

In the end, Matt Harvey’s Mets’ career ended in the way in which he lived it, with stubbornness and selfishness. The Mets’ long, tumultuous nightmare with Harvey ended today when the hard-partying, formerly hard-throwing right-hander was told he would be designated for assignment because he refused to help himself by taking a Minor League assignment.

The Mets didn’t want Harvey to go to Las Vegas as punishment for partying last weekend in Los Angeles on the team’s first night in San Diego, but in the hope he could rediscover his mechanics that one time produced 98 mph., fastballs and had him destined for superstardom.

HARVEY: In the beginning. (MLB)

HARVEY: In the beginning. (MLB)

The Mets will designate Harvey for assignment prior to tomorrow’s game, which will give them a week to either trade him, which won’t happen, release him or place him on irrevocable waivers.

With teams knowing they can just sign Harvey after he’s released rather than give up talent, it will be a miracle if there’s a trade. The Mets are destined to eat the remainder of his $5.6 million contract.

“This was a long time coming,” GM Sandy Alderson said. “This is something we’ve tried to address, we’ve struggled with, we’ve wrestled with over two managerial regimes. The move to the bullpen was dramatic in itself. So I think that at this point, pragmatism, realism far outweighed other considerations.”

Harvey, who twice refused to speak to reporters when the Mets were on the West Coast, left Citi Field without a word and a 34-37 record with a 3.66 ERA over six seasons.

Manager Mickey Callaway, whose reputation of helping pitchers rediscover themselves was in part why he was hired, accepted responsibility, ironically which was something Harvey rarely did.

“We feel like we failed Matt Harvey,” said Callaway. “Our job is to help every player in there. It’s not a good feeling when you can’t.”

Harvey’s career began as the seventh overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Two years later, he debuted in 2012. The following season Harvey blossomed into part star/part comic book character after he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated calling him “The Dark Knight of Gotham’’ after the Batman movie.

Nobody knew it at the time, but the moniker would hurt Harvey as he seemed more interested in being a New York hero instead of a New York star. Ironically, Harvey’s downfall started before his career highlight, which was starting the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field.

Harvey initially withheld tightness in his right forearm after a start prior to the All-Star Game. The Mets didn’t do Harvey any favors when rather than pull him from the game they let him start.

It didn’t take long before it all started to unravel for Harvey, who was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Rather than immediately opt for Tommy John surgery, which several doctors recommended, Harvey chose to rehab the elbow, which was his right, but a bad decision as it set him back several months.

After spring training in 2014, Harvey fought with the Mets as to where he would rehab. The Mets wanted him to train in Port St. Lucie, but Harvey insisted on staying in New York where he could date models, go to the Rangers games, and party.

Harvey was quoted in a magazine article about how much he wanted to squire women like Derek Jeter and boasted of his drinking like a college sophomore.

Harvey returned in 2015, but not without controversy. The Mets began the season saying they would monitor Harvey’s innings, but there didn’t seem to be a concrete plan and former manager Terry Collins handled it poorly by letting him start with a strep throat and work into the late innings when the Mets were routing the Yankees.

Rather the closely monitor Harvey’s innings, they became an issue when his agent, Scott Boras, raised the possibility he might not pitch in the postseason. This painted Harvey in a bad light until the agent backed down.

Harvey did pitch in the postseason, but skipped a workout prior to the NL Division Series because he was hung over from a night of drinking. Harvey’s signature moment came when he pitched a hissy fit in the dugout and talked Collins into let him go out for the ninth inning of Game 5.

The next year Harvey developed thoracic outlet syndrome. He also missed time in 2017 with shoulder weakness, but also drew a three-game suspension for blowing off a game because he was sleeping off another party fest.

Harvey continued to struggle this season, then cursed at reporters who questioned him about going to the bullpen. Then was his night of partying in Los Angeles, the plans were made while the team was playing a game in St. Louis.

“I like Matt, in spite of all the stuff that’s gone on, certainly because of a lot of the stuff that’s gone on,” Alderson said. “He’s a human being. He’s a vulnerable human being, and kind of leaves himself open for those of us who know him and whom he semi-trusts. I’m going to miss him in a lot of ways.”

And, probably won’t miss him in a lot of other ways.

 

Apr 17

Time To Play Nimmo More

As long as Brandon Nimmo is up here, isn’t it about time Mickey Callaway find a way to get him regular playing time. He’s been a terrific pinch-hitter, and always seems to produce when he’s in the lineup like he did last night subbing for Jay Bruce.

As long as Bruce is still bothered by plantar fasciitis, Nimmo should play and he should rest. Nimmo should also play in place of Yoenis Cespedes, who is in a dreadful slump. He needs a few games to clear his head.

It shouldn’t be that hard to develop a rotation with Nimmo, Cespedes, Bruce, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares.

I understand the need of getting Nimmo regular at-bats at Las Vegas, but he’s here now and the Mets should take advantage of that and get him consistent at-bats while in New York.

 

Mar 23

Wheeler Doesn’t Deserve Rotation Spot

It appears the Mets will have to wait a little longer before their “vaunted’’ rotation completes a one-through-five cycle. That’s because, based on performance Zack Wheeler should open the season in Las Vegas.

The Nationals torched Wheeler for five runs in two innings – throwing 58 pitches – on Thursday, this coming after Washington bullied him for five runs in three innings in his previous start. Ten runs in five innings isn’t just a bad two starts, it’s pretty much what he’s done all spring.

Wheeler hasn’t lasted longer than three innings in any of his five starts this spring. Last I checked, an 8.10 ERA this spring training is awful, and not worthy of a spot on the Opening Day roster. And, if not for Jason Vargas injury he wouldn’t be.

“I am highly disappointed,’’ Wheeler told reporters. “I have got to keep my head up, though. I am feeling healthy, feeling good, but maybe just off a little mechanically, and hopefully I can get that figured out quick.’’

Manager Mickey Callaway believes Wheeler is putting too much pressure on himself by being too fine. Consequently, Wheeler is forced to come in with the fastball when he falls behind in the count.

That’s trouble for any pitcher at any level, whether he’s healthy or not.

“I still think we have a decision to make and we’re not quite ready to make it yet,’’ Callaway said. “We have to continue to evaluate all the pieces we have.’’

If Vargas is ready, he’ll go. If not, it could be Seth Lugo. It just shouldn’t be Wheeler right now.

Feb 22

Mets Must Make Decision On Wheeler

Zack Wheeler gets the ball tomorrow against the Braves in their exhibition opener. He’ll get roughly 30 pitches or two innings.

It’s one of five appearances he’ll get this spring to prove his elbow is sound enough for him to make the Mets’ rotation. There’s also been talk about trying him out of the bullpen, or him staying back.

WHEELER: Rotation or bullpen? (AP)

WHEELER: Rotation or bullpen? (AP)

Frankly, I’m intrigued by the possibility of him working out of the pen. I’m aware of the concern over the up-and-down nature of a reliever being an injury risk, just as the probability of breaking down after pitching on consecutive days.

The biggest chance for injury is if the Mets plan for him to start then switch direction and try him out of the pen. Or, do the opposite in working him in the bullpen during spring training then switching gears during the season.

This is what happened with Jenrry Mejia, who bounced around from the rotation to the pen and back again, only to blow out his arm.

It’s too simplistic to say, “Well, he’s a pitcher, just throw the damn ball.’’

There have been plenty of pitchers to go from the rotation to star in the bullpen. Dave Righetti, Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz all made the transition and starred. Smoltz even went back to the rotation, but the key was it wasn’t done during the season.

I don’t know what the Mets will decide to do with Wheeler, but whatever they do, for this year at least they can’t deviate. Make the decision and stick with it, even if he opens the season in the minors. If they decide to pitch him out of the bullpen, then send him to the minors, he must pitch in relief at Las Vegas.

I’m intrigued by the idea of Wheeler pitching out of the pen. He has a live fastball – his out pitch – and from starting he has a secondary pitch. If he can control his command issues, he could be an effective reliever.

He gets into trouble facing a lineup the third time through when his pitch count rises so maybe being a closer would suit him.

Plus, are you all that convinced Jeurys Familia is a great closer. Both he and AJ Ramos will be free agents in 2019, so it would be beneficial to prepare for them leaving.

Unlike Sandy Alderson, I don’t see the Mets competing this year, so getting some answers would be a good thing.

 

Nov 03

Mets Sign Cabrera, Blevins

As expected, the Mets picked up the one-year, $8.5-million option on Asdrubal Cabrera, an indication of their lack of confidence on David Wright making a successful return from the disabled list.

Signing Cabrera also is clear indication the Mets won’t make a run at free-agent Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier.

“Asdrubal can help us all around the infield,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “The season didn’t end the way we wanted but that didn’t stop him from playing hard right to the very last out of the season. Asdrubal is a great tutor to our younger players and a leader in the clubhouse. We’re happy to have him back.’’

Cabrera, the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop last year, will play third and fill in at second. Cabrera, who asked to be traded last year after manager Terry Collins asked him to play second, has done an about-face.

Being injured, losing a step and your starting job, not to mention getting older will often cause a player re-evaluate his position. The Mets’ inability to trade Cabrera at the deadline also gave him an indication of what the free-agent market could be for him.

“I want to come back here because I feel this team is going to be in the playoffs again really soon,’’ Cabrera told reporters at the end of the season. “We’ve got talent.’’

Despite several stints on the disabled list last season (ligament damage in his right thumb), Cabrera hit .280 with 14 homers in 135 games.

Signing Cabrera doesn’t necessarily preclude the Mets not bringing back Jose Reyes, who is a free agent and can also play second and third, but is a better choice to back-up Rosario.

The Mets also picked up the one-year, $7-million option on lefty reliever Jerry Blevins.

“Jerry always takes the ball,’’ said Alderson. “He was a stable force in our bullpen all year long. With Jerry, the addition of AJ Ramos and having Jeurys Familia for the entire season, we feel we have the nucleus for a much-improved pen. Getting Jerry back makes me a lot more confident about the late innings as we go forward in 2018.’’

Despite the potential of the Mets’ pen, Blevins endorsed bringing back Addison Reed, who was traded to Boston in July but is a free-agent.

“I’d like to see them maybe go out and sign Addison Reed,’’ Blevins said. “We’re going to need some steady, solid arms in the bullpen next year.’’

VEGAS LIKES METS: At least one Las Vegas oddsmaker is banking on the Mets battered pitching staff being healthy next season. Bovada has the Mets at 22-1 to win the World Series, ahead of three 2017 playoff teams: Arizona (28-1), Colorado (40-1) and Minnesota (66-1).

The Mets are listed eighth, behind Houston (5-1), the Dodgers (11-2), Cleveland (15-2), Washington (10-1), Boston, the Cubs and Yankees, all at (11-1).