Jun 28

Matz Makes It All Right For One Day

Quality start doesn’t even begin to describe what Steven Matz gave the Mets today at Citi Field in his major league debut. His pitching, power and poise highlighted a 7-2 victory over Cincinnati. He also broke up a double play and started one after fielding a hard comebacker to the mound.

“He was as good as advertised,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He was ready for this. It was time. … He was ready to show he belonged.’’

MATZ: Shines in debut. (AP)

MATZ: Shines in debut. (AP)

Matz was making his major league debut five years removed from Tommy John surgery; after the Mets toyed with the decision to bring him up; and, after more than a three-hour delay so the Mets could finish a 2-1 victory over the Reds in a completion of suspension game.

“The more time I had, the more the anxiety went away,’’ said Matz, a sign of his composure.

His composure also surfaced when his first pitch of the game was something out of “Bull Durham,’’ a fastball to the backstop. On his fifth pitch, Tony Phillips hit a replay-reviewed homer.

Matz set the Reds down in order in the second and then, using Las Vegas teammate Matt Reynolds’ bat, ripped a two-run double. He would later hit a hit-and-run single and two-run single.

All the while, he toyed with the Reds on the mound, giving up two runs – Todd Frazier also hit a solo homer – on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 7.2 innings.

Matz went further in his debut than Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler went in theirs.

While Harvey grew up rooting for the Yankees, Matz’s childhood passion growing up on Long Island was the Mets and spent many nights at Shea Stadium. Of course, the Mets want to play on that emotional attachment and as the team struggled through the past month there was a growing groundswell for his promotion. And, for the Mets, it was to attract more than the 130 family and friend he could sometimes hear from the stands.

There’s speculation the Mets promoted Matz to divert frustrated their fan base from their recent plunge in the NL East standings and a woeful offensive slide. That’s for another day, as this one was to enjoy a glimpse into a promising future.

However, while it was gray at Citi Field, there was a glimmer of sunlight, and he wore No. 32.

Jun 05

Six-Man Rotation Or Bench; Mets Must Decide Quickly

Part of me wants to see the Mets make a run at using a six-man rotation, but with Daniel Murphy going on the disabled list, the bench already perilously thin and the offense sputtering, the prudent option might be to bring up infielder Matt Reynolds and use the conventional five starters.

MURPHY: Injury makes tight situation even tighter (AP)

MURPHY: Injury makes tight situation even tighter (AP)

The Mets are currently in first place in the NL East, but how long will it be before Washington gets hot again? This team is not in position to swing a trade for a bat, so GM Sandy Alderson has to give Reynolds a shot and hope Jon Niese finds himself in the rotation.

As for Dillon Gee, I’d rather have a bat.

Murphy was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday after an MRI exam showed tightness in his left quadriceps and Danny Muno was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his spot on the roster. Wilfredo Tovar is with the team in Arizona, awaiting the Mets to make a decision on Eric Campbell or a reliever.

Reynolds had a strong spring training, but is currently slumping at Triple-A Las Vegas, so even if they promote him there’s no guarantee he will provide the spark the Mets need. As for making a trade for a bat, let’s face it, neither Niese nor Gee will bring back much and the Mets don’t want to part with Noah Syndergaard and aren’t ready to bring up Steven Matz and dump Niese.

Thanks to an 11-game winning streak in April, the Mets got away with using a short bench. It is doubtful they can be so lucky a second time.

Nov 01

Mets Matters: Wright’s Rehab Ends Today

The news is encouraging regarding David Wright’s rehab with a sprained left shoulder. His six-week rehab program ended today, and all reports are he’ll be ready for spring training.

The Mets rode Wright hard in previous seasons, but it hasn’t been determined how much manager Terry Collins will rest him this year.

However, that’s something he’ll need to think about.

In other Mets’ news:

* There are no plans to limit Matt Harvey’s workload during spring training and he’s expected to be ready for the start of the season.

Assuming Harvey is ready, the rotation is set with him, Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Jacob DeGrom. That leaves Dillon Gee expendable in a trade or to work in the bullpen.

* The Mets outrighted relievers Scott Rice, Dana Eveland, Buddy Carlyle and infielder Josh Satin to Triple-A Las Vegas.

With Bobby Parnell and Harvey now off the disabled list, the Mets’ 40-man roster is at 34.

 

Oct 05

Will Backman Get A Chance – Anywhere?

One thing the Mets’ coaching decisions this week means is Wally Backman will likely stay at Triple-A, which is fine.

Bench coach Bob Geren didn’t do anything to warrant being replaced by Backman, or anybody else for that matter. Backman, the 2014 Pacific Coast League Manger of the Year, is not being considered for the Mets’ vacant hitting coach position, but was offered the chance to stay at Triple-A Las Vegas.

BACKMAN: Waiting (AP)

BACKMAN: Waiting (AP)

This isn’t to say Backman won’t someday deserve of an opportunity, just that currently the timing isn’t right. Terry Collins elicits a lukewarm response from most Mets’ fans, but in fairness the team is improving despite missing several key pieces.

Backman wants to manage on the major league level, and the best way to get there is to keep working at Las Vegas or get a bench job in the majors. It has been ten years since he was hired – then fired several days later – by Arizona because of his off-the-field behavior. Ten years is long enough.

In the interim, Backman is gaining valuable experience at Las Vegas and should be the primary candidate to replace Collins when the time comes.

I do have a question when it pertains to Backman: When other managerial positions open, how come nobody asks about Backman? Yes, he’s had some off-the-field issues, but is he that toxic?

Former Met Joe McEwing, currently the White Sox’s third base coach, is being considered for the openings in Texas and Arizona.

Why not Backman?

Mar 27

Black Shocked He Was Demoted

Reliever Vic Black has been optioned and will begin the season in Triple-A Las Vegas, the team announced via Twitter on Wednesday.

“I didn’t see it coming, but I also couldn’t expect anything different really because what I did was struggle all spring,” Black said. “And that’s not what they’re trying to put together on the team right now. Like they said, especially starting off, you’re trying to get hot out of the gates, and I didn’t give them the best opportunity for what they were hoping. I know they were disappointed, as am I, which is part of it. But I’ll be back.”

Black, 25, has had a rough spring training and in 10 Grapefruit League games he has posted a 5.79 ERA, allowing 13 hits while walking 10 batters, in 9.1 innings pitched.

No word yet on who replaces Black in the bullpen, perhaps Gonzalez Germen, but kudos to the Mets for making a tough decision like this, as much as it must have pained them to do so.

I felt as though things were heading this way for Black the last two weeks and I spoke to one prominent Pirates blogger who told me his inconsistency with command made it easy for the Pirates to move him in the Marlon Byrd deal.

Hopefully this serves as a wake-up call for Black, and that he can work himself back to the Mets in short order. It also has the added benefit of alerting all Mets pitchers about the importance of throwing strikes.

One last thing. For years I’ve hammered the Mets on occasion for a lack of accountability. What I mean is that they demand accountability from their players, but all too often would wait months before actually addressing poor production from one of their players. In fact, Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson would usually stand at the podium and make excuses for their players rather than taking action.

Cutting Vic Black was a refreshing departure from the status quo. It showed that the word accountability actually means something again and that there would be swift action if one’s results weren’t measuring up. Good to see.