May 08

Mets Get Catcher For Harvey

The Mets did better than anybody expected today when they acquired catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash for Matt Harvey, who had been designated for assignment Saturday.

Catching has been a Mets’ weakness since injuries to Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud landed each on the disabled list. Mesoraco was activated for tonight’s game in Cincinnati.

The Reds will pay the remainder of Mesoraco’s $13.125 million salary and the Mets will pay the balance of Harvey’s $5.625 million contract.

Harvey will join the Reds this week in Los Angeles.

Immediate speculation, which makes a lot of sense considering Harvey will be a free agent this winter, is for the Reds to hope they can turn him around and try to trade him at the July 31 deadline. The Reds are in last place in the NL Central and it’s clear they won’t sign Harvey this offseason.

Mesoraco, 29, an All-Star in 2014, was hitting .220 with one homer and three RBI for the Reds this season. Injuries limited him to 113 games since the start of the 2015 season.

The Mets had no alternative but to DFA Harvey after he refused a minor league assignment to figure out his mechanics. In eight games, he was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA this season. Harvey was 34-37 lifetime for the Mets.

The only thing wrong with trading Harvey is that the Mets didn’t do it sooner, like after the 2015 season when he had some real value.

DeGrom Aces Bullpen: Jacob deGrom had a good up-and-down bullpen session today and is on schedule to start Sunday in Philadelphia. DeGrom hyperextended his right elbow swinging the bat last Wednesday against Atlanta.

“I feel like I am good to go,’’ deGrom said.

DeGrom is not expected to bat against the Phillies.

Frazier Goes On DL: Third baseman Todd Frazier was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Frazier is batting .237 with five homers and 21 RBI. In addition, reliever Anthony Swarzak was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

May 05

No Empathy For Harvey

Mickey Callaway was generous when he said, “we failed Matt Harvey.’’ In actuality, Harvey failed himself, with help from the Mets. Sometimes, when a pitcher loses his fastball, or a slugger’s bat slows down, the end can be delayed by his track record, or his popularity in the clubhouse, or the goodwill garnered within the organization.

It’s why the Mets were patient with Johan Santana and David Wright. Harvey accrued none of that goodwill. None.

Because of their histories, you root for some players. You have empathy and compassion for them.

Maybe only Harvey’s family and agent have empathy for him. I can’t imagine anybody pleased Harvey’s career was derailed by injuries, including two season-ending surgeries.

However, it is the way Harvey carried himself and alienated his teammates, how he made himself bigger than the team, how he made everything about him, that has him alone and without any emotional support in his darkest professional hour.

Perhaps that, more than his injuries, is what makes this a modern-day Greek Tragedy. It’s difficult to show compassion for somebody who showed little for anybody else.

Harvey’s selfishness was never more transparent than it was when he bullied former manager Terry Collins into giving him the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. I don’t know how any of Harvey’s teammates that night can condone Harvey’s actions that night.

What happened the night he traveled two hours from San Diego to Los Angeles for a restaurant opening the night before a game, was not advisable although not technically wrong. However, Harvey’s penchant for enjoying the nightlife has already run him afoul with the Mets’ front office and teammates.

Why – other than selfishness – would Harvey chase fates? That GM Sandy Alderson sounded resigned Harvey would do such a thing spoke volumes. Alderson didn’t have to say he was fed up with Harvey. It was implied.

Harvey wasn’t worth the energy to get angry about any longer.

In previous years the Mets bent over backward to placate Harvey, and a case could be made they enabled his boorish behavior by not standing up to him.

It took a while, but it is about time.

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.

 

May 01

Harvey’s Partying Again An Issue

Long-time readers of this site know I’ve frequently been hard on Matt Harvey, and with good reason. For the most part, he’s deserved it. He’s in the bullpen because he’s been stinking up the joint lately as a starter, and if the Mickey Callaway Mets are about accountability, Harvey needs to ask himself: Am I doing all I can to get better?

Frankly, he’s not.

HARVEY: Being a jerk again.  (AP)

                HARVEY: Being a jerk again. (AP)

Harvey has always been for himself first, second and to hell with everybody else.

Harvey’s common sense, not to mention, professional obligations, are under scrutiny again after he traveled to Los Angeles from San Diego last week for a night of partying prior to a lackluster relief appearance.

The Mets traveled from St. Louis to San Diego the day he went to Los Angeles. Obviously, he was preoccupied with finding a way once the Mets landed in San Diego to get a way to Los Angeles. That means he wasn’t concentraing on the game.

Sandy Alderson stopped short of calling it a problem, but reading between the lines it isn’t hard to figure out the general manager isn’t pleased to hear of the so-so pitcher’s nocturnal habits.

After all, this is a player who blew off a game because he was hungover. He was also late to a postseason workout for the same reason.

“I think it can be a problem if it affects a player’s or a pitcher’s preparation for work the following day or the next several days and I am not sure that was the case here,” Alderson told reporters at Citi Field this afternoon. “[But] I think the other thing I have tried to keep in mind is pitching out of the bullpen is different than pitching out of the rotation and part of the preparation for that role is recognizing you can pitch any day at any time and as a result you have to be a little more conscientious about what else is going on in your life in order to be prepared on a moment’s notice to pitch.

“That is part of the realization that maybe’s he’s had over the last few days. So to answer the question as succinctly as I can, ‘Yeah, it can be a problem.’ I don’t think it was in this case.”

Asked if he was surprised to hear of the report about Harvey’s partying, Alderson said: “Usually I get upset if a report is unexpected. So I guess the short answer is no.”

Translation: Alderson knew something like this could be coming about Harvey.

Harvey, who is making $5.8 million n his walk year, clearly isn’t enamored with the Mets, who have bent over backward to placate him.

Callaway met with Harvey today and gave him the same old message he had gotten from Alderson and former manager Terry Collins.

“It is bad in the sense that it’s getting publicity,” Callaway said. “Matt has to be aware of that. The things he does, right or wrong, are going to be brought to the forefront and we have to make sure it’s never a distraction for him or the team.

“… I think he understands at this point that while the bullpen, he might view it as a relegation in some way, that his only way back to the rotation is through the bullpen and being successful in a meaningful role in the pen.’’

The bottom line is Harvey has in the past, and is currently, alienating his teammates. This latest episode is just another reason not to give Harvey the benefit of doubt anymore.

It’s his career, and if he doesn’t care about it anymore, then why should we?

Frankly, the sooner he’s gone the better, and if that means giving him away for a bag of balls at the trade deadline, then go for it.

Oct 05

Wright Has Back Surgery; Bruce Homers For Indians

David Wright remains as determined as ever to return and took another step today after undergoing back surgery in Los Angeles. Wright underwent a laminectomy procedure which designed to relieve pressure caused by a compressed nerve in the back of the spinal cord.

WRIGHT: More surgery. (AP)

WRIGHT: More surgery. (AP)

In a statement, Wright said: “Through this entire rehab process, I have been driven to get back on the field as quickly as I can. That’s why I had the shoulder surgery and that’s why today I underwent back surgery to reduce the risk of further issues going forward. With these two surgeries behind me, I hope to be able to put on a Mets uniform again as soon as possible. My desire to play is as strong as ever.’’

Wright expressed several times during the summer he is not considering retirement.

“I think I still have something to give,’’ he told the New York Post. “There’s still kind of that passion and that fire in me.’’

As much as Wright has to overcome physically, almost as difficult for him in his comeback attempt is overcoming all the time he has missed. At 34, he has played in just 75 games over the past three seasons.

Among his injuries in that time have been a pulled hamstring, spinal stenosis, a herniated disc in his upper spine and a rotator cuff issue.

Of course, I’d like to see Wright make it back, and believes he deserves the opportunity to try it again next spring.

From the Mets’ perspective, they can’t assume Wright will make it back which is why most likely will bring back Asdrubal Cabrera and/or Jose Reyes.

BAUER VS. SYNDERGAARD: It was interesting to hear how Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer and the Indians jointly developed and monitored a workout and conditioning program in the offseason.

The point is the Indians worked with the player and told him not to expect results early in the season. Bauer bought into the program and started tonight against the Yankees.

Conversely, the Mets pushed Matt Harvey early this season when he wasn’t ready to pitch. They also let Noah Syndergaard bulk up on his own which led to the lat injury.

HAPPY FOR BRUCE: I’m happy for Jay Bruce, who doubled and hit a two-run homer tonight against the Yankees. I loved the Bruce trade last season and was thrilled at his good start this season and wish they hadn’t traded him.

I felt even before the injuries to Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes the Mets would need Bruce’s left-handed power if they are to be competitive next year.

Despite Bruce saying he is open to returning to the Mets, I don’t see it happening because I don’t think GM Sandy Alderson will pony up the money on a long-term deal.