Jul 08

Mets Mishandle Mejia Return

After having a night to sleep on it, there’s a lot not to like about Jenrry Mejia’s return to the Mets from an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.

MEJIA: Not a good move. (AP)

MEJIA: Not a good move. (AP)

Unfortunately, Mejia, GM Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, when pulling their collective heads from the sand, spoke as if testifying before Congress.

Mejia channeling his best Mark McGwire, told reporters in San Francisco: “I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system. … That was in the past. It is what it is. I did what I did. Now I come here to move forward and do the best I can on the field.’’

At least he didn’t pull a Sammy Sosa and claim he didn’t speak English.

Memo to Mejia: Before you face the future, you must first confront your past.

Alderson, as he usually does, responded as if he believed everybody – including the Mets’ fan base – were idiots.

“He made a mistake,’’ Alderson said. “He admitted that. He’s paid a penalty. Whether I think he needs to express some public contrition or not? I know that privately, he’s done so. I’ve talked to him, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s over.’’

“Over? Did somebody say it was over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?’’

It’s never over for a drug user. There are always lingering questions.

“It doesn’t matter,’’ Collins said when asked if Mejia was contrite. “It happened. The guy’s back. I’m not going to live three months ago.’’

As for as contrition goes, Mejia at least owes it to his teammates to acknowledge his actions. In that regard, he talked to a few of his buddies, but that was it.

Good job, Terry. Good job, Sandy. Good message you’re sending there.

Look, I know Mejia is no McGwire, no Barry Bonds, no Roger Clemens. Not even a Rafael “I have never used steroids’’ Palmeiro. He’s none of those players in stature, but I don’t believe him when he said he has no idea how the drugs got into his system.

Oh well, he’s back. Ready to lead the Mets to the playoffs. Except, in the off chance they get there, he’s not eligible.

“He’s here to give us another option at the end of the bullpen and hopefully get some big outs,’’ Collins said.

The guy who was getting those big outs was Logan Verrett, but gets shipped out to make room for Mejia. He’s the one sent to Vegas.

What a good message that is to the players. “Do your job, but when the guy is done with his suspension for cheating, you’re going to the minor leagues.’’

That just stinks.

The Mets claim they are about winning now, so the guy who pays the price for Mejia is Verrett, who was pitching lights out.

For the record, Verrett had given up only one run in his last six appearances spanning 12.1 innings going back through June. That included a three-inning save Sunday in Los Angeles.

Verrett goes because he has options remaining, which is the path of least resistance. Meanwhile, Alex Torres’ ERA has an 8.10 ERA in his three July appearances. Torres was brought here to get left-handed hitters out, but they are stroking him for a .271 batting average, .417 on-base percentage and .833 OPS.

Does anybody else see the disconnect here?

Yes, Verrett, because of options remaining was the easy choice. But, that doesn’t make it the best choice.

Jul 05

Memo To Harvey: Shut Up And Pitch

Matt Harvey said he wasn’t making excuses for his performance Saturday as the Mets lost in Los Angeles. But, that’s what it came across at for Princess Matt when he blamed the six-man rotation for his control issues.

HARVEY: Acting like he's still in college. (UNC)

HARVEY: Acting like he’s still in college. (UNC)

“With that much time off in-between starts, throwing once a week, I found a rhythm in the bullpen and then once I got a hitter in there and got the adrenaline going a little bit, things kind of got out of whack,” Harvey told reporters. “With the six-man and the day off, it’s tough. We’re all having to deal with it. It’s not an excuse why things didn’t go well today, but I just have to do a better job of finding a way to find a rhythm through a period of extended rest like that.”

The primary reason the Mets went to a six-man rotation was to protect the Diva of Flushing. The Mets failed in going with a concrete plan going into the season and consequently adopted the six-man rotation. My guess is this GM Sandy Alderson’s brainchild.

Harvey threw 100 pitches in five innings and walked five. He’s now 7-6 with a 3.11 ERA, and I had to laugh when I read his chances were slim in being selected to the All-Star team. I have Harvey fourth behind Jeurys Familia, Bartolo Colon and Jacob deGrom as All-Star worthy Mets pitchers.

Harvey’s command was off from the beginning, and that’s been the case with him for awhile now.

Sure, Harvey said he has to find a way to turn things around, but that doesn’t change the fact he did take a jab at the six-man rotation, and by extension, undercutting manager Terry Collins, who goes out of his way to protect him.

All the other pitchers are going through the same thing, but their whining is minimal compared to that of Harvey. Regardless of the issue, the Mets have gone out or their way to protect Harvey and acquiesce to his demands and whims.

Frankly, it’s getting a tiresome and a little boring. From now on, I’ll just go under the assumption you’re terminally irked about the rotation and move on. Understand, your complaints would carry a lot more weight if you actually pitched like an ace and didn’t act like an ass.

 

Jul 04

Collins Gets Confidence Vote; Pressure Squarely On Alderson Now

Mets GM Sandy Alderson gave beleaguered manager Terry Collins a “vote of confidence,’’ which traditionally is rarely a good sign. If the clock hadn’t been ticking on Collins yet, it is now.

Traditionally, that’s how these things go.

ALDERSON: Spares Collins for now. (AP)

ALDERSON: Spares Collins for now. (AP)

What winning Friday accomplished was give the Mets a winning record (41-40) at the halfway point, and for one night at least alleviated some of the pressure Collins spoke about Thursday.

The Mets flew into Los Angeles with speculation – on this site, also – they would lose to Clayton Kershaw Friday and Zack Greinke Saturday. At least, that’s how smart money had it.

The Mets have had an unprecedented number of injuries this season, beginning in spring training with the loss of Zack Wheeler and as now nobody knows when David Wright will return. Currently nine Mets are on the disabled list.

The injuries, coupled with absolutely little offensive production – they’ve scored one or fewer runs 21 times and have been shut out nine times – have put a tremendous strain on the young pitching staff.

“I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair,’’ Alderson said. “We’re a .500 team. We haven’t been moving in the right direction. I understand that. We’ve had a lot of people hurt for long periods of time.

“We’ve got some young guys in particular that are not hitting. We’ve got some older players that have had to try to carry the load. I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair. So from that standpoint, there’s absolutely no consideration of that.

“This is not a Terry Collins watch. … As I said, I think it’s very unfair to put a lot of the way we’ve played over the last few weeks on Terry.’’

We all know Collins can’t hit or field for his players. The pressure shifts to Alderson to give the Mets’ impotent offense a new bat or two.

It would have been good for Alderson to say: “The pressure is on me to give this team some offensive help. It’s up to me to give Terry and our pitchers some help.’’

But, Alderson didn’t say that … he didn’t need to because that’s what everybody is thinking.

 

Jul 03

Alderson’s Strategy To Improve Offense Is Hope

The Mets are falling fast in the NL East as management, led by Sandy Alderson – the game’s smartest general manager, as his biographer proclaims – sits idly by utilizing his favorite strategy, which is to cross his fingers and hope.

Nobody likes the chances of the Mets, once ten games over .500, to get past Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the first two games of their series at Los Angeles. With a brutal July schedule, it isn’t a reach to think the Mets could be cooked by the All-Star break.

Alderson, who gave manager Terry Collins a “vote of confidence,’’ prior to Friday’s game, has three options to snap the Mets from their offensive funk.

The first is hope, which means to stand pat and hope one or two players snap out of it. Notably, the Mets need Lucas Duda, who is hitting .172 with one homer over the past 27 games. They also need the return of David Wright, but nobody can say with any degree of certainty when that could be.

The second is to trade one of their four young stud pitchers for a bat, but Alderson has shown no inclination to deal from the group of Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom or Steven Matz. Instead, Alderson prefers to trade either Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon. Niese and Colon have pitched well lately, but not to where they are drawing substantial interest.

Ideally, I would prefer Alderson hold onto that group and stack their rotation with Zack Wheeler next season. But, how often have the Mets had a chance to compete for the playoffs since 2006, the last year they saw October? It’s not unrealistic to think this could be their best chance for awhile. After all, Harvey missed last year with Tommy John surgery. Wheeler had it and won’t be back until next July. Matz and deGrom also had it. Nobody knows when the next injury will occur.

Finally, the Mets could bring up prospects Matt Reynolds or Michael Conforto, which he also is reluctant to do.

Frankly, Reynolds isn’t burning it up down below to warrant a promotion. The Mets’ thinking on Conforto is to keep him down because they are concerned about his psyche. But, if his psyche is so fragile to where he could be damaged by not producing then maybe he’s not as good as the Mets are talking him up to be, and perhaps they should learn that now.

Other teams, such as the Nationals with Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, the Giants with Matt Cain, the Dodgers with Kershaw and the Cubs with Kris Bryant have done. These organizations are considerably more proactive than the Mets.

However, keeping Conforto down has more to do with economics than it does psychology. As they did with their young pitchers, the Mets want to delay starting the clock on their major league service time.

So, not knowing the economic landscape of the game or their budget five years down the road, the Mets are making a financial decision for the future over a possible chance to improve themselves now, a year in which they pledged to compete.

Just not smart, but nobody said hope was a brilliant strategy. So, Sandy break out the rabbit’s foot.

Mar 10

Let’s See More Of Fred Wilpon

One figured Mets owner Fred Wilpon would be around Tradition Field Monday afternoon considering commissioner Rob Manfred was in Port St. Lucie.

What you didn’t expect was for Wilpon to talk with manager Terry Collins in his office for about 20 minutes after the game. Collins said Wilpon would be a regular presence during spring training.

WILPON: Let's see his fire.

WILPON: Let’s see his fire.

Let’s hope so. And, let’s hope he doesn’t fade once the season starts.

“He expects it to be a much better team. There’s no doubt about that,’’ Collins told reporters Monday. “He told me two weeks ago, ‘Look, I’m going to be here a lot – a lot,’ where, in the past, he’d come in and he’d be gone for a week or 10 days.’’

I really want to see that, and deep down, I believe Mets fans want to see more of the owner.

Collins said he and Wilpon discussed the rising number of walks (36 over the last 61 innings); the left-handed hole in the bullpen; and the roster composition. Normal stuff, but things you’re also wondering about, right?

I covered the Yankees for over eight years and tracking down George Steinbrenner was a daily chore. It was often fruitless, but there were times, such as when he ripped Hideki Irabu and forced the team to wait in the clubhouse for over three hours to delay a flight to Los Angeles, that it made for an interesting day.

A Steinbrenner explosion kept the Yankees on the back pages for three or four days. There was no owner like Steinbrenner, who not only left his mark on the Yankees, but baseball as well.

I don’t expect Wilpon to be that visible, or vocal … or cantankerous, for that matter. However, this is his team and I want to see fire from him. I know he as other financial interests, but the Mets are his most high profile venture by far. I want him to show Mets fans he’s really into his team. I want to see him sit in the stands and mingle with the fans.

People say Wilpon is passionate about baseball and the Mets. I want to see that feistiness. If the Mets lose three straight to the Nationals this summer, I want Wilpon to make a headline. When Wilpon speaks, people will listen and I want him to be a presence at Citi Field.

Several weeks ago I wrote a piece on what Wilpon could say to make people want to care about the Mets. Well, I want to see his passion about the Mets. If he does that, well, then maybe that’s his message to the fans that he cares.