Sep 13

Liking Matt Harvey More And More

Matt Harvey was not in a good mood when he was pulled last night with the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth. In what might have been the best outing from a Mets’ reliever all season, Robert Carson bailed him out by getting two infield pop-ups and a fly ball.

Harvey gave up a run in five-plus innings – enough to win most games – but was clearly steamed in the dugout. He wasn’t much into handshakes and back pats, but his anger wasn’t directed at the Mets’ listless offense – 13 straight home games now scoring three or less runs and the tenth time they’ve been shutout – but at himself.

You see, Harvey is a perfectionist and last night he wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t impressed with striking out ten hitters. He would rather pitch to contact to reduce his pitch count and work longer into games.

“The biggest thing is going deeper into games and figuring it out a lot sooner, and not pressing to go for the strikeout all the time,” said Harvey. “I have to get early contact, like I’ve said before. That’s the biggest thing I’m going to work on.”

Harvey has a dominating fastball, but said his best pitch last night was his change-up. He wasn’t happy with his curveball and claimed his slider had little bite. Those are the pitches that will generate weak or awkward swings and get groundballs and pop-ups. That’s what will limit his pitch count. And, hopefully this year will be the last where he’s on an innings limit.

Manager Terry Collins said Harvey will get one more start and marveled at his maturation level at an early age.

“He’s been so impressive,” Collins said. “We’ve got something special. We’ve got something really special.”

If the Mets are inclined to keep Harvey on an innings count again next season, I hope they are paying attention to how poorly Washington handled the same issue with Stephen Strasburg. To announce it early was counterproductive. Davey Johnson, who doesn’t agree with the limit, said Strasburg’s heart wasn’t in his last start, knowing that would be it for him.

Strasburg hates it too, saying he feels he’s abandoning his teammates. You figure Harvey feels the same way.

If the Mets are going to limit Harvey’s innings next season, there’s a gradual way to achieve that goal. They can skip the occasional start or back it up to where he makes one less start a month. Over the course of the season, that’s six starts. And, they can be juggled around off-days as to give him more rest.

The only problem with that theory, is that Johan Santana is again coming off an injury and the Mets should be inclined to give him more rest.

 

Aug 22

Mets Mailing It In?

OK, I understand slumps and bad stretches. Nearly every team gets them. But, with less than 40 games remaining, they aren’t just mailing it in. Last night, they used FedEx.

Manager Terry Collins thought as much and ripped into his listless team after the game.

“We have not packed it in,” Collins insisted. “But, as I told our guys, ‘perception is reality.’ And when you sit on the outside and you watch a game like tonight, perception is, ‘they’ve packed it in.’ And I won’t stand for it.”

Collins even accepted some of the blame.

“I believe in accountability,” he said. “I believe in how you play the game right. I’m the manager here and you have a game like that, where it looks like they are not prepared, that’s my fault. That’s where I come in.”

These guys are major leaguers. They should know how to do the simple things, like covering the plate, which Bobby Parnell did not. There’s a right way and wrong way to play the game, and as professionals they don’t need a manager or coach to tell them.

Chris Young, who operates with a small margin for error to begin with, began it with a throwing error, the first of several defensive breakdowns.

Collins talked long about changing the culture of this franchise, and for awhile the Mets played alert, exciting baseball. At one time they were eight games over .500. A loss tonight and they are ten games under.

I really thought with series against Colorado and Houston the Mets still had a chance at .500. No more. They are kicking that away. They could be in the cellar by the end of the weekend.

I don’t expect much, but I do expect effort and playing the right way. The least they could do is head into winter with us feeling good about them and their season. It isn’t looking that way.

Jun 15

Mets’ Appeal Denied

As it should have been, the MLB denied the Mets’ appeal on R.A. Dickey’s one-hitter. The Mets’ argument was it should have been a no-hitter because they believe David Wright committed an error.

The denial came down shortly before tonight’s game against Cincinnati at Citi Field.

Manager Terry Collins said the process allowed an appeal so he rolled the dice.

“We didn’t win,” Collins said. “We didn’t expect to win it. We gave it a try. If we had won it, we would have had another no-hitter and we wouldn’t have to wait another 50 years.”

It was the proper call by MLB, which would have opened a Pandora’s Box if it allowed the appeal.

 

May 14

Mets Must Explore Bullpen Options Outside Frank Francisco

As I said yesterday, a team is only as strong as its bullpen. The Mets have exceeded most expectations save one: The bullpen remains a concern. It is the Mets’ weakest link.
Frank Francisco blew his second save in three games, meaning in a perfect world they would have swept the Marlins this weekend and gone 6-0 on their road trip.. However, baseball, as we know, is an imperfect sport and the Mets certainly are an imperfect team.
In the long term Francisco will remain the closer simply because of that ridiculous two-year, $12-million contract. If a player’s own team has no interest in him, then why do the Mets give multi-year deals? Wasn’t anything learned from the Omar Minaya era?
Manager Terry Collins needs to address this sooner than later, because nothing can kill the good vibrations the Mets have emitted this spring than a leaky bullpen. Jon Rauch? Tim Brydak? Back to Bobby Parnell? Perhaps a committee?
Collins knows his personnel better than anybody, but clearly everybody can tell right now Francisco is not the answer.
“He’s┬áthe boss,” Francisco told reporters. “He can do whatever he wants. I’m here to help the team; I guess I’m not doing that. Whatever decision he makes, it’s fine with me. But I’m here to fight. Whenever I can, I’m going to try to do my best out there every time I go out.”
So far, Francisco’s best is an 8.56 ERA, with 20 hits and seven walks in 13 2/3 innings. Those numbers are positively Oliver Perez-like.
ON DECK: Mets week ahead.
Mar 12

Time to re-evaluate conditioning program

The Mets’ medical staff has been under scrutiny for years, but maybe it is time to re-evaluate the team’s off-season and spring training conditioning programs.

WRIGHT: Was his injury preventable?

Seven Mets, including David Wright, who returned to New York for further exams today on his side, have rib cage, oblique or upper body injuries. Manager Terry Collins offered several theories, none of which are acceptable from a team that should know what it is doing. Collins mentioned excessive weight training, overworking in pre-game warm-ups, too much caffeine and not stretching properly or seriously.

All these suggestions are preventable, and honestly, inexcusable. One or two issues is one thing, but the Mets have seven players ailing since spring training. That doesn’t suggest a team with a handle on things.

Wright, Kirk Niewenhuis, Scott Hairston, and Robert Carson have side muscle injuries. Lucas Duda, Daniel Herrera and Reese Havens have back issues. To be fair, I don’t know what it is like with these injuries in other camps, but seven is an epidemic.

Either the players haven’t been schooled or given the proper conditioning programs, the teaching of such is inadequate, or these guys don’t know what they are doing. When it comes to the body core, flexibility is as important as strength.

When Sandy Alderson and Collins took over last year, they promised a return to basics and fundamentals, and that should include conditioning, too. The Mets aren’t a team that can afford any setbacks, and this shouldn’t be occurring, at least not to this degree.