May 09

Today’s Question: Any Leftover Feelings By Wheeler For Giants?

At one time, Zack Wheeler was the hot property of the San Francisco Giants, destined to join a rotation of Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. But, to return to the World Series in 2011, the Giants needed a big bat.

That turned out to be Carlos Beltran, and prior to Noah Syndergaard, that was GM Sandy Alderson’s biggest deal.

Wheeler is 1-1 in three starts lifetime against his former team, but some players have long memories when it comes to being traded, so, other getting the Mets going again, what’s in his motivational tank?

In his last start, May 4 at Atlanta, he allowed one run in three innings before the game was eventually washed away. If you’re thinking Citi Field is a motivator, it could be in the opposite fashion. Wheeler is 6-12 lifetime, including 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA this year.

 

 

 

 

Sep 24

What’s Mets’ October Thinking On Matz?

The Mets’ magic number is down to three games following tonight’s victory in Cincinnati, but getting a step closer to the postseason for the first time since 2006 doesn’t mean they are any closer to setting Steven Matz‘s playoff role.

Matz hasn’t lost in six career starts, but hasn’t been as good as he was prior to going on the disabled list in early July. Tonight the Reds hit him for three runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings, in which he threw 93 pitches. The damage against him would have been greater had he not struck out eight.

MATZ: How will he be used? (Getty)

MATZ: How will he be used? (Getty)

Matz has a power left arm and a bright future, but does that future include a spot in the playoff rotation? He’ll make the playoff roster, but his role hasn’t been announced. We just know he’ll be there.

I’m thinking there are four potential roles for him:

* He could be one of four starters, with the others being Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. This would leave bullpen roles for Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese.

* Because of the uncertainty surrounding Harvey with his innings, Matz could be in the rotation along with Niese or Colon, with Harvey coming out to the bullpen. This would work when Harvey would come out to start an inning.

Because of the mystery surrounding this, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets already know they might leave Harvey off the playoff roster, and in that case Matz would likely get the starting spot.

* Again, because of Harvey’s innings issue, if he is to pitch half-games in the playoffs, perhaps he could be used as the second arm in the game to pitch in short relief.

* Finally, because of injury questions with relievers Carlos Torres and Tyler Clippard, Matz could be utilized as a situational lefty or as the seventh inning specialist.

The wild card in all this is Harvey’s innings. Even without Harvey, or with him in a reduced role, the Mets have more of a need in the bullpen than in the rotation.

 

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.

Nov 25

Wright’s Comeback Is Mets’ Most Critical Question

Among the myriad of questions facing the New York Mets this question, I believe the most important is the status of David Wright.

A recent ESPN poll listed baseball’s top ten third basemen and Wright, based on his recent injury history and performance, wasn’t on the list and shouldn’t have been. Therein, is why he’s my most critical Mets’ question heading into the 2015.

WRIGHT: He needs to smile again. (AP)

WRIGHT: He needs to smile again. (AP)

The key focus on Wright is health. Only once on the past four years did he play in as many as 150 games. Last year, a bum left shoulder limited him to 134 games and hurt his performance in the field and at the plate.

As the face of the franchise, Wright was rewarded with an eight-year, $138-million contract that has the Mets committed to him through the 2020 season. He was signed with the hope he’d regain his All-Star form.

This isn’t about whether the Mets should have signed Wright, or whether they should have taken Jose Reyes instead. It is about the immediate situation, which is Wright’s status. He’s here and not going anywhere.

It must be understood Wright has been a star, but his most productive seasons when he was younger and healthier, but also when he was surrounded by supporting talent, notably Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Wright has always been an important element to the Mets’ success, but never the centerpiece bat.

This year will be more of the same. The main source of power will come from Lucas Duda followed by Curtis Granderson. If they meet expectations, a lot of pressure could come off Wright.

A seven-time All-Star, Wright figures to bat third and could be prevented with solid RBI opportunities if there’s a productive leadoff hitter and strong season from Daniel Murphy.

It can’t be underestimated how the upheaval at the top of the order, plus the lack of support behind him, coupled with his injuries and propensity for carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders contributed to him not driving in over 100 runs since 2010 or scoring over 100 runs since 2008.

Then again, every time Wright struggles resurfaces the questions stemming from the 2009 beaning by Matt Cain.

This is a critical year for Wright, who at 31, is at the crossroads of his career. Does his slide continue or can he recapture the stroke that made him an elite talent?

Wright as Wright can carry the Mets to the next level to potential playoff contending status. If not, and he struggles again, there will be the lingering questions about his contract, especially if he’s healthy and doesn’t produce.

There are six more years on that contract and could become an albatross.

Sep 26

Mets Wrap: David Wright Beaned; Says He’s OK

There are few sounds in sports more distinctive, or sickening, than that of pitched ball hitting a player in the helmet, which the New York Mets heard Thursday night when Johnny Hellweg beaned David Wright in the third inning.

Nothing ever good comes with that sound.

WRIGHT: Beaned. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Beaned. (Getty)

Wright went down in a heap, reminiscent of when San Francisco’s Matt Cain hit him in 2009 to force him to the disabled list. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy immediately came to Wright’s aid in a wonderful display of sportsmanship.

“He passed a concussion test,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “We’ll do some things (Saturday) and see if he has a headache. He said, `I’ll be OK.’ But I said, great, but you’re still out of the game.’’

Cain hit Wright with a 94-mph. fastball; Hellweg hit him with an 86-mph. fastball. Both sounds were unnerving.

Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez helped Wright off the field, and he was immediately examined and passed a concussion test. Wright’s status for the remaining three games of the season is unknown.

“I’m feeling fine,’’ Wright said. “It was for precautionary reasons for not staying in the game.’’

Wright said there were differences between this and the Cain beaning.

“It’s scary,’’ Wright said. “I have been through this before. It was a lot less painful this time. … You go through your checkpoints. My ears weren’t ringing. I knew the score. There was no memory loss.’’

Wright will undergo more tests Friday, but even if his head is clear, there’s another obstacle as when he fell backwards and jammed his right thumb.

In many ways, tonight was a microcosm of the Mets’ season with an injury, and a decent pitching performance from Dillon Gee wasted from a lack of run support.

The Mets had their chances with 15 base runners in the 4-2 loss. Overall, the Mets were 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position, and left 11 runners.

Gee entered seeking his 13th victory, but wound up losing his 11th as he gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings. He finished one inning shy of 200 for the season. Collins shot down the idea of giving Gee an inning Sunday – which would be his throw day – to reach that milestone.

“(Gee) has a lot to be proud of,’’ Collins said. “From where he was last year, to where he finished this season, he has every reason to be proud.’’

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos