Sep 16

Colon Was Good Investment

Bartolo Colon gets the ball tonight for the Mets against Miami, and honestly I’m surprised he’s still here. I thought they would have dealt him at the end of July or August.

But, he’s still pitching and leads the team with 13 victories, and if he gets two more starts after tonight could finish with 200 innings. The latter number, more than the wins, is why the Mets signed him.

With Matt Harvey out, the Mets needed an innings eater, which defines a healthy Colon in his career. Seven times in 17 seasons he’s thrown over 200 innings; three more times, including this year, he’s worked over 180 innings. He’s given the Mets at least seven innings in 17 starts and given up three or fewer runs in 19.

For $10 million, that’s not a bad investment. However, if the Mets improve as the organization hopes next season – and Colon again pitches well – he’ll likely be dealt at the trade deadline.

He’ll be 42 next year and if the Mets aren’t in contention, there’s no way they won’t deal him for minor league depth.

Sep 09

Not Concerned About Syndergaard’s Feelings

One of these days, Noah Syndergaard might develop into a franchise pitcher. Then again, like thousands of other live arms to try, he might be bust out. Nobody can say for certain.

NOAH: Not ready for prime time.

NOAH: Not ready for prime time.

Regardless, it was no surprise to learn he would not be part of the September call-ups. And, his numbers weren’t worthy of a promotion. He’s 9-7 with a 4.60 and 1.48 WHIP indicate there’s more work to be done. I have no issue with Syndergaard not being promoted; especially considering we knew it wasn’t going to happen this year.

Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were in similar situations and weren’t elevated to delay their arbitration eligibility. What I have a problem with is Syndergaard not paying attention to what happened with Harvey and Wheeler before him and not draw a similar conclusion.

Not only won’t we see Syndergaard this year, but there’s no way he’ll be in the 2015 Opening Day rotation. The earliest we’ll see him is the beginning of June.

With Sandy Alderson saying there won’t be a splurge in the free-agent market and the team wants to hold onto its young pitching, there’s not room for Syndergaard in April. Next season’s rotation to start the season will be Bartolo Colon, Harvey, Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Jon Niese. Syndergaard at the start just won’t happen, and the only disappointment is him not realizing his situation.

Sep 08

Questions The Mets Might Have Already Answered

Let’s begin the Mets’ salvage operation for September by seeing how they answered the most significant questions facing them as they entered spring training.

Q: Can the Mets finish with a winning record?

A: Mathematically, it’s possible as Sunday’s victory in Cincinnati has them seven games under with 19 to play. They are six games behind in the wild-card standings, but need to leapfrog five teams. They have head-to-head match-ups with Washington, Atlanta and Miami, but even so, the odds are against them. They were 14 games under last year and won’t be the 90-win team GM Sandy Alderson thought possible this spring. Bet, he regrets that comment. Even so, improvement is possible. Hey, you take what you can get.

Q: Who’s on first?

A:  Probably more than anything, Alderson’s high point this season is how quickly he disposed of Ike Davis. Honestly, I thought this might get played out as it was the past two years, but Alderson pulled the trigger quickly on a trade. Davis struggled both with injuries and at the plate out of the gate, and Lucas Duda has done more than just out-play him. Duda has developed into a legitimate slugger who could merit a better contract. As the Mets brace for legitimacy in 2015, they’ll have one less question because of Duda’s development.

Q: Who’ll play shortstop?

A: The Mets teased us with talks of signing Stephen Drew or trading for Nick Franklin. April began with shortstop as a black hole with Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores competing for the job, and the Mets having little confidence in either.

I envisioned Tejada winning the job by default because I didn’t think Alderson would gamble on Drew or Franklin, or ever have the stones to go with Flores.

Surprise: Flores has been getting the lion’s share of the playing time and September is for him to put a stranglehold on the job. Flores always had the better bat and he’s not embarrassed himself in the field.

This could be one less question for the winter.

Q: Who’ll be the leadoff hitter?

A: There was no clear-cut favorite, although manager Terry Collins had lukewarm preference for Eric Young. However, this has been a miserable season for Young, who doesn’t have a good on-base percentage. Several players were used to lead off, including the departed Chris Young and Curtis Granderson. The job now appears to be sliding to Juan Lagares, who stole two bases Sunday. Lagares can steal a base, but there’s more to leading off than stealing bases. Working the count and a high on-base percentage are paramount, and those are two categories are something he’ll need to work on this month. Lagares’ development also assures Eric Young won’t be back.

Q: How will the rotation shake out with Matt Harvey gone?

A: The biggest issues were whether Zack Wheeler would progress and if Jon Niese would take it to the next level. Wheeler has pitched well following a slow start. He won his tenth game Sunday, but was hampered by the persistent problem of running up his pitch count, throwing 99 in six innings. He’s worked into the sixth or longer in all but one start – have to like that – but his 99 Sunday was the fewest he’s thrown. As for Niese, the Mets expected far better than 8-10. The Mets could very well be tiring of Niese’s inconsistency and this could finally be the time when they opt to trade him. Could happen.

Q: Who replaces Bobby Parnell in the closer role?

A: The Mets finally decided on a role for Jenrry Mejia, and it is closer. Mejia still has those moments when he tends to overthrow and lose command. He labored Sunday with 25 pitches, but came away with his 24th save compared to three blown saves.

Let’s face it, 2014 was supposed to be a transition season for the Mets, who made no secret they were waiting for Harvey’s return and a step toward competitiveness.

For the most part, the Mets addressed their issues in the positive. Even so, in the cases of Lagares, Flores, Mejia and Wheeler, there’s a difference between optimism and definitive answers. Looking ahead to 2015, they need to see more of those four in September before deciding their offseason plans.

There’s not enough time remaining for some guys – such as David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud – to finish with statistically impressive numbers. Even so, there’s time enough to enter the offseason with positive vibes.

The flip side are the nagging questions:

Where is Wright in his career? Has his career peaked and is he on the downhill slide? Did his shoulder injury hurt him more than the Mets let on?

As for Granderson, we knew there would be a power slide leaving the Bronx, but will he ever be a significant power threat again?

The Mets haven’t gotten the production they hoped from d’Arnaud, but the defensive part of his game is getting better and the pitchers are comfortable with him.

As for pitching, nobody can say for certain how Harvey and Wheeler will develop. Niese remains an enigma. The bullpen has been good in spots, but is always a work in progress. Is this as good as it will get for Mejia? What can we expect from Parnell next season?

There will be no playoffs this season, but .500 can be had with a 13-6 finish. With 13 of their remaining games at home, and nine against teams with losing records, stranger things have happened for a franchise that likes to call itself, “Amazin.’’

Let’s not think about 2015 just yet.

COMING UP THIS WEEK:  Mets we might not see in 2015 … Numbers and milestones that could happen … Looking at second base … Are the Mets in better shape than the Yankees?

Sep 08

Please Accept My Heartfelt Apologies

When you run a blog for as long as I ran newyorkmetsreport.com, you have a responsibility to your readers. It is a responsibility, which quite frankly I failed miserably this year.

For this, I can’t apologize enough for my absence. It is something I never wanted, especially with how much I looked forward to this season.

As many of you know, I was hospitalized in mid-March after a serious accident in my home. What you don’t know is I remained there until about two weeks ago.

I went in with a compound fracture of my left arm and fractured shoulder and left five months later in a wheelchair.

I am finally home, but unable to walk and currently undergoing extensive physical therapy. I need people to help me cook and clean, and bathe me. The doctors don’t know when, or if, I will walk again and the prospect of spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair is daunting and frightening.

By comparison, Matt Harvey’s whining about pitching again this season – thank goodness that’s over – doesn’t register on my radar.

I always thought the feelings in my legs would return shortly and I would pick things up again. But,

it never happened, so I spent the last five months in two hospitals and two rehab facilities. During this time I underwent three surgeries and three other medical procedures, including an emergency surgery to remove a gangrenous gallbladder the first week of July.

I barely remember July, but I am sure the hospital bills will remind me.

As you can see, the blog is a ghost town, something I never wanted. A friend of mine recently chewed out my butt saying I should have at least been in touch to tell people what was going on.

Even so, between the pain, pills and depression, I fell into a dark hole and didn’t feel like talking. Many days were spent with Bonanza and NCIS reruns. Some friends said it would be good therapy to start writing the blog again. I tried several times, but it was a reminder of what I lost and what I faced.

My head was not on straight. Writing was a good idea, but something I had to accept on my own. I still followed the team, but that wasn’t enough. My heart wasn’t there and I couldn’t have somebody write for me.

Coming home jumpstarted me. I am at grips with the idea that while my legs don’t work, my mind and typing hands do. So is my heart. I am a writer. Writing is what I do. It is one way for me to get part of my life back.

I want to salvage what is left of this season and attempt to resurrect the blog. I realize it will take a long time to regain your trust and confidence.

I hope you give me that chance.

Thank you.

NOTE: I will have another post up within the half-hour.

Mar 19

Mets Playing Unreasonable Hardball With Harvey

The New York Mets have long been accused of mishandling injuries, from Carlos Beltran to Ryan Church to David Wright to Oliver Perez to Ike Davis.

That’s only a few.

HARVEY: Irritated by Mets' position. (AP)

HARVEY: Irritated by Mets’ position. (AP)

Mishandling ranges across a broad spectrum and you can see storm clouds forming with Matt Harvey.

A few weeks ago, I took Harvey to task for his adamant stance of wanting to rehab in New York instead of Port St. Lucie. I’ve softened on that approach following the incident stemming from a one-on-one interview the disabled pitcher had with Andy Martino of The New York Daily News.

Harvey has the union-negotiated right not to rehab the entire time in Florida, which is the Mets’ preference. Harvey prefers New York, and insists it’s not because of the Rangers and the nightlife the City offers.

By contrast, Port St. Lucie offers Chili’s and an Outback. You can’t even get a good pizza slice down there.

Harvey fully argued his position, and I better understand his desire and frustration, a product of his treatment by management.

“The biggest part is wanting to stay with the team,’’ Harvey said. “To learn the league. To learn Travis (d’Arnaud).  To learn how to bond with the other starting pitchers, and the guys in the clubhouse, and the David Wrights who I plan on playing with.

“I expressed that seven months in Port St. Lucie is a long time. For me, I strongly felt that my best opportunity, and my motivation to come back quicker, stronger, work harder would be to be with the teammates. That’s kind of what I have always said.  I have worked so hard to get to the big leagues and be with this team, it just felt like all of a sudden I was shooed to the back.’’

Unfortunately, it’s usually that way with injured players; they become invisible.

But, Harvey makes sense. In contrast, the Mets have not responded with a passionate defense of their position, other than to say most players have always rehabbed at the spring training site.

That’s like a kid questioning his mother and hearing,  “because I said so.’’ That answer doesn’t fly when one is eight, let alone 24.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the team would discuss a full rehab plan. Huh? He says that in March? This should have been decided in late October following Harvey’s Tommy John surgery.

Why did this issue have to be in the air for the better part of five months? Ridiculous.

Funny, but when Harvey was introduced as the GM, COO Jeff Wilpon said better handling of injuries was a priority.

Why can’t there be a compromise? Say, one month in New York and one month in Florida? Or, rehab when the team is home and return to Port St. Lucie when it is on the road?

Think of the frequent flier miles. This shouldn’t be all that hard.

Harvey also complained his locker was moved – along with Jeremy Hefner – to the corner of the room, which he said isolates him from the team. He is the Mets, or at least will be next season, so why agitate him?

Alderson claimed he didn’t order the move; instead saying it was the decision of the clubhouse manager. Since when does a clubhouse manager run things?

Harvey should have said something a month ago if he was unhappy. If he did, there’s no excuse why this has lingered when he should have been relocated to his original locker location. The same goes for Hefner. There’s not a good reason to do this and alienate Harvey.

Harvey was also peeved, and rightfully so, when his interview with Martino was intruded on by a Mets’ official. Not being allowed to talk with the press is unreasonable. Just as bad is having his discussion monitored.

That the official also lingered after Harvey said everything was cool, and had a testy exchange with the reporter, not surprisingly reached print to further make the Mets look bad.

On interviews, Alderson said: “My recommendation is to manage doing interviews in a way that doesn’t interfere with his day-to-day-activities.’’

That’s absurd. Players always do that. In over 20 years in major league clubhouses, I never experienced a player who didn’t leave when he was scheduled to be somewhere else. “I gotta go. Let’s finish this later,’’ is the stock statement.

Besides, Harvey’s work ethic would never prevent him from doing his rehab. He probably has his day structured tighter than the Mets’ format.

So, the player who wasn’t supposed to be a story became one because of three decisions, or indecisions, by Mets’ management.

The first thing I thought of is why would the Mets push Harvey when all of this could have been alleviated with a little common sense? Why irritate your best pitcher, the guy you’ve been touting as the key to your rebuilding process?

Just plain dumb.

This is so petty. Don’t think for a moment that if the Mets continue to play hardball with Harvey, that he won’t do the same with them in 2019, when he becomes a free agent.