Apr 14

Mets Game Thread: Harvey Off His Game

Matt Harvey looking rather ordinary after starting this game with back-to-back strikeouts. His command has been off despite the seven strikeouts, throwing it into that “sweet spot’’ zone to the lefty hitters.

Chase Utley’s drive was a hard slap in the face, but he’s done that to a lot of Mets’ pitchers.

Harvey definitely seems off after the delay on the challenge, which the Mets waited to do. You either make the call or you don’t, but you don’t make your pitcher wait and get out of rhythm.

Even so, Harvey has not been sharp, and not very smart, either. OK, you want to stand up for your hitters, but you with a runner in scoring position you don’t throw behind Utley.

It was so blatantly obvious. What if the umpire ejected him right there? What if he missed and the runner moved up, and Utley got to hit with a runner on third?

No way Dan Warthen told him to hit Utley. Harvey did that on his own, and it allowed Philadelphia an opportunity to take the lead.

Plus, why take the chance jump starting the Phillies? First and foremost you want to win the game. Harvey will deny it after the game, but he was wrong there.

Offensively, you have to be thrilled with Lucas Duda, who jumped on that first pitch with that quick stroke on a breaking ball. Maybe last year he would have taken that pitch.

Michael Cuddyer is out of the game after being hit by a pitch. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in. It’s a close game and you have to wonder if having a thin bench will come back and bite them on butt.

Mets 5, Phillies 3 (5th)

 

Apr 14

April 14, Mets Lineup Vs. Phillies

Here’s tonight’s batting order for the Mets against Philadelphia:

Curtis Granderson, rf: I don’t want him here, but he’s among the leaders in walks which gives him a healthy on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3b: Still think he should hit third, but he’s hitting and that’s what counts. He’ll stay here for awhile.

Lucas Duda, 1b: His stroke seems a lot shorter and quicker. He’s poised for another big year.

Michael Cuddyer, lf: I like him behind Duda.

Daniel Murphy, 2b: I understand the idea of wanting to give him more RBI opportunities, but it’s not happening right now.

Travis d’Arnaud, c: Probably the hottest hitting Met right now.

Juan Lagares, cf: I want to see him batting leadoff, but average and on-base percentage says he doesn’t deserve hitting first.

Wilmer Flores, ss: He’s probably under the most pressure to get going. His approach seems better the past few days.

Matt Harvey, rhp: Don’t you get the impression from him that he should not only pitch, but hit clean-up like the typical high school star?

 

 

Apr 11

Mets Week In Review: An Encouraging Start

If the Mets play out this season as they did their first week, I’ll take it. In a heartbeat I would take it.

mets-logoball-2They are 2-2 after four games, which is .500, the bullseye placed on their back. They played four tight, taut games, that if the breaks went a different way could have put them at 0-4.

The upside is they could also just as easily be at 4-0, which is the beauty of it all.

A clutch hit here or there by the Nationals against Bartolo Colon or Matt Harvey puts a different spin on the week. Just as easily, however, a tighter defense last night and a better pitch from Jacob deGrom spins the week another way.

What we can take out of the first week is the Mets figure to be a team that should tay in every game, and I’ll take that any time because it should mean being there in the end, which is another way of saying they will play meaningful baseball in September.

And, you must do that before you can play meaningful games in October, and isn’t that what we all want – regardless of who makes out the lineup card?

Here’s what I took from the first week:

* Bartolo Colon has something left in his tank. He overcame a rough first inning to beat Washington to show us all there’s nothing wrong with a little age.

* Something the Mets haven’t consistently done in recent seasons was to capitalize on opportunities, which is what they did in both their victories over the Nationals. So, when in doubt, hitting the ball to Ian Desmond is a good strategy.

* Matt Harvey is pitching with a chip on his shoulder aimed at those who tend to judge him on more than what he does on the mound. If that’s his motivation, so be it. Just keep pitching this way and all will be well. Do that and let the Mets worry about keeping him from the Yankees in the future.

* The bullpen is better than advertised. Rafael Montero took the loss Friday night in Atlanta, but the loss lies on Wilmer Flores’ errant throws, a bad decision by David Wright and not hitting in the clutch. Having fundamental breakdowns is how the Mets will likely lose most of their games this season. It will be maddening, but, then again, that’s the Mets.

* A week in and we haven’t seen a lot of power, and that’s probably the way it will go all season. This team needs Lucas Duda’s home run bat.

* Injuries helped shape the Opening Day roster and as always will play a significant role. The Mets lost Josh Edgin and Zack Wheeler before the season started, then lost Jenrry Mejia on Opening Day.

* An underlying theme this week has been the lineup. Whether it is all Terry Collins and not from above – which I doubt – it hasn’t produced an offensive explosion, and it has left Juan Lagares, the projected leadoff hitter, in a funk. He’s not the only one, as Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Flores are also running in mud. Wright, Duda and Travis d’Arnaud are having strong starts, but then again, it has been only four games.

* The closeness of the games is a good sign, but it should also be a nagging reminder of the red flag of their thin bench. Eventually, they’ll have a game when they’ll be caught short.

No, it hasn’t been a great start – although the starting pitching has been a positive – but we’ve seen far worse from the Mets. It has been an encouraging start, and if they are standing at .500 six months from now I’ll have a hunger for much more from them.

And, isn’t that what we want?

Apr 09

Memo To Harvey: Quit Whining And Just Pitch

Matt Harvey is pitching today, and with this event comes the question: Is he more interested in being a New York media darling or a Mets’ star?

It seems that way..

Like everybody else, I was enamored with the possibility of what Harvey could bring to the Mets and whether he could help them become a viable franchise again.

HARVEY: On his throne. (ESPN)

HARVEY: On his throne. (ESPN)

The operative word is “help,’’ because not one player can do it by himself, which I say because Harvey seems to be separating himself from the “common folk,’’ who are his teammates.

However, he comes off as someone not interested in the collaborative effort – that he knows best – but who rather marches to his own beat. So be it when you have the track record to back it up, but he has only 12 victories in the major leagues.

He is “potential over proven commodity,’’ which makes his threat for people to judge him by his pitching and not his off-the-field life laughable.

That’s hard to do because Harvey throws his off-the-field life into our faces on a regular basis, whether it be posing nude for ESPN; arguing with the front office where to do his rehab; letting himself be photographed in public kissing models or taking them to see the Rangers; or disregarding the perception of being seen at a Yankees game to watch Derek Jeter.

That didn’t go over well with management and some of his teammates, but he doesn’t care. He also doesn’t acknowledge his own recklessness of trying to pitch through obvious pain and not reporting the discomfort in his forearm could have contributed to his elbow injury.

Apparently, making that start in the All-Star Game was more important than anything else.

Take a look at his smirk in the accompanying photograph. Who, but somebody with a huge ego would allow himself to be photographed that way?

No, we don’t see the effort behind-the-scenes of his workouts and conditioning, but we do hear about his off-the-field exploits of wanting to bed as many women as Jeter and his clubbing and drinking.

Good for him. Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Mickey Mantle were New York media icons, but had the accomplishments to back it up. Harvey has won 12 games.

In the end, the nightlife killed Mantle and destroyed the playing careers of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. It is also part of why the Mets didn’t bring back Jose Reyes.

However, Harvey is young and walks with the attitude “it won’t happen to me.’’

But, it can. The questions are “when’’ and “where.’’ Will it be in Queens or the Bronx as a Yankee? Crosstown, it seems, is where he really wants to be.

At least, that’s the perception, not that he wants to be a star with the Mets, who by the way, are his employers who have the right to judge him.

Sure, I’m all for honoring Harvey’s diva-like demand to judge him on his pitching. OK,  then just shut up and pitch and don’t distract us with the other stuff.

 

Apr 08

DeGrom A Most Intriguing Met

Of all the Mets’ young pitchers, I am most intrigued with Jacob deGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year and Wednesday’s starter at Washington. Quiet and unassuming, unlike Matt Harvey, deGrom came out of the bullpen last season following an injury to Dillon Gee and never left the rotation.

Hopefully, he’ll stay in it for years.

Why deGrom over the others?

DeGROM: Captures the imagination.  (Getty)

DeGROM: Captures the imagination. (Getty)

Well, Harvey is Harvey, and despite his hype, all too often he leaves the impression he’s more interested in becoming a New York media darling instead of a Mets’ star. There’s a big difference.  Also, I can’t shake the feeling he’s just passing through Queens until he relocates to the Bronx.

Fair? Maybe not, but that’s the perception.

I get the feeling if deGrom stays healthy he’ll have a longer career with the Mets than Harvey.

The same applies with Zack Wheeler, but for a different reason.

Wheeler’s elbow injury went from bad to worse, and it won’t be until late in the 2017 season until we might really know something about him. By then, it is hoped he would have developed command to go with his natural stuff. So far, that lack of command lead to high pitch counts that stressed his arm.

But, for right now the main intrigue is his health.

As for Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, yeah, there’s interest. However, the intrigue meeter won’t click on until Sandy Alderson forgets this Super Two nonsense and brings them up here. Until then, they are wishful thinking.

But deGrom?

Well, he’s here and now. He seems real; he’s not a diva. We saw what he did last year coming out of nowhere, and it whet our appetite for more. He went 9-6 despite an offense that provided little support and a shaky bullpen. What was eye-popping was a 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 140.1 innings. That’s dominating stuff. And it continued in spring training as he showed no signs of letting up with a 2.08 ERA, .167 opponent batting average and 0.73 WHIP in 26 innings.

What I also like is he’s not a know-it-all. He exudes confidence without being abrasive, and also a willingness to learn evidenced by working hard on his breaking pitches during spring training. He also took copious mental notes watching Bartolo Colon on Opening Day.

“I watched what Bartolo did,” deGrom told reporters in Washington. “He just located and kept the ball down and threw the ball really well. That’s always my game plan, to throw strikes and keep it down.”

As with Harvey, the Mets will carefully monitor deGrom’s innings early in the season.

“I’ll just go out there and go as long as they’ll let me go,” he said.

And, that might be good enough.

ON DECK:  More on the lineup.