Mar 07

Mets Must Earn Right To Have Swagger

About this swagger thing Mets manager Terry Collins wants his team to have, well, it just doesn’t happen. It is something a team grows into having, something the Mets haven’t had since 2006. They lost it with their September collapse in 2007, and haven’t come close to regaining it with the possible exception of every fifth game in 2013 when Matt Harvey pitched.

“You know, for years and years, you used to watch those teams that won all of the time, they had an air about them,’’ Collins said this week. “You used to play the Braves and they’d walk out there and, they weren’t cocky, but they were confident.They weren’t overbearing, they knew how to play, they knew what they had to do to win games.’’

The Braves earned the right to have swagger by getting into the playoffs for a decade straight. Jose Reyes used to dance in the dugout after scoring and thought that was swagger.

It wasn’t.

LeBron James and other NBA players flatter themselves into thinking they have swagger, but most really don’t. If you have to carry yourself in such a way where you want people to get the impression you’re tough, then you really aren’t. If you’re really tough you don’t have to pound your chest as if to say “look at me,’’ which seems the standard in the NBA and NFL these days.

I know what Collins is getting at, but it just doesn’t happen overnight. True swagger isn’t forced. For your opponents to fear and respect you, that must be earned and the Mets aren’t there, yet.

After six straight losing seasons you just don’t snap your fingers and say you have swagger. The Mets need to be tougher, and that includes winning close games; winning within the division; taking the other team’s second baseman out on a double play; and when your hitters get plunked, then plunk one of their batters.

Swagger needs to first come from the top. It’s having a general manager not afraid to roll the dice at the trade deadline. It’s about being decisive on a player who doesn’t have it and not being afraid to cut ties with past disasters like the Mets had in guys like Ike Davis and Jordany Valdespin.

The bottom line is if you’re good you don’t need to tell anybody because they will know. And, nobody knows that about the Mets. Not yet, anyway.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notes.

Mar 07

Mets Today: deGrom Starts Against Braves

Following back-to-back perfect starts from Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom and his under-construction curveball will attempt to make it three straight Saturday afternoon against Atlanta in Port St. Lucie.

DeGROM: Unveils curveball.  (Getty)

DeGROM: Unveils curveball. (Getty)

Last season’s NL Rookie of the Year is working on a curveball to give his repertoire more depth. Opposing teams will adjust to deGrom, and the curveball is an attempt to counter those adjustments, which is essential because the last thing a pitcher should be is predictable.

“It’s a great pitch whether it be strike one or a strikeout pitch,’’ deGrom told The New York Post about his curveball. “Talking to Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and all those guys and see how they throw theirs and taking little bits of information from them and trying it in bullpens.

“Sometimes I throw it at 78 (mph) and that’s a big difference from the slider. It gets the hitter off balance.’’

He will be that much more difficult if deGrom can control his curveball to get ahead in the count so he isn’t reliant on starting off each hitter with a fastball.

Last year deGrom was just trying to make the team. Things are a lot different this spring.

“This spring is so different,’’ deGrom said. “I can really come in here and work on things. Last year when I was over on the big league side, I didn’t throw my curveball one time because I was trying to make the team and prove I could get outs in spring training.’’

Gee is currently slated to work out of the bullpen and manager Terry Collins will use him in that capacity today to get used to that timing.

The game will be telecast on WPIX-11.

Mar 06

Harvey’s First Impression Of Start

Matt Harvey’s first start coming off Tommy John surgery was a good one with two perfect innings Friday afternoon against Detroit. Harvey struck out three and threw 25 of his prescribed 35 pitches, and finished his session throwing on the side.

HARVEY: Good first start. (AP)

HARVEY: Good first start. (AP)

“I wasn’t nervous. It felt good. … It was great,’’ Harvey said in a SNY interview from the Mets’ dugout. “This was the team I faced when things started crumbling. It is the biggest step so far.’’

Harvey’s last appearance was Aug. 24, 2013, when he was routed by the Tigers. He had surgery two months later.

While there is considerable talk about limiting Harvey this summer – much of it to be determined – he has one idea of his own.

“I think the main thing to work out is in between starts was that I was throwing too hard and too long in bullpens,’’ Harvey said. “The big thing is toning down the bullpens.’’

What Harvey didn’t mention, which I hoped he would, was to be more open about disclosing aches and pains. If you recall, he tried to pitch threw discomfort in his right forearm prior to the 2013 All-Star break.