Feb 09

Harvey Arrives In Camp; Says All The Right Things

Matt Harvey didn’t want to see Port St. Lucie last summer during his rehab program, but now he couldn’t be happier to see the place … and answer all those questions.

Harvey reported to spring training ten days ahead of the Mets’ reporting date and was clearly anxious to put last year behind him, telling reporters today he’s excited and on schedule.

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

“I’m healthy. I’m right where I need to be, and I’m excited about getting started,’’ Harvey said this afternoon. “The big test will be once hitters get in there and facing them. I’ve been throwing [bullpen sessions], and everything is right where I want it to be. It’s an exciting spring training for me.’’

Last year, Harvey wanted to rehab in New York and not Florida, and also pushed the Mets at every turn about wanting to pitch at the end of the 2014 season.

He expressed no regrets today about how he was handled.

“Looking back on it, I think everybody made the right decision,’’ Harvey said. “I’m in a good place right now.’’

Call it an olive branch. It’s the first day and everybody is optimistic and in a good mood. No need for him to dredge up bad feelings. However, there are details to be ironed out and we’ll eventually see how harmonious things are between Harvey and the Mets.

GM Sandy Alderson is on record as saying Harvey will work with a to-be-determined innings ceiling. As of now, it appears he won’t be the Opening Day starter, but could start the home opener. That’s one missed start, but only a beginning. Will the Mets place him on the disabled list at midseason? Will they limit him to seven innings each start? Will they skip him once a month? Will he even be ready to start the season?

It would be great to have all these answers now, and hopefully this will be determined – and Harvey on board with everything – before the Mets break camp.

As for now, Harvey is saying all the right things.

“My goal is to be ready for Opening Day, regardless of what is decided,’’ Harvey said. “We haven’t really discussed anything. I don’t think anything’s set in stone.’’

The concept of an innings limit became popular in 2012 when Washington shut down Stephen Strasburg in September in his first season following Tommy John surgery and subsequently missed the playoffs. Now, it is in vogue.

Of course, right now it is premature to suggest the playoffs are even in the cards for the Mets, but this much is for certain, there will be no October for them if Harvey is re-injured.

Feb 09

Niese Faces Pivotal Season

Every spring there is that singular player whose career might hang in the balance as is Jonathon Niese’s with the New York Mets.

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

It was in 2012 when the Mets signed him to a long-term contract through 2016. They signed him for all the right reasons. He threw hard; is left-handed; the contract provided cost certainty; he had some degree of major league success; and at the time was relatively healthy.

In the three years since, he’s won just 30 games, hadn’t pitched 200 innings in any season, and sustained one form of injury or another every year.

With Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard and left-hander Steven Matz waiting in the wings – and let’s not forget Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee remain on the 40-man roster – it doesn’t take much to figure Niese’s value to the Mets is rapidly diminishing, especially since they put him on the block over the winter.

All the reasons why the Mets signed Niese, and why he was coveted by other teams in trade talks, aren’t as prevalent. If 2015 is anything like the last three seasons, next year at this time we might not even be talking about him in the rotation as Matz could supplant him.

Of all the Mets who need a big and healthy season, Niese ranks at the top of my list.

 

Feb 08

Anticipation Growing For Mets’ Harvey

The circus that will soon be the New York Mets’ spring training is days away when Matt Harvey will roll into Port St. Lucie. Then the questions will start, and won’t likely stop any time soon,

How’s your arm feel? When will you throw? Will you be ready for Opening Day? What’s your innings limit this season? How’s your arm feel?

Harvey will be asked about his arm before and after every start. He’ll also be asked how he felt about missing all of last season, and whether he should have been allowed to pitch.

While pitchers-and-catchers report next week, Harvey is expected to arrive early.

“There’s always that question mark,’’ Jonathon Niese, who is already in Port St. Lucie, told reporters. “I know he works his tail off and I know he’ll be ready. I don’t think there’s anybody who wants it more than he does.’’

That is, unless you discount every Mets’ fan who anguished over this team over the past decade.

Harvey spent much of his offseason working out at Citi Field and also training at the compound run by his agent, Scott Boras.

There’s a growing excitement surrounding this Mets’ team and Harvey is a big part of the anticipation. He was the talk of the town two summers ago, and spent a lot of time in the news last year, often complaining about wanting to pitch despite the Mets’ objections.

He’s again the talk of the Mets, and the organization and its fans can’t be any more excited.

 

Feb 06

Assessing The Real Value Of Harvey

This is the year the Mets pointed to with the return of Matt Harvey to their rotation. With Harvey, they hope, they could be a legitimate wild-card contender. Despite their holes, with Harvey the Mets have a good chance of winning every fifth day. He makes them a representative team, one worth watching, one that gives cause for optimism.

HARVEY: Has more than mound value. (Getty)

HARVEY: Has more than mound value. (Getty)

The Mets regard Harvey, who has 12 career victories in 36 starts in parts of two seasons, as their pitching rock, but he’s much more.

If Harvey turns out to become all he’s cracked up to be, and the Mets answer their other questions – including the continued development of Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom – their rebuilding program could turn out to be the real thing and not Sandy Alderson’s wishful thinking.

However, Harvey’s value to the Mets transcends the numbers he posts on the mound. He’s not only the future, but gives them flexibility and other assurances.

A healthy and productive Harvey could give the Mets confidence he’s worthy of a long-term deal, which translates into financial certainty. That’s invaluable to a franchise having economic problems.

In addition, if Harvey is sound it could give the Mets the freedom to deal one of their other pitchers to address other needs. A healthy Harvey also takes away the urgency to rush Noah Syndergaard to the majors.

However, it isn’t hard to imagine the Mets’ position if the reverse is true. There could be the urgency to force Syndergaard to Flushing or overspend next year in the free-agent market.

Yes, the Mets are counting on a lot of things this season from Harvey, most importantly, to be the future they envision.

Feb 04

Mets Should Consider These Contract Extensions

History has shown us the best way, and most economical, is to build from within and complement your core with free-agent signings and trades.

The Mets have a young, but largely unproven core of talent outside of David Wright.

HARVEY: Mets should consider long-term if he's healthy.

HARVEY: Mets should consider long-term if he’s healthy.

I wrote the other day how the Mets should consider extending Lucas Duda if he duplicates last season’s production. He’s not the only one the Mets should go long-term on to avoid the arbitration years.

If these Mets prove to be healthy and have strong seasons, I would call the agents for Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. We’ve seen glimpses of their potential and their value will only increase.

I might even include Jacob deGrom and Jenrry Mejia in that category.

I don’t think we’ve seen enough from Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares or Wilmer Flores to make that call. As for Jon Niese, the Mets already went long-term with him and he failed to produce so he goes to the back of the line. That is, unless the Mets don’t trade him first.

I can’t even think to put Noah Syndergaard in this grouping until he at least pitches on this level.

This much we know, the Mets are not, and will not be a free-spending team any time soon. Signing any player to a multi-year contract entails some risk, but those named are the best young prospects the organization has to offer.

To be financially solvent it is important for all businesses, including sports franchises, to have cost certainty and that comes in the form of structured salaries.

These would be good gambles.